With Help from the EU, the Palestinian Authority Builds Illegal Settlements in the West Bank

March 17 2017

According to the Oslo Accords, the portion of the West Bank designated as Area C—which includes all of the Israeli settlements—is to remain under the control of Israel’s government until the parties reach a final agreement. Yet the Palestinian Authority (PA), backed by EU funds, has been systematically constructing illegal settlements there—mostly small Bedouin outposts—in an attempt to interfere with Israeli claims to the territory. Josh Hasten writes:

[A] lengthy 2009 policy paper by then-Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad [argued] that by creating substantial “facts on the ground,” the PA [could] lay claim to those areas, and demand that they be part of “Palestine” in any future negotiations with Israel. And that’s where the EU comes in—to serve as the key financier of the project. Over 1,000 illegal structures, . . . with more being erected nearly daily throughout Judea and Samaria, now proudly bear the EU flag. The EU’s false claim is that it is involved in these building endeavors for “humanitarian purposes,” to provide for the Bedouin in these areas.

[Tellingly], the EU symbol can be seen on structures only in Area C; no houses displaying it can be found in areas A or B, nor can they be found in Bedouin communities throughout the rest of the Middle East. . . .

It’s important to note that despite the illegal PA/EU activity carried out by the Bedouin squatting around [the Jerusalem suburb of] Maaleh Adumim and the surrounding villages, [all of which would inevitably remain in Israel in the event of a peace deal], Israel’s government has repeatedly gone out of its way to offer permanent housing solutions for these families.

Blueprints for the establishment of a legal town [for these Bedouin] near Jericho, to be called Ramat Nueimah, were drawn up, but that plan has been shelved for the time being. This was a result of the PA leadership (and the EU) refusing to accept a practical solution that would enhance the Bedouin’s lives but would also lessen their grip on that strategic corridor.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Bedouin, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, West Bank

Winning Islam’s War of Ideas, Saudi-Style

March 19 2018

Since September 11, 2001, U.S. policymakers have understood the need to confront jihadism not only militarily but also ideologically; yet, writes John Hannah, they have had little success. Now Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’ reformist crown prince, appears willing and able to take up the fight, and Hannah urges Washington to support his efforts:

By an order of magnitude, al-Qaeda in 2018 enjoys a larger presence in more countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia than it did the day the Twin Towers were felled. . . . What’s consistently been missing from America’s strategy have been powerful partners in the Muslim world who can reliably be counted on to speak out authoritatively on matters of Islamic theology in ways that the United States simply cannot. That’s where Saudi Arabia comes in. It’s the birthplace of Islam and host to the faith’s two holiest mosques. Combined with abundant oil wealth, these assets bestow on the Saudis a measure of soft-power influence unrivaled in the Muslim world. . . .

For months, the crown prince and his closest advisers have relentlessly hammered the theme that Saudi Arabia’s modernization requires an embrace of “moderate Islam.” He’s slammed the extremist ideology that the kingdom did so much to empower after the Iranian revolution and acknowledges that “the problem spread all over the world.” . . . At home, the powers of the kingdom’s notorious religious police have been scaled back. Prominent hardline clerics have been jailed. On the all-important issue of female empowerment, the pace of change has been breathtaking. . . .

Now the U.S. imperative should be pressing Mohammed bin Salman to take his campaign for moderate Islam on the road. . . . There should be multiple elements to such an effort, but some immediate tasks come to mind. First, school textbooks. The Saudis promised to eliminate the hate-filled passages a decade ago. Progress has slowly been made, but the job’s still not done. Mohammed bin Salman should order it finished—this year. Behind the scenes, U.S. experts should provide verification.

Second, working with trusted partners in indigenous communities known for their religious moderation, the Saudis should conduct a thorough audit of the global network of mosques, schools, and charitable organizations that they’ve backed with an eye toward weeding out radical staff and content. Third, [they should] initiate a worldwide buyback of Saudi-distributed mistranslations of the Quran and other religious materials notorious for propagating extremist narratives.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Moderate Islam, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Saudi Arabia, War on Terror