JNS news briefs: April 20, 2014

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Abbas reportedly threatens to dismantle Palestinian Authority

(JNS.org) Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly threatened to dismantle the PA, a move that would potentially dissolve the 1993 Oslo Accords and leave Israel—according to international law—vulnerable to legal action over its construction activities in Judea and Samaria.

Abbas told Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, “A new generation arrives and asks us: ‘What have you done?’ I am now 79 years old, I cannot escape from passing off the [PA] flag to someone else.” He blamed Israeli construction for the stalemate in the current peace talks, saying, “The new generation sees the two-state solution is becoming less and less likely, and that there is no escape from the one-state solution.”

Palestinian sources were quoted by media outlets over the weekend as saying the PA was “seriously considering” declaring itself a “government under occupation,” according to Israel Hayom.

Habayit Hayehudi party Chairman Naftali Bennett said Sunday, “Abu Mazen, as chairman of the PA, is encouraging terror and then he threatens to resign. To this we say, with these kinds of threats—save us from your well-wishing. If he wants to go, we won’t stop him. Israel will not negotiate with a gun to its head.”

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After Hezbollah arrests, Israel asks Thailand to bolster security

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) The Israeli Embassy in Bangkok has asked the Thai capital’s Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) to increase security measures around the embassy and various other Jewish and Israeli establishments and tourist attractions, the Bangkok Post reported. The request follows the arrest of two Hezbollah terrorists who were believed to have been plotting an attack against Israeli tourists in Thailand.

The report quoted MPB chief Lt. Gen. Kamronwit Thoopkrachang as saying he had received a letter from the Israeli embassy “asking for extra protection for tourists staying on the popular backpacker roads in Bangkok’s Phra Nakhon district,” citing “Hezbollah terrorists planning to carry out attacks at six locations in Bangkok during Passover.”

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OECD projects 3.5% growth for Israeli economy in 2015

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org)The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently projected that Israel’s economy will grow by 3.5 percent in 2015, a rate higher than the one attributed to the OECD’s other 33 member states.

A report by the organization’s economists pegged the Israeli economy’s growth rate at 3.4 percent for 2014, compared with projections averaging a 2.3-percent growth rate for its other members in the coming year. OECD economists believe the growth rate for most of its members in 2015 will average at 2.7 percent.

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Obama signs law that will bar new Iranian U.N. envoy from entering U.S.

(JNS.org)President Barack Obama, whose administration already said it would deny a visa to newly appointed Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Hamid Aboutalebi, on Friday signed a law that bars Aboutalebi from entering the U.S. The U.N. headquarters is located in New York City.

Aboutalebi was part of an extremist student group that stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, taking 52 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days. The law signed by Obama bars entry into the U.S. by any proposed U.N. representative who has engaged in espionage or terrorism or who may pose a threat to national security.

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Group calls out U.S. for failing to address airline’s discrimination against Israelis

(JNS.org) The Lawfare Project, a nonprofit that says it facilitates “responses to the perversion and misapplication of international & national human rights law,” called out U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx for failing to address discrimination against Israelis by Kuwait Airways.

Earlier this year, Foxx denied a complaint surrounding Kuwait Airways’ refusal to transport Israeli nationals on nonstop flights from New York to London, saying the airline did not violate U.S. anti-discrimination law because it is bound instead by Kuwait’s legal prohibition against Israeli passport holders from entering the country.

“The Secretary’s rationale is particularly unfounded because the flight at issue goes from New York to London; the fact that Israeli passport holders cannot enter Kuwait is wholly irrelevant,” the Lawfare Project said April 8. “Moreover, if any entity conducts business in the United States, it must comply with U.S. law.”

Eldad Gatt, who filed the initial complaint in 2013, last month initiated further legal action in U.S. federal court, stating that the U.S. has “officially endorsed Kuwait Airways’ policy of boycotting Israeli nationals, and has explicitly authorized Kuwait Airways to continue its blatantly discriminatory practices.”

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U.S., terror victims’ families agree on sale of Iran-linked New York skyscraper

(JNS.org) In the largest terrorism-related forfeiture in U.S. history, the U.S. government has agreed to distribute the proceeds of the sale of an Iran-linked Manhattan skyscraper and other buildings to the families of the victims of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks.

The 36-story skyscraper located on 5th avenue and West 52nd street is majority owned by the Alavi Foundation, a non-profit organization that runs Islamic centers and promotes Persian culture. A 2009 lawsuit by the U.S. government claimed that the Alavi Foundation and two minority owners of the building, Assa Corp and Assa Co Ltd, had ties to the Iranian government.

The settlement includes the families and estates of victims of Iranian-linked terrorist attacks over the last 30 years, including 1983 Marine Barracks bombings in Beirut, the 1996 Khobar Tower attacks in Saudi Arabia, and terror attacks in Israel.

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Egyptian authorities intercept attempted smuggling of Jewish artifacts

(JNS.org) Several dozen Jewish artifacts were intercepted by Egyptian authorities before they could be smuggled out of the country.

According to a statement by Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, authorities found the Jewish artifacts during a cargo search in Damietta, a port city on the Mediterranean. The items were allegedly being smuggled to Belgium.

In pictures posted on the archeological blog Luxor Times, the artifacts include 11 silver inlaid cylindrical wooden boxes that are decorated with Hebrew inscriptions and were used to hold Torah scrolls. Other items include a silver crown and knives from the late 19th century and a number of bells that were used in synagogues.

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Israeli defense company eyes Iron Dome upgrades

(JNS.org) Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Israeli company behind the Iron Dome system, is mulling several upgrades to the anti-missile system.

“There is something in the pipeline, both in terms of hardware and software improvements [to the Iron Dome]. I can’t say exactly what these are or when [they might be rolled out], but we are in a kind of race [with the Palestinian rocket firers] and we always need to update [the system] to increase the probability of a kill,” Gil S., a company executive who requested not to have his surname published, told IHS Jane’s in early April.

Since April 2011, the Iron Dome has intercepted more than 700 rockets at a rate of better than 80 percent.

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