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Sat. February 28, 2015 EDITOR'S PICKS :  
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Lead Story in Context
Issue: Israel's Jewish Identity. What Does it Mean?
MidEast Week
PA: Made "Generous" Offer; Israel: "Bring it to the Table"
More Arabs Join Israel's National Service
Jews Killed in Paris Attack Buried in Israel
Islamic State Continues to Gain Ground in Syria
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Netanyahu's Planned Speech to Congress Sparks Controversy
Egypt Intensifies Crackdown on Islamists
More Shekels for Your Dollar
Hizbullah Threatens Revenge After Israeli Attack
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Most Severe Winter Storm in a Decade Lashes Israel, Palestinian Territories

A winter storm the likes of which has not been seen in the region in a decade is punishing Israel and the Palestinian territories for a third day. Significant accumulation of snow is expected in the higher elevations, including Jerusalem. On Tuesday, Israel’s main thoroughfare out of Tel Aviv was completely shut down because of flooding, and untold thousands are staying home on Wednesday and are expecting to be snowbound on Thursday. Schools in the north of Israel are closed for the third day and stores throughout the country are empty. Public transport workers were set to strike in cities across the West Bank on Wednesday in protest of the Palestinian Authority’s inability to pay salaries, but the weather has trumped politics and social protest. A tragedy was averted when the occupants of a car swept away by water in the northern West Bank were found to be alive. But lives are being threatened by the inability of ambulances to respond to calls in many areas of the West Bank. To the north in Lebanon, four storm-related deaths were reported on Tuesday, and the nation braced for a potentially devastating snowstorm on Wednesday. In Cairo, meetings President Morsi is slated to hold with rival Palestinian factions heads Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Khaled Meshaal of Hamas are still set to take place, but there is no word on whether Abbas and  Meshaal will meet each other.

Israel Plays Down the Hagel Nomination

Despite the concern and criticism of the Hagel nomination expressed by American supporters of Israel, the government of Israel is remaining low-key and avoiding any appearance of angst with President Obama. Of note is the absence of any threats to block the nomination. Speaking with a number of officials, none of whom would speak on the record, a common belief that emerged is that while former Sen. Hagel did, indeed, make statements over the years that advocates for Israel found troublesome, he nevertheless voted in synch with Israel’s needs, which makes a campaign to block the nomination unrealistic. One senior adviser to successive Israeli governments told The Media Line that since the president makes policy and the secretary implements it, it’s the president’s prerogative to choose whoever he’s comfortable with. Some expressed the more cynical view that President Obama is signaling Jerusalem that in his second term, American largesse will have to be earned.

Fayyad Tells The Media Line: Arab Nationís Failure to Make Good on Pledges Threatens PA

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has warned that the failure of Arab states to make good on their pledge of financial support threatens the PA’s very existence. In an exclusive interview with The Media Line in his Ramallah office, Fayyad laid the blame for the cash flow crisis on Israel’s withholding of tax and tariff revenue it collects for the PA pursuant to the Oslo Accords and on the Arab states for not delivering on the promised safety net of $100 million per month that is supposed to be forthcoming when the Israeli transfers are halted. “The condition happened, but the money didn’t come,” Fayyad said. When asked whether the United Nations upgrade of status and Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential decree changing all uses of “Palestinian Authority” to “state of Palestine” amounted to statehood, he replied that, “we still don’t have the state we’re looking for.” The entire interview conducted by TML’s Felice Friedson can be read at  While the PA laments the lack of fulfilled promises from the Arab world, the Emir of Qatar announced that he doubled his pledge to help Egypt, promising an additional grant of $482 million and an additional loan of $2 billion.

Syrian President Angry at Rejection of his Peace Plan; UN Reports Millions Hungry

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is angry that he got no takers for the peace plan he unveiled in a speech a few days ago according to his information minister. Assad’s plan had strings attached, but was rejected out-of-hand by the opposition because it failed to include Assad’s departure. The United Nations has warned that at least 1 million Syrians are lacking food as the result of 22-months of fighting which has interrupted the ability to deliver food supplies to entire sections of the country. In addition, aid workers have been pulled out of a number of areas because of the danger, leaving residents without alternative sources of food. The international body pegs the death toll at more than 60,000.  






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