Sunday, December 31, 2017


9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

In frigid Times Square, relief arrives with the new year-[Reuters]-By Daniel Trotta and Chris Francescani-yahoonews-January 1, 2018

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Intrepid revelers from around the world endured hours of waiting in a frigid Times Square on Sunday to witness the glittering New Year's Eve ball make its annual descent at midnight, undeterred and perhaps reassured by a massive police presence.With New York City in the grip of a bitterly cold Arctic air mass, the experience was made particularly memorable this year for hundreds of thousands of people who braved the bone-chilling conditions to witness a century-old tradition.In the waning hours of 2017, the mercury had plunged to 10 Fahrenheit, with a "Real Feel" of 7F, according to That made it the city's second-coldest New Year's Eve on record after 1917, when the mercury in Times Square dropped to 1F (-17C).Jaden Hunter, a 13-year-old from southern New Jersey, arrived at around 6 p.m., protected by a face mask and geared up for a good time.“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Hunter said. “It’s pretty chilly, but we’ve got hand-warmers and all kinds of thermal technology.”About 2 million people were expected in the vicinity of Times Square, the bow-tie-shaped plaza formed by the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan. That was roughly same number as last year, when the temperature at midnight was a comfortable 44F (7C).Still, the weather was severe enough to test the mettle of even the hardiest of partygoers.Alejandro Garcia, 32, of Barcelona, Spain, said the only thing that stood between him and leaving early for a warm hotel room was his girlfriend, graduate student Gamma Elias, 28."I'm freezing to death out here!" Garcia said, a few hours before midnight, wrapping his arms around Elias. "But she wants to stay."Like tens of thousands of others, the couple stood in one of dozens of fenced-in enclosures set up for blocks along the square. After hours of waiting, they were rewarded with a spectacular view of the giant ball as it made its annual, one-minute descent on the southern end of the plaza.Greg Packer, 54, a retired highway maintenance manager from Huntington, New York, had a prime spot on West 43rd Street after arriving at 7 a.m.“It feels more like Antarctica than New York. But everybody in the world is here,” he marveled, glancing around at the crowds in nearly every direction. “And I’m here.”The crowds counted down the final hours of 2017 with a lineup of live musical acts including Nick Jonas, Neil Diamond and Andy Grammer.Mariah Carey returned to the Times Square stage as well, pulling off a smooth performance after the embarrassment of last year's technical difficulties.Then came the long-awaited ball drop, a tradition that dates to 1907, three years after New Yorkers started gathering en masse in Times Square to usher in the new year.SHOW OF FORCE-Thousands of police were on hand, some heavily armed, others undercover. The show of force is part of a beefed-up security plan that follows a spate of attacks in the city and around the world that authorities have labeled as terrorist.The NYPD provided officers with specialized training to stop any suicide bombers in response to an attempted bombing in a Times Square subway station walkway on Dec. 11.Police deployed observation teams trained to spot snipers. There were also more explosive-detecting dogs and more officers positioned throughout the area this year.People hoping to see musical acts and other entertainment up close in Times Square had to pass by heavily armed officers and dogs. They went through a magnetometer to check for weapons, had their bags inspected, then repeated all those steps a second time.Police cars, dump trucks filled with sand and cement blocks were used to close streets, starting Sunday morning. About 125 parking garages in the area were emptied of all cars and sealed.Brynn Hansen, 14, from Longmont, Colorado, appeared unfazed by the heightened security and the trying conditions. She said she was living a dream."It's been on my bucket list, and now I can cross it off. It's exciting to be here."(Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus; Writing by Frank McGurty; Editing by Dave Gregorio and Michael Perry) 

LUKE 21:28-29
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)

JOEL 2:3,30
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)

ZECHARIAH 14:12-13
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)

47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.

18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE

Trump shows off Jerusalem announcement among his 2017 successes-In end-of-year video lauding first year in office, US president can be seen visiting Western Wall and signing declaration to recognize Israel's capital-By AP and TOI staff-DEC 31,2017

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — US President Donald Trump capped 2017 on Sunday with a video self-tribute touching on what he sees as the high points of his achievements and rhetoric from his first year in office, including his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.In the video running 3 and a half minutes, scenes of Trump with military personnel, Border Patrol agents and other world leaders are set to a stirring soundtrack as he declares of his country: “We gave birth to the modern world and we will shape tomorrow’s world with the strength and skill of American hands.”Trump cited his success in placing a new justice on the Supreme Court, his efforts to cut regulations and his big win on overhauling taxes, which he falsely described as the “largest tax cut in the history of our country.”Included in the video is footage of Trump visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, the first such visit by a sitting president, during his May trip to Israel. Immediately after, the video cuts to Trump signing a declaration he made earlier this month recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.In an address from the White House earlier this month, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.The move was hailed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.Trump offered the video on Twitter with a New Year’s Eve message, saying “What a year it’s been, and we’re just getting started. Together, we are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! Happy New Year!!”He later offered another Twitter message, loaded with his signature bombast: “As our Country rapidly grows stronger and smarter, I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year. 2018 will be a great year for America!”As our Country rapidly grows stronger and smarter, I want to wish all of my friends, supporters, enemies, haters, and even the very dishonest Fake News Media, a Happy and Healthy New Year. 2018 will be a great year for America!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017-The president is spending the holidays in Palm Beach, where his Mar-a-Lago club hosts an annual New Year’s Eve bash. At the event last year, hundreds of guests gathered in the club’s grand ballroom, including action star Sylvester Stallone and romance novel model Fabio.The White House said Trump been briefed on New Year’s Eve security precautions around the country and will continue to monitor those efforts.

Haley says Iran being ‘tested by its own citizens’-Amid ongoing protests across Islamic Republic, US ambassador echoes presidential message, says 'freedom and human rights will carry the day'-By AFP-DEC 31,2017

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday Iran’s government is “being tested by its own citizens” after three days of protests against the clerical regime.“We pray that freedom and human rights will carry the day,” she said in a statement.Haley’s comments echoed those of US President Donald Trump, who earlier Sunday said the United States was watching closely for human rights violations.“Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer,” Trump tweeted.Big protests in Iran. The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer. The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2017-Over the past year, Trump has held out Iran as Washington’s top adversary in the Middle East, disavowing a 2015 accord that curbed its nuclear program and accusing it of destabilizing activities in the region.At least two people have been killed and dozens arrested since protests broke out Thursday in the city of Masshad and spread to Tehran and other cities.Iran’s Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli on Sunday warned that protesters will “pay the price” for disrupting order.Haley singled out Iran in a New Year’s message that also denounced “oppressive governments” in North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba.“The long-repressed Iranian people are now finding their voice,” she said. “The Iranian government is being tested by its own citizens.”

German foreign minister under fire for accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’-Open letter from Jewish woman accuses Sigmar Gabriel of 'providing further ammunition to youths who were fed anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk'-By TOI staff and JTA-DEC 31,17

BERLIN — German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has come under fire for suggesting that Israel pursues an “apartheid” policy.During a meeting with Muslim representatives in mid-December, Gabriel mentioned that he had visited Hebron several years ago and said that what he saw “reminded him of apartheid,” the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reported.In an open letter to Gabriel, a Jewish woman has demanded an apology for “providing further ammunition to youths who were fed anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk,” according to a report in the German Jewish weekly, the Juedische Allgemeine.Gabriel had been addressing the issue of anti-Semitism among Muslims in Germany with a group of Muslim communal representatives. The event event was hosted by the Kreuzberg Initiative Against Anti-Semitism, a non-governmental organization that works in schools with children of migrant background, trying to combat anti-Semitic attitudes from an early age.Instead of helping fight anti-Semitism, Gabriel fed the flames, the letter from Malca Goldstein-Wolf said.In her open letter to Gabriel, published on the Israel advocacy website “Honestly Concerned” on December 21, Goldstein-Wolf applauded the idea of meeting with Muslim leaders. “But if you use this occasion to repeat your defamation of Israel as an apartheid state, then it is not only counterproductive but must be vehemently condemned.”Responding to a query from the German Jewish weekly, Gabriel’s office said he had emphasized at the meeting that there was no place for anti-Semitism in Germany.His comments, which referred to 2012 visit to the region, mirrored a post he published on Facebook at the time accusing Israel of running an “apartheid regime.”“I was just in Hebron. There’s a legal vacuum there for Palestinians. This is an apartheid regime, for which there is no justification,” Gabriel, who was then chairman of Germany’s main opposition party, wrote. The post quickly drew hundreds of responses, mostly from pro-Israel surfers, some of whom threatened to cancel their memberships in the SPD.Since becoming foreign minister, Gabriel has publicly clashed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.In April, Netanyahu canceled a planned meeting with the Gabriel after the latter refused to cancel a sit-down with Breaking the Silence, an NGO that collects anonymous testimonies from IDF soldiers on alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.Gabriel also met with B’Tselem, another group that deals with human rights issues and campaigns against Israeli settlement building.

Former US army chief: US, N. Korea closer to nuclear war than ever-Mike Mullen attributes rising danger to Donald Trump's 'incredibly disruptive' presidency-By AFP-TOI-31 December 2017

WASHINGTON — The United States is now closer than it has ever been to a nuclear war with North Korea, a former top US military officer warned Sunday, saying he saw little prospect of a diplomatic solution.Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, attributed the rising danger to Donald Trump’s “incredibly disruptive” presidency.“And in my view, an incredibly dangerous climate exists out there in that uncertainty with how this all ends up,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “One in particular that is top of the list is North Korea.”“We’re actually closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been,” he said, adding, “I don’t see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point.”Mullen, who served as the top US military adviser to both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, questioned whether Trump can be constrained by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, or White House chief of staff John Kelly.“Will he follow through on his rhetoric? Or will we actually be able to get to a situation where it could be solved peacefully?” Mullen asked.“I’m just more inclined to see over time that the rhetoric seems to be where the president is, and that will limit the constraining ability that both Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster and John Kelly have,” he said.Trump warned in a speech to the UN General Assembly in September that the United States “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend itself or its allies.In August, he vowed to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea if it continued to threaten the United States or its allies.Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test on September 3, and, despite escalating sanctions, on November 28 it test-launched an intercontinental missile capable of striking the United States.Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who warned Sunday of a sharp increase in the risk of pre-emptive attack if North Korea conducts any more tests, said Trump had decided early on to deny North Korea the capability to strike the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.“2018 will be a year of opportunity and extreme danger,” Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”“Now, the Iranians are watching the way he engages with North Korea, and vice versa. So we’ve got a chance here to deliver some fatal blows to really bad actors in 2018. But if we blink, God help us all.”

Pope Francis laments wars, injustices that ‘ruined’ 2017-Pontiff lambastes 'little and big offenses against life, truth, brotherhood, that cause human, social and environmental degradation'-By Frances D'Emilio-TOI-31 December 2017

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Bidding 2017 farewell, Pope Francis on Sunday decried wars, injustices, social and environmental degradation and other man-made ills which he said spoiled the year.Francis presided at a New Year’s Eve prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica, a traditional occasion to say thanks in each year’s last hours.In his homily, the pope said God gave to us a “whole and sound” year, but “we humans in so many ways ruined and hurt it with works of death, with lies and injustices.”“The wars are the flagrant sign of this repeated and absurd pride,” he said. “But so are all the little and big offenses against life, truth, brotherhood, that cause multiple forms of human, social and environmental degradation.”Francis added: “We want to, and must assume, before God, our brothers and Creation our responsibility” for the harm.Despite the gloom, Francis said “gratitude prevails,” thanks to those who “cooperate silently for the common good.” He singled out parents and educators who try to raise young people with a sense of responsible ethics.After the solemn basilica service, Francis strolled outside, briskly crisscrossing St. Peter’s Square to shake hands and banter with well-wishers, and kiss babies held by some of the thousands of faithful who waited for hours for a glimpse of him. The evening was warm, and Francis went without the white coat an aide carried for him. During his nearly hour-long walkabout outdoors, he stopped to admire a life-sized Nativity scene in the middle of the square.In keeping with past practice, the pope will celebrate Mass dedicated to the theme of world peace on New Year’s Day.


EZEKIEL 39:11-12,18
11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will give unto Gog (RUSSIA/ARAB/MUSLIMS) a place there of graves in Israel, the valley of the passengers (EAST OF THE DEAD SEA IN JORDAN VALLEY) on the east of the sea: and it shall stop the noses of the passengers: and there shall they bury Gog (RUSSIAN) and all his multitude:(ARAB/MUSLIM HORDE) and they shall call it The valley of Hamongog.(BURIEL SITE OF THE 300 MILLION,RUSSIAN/ARAB/MUSLIMS)
12 And seven months shall the house of Israel be burying of them, that they may cleanse the land.(OF ISRAEL)
16 And also the name of the city shall be Hamonah. Thus shall they cleanse the land.(OF THE ISRAEL-GOD HATERS)

EZEKIEL 39:17-21
17  And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.(OF RUSSIAN/ISLAMIC HORDES AGAINST ISRAEL)
18  Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan.
19  And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of my sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you.
20  Thus ye shall be filled at my table with horses and chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war, saith the Lord GOD.
21  And I will set my glory among the heathen, and all the heathen shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid upon them.
22  So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward.

17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;(AGAINST ALL NATIONS ARMIES THAT COME AGAINST JERUSALEM AND ISRAEL)
18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.

EZEKIEL 38:1-7
1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog,(RULER) the land of Magog,(RUSSIA) the chief prince of Meshech (MOSCOW) and Tubal,(TOBOLSK) and prophesy against him,
3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog,(LEADER OF RUSSIA) the chief prince of Meshech(MOSCOW) and Tubal:TOBOLSK)
4 And I (GOD) will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,(GOD FORCES THE RUSSIA-MUSLIMS TO MARCH) and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
5 Persia,(IRAN,IRAQ) Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
6 Gomer,(GERMANY) and all his bands; the house of Togarmah (TURKEY) of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.(AFRICAN MUSLIMS,SUDAN,TUNESIA ETC)
7 Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.

EZEKIEL 39:1-8
1 Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog,(LEADER OF RUSSIA) and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech (MOSCOW) and Tubal: (TUBOLSK)
2 And I will turn thee back,(RUSSIA-ARAB MUSLIM ISRAEL HATERS) and leave but the sixth part of thee,(5/6TH OR 300 MILLION DEAD RUSSIAN/ARAB/MUSLIMS I BELIEVE) and will cause thee to come up from the north parts,(RUSSIA) and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:
3 And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand.
4 Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands,( ARABS) and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured.
5 Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
6 And I will send a fire on Magog,(NUCLEAR ATOMIC BOMB) and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD.
7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
8 Behold, it is come, and it is done, saith the Lord GOD; this is the day whereof I have spoken.

Abbas warns Israel: Rethink your ‘aggressive’ policies ‘before it’s too late’-PA president slams IDF and 'settler terrorist groups' for 'crimes'; declares Jerusalem 'the eternal capital of the Palestinian people'-By TOI staff-31 December 2017

At an anniversary celebration Sunday marking the founding of the Fatah party, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel to rethink its “aggressive policies” and “apartheid system” before it is too late.“We will not accept the status quo. We will not accept the apartheid system. We will not accept occupation without cost, and you [Israel] must rethink your aggressive policies and actions against our people, our land and our holy places before it is too late,” Abbas said.Abbas slammed the Israel Defense Forces and “settler terrorist groups” for their “crimes” against the Palestinians, speaking at event marking the 53rd anniversary of the founding of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Fatah movement, according to the official Wafa news agency.At the celebration Abbas also laid a wreath at the tomb of the later Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.According to Channel 10, Abbas said the “murder” of a disabled Gazan protester killed in border clashes earlier this month and the arrest of a Palestinian teenager filmed slapping IDF soldiers in the West Bank “remind us of all the crimes by the Israeli security forces and settler terror groups.”The army earlier this month said it did not intentionally shoot a disabled Palestinian man, Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, who was killed in a riot along the Gaza security fence on Friday, but could not determine his cause of death.Ahed Tamimi, 16, was filmed along with her 21-year-old cousin Nour slapping IDF soldiers outside the family’s home in Nebi Saleh earlier this month. She has been accused of “assaulting a soldier, harming the security of the area, incitement, and other felonies,” according to court documents.In his address, Abbas also referred to the 2014 East Jerusalem murder of teenager Muhammed Abu Khdeir by Jewish extremists and the fatal Duma firebombing in 2015.The PA leader again slammed the United States for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6.The city is “the eternal capital of the Palestinian people,” he said, according to Channel 10. “We are staying here and won’t leave until Palestine is liberated. East Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state.”Following the Trump announcement, Abbas rejected any further US role in the peace process with Israel  and cancelled a scheduled meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence.Earlier on Sunday the PA recalled its envoy to the United States for consultations in protest at the recognition.Abbas also spoke of the floundering reconciliation deal with the Hamas terror group that controls the Gaza Strip.“We will continue with all sincerity and perseverance to work to unify our land and our people and achieve national reconciliation,” he said. “I assure our people that we are moving in the path of reconciliation confidently and urgently. We will embark on a strong national unity.”The deal, which was to have been completed several weeks ago, is on the verge of collapse, according to the head of Hamas in Gaza.Yahya Sinwar said earlier this month that the Palestinian reconciliation process is failing over a dispute about the future of the terror group’s weapons.“Whoever doesn’t see that reconciliation is collapsing is blind,” said Sinwar, in a meeting with local Gaza youth and social media activists.An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a December 1 deadline for the terror group to fully transfer power in the Gaza Strip back to the Palestinian Authority, dominated by Abbas’s Fatah party, though that was later pushed back to December 10.

PA recalls envoy to US for consultations after Jerusalem recognition-Palestinians have reacted with fury to Trump's declaration on Israel's capital, and have said Washington will no longer have a role in peace process-By AFP and TOI staff-31 December 2017

The Palestinian Authority said Sunday it was recalling its envoy to the United States for consultations in a move that follows US President Donald Trump’s designation of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki decided to recall PLO envoy to Washington Husam Zomlot, official Palestinian news agency WAFA said, without providing further details.The Palestinian response to Trump’s December 6 decision has been scathing, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas rejecting any further US role in the peace process with Israel.Abbas canceled a planned meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence, who was due to arrive earlier this month but postponed the trip to January citing a need to attend a crucial Senate vote in Washington.And Palestinian officials have refused meetings with any US political officials, including members of Trump’s peace team and chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt.Israeli TV reports last week claimed Abbas has told all PA officials that Trump is “a lost cause” and has ordered the PA to sever all contacts with US diplomatic officials, including those of the US consulate in East Jerusalem responsible for Palestinian affairs.According to Hadashot TV news, Abbas has made clear to his aides that he is “not merely closing the door” on further dealings with the Trump administration, “but also throwing away the key.”An unnamed US official told Hadashot the US recognizes that the Palestinians need a “cooling off” period after the Jerusalem declaration, that the US remains committed to achieving an accord, that it has no intention of seeking to impose one, but that it still hopes Abbas will change his stance.Violence since Trump’s announcement has left 13 Palestinians dead, with most killed in clashes with Israeli forces. Abbas’s Fatah party has urged several “days of rage” and the Hamas terror group which rules Gaza, and which seeks to destroy Israel, has urged a new intifada and encouraged thousands of Gaza to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza-Israel border.On Sunday, while marking the 53rd anniversary of his Fatah movement, Abbas called Jerusalem “the eternal capital of the Palestinian people.”In his December 6 declaration on Jerusalem, Trump stressed that the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city would still have to be negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.His speech, welcomed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli leaders across most of the political spectrum, infuriated Abbas and regional leaders because it was perceived to be prejudging the fate of the disputed holy city.The UN in a December 21 resolution rejected Trump’s move, in a vote approved by 128 votes to 9; the resolution had been vetoed by the US in the Security Council two days earlier.

Israeli minister wishes Iranian protesters luck, says murderous regime will fall-As demonstrations continue throughout Iran, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz says, in contrast to the Mullahs, Israel will 'exist forever'-By TOI staff-31 December 2017

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said Sunday that Iran’s “murderous regime” — which has long predicted Israel’s annihilation — will “disappear,” while the Jewish state will “exist forever.”“The chief of staff of the Iranian army said the State of Israel will not exist in 25 years, I say to him — the State of Israel will exist forever, but you and your colleagues in the murderous regime will disappear long before,” Katz said, according to Israel Radio.“I wish success to the protesters in Iran who are fighting for freedom and democracy,” added Katz.In June, Iran inaugurated a huge digital countdown display at Tehran Palestine Square, showing that Israel would allegedly cease to exist in 8,411 days.In 2015, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei predicted that after 25 years — by 2040 — there will no longer be a State of Israel.Protests in Iran began Thursday in Mashhad over economic issues. The protests have expanded to cities across the Islamic Republic in the days since.An official in Tehran said on Sunday that 200 people were arrested during the previous night’s protests in the Iranian capital, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.“These individuals are now with the judiciary and some others have been freed out of clemency,” Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy for Tehran’s governor, told ILNA.He said 40 of those arrested were “leaders” and that their protests had not been related to the economy.“Some opposition groups from abroad make our youth emotional,” he said.However, Twitter showed a completely different story, with videos of hundreds of people marching in many cities across the country, in protests that sometimes turned violent.#Update99–#Lorestan, a group of young protesters were attached by the security forces.Three groups then united and burned a Basij base and two banks.#Rasht just now, Basij Forces tried to arrest a young woman protesters didn’t allow it and started beating them up.#IranProtests— Raman Ghavami (@Raman_Ghavami) December 31, 2017-Meanwhile, authorities acknowledged the first fatalities in the protests in Doroud, a city some 325 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Tehran in Iran’s western Lorestan province. Protesters had gathered for an unauthorized rally that lasted into the night Saturday, said Habibollah Khojastepour, the security deputy of Lorestan’s governor. The two protesters were killed in clashes at the rally, he said.Videos circulating on social media late Saturday also appeared to show fallen protesters in Doroud as gunshots sounded in the background. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the footage.Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli warned protesters that police would not hesitate to confront lawbreakers.“Those who misused cyberspace and spread violence are absolutely known to us and we will definitely confront them in due time,” Fazli said, according to state TV.Agencies contributed to this report.

Analysis-Assad may have retaken the Syrian Golan, but Iran is pulling the strings-The Syrian president is more beholden than ever to the IRGC and Hezbollah, which have no interest in keeping things quiet along the border with Israel-By Avi Issacharoff-TOI-31 December 2017

The evacuation of several hundred Syrian rebels from the Beit Jinn area on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights over the weekend puts Israel in an old-new position on the border. Assad’s army is once again at the fences, just like it was from 1967 to 2011.In the southern Golan, a few pockets of resistance remain from supporters of the Islamic State group, or as they are known locally, the Khalid Ibn Walid Army. But beyond that, the Syrians have almost completely retaken control of the border with Israel.Only a few moderate forces remain south of Kuneitra that would maintain some relative cooperation with Israel or keep the Shiite or Sunni extremists at bay.The actual evacuation took place quietly, and the buses carrying nearly all the rebels and their supporters have already made their way from the slopes of Mount Hermon to the last bastion belonging to the (relatively) moderate opposition, in the Idlib area.This seemingly familiar presence — an army of Syrian regulars, disciplined and beholden to regulations, that understands the Damascus regime’s need to keep things quiet — ostensibly heralds stability. But that’s only on the surface. Over the last several years, Syrian President Bashar Assad has been forced to give up a foothold and then some to Iraqi Shiite militias, Hezbollah and, most importantly, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. His regime was saved by their intervention and he literally owes them his life, physically as well as politically.Assad will be forced to give the Shiite crescent a foothold in the border area, and may even do so happily.Hezbollah’s presence on the border is nothing new. The town of Khader on the side of the Hermon has become known in recent years as a redoubt of support for Assad, encircled by Sunni rebels. Hezbollah managed to build a military infrastructure in the town to carry out attacks against Israel, as evidenced by the assassination of its operatives while carrying out these activities. Chief among them were Jihad Mughniyeh and the Iranian general killed in 2015, and, of course Samir Kuntar, the terrorist who served time in Israeli prison for killing a Nahariya family and was released in a deal with Hezbollah in 2008. Kuntar was killed near Damascus in 2015, reportedly assassinated by Israel amid attempts to set up a structure near Khader for attacking Israel.Iranian Revolutionary Guards will be much less careful than Assad’s forces about keeping things quiet on the border. It’s possible they will actively try to destabilize the situation along the frontier — in order to keep war from erupting in Lebanon, among other reasons.Israel has warned time and again that it will not allow Iranian forces near the border, and the Russian-American ceasefire is supposed to keep them at bay.However, Washington and Moscow might not consider Hezbollah fighters in Syrian uniforms — or IRGC advisers who come to “visit” forward positions, including a Syrian post on the Hermon — as a classical “Iranian presence.” Indeed, Hezbollah or IRGC fighters may very well be present in Syrian positions on the Hermon right now.In 2018, Assad will need more help than ever from Iran and Hezbollah to stabilize his regime, and may become an Iranian-Shiite puppet. He doesn’t have much to be excited about. The Sunni enemies of his regime, who make up the majority in the country, are still hostile. Syria is bankrupt as a country, with hundreds of thousands dead, millions injured and a destroyed infrastructure.But he does have one significant thing going for him: He survived the Arab Spring. That’s something not a lot of current leaders in the Arab world can say. And survival is the name of the game for everybody.

'Iran and Hezbollah are trying to turn Gaza into Lebanon II'-As Gaza heats up, Israel points an accusing finger at Iran-Israeli officials call on residents of the coastal enclave to reject the machinations of the Iranian regime and choose a better 'future for your children'-By Judah Ari Gross-TOI-31 December 2017

After terrorists in Gaza fired three mortar shells at southern Israel on Friday, apparently to disrupt a ceremony honoring a fallen IDF soldier whose remains are being held captive in the coastal enclave, top Israeli officials have cast blame not only on Hamas, which rules the Strip, but also on Israel’s nemesis, Iran.On social media and in interviews with news outlets, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and the Israel Defense Forces have all pointed to the Islamic Republic as the source of rising tensions in the Gaza Strip.Friday’s mortar fire was the latest attack against Israel by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip this month, which also saw a two-week period in which there were near daily rocket launches aimed at southern Israel.Iran’s support for terrorist groups in the coastal enclave is, of course, nothing new. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been received funding from the Islamic Republic for decades, maintaining close ties with its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Hamas too has been turning more toward Tehran in recent years, particularly for its military wing, as it has been moving away from Saudi Arabia — or, more accurately, as Saudi Arabia has been moving away from it.The comments from senior Israeli officials come as protesters in Iran rail against the country’s apparent focus on the wider Middle East region, rather than its domestic concerns. Iranian students chanted, “Never mind Palestine, think about us,” and “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran.”With their comments, the Israeli ministers and military appeared to be trying to stir similar feelings among Palestinians, calling on them to consider their well-being.“After the Iranians completely destroyed Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria, they are starting to do the exact same thing in Gaza,” Liberman said on Saturday night, in a Facebook video published by the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).The video, published in English, Hebrew and Arabic, was specifically directed toward a Palestinian audience.“I suggest you think about your children, their future, and start pressing Hamas leaders to change direction. Right now, you’re on a flight to nowhere. If you change the direction, believe me, you will build, first and foremost, a good future for your children,” he said“The heads of the regime in Tehran are not interested in the depressing reality in Gaza nor in the future of the children there. They care about their extremist ideology and hurting Israel as much as possible,” he said.The defense minister also noted that while the vast majority of Gaza Strip residents only have access to electricity between four to six hours a day, the leaders of Hamas — Yahya Sinwar and Saleh al-Arouri — have power 24 hours a day.Since becoming defense minister last year, Liberman has maintained a policy of “sticks and carrots” as it relates to the Palestinians. Regarding Gaza, where there is widespread unemployment, he has said that he would be prepared to allow residents of the Strip to work in Israel, if the security situation were calmer.Speaking to Israel Radio, the intelligence minister also accused the Islamic Republic of effectively hijacking the Gaza Strip for its own means through its influence over the Hamas terrorist group.“Iran and Hezbollah are trying to turn Gaza into Lebanon II, into south Lebanon B,” Katz said.“We need to differentiate between the interests of Hamas and the interests of most of the people in Gaza,” he added.Katz, who is minister of both intelligence and transportation, has long advocated for the construction of an artificial island off the coast of Gaza where a port can be opened in an attempt to make the Strip more independent.Referring to Gaza as a “ticking time bomb,” he repeated his call for the off-shore port, saying it would relieve Israel of the onus of having to manage the land crossings and daily convoys of trucks bringing humanitarian aid and commercial goods into the coastal enclave.Maintaining the same basic line of argument, the IDF also blamed Iran for supplying the terrorist group that launched the mortar shells — which it inaccurately referred to as rockets — and unnecessarily endangering the lives of Gaza citizens.“The rockets were launched by a terror organization that used standard-grade Iranian weapons. This is a severe incident that proves once more how much these terror organizations despise the residents of Gaza & are willing to put them at risk of escalation over Iranian interests,” the army tweeted on Sunday.The rockets were launched by a terror organization that used standard-grade Iranian weapons. This is a severe incident that proves once more how much these terror organizations despise the residents of Gaza & are willing to put them at risk of escalation over Iranian interests-— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) December 30, 2017-The military would not elaborate on the type of mortar shell used in the attack or regarding which terrorist group is believed to have fired them, citing “security concerns.”In the attack on Friday, three mortar shells were fired at southern Israel. Two of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, while the third fell in Israeli territory in the Shaar Hanegev region, on the Gaza border.Police said they found the shell at the entrance to a building that had sustained damage from the fire.The attack appeared to deliberately coincide with a ceremony marking what would have been the 24th birthday of Oron Shaul, an IDF soldier who was killed in 2014, and whose remains are held by Hamas.Shortly after the rocket barrage, the IDF retaliated by attacking two Hamas positions with tank shelling and strikes from aircraft.

Kim Jong Un says US should know North Korean nuclear force a reality-Despite bellicose threat, Supreme Leader also strikes conciliatory tone in his New Year's address, wishing success for Winter Olympics set to begin in South Korea next month-By Eric Talmadge-TOI-DEC 31,17

TOKYO (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said Monday the United States should be aware that his country’s nuclear forces are now a reality, not a threat. But he also struck a conciliatory tone in his New Year’s address, wishing success for the Winter Olympics set to begin in the South in February and suggesting the North may send a delegation to participate.Kim, wearing a Western-style gray suit and tie, said in his customary annual address his country had achieved the historic feat of “completing” its nuclear forces and added he has a nuclear button on his desk.“The US should know that the button for nuclear weapons is on my table,” he said during the speech. “The entire area of the US mainland is within our nuclear strike range. … The United States can never start a war against me and our country.”Kim also called for improved relations with the South, an idea mentioned in speeches more often than it is met. He said the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics would be a good opportunity to showcase the status of the Korean nation.He said the North and South could meet urgently to discuss the North sending a delegation.“The Winter Olympic games that will be held soon in the South will be a good opportunity to display the status of the Korean nation and we sincerely wish that the event will be held with good results,” he said.The New Year’s address is an annual event in the North and is watched closely for indications of the direction and priorities Kim may adopt in the year ahead.This year’s speech was seen as particularly important because of the high tensions over Pyongyang’s frequent missile launches and its nuclear test in 2017. The tests were the focus of fiery verbal exchanges between the North and US President Donald Trump, who has derisively called Kim, “little rocket man.”Kim also stressed North Korea’s economic achievements during the speech, and noted the importance of improving the nation’s standard of living.

After a year marred by terror attacks, revelers welcome 2018 in Europe-Under heightened alert and bolstered security, cities across the globe welcome in the new year with dazzling firework displays and street parties-By AFP and TOI staff    -DEC 31,17

Countless revelers switched into party mode Sunday across Europe to ring in 2018 after Sydney and Hong Kong earlier welcomed New Year on the other side of the globe with dazzling firework displays.In London more than 100,000 ticket-holders gazed up at a spectacular pyrotechnics display from the banks of the river Thames, before dancing to Auld Lang Syne.Keeping with tradition, the Big Ben bell in the Houses of Parliament rang in Britain’s new year — the chimes having been turned back on especially for the celebrations as the famous clock tower is undergoing renovation and encased in scaffolding.Other European cities were similarly awash with people despite the winter cold.In Paris hundreds of thousands of partygoers braved a storm warning and drizzle to line the Champs-Elysees avenue before a dazzling light show and a fireworks display lit up the Arc de Triomphe.Nearly 2,000 security forces were deployed to protect the crowd — out of some 140,000 mobilized nationwide to guard against the jihadist threat which the authorities describe as “still high.”One participant, who gave his name only as Stephane, insisted that a spate of recent attacks on France were “in the past.”“Life goes on and they (jihadists) are on the retreat,” he said.While New Year’s Eve is not officially celebrated in Israel, many secular Israelis do mark the end of the civil year, known locally as “Sylvester” — the December 31 anniversary of the death of Pope Sylvester I.Israeli authorities said they were on alert throughout the country with extra units, special patrol units and border police patrolling city centers. Traffic police and volunteers were also spread out to conduct alcohol inspections on drivers.In Hong Kong, the city staged a stunning fireworks display over its famous Victoria Harbour and thousands watched as “shooting stars” were fired from the rooftops of skyscrapers during a 10-minute musical spectacular.Three hours earlier Australia had rung in the New Year with a magnificent show of rainbow-coloured fireworks cascading from Sydney Harbour Bridge, as partygoers marked the nation’s legalisation of gay marriage amid tight security.In Britain, despite the capital being hit by four terror attacks in 2017, Scotland Yard said it had fewer police officers on the streets than during last year’s event.And revelers on the banks of the Thames were in a party mood as they danced to a soundtrack dominated by women to mark the centenary of women being granted the vote.“We will have the right response of officers at the right locations,” said superintendent Nick Aldworth. “There is no specific threat to this event.Tens of thousands of people had been expected in Edinburgh for its Hogmanay celebrations — one of the world’s biggest street parties.-Around the world-In Berlin, special tents were set up at the Brandenburg Gate to assist female victims of sexual harassment, following mass assaults on women in Cologne two years ago.In Cologne itself, 1,400 police were being mobilized, street lighting improved and more video cameras installed.As the midnight chimes neared in western Europe, Dubai had already moved into 2018, celebrating with a laser show on the world’s tallest tower, the 828-metre (2,716-foot) Burj Khalifa.Moscow likewise entered the new year with major boulevards and 36 key sites decked out.In Africa, Cameroon President Paul Biya used the occasion to remind his citizens of their “duty” to “maintain republican order” as well as “social peace and national unity” amid unrest in the country’s Anglophone regions.Gabon’s President Ali Bongo vowed “radical change in governance” in 2018 in his end-of-year speech, with around a third of the country living below the poverty line.“I am determined to do everything possible to strengthen our unity, regain our cohesion,” he said.In the Americas the countdown continued. In Brazil’s party capital Rio millions were to gather on Copacabana beach to watch the fireworks, with many wearing white, the traditional colour to usher in the new year.-Toughest security in years-Despite the joyous mood among those celebrating, stricter security has been a key focus amid fears that crowds could be targets for vehicle and other terror attacks.In Australia, the stronger police presence included some officers carrying semi-automatic rifles in Sydney and bollards used as barriers against vehicles. Earlier in December one man was killed and more than a dozen hurt when a man plowed a car into a crowd of pedestrians in Melbourne.Other cities are also on alert following deadly vehicle assaults over the past two years in Barcelona, Nice and London.New York’s Times Square celebrations are set to go ahead despite the Arctic chill gripping much of the central and northeastern United States and Canada. But revelers there will be surrounded by the strongest security presence in years, after two recent attacks apparently inspired by the Islamic State group.