Prsedident Abbas's speech

Israel didn't like it.

America didn't like it.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of carrying out a "war of genocide" in the Gaza Strip.

He was referring to the 50-day conflict over the summer that left approximately 2,100 Palestinians, 72 Israelis and one Thai national dead.

President Abbas has, since 2012 has said that the Palestinians would take the issues of occupation, collective punishments, and (in their view) war crimes to the International Criminal Court, but made no mention of this specifically in his speech – this being seen as a concession itself.

The Israeli delegation was not present in the hall during Mr. Abbas's speech, but Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Mr. Abbas's speech was a "speech of incitement filled with lies". He then accused the Palestinian leader of "diplomatic terrorism".

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President the speech "included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing".

Analysts are saying the speech was particularly strongly worded because the worlds attention, which was focused on the Palestinian plight and gaining steam diplomatically – has lost out in the headlines to the barbarism of Islamic State and their campaign of carving out a Caliphate.

But what I hear in part on the ground is that Mr. Abbas is losing some degree of popularity and respect among his people to the more hard line elements in the PA – ultimately Hamas itself.

Palestinians complain that they have done as Israel has asked them to do, and Israel has not reciprocated.

This then gives credence in some peoples minds to the actions, like what was seen in Gaza, which has brought to Gazans incredible amounts of loss and destruction – but has achieved greater fishing rights at sea and a loosening in the siege on the character and amount of goods allowed into the Strip.

Abbas told the Assembly, "There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian Territory occupied in the 1967 war."

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Rosh Hashanah

Hello Everyone!

Preparations are under way here for the Jewish New Year on the 24th!

For observant Jews, this period before the New Year observation is marked by special penitential prayers recited before the regular morning prayers.

The blowing of the ram's horn, called a 'shofar' in Hebrew, happens after the morning prayer service.

Jews of different areas sometimes do things differently to add a bit of flare.

North African and Middle Eastern Jews began to recite these special prayers early, a few days before the holiday comes.

Jews of European origin began to recite them very early this morning!

These special prayers are said daily, except on the New Year holiday itself, and last until the day before Yom Kippur – which follows ten days after the New Year.

Despite the spiritual beginnings to the day, the rest of it can be quite hectic as people rush the overstuffed super markets and catch up on things like paying bills and updating permits...

But when Rosh Hashanah (New Year in Hebrew) comes there will be largely quite during the two day observance marked by special prayers and scriptural readings.

Then it's off to socializing and food – and a bit of nature!

In Synagogues the main event of the Rosh Hashanah service is the blowing of the shofar during morning prayers.

Here in the Old City of Jerusalem we will hear it throughout the day as friends and families gather together.

The Old Testament observance for the New Year can be found in Leviticus 23:23-25.

When visiting one's home, there will be one special custom observed.

This is the eating of apple slices dipped in honey which symbolizes the hope that the coming year will be "sweet."

The other big custom associated with the 'new start' is the going to a natural source of flowing water like an ocean, river, or spring, and reading a selection of scripture followed by the casting of pieces of bread into the water.

All this is meant to symbolize the "casting off" of ones previous year's sins. (You can look this up in Micah 7:19).

So with the conflict over with Gaza, and the children back in school, the nation will now celebrate it's new year with peace – and hopefully it will remain so for the coming year and beyond.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

What It Takes To Win The Battle

Hello Friends,

The regional news is about President Obama's declared commitment to US soldiers: "I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq".

So are hailing this decision – believing America causes more damage than good, citing Afghanistan and Iraq as examples.

Others say that without the superiority of US forces on the ground fighting Islamic State, the conflict will continue for years to come, further instability and terrorism will flourish.

The President did say that America has "unique abilities" to respond to IS.

This of course is the air power we have seen over the past few weeks.

This air support, in the open desert warfare of the day, gives the Iraqi and Kurdish fighters on the ground the strong advantage.

But what about IS in Syria – people here in the Middle East are worried that if they are not dealt with in total (including in Syria), then they will never be defeated.

Mr. Obama spoke of his new strategy that allows for reconnaissance and air strikes in Syria, while building a 40 strong coalition of countries to fight and defeat IS.

He is also adamant about attacking the militant ideology too, calling upon the Muslim world to educate Muslims on this radicalization and to reject it publicly.

This will be the hardest and longest fight.

It is a fight that Muslims the world over must take at those who seek to radicalize youth and those who are marginalized – and it must come from within.

Saudi Arabia is home to the Sunni branch of Islam with it's Muslim Holy sites.

Yesterday we saw a prominent Saudi Cleric begin to tackle this issue. There will need to be more... just like their will need to be more airstrikes.

And just as the fight will rage in the desert of Iraq and potentially Syria, so too the war must be won within the mosques, with many Arab commentators asking if their fellow Muslims have what it takes to win the battle.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

The Cheif Diplomat

Hello All,

America and Great Britain are now supplying Iraq's unity government with increased military aid in it's fight against the Islamic State.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry touched down in Baghdad vowing to build a "broad coalition" of nations that would fight Islamic State.

That was Mr. Kerry's first stop on a regional tour where has enlisted 10 Arab countries in a global coalition to defeat IS. Mr. Kerry says that about 40 nations are helping in the fight against IS in Iraq. Officials traveling with Secretary Kerry, who was traveling in the Middle East this week said that the appointment of the new Iraqi government would kick-start US President Barak Obama's strategy to combat the Islamic State and ultimately defeat it.

Mr. Kerry, America's chief diplomat is tonight in Turkey, after having secured Saudi Arabia and Jordan for hosting logistical efforts and training camps for the fight against IS. Qatar and Turkey, who have supported Islamic interests and movements in the past, are on board in a capacity yet defined in the effort to rid the region of IS.

Turkey has around 49 of it's citizens being held hostage in Syria and they wish to tread carefully in their decisions so as not to irresponsibly provoke their captors.

The President wants an international coalition, made up of Arab countries with American logistical and air support, to aggressively pursue IS in Iraq and is now willing to commit to airstrikes in Syria against IS forces.

Troubling updated assessment data was released this week where the Central Intelligence Agency in America has concluded that there may be up to 31,500 Islamic State Fighters in Syria and Iraq.

The CIA is saying that more than 15,000 fighters, including 2,000 Westerners, have gone to Syria to join the Islamic State. The jihadist fighters have reportedly come from more than 80 countries across the world.

Mr. Kerry's diplomatic drive centers on building regional support for a global coalition to combat ISIS. He met with King Abdullah II in Jordan on Wednesday and with leaders of six Persian Gulf nations in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Kerry wants support for the military campaign against ISIS, and a crack down on Islamic State funding in addition to the stop of foreign fighters flowing into Syria and Iraq. The US also wants Sunni Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia, to counter the IS narrative in the hope of persuading Sunni Muslims not to follow its ideology.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

New Iraqi Government

Hello Friends,

The big news in the Middle East is the creation of the new government in Iraq today.

The United States is hailing it as a major milestone and a crucial step towards defeating the militant group, Islamic State (IS).

The desire of the international community is to see a united Iraqi government – one that represents and acts for all of Iraq's communities.

The US State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Middle East today to consult key partners on how to further support the Iraqi government, combat IS, and confront regional security challenges.

This is translated to mean that he will be going to Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who are Sunni Arab Kingdoms and who both share borders with Iraq, to build a coalition to confront and contain IS.

Hopefully this new government will avoid sectarian divides – that have led largely to the situation Iraq is now in – and start building the needed trust to bring together the people as Iraqis rather than their religious/ethnic affiliations.

America will now reward Iraq's unity government with increased military aid in it's fight against IS.

The United Kingdom has already initiated today, as a signal of their support of the new government, a shipment of heavy machine guns and other military hardware.

That task ahead is huge, because the disarray of Iraq's army.

It is largely the Kurdish forces and Shia militia who have been fighting the Sunni IS fighters – and it is the Sunni's of Iraq that have helped IS conquer large areas of the north.

Many believe these Sunnis can turn on IS and help Iraq win back it's territory if they clearly see recognition, rights, and representation in Governance.

It is the Sunni Iraqis who the government must pay the most attention to right now – along with the Kurds who Iraq has to thank that Baghdad isn't flying the black and white flag of IS.

But the message is clear - Iraq is going to do things the way the western powers want it done, or there is no support for the new government.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

Jerusalem Arab Development

Hello Everyone!

Well - here is some news we don't hear about very often...

In fact, it is only the second time in my 21 years of being here that I can recall such a thing...

2,200 housing units on 130 hectares are to be developed for an Arab neighborhood called Jebl Mukaber in Jerusalem.

In addition to the homes it will include the needed infrastructure, roads, businesses, schools, parks, and community centers.

In contrast to building in what is often referred to as West Jerusalem, which is a Jewish area, this plan took 10 years to make and 7 years to get approval through the Jerusalem Municipality.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat put spin on the plan saying it will increase Israeli sovereignty over the city, and that Jerusalem will be the united capital of Israel.

That translates to more taxation, more leverage to demolish Arab building considered illegal by the Israelis, and more settlement development for increasing the Jewish presence in predominantly Arab areas of Jerusalem.

Palestinian residents of the city have long complained about the near impossibility of obtaining permits from the Municipality for building purposes.

They say several obstacles, even committee hearings, prevent non Jews from getting necessary licenses to improve their living situation.

For it's part the Municipality often sites the difficulties and challenges associated with such areas due to lack of tax collection to finance services, rampant illegal construction, and little infrastructure as reasons why there is no action for improvement.

There is also the thorny issue of ownership and registration, because acknowledgement of such means legal protection, which makes it for more difficult for land appropriations for Jewish interests.

But this action will be welcomed and be a feather in the cap of the Mayor's office as it can say now that Arab residents are afforded the same rights and access as Jewish residents – even though there remains huge gaps – it is a step forward towards a peaceful Jerusalem.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LESEA Broadcasting

Materials Making Their Way

Hello Friends!

Good news as the first loads of construction materials are making their way to Gaza.

After the agreement of a cease fire between Israel and Hamas, building supplies have now entered the Gaza Strip for the first time since July 8.

The Kerem Shalom crossing, not far from Egypt, is the sole commercial passageway into the coastal Strip.

First across were quantities of window glass and ceramic tiles.

Cement and iron will follow in the coming days once an international organization effort for monitoring takes over the operations.

During the conflict, Israeli and Palestinian workers operated under fire for seven weeks as only humanitarian supplies of food, water and medicine trickled into Gaza.

Deliveries from Israeli vehicles are now being dropped off and loaded onto Palestinian trucks to distribution points throughout Gaza.

Other items making their way across include school supplies, clothing, shoes, and toys.

According to the United Nations approximately 16,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed or damaged by Israeli bombardments during the conflict.

Some sources estimate that 3.5 million tons of construction material will be needed to rebuild them.

With the fall fast approaching the building efforts will be colossal.

Over half a million people were displaced in Gaza. Many of that figure are able to return to homes or extended family – but many are not.

The Arab world is expected to kick in financially, alongside the UN, European donors, and international aid to rebuild Gaza.

The stark reality is that it will take years to rebuild homes, infrastructure, and life in Gaza after 50 days of conflict with Israel.

Brian Bush Middle east Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

The Battle Still Rages

Hello Friends,

Thank you again for your good prayers that peace would take hold here in the Middle East.

While other areas in the region appear to be ratcheting up in turmoils – here the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza seems stable for the moment.

The PR momentum seems firmly in the Palestinians hands with various reports of the Palestinian Authority threatening to go to the International Criminal Court.

Palestinian leadership, as well as Hamas seemingly, wants a date set for Israel to withdraw it's troops from the West Bank to the 1967 cease fire lines.

Adding more intrigue, is a reported meeting that took place in Amman, Jordan just before the truce was announced.

Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmod Abbas supposedly held talks before the Gaza truce was signed.

There has been no comment from Israel, the PA, or Jordan on the reports.

But this all plays well into the hands of Hamas who need to justify the death and destruction that the 50 days of conflict with Israel brought.

In terms of what Mr. Netanyahu has said, he told a press conference last night that Israel had secured a "great military and political" achievement in the Gaza war and that Hamas had been dealt a "heavy blow."

The Israeli public seem not so convinced, as the latest poll reveals that more than half of Israelis said that neither Israel nor Hamas have emerged victorious from the fighting in Gaza.

But the good news for Mr. Netanyahu is that the polling revealed that Israelis feel Netanyahu is still the best choice for the job of Prime Minister.

This gives Mr. Netanyahu a much needed lifeline politically as he fights multiple fronts both from within his party, the Security Cabinet, and his government.

For him – the battle still rages on...

Brian Bush Middle east Corespondent LeSEA Broadcasting

More Importantly...

Hello All,

More death as children now on both sides of the border have died.

A four year old Israeli boy in a Kibbutz near the Gaza border died as a result of a mortar fired out of Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has ordered his defense Minister to 'hit back hard' in retaliation.

The irony in this is that this is what both sides are doing.

A lot of attention has understandably focused upon Israel and Hamas as truces have come and gone.

Remove the flags and it is still a man verses a man.

This week has brought a return to rocket fire from militants within Gaza into Israel, and Israel striking by land, sea and air, targets within the Coastal Strip.

The death toll stands over 2,200 with more than 10,000 people wounded in Gaza – 68 dead in Israel with a few dozen wounded.

The UN will possibly debate the issue of permanent peace talks as a means of forcing the sides to end hostilities.

Germany, France and Britain are reportedly seeking a return of Gaza's rule to the Palestinian Authority's control, in addition to the lifting of Israeli restrictions, international supervision of borders and imports and with the peace talks themselves being based on the 1967 cease fire borders.

The European Union called for the disarming of Hamas, with Israel hailing the action.

But all of this comes to naught unless the sides cease hostilities.

Israel is said to be potentially reconsidering a restart of negotiations through Egypt to create a cease fire.

Unconfirmed details of a framework for a long term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas have been circulating – but Israel's security cabinet seems bitterly divided in their discussions on how to proceed or cease with the operation in Gaza which began at the beginning of July.

It has been cited that Israel's operation Protective Edge is costing the State 60 million dollars a day over the last 42 days.

More importantly, what of the cost to human life...

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

18 Minuets to Respond


Today a bit before 1:30 in the afternoon a senior member of Hamas was quoted as saying today would be the last cease fire extension – and it seems so.

At 3:48 in the afternoon three rockets were fired off toward the south of Israel landing in open areas near Ber Sheva.

It took Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu about 18 minuets to respond with an order for the Israeli Defense Forces to retaliate.

The Prime Minister also ordered the Israeli delegation in Cairo negotiating for a permanent cease fire to the hostilities home to Israel.

Thus is may be, at the time of posting this, that Mr. Netanyahu got an 'out' for having to push through his Security Cabinet an unpopular list of concessions with no real demilitarization from Hamas – Israel's main demand.

A poll taken yesterday reveals that the overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis want the operation Protective Edge to continue until Hamas is destroyed or surrenders.

(I have just received word that more Israeli airstrikes have hit Gaza.)

It is possible that international diplomacy may be exerted on the sides in order to place pressure and ensure there is no further fire and quiet returns.

Some Arab sources are saying the Israeli's themselves launched the rockets from within Gaza in order to sabotage the peace talks.

(A fourth rocket has now been launched landing in an open field in Israel.)

Lets pray that quiet will prevail and the delegations return to their work of negotiations – leading to an end of violence.

Brian Bush Middle East Correspondent LeSEA Broadcasting

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