Wednesday, September 07, 2016

From Ian:

Amb. Alan Baker: Israel’s Rights in the Territories under International Law
Israel Is Not an “Occupier”
International law defines “occupation” as one power occupying the lands of a foreign sovereign. In Israel’s case, Israel is not occupying any foreign sovereign’s land; Israel entered the area known as the West Bank in 1967 and took over the authority to administer the land from Jordan, which was never considered to be a sovereign in the area.
“Palestinian Territories” Is Not a Legal Term
The international community’s constant referral to the “Palestinian territories” is a complete fallacy and has absolutely no legal or political basis. There has never been a Palestinian state, as such, and therefore the territories never belonged to any Palestinian entity. There’s no international agreement, there’s no contract, there’s no treaty, and there’s no binding international resolution that determines that the territories belong to the Palestinians.
In actual fact, even the Palestinians themselves, in the Oslo agreement that they signed with Israel, acknowledge the fact that the ultimate permanent status of the territory is to be determined by negotiations. Therefore, even the Palestinians accept the fact that this is not Palestinian territory, its disputed territory whose status is yet to be settled.
The Settlements Are Not Illegitimate
There’s one other point, the issue of settlements is a negotiating issue. The Palestinians have agreed with the Israelis that the issue of settlements is one of the issues on the permanent status negotiating table. Therefore, anybody who comes along and claims that Israel’s settlements are illegitimate – whether it’s the EU, whether it’s individual governments, whether it is the secretary of state of the United States, who said so specifically, or the spokesman of the State Department – they’re prejudging a negotiating issue, which is clearly incompatible with any negotiating principle.
There’s No Such Thing as 1967 Borders
There’s no such thing as 1967 borders. A border is a line between two sovereign entities. In 1967, there was a ceasefire line that had existed since the 1948-1949 war between the Arab states and Israel and after Israel declared its independence. The Jordanians insisted on inserting in the Armistice Agreement of 1949 a provision which says that the armistice demarcation line is not the final border. Final borders can only be determined in peace negotiations between the parties. So “1967 borders” is a non-existent term and anybody using this term – again, including the U.S. administration and the EU – are simply being misled.

Elliott Abrams: Obama: See No Evil, See No Enemies
What has been the American response? What has the White House decided? To do nothing, and to tell the Navy to bob and weave and duck. The administration remains committed to its nuclear deal above all, and is willing to allow these dangerous and humiliating maneuvers against the Navy without reply. It is engaged in covering up Iran’s violations of the nuclear deal, denying them, and allowing secret exemptions. Meanwhile Iran increases its presence and activity in Iraq and Syria and uses the nuclear deal to build its economy.
It would be easy to show the Cuban regime, and the Cuban people, that we care more about freedom than Jet Blue; all that was required was a visit to Guillermo Farinas. Still, the administration won’t do it, refusing to undermine its message that Cuba is changing and is our new friend. It is not so easy to show the world that we are not cowed by Iran and that our Navy will not be abused by the Iranian Navy; that will actually require sinking an Iranian vessel. But here again, the administration will not undermine its message that the nuclear deal will bring peace and moderation.
So it will be up to our next president to distinguish between friends and enemies. If he or she wants to send the world a message that the Obama era is over and America is back, visits to Cuban dissidents like Farinas and one sinking of an Iranian ship that is illegally and dangerously harassing a U.S. Navy vessel would be the best and likely the cheapest ways to do so.
Will Obama roll the dice on the Middle East one more time?
Barack Obama took office in 2009 with two big personal priorities in foreign policy: the limitation of nuclear weapons and the cause of Palestinian statehood. This summer the president has been weighing a flurry of possible last-minute actions to cement his legacy on nukes, including a U.N. resolution that would ban testing. That raises an obvious question: Will Obama also launch an 11th-hour Mideast gambit?
The possibility has been debated in and outside the White House ever since Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s quixotic effort to broker an Israeli-Palestinian deal collapsed in 2014. All along, the assumption has been that Obama might wait to act until after the presidential election, so as to avoid creating problems for Hillary Clinton. There’s plenty of precedent: Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all bid for a Middle East legacy during their final months.
Not surprisingly, the prospect of an Obama initiative — which could take the form of a speech, or at its most ambitious, a U.N. resolution — is producing “high anxiety in the Netanyahu world,” as one former administration official puts it. That would be Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, the Israeli leader who has haunted and taunted Obama since he took office — and absorbed in return more White House animus and abuse than any other U.S. ally. In the end, Obama’s final decisions on the Middle East may be driven by another drama: the Barack and Bibi endgame.

JPost Editorial: Washington or Moscow?
There is evidence that Netanyahu has good relations with Putin, more so than he has been seen to have with US President Barack Obama. That might give Netanyahu a reason to view Moscow as a new and welcome mediator, considering his rocky relationship with Obama. Nevertheless, we believe that it is imperative that Israel’s relations with the US remain paramount, and that includes the US role in the peace process. Israel and the US share deep relations based on a long historical alliance, shared values, security ties and personal bonds between many in the two countries.
With two months to go before presidential elections in the US, and four months until a new president is sworn in, it is essential that Israel mend fences with the current administration. This includes finalizing a new deal for foreign military aid to Israel. Supporters of Israel in the US are pushing for the deal to be closed before elections.
We agree. Finalizing the deal with Obama would send a message to the American people that Israel is a bipartisan issue and receives support from a bigger swath of the American people. Obama is a progressive president, and if he signs the deal it would symbolize more buy-in from a wider spectrum of Americans.
This doesn’t mean that Israel should neglect its ties with Russia. On the contrary. What would be wise is for Israel to build on the unique role Moscow has in the region to moderate and stabilize the countries that pose a security risk to Israel. Putin has sway over Assad as well as the Islamic regime in Iran, and ties with Moscow should continue to be cultivated to serve Israel’s greater security interests.
But given all that the US relationship means, it would be unwise for Israel to appear to be choosing Russia as its sole strategic partner.
PM: Israel is Europe's partner in war against radical Islam
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte in The Hague Tuesday, on the first day of a two-day visit to the Netherlands. The meeting focused, among other things, on regional geopolitics, security, Israel-Europe relations.
Netanyahu is also scheduled to meet with King Willem-Alexander, as well as with Senate President Ankie Broekers-Knol and House of Representatives Speaker Khadija Arib.
"It's a pleasure to be back here in the Netherlands," Netanyahu said at a joint press conference after the meeting. Turning to Rutte, he said, "You're a great friend to Israel and great personal friend, and I think a great champion of peace.
"There is a fateful battle that is raging today in the entire world between the forces of peace and the forces of terror, between the forces of democracy and the forces of tyranny, between modernity and medievalism. Israel and the Netherlands stand together for peace, democracy and modernity. We stand together against terror, tyranny, medievalism.
"The world already understands that Israel is not the enemy, but rather a partner in the war against the evils of radical Islam. It is time Europe understands that as well. We are not just protecting ourselves -- we are protecting you," Netanyahu said.
Gas cylinders found in car near Paris's Notre Dame
Two suspects were in custody on Wednesday after French police found several gas cylinders in a car near Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral, sources close to the investigation said.
Anti-terror prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation, the sources said, adding that no detonators were found in the car.
The car’s owner and an associate, both known to police, were arrested on Tuesday, they said.
Notre Dame is one of Paris’s most visited landmarks, attracting 13 million visitors each year.
France has been rocked by a string of deadly attacks claimed by Islamic State.
In July, 86 people were killed when a truck plowed into a Bastille Day crowd in the southern resort of Nice with IS saying it was driven by one of its followers.
Less than two weeks later, two young jihadists murdered a priest near the northern city of Rouen.
ISIS Planned to Strike More Targets During Paris Attacks
The sophisticated ISIS network that plots foreign strikes had planned for the carnage in the November 2015 Paris attacks to be far worse, to occur in other European countries as well and, investigators believe, had planned to follow them up with strikes in several locations, CNN has learned.
CNN has obtained thousands of pages of documents and photos from internal European investigations and gathered information from sources close to the Paris investigation that together provide new details about the highly organized terror group intent on attacking overseas targets.
These documents reveal new information about two captured operatives who investigators believe intended to attack France. They also point, chillingly, to the existence of another suspected terrorist -- never before named publicly -- who authorities claim is linked to the Paris terror cell and was on the loose in Europe for months after that attack. That man, identified by authorities as Abid Tabaouni, was only arrested in July.
And the documents shed new light on the highly organized branch of ISIS devoted to plotting attacks inside Europe where, even now, sources told CNN, operatives await instructions from senior handlers in Syria.
"ISIS is increasing its international attack planning," said Paul Cruickshank, a CNN terrorism analyst who contributed to CNN's investigation and editor of CTC Sentinel, a publication issued by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. "It's increasingly sophisticated in the way it does this. It's set up an intricate, logistical support system for these terrorists ... to launch these terrorist attacks."
PM to Dutch MPs: Palestinians won’t accept Israel’s existence
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out Wednesday at the Palestinian Authority, telling reporters during a state visit to the Netherlands that the PA celebrated terror and refused to recognize Israel.
“The Palestinians want Acre, Jaffa and Tel Aviv,” he said, according to quotes reported by Israel National News and confirmed by Netanyahu’s spokesman. “The Palestinians and [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas won’t agree to the existence of Israel. The Palestinians celebrate murderous terror around the world, and in Israel they name their streets after murderers,” he said.
While Abbas has refused Netanyahu’s demand to publicly recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the PA has recognized Israel’s existence and backs a peace deal based on a two-state solution. Abbas has refused to engage in talks, however, until Israel ceases all building over the Green Line, including in Jerusalem, and releases the last group of Palestinian prisoners whose release was part of the 2014 talks between Israel and the PA.
Netanyahu also said settlements were not the cause of the conflict, but rather the fact there was an Israel at all.
“Their problem is not the West Bank, it’s our very existence,” he insisted.
Dutch Muslim MP refuses to shake Netanyahu’s hand
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was faced with a potentially awkward encounter Wednesday, when a Dutch Muslim parliamentarian refused to shake his hand, indicating instead the Palestinian flag pin on his lapel.
A video of Netanyahu’s meet-and-greet with Dutch lawmakers in The Hague shows Tunahan Kuzu pointing to his pin as he puts his hand behind his back when Netanyahu approaches.
Netanyahu shrugs as both men nod in understanding. And the prime minister moves on to the next person waiting to greet him.
Kuzu, 35, was born in Istanbul and is a member of the the pro-immigrant DENK, or Think, party, which is made up of migrants to Holland.
In 2014, Kuzu led an unsuccessful parliamentary effort for the Netherlands to recognize Palestine.
Netanyahu doubts Abbas claim he was ready to meet in Moscow
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of not actually wanting to have a face to face meeting, amid conflicting reports from Jerusalem and Ramallah over Israeli and Palestinian willingness for a Moscow summit.
Netanyahu’s comments came after both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared their willingness to face-to-face talks then appeared to blame each other for dodging a proposed meet-up in Moscow.
Abbas said earlier in the day that he was willing to meet Netanyahu, but claimed the Israeli prime minister moved the meeting, thus nixing it.
“Netanyahu’s representative proposed to delay this meeting to a later date. So the meeting will not happen, but I am ready and I declare again that I will go to any meeting,” Abbas said at a joint press conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
But Netanyahu responded that the Palestinian demands for preconditions to the talks had derailed the possible summit.
Senior PLO Official: Abbas set no preconditions for meeting with Netanyahu
PLO Executive Committee Member Ahmad Majdalani said Tuesday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had planned to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow without preconditions.
“President Abbas did not set any preconditions to meet Netanyahu in Moscow,” Majdalani, who also is a top aide to Abbas, told The Jerusalem Post.
Until Tuesday, Palestinian Leadership had insisted that Israel freeze settlements and release prisoners before any meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu.
Majdalani’s statement came hours after Abbas said he had accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposal to meet Netanyahu in Moscow on Friday in Moscow.
“President Putin proposed that we meet in Moscow on September 9 and I agreed to that,” Abbas said during a joint press conference in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Czech Republic keeps Jerusalem on the map
Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat celebrated the decision of the Czech government not to cave to Palestinian pressure and show Tel Aviv – not Jerusalem - as the capital of Israel in school textbooks, after it had declared it would do so a week ago.
“We’re on the map!” Barkat said. “The truth has won out over the falsehood: […] I am happy that the letter I sent to the Czech Prime Minister and the other diplomatic efforts had influence, and I thank the Czech government for deciding the correct decision and not giving in to wild Palestinian lies and incitement.”
The declaration comes after the Palestinian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Khaled el-Atrash, filed a complaint against the Czech ministry of education because it was teaching children that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
"This map [showing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel] not only presents something which is unacceptable to Palestinians, but also shows something which goes against international law and is against the official position of the European Union – which includes the Czech Republic," Atrash said.
What will the US do if Hamas wins the upcoming Palestinian elections?
This October will mark the first Palestinian election in over a decade.
The previous election, 10 years ago, was a parliamentary election that brought Hamas into power, while this one is a municipal election. Knowing what happened in 2005, why would the corrupt, despised Palestinian Authority risk an election when Palestinians might choose Hamas’s Islamism over Fatah’s cronyism? The answer is that the PA was over-confident that Hamas would boycott this election, as it boycotted the municipal elections in 2012. Now, Hamas could win municipalities in Samaria, literally a stone’s throw from the Israeli center where 80 percent of the Jewish population resides. Hamas is looking now for a foothold in the West Bank, replicating its path to power in Gaza in 2005, and also diverting attention from its failure to provide essential services in Gaza.
Will an American administration and Congress allow American tax dollars to fund Hamas-controlled municipalities, if they win elections there? In 2006, Congress passed the “Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act,” prohibiting the executive branch from directly funding any Hamas-controlled Palestinian government. But when a unity Palestinian government was announced in 2014 that included Hamas, the Obama administration offered them money, with the excuse that the future Hamas-Fatah government was to be composed of only technocrats, not of the actual murderers of civilians one would label as terrorists.
But more troubling is that a Hamas victory would come at a very sensitive time.
Posthumous medal for IDF soldier who fought stabbers ‘barehanded’
The IDF on Tuesday posthumously awarded a medal of bravery to an off-duty Israeli soldier fatally injured as he fought unarmed against two Palestinian terrorists who attacked shoppers in a supermarket.
GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Roni Numa presented the medal to Yael Weissman, the widow of Staff Sgt. Tuvia Weissman, during an army ceremony held at Ammunition Hill (Givat Hatachmoshet) in Jerusalem.
Weissman was shopping with his family in a West Bank supermarket on February 18, when the terrorists began to attack customers. The 21-year-old soldier and another man were seriously wounded in the attack; doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center pronounced Weissman dead a few hours later.
As he was off-duty at the time, the Nahal Brigade soldier was without a service weapon, but nonetheless confronted the terrorists.
Reckless driving towards troops caused friend's death
An Arab resident of the Shu'afat refugee camp in his 20s was arrested yesterday (Tuesday) on suspicion of manslaughter, causing death by negligence, driving without a valid license, and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The Jerusalem Police statement was released as part of the investigation of an incident that occurred on Sunday night. The arrested suspect was driving recklessly, causing Border Police troops operating in the area to suspect that he was trying to commit a terror attack and run them over with the car. The troops opened fire and shot and killed a 27-year-old youth who was in the car with the suspect.
The police announced yesterday that it had ruled out terrorist motives. The Border Policemen claimed that if the suspect, who was driving, hadn't been handling the car so recklessly, or if he had heeded their calls for him to stop, they wouldn't have opened fire on the car and the passenger's death would have been avoided.
Despite this, an investigation of the troops' conduct has been opened in the Police Internal Investigations Department (PIID).
First arrest made in building collapse investigation
Police made the first arrest Tuesday evening in the case surrounding the collapse of the underground parking lot in Tel Aviv which left 3 dead, dozens injured and five missing. The arrest comes just a day-and-a-half after the collapse as rescue forces continue in their efforts to locate three people that are still missing.
A gag order has been imposed on the details of the investigation, including the identity of the arrested individual.
Another body was pulled from the rubble Tuesday afternoon after rescue teams continued their search throughout the night. However, three people remain trapped—two residents of Acre and a Palestinian from the Dawabsheh family.
Rescue forces still believe it is possible to reach the trapped people. Lt. Sami Yehezkel, one of the commanders of rescue teams at the scene, said, "We are working with all the forces of the Homefront Command to reach those trapped. We are working at a number of locations we identified at the start through intelligence. This leads us to the most relevant places first."
"We are working with heavy equipment and all the means of the Homefront Command. We have the best methods in the world based on our unfortunately extensive experience in Israel and abroad," he continued. "Until proven otherwise, we are treating all of those trapped as still alive. We are operating at peak energy and professionalism and are ready to work 24/7 to find those still trapped."
World War I-era Turkish shells discovered at Sea of Galilee
Receding waters in the drought-hit Sea of Galilee in northern Israel have uncovered five World War I-era artillery shells likely dumped by retreating Turkish troops a century ago, Israeli police said on Tuesday.
A swimmer at a resort on the southern edge of the freshwater lake discovered the ordnance, and police demolition experts safely detonated the shells on Monday.
"It emerged that these were artillery shells from the World War I period which were apparently abandoned by the Turks when they lightened their load as they fled from the British army," police spokesman Luba Samri said.
Turkish forces, which controlled the province of Palestine as part of the Ottoman Empire, were defeated in battles in the Galilee in 1918, notably in the Battle for Tzemach, considered a strategic location because of its railway station, built under the Ottoman rule. Before dawn one day, Australian calvary forces tried to wrest control of Tzemach from the Ottoman troops defending it and were met with automatic gunfire.
If quiet persists, Liberman says he would allow Gaza workers back into Israel
After nearly a decade-long ban, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said he did “not rule out” renewing work permits for Palestinian laborers from the Gaza Strip to work in Israel if the relative calm in the Hamas-run territory held.
After Hamas violently overthrew Fatah in the enclave in 2007, Israel scrapped all work-related travel documents allowing Gazans to enter Israel and the West Bank for employment.
In a Tuesday meeting with several mayors of Israeli towns adjacent to the Gaza border, Liberman said he “does not rule out renewing entry permits of workers from Gaza to Israel.”
“Israel, as much possible, would like to ease the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, but not at the expense of security,” he said.
The work permits would be crucial to the economy of the impoverished Gaza Strip, which some international official say is on the brink of collapse after almost a decade of security blockades imposed by Israel and Egypt.
Ahmed Tibi visits top terrorist in prison
Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi of the Joint Arab List recently visited terrorist mastermind Marwan Barghouti in the Hadarim prison.
Voice of Israel correspondent Gal Berger reports that Barghouti told Tibi that he supports holding local elections in the PA-controlled territories, and added that these local elections must lead to general parliamentary and presidential elections.
The terrorist leader also said that he "supports diplomatic efforts that will lead to the end of the occupation and the release of prisoners."
Recently, MK Yousef Jabareen also visited Barghouti. It should be noted that despite repeated appeals to the Knesset Speaker and to the Knesset Ethics Committee, no significant sanctions are levied against MKs who visit terrorists in prison.
Marwan Barghouti is responsible for the terror attack at the gas station in Givat Ze'ev, in which Yoela Hen was murdered. The indictment against Barghouti states that the attack was carried out on his direct order, as revenge for the killing of the terrorist Raed Karmi.
IsraellyCool: Hamas TV Glorifies Murder Of Rabbi
Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV – fresh off their own goal of showing a truer picture of Gaza – have gone back to basics with a documentary on terrorist-cum-worm-food, the appropriately named Muhammad Fakih.
It is a 27-minute yawn-fest made more boring by my lack of Arabic (do not worry, I did not watch the entire thing. I had drying paint to watch instead). But it is post-worthy for the first scene – a reenactment of the murder of Rabbi Michael ‘Miki’ Mark (hat tip: Clay).
If you find yourself supporting a people who not only perpetrate such heinous acts but then spend time and money celebrating them, please delete your life.
Syrian warplanes drop chlorine bombs on Aleppo — activists
Syrian activists and rescue workers in the rebel-held part of the contested city of Aleppo said that government warplanes dropped suspected chlorine bombs Tuesday on a crowded neighborhood, injuring dozens.
The report could not be independently verified and it was not clear how it was determined that chlorine gas was released.
Accusations involving use of chlorine and other poisonous gases are not uncommon in Syria’s civil war, and both sides have denied using them while blaming the other for using it as a weapon of war. Last month, there were at least two reports of suspected chlorine attacks in Aleppo also, while the Syrian government also blamed the opposition for using the gas.
In Tuesday’s attack, a medical report from one of the hospitals in the besieged eastern rebel-held part of Aleppo was shared with journalists via text messages. It said at least 71 persons, including 37 children and 10 women, were treated for breathing difficulties, dry cough, and that their clothes smelled of chlorine. The report said 10 of the patients are in critical care, including a pregnant woman.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Assad Again Uses Poison Gas; ‘Oh, That Basher,’ Chuckles World (satire)
Embattled Syrian President Basher Assad’s forces deployed chemical weapons against insurgents in this ancient city once more this week, prompting the international community to laugh at the man’s continuing disregard for what most others consider proper behavior.
“Oh, that Basher,” they chuckled and shook their heads. “He doesn’t play by anyone else’s rules.”
The Syrian Civil War, now in its sixth year, has seen ups and downs for the Assad regime, but with Iranian and Russian assistance, and a total flouting of international warfare standards that bar the use of poison gas and other chemical or biological agents, the ophthalmologist-turned-dictator has all but cemented his place as the leader of whatever Syrian state emerges from the carnage. In the process, he has presided over massacres, torture, mass executions, and brutal battlefield tactics that have so far left hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead and millions more displaced. In response, the world has smiled, nodded, and noted that they’ve come to expect such unconventional antics from everyone’s favorite genocidal uncle.
“He’s a character, that Basher,” observed a grinning US Secretary of State John Kerry. “There he was, dutifully complying with our demand to ship out his chemical weapons stockpile three years ago, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s got more! He sure got us. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a guy who can keep pranking you even when you’ve been primed for years to be wary of his shenanigans.”
State Letter Reveals Plan for U.S. Legal Commitment to Unratified Nuclear Treaty
The Obama administration will seek a formal political agreement at the United Nations that would legally bind the United States to a nuclear test ban treaty rejected by the Senate 17 years ago.
The plan was outlined in a letter from the State Department to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), who is challenging the administration’s effort to lock in American adherence to the signed but unratified Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT.
The treaty bans nuclear testing and was signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996. The Senate voted against ratifying the treaty in 1999. The Obama administration, as part of its anti-nuclear arms control agenda, has sought ways to codify the test ban treaty despite the constitutional requirement for Senate ratification.
Julia Frifield, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, stated in an Aug. 10 letter to Corker that the administration would not seek a legally binding U.N. Security Council resolution on testing.
But Frifield said the administration is working on a U.N. resolution that would affirm the current U.S. moratorium on nuclear tests, and which would mention a legal commitment not to test made in a joint statement by the five declared nuclear powers.
Frifield said the administration wants a new “political statement” that would commit the United States, China, Russia, France, and Britain to legally ban nuclear testing.
The statement will say that any nuclear test would “defeat the object and purpose” of the treaty, she noted.
Donald Trump: Israel will be destroyed unless I’m elected
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that if he is not elected, the Iran nuclear deal will destroy Israel.
Last year’s sanctions-relief-for-nuclear-rollback deal “is going to destroy Israel — unless I get elected,” Trump told Cleveland area labor leaders on Monday, according to The Columbus Dispatch. “Then Israel will be just fine.”
In Virginia, meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., defended the Iran deal and dismissed Trump’s concerns about Israel as insincere, saying the Republican’s strategy for Israel was to “pat them on the back and tell them good luck.”
Clinton, as secretary of state in President Barack Obama’s first term, helped shape the negotiations and said she will uphold the deal, although she has suggested that she will be more stringent in enforcing it than the Obama administration.
Unlike many of his rivals during the Republican primaries, Trump has not said he would scrap the agreement, but he has criticized the agreement, saying it was a bad deal. He has also said he would first consult with his national security advisers.
Was There Another Iran Ransom Deal?
The three men were Waiel El-Maadawy, an Egyptian-American Army veteran and former Florida sheriff’s deputy; his cousin and fellow Arabic speaker, Amr Mohamed; and Russell Frost, from Wichita, Kansas. The three men were seized from an interpreter’s apartment—and had to endure the indignity of having Iraqi officials claim they were actually in a bordello. Later they had to suffer a month of torture: “The next three weeks brought round-the-clock horror: excruciating pain and utter darkness. They were kept blindfolded and shackled in stress positions, didn’t get much food and learned to urinate in empty water bottles to avoid the beatings that accompanied bathroom visits, the men said. One captor patted El-Maadawy’s muscular build and told him it was a shame that ‘all that was about to be worm food.’ ” The three men continue to struggle with the physical and psychological toll of their ordeal to this day.
And who was responsible for inflicting this torture on them? According to McClatchey, “The two Arabic-speaking Americans asked their captors whether they were part of the Iraqi government. They replied that the Iraqi government ‘paid them to be in charge of this neighborhood,’ El-Maadawy said…. ‘They were supporting the Iraqi government, augmenting the Iraqi forces,’ El-Maadawy said of his captors. ‘In essence, we were kidnapped by the Iraqi government.’ ”
But even though they were closely linked to the Iraqi government, the Sadrist gunmen also must have had close links to the Iranian government—ties that go unmentioned in this article. The Popular Mobilization Forces, the Shiite militia group of which these kidnappers were a part, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Iranian Quds Force. It is doubtful that the kidnappers could have held three Americans for a month without at least a tacit okay from the Iranian government—and probably would not have released them either without an okay from Tehran.
But we know nothing about why the men were held or why they were released. This story is told strictly from the hostages’ point of view; they didn’t know why the Shiite militiamen decided to hold them or to release them. Was a deal struck between Washington and Tehran or between Washington and Baghdad? It did not necessarily have to be a monetary deal—there could have been a quid pro quo of some kind. We simply don’t know. If Congress is going to probe the $400 million payment to Tehran, it should probe the contractors’ kidnapping as well, along with the more recent seizure of further dual-national Iranians to replace the ones that have been released.
Pentagon Officials: Armed IRGC Boats Swarmed U.S. Navy Ship in Persian Gulf
Seven armed boats from the navy of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) swarmed a U.S. Navy patrol ship in the Persian Gulf on Sunday, forcing it to change course after the Iranians came within 100 yards and stopped their vehicles in the American ship’s path, officials from the U.S. Defense Department said on Tuesday.
The incident was “unsafe and unprofessional due to lack of communications and the close-range harassing maneuvering,” a U.S. Defense official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The official added that manned weapons were visible inside the Iranian boats.
This was at least the fourth such incident in the past month, prompting American concern about the possibility of a more dangerous encounter in the future. “The big concern here is miscalculation,” U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel said last week, adding, “If they continue to test us, we are going to respond, and we are going to protect ourselves and our partners.”
There have been 31 other such incidents this year, about double the amount as of this time last year, a Defense Department official told Reuters. “We don’t see this type of unsafe and unprofessional activity from any other nation,” he added.
Sailors aboard the USS Nitze recorded an encounter last month when Iranian boats came as close as 300 yards, forcing it and the USS Mason to change course to avoid a collision. Two weeks later, two U.S. patrol coastal ships, the USS Tempest and the USS Squall, were operating in international waters in the northern Gulf when IRGC boats approached them at high speed and passed within 600 yards of Tempest three times. The Iranians ignored radio warnings that their actions were dangerous.
Saudi Grand Mufti: Iranians Not Muslim, 1300-Year War Continues Unhindered
The Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al Sheikh has fanned the flames of a 1300-year dispute between Shiites and Sunnis when he announced on Tuesday that the Iranians are the descendants of the Zoroastrians and of fire worshippers. He spoke ahead of the annual hajj, which this year starts on Saturday.
The Grand Mufti used the term “Majuws” to describe the Iranians, a term that literally means “magians,” which he cited from the Quran, Chapter 22, sūrat l-ḥajj (The Pilgrimage): “Indeed, those who have believed and those who were Jews and the Sabeans and the Christians and the Magians and those who associated with Allah – Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, over all things, Witness.”
“We must understand they are not Muslims, for they are the descendants of Majuws, and their enmity toward Muslims, especially the Sunnis, is very old,” the Saudi Grand Mufti said, and every learned Muslim understood the reference to the pilgrimage, which has been an area of contention between Shiites and Sunnis, and now between Iranians and Saudis, for almost as long as there has been an Islam.
The Grand Mufti responded an Irate speech by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who called on all Muslims to “fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj.” In other words, an open call to millions of pilgrims arriving in Mecca for the mid-month festival, to rebel against the Saudi royal family that owns and manages the cities of Mecca and Madīnah.
Daphne Anson: Girls' Day Out in Yemen: "Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews" (video)
“Allah is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam”.
With that proud Houthi slogan prominent in the background, female fighters in Yemen strut their stuff.
Explains the uploader:
"A brigade of all-female Houthi fighters held a parade in front of a school in Sanaa on Tuesday. Hundreds of girls reportedly joined the fighters, who were heavily armed carrying machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The Houthi fighters reportedly received food and gold jewellery from supporters at the end of the parade."
Yemen: All-female brigade of Houthi fighters hold parade in Sanaa

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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