Tuesday, November 15, 2016

From Ian:

PMW: Fatah official: Trump’s “true face” – “Zionist and racist”
Following the election of Donald Trump as the next US president, Palestinian leaders and others have reacted to the choice of the American people and voiced their opinions and expectations of Trump.
Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rajoub commented on Trump's "true" nature, categorizing him as a "Zionist and racist":
"Regarding [US President-elect Donald] Trump, I think that even before he won, he revealed his true face, Zionist and racist, supporting and adopting the Israeli right-wing and racist policy. In my opinion, his predecessor [US President Barack Obama] is not better than him, even though at the beginning he tried to present himself in a different way."
[Al-Mayadeen TV (Lebanon), Nov. 11, 2016]
The PA ambassador to the UN "warned Trump" against carrying out his campaign promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, considering it an "aggression" and "attack":
"Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said that if [US] President-elect Donald Trump decides to implement his promise to transfer the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Palestinians 'will make life miserable' for the US at the UN institutions. 'If they attack us by transferring the embassy to Jerusalem, that will constitute a violation of a [UN] Security Council resolution, and [UN] General Assembly Resolution 181 (i.e., the UN Partition Plan), which was drafted by the US. A step such as this would mean a revelation of aggression towards us..."
[Amad, independent Palestinian news agency, Nov. 13, 2016, emphasis added]

NGO Monitor: The European-Funded NGO PFLP Network
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is a terrorist organization designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. The PFLP is involved in suicide bombings, hijackings, and assassinations, among other terrorist activities targeting civilians.
Many European countries fund a network of organizations, some of which are directly affiliated with the PFLP, and others with a substantial presence of employees and officials linked to the PFLP. The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) include Addameer, Al-Haq, Alternative Information Center (AIC), Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P), Health Work Committee (HWC), Stop the Wall, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC).
The NGO ties to the PFLP range from establishment and operation of NGOs by the PFLP itself to NGO officials and staffers being convicted of terrorism charges by Israeli courts. Some of these individuals have been denied entry and exit visas by Israeli (and Jordanian) authorities due to security concerns. A significant number of these NGO officials hold multiple positions in various organizations, indicating the close connections and relationships between these groups.
Donors to the NGOs include the EU, the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Ireland, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland, and the United Nations. Continued funding raises serious questions about due diligence and evaluation on the part of the governments and the UN, as well as compliance with domestic and international laws.
One such example is the NGO Addameer, which is funded by Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and others. Addameer campaigns in support of Palestinians convicted of security offenses. This agenda should have demanded close scrutiny and due diligence before any grants were provided.
JCPA: Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families
The PA maintains longstanding legislation and payments to subsidize terrorists and their families. This amounts to an officially sanctioned PA government incentive system to kill Israelis. When I learned of this in November 2015, I was quite shocked. I proceeded to raise the issue with organized American Jewish community leaders and Israeli policymakers, and was told “everybody knows.” Disconcerted by my own lack of knowledge, I canvassed numerous American political leaders who, without exception, were unaware of the PA legislation/budget. The few leaders who were aware that the PA directly pays terrorists thought that the funding was only $5-$6 million; they were shocked to learn that according to the official PA budget online, it is $300 million for 2016.
Last year, the prevailing opinion was that the wave of knifers against Israelis consisted of young and disaffected “lone wolves.” As I examined the issue more closely, I realized that the “incitement” is much more than just an errant cleric or wayward school board, but rather is an institutional campaign of violence against Israel, coordinated, and funded by the PA themselves.This “struggle” or war is endorsed by the Palestinian leadership, as evidenced by their 2004 legislation specifying, “The prisoners and released prisoners are a fighting sector and integral part of the fabric of Arab Palestinian society.” PA budget line items are earmarked for funding prisoners, released prisoners, and families of “martyrs.”

The West Must Stop Enabling Palestinian Lies and Hate
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the chief of the research division of the IDF’s military intelligence and director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently published a forceful plea to the countries of the West regarding the Palestinians’ conflict with Israel.
“Tell the Palestinians that they are not going to get any more money to support this kind of indoctrination [of hatred toward Jews and Israel]. If they want the money, they have to adopt a different approach that enables real peace with Zionism and the Jewish People, an approach that would eventually lead to mutual recognition between a Palestinian state and a Jewish state where everybody recognizes the other’s identity as the nation-state of their people.”
It is a seminal essay.
With hard-hitting unembellished detail, Kuperwasser identifies the inter-related components of the Palestinian leaders’ perpetual, life-sapping, victim-celebrating indoctrination of hatred of Jews, Israelis and Israel. He challenges the international community to demand that Palestinian leaders change their malicious ways. But he goes further. He accuses the West of helping sustain the hatred. “By closing their eyes, the Europeans, and even to some extent the Americans, enable this hatred to go on.”
“How will we ever be able to start moving toward peace when this indoctrination of hatred goes on all the time?” Kuperwasser correctly asks.
Rebuffing reports, AIPAC says it still backs a two-state solution
America’s largest pro-Israel lobby continues to back the ideal of Palestinian statehood, despite the fact that it has removed any reference to the two-state solution from a section of its website, a spokesman said Monday.
“Our position has not changed — we continue to support a two-state solution,” Marshall Wittmann from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee told The Times of Israel.
Media outlets reported Monday that the “talking points” listed on the AIPAC website’s section dedicated to the peace process no longer bears any mention of a two-state solution. Previously, the first talking point on this part of the website, headlined “Two states for two peoples,” stated that the organization “strongly supports a two-state solution.”
In its current version, the first talking point is that peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians “must be direct and bilateral.” The need or desire for an independent Palestinian state is no longer mentioned.
However, Wittmann told The Times of Israel that “we regularly make changes on our website” and pointed to various other references to the two-state solution on the site.
Israel and India hail growing defense ties as Rivlin visits
President Reuven Rivlin and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hailed their countries’ increasing security cooperation and called to deepen their economic relationship, as Rivlin made a historic visit to the world’s second-most populous country this week.
Rivlin landed on Monday for a weeklong visit, intended to mark 25 years of diplomatic relations and underlining growing defense ties between Jerusalem and New Delhi.
“We noted the strength of our growing defense partnership and agreed on the need to make it more broad-based through production and manufacturing partnerships,” Modi said at a joint press conference in the Presidential Palace in New Delhi.
“President Rivlin and I deeply value our strong and growing partnership to secure our societies,” he said. “Our people are constantly threatened by forces of terrorism and extremism. We recognize that terrorism is a global challenge, knows no boundaries and has extensive links with other forms of organized crime.”
The international community must act “with resolve and determination against terror networks and states that harbor them,” Modi went on, without specifying which state he was referring to. “Failure to act and silence of speech only encourages the terrorists. We agreed to intensify our cooperation to combat the forces of extremism and radicalization that threaten all peace-loving nations.”
Rivlin said he shared India’s desire for peace and security, saying that nothing can justify terror.
Rivlin to visit Mumbai Chabad
Israeli President Ruvi Rivlin plans to visit the Chabad House in Mumbai and light a memorial candle for Chabad emissaries (shlichim) Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg.
The couple were murdered eight years ago in a terror attack on Mumbai, after Muslim terrorists broke into their home and killed them and four others. The other four victims were kashrut supervisors Aryeh Leib Teitelbaum and Ben-Tzion Kruman; Yocheved Orpaz, who was visiting her children and grandson during their trip to India; and Norma Rabinowitz, a Mexican Jew.
The couple's two-year-old son Moshe was miraculously saved by his Indian nanny, who managed to get him out of the building.
During his visit, Rivlin plans to meet with the president of India, as well as local leaders. He will end his journey in the Chabad House, at the site where the Holtzbergs were killed, and light a memorial candle in memory of the six people who were killed during the attack.
Settlers vow resistance against demolition of homes
Residents of the Amona outpost promised to resist any evacuation attempts, after the High Court of Justice rejected last-minute appeals for a delay and insisted that their hilltop community must be demolished by December 25.
“We’ll stand here like a bulwark!” Amona spokesman Avihai Boaron promised at an emergency meeting the community’s 40 families held on Monday night, just hours after receiving the final word from the court.
In the days to come, he said, a tent city would be put up for those who want to help the community resist the court decree.
He appealed to Netanyahu to support a legislative solution, explaining that there 40 families in the outpost, including 200 children and teens.
“It’s up to you [Netanyahu] to save us or to sacrifice us,” he said.
“Pass the bill and remove the sword of evacuation and transfer from over our heads,” Boaron said.
US: Israeli settlement bill 'unprecedented and troubling step'
The United States harshly condemned Israeli legislative attempts to authorize some 2,000 illegal settler homes on private Palestinian property on Monday.
“We’re deeply concerned,” said Elizabeth Trudeau, the US State Department’s Director for Press Operations.
The legislation, she said, “could pave the way for the legalization of dozens of illegal outposts deep in the West Bank.” It “would represent an unprecedented and troubling step that is inconsistent with prior Israeli legal opinion and breaks non-standing Israeli policy of not building on private Palestinian land,” Trudeau told reporters in Washington.
“Our policy on settlements is clear, we believe they are corrosive to the cause of peace. This legislation would be a dramatic advancement of the settlement enterprise, which is already gravely endangering the prospects for a two-state solution.
“This only makes clearer the choice Israel faces between building more settlements and preserving the possibility of peace,” Trudeau said.
Israel’s attorney-general has “expressed serious doubts about the constitutionality” of the proposed legislation, she said adding that the US hoped it did not become law.
France says Israeli bill on settlements a risk to two-state solution
Following condemnation from Washington, France said on Tuesday an Israeli bill supported by a ministerial committee allowing settlers in the occupied West Bank to remain in homes built on private Palestinian land was of a matter of deep concern and jeopardized a two-state solution.
"This proposed law, if it were adopted, would once again jeopardize a two-state solution and would contribute in worsening tensions on the ground. France is deeply concerned by it," Foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said in a daily briefing.
The ministerial committee defied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and voted on Sunday to back the bill, which will be debated by parliament on Wednesday and is still some distance from becoming law.
Israel's attorney-general, Avihai Mandelblit, has called the bill legally flawed in its current form, saying that it contravened private property rights legislation and did not tally with Israel's international law commitments.
"Settlements, under all its forms, are illegal with respect to international law. We call on Israel to respect its international obligations," Nadal said.
Return to normality after 'stabbing intifada': Jerusalem violence down 40%
The threat of terror has receded in Jerusalem, according to figures obtained by Israel Radio Tuesday morning.
Considering all types of terror-related activities, including attacks against the Light Rail and stone throwing incidents, Israel Police have calculated that there has been a 40% decline in violence in the capital from 2015 figures.
Interior Minister Gilad Erdan claimed that his ministry's "historic" operation to strengthen security around Jerusalem has proven fruitful, and praised the hard work of the police forces securing the city.
Erdan added that Jerusalem will soon receive 1,250 additional officers, who for the first time since 1967 are manning positions inside neighborhoods in the East of the city, and not only at their entrances.
Despite the welcome news, 2016 has so far seen a number of significant terror attacks in Jerusalem. Before the High Holy Days, a police officer and civilian were killed and four others wounded in an attack in the vicinity of Sheik Jarra, while a number of stabbing attacks have been perpetrated outside the Old City, often around the Damascus Gate.
Joint List leader interviewed on Hezbollah-affiliated news channel
Leader of the Joint List MK Ayman Odeh gave a telephone interview Sunday to the Lebanese and Hezbollah-affiliated news channel Al Mayadeen during which he described former Israeli President Shimon Peres as a “representative of the occupation.”
During the interview, Odeh discussed a number of subjects including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the election of Donald Trump and also addressed comparisons between Peres and former Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Yasser Arafat.
“The comparison between President Arafat and Peres is unacceptable,” Odeh said. “Arafat was a leader of a national liberation movement, a hero, a refined individual and he fought loyally and believed in the need to end the conflict by establishing a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
By contrast, his comments on Peres were somewhat less flattering. “He represented the occupation for decades. In addition, he supported three wars against the Gaza Strip and supported racist laws against the Palestinian people,” declared Odeh.
JCPA: Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority – Ties Are Fraying
The crisis that Mahmoud Abbas has reached in recent weeks with the “Arab Quartet” (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), after rejecting their request to reconcile with his bitter adversary Muhammad Dahlan, has left its mark on the Palestinian Authority’s relations with these countries.
Egypt is holding academic and economic conferences for important figures from the Gaza Strip – independently of the PA. It intends to open the Rafah crossing regularly for a few days each month and is considering establishing a free trade zone in Rafah—all as a gesture to Dahlan and in order to boost his status as part of the succession battle.
Jordan, too, has been expressing its anger at Abbas’ behavior.
The newspaper Ra’i Al-Yawm reported on November 11, 2016, that Jordan is considering revoking the citizenship and Jordanian passports of 22 individuals from the PA—first and foremost Abbas—as part of a revision of its policy in response to Abbas’ recent overtures to Turkey and Qatar without consulting with Jordan.
There still is no real break between Abbas and the “Arab Quartet.” Yet commentators in the Arab world do not rule the possibility that Abbas, because of his behavior, could lose Arab legitimacy.
Abbas cuts salaries to dozens backing rival Dahlan
In an unprecedented step, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has stopped paying the salaries of 57 PA officials in Gaza because of their alleged support for his rival, the former high-ranking Fatah official, Muhammad Dahlan.
Dahlan is considered to be Abbas’s greatest opponent within the Fatah party since he was booted out of Ramallah in January 2011. Recently, Dahlan stepped up his political activities, especially in the Gaza Strip but also within the West Bank, with strong Egyptian backing.
In an apparent reaction, Abbas decided in November to stop paying salaries to supporters of Dahlan, The Times of Israel has learned. According to those close to the Palestinian president, he intends to continue to work against his rival and will ultimately block the salaries of almost 500 Dahlan allies.
In light of this step, Dahlan and his followers are threatening to hold demonstrations in Gaza and elsewhere to protest the Seventh General Conference of the Fatah movement, which is due to be held on November 29 in the West Bank, and to reject its legitimacy. Dahlan has also reached out to the leadership of the Hamas terrorist group in the Strip requesting permission to enter Gaza to join the protests and seeking guarantees for the safety of the protesters. However, the assessment of many within the Strip is that Dahlan does not actually intend to participate in such protests himself.
Terrorist with Close Ties to Iran Named New Leader of Hamas in Gaza
A terrorist with close ties to Iran has been installed as the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, The Times of Israel reported Monday.
Imad al-Alami will take over from current Gaza chief Ismail Haniyeh, who is moving to Qatar, likely in order to replace Khaled Meshaal as leader of the terror group’s political bureau.
Not much is known about al-Alami. He was born in Gaza and lived for many years in Iran. He moved to Syria in 2008 before returning to Gaza after the Syrian Civil War began in 2011. He was the last Hamas leader to leave Damascus after Hamas split with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
He was reportedly injured two years ago during that last Hamas war with Israel. According to one report, he was injured when an elevator in a tunnel where several Hamas leaders were hiding collapsed. But according to another account, he was hurt in a shootout between two groups of Hamas terrorists.
Unlike other Hamas leaders such as Haniyeh and Meshaal, al-Alami doesn’t give press conferences, maintain a social media presence, or even meet with families who are mourning. He has attended only one public event in recent months.
Hamas Under Fire Following Assassination of Gaza Shi’ite Activist
Shi’ites worldwide are enraged at the assassination of a high-profile activist in Gaza who had been blacklisted by the Hamas government.
Mithqal Alsalmi, 36, officially a Palestinian Authority intelligence officer, had in recent months started advocating Shi’a Islam and bashing Sunnis in online forums and on social media.
A security official in Gaza told Breitbart Jerusalem that Alsalmi had been going in and out of Hamas prisons, facing charges of promoting Shi’a and criticizing the tenets of Sunni Islam. He had also been threatened by Islamic activists.
Earlier this week, Alsalmi was assassinated in the Shati refugee camp, near the home of former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who is likely to succeed Khaled Meshal as the head of the movement.
Alsalmi was laid to rest on Friday at a mass funeral attended by members of pro-Iranian groups, such as Al Sabareen, an openly Shi’ite militia heavily sponsored by Iran, as well as the Saladin Brigades and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
Easing blockade on Gaza, Egypt may be signaling thaw with Hamas
After three and a half years of tension, there are signs of a thaw between Egypt and Hamas.
In the past month, Egypt has allowed the Rafah border crossing to remain open longer than usual, and permitted a larger number of Gaza’s residents to cross the border. Now it is considering a series of economic initiatives to improve the economic situation in both Hamas-run Gaza and in the adjacent Sinai peninsula. Over the past two weeks, a delegation of economists from Gaza traveled to Egypt to discuss these projects.
Most dramatically, Cairo is reportedly considering establishing a free trade zone in the city of Rafah, which straddles the Sinai-Gaza border, that would allow Gazan traders to purchase goods directly from the Egyptian side of the city. Such a move would amount to lifting part of the Egyptian blockade that, coupled with the Israeli security blockade on the Jewish state’s border with Gaza, has ground economy activity in the territory to a near standstill, kept alive only by a handful of traders making closely monitored purchases from Israel. Egypt and Israel maintain the blockade to prevent Hamas, a terror group openly committed to destroying Israel, from importing weaponry.
Mohammad Dahlan, a former high-ranking Fatah official from Gaza who has become a political nemesis to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, is reportedly linked to the negotiations between Cairo and Hamas. Dahlan’s wife Jaleela recently entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing to accompany the economic delegation as it traveled to Egypt.
The apparent thaw has already been felt on the ground, according to trade figures from the Strip, which show a recent increase in Egyptian goods entering Gaza through Rafah.
Syrian Refugees Regret Move to Gaza
Like millions of Syrians, Wareef Hamedo fled the civil war in his homeland in search of safety and security. But in a decision he now regrets, he chose to go to Gaza.
Hamedo's family is among 12 Syrian households that found refuge in Gaza after the civil war erupted in 2011 and are now trapped in the war-battered territory, ineligible for most social services granted to Palestinians but also unable to travel abroad.
"We are trying to get out of Gaza to any European country or where a Syrian refugee can find care," said Hamedo, a chef from Aleppo who is an unofficial spokesman for the Syrian families here. "Gaza was a phase for the Syrians. We came to it because of the conditions that forced us to."
About 250 families from Palestinian refugee camps in Syria made their way to Gaza in the first two years of the Syrian civil war. As Palestinian refugees, they were eligible for services such as health care, education and food assistance from UNRWA, the U.N. agency that assists Palestinian refugee
Egypt court overturns death sentence for ousted leader Morsi
An Egyptian appeals court has overturned a death sentence handed down against ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in one of four trials since his 2013 overthrow, a judicial official said.
The Court of Cassation ordered that Morsi be retried on the charges of taking part in prison breaks and violence against policemen during the 2011 uprising which toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
Five co-defendants, including the supreme guide of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, who also received death sentences in June 2015, will be retried too.
Nearly 100 others who were tried in absentia are unaffected by the appeals ruling.
Last month, the same appeals court upheld a 20-year jail sentence handed down against Morsi in April in a separate trial on charges of ordering the use of deadly force against protesters during his year in power.
Morsi has also been sentenced to life in prison in two other trials.
Sen. Tom Cotton: Reimpose sanctions on Iran
Republican Senator Tom Cotton (Arkansas) said in a Fox News interview that president-elect Donald Trump could reimpose sanctions on Iran. Cotton said that he agreed with Trump that the deal was 'the stupidest deal I have ever seen'.
"Iran has already violated the agreement," said Cotton and added that "the Obama administration admitted just last week that they had once again violated the agreement. Congress in a joint effort with president-elect Trump can reimpose the sanctions on Iran and can work with our allies to reimpose the sanctions. We have a lot of leverage, we have by far the greatest economy in the world."
Cotton said that "we can reimpose these sanctions when there are violations of the nuclear agreement and when there are violations of other obligations like not building ballistic missiles which can reach American troops or our allies and not funding terror of the type which has led to the deaths of hundreds of Americans and not destabilizing the entire region."
Iran to continue missile tests, says program ‘non-negotiable’
Iran’s missile program is “non-negotiable” and tests will continue, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on Tuesday, following criticism from European Union diplomats.
“Iran’s defense capabilities cannot be compromised and are under no circumstance negotiable,” he told state television IRIB.
“Missile tests are conducted within the framework of Iran’s defense policies.”
A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday urged Tehran to refrain from ballistic missile testing.
Iran’s military has carried out a number of missile tests in recent months, which the United States and European governments have said are a breach of its commitments under last year’s nuclear deal.
Western powers say the missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads and therefore go against the deal, under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of global sanctions.
Iran, Russia in Talks for $10 Billion Arms Deal
Iran and Russia are currently negotiating an estimated $10 billion arms deal, which would see the Islamic Republic buy Russian tanks, artillery systems, planes, and helicopters.
Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defense and security committee in the upper house of the Russian Parliament, told the media on Monday while on a trip to Tehran that the deal would take place over many years. “The package of contracts that have been discussed by now and Iran’s demand are estimated at about $10 billion. It is not an amount to be provided over one year. It will take far more time,” he said.
The UN Security Council has placed a moratorium on selling offensive weapons to Iran until October 2020—unless the council grants an exception. The United States, France, the United Kingdom, or China could veto any Russian-Iranian arms deal until that date. “If the United States and Europe fail to grant permission, then we will get back to this issue in October 2020, when the formal legal aspect of this will be gone,” Ozerov explained.
Russia lifted its own sanctions on Iran in July 2015, shortly after the Islamic Republic signed the nuclear deal with global powers. It quickly made a deal to sell its sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran. Russia and Iran argued that the deal did not violate the Security Council’s resolutions, since the system was purely defensive. However, U.S. officials and military analysts believe that those missiles could indeed be used in an offensive capacity.
UN Watch: 11 Arab Countries Accuse Iran of Sponsoring Middle East Terror
UN Watch welcomed a letter by 11 Arab countries to the UN which accuses Iran of being “a State sponsor of terrorism” throughout the entire Middle East, and of only increasing “aggression in the region and the continuation of support for terrorist groups” since the signing of the nuclear deal. See full text below.
The letter, published on Friday by the UN, was signed by the UN ambassadors of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The Arab countries expressed alarm that the Iranian constitution “through its political and religious figures, calls for the export of its revolution to other countries.”
Specifcially, they accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism spans “from Hizbullah in Lebanon and Syria, to Houthis in Yemen and terrorist groups and cells in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Iraq, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and elsewhere.”
The letter accused Iran of a “radical approach” that “undermines security and stability in our region and the Arab world.”
Human rights activists said it was important that Middle Eastern actors were speaking out against Iranian terrorism, especially on the eve of the UN’s vote on a resolution condemning Iran for widespread human rights abuses.
“Iran likes to dismiss all criticism of its human rights violations and brutality at home and abroad as part of a western plot, but that’s hard to sustain when the accusers are all Muslim governments, including recent allies of Iran like Sudan,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental human rights organization.
The Story of Obama's Ransom Payment to Iran Gets Worse
The president’s statement, however, omitted a great deal of relevant information. The president was returning $400 million in Iran’s “Foreign Military Sales” (FMS) account with the Pentagon, plus $1.3 billion in interest, but he failed to mention that in 1981, when Iran filed its claim before the Claims Tribunal at The Hague, the U.S. had responded with a counterclaim for $817 million for Iran’s violations of its obligations under the FMS program. In 2016, with both the claim and the counterclaim still pending, it was possible that Iran owed billions of dollars to the U.S., not the reverse.
Nor did the president mention the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and stipulating that Iran’s FMS account could not be refunded until court judgments held by the U.S. government against Iran for damages from terrorist acts against American citizens were resolved to America’s satisfaction. Those judgments, including interest accumulated between 2001 and 2016, totaled about $1 billion. The president did not explain how, under the 2000 law, with those judgments still outstanding, he could pay Iran anything at all.
Nor did the president mention that his “refund” to Iran was being paid in untraceable European cash, a fact discovered by reporters seven months later. He would then contend that, in light of the sanctions on banking transactions with Iran, “we had to give them cash.” But the sanction regulations expressly authorize bank payments to settle Iran’s claims at The Hague, as Michael Mukasey, the former U.S. attorney general, later testified to Congress, adding that there was “no legitimate reason why [Iran] should want cash other than to pursue terrorism.” Indeed, the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act, passed by Congress in December 2015, had resulted in Tehran’s needing significantly more cash to continue funding its terrorist organization in Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Saudi Royal Family Orders 45,000 SodaStream Units (satire)
King Salman of Saudi Arabia has inked a deal with an Israeli beverage manufacturer for the kingdom to purchase tens of thousands of carbonated-drink machines to be distributed among the extensive Ibn Saud clan that runs the country, and to serve as gifts for visiting dignitaries.
The deal, signed this week, calls for Lod-based SodaStream to supply 45,000 machines and 500,000 accessories such as bottles, carbon dioxide cartridges, and flavor packets, to be delivered in several installments over the next six months. King Salman and Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir reached the agreement with SodaStream CEO Dan Birnbaum after a week of negotiations. Neither party disclosed the amount Saudi Arabia will pay, but experts estimate the value of the deal for SodaStream at over 5 million dollars. The agreement includes an option for the purchase of a further 20,000 units over two years.
SodaStream markets its product as a more economical alternative to store-bought carbonated drinks. The Israeli pedigree of its manufacturing has been the subject of protests by pro-Palestinian activists, even after the company relocated its main manufacturing facility out of a disputed area on which Palestinians aim to create a state. Assessments differ as to the economic impact of the protest movement on SodaStream’s bottom line, but in any case the Saudi Arabia contract appears to demonstrate that the wider Arab world has lost patience with Palestinian demands and intransigence.

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