Wednesday, November 23, 2016

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Iran, Hamas and the Dance of Death
It now appears that the Obama Administration's failed policies in the Middle East have increased the Iranians' appetite, such that they are convinced that they can expand their influence to the Palestinians as well.
Iran has one goal only: to eliminate the "Zionist entity" and undermine moderate and progressive Arabs and Muslims.
"Relations between Iran and Hamas are currently undergoing revitalization, and are moving in the right direction," announced Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official. He went on to explain that "moving in the right direction" means that Iran would "continue to support the resistance" against Israel.
Hamas and Iran have no meaningful ideological or strategic differences. Both share a common desire to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. Iran expects results: Hamas is to use the financial and military support to resume attacks on Israel and "liberate all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea."
As far as Iran is concerned, there is nothing better than having two proxy terror organizations on Israel's borders -- Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south.
The biggest losers, once again, will be President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Israel's presence in the West Bank has thus far thwarted Iran's repeated attempts to establish bases of power there.
PMW: Fatah official: US and Israel assassinated Arafat
Official PA TV host: "We want to know who killed our late leader [Yasser Arafat]. Certainly it is the occupation, but we need proof in order to present the facts to the world.... [In 2002], the Israeli occupation entered every area of the West Bank and tried to kill many. It killed many of our [Palestinian] people... They killed Yasser Arafat, because until his final breath he defended the children of his people in war and in peace, diplomatically and also with a rifle, with a weapon..."
Boy chants Arafat's slogans:
"In spirit and blood we will redeem you Al-Aqsa!
In spirit and blood we will redeem you Al-Aqsa!
Millions of Martyrs are marching towards Jerusalem!
Millions of Martyrs are marching towards Jerusalem!"
Official PA TV host: "We will follow Yasser Arafat’s path and his promise, and also [follow] the path of our current president, leader Mahmoud Abbas, because he wants all of us to be the future of Palestine, and through all of us, he wants to struggle against the occupation’s army and Israel, whose strength is military while our strength is our creativity and our minds. We will fight them before the entire world. Allah willing they will soon leave Palestine, defeated." [Official PA TV, The Best Home, Nov. 11, 2016]


Fatah official: Israel poisoned and killed Arafat, discussed assassination plans with US
Official PA TV program State of Politics, hosting Fatah Advisory Council member Ahmed Abd Al-Rahman
Fatah Advisory Council member, Ahmed Abd Al-Rahman: "Regarding the fate of Yasser Arafat, it was after they [the Israelis] were unable to control him politically, in other words to cause him to make concessions and to submit. They did not find a solution other than eliminating him in this way... I say that they put poison into his ear a year earlier. A slow poison. And it began to work gradually and Yasser Arafat’s health deteriorated... [Former Israeli Prime Minister] Sharon said to [former US President] Bush: 'My brother, let us get rid of him and kill him' - about Arafat.
[Bush] told him: ‘Leave it to God.’
Sharon responded: 'But God needs helpers on earth.'
There was a journalist with Sharon who wrote a biography on Sharon,
and this is what he noted (there are no records of such a conversation –Ed.)."
[Official PA TV, State of Politics, Nov. 15, 2016]




Israel-Thrives: James Mattis
In assessing president-elect Trump's selection of retired General James Mattis to be the next Secretary of Defense, many supporters of Israel are pointing to statements that Mattis has made regarding the contribution of America's support for Israel to security threats in the Middle East. Not having access to anything directly on Mattis, I'll turn to his co-author of one of the drafts of the 2006 Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, David Petraeus. Similar charges have been leveled at Petraeus, and the Palestinianists have similarly used Petraeus' supposed endorsement of that position to argue against American support for Israel. In the following video, Petraeus, clarifies that statement, a clarification which would likely apply to anything Mattis may have said concerning Israel (apologies for the sound quality of Petraeus' voice).
Petraeus Sets Record Straight on Israel
During a March 24, 2010 press conference at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, Gen. David Petraeus responds to a question from the American Spectator's Philip Klein over the recent debate over his position on how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects the broader U.S. objectives in the region.


CNN, Retired General Won't Acknowledge Jerusalem As Israel's Capital
CNN and the guests it likes to host are determined not to acknowledge that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
On Tuesday’s CNN Newsroom with Carol Costello, Costello and her guest, retired General Mark Kimmitt, insistently avoided acknowledging Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital, despite the fact that the Israeli Knesset and the prime minister’s office are located there.
Kimmitt stumbled at one point, literally half-way through pronouncing Jerusalem before immediately shifting to saying Tel Aviv. Speaking of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policy that any contact with president-elect Donald Trump by officials in the government must be vetted by his administration:
Well, I think what it really indicates is that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to speak as head of state to the new Trump administration when it comes in. He doesn't want people freelancing, particularly those people who are in a government position. He wants one voice, one policy coming out of Jeru- -- out of Tel Aviv, and not people freelancing on their own to apply policy to the Trump administration before they take the seat of power here in Washington, D.C.
Costello clearly decided to play along with the anti-Israel countries around the world, asserting Jerusalem was not the Israeli capital as she asked, "What about putting the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem or making Jerusalem Israel's capital? Would that come to pass under a Trump administration?" Kimmitt must have decided Israel has no sovereignty of its own, as he implied the only way Jerusalem would be acknowledged as Israel’s capital would be if other countries did so:
Trump suggests son-in-law Kushner could help broker peace
President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday he would “love” to clinch a deal to end the intractable conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, despite the checkered history of US attempts to broker a Middle East peace agreement.
“I would love to be the one who made peace with Israel and the Palestinians, that would be such a great achievement,” Trump said in a meeting with staffers from The New York Times.
A New York Times reporter tweeted that Trump also suggested that his son-in-law Jared Kushner could help broker the deal. US-brokered talks between Israel and the Palestinians, led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, ended in failure two and a half years ago.
Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, is from an Orthodox Jewish family. The businessman and investor was a close adviser to Trump during the election campaign.
After Trump’s November 8 win, Kushner reportedly asked for access to the daily White House security briefings given to his father-in-law, a claim the Trump team has denied, along with other charges that clearances were sought for Ivanka and Trump’s two sons.
Trump Disavows Alt-Right Support in New York Times Interview
President-elect Donald Trump disavowed the support he received over the weekend from an alt-right conference in Washington, D.C. during an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday.
The National Policy Institute, an alt-right think tank, caused a political firestorm when supporters gathered Saturday and celebrated Trump’s election win as a victory for white nationalism.
People at the conference cheered Trump with chants reminiscent of ones used by Nazis under Adolf Hitler’s rule–such as “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”
The Times asked Trump multiple times about the incident and white nationalist support for the president-elect more broadly. Trump condemned the hateful rhetoric and disavowed endorsements from alt-right groups, the Times reported while live-tweeting the interview.
Swedish paper criticized for 'anti-Semitic' Trump cartoon
A Swedish newspaper has been criticized for running a cartoon of Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President-elect Donald Trump in which the two are being carried by an Orthodox Jew, a KKK member and a gun-carrying figure branded with the Israeli flag, with critics calling the drawing anti-Semitic.
A speech bubble placed above the two politicians in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) drawing says “Finally!” in Swedish ("Äntligen").
An image of the cartoon started to spread on Twitter over Sunday and Monday. Journalist Annika H Rothstein called it "anti-Semitic", as did Swedish writer Rebecca Weidmo Uvell.
When Weidmo Uvell sent a tweet to a DN account asking “how can you publish clearly anti-Semitic propaganda? Jews carrying Trump together with the KKK? Please explain,” the account replied “Netanyahu has celebrated Trump’s victory despite Trump’s rhetoric and the enthusiastic support he has received in the USA from the white power movement”.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Licking Election Coverage Wounds, NY Times To Publish Column By ISIS Leader (satire)
A post-election assessment of the slanted coverage the publication produced during the campaign has led the paper of record to opt for a new openness and flexibility in selecting whose opinions and analysis to place on its op-ed pages, and the first out-of-the-box columnist the paper will showcase is Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Khalif of the Islamic State.
New York Times Editor Dean Baquet announced this morning (Tuesday) that the board had determined that voices outside the liberal bubble must be allowed onto the paper’s opinion pages, to correct the limited view the Times had both adopted and generated among its readers, and which proved inadequate to the task of accurately portraying the country leading up to Election Day. The bastion of liberal journalism and analysis, and the left-leaning intelligentsia it serves, were blindsided by the sweeping Republican electoral gains far beyond Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential race. Baghdadi, he said, would be but the first of numerous contributors whose opinions the pper will now publish.
“The head of Daesh is just the beginning,” announced Baquet. “We will soon conclude agreements with such personalities as David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, David Irving, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, just to name a few. This expanded roster of contributors will help the Times and its readers gain both a broader and more nuanced picture of the world, and be better informed about developing trends – a result we did not manage to produce before this election.”
Lapid: Palestinians Should Work on Building a State Instead of Focusing on Terror
The Palestinians need to work on building a state for themselves instead of focusing on terror and death, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in the capital Wednesday.
Lapid recounted his participation in pro-Israel events in Europe, on the outskirts of which protesters chanted "free Palestine," and asked what kind of freedom the Palestinians are seeking.
"Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela knew something about freedom that those protestors do not understand. They knew that freedom is not just a gift you are given. Freedom is a responsibility...a moral duty," he said. As someone who is committed to a two-state solution, Lapid said, he needs to know what kind of state the Palestinians want to build.
"What is their version of freedom?" he asked. "What price are they willing to pay for it? What responsibilities are they willing to take upon themselves?"
Lapid pointed out that the PA has existed for over 20 years and Israelis do not have a presence in Palestinian cities except when there are security needs. The Palestinians, he said, have built a corrupt governing system without an effective judiciary or modern industry.
Egypt's envoy to Israel: Two-state solution 'still available and possible'
The Egyptian-Israeli peace, now entering its 40th year, could be “warmer” and “reach the street level” in Egypt were Israel able to conclude a peace deal with the Palestinians, Egyptian ambassador Hazem Khairat said Wednesday.
Khairat's rare public comments came at the Jerusalem Post's annual diplomatic conference.
The ambassador said that he frequently hears people ask in Israel why the peace deal, that began 39-years-ago this month with Anwar Sadat's historic trip to Jerusalem, has not filtered down to the people in Egypt.
“My answer is that this peace can certainly be warm, and reach more people, it we can solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a just and comprehensive peace,” he said. “A viable two state solution is the only way this conflict can be brought to an end, and it is still available and possible.”
Though former defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said at the conference just before the ambassador spoke that it was clear that the Israeli-Palestinians situation was not a root cause of instability in the region, Khairat said it was a major issue.
British warship docks in Haifa as part of growing cooperation with Israel
The British Royal Navy assault ship HMS Bulwark arrived in Haifa Port on Tuesday for a short visit before she sails back to the United Kingdom.
The Bulwark, whose captain is Capt. James Parkin, is deployed as part of the Royal Navy’s Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) Task Group commanded by Commodore Andy Burns.
Based in Devonport, the Bulwark is one of the Royal Navy’s two amphibious assault command and control ships. It is the second largest ship in the British fleet, measuring 176 meters long, displacing some 18,000 tons and with a company of nearly 600 men and women.
These include some 170 Royal Marines and 42 Commando Royal Marines, including their Viking armored all-terrain tracked vehicles, as well as numerous support vehicles. Able to deploy worldwide within five days, the Bulwark’s first operational deployment was to Lebanon in 2006: evacuating civilians following the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War between Hezbollah and Israel.
According to a Royal Navy statement, the Bulwark’s docking in Haifa “demonstrates the growing relationship between the Royal Navy and the Israeli Navy and the desire to continue to develop that interaction.”
Belgium takes tips from Israel to step up Brussels airport security
Belgium has launched new security measures at Brussels Airport after suicide bombings there in March, taking inspiration from controls at Ben Gurion in Israel, among the most heavily protected airports in the world.
Islamist suicide bombers killed 16 people and injured over 150 in the departure hall of Brussels Airport on March 22. The bombings were part of a coordinated assault on the Belgian capital's transport system.
Since then, the airport and Belgian government authorities have been working closely on a new security concept.
Deputy Prime Minister and Security Minister Jan Jambon traveled to Israel this summer to view the security systems in place at Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv.
At Ben Gurion, cars are stopped at a checkpoint and given a once-over by heavily armed guards and cameras that read license plates. People deemed suspicious are pulled over for further questioning and possibly full searches. Largely unnoticeable monitoring continues all the way to the terminal.
Jambon said he was impressed especially by how some of the measures were non-intrusive for passengers. "There, security measures are present but not visible all the time," he said.
Israeli Navy Destroys Gaza-Bound Weapons Ship
A Palestinian boat disguised as a fishing vessel was caught on camera by the IDF while attempting to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip before eventually being destroyed.
The boat was observed departing from the southern Gaza Strip and heading towards the Sinai. Several days later, the ship suspiciously reappeared with the rear of the vessel weighed down by cargo.
Intelligence information that found its way to the 916th squadron based in Ashdod allowed IDF forces to intercept the vessel off the coast of the Gaza Strip and attempt to detain those on board.
During the course of the interception, naval forces fired warning shots at the boat in an attempt to force it to a stop. However, the two Palestinians on board jumped into the water and managed to make it ashore, which prompted forces to fire on this ship's motor. The motor subsequently caught fire, which spread to the cargo causing the weapons on board to explode.
"We observed the boat approaching from afar and using special sensors which we use to mark and catalogue Palestinian ships entering the southern Gaza Strip, identified it as a suspicious vessel," Maj. Maor told Ynet. "Secondary explosions completely destroyed the ship."
MEMRI: Muhammad Dahlan: I Don't See Myself As A Presidential Candidate – I Support Marwan Barghouti
On October 30, 2016, Palestinian Legislative Council member Muhammad Dahlan gave a comprehensive interview to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an from a Cairo hotel where he was staying with some of his close associates. Dahlan, who in early 2011 had been expelled from the Palestinian Authority (PA) following allegations that he engaged in activity to oust President Mahmoud Abbas, was later officially removed from Fatah, and currently resides in the UAE with his family.
In recent months, several Arab media reports stated that the Arab Quartet (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Jordan) was looking to position Dahlan to succeed Abbas after arranging for the two to reconcile. Thus far, these attempts have been unsuccessful, as Abbas refuses to allow Dahlan back into Fatah, and even argued that the Palestinians will not allow anyone to interfere in their affairs.
Dahlan stressed in the interview that he did not see himself a presidential candidate, and that he actually supported Marwan Barghouti for president – but only through democratic elections, not dubious methods such as being appointed to the post by 'Abbas.
US ‘concerned’ about death of Palestinian-American teen
The Obama administration is questioning Israel’s decision not to open a criminal investigation into the shooting death by Israeli security forces of a Palestinian-American teenager earlier this year.
In a letter sent this week to religious groups that had raised concerns about the case and was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday, the top US diplomat for the Middle East said the United States continues to have concerns about the death of 16-year-old Mahmoud Shalan.
Shalan, who was born in Florida, was killed in the West Bank on February 26 by Israeli troops, who said he had tried to stab them. Several groups took issue with that account and complained that the soldiers had used excessive force and denied Shalan medical treatment after he was shot. The US Embassy in Tel Aviv asked Israeli authorities to conduct an investigation into the matter.
In the letter, the assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, Anne Patterson, said the US was later informed that the Israeli Military Advocate General “did not find that the soldiers’ actions gave rise to reasonable grounds for suspicion of criminal conduct.” The advocate general then ordered the case closed “without opening a criminal investigation or ordering further action against those involved in the incident,” she wrote.
Gaza doctors mulling transfer of conjoined twins to Israeli hospital
Palestinian surgeons in the Gaza Strip were discussing medical options on Wednesday after the unexpected birth of conjoined twins - baby girls who share one heart and one body.
"We thought they were twins and we would have no problem, but we discovered that it is a Siamese baby," said Hanan Al-Wade, a pediatrician at Al Shifa, Gaza City's main hospital.
"The body is one but with two heads."
The babies were born by Caesarean section on Tuesday and are being kept under close monitoring in an intensive care unit. They have not been named.
Doctors said they had not decided whether to attempt to separate them. If they try, they also need to consider whether they can perform the operations in Gaza or should try to move the children to a hospital in Israel or abroad.
"Separating them is very hard because they are sharing many organs and they have a defective heart," said Wade.
Israel: Iran is Smuggling Missile Technology to Hezbollah Inside Commercial Flights
Iran is smuggling weapons to the terrorist group Hezbollah inside commercial flights to Lebanon, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations has charged in a letter to the UN Security Council. Such actions would violate several Security Council resolutions.
Citing reports from Israel’s intelligence agencies, Ambassador Danny Danon wrote that “the Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights.” The transfer of arms to Hezbollah violates Security Council resolutions 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, and 2231, which implemented last year’s nuclear deal with Iran.
The arms were either shipped directly to Hezbollah on commercial flights to Lebanon, or flown to Damascus, Syria, and then shipped to the terror group over land, Danon wrote.
Danon’s accusations echo those made by Emanuele Ottolenghi, a researcher for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has tracked Iranian air traffic to Damascus. Ottolenghi noted in February that the United States government had repeatedly pledged to take action against Mahan Air—which is on the Treasury Department’s sanctions list for supporting terrorism—but has failed to do so.
Hassan Nasrallah, the general secretary of Hezbollah, said in June that “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” And earlier this month, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, the chief of staff of Iran’s army, bragged that Iran had provided Hezbollah with the rocket technology it needed to target Israeli civilians.
Egypt court quashes Morsi life sentence over Hamas espionage
An Egyptian appeals court on Tuesday quashed one of two life sentences handed down against ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi since his 2013 overthrow, his lawyer and a judicial source said.
The Court of Cassation overturned sentences against the former leader and several Muslim Brotherhood officials who stood trial alongside him on charges of spying for Iran and Palestinian terror group Hamas, lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud told AFP.
The court ordered a retrial, Abdel Maqsoud said, adding: “The verdict was full of legal flaws.”
Hamas issued a statement praising the court ruling and saying it reflected the importance of the Palestinian cause for Egypt.
“We appreciate the Egyptian decision to cancel the sentences related to charges of spying with Hamas,” the statement read.
The ruling is the second appeals victory in a week for Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood movement has been blacklisted and subjected to a crackdown that has killed hundreds of his supporters and seen thousands jailed or sentenced to death.
Turkey Drops Plans To Allow Child Rape
The Turkish government has withdrawn a bill that would commute sentences for statutory rape if the perpetrator decided to marry the victim.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AKP party are behind the bill that would pardon 3,000 convicted rapists. Sentences after 2005 involving girls younger than 15 would have been “deferred” if the offender ended up marrying the victim.
Opposition members warned the bill could force girls into marriages against their will, while the government defended it as a way of releasing people who received consent from their wives’ families.
“The bill will certainly not bring amnesty to rapists … this is a step taken to solve a problem in some parts of our country,” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said, according to BBC.
Coup Purge: Turkey Ousts Only Christian Mayor
The only Christian mayor in Turkey, a U.S. NATO ally, has been removed as part of a purge by the ruling Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following an abortive coup earlier this year.
“A massive purge by the Turkish government of politicians and officials accused of being supporters of the network of Fethullah Gulen — the Turkish Islamic preacher, continued this week with the sacking of Februniye Akyol, the first Assyrian Christian to be elected co-mayor in Turkey, in the city of Mardin,” reports Independent Catholic News.
Mardin, located in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey, is the capital of a province of the same name. Akyol’s Kurdish co-mayor, Ahmet Turk, has also been deposed.
Saudis Arrest Indian Man Who Allegedly ‘Insulted’ Islamic Holy Site On Facebook
Today’s Islamic theocracies take blasphemy laws seriously, so seriously, in fact, that harsh punishments, including solitary confinement, flogging, and execution, are routine remedies to police thought in the historically-wrought lands where Sharia law rules supreme. Saudi Arabia sits on the frontline of this war against critical thinking and intellectual agency.
This week, police in the Kingdom’s capital of Riyadh, arrested an Indian expatriate who purportedly “insulted” Islam’s holiest shrine, the Kaaba. The man is accused of blaspheming against the Kaaba on Facebook.
“The region’s investigative department were able to capture and arrest a suspect, in his forties and who works in agriculture, who insulted our holy site,” stated the media spokesman for the Riyadh police. “He superimposed a picture of the Buddha on the Kaaba and posted on social media,” the spokesman added.
According to Al Arabiya news, “The police were able to identify and arrest the unnamed suspect at a farm in Al Majma'ah city.”
Iran warns of retaliation if US 'breaches' nuclear deal with sanctions
Extending US sanctions on Iran for 10 years would breach the Iranian nuclear agreement, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday, warning that Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions are approved.
The US House of Representatives re-authorized last week the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, for 10 years. The law was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in Iran's energy industry and deter Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.
The Iran measure will expire at the end of 2016 if it is not renewed. The House bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law.
Iran and world powers concluded the nuclear agreement, also known as JCPOA, last year. It imposed curbs on Iran's nuclear program in return for easing sanctions that have badly hurt its economy.
"The current US government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions," Khamenei said, addressing a gathering of members of the Revolutionary Guards, according to his website.
"The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the Islamic Republic would definitely react to it."




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