Monday, October 09, 2017

From Ian:

Anne Bayefsky: Why is President Trump Letting Palestinians off the Hook for Violating U.S. Law?
If President Trump is backtracking on his promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem allegedly for the sake of a “peace process,” why is he simultaneously allowing the Palestinians to violate U.S. law and sink peace unilaterally?

American law requires that funding for Palestinians be drastically curtailed if they use the International Criminal Court (ICC) to turn Israelis into war criminals. Though Palestinians have given the ICC a veritable bear hug, hundreds of millions of American dollars are still flowing into Palestinian coffers.

Palestinians are actively using a crooked international legal system as a means to avoid a negotiated end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and an acceptance of a Jewish state. It’s called lawfare — the antithesis of a “peace process.”

Palestinian-led lawfare has two goals: to criminalize Israeli exercise of the right of self-defense, and to criminalize Israelis living on any territory that Palestinians and the UN have unilaterally appropriated.

Congress has understood lawfare to be exactly what it says — namely, war by another means. They have also understood that twisting self-defense against terrorism into a war crime will rebound on American and NATO soldiers. Feeding Israelis to the sharks will be just the first course.

The International Criminal Court Statute was a coup for anti-American and anti-Israeli globalists because it trashed the essence of the reach of international law – namely, the consent of states. For the first time, international law could be used directly against citizens of states that had refused to be bound. Neither Israel nor the United States hase ratified the ICC Statute, but that cannot prevent the ICC prosecutor from going after either Americans or Israelis.

Moreover, the late stages of the drafting process of the ICC Statute – originally conceived as an instrument to target the most heinous acts perpetrated by humankind – were hijacked in 1998 by the Palestinians and their friends. The result is a statute that purports to turn Israeli settlements into war crimes.
PMW: Another PMW success as Belgium freezes funding of PA schools
On Sept. 27, 2017, Palestinian Media Watch reported that the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education has named at least 31 schools after terrorists. PMW reported and notified the Belgian government that one of those schools whose building Belgium funded, the Beit Awwa Basic Girls School, subsequently changed its name to the Dalal Mughrabi Elementary School, honoring the Palestinian female terrorist who led a bus hijacking and murder of 37 people, including 12 children.

PMW also reported on the danger of naming schools after terrorists as exemplified with one of the schools named after Dalal Mughrabi where children are taught to see the terrorist as a role model. One girl told PA TV that her “life's ambition is to reach the level of the Martyr fighter Dalal Mughrabi." [Official PA TV, March 27, 2014]

PMW sent this information to the Belgian embassy in Tel Aviv, including the picture below of the Belgian flag, which still appears on a plaque announcing Belgium’s funding at the Dalal Mughrabi Elementary School.

Reporting on the Belgian government’s outrage that the PA has renamed the school after the terrorist murderer Dalal Mughrabi, The Algemeiner quoted the spokesperson for the Belgian Foreign Ministry, Didier Vanderhasselt:

“Belgium unequivocally condemns the glorification of terrorist attacks [and] will not allow itself to be associated with the names of terrorists in any way.” [The Algemeiner, Oct. 7, 2017]

According to the Belgian Development Agency (BTC), Belgium has built 23 Palestinian schools since 2001, and was planning to build 10 more in the coming years. [Website of Belgian Development Agency, accessed Oct. 9, 2017] However, according to the spokesperson all these plans are now frozen:
“Belgium has immediately raised this issue with the Palestinian Authority and is awaiting a formal response... In the meantime Belgium will put on hold any projects related to the construction or equipment of Palestinian schools.”
Michael Oren: The Iran Nuclear Deal Isn’t Worth Saving
Had American sanctions on Iran remained in place in 2015, companies would have had to choose between doing business with the United States, the world’s top-ranked economy by gross domestic product, and Iran, ranked 27th. That same stark choice will confront businesses if sanctions are reinstated.

Similarly, the contention that Iran will rush to make nuclear weapons in the absence of an agreement is unfounded. Iran could have made that rush well before 2015 but it did not. The reason was the 2012 speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the United Nations General Assembly and the implicit military threat that backed it up.

The world, he declared, must not allow Iran to amass enough highly enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb. “Red lines don’t lead to war,” he said. “Red lines prevent war.” That red line will remain indelible whether the deal is strengthened or canceled. What was true in 2015 holds equally today: The more credible the military option, the lesser the chance it will need to be used.

The agreement’s apologists say that altering or negating the agreement will irreparably harm America’s prestige. Yet it is difficult to see how America’s status is served by a refusal to stand up to Iran’s complicity in the massacre of half a million Syrians and its efforts to annihilate American allies.

Israel’s position on the Iran deal was and remains clear. “Fix it or nix it,” Prime Minister Netanyahu recently told the United Nations. If canceled, the deal must be replaced by crippling sanctions that force Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons capacity. Fixing the deal would include conducting stricter inspections of suspect Iran nuclear sites, imposing harsher penalties for Iranian violations and, above all, eliminating the “sunset clause.”

Either way, revisiting the agreement will send an unequivocal message to the world. It will say that Iran’s state-funded terrorism and its attempts to establish a Shiite empire will not be tolerated. The weakness of the Iran deal invites wars, it will say, while displays of strength prevent them. It will say that the United States is truly unwilling to accept a nuclear Iran — not now, not in a decade, not ever.
John Bolton: The Iran Deal Isn't Worth Saving
"Cut, and cut cleanly," Sen. Paul Laxalt advised Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, urging the Philippine president to resign and flee Manila because of widespread civil unrest. The Nevada Republican, Ronald Reagan's best friend in Congress, knew what his president wanted, and he made the point with customary Western directness.

President Trump could profitably follow Mr. Laxalt's advice today regarding Barack Obama's 2015 deal with Iran. The ayatollahs are using Mr. Obama's handiwork to legitimize their terrorist state, facilitate (and conceal) their continuing nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs, and acquire valuable resources from gullible negotiating partners.

Mr. Trump's real decision is whether to fulfill his campaign promise to extricate America from this strategic debacle. Last month at the United Nations General Assembly, he lacerated the deal as an "embarrassment," "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."

Fearing the worst, however, the deal's acolytes are actively obscuring this central issue, arguing that it is too arduous and too complex to withdraw cleanly. They have seized instead on a statutory requirement that every 90 days the president must certify, among other things, that adhering to the agreement is in America's national-security interest. They argue the president should stay in the deal but not make the next certification, due in October.

This morganatic strategy is a poorly concealed ploy to block withdrawal, limp through Mr. Trump's presidency, and resurrect the deal later. Paradoxically, supporters are not now asserting that the deal is beneficial. Instead, they concede its innumerable faults but argue that it can be made tougher, more verifiable and more strictly enforced. Or, if you want more, it can be extended, kicked to Congress, or deferred during the North Korea crisis. Whatever.

As Richard Nixon said during Watergate: "I want you to stonewall it, let them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up, or anything else if it'll save it — save the plan."

Elliott Abrams: The Coming Confrontation Between Israel and Iran
Rumors suggest that the Trump administration may label the IRGC a terrorist group, which could open the door to using counter-terrorism authorities to stop its expansion. Whatever the debate over the JCPOA, there may well be a broader consensus in the administration that Iran’s growing military role in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere in the region must be countered.

Whatever the American conclusion, if Iran does indeed plan to establish a large and permanent military footprint in Syria—complete with permanent naval and air bases and a major ground force—Israel will have fateful decisions to make. Such an Iranian presence on the Mediterranean and on Israel’s border would change the military balance in the region and fundamentally change Israel’s security situation. And under the JCPOA as agreed by Obama, remember, limits on Iran’s nuclear program begin to end in only 8 years, Iran may now perfect its ICBM program, and there are no inspections of military sites where further nuclear weapons research may be underway. As Sen. Tom Cotton said recently, “If Iran doesn’t have a covert nuclear program today, it would be the first time in a generation.” Israel could be a decade away from a situation where Iran has nuclear weapons and has bases in Syria—and could logically therefore even place nuclear weapons in Syria, just miles from Israel’s border.

Fishman, the dean of Israel’s military correspondents, writes that “If the Israeli diplomatic move fails to bear fruit, we [Israel] are headed toward a conflict with the Iranians.” That conclusion, and the Iranian moves that make it a growing possibility, should be on the minds of Trump administration officials as they contemplate a new policy toward Iran’s ceaseless drive for power in the Middle East.
The danger of imploding
At the same time, something fundamental changed on the horizon of Israeli-Palestinian expectations. At the beginning of the Oslo period, there was an expectation of reciprocity in the reconciliation process. But over the years, as the cycle of violence and bloodshed continued, the expectation of Palestinian reconciliation in return for Israeli concessions was replaced in the Israeli discourse by nothing more than a necessary separation from the Palestinians, "keeping them on one side and us on the other" with each side taking care of itself.

As those supporting the separation trend became more sophisticated in their efforts to explain to the Israeli public the extent to which this separation is necessary in order to preserve Israel's Jewish and democratic nature, the more the Palestinians' bargaining power grew. After all, if withdrawing from Judea and Samaria and establishing a Palestinian state are Israeli interests, and Israel is willing to do so to preserve its future, why should the Palestinians give anything in return? As far as they are concerned, they are not bound by reciprocity. They get what they want by virtue of their national right to self-determination.

This premise increases the risk that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria will only fuel the Palestinian resistance. In this sense, it is worth exploring whether reverting back to the 1967 borders, with minor adjustments to accommodate the larger settlement blocs – that comprise no more than 3% of Judea and Samaria – will provide Israel with the conditions to defend itself.

In addition to the security aspects, a statement by senior Fatah official Abbas Zaki, explaining why he supports the two-state solution, is worth exploring further: "The two-state solution, in my opinion, will bring about Israel's collapse. Because if they [Israel] leave Jerusalem, what would happen to all their talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What of all the sacrifices they made?" he said in an interview with Lebanese television network ANB in 2009. "They gave Jerusalem a spiritual status. The Jews see Judea and Samaria as their historic dream, and if the Jews leave these places, the Zionist idea will begin to implode. Then we will be able to move forward."

Zaki has keen insight into the significance of the spiritual-Jewish dimension as a condition for the continued existence of the State of Israel. The potential for imploding that is inherent to this threat is far more dangerous than the Iranian threat, its nuclear dimensions included. National priorities, alongside the logic of the defense discourse and the trends evident in the region, mandate both an overt and covert examination and revision of existing concepts.
How Putin came to rule the Middle East
When Russia entered the Syrian civil war in September 2015 the then US secretary of defense, Ash Carter, predicted catastrophe for the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin was ‘pouring gasoline on the fire’ of the conflict, he said, and his strategy of fighting Isis while backing the Assad regime was ‘doomed to failure’. Two years on, Putin has emerged triumphant and Bashar al-Assad’s future is secure. They will soon declare victory over Isis inside the country.

The dismal failure turned out to be our cynical effort to install a Sunni regime in Damascus by adopting the Afghanistan playbook from the 1980s. We would train, fund and arm jihadis, foreign and domestic, in partnership with the Gulf Arab despots. This way we would rob Russia of its only warm-water naval base, Tartus, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. In the process we would create a buffer between Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, to divide the anti-Israel Shia axis. And we would further marginalise Iran by extending the influence of our Sunni Gulf allies from Lebanon deeper into the Levant. Half a million Syrians were slaughtered as a consequence of this hare-brained scheme, which geo-politically has resulted in the exact opposite of the intended outcome.

Putin, though, had grasped the reality at the outset. Unlike Afghans, ordinary Syrians were used to living in a liberal, diverse culture that, while politically repressive, championed peaceful religious co-existence. Most of them were nervous about seeing their country transformed into a Wahhabi theocracy. Assad, for all his faults, was the buffer between them and internecine carnage. They stuck with the devil they knew, and there was no popular revolution against Assad — nothing compared to the Tahrir uprising that ousted the hated Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. The millions-strong demonstrations in Damascus were pro-regime. Among the two-thirds of the Syrian population now living in government–controlled parts of the country, Assad is more popular than ever, and Putin is a hero.
'Hundreds of strikes without retaliation—this shows extent of IDF's deterrence'
Viewing the threat of Hizbullah in the north, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the IDF Chief of Staff, said, "I can't guarantee there wouldn't be an infiltration into Israel's territory and into a community. I can guarantee high efficiency in defense; I can guarantee that if anyone infiltrates the State of Israel, we would kill them. We would prevent (Hizbullah) from having any significant achievements. Both Hizbullah and Hamas understand the unbearable price they would have to pay for infiltrating an Israeli community and harming civilians."

Eisenkot has become identified with the Dahiya doctrine: The use of disproportionate force to destroy Hizbullah's Dahiya stronghold in Beirut. "We tried to get [Hizbullah leader] Nasrallah at the beginning of the [2006] war. We attacked the building he was living in and the one that served as his bunker....He's been living in a bunker for 11 years. He doesn't dare go outside."

During Eisenkot's tenure, the IDF has stepped up "operations between wars" - missions designed to thwart Hizbullah and Harmas' efforts to arm themselves with advanced weaponry. "Our forces operate overtly and covertly every night to complete their missions....Our 'operations between wars' have not led to escalation because our enemies understand we're hitting the capabilities that need to be targeted. We carry out many types of operations, some of them violent, and only a small portion becomes known."

Iran's "long-term strategic goal is to obtain nuclear capabilities. There is no doubt about it. The IDF's challenge of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities has been at the top of our list of priorities over the past decade. This mission will continue being a top priority, since we understand this is a threat on a different scale."

"Since our intelligence capabilities are the best in the area, and certainly in Israel's close vicinity, we contribute to the effort to defeat ISIS and the Nusra Front....We pass on information to countries when we know something is in the works (in those countries). The (Israeli) intelligence community contributes greatly to thwarting terror attacks in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.”
Danny Danon sums up two nonstop years as Israel's UN envoy
Danon said that, like himself, US ambassador Nikki Haley also came to the UN from politics, not from the diplomatic corps, and that she was panned by critics – as he was – for a lack of diplomatic experience. When he met her for the first time, he told her to ignore that criticism, that it was “nonsense,” and that she should just “go with her truth.” He told her that the tools acquired in politics – such as the ability to develop relationships with a coalition of people – were valuable in being effective at the UN as well.

Danon characterized his relationship with Haley as “very good,” and that the public nature of her unapologetic support for Israel at the UN is very significant and important.

“In the past we also got support from the US, but it was done quietly, in a different manner. But when you do it publicly, when you say [as Haley recently did], that the UNIFIL commander does not know what he is talking about, that is significant. It makes it possible for people who think like her to speak out as well,” he said.

US President Donald Trump’s election, he noted, brought a degree of uncertainty to the UN, with the organization not sure whether the US would reduce its allocation, which amounts to about 25% of its budget. That the US – from Trump, though Congress on down to Haley – are talking about reform in the UN presents Jerusalem with a great opportunity to bring its issues to the table, such as reforming the Human Rights Committee, making sure UNIFIL provides honest and timely reports to the Security Council, and reducing the number of anti-Israel resolutions passed each year in the General Assembly.

“This will not happen in one day,” he said. “But if we work at it, and if the US will continue its pressure, then next year at the UN we will be in a much different position.”
UNESCO chooses new chief amid tensions over Palestinian role
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's executive board is poised to choose a new leader to replace departing director Irina Bokova, whose tenure was marred by funding troubles and tension over its inclusion of Palestine as a member.

Intense diplomatic wrangling has marked the race, in which seven candidates are vying to become UNESCO's next director general. Arab countries have long wanted to lead the organization, though divisions over Palestinian membership have complicated their push.

Voting by UNESCO's 58-member executive board starts Monday and continues through the week until a candidate wins a majority. The choice then goes to the full UNESCO general assembly next month for final approval.

Leading candidates include Qian Tang of China, former Egyptian government minister Moushira Khattab and Qatar's former Culture Minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari.

Egypt's Jewish community has offered the country's UNESCO candidate its support.

The head of Egypt's minuscule Jewish community, Magda Haroun, said in a statement that Khattab has shown "an impressive and genuine commitment to our cause to protect Egypt's Jewish heritage."

Haroun says Khattab is a "courageous woman who has the talent of successfully taking on challenging causes."

Egypt's Jewish community is made up of six Jews, including Magda.

A top priority for the next director will be shoring up finances at UNESCO, best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions around the world. The agency also works to improve education for girls in desperately poor countries and in scientific fields, promote better understanding of the horrors of the Holocaust, and defend media freedom, among other activities.

The U.S. – once UNESCO's biggest financial contributor – and Israel suspended UNESCO funding when its members voted to make Palestine a member state in 2011. Many saw the vote as evidence of continued anti-Israel bias within the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters.
Egypt’s UNESCO candidate ‘complicit’ in rights violations, says local lawyer
A top Egyptian rights lawyer said the country’s candidate for UNESCO’s top job is not qualified for the post because of her silence and “sometimes complicity” in the government’s repressive policies.

Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said on Sunday that he had sought in vain to enlist Moushira Khattab’s help after security agents stormed three of six libraries he set up in poor neighborhoods with prize money from a rights award he won.

After promising to help, Khattab told him the courts would have the final say on the matter, a stance later repeated by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Eid said there was no court case on the closures.

A number of other Egyptian rights groups have also been critical of Khattab’s candidacy, including the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and Nazra for Feminist Studies. They allege that she is complicit in state attacks on the values for which the UN agency stands.

Ambassador Mohammed el-Orabi, director of Khattab’s campaign, provided a list of 23 civil society organizations supporting Khattab’s candidacy.
IsraellyCool: UNESCO About To Choose New Head
So what about the candidates?
Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari would be a disaster:
UNESCO should reject the candidacy of former Qatari minister of culture Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari for its director- general, Simon Wiesenthal Center’s European Office has said.

On Friday, Shimon Samuels, international relations director at the Wiesenthal Center, wrote to UNESCO’s Executive Board chairman Michael Worbs, saying that when Al-Kawari was culture minister, Qatar sold texts at the Frankfurt Book fair that “fomented” conspiracy theories against Jews.

“Mr. Chairperson, he who apparently endorses the language of [the Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph] Goebbels must not head the intellectual arm of the United Nations. We expect you to advise the Executive Board accordingly,” said Samuels.

He added that Qatar supported UN resolutions on Jerusalem that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

But Israel’s choice seems to be Qian Tang.
The other candidate Israel had considered supporting is China’s Qian Tang, who has been assistant director general for education at UNESCO in recent years. Jerusalem considers him a man who wants to bring UNESCO back to its professional activities, and distance it as much as possible from political issues.
Not that I expect it to make too much of a difference. While the world’s scum and villainy have the votes that matter, expect the same ol’ same ol’.
The Inside Story: Did Russia play Trump on the Palestinian Interpol bid?
The Trump administration thought it had a plan to prevent the Palestinians from joining Interpol last month. The problem was its plan relied on the Russians.

At the international police organization’s annual general assembly in Beijing, the US offered Russia something of a quid pro quo exchange. The US was prepared to pressure Kosovo to withdraw its bid for membership if Russia agreed to support its strategy to delay a vote on the Palestinian Authority bid.

A deal was made with Serbia and China on board. But, at the end of that summit, “Palestine” was in and Kosovo was still out. How did Russia get its way and the US fall flat? “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to give you a satisfactory answer to that one,” a senior Justice Department official told The Jerusalem Post last week, detailing the administration’s failed effort. “Events did not unfold the way we would’ve liked.

We are not pleased with them.”

The premise of Washington’s strategy was to put off Interpol’s consideration of all bids for membership for at least one year, based on the police organization’s decision to adopt new criteria for membership within that very same conference.
Israel growing in strategic importance for NATO
The IDF hopes to see NATO ships alongside Israel Navy vessels helping to protect the eastern Mediterranean in the future, Lt.-Cmdr. Ortal told The Jerusalem Post last week.

As the liaison officer, Ortal represents Israel’s naval forces at NATO ’s Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM ) in London, the central command of all NATO maritime forces.

“The area of the eastern Mediterranean is becoming very attractive, especially in terms of the gas fields and the platforms there, which will be a strategic focus in terms of possible threats,” she said. “There is therefore shared interest in protecting this area.”

NATO has a “big interest in shared partnership” with Israel, a strategic partner in the region, she said.

“NATO would be very happy if Israeli ships joined NATO vessels because they know the professionalism and capabilities of the Israel Navy are very high,” Ortal said, adding that while NATO has “high standards, it wouldn’t be hard for them to accept Israeli vessels.”

Israel’s relationship with NATO is defined as a “partnership”; it is a member of the Mediterranean Dialogue – a forum initiated in 1994 for political consultations and practical cooperation by six other non-NATO countries of the Mediterranean region: Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

One of the main goals of the Mediterranean Dialogue is to create a basis for dialogue and cooperation in the field of security and counterterrorism, but after the breakdown of ties with Turkey six years ago, Ankara exerted efforts to isolate Jerusalem from military cooperation with NATO .
PM approves construction of 3,800 new homes in Judea and Samaria
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday greenlighted the construction of 3,800 new homes in Judea and Samaria settlements.

The Judea and Samaria Planning and Zoning Committee is scheduled to convene next week to discuss the projects and promote the necessary permits for building thousands of homes across the area, including in the veteran communities of Hebron, Beit El, east of Ramallah and Har Bracha, near Nablus, to name a few; as well as in the Jerusalem suburbs of Maaleh Adumim and Givat Ze'ev.

Ahead of the Rosh Hashanah holiday, Netanyahu met with the heads of the Judea and Samaria regional councils and informed them that he plans to promote construction in and around existing settlements in Judea and Samaria, as agreed with the U.S. at the onset of the Trump administration.

As the matter has been discussed between Jerusalem and Washington in advance, Israel does not expect the White House to condemn the settlement construction, as it has in the past.
IDF strikes Hamas target in Gaza after rocket fired at Israel
The Israeli military on Sunday destroyed a terrorist target in the southern Gaza Strip after a rocket was fired from the enclave at Israel.

The Color Red alert sounded across the Gaza vicinity communities in the early evening hours, and the IDF said its systems detected rocket fire in the direction of the Eshkol Regional Council. Security forces canvassed the area and determined the projectile landed on the Palestinian side of the Israel-Gaza border.

"An attempt was made to fire a rocket from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory on Sunday evening. Once a security canvass of the area was completed, it was determined that the rocket aimed at Israel exploded in Gaza's territory," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said.

"In retaliation to the attempted rocket fire, IDF tanks struck and destroyed a Hamas observation post in the southern Gaza Strip. The shooting constituted a threat to the security of the Israeli public and undermined Israel's sovereignty. The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for every terrorist attack carried out from the Gaza Strip," the military's statement said.

Palestinian officials in Gaza said the IDF strike caused no injuries.
Visiting Moroccan birthplace, MK Peretz greeted by protests
Former defense minister Amir Peretz faced angry protestations from delegates to a joint conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the World Trade Organization at the Moroccan Parliament in Rabat on Sunday.

At the end of the conference’s opening session, Moroccan parliamentarian Achsan Abed El-Halak, the leader of a four-seat radical Islamic party workers’ party, began shouting at Peretz, a Zionist Union MK.

“You are a war criminal,” El-Halak said. “You are an unwanted guest here.”

Former Kadima MK and current PAM Roving Ambassador Majallie Whbee jumped to Peretz’s defense, pointing out that he was born in Morocco, as were his parents: “You have no right to attack him.”

Whbee also accused El-Halak: “You are radical Islam. You destroyed Tunisia, Yemen, Libya and Syria, and now you want to destroy Morocco.”

The hubbub continued for about 15 minutes, Peretz’s spokesman reported. Even the Palestinian delegation did not support El-Halak’s outburst.

The former defense minister was born in Morocco in 1952 and emigrated to Israel with his family in 1956.
Two Palestinians held after crossing from Gaza illegally
An IDF force caught two Palestinians sneaking into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

The suspected infiltrators were spotted on the southern part of the Israeli-Gazan border.

Both men were apprehended and taken for interrogation.

No weapons were found on their persons, according to military sources. There was no immediate information about their identities or the motive behind their crossing of the border.

The crossing took place amid heightened tensions along the border.
Israeli-Palestinian women’s peace march exposes Palestinian divides
Thousands of women marched through Jerusalem on Sunday evening, demanding the resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, in an event that pitted the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) against the Hamas terrorist group, amid reconciliation efforts between the rival Palestinian factions.

The PLO’s Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, formed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, had sent out invitations to the Women Wage Peace (WWP) march, drawing criticism from some Palestinian groups.

The march was denounced by Hamas in an official statement, as well as by the Palestinian branch of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, both of which accused Palestinians participating in the initiative of “normalizing” relations with Israel.

The culmination of the two-week march throughout portions of Israel and the West Bank took place in Jerusalem on Sunday, with a walk that began outside Israel’s Supreme Court and concluded in Independence Park with a rally and speakers from the Jewish and Israeli Arab communities. Organizers claimed some 30,000 took part in the events in Jerusalem, though eyewitness estimates placed the figure at several thousand.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Poll Confirms 90% Of E. Jerusalem Arabs Prefer Waterboarding To Palestinian Rule (satire)
A new survey of Arab residents of the contested city of Jerusalem indicates that not only do they wish to remain under Israeli sovereignty, rather than be subject to the Palestinian Authority, but an overwhelming majority of them would rather undergo brutal torture than be governed by Palestinians.

In a poll conducted by the Demographic Undertakings in Heuristics (DUH), nine tenths of East Jerusalem Arabs voted to maintain their blue, Israeli-issued identity cards that allow them to move freely throughout Israel and give them various government benefits, and that the figure did not dip below ninety percent even when the hypothetical situation included undergoing waterboarding. The survey also found that by an even larger margin, 96%, East Jerusalem Arabs trust Israeli municipal and central government entities more than the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, to the point that they would prefer to have their genitals bitten off by a rabid jackal than fall under the jurisdiction of Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies.

“What we’re seeing here will come as a surprise to people who get all their news from mainstream international outlets,” explained survey organizer Lou Scannon, Deputy Director of DUH. “The survey of course has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, but the relatively large sample size of three thousand respondents gives it a robustness that most studies lack.”
PA: 'Palestinian heritage' is stronger than 'occupation'
In honor of “Palestinian Heritage Day”, the Palestinian Authority (PA) bureau in charge of public diplomacy issued a statement in which it attacks Israeli attempts to “erase Palestinian heritage” and establish an Israeli heritage instead.

The PA stressed in the statement that the Palestinian heritage in all its components would continue to reject "Israelization" and "the terrorism of the occupation" which has "forged, falsified and sabotaged everything Palestinian."

"Palestine, the people, the land, the history, and the national right are the first line of defense for our heritage," the bureau said the statement, calling on UNESCO to protect Palestinian heritage and culture and to prosecute the "occupation" for "its ongoing crimes against land and man.”
US, Turkey mutually suspend visa services for security reasons
The US mission in Turkey and subsequently the Turkish mission in Washington mutually scaled back visa services after a US consulate employee was arrested in Turkey, in the latest sign of fraying diplomatic relations between the NATO allies.

Last week, the US mission employee in Istanbul was arrested on charges of links to a cleric blamed for last year's failed coup, a move condemned by Washington as baseless.

"Recent events have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of government of Turkey to the security of US mission and personnel," the mission in Ankara said in a statement.

"In order to minimize the number of visitors to our embassy and consulates while this assessment proceeds, effective immediately we have suspended all non-immigrant visa services at all US diplomatic facilities in Turkey."

The Turkish embassy in Washington followed suit, and made virtually the same statement, only replacing the country names.

The state-run Anadolu news agency identified the consulate employee as a male Turkish citizen and said he was arrested late on Wednesday on charges of espionage and attempts to damage the constitutional order and Turkey's government.

Turkey has expressed deep frustration over its so far fruitless calls for the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen over a failed July 2016 coup, in which more than 240 people were killed. Gulen denies any involvement.
JPost Editorial: Trump vs. Iran
Neither US President Donald Trump nor Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like the 2015 Iran nuclear weapons deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Last month, Trump told the UN General Assembly the JCPOA was an “embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United State has ever entered into.” Netanyahu’s “fix it or nix it” speech to the same forum presented the same position.

We agree with Trump and Netanyahu that the JCPOA is a bad deal. Because it is narrowly worded to make it easier for Tehran to comply, the deal ignores Iran’s continued support for terrorism and endangerment of American and Israeli lives in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere; it is silent on the issue of Iran’s development of long-range ballistic missiles that have the sole purpose of carrying nuclear warheads; and, even within the framework of the JCPOA, too much secrecy and a lack of transparency prevent the monitoring of Iran’s development of nuclear explosive devices.

Nevertheless, a unilateral decision on the part of Trump to rip up the deal and walk away without a clear alternative is not necessarily in the interest of the US or of Israel, particularly at a time when there is a lack of broad consensus in Washington and around the world.

US and Israeli interests would be better served if Trump worked with his White House staff and Congress to articulate a clear policy that includes the wise use of crippling sanctions and more stringent monitoring to ensure that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.

So far, Trump has opted not to scrap the deal. Every 90 days, the US president is faced with the prospect of certifying that “Iran is transparently, verifiably and fully implementing the agreement” and that it is in the US’s interests to keep the JCPOA in place.

Twice already he has verified it. He is now facing an October 15 deadline for the third 90-day review since he took office. And, this time, according to media reports, Trump is setting the groundwork for a new approach that has the support of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Both Tillerson and Mattis oppose the outright scrapping of the deal, but Mattis has said decertification is a “distinct” matter.
UK’s May tells Netanyahu her country is sticking with Iran deal
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his British counterpart, Theresa May, agreed on Monday that the international community needed to be “clear-eyed” about the threat posed by Iran in the Middle East even as May said the UK remained committed to the 2015 nuclear accord and praised its importance.

Speaking by telephone on Monday, Netanyahu and May discussed security cooperation, Israel-UK trade and the contentious nuclear deal signed two years ago between Tehran and the P5+1 world powers, which included the UK.

A spokesman for Downing Street said May noted to Netanyahu “the importance of the nuclear deal with Iran which has neutralized the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade.”

May told the Israeli leader, a vocal opponent of the deal, that the UK remained “firmly committed” to it and that it was “vitally important for regional security,” adding that Iranian compliance with the accord should be “carefully monitored and properly enforced.”
Kremlin warns of ‘negative consequences’ if Trump quits Iran deal
Moscow warned on Monday there would be “negative consequences” if US President Donald Trump pulls out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor.

Trump is a fierce critic of the 2015 accord, which he has called “the worst deal ever” and US officials say he intends to tell Congress next week that Tehran is not honoring its side of the bargain.

“Obviously if one country leaves the deal, especially such a key country as the US, then that will have negative consequences,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said.

“We can only try to predict the nature of these consequences, which we are doing now,” Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

Putin has repeatedly hailed the importance of the existing deal, he added.

Trump is expected to announce that he is “decertifying” Iran’s compliance with the agreement it signed to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Iran promises 'crushing' response if US designates Guards as terrorists
Iran promised on Monday to give a "crushing" response if the United States designated its elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group.

The pledge came a week before President Donald Trump announces final decision on how he wants to contain Tehran. He is expected on Oct 15 to will decertify the landmark international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, in a step that potentially could cause the 2015 accord to unravel.

Trump is also expected to designate Iran's most powerful security force, the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, as he rolls out a broader US strategy on Iran.

"We are hopeful that the United States does not make this strategic mistake," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA at a news conference.

"If they do, Iran's reaction would be firm, decisive and crushing and the United States should bear all its consequences," he added.

Individuals and entities associated with the IRGC are currently on the US list of foreign terrorist organizations, but the organization as a whole is not.
U.S. Approves $15 Billion Thaad Missile Defense Package for Saudi Arabia
The U.S. State Department has approved a potential $15 billion sale of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Thaad anti-missile interceptors, launchers and radar, part of the package of weaponry that President Donald Trump promised for the kingdom during a visit in May.

Negotiations on contracts can move ahead unless the U.S. Congress acts to block the deal within 30 days. The Saudis would be the second international buyer of Thaad after the United Arab Emirates. Thaad, which uses a hit-to-kill warhead to destroy short and medium-range missiles, gained international attention this year after the U.S. placed a Thaad battery in South Korea over China’s objections.

The proposed Saudi sale underscored enduring U.S.-Saudi defense cooperation on a day when Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, with deals announced on arms sales as well as energy.
UN Watch: “Victory for Yemenis” or “Deeply Flawed”? Deconstructing the Resolution on Yemen
The U.N. human rights council’s new resolution on Yemen is not the “victory” that Amnesty and others claim, but rather a watered-down version of the Dutch proposed draft, which fails even once to condemn Saudi Arabia. Compared to the council’s sharply condemnatory resolution in response to the 2014 Gaza war, which involved a fraction of the casualties caused by the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, the resolution is a slap on the wrist.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a bombing campaign against the Iranian backed Houthi rebels in Yemen since March 2015. According to UN statistics, the fighting has led to massive civilian casualties, with almost 5,000 civilians dead between March 2015 and March 2017, and over 8,000 injured. The Saudi coalition has also imposed a naval blockade causing a humanitarian disaster for the civilian population, with 17 million struggling for food.

A major feature of the Dutch draft was the creation of an international commission of inquiry, considered to be the gold standard of UN human rights investigations. However, Saudi Arabia, which has been accused of serious international law violations, strongly opposed such a commission.

The Saudis went so far as to threaten certain Western countries with consequences if they supported the text. “Adopting the Netherlands/Canadian draft resolution in the Human Rights Council may negatively affect the bilateral political and economic relations with Saudi Arabia,” warned Saudi Arabia in a letter.

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