Thursday, May 23, 2019

From Ian:

Greenblatt Tells UN: Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad Are to Blame for Gaza Suffering
U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt told the UN Security Council on Wednesday: "It is simply unacceptable that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to target Israeli communities, including hospitals and schools, in a cynical attempt to extract concessions from Israel. It is simply unacceptable that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to use civilians in Gaza, including children, as human shields. It is simply unacceptable that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad continue to siphon the scarce resources of the people of Gaza to build their terror arsenal, while preventing donor aid from reaching the people."

"There will be no end to this suffering until all of us, together, say in public...Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are to blame for the suffering of the people of Gaza. Nothing can be meaningfully fixed until they renounce terror and cease their acts of violence and their vow to destroy Israel."
Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Middle East





PMW: Fatah renews blood libel, Fatah in Lebanon published a cartoon depicting an antisemitic child-killing libel.
Starting in the Middle Ages, Jews have been accused of murdering children for ritual purposes, of poisoning wells, and more. Palestinians regularly renew the child-killing libel, claiming Israel deliberately murders Palestinian children.

Here is a new example from Abbas' Fatah Movement in Lebanon:
[Falestinona, website of Fatah’s Information and Culture Commission in Lebanon, May 6, 2019]

In the cartoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is shown with a bloody hand, smiling over a presumably dead Palestinian infant from Gaza that has blood dripping from it. Netanyahu murdered the baby, leaving it for the Palestinian Muslim family (symbolized by the man's crescent head) for the month of Ramadan.



PMW: Fatah seeks reconciliation with Hamas; Hamas promises "extermination" of Israel
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh announced he will hold elections in the PA only after reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas has been achieved. But what will be the basis of this reconciliation? Where will Fatah meet Hamas and what ideology might they agree on?

Hamas recently launched over 700 rockets at Israeli civilians, murdering 4 Israelis. Below is a taste of the messages Hamas sent to Palestinians and Israelis during those rocket attacks - messages that include calls for "Jihad", encouragement of Palestinians to carry out violence and terror, and die as "Martyrs," as well as threats to Israelis that their "grave" is being prepared.

Is this the common ground PA Prime Minister Shtayyeh will agree to?

Following the barrage of rockets, Hamas leaders continued to be vocal in their promise of genocidal violence against Israel. Hamas official Fathi Hammad addressed Israelis - "the Zionist enemy" - and told them that "the day of your slaughter, extermination, and annihilation is near":
Hamas Political Bureau member Fathi Hammad: "We have come to tell the Zionist enemy - including its people, its army, its government, and the Israeli Parliament - leave us, for the day of your slaughter, extermination, and annihilation is near. Each one of you should search for a place for yourself in Europe, or in any kind of stronghold, or in hell, or in the sea, or in the ocean, or in the Bermuda Triangle. You have no place in Palestine. You have no place on the land of Jerusalem. You have no place in the Al-Aqsa Mosque plazas, or in Jaffa, or in Haifa, or in Acre, or anywhere... leave us, for the day of your annihilation is near." [Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), May 15, 2019]

Hamas to Palestinians during rocket attacks:
Senior Hamas official and PA Parliament Member Abd Al-Rahman Al-Jamal:
"The time has come for this world to stand by the Palestinian people, which is defending its rights, land, and honor. We are continuing, Allah willing, [because] our honor and greatness are [achieved] by our Jihad and resistance... Set out with Allah's blessing on the path of Jihad and resistance." [Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), May 4, 2019]
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: The New Hamas List of 'Traitors'
One of the Arabs who have dared to speak the truth about Hamas and Islamic Jihad is Nadim Koteich, a prominent Lebanese journalist, who recently accused Islamic Jihad of starting the last round of fighting with Israel.

In an interview with the Lebanese LDC TV channel, Koteich said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad, representing the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran respectively, should have turned the Gaza Strip after Israel's withdrawal in 2005 into an opportunity for a national Palestinian compromise.

Instead, he said, the two groups have "thwarted all opportunities for peace" and have ended up in a prison called Gaza."

Such voices from some Palestinians and Arabs are a sign they may have finally woken up to realize that Palestinian leaders, particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are leading their people towards the abyss. If the voices of the critics grow, then there will be hope that one day the extremist camp among the Palestinians will be weakened.
PreOccupiedTerritory: UNICEF Formalizes Longtime Exclusion Of Palestinians From Child Soldier Ban (satire)
The foremost world body dedicated to promoting the welfare of children and preventing their abuse issued an announcement today making official a policy of not including Palestinian in populations the organization targets in its efforts to keep minors from being drafted into military service.

A spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund, also known as UNICEF, convened a press conference Thursday morning to make known an important amendment to the organization’s guiding principles, which to date have mandated an effort to root out the phenomenon of child soldiers everywhere. Now, however, UNICEF has made a formal a longtime exception to its official mandate, whereby the body turns a blind eye to the use of child soldiers by Palestinian militants.

“It’s about time we make sure our official policies and what we are doing on the ground match,” stated Deputy Director Wilstil Hetjouz. “This will help prevent confusion, not to mention embarrassment, when observers, critics, or funding providers contrast our stated goals with our actual activities in the field.”

Mr. Hetjouz assured those present that the change does not mean UNICEF will ignore Palestinian child welfare. “Our organization will continue to act as assiduously as ever in denouncing Israel for anything that has a negative impact on Palestinian children,” he vowed. “That has been our practice for a very long time already, and will not change. Lest anyone think UNICEF will disregard the harm done to Palestinian children in combat, we hereby inform you that no such omission will occur – it will simply fall under the category of crimes by Israel. To UNICEF, it is a mere technicality that Hamas or allied groups recruit children to fight or serve as human shields; we hold only Israel responsible, consistent with the attitude and history of every other United Nations body.”
In first, Germany votes against anti-Israel measure at World Health Organization
Germany on Wednesday for the first time voted against an annual anti-Israel resolution passed in the World Health Organization, apparently making good on a recent promise to change Berlin’s voting pattern in international organizations in Jerusalem’s favor.

In previous years, Germany usually voted in favor of the text, which appears to blame Israel for the poor public health situation in the Palestinian territories. Last year, the country abstained.

Despite Germany’s “no” vote during Wednesday’s 72nd WHO Health Assembly in Switzerland, the largely symbolic resolution passed with an overwhelming majority, with 96 countries voting in favor, 11 against and 21 abstaining.

Joining Germany in opposing the text were the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and Hungary.

The resolution, entitled “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan” does not mention Israel, but critics say it clearly criticizes the Jewish state.

“The UN reached new heights of absurdity by enacting a resolution which accuses Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, even as in reality Israeli hospitals provide life-saving treatment to Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks,” UN Watch, a Geneva-based nonprofit organization said in a statement.


Greenblatt: Hamas must be pressured to keep the peace with Israel
Hamas, Islamic Jihad must be pressured to keep the peace with Israel, US special envoy Jason Greenblatt told the United Nations Security Council in New York, after incendiary balloons launched from Gaza into southern Israel threatened to destroy the fragile calm that has held in that area for the last few weeks.

“We must all speak loudly and clearly and say that these attacks upon Israel, which are perpetrated by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, whether by rockets, incendiary balloons or other methods, must end,” Greenblatt told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday during a debate on the Middle East.

He spoke as firefighters in Israel battled 11 blazes set by those balloons. Israel in response restricted the Gaza fishing zone to 10 nautical miles. It had just extended it to 15 nautical miles one day earlier. That extension is believed to be part of informal truce worked out between Israel and Hamas. Both Israel and Hamas have dismissed reports of such an informal truce.

Greenblatt called on the UNSC to denounce Hamas as a terror group for its actions against both Israelis and Palestinians.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to use civilians in Gaza, including children, as human shields, he said. They have siphoned “the scarce resources of the people of Gaza to build their terror arsenal, while preventing donor aid from reaching the people," Greenblatt explained.
UN agency for Palestinians rejects US call to dismantle it
The head of the United Nations organization for Palestinian refugees and their descendants on Thursday rejected a US call to dismantle the agency, saying it cannot be blamed for stalled peace efforts.

UNRWA’s commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl rebuffed the criticism from US envoy Jason Greenblatt during a visit to the Gaza Strip.

“I unreservedly reject the accompanying narrative that suggests that somehow UNRWA is to blame for the continuation of the refugee-hood of Palestine refugees, of their growing numbers and their growing needs,” he said in response to a question about Greenblatt’s comments.

“The fact that UNRWA still exists today is an illustration of the failure of the parties and the international community to resolve the issue politically — and one cannot deflect the attention onto a humanitarian organization,” he told a press conference in Gaza City.

The United States last year cut off its roughly $300 million annual donation to UNRWA, and administration officials now argue the agency has run its course.


Evelyn Gordon: One Year Later, the U.S. Embassy Move Has Produced Lasting Gains
It is true that only Guatemala has followed America's lead in moving its embassy to Jerusalem, but this misses the point and thereby obscures the real and lasting gains of the embassy move. If it took America more than two decades to move its embassy despite a bipartisan consensus that was codified in legislation, it will clearly take time for countries that have only just started considering the issue to reach the point of being ready to actually make the move.

What the U.S. decision did accomplish was to break the global taboo on thinking and talking about this idea. Never again will recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital be an inconceivable option. In the space of just one year, in many countries, it has already become a hotly debated one. And the more the idea is discussed, the more realistic the possibility becomes.

The embassy decision also slayed the myth that recognizing Jerusalem would spark massive violence in the Arab world. The move sparked no violence anywhere except among Palestinians, and even that was short-lived. Consequently, no country contemplating such a move will be deterred by fear of a bloody reaction.
Pompeo: We Are Bolstering Israel's Security and Fighting Anti-Semitism
Speaking at an Israeli Embassy reception in Washington on Wednesday to mark that country's 71st Independence Day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "We've bolstered Israel's security...by applying maximum pressure against the single greatest threat to stability and security in the Middle East, and indeed, stability and security in Israel - the Islamic Republic of Iran."

"We've pushed back hard too against anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, and will continue to oppose it wherever it raises its ugly head. We are unleashing a fight against anti-Semitism, a growing problem across much of the world, including sadly right here in the United States."

"These actions by this administration...are instinctive, they are reflexive, and they are right. And we do them because of that, because they are in the best interest of both of our peoples."

At the same event, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer noted: "With each passing decade Israel is giving more and more support to America....With America in need of democratic allies that have powerful militaries, first-rate intelligence services, and advanced cyber capabilities, there are few, if any, security partners better than Israel. And with America in need of democratic allies that can help it maintain its technological supremacy for decades to come, there are no technology partners better than Israel."
Pompeo: White House has a ‘vision of peace’ to be unveiled in the summer
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday night that the Trump administration has a “vision of peace” that will be released over the summer, when the White House unveils its long-awaited proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Speaking before a crowd of hundreds in the nation’s capital at an event celebrating Israel’s 71st anniversary, the American diplomat stressed that the package will seek improvements to Palestinians’ quality of life.

“The White House has a vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which we will unveil this summer,” Pompeo said. “It offers an opportunity, although no guarantee, that we hope we can have a brighter future for the Palestinian people.”

Pompeo’s remarks were made at an annual event hosted by the Israeli embassy in Washington at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium. They came after the administration said on Sunday it would roll out the economic part of the plan during a June gathering in Bahrain, formally dubbed the Peace to Prosperity workshop.

Administration officials have tried to assuage concerns that the Trump plan will focus only on economic gains for the Palestinians without fulfilling their political aspirations.
Arab states pressuring Palestinians to attend Bahrain workshop
Some Arab states have begun exerting pressure on the Palestinians to agree to participate in next month’s workshop in Bahrain, where the US administration is planning to unveil the economic portion of its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East.

“Some Arab countries are unhappy that we immediately rejected the idea of the workshop,” a senior Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post. “They are now asking us to stop attacking the workshop and not to oppose the participation of Palestinian businessmen.”

The official did not name the Arab countries that were reportedly pressuring the PA leadership to soften its stance towards the upcoming workshop in Manama, Bahrain.

However, other officials in Ramallah told the Post that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have relayed a message to the PA leadership in which they expressed “concern” over Palestinian opposition to the workshop.


JPost Editoral: UN whitewashes Hezbollah
This week, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis wrote that he met with Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem. In shocking and concerning comments, Kubis also said that he was grateful to the Hezbollah leader for “substantive” comments and for giving him a copy of his book. The UN coordinator said the book was “necessary reading.”

Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that has fired rockets at Israeli civilians and conducted terrorist attacks around the world, was legitimized in its meeting with the UN. The IDF revealed tunnels built by Hezbollah last year extending into Israel, a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. Israel has provided information to the UN and UNIFIL in Lebanon about the tunnels.

Responding to the Kubis-Hezbollah meeting, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said “We are shocked and disappointed by this meeting.” He noted that one doesn’t need to read Qassem’s book to understand Hezbollah’s threat to Israel and the region. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon slammed the meeting. “The role of the UN representative is to promote a stable and secure region, and not to meet with leaders of a terrorist organization and to glorify incitement against the State of Israel,” he said.

Qassem told Kubis that Israel and the US were at fault for tensions in the region. “The rhetoric being used by [Israel and the US] is a rhetoric of threats and war and this might push things to the brink.” Hezbollah sought to burnish its credentials by telling the UN it was working with all Lebanese parties to bring political stability to the country. He addressed the US “deal of the century” and the Palestinian cause in his meeting, saying Hezbollah supports the Palestinians. He also claimed Hezbollah is merely defending Lebanon. Hezbollah has a role in Lebanon’s parliament and controls their Health Ministry. It is both an armed terrorist militia and a political party, building on the Iranian model that seeks to plant proxies that combine terror and politics into the same entities across the region.

According to the Daily Star in Lebanon, this is not the first time Kubis has met with Hezbollah. He met the group in mid-April as well to brief them on UN discussions. “Glad to continue our dialogue with Ammar Moussawi of Hezbollah. Profound exchanges on the messages from the March Security Council meeting on Resolution 1701 as well as on regional issues,” Kubis wrote at the time. He also discussed returning Syrian refugees from Lebanon to Syria, according to the newspaper.
New Jersey man allegedly wanted to shoot pro-Israel marchers
A New Jersey man who allegedly wanted to shoot pro-Israel rallygoers and bomb Trump Tower was arrested for trying to provide support to Hamas.

The Secure Community Network, an arm of national Jewish community organizations, said it had been in contact with federal authorities regarding the threat posed by Jonathan Xie, 20, of Basking Ridge, and added that he was acting alone.

“While highly calculated and inspired by hatred, the activities contained within the affidavit represent the actions of a single individual,” SCN said Wednesday in a statement. “There is no known ongoing threat against the Jewish community related to the actions announced.”

Xie was arrested Wednesday. He allegedly sent $100 to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, violating U.S. laws that ban funding designated terror groups.

“Just donated $100 to Hamas,” he said last year on Instagram, NBC4 New York reported. “Pretty sure it was illegal but I don’t give a damn.”

WABC-TV reported that Xie allegedly made various threats on Instagram, including that he wanted to “shoot everybody” at a pro-Israel march and “bomb Trump Tower.” (h/t MtTB)
Olympics committee criticized for removing Golan from Israeli map
Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev sent a strongly worded letter to the European Olympics Committee regarding their map of Israel, which doesn't include the Golan Heights or West Bank.

"From the point of view of the Israeli Government, Judea and Samaria (otherwise known as the West Bank) constitute an inseparable part of the State of Israel," Regev wrote, while according to the law of the State of Israel, the Golan Heights are under Israeli sovereign rule, a fact recognized by many international bodies as well as by the United States of America."

The letter was sent to the heads of the International Olympic Committee and European Olympic Committee ahead of the European Games in Minsk. The map, which Regev said removed the two regions, was part of promotional material for the upcoming multi-national sporting event.

Regev said it was as if the European Olympics Committee was making a judgement call on whether or not Israel was legitimate in maintaining jurisdiction over the lands that were incorporated into the Jewish state after the 1967 Six Day War.

She said the European Olympics Committee "publicly cast doubt upon the sovereign rights of the State of Israel in these matters, thereby excluding thousands of active athletes, sports organizations and associations of competitive and popular sports."

She added that such a move breached rules that separate politics from sports.
Fires rage across Israel amid heat wave, homes evacuated, roads closed
Fires raged across Israel on Thursday, forcing residents of several communities to flee their homes and blocking major roads as temperatures soared throughout the country in what authorities said was an “extreme” heat wave.

Firefighters were battling a large fire in the Ben Shemen Forest near the central city of Modiin. Some residents in the nearby communities of Kfar Daniel, Mevo Modiim and Gimzo were evacuated from their homes and Route 443, a key road linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, was closed.

Witnesses said homes were on fire in Mevo Modiim and Kibbutz Harel, which lies southwest of Modiin. At least 10 homes were destroyed in Mevo Modiim.

Some 22 people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, including 2 in moderate condition, according to Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller.

In Jerusalem, an 80-year-old man was hospitalized at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center after collapsing from an apparent heatstroke. The man was said to be in serious condition.

Southern District Fire Department Chief Shmulik Friedman said authorities are considering reaching out to Cyprus, Greece and Croatia to help battle the dozens of fires raging across the country.
Gazan arson balloons blamed for at least 11 fires in south
At least 11 fires were sparked Wednesday in southern Israel by balloon-borne incendiary devices sent over the security fence from the southern Gaza Strip, according to Israeli officials.

Firefighters were called to the scenes of the blazes in the Eshkol and Sdot Negev regions, just outside the coastal enclave.

“All of the fires were caused by incendiary balloons,” a spokesman for the local fire department said.

The fires started in grasslands and agricutural fields. In one case, 50 dunams (12 acres) of wheat fields in Kibbutz Alumim were burned, a Sdot Negev spokesperson said.

The incendiary attacks would appear to violate the reported terms of an unofficial ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group. There was no immediate military response by Israel to the fires.

They were some of the worst arson attacks in recent months.
Israel Restricts Gaza Fishing Zone after Wave of Arson Balloons
The IDF announced on Wednesday that it had limited the Gaza fishing zone to 10 nautical miles, one day after it had expanded the space to 15, according to the Coordinator of Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT).

The change followed violence on the southern border. Some 11 fires were lit in southern Israel by incendiary balloons launched from the Gaza Strip.

The sea of Gaza, one of the few sources of income available to those living under the control of the Hamas terrorist group, is one of the means by which Israel attempts to achieve a balance between security and humanitarian concern.

The allowed fishing zone was reduced to six nautical miles in April after Islamic Jihad fired a missile on Israel.
The range of 28 nautical miles had not been an option to the fishermen of Gaza since second intifada, which launched in 2000.
PA minister: Trump should be prosecuted for crimes against Palestinians
Palestinian Culture Minister Atef Abu Saif called on President Donald Trump and several prominent American politicians to be prosecuted for their crimes against the Palestinian people, in an article published this week.

"An examination of Trump's conduct reveals his absurdity in many issues [and] raises a question about [his conduct's] legality, and it may be that we Palestinians... should prosecute him for it," Saif wrote in an article called "America and its Collusion in Crime," which was published in the Palestinian Al-Ayyam newspaper and was translated by Memri.

The article accuses Trump, his advisors Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman of distorting history to suit their political agenda and completely ignoring historical fact.

"There is infinite ignorance with respect to the course of history and to the facts – ignorance which leads to overturning all the facts so as to disseminate the big lies of Zionism and its allies among the extremist, fanatical American Christians," he wrote. "Sometimes it goes as far as total identification with those positions, and even [reaches the point] where some of those in Washington seem more extreme than the colonialists who steal the land, uproot the olive trees, falsify history, and attempt to outmaneuver reality."

Saif wrote that some in Washington are "more Zionist than the child killers in our country," and "more extreme than the colonialists who steal the land," writing that their justification for Israel's actions means they are implicit in the crime and should be prosecuted.


JCPA: Hamas Versus Israel’s Intelligence Services
The shadow “battle of wits” continues at full throttle between Hamas and the Israeli intelligence services, despite the discovery several months ago of an IDF Special Forces unit operating in the Khan Yunis area that Hamas claimed was involved in special intelligence activity.

Fatah elements in the Gaza Strip say that following the recent round of hostilities Hamas is very worried that precise intelligence information in the hands of the IDF led to strikes on Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets.

They claim that this intelligence was provided by Palestinian agents and collaborators working in the field who passed information to Israeli intelligence. Israel is managing to run agents in Gaza in spite of heavy punishments imposed by Hamas on anyone who collaborates with Israel. Usually this involves a speedy military trial and execution – an example to be seen and feared.

Hamas is now using the month of Ramadan to its benefit to play on the religious sentiments of collaborators with Israel living in Gaza.

On May 17, 2019, Hamas’ security site, Al-Majd, issued a call to all collaborators to repent and return to the bosom of the Palestinian people.
Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror
In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’รชtre for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.
MEMRI: Lebanese Journalist Nadim Koteich Blames Islamic Jihad, Hamas For Clashes: Israel Withdrew From Gaza In 2005; Criminal Muslim Brotherhood Enterprise Has Thrown Gaza Into Civil War
Lebanese journalist Nadim Koteich accused the Islamic Jihad of starting the recent round of fighting with Israel. Speaking in an interview with the Lebanese LDC TV channel on May 11, 2019, he said that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, representing the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran respectively, should have turned Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza into an opportunity for a national Palestinian compromise, but that instead, they have "thwarted all opportunities for peace" and have "ended up in a prison called Gaza."

"This Battle Was Started By The Islamic Jihad, Not By Israel"

Nadim Koteich: "The peddling of the blood of the people of Gaza must stop. This battle was started by the Islamic Jihad, not by Israel."

Interviewer: "Excuse me..."
Nadim Koteich: "This battle was started by the Islamic Jihad. The Islamic Jihad and Hamas had been in Cairo from Thursday, discussing a ceasefire. On Friday morning, the Islamic Jihad decided, all on its own, to shoot at two Israelis, which led to this battle in the Gaza Strip. No more peddling of the blood of Gazans!
[...]
"Israel Unilaterally Withdrew From Gaza In 2005"
"[Israel] was forced into this battle, in which it had no interest. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
"The criminal Muslim Brotherhood enterprise, represented by the Hamas movement, and the criminal Iranian enterprise, represented by the Islamic Jihad, have thrown Gaza into a Palestinian civil war. We should call a spade a spade. The target of Hamas leader Sinwar is Ramallah, not Israel. He is fighting Mahmoud Abbas, not Israel.
Seth J. Frantzman: The U.S. Is Outplaying Iran in a Regional Chess Match
In the complex game of wits being played between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime, it appears that the U.S. temporarily checked Iran's usual behavior.

Tehran knows that any real battle with U.S. forces will result in Iranian defeat. Tehran can't risk massive retaliation against its allies or the regime at home for fear that it will lead to the destruction of all it has carefully built up in the last years.

In the past, Iran benefited from its ability to threaten Western powers and attack U.S. forces with proxies, even seizing U.S. sailors, without fear of reprisal. It learned in the past that the U.S. preferred diplomacy, but the current administration appears to have put Tehran on notice.

If Iran thinks Washington isn't serious, or if it senses that domestic opposition to Washington's saber-rattling is building, Iran may call America's bluff. But if Iran thinks the U.S. really will retaliate, it will tread carefully.

Iran now wants to assure its own people that war isn't likely through media stories about how the U.S. isn't serious. This is in contrast to the usual Tehran bluster and threats, even harassment of ships in the Persian Gulf. Iran's sudden quiet could, of course, be the calm before the storm, but it is more likely a reflection of the regime's sudden confusion about U.S. policy.

This is a good thing for American interests. Iran needs to be kept guessing about U.S. intentions. It needs to tell its proxies to stop threatening U.S. forces in Iraq.

The U.S. gained the upper hand in its recent escalation against Iran by playing Iran's game of bluster and support for allies on the ground. If Washington wants to continue to keep Iran in check, it needs to keep up the pressure.
Dems Tied to Obama’s Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’ Spread Terror Regime’s Anti-Trump Talking Points
A cadre of former top Obama administration figures and their allies in Congress have been working to amplify anti-Trump talking points issued by a senior Iranian regime official in what sources have described as an effort by Obama's pro-Iran echo chamber to drive a wedge between President Donald Trump and his national security team.

As tensions mount between the United States and Iran, leading Democrats have become embroiled in controversy for widely repeating anti-Trump talking points first issued by Iran's hardline regime.

Additionally, former top officials from the Obama administration have taken to social media and other outlets to push a narrative that Trump is at odds with his hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton over how far to go in punishing Tehran for its global support of terrorism and continued efforts to secure contested nuclear technology.

The effort to push this narrative to the media has gained steam following a war of words between Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is said to have been in contact with top Democrats in Congress and their allies in the Obama administration, sources said.

Just days after Zarif labeled Bolton and other top Trump national security officials as the "B Team," former top Obama aides Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl repeated this rhetoric online in a series of postings bashing Trump. Rhodes and Kahl are most well known as the creators of a pro-Iran "echo chamber" that was used to mislead Congress and the American public about the terms of the landmark nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned last year.
Turkey has stopped buying Iran oil to respect US sanctions, official says
Ankara stopped importing oil from Iran at the beginning of May out of “respect” for American sanctions despite disagreeing with them, a Turkish official said Wednesday.

“As a strategic ally” of the United States, “we respect” the sanctions, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous, during Turkish Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yavuz Selim Kiran’s visit to Washington.

Since pulling out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal a year ago, US President Donald Trump’s administration has hit Iran with severe sanctions prohibiting the export of Iranian oil, as well as targeting countries that continue to purchase it.

Turkey was among eight countries, also including China, India and Japan, that were initially exempt from the sanctions and allowed to continue importing Iranian crude, but the exemption ended May 2 and has not been renewed.

Ankara initially appeared unwilling to comply, but according to the anonymous official, Turkey did stop importing Iranian oil after May 2.

While meeting with Trump, the Turkish delegation in Washington discussed the various points of tension between the two NATO allies, including Ankara’s recent controversial purchase of the S-400 missile defense system from Moscow.

Washington says the deal with Moscow is a threat to Western defense and in April suspended Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program in a bid to halt the purchase.
Khamenei: Iranian Youth Will Witness Demise of Israel, ‘American Civilization’
Iran’s youth will witness the demise of Israel and American civilization, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday in comments published on his official website.

“You young people should be assured that you will witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel,” Khamenei said in a meeting with students.

He gave no further details.

Tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what American officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.

Khamenei said last week that there would be no war with the US.

Separately, Khamenei distanced himself from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in his comments on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year and reimposed sanctions, saying the accord did not address the Islamic Republic’s missile program and what he saw as their malign influence in the region.
Senior German diplomat in Tehran hoping to salvage nuclear deal
A senior German diplomat headed Thursday to Tehran to press Iran to continue to respect the landmark nuclear deal, despite the unilateral withdrawal of the US and increasing pressure from Washington.

Tensions have soared in the Mideast recently as the White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran.

In Berlin, the Foreign Ministry said Political Director Jens Ploetner was to hold talks with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on Thursday to try salvage the nuclear deal signed in 2015 in Vienna. The accord has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal, re-imposed and escalated US sanctions on Tehran last year.

The German envoy’s visit also follows Iran’s declaration earlier this month that the remaining signatories to the deal — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — have two months to develop a plan to shield Iran from American sanctions.

“The situation in the Persian Gulf and the region, and the situation surrounding the Vienna nuclear agreement, is extremely serious,” the German Foreign Ministry said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “There is a real risk of escalation — including due to misunderstandings or an incident. In this situation, dialogue is very important.”
Andrew Klavan: As Peace Talks Continue, Ayatollah Offers To Slaughter Everyone [Satire]
Things continue to be tense between Iran and the United States.

Iran’s former leader Ayatollah Imgonnakillya has now been replaced by Ayatollah Homeini Timesdoay Haftatollyah Imgonnakillya, who has offered an olive branch to the U.S. which the U.S. can put in an attractive complimentary vase while Iran sinks all our ships.

The Ayatollah has offered to make peace by bringing about the end of the world, slaughtering all the infidels, installing the Mahdi as president of every country, and did I mention slaughtering all the infidels? President Trump has made a counteroffer of kiss my ass and how about I bomb you back into the stone age which for you knuckleheads is only about twenty minutes ago. So negotiations are going well.

Democrats have expressed concern that in taking a hostile tone Trump has abandoned the carefully constructed Obama Doctrine of dropping billions of dollars into Iran in the dead of night, lying about it, then letting Iran build nuclear weapons, then lying about that, until Iran becomes civilized and joins the community of nations in the role of the nation that destroys all the other nations in the hope of bringing about the end of the world.

The top Democrat of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman Pewling Poltroon, said he was concerned that Iran might not like us if we didn’t crawl on our knees with our faces pressed into the dust repeating the words, “Please like us,” until Iran agrees to kill every last one of us but in a nice way.



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