Wednesday, November 20, 2019

From Ian:

Pompeo Busts the ‘Occupation’ Myth The claim that Israeli settlements are illegal was flimsy in 1978 and is ridiculous in 2019. By Eugene Kontorovich
Israeli settlements in the West Bank do not violate international law. That is now America's official view, repudiating the conclusions of a 1978 State Department memorandum. The four-page 1978 memo written by legal adviser Herbert Hansell was hardly a thorough study and cited no precedent for its key conclusions. Hansell concluded that Jews who had moved past the Green Line into disputed territory had somehow been "deported or transferred" there by the State of Israel.

A country cannot occupy territory to which it has sovereign title, and Israel has the strongest claim to the land. International law holds that a new country inherits the borders of the prior geopolitical unit in that territory. Israel was preceded by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, whose borders included the West Bank. Hansell's memo fails to discuss this.

Moreover, Hansell wrote that the state of occupation would end if Israel entered into a peace treaty with Jordan, which it did in 1994, but the State Department neglected to update the memo.

Almost every prolonged occupation since 1949 - from the Allies' 40-year administration of West Berlin to Turkey's 2016 occupation of northern Syria - has seen population movement into the occupied territory. In none of these cases has the U.S. or the UN ever claimed this was a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Pompeo's action shows the U.S. understands that we can't have one international law for one country and another for the rest of the world.
Why the U.S. Is Right to Recognize West Bank "Settlements" as Legal
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that U.S. would no longer take the position that Israeli civilian "settlements" in the West Bank are "inconsistent with international law." Many of those "settlements" - cities, really, some of them in existence for decades - are never going to be bulldozed. That's reality.

It has always been a mistake for the U.S. to treat Jews who returned to their ancient homeland as occupiers. For one thing, it was impossible for Israel to "occupy" Palestinian territories because no such nation has ever existed. UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 established Israel's legal right to negotiate a peace with defensible borders with existing states. Resolution 242 doesn't mention the word "Palestinian" anywhere. Nowhere does the resolution call on Israel to withdraw to the pre-Six-Day War lines. Nowhere does it stipulate that Judea and Samaria should be free of Jews.

None of the recent U.S. moves undermine peace. They simply clarify the contours of a realistic deal. Israel has done everything it can to allow responsible Arab self-governance. As Pompeo clearly states, final-status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will be predicated no longer on a fantasy of "occupation" but rather on the reality of disputed land.
Ruthie Blum: Trump makes pro-Israel history again
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s dramatic announcement on Monday that the “establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law” sent shockwaves around the world. In retrospect, however, it shouldn’t have come as such a surprise.

Since his election three years ago, US President Donald Trump has been consistent in his efforts to reverse the policies of the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Not only in relation to Israel. But his pro-Israel stance has been steady and unapologetic from the get-go, which is as it should be.

Indeed, each of his decisions – such as recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the embassy accordingly, defunding the Palestinian “pay for slay” machine and acknowledging Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights – has been geared towards cementing the natural US -Israel relationship in a healthy way. Every action that his administration has taken stems from the understanding that the so-called “Israeli-Palestinian peace process” has failed repeatedly – not only as a result of being based on a false premise, but of following the same old paradigm.

Team Trump has been engaging in what the high-tech sector refers to as “disruption.”

Its shift in settlement policy is part of the program. As Pompeo pointed out, calling settlements illegal “hasn’t worked. It hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.”

That’s for sure.

Fittingly, Washington’s latest bombshell came on the heels of a horrifying European Court of Justice ruling that all EU countries must label goods produced in Israeli settlements, so as to enable consumers to make “informed choices” – a euphemism for giving shoppers a heads-up over which “made in Israel” merchandise they should boycott.



PMW: Is the PA considering violence in response to US recognition that Israeli settlements are "not inconsistent with international law"?
Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority has announced that it is considering “recommendations to strengthen… home front and the popular resistance.” The PA leadership issued this statement yesterday following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement of a change in US policy which no longer considers “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank… inconsistent with international law." [CNN, Nov. 18, 2019] The PA further “demanded” that “the masses of the Palestinian people in the homeland and everywhere act in order to thwart the plot to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”

The terms "peaceful uprising/resistance,” and “popular uprising/resistance" as used by the PA leadership refer to everything from peaceful protest to violence and terror. Palestinian Media Watch has documented that these innocent sounding terms are also used by PA leaders to refer to deadly terror attacks and terror waves. For example, ‎Mahmoud Abbas defined as “peaceful popular” the murderous terror during the 2015-2016 ‎terror wave (“The Knife Intifada”), in which 40 people were killed (36 Israelis, 1 Palestinian, 2 Americans and 1 Eritrean) and hundreds wounded in stabbings, shootings, and car ramming attacks. After 14 Israelis had already been murdered Abbas went on TV and said: "We want peaceful popular uprising, and that’s what this is.”

Palestinians who now hear the PA leadership’s call for “popular resistance” – “everywhere” - to counter the US decision, may understand it as the PA’s endorsement of attacks on Israelis and Americans abroad, as well as in Israel and the West Bank.
“With the attendance of [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, the [PA] leadership has… begun a series of special meetings in order to take the necessary steps to deal with the dangerous American decisions against the Palestinian cause, the latest of which was the statement of [US] Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo regarding the settlements. The leadership emphasized that there will be activity…and that there will be meetings… in order to consider recommendations to strengthen the home front and the popular resistance in light of the American administration’s attempts to eliminate the Palestinian cause… During its special meeting, the leadership demanded that the masses of the Palestinian people in the homeland and everywhere act to thwart the plot to eliminate the Palestinian cause.” [WAFA, official PA news agency, Nov. 19, 2019]


Why Israelis should care about what happens in India these days
largest democracy and the second largest country on the planet. For this reason, building up Indian-Israeli relations is of utmost strategic importance, especially if one considers that both India and Israel share many of the same concerns regarding the radical Islamist threat and Hindus like Jews were also persecuted in the Muslim world.

On top of that, both countries share many of the same strategic interests and possess the same values. After all, both Hinduism and Judaism are ancient faiths, whose people govern democratic nations.

Nevertheless, if you ask the average Israeli in the street, they do not understand the history of the Indian-Israeli relationship or why it is important to know something about India today.

As Sivan Gamliel, an Israeli communications specialist that lives in Bat Yam, explained: “I have never been to India, so I don’t know what to say. I think that we don’t have a problem there. We are in a good relationship with them. But I don’t even know who Mahatma Gandhi is. I think most young Israelis don’t know anything about India. Most of the Israelis go to India in order to travel. They are not interested in the history.”

While most Israelis do support the diplomatic relationship with India, the general ignorance about India that permeates Israeli society does create a negative perception towards the country among some Israelis. Lea Suissa, a resident of Netanya, proclaimed that while she loves Indian movies and supports a good diplomatic relationship with India, believing that Indians are good people that support Israel, she still “will never go there and will never eat there. I believe the place is dirty. Furthermore, it disturbs me that if a woman is pregnant with a daughter there, they force her to kill the baby. It very much disturbs me.”
Fighting UN Double Standards on Israel
Remarks by UN Watch Legal Advisor Dina Rovner at Christian Media Summit, November 4, 2019.


US officials to Israeli TV: New settlement policy not green light for annexation
The new US policy to no longer considers settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem illegal “should not be seen as a green light for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank or start unrestrained building in settlements,” US officials told an Israeli news network Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly promised to quickly apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley if he is able to put together a new government amid ongoing political gridlock. He has indicated this would be acceptable to Washington, saying any such move would be made in “maximum coordination” with the United States.

Administration officials told Channel 13 news that the main motive for changing the policy, as announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, was the Trump administration’s desire to reverse decisions and policy changes made by the Obama administration.

The officials also said US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was the driving force behind Washington’s announcement.

Settler leaders attending an event to celebrate the announcement also told The Times of Israel Tuesday that Friedman personally initiated the shift in US policy.
New York Times News Article on Israeli Settlements Falsely Describes US Policy
American policy has been, generally, that the settlements aren’t helpful, but not that they violate international law. In 2004, President George W. Bush wrote a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in which he said he expected some of the settlements would remain part of Israel. “As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338,” Bush wrote in the letter. “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion.”

A December 23, 2016, Washington Post editorial denouncing President Barack Obama’s lame-duck decision to throw Israel under the bus by allowing the passage of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity faulted Obama for changing America’s course on the topic. “President Obama’s decision to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements reverses decades of practice by both Democratic and Republican presidents,” the Post editorial said. “The United States vetoed past resolutions on the grounds that they unreasonably singled out Jewish communities in occupied territories as an obstacle to Middle East peace, and that U.N. action was more likely to impede than advance negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians….At the same time, it will almost certainly not stop Israeli construction in the West Bank, much less in East Jerusalem, where Jewish housing was also deemed by the resolution to be ‘a flagrant violation under international law.’ By abstaining, the administration did not explicitly support that position, which has not been U.S. policy since the Carter administration.”

The consul general of Israel in New York, Dani Dayan, who spoke at Harvard Law School this month about the legality of the settlements, also tweeted an excerpt from a statement by President Reagan, who said of the settlements in a February 2, 1981 interview with the New York Times, “I disagreed when the previous Administration referred to them as illegal. They’re not illegal.” Reagan addressed this several times. On October 14, 1980, as a presidential candidate, he said of the Carter administration, “the charge by this Administration at the time those settlements were first started, that they were illegal, was false. They are entirely legal under the U.N. Resolution 242.” And on February 22, 1984, in a news conference, Reagan said of the settlements, “I had never referred to them as illegal, as some did. But I did say that I thought they were not helpful.”

As Northeastern University law professor David M. Phillips wrote in a December 2009 Commentary article “The Illegal Settlements Myth” that was an authoritative treatment of the topic, Eugene Rostow, former dean of Yale Law School and undersecretary of state for political affairs in 1967 during the Six-Day War, considered the West Bank “unallocated territory” and said “Jews have a right to settle in it under the Mandate.”

Even George H.W. Bush’s secretary of state James Baker, not a noted friend of Israel, in a July 20, 1991 news conference in Saudi Arabia was asked whether the U.S. administration’s policy was that settlement activity is illegal and replied, “That is not our policy. No.”
Political Advocacy Journalism Distorts Coverage of US Policy on Settlements
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Nicole Gaouette and Jeremy Diamond twisted themselves into pretzels in order to present their own spin on the topic, going so far as to suggest that Pompeo was lying when he portrayed the history of US policy. They began by portentously proclaiming:

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced a major reversal of the US’ longstanding policy on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, rejecting a 1978 State Department legal opinion that deemed the settlements “inconsistent with international law.” (“Pompeo announces reversal of longstanding US policy on Israeli settlements“)

But this was not a “major reversal” of policy: Pompeo was not announcing a new campaign to promote settlement building. He was presenting the administration’s legal opinion.

Nor was the 1978 legal opinion of Herbert J. Hansell, the State Department’s legal advisor at the time, “longstanding.” It was reversed by President Reagan less than three years after it was adopted by the Carter administration.

Pompeo was merely reversing a 3-year-old position by the Obama administration that re-adopted the old Hansell opinion. Ignoring nearly 38 years of history in between, the journalists falsely suggest that the Hansell opinion was held unwaveringly throughout four decades.
Budapest blocks joint EU statement condemning US shift on settlements
An effort to get all 28 European Union member states to issue a joint statement condemning the US decision to no longer consider Israeli settlements as illegal is being blocked by Hungary, according to a diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the matter.

No text has yet been circulated among member states, as Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó made it plain that his country would veto any statement on the settlement’s legality, the source added, speaking to The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity.

On Monday, US Secretary Mike Pompeo declared that the current administration was changing its stance on the legality of Israeli settlements. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” he said.

Just a few hours later, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini issued a statement that did not directly refer to Pompeo’s statement but reiterated that the union’s position “remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

Mogherini’s statement further said that the union “calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power.” Brussels will continue to support “a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties,” her statement concluded.

Szijjártó instructed his diplomats to oppose any statement on the legality of settlements, even if it was formulated in general terms and avoided direct criticism of Washington’s policy change, the source said.
Vatican says US decision on settlements ‘undermines regional stability’
The Vatican on Wednesday expressed concern that “recent decisions” could undermine regional stability in the Middle East, in an apparent reference to the US reversal of position on Israeli settlements.

The Vatican didn’t specifically cite the US conclusion that Israel’s West Bank settlements don’t violate international law. But the reference appeared clear when it spoke of “the recent decisions that risk undermining further the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the already fragile regional stability” in the Middle East.

The Holy See reiterated its support for a “two-state solution for two peoples, as the only way to reach a complete solution to this age-old conflict.”

It said it supports Israel’s right to “live in peace and security within the borders recognized by the international community” and supports “the same right that belongs to the Palestinian people, which must be recognized, respected and implemented.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that the US was softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and repudiating a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that they were “inconsistent with international law.”
France condemns U.S. decision on settlements
The French Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it regrets U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement the U.S. is softening its position on Israeli settlements.

"The Israeli settlement policy in the Occupied Territories is illegal under international law, and runs counter to Security Council resolutions," read the statement. "Settlements also contribute to heightening tensions on the ground and undermine the two-state solution".

"This is France's unwavering position. We regret any decision liable to encourage continued settlement activity".
UN Watch: 2019 UN General Assembly Resolutions Singling Out Israel – Texts, Votes, Analysis
In the current 74th session of the UN General Assembly (2019-2020), all EU member states voted for one resolution each to criticize (1) Iran, (2) Syria, (3) North Korea, (4) Crimea, (5) Myanmar, and (6) the U.S., for its embargo on Cuba. See second table at bottom, showing these six resolution texts and votes.

By contrast, EU states are expected to vote for 15 out of 20 resolutions singling out Israel. Yet these same EU states failed to introduce a single UNGA resolution on the human rights situation in China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Algeria, or on 175 other countries.

Below are the resolutions on Israel that have been adopted and are expected to be adopted in the 74th Session (2019-2020) of the UN General Assembly.
Top UN committee adopts 8 anti-Israeli resolutions
The UN General Assembly Fourth Committee adopted eight resolutions on Friday that singled out or condemned Israel, reported the watchdog group UN Watch.

The resolutions condemn Israel for “repressive measures” against Syrian citizens in the Golan Heights and demand Israel hand over the land to Syria; renew the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency; and renew the mandate of the UN’s “special committee to investigate Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories.”

All 193 UN member states belong to the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, also known as Fourth Committee. The votes will be repeated in December when the GA plenary formally ratifies the resolutions, according to UN Watch.

Acting US Deputy Representative to the United Nations Cherith Norman Chalet, denounced the world body in front of the General Assembly on Friday, saying, “It is deplorable that the United Nations – an institution founded upon the idea that all nations should be treated equally – should be so often used by member states to treat one state in particular, Israel, unequally.”
In sudden switch, Canada backs pro-Palestine UN resolution
Canada on Tuesday supported a United Nations resolution calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state, in an unexpected move that led Israeli officials and Canadian supporters of the Jewish state to express disappointment and concern over what they said said was a possible indication of a pivot from Ottawa’s decade-long pro-Israel voting pattern.

Canada joined 165 other nations by voting yes on the resolution entitled “The right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” at the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee.

Over the last decade, both Liberal and Conservative Canadian governments have annually voted against the resolution, which, among other things, urges an “end to the Israeli occupation” and calls for the preservation of the “territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

Sponsored by North Korea, Egypt, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and Palestine, Resolution A/C.3/74/L.58 also recognized the Palestinian people’s right to an independent state and urges the international community to “support and assist the Palestinian people in the early realization of their right to self-determination.”

Only Israel, the US, Nauru, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands voted against the resolution; nine countries, including Australia, Guatemala and Rwanda, abstained.


Ex-UNRWA chief blames US and Israel for his resignation
Swiss former senior rejects claims he misused funds, says 'paid price' for voicing concern over Gaza

Former Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Pierre Krahenbuhl, has accused the United States and Israel of being responsible for his resignation, the NGO Middle East Monitor, citing Al Jazeera, reported on Tuesday.

Krahenbuhl pointed out that the ongoing investigation into mismanagement of funds related to the agency's activities had been conducted for political purposes.

“Palestinian refugees have been subject to historical oppression and I have several times recognized that their dignity must be protected and their rights must be defended,” he said.

The Swiss stated that “When I refuted the claims of the US and Israeli representatives regarding Gaza, it was clear that this would have never passed without paying the price.

“Raising the voice, rejecting to surrender to the American will and sometimes sarcasm led to silencing this voice,” Krahenbuhl continued.
240 Congresspeople to UN: Hezbollah threatens Israeli security
A majority of the House of Representatives lawmakers – over 240 from both parties – sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General on Monday urging him to enforce Security Council resolution 1701.

Four Congresspeople from both parties spearheaded the letter: Reps. Elaine Luria, Lee Zeldin, Haley Stevens and Michael Waltz.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) thanked the four publicly on Twitter for “pressing [António Guterres] to address the threat to Israel from the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

The letter calls on Guterres to lead an international effort to limit Hezbollah’s capabilities “and to avoid the devastating but avoidable outcome of which you have previously warned.”

“We fear significant civilian costs in Lebanon if Israel must act to defend its citizens because Hezbollah has positioned its massive arsenal in civilian areas – turning much of Lebanon’s population into human shields,” the letter continues. “Hezbollah will bear the responsibility for that, as will the Government of Lebanon and the international community.”

The group mentioned the terror organization’s ongoing efforts to attack Israel, including by digging underground tunnels that the IDF was able to find and destroy last year.


23 killed as Israeli strikes in Syria, 16 of them likely Iranian – war monitor
At least 23 “fighters” were killed in Israel’s predawn airstrikes in Syria Wednesday, 16 of them likely Iranians, according to a Syrian war monitor.

The Israel Defense Forces launched the strikes against Iranian and Syrian targets around the capital of Damascus and on the Syrian Golan Heights in response to a Tuesday morning rocket attack.

The military said it targeted dozens of sites connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, including a facility at the Damascus International Airport, which Israel says was used to coordinate the transport of military hardware from Iran to Syria and on to other countries in the region.

“We struck a building staffed by Iranians at the Damascus airport. We assess that there are Iranians killed and injured,” a Israeli senior defense official said Wednesday, on condition of anonymity.

Israel also targeted a number of Quds Force facilities on Syrian military bases. When Syrian air defenses fired on Israeli jets, the IDF also targeted those batteries, the army said.
Seth Frantzman: Syria is an increasingly dangerous chessboard for Iran in the Middle East
Now Syria appears partitioned between Turkey in the north, a fading US influence in the east and south, and a growing Iranian influence in the south. Russia plays the grand master watching all of this unfold. But Russia is not seeking to confront the US, Iran or Turkey. Russia’s goal is to use Sochi and Astana, and even Geneva, to bring Iran and Turkey to the table again and again. The US is cut out from this process. Regardless, the US sought to exclude its own SDF partners from Geneva. Thus in the long term, the US role in Syria is likely going to be deeply reduced or eliminated entirely.

But Iran’s role will likely grow. The problem for Iran is that it has too many objectives in Syria. It wants to cement its bases. It wants to build its “land bridge” to the Mediterranean Sea and Hezbollah, with an off-ramp toward the Golan Heights. It wants to sign deals with Assad.

And it wants to project influence along the Euphrates River valley towards Deir Ezzor.

All the while, Iran is struggling economically. Protests at home are harming its abilities abroad. It has an uphill struggle in Syria to maintain and expand its role. Iran has the technology that it wants to transfer, the precision guidance for missiles for instance, that it hopes to put in Hezbollah’s hands. But it must be careful because protests in Iraq have also targeted Iran’s presence. Protests in Lebanon have also led to uncertainty there. Iran faces now what all great powers face as they become too powerful. They must manage their power. Iran says it is the “resistance.” But people are now “resisting” Iran throughout the region and at home. Its bases are clear targets, and it has difficulty conducting truly clandestine affairs. Its main power is in human resources and deepening its human ties to places in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. This is how it gets its power, through its network of Shi’ite allies, and places like the Sayyida Zaynab shrine in Damascus where pro-Iranian fighters gather.

Now Iran must decide its next step in Syria. The role of its IRGC Quds Force has been key to supporting the Assad regime while also benefiting on the side. But Iran understands that its role is entangled with the regime and also with Russia. Its presence must not undermine either of these two. In addition, the Syrian regime and Russians are focused more on the north today, while there are questions about what the US is doing in the east. In the south and west, therefore, Iran’s forces have been targeted by Israel in recent years. Iran’s IRGC boasts that it believes the destruction of Israel is no longer just a dream. Towards that end, it has invested in new missiles, drones and other technology which it has transferred to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

While those transfers have made Iran’s role in Syria even more dangerous, any seasoned chess player knows that pieces spread too thinly across the chessboard may result in checkmate.


Netanyahu invites Gantz for last-ditch negotiations on unity government
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent an olive branch to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Wednesday, three hours after coalition kingmaker Avigdor Liberman ended the last chance for Gantz to form a minority government.

Netanyahu and Gantz met late Tuesday night and left without an agreement on a unity government. They attacked each other after the meeting, but Netanyahu reached out to him in a meeting of the 55 MKs in his bloc of right-wing and religious parties.

"Benny Gantz, it is not too late," Netanyahu said. "Come sit together and announce still tonight that we are forming a unity government. This is what Israel needs. It is forbidden to drag Israel into additional elections."

Gantz is expected to respond to Netanyahu during a Wednesday evening press conference in Tel Aviv.

During a public address on Wednesday, Netanyahu criticized Gantz for supporting what he called a "delusional" idea of building a minority government backed by Arab MKs. He blamed Blue and White number two Yair Lapid for persuading Gantz to adopt the idea.
Signaling 3rd elections, Liberman accuses Gantz and Netanyahu of thwarting unity
In a dramatic announcement Wednesday just hours before Blue and White chief Benny Gantz’s mandate to form a government ends, Yisrael Beytenu chair Avigdor Liberman announced that he would not support either a minority government headed by Gantz or a right-wing government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He also castigated the ultra-Orthodox parties as “increasingly anti-Zionist,” linking them in this regard with the largely Arab Joint List, which he again called a “fifth column.” And he implied that a prominent ultra-Orthodox sage was engaged in money laundering.

“There is no chance. We will not join either a limited right- or left-wing government or a minority government. Whatever sort of government that would be, it would not survive and would not be able to function to do what is needed for the country,” Liberman told the packed Yisrael Beytenu faction room in the Knesset, apparently setting Israel up for third elections in under a year.
Officer charged with shooting Palestinian in back with sponge-tipped bullet
A border police officer was charged Wednesday with assault after she allegedly shot a Palestinian man in the back with a sponge-tipped bullet as he walked away from a West Bank checkpoint near Jerusalem.

The policewoman, aged about 20, was said to have opened fire at the A’Zaim checkpoint without any operational reason, causing Karam Qawasmi, 22, significant injury.

Charges of physical assault and reckless use of a weapon were filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court against the suspect, whose name is being kept under gag order. She was also charged with obstruction of justice, as were two other Border Police officers suspected of being with her at the time of the shooting.

Qawasmi, who has alleged he was beaten by other border officers before the shooting, criticized the indictment as not going far enough.

“The defendant took advantage of her role, status and authority to bear arms and trampled the complainant’s dignity while exploiting his weakness, but only for the sake of amusement,” prosecutors said, adding that through her actions she had also damaged public trust in the law enforcement community.




Campaign by Gazan Women Who Had Been Victims of Domestic Violence Strives to Spread Awareness
On October 10, 2019, Ehna Internet TV (Israel) aired a report about “Supporting Women against Violence,” a campaign against domestic violence that was held by Gazan women. At a campaign event, several women wore wedding dresses and make up that made them look like they had bruises, black eyes, and bloody lips as a result of domestic abuse. A campaign participant named Marwa, who was interviewed, said that she used to be beaten by her husband’s family and encouraged women who are experiencing similar abuse to act with courage and stand up for themselves. Hiba Al-Hindi, the Director of the Palestinian Pioneers Cultural Center and the organizer of the event, said that the campaign is the first of its kind in Palestine and that it was organized with the help of volunteers, some of whom she said had been victims of domestic violence. The event also featured a performance by artist Mohammed Aldairi, who drew a picture of Israa Ghrayeb, a Palestinian girl who had been tortured and murdered by her family. The reporter said: “[The women of the campaign] strive to spread the culture of fighting violence, which reflects on society as a whole.”


White House holding up $100M in Lebanon aid, official confirms
The United States is withholding security assistance to Lebanon to the tune of over $100 million, leaving lawmakers and policymakers in the dark, a senior State Department official confirmed on Tuesday.

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale spoke of the move under oath to lawmakers in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Asked about the controversial delay in military assistance to Ukraine, Hale said that it was not an isolated case and pointed to Lebanon.
"There was information that came to me starting in late June that a hold had been placed on both Ukraine assistance and Lebanon military assistance without any explanation," said Hale, according to a transcript released by lawmakers late Monday.

"It's still not been released," he said in the November 6 deposition when asked about the status of aid to Lebanon.

Asked why the White House was not disbursing money approved by Congress, Hale said there was apparently "a dispute over the efficacy of the assistance," but his full answer was redacted.
US to No Longer Waive Sanctions on Iranian Nuclear Site
The United States said on Monday it will no longer waive sanctions related to Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant after Tehran resumed uranium enrichment at the underground site.

“The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero … There is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

The UN atomic watchdog and Iran itself said this month Tehran is again enriching uranium at the sensitive site, which Iran hid from UN non-proliferation inspectors until its exposure in 2009.

While European countries have tried to salvage the 2015 nuclear nonproliferation agreement, Iran has increasingly distanced itself from the accord since the United States withdrew last year.

The pact requires Iran to restrain its enrichment program in exchange for the removal of most international sanctions, and it called for Fordow to be converted into a nuclear, physics and technology center.

Despite its withdrawal, the Trump administration has granted sanctions waivers that allowed foreign firms to do work in Iran that advanced non-proliferation. Those included Russia’s Rosatom at Fordow.
U.S. Deploys Additional Troops to Middle East to Counter Iran
The Trump administration informed Congress on Tuesday that it has deployed 3,000 additional troops to the Middle East to help combat the growing threat posed by Iran.

The troop deployment comes as Iran and its regional terror proxies wage attacks on Israel and U.S. interests in the region. Tehran also has attacked oil infrastructure, including in Saudi Arabia, where the American forces will be stationed.

"United States Armed Forces have been deployed to the Middle East to protect United States interests and enhance force protection in the region against hostile action by Iran and its proxy forces," President Donald Trump informed Congress in a letter. "Iran has continued to threaten the security of the region, including by attacking oil and natural gas facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on September 14, 2019. To assure our partners, deter further Iranian provocative behavior, and bolster regional defensive capabilities, additional United States Armed Forces have been ordered to deploy to the Middle East."

A portion of the American forces have already arrived in Saudi Arabia, and the rest will arrive in the coming weeks, according to the White House. Radar and missile systems also have been deployed to help address the threat of Iranian attacks on oil interests.
Why Iranians Are Setting Their Own Banks on Fire
Following a hike in gas prices, thousands of Iranians took to the streets in protest on Friday, in some places setting fire to banks and shops. While the regime has shut down the Internet, arrested hundreds, and killed at least a dozen, the demonstrations continue. Ray Takeyh explains what’s behind them, and what they portend:

The Iranian government might gain control of the streets once again, as has happened in the past. But the latest demonstrations reveal an uncomfortable truth for the regime: that the Islamic Republic is increasingly a government without supporters. While the demonstrations have not become as big or sustained as the 2009 “Green Revolution,” in which predominantly middle-class Iranians protested fraud in the presidential election, this current revolt represents a significant uprising by Iran’s working class, which had long been viewed as supportive of the ruling regime.

America today faces a hardline government in Iran that has forfeited much of its legitimacy, which suggests the United States should keep up the sanctions pressure to further weaken the regime’s standing.

The middle classes in Iran have long given up on the theocracy and its contrived political processes. The hardliners’ last pillar of support was thought to be the working class that they relentlessly venerate from their podiums. But the working poor care little about the government’s divine professions and are more interested in the welfare state that is now shrinking. As with the last days of the shah in the late 1970s, the Islamist ruling elite today seem oblivious of all that is crumbling around them. They will persist with involvement in Arab civil wars that the Persians disdain and revamp a nuclear program whose costs are more apparent than its benefits.








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