Wednesday, September 09, 2020

From Ian:

Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for UAE-Israel Peace Deal
A Norwegian lawmaker has nominated Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 for helping broker a deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the second time he has put forward the U.S. president for the honor.

Thousands of people are eligible to nominate candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize, including members of parliaments and governments, university professors and past laureates.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which decides on the award, declined to comment.

"It is for his contribution for peace between Israel and the UAE. It is a unique deal," Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of parliament for the right-wing Progress Party, told Reuters.

Tybring-Gjedde, who nominated Trump for the 2019 award for his diplomatic efforts with North Korea, said he also nominated him this year because of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Last year Trump said he deserved to be awarded the Peace Prize for his work on North Korea and Syria, but he complained he probably would never get the honor. Former President Barack Obama, a nemesis of Trump, won the prize in 2009 just months into his first term in office.

Nominations for this year’s award closed on Jan. 31 and the winner will be announced on Oct. 9 in Oslo.
Why Trump Deserves the Nobel
By thinking out of the box and looking at the world though a prism untainted by the swamp, the Trump administration accomplished what previous American administrations could not. It had bucked politically insurmountable odds to foster cooperation between historical enemies and in so doing, brought political stability and economic opportunity to two volatile regions.

So will Trump receive a Nobel Peace Prize? Don’t hold your breath. The highbrow folks who sit on that worthless Norwegian Committee revile Trump. They are an integral part the swamp, viewing the world through an elitist prism that is detached from reality. These are the same people who gave a Nobel Peace Prize to the now deceased gangster of Ramallah, Yassir Arafat, a revolting figure who was arguably the most notorious terrorist of the last century and whose word wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

In October 2009, the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama, barely nine months after the former freshman senator and community organizer assumed office as America’s 44th president. Between January 2009 and October 2009, Obama hadn’t a single foreign policy success. In fact, during his tenure, Obama’s foreign policy was marked by failure and fecklessness. He downplayed the ascendancy of ISIS, vacillated when Syria used poison gas against its own people, emboldened Iran through policies of appeasement, ignored human rights abuses in Turkey and China, and shut down a very promising investigation into Hezbollah’s transnational criminal enterprise.

The Nobel committee’s mindset mirrors that of the establishment media, which detests Trump and operates as the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. That is why the establishment media buried the Israel-UAE peace accord beneath deprecatory articles on Trump and tributes to his challenger, despite the deal’s enormous positive implications for regional peace and stability. And that is why members of the press corps directed off-topic questions at Kushner, O'Brien and Grenell when the trio issued a press conference on the Serbia-Kosovo-Israel breakthrough. Grenell, though, would have none of it and angrily responded to a journalist’s off topic question by dryly asking the journalist if he could find Serbia or Kosovo on a map. But Grenell’s tongue lashing didn’t stop there. He deprecatingly noted that there was a “crisis in journalism,” and that “people aren’t listening to you (journalists) anymore.”

So despite his achievements in forging peace on two continents, Trump will not receive the Nobel Peace Prize. But judging by the lowly caliber of the people issuing that prize, their dishonest media allies, and their skewed world outlook, the lack of committee recognition, though contemptible, should be viewed as a positive thing.


UAE-Israel deal-signing ceremony to be held Sept. 15 in Washington
The signing ceremony of the Abraham Accord between Israel and the UAE will take place on September 15 in Washington, the White House confirmed on Tuesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will represent Israel, the Foreign Affairs Minister and the crown prince’s brother, Abdullah bin Zayed will represent the UAE.

Netanyahu said he is “proud to be going to Washington next week at US President Donald Trump’s invitation, to participate in the historic ceremony in the White House, celebrating establishing a peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”

Last week, Israel and the United Arab Emirates started discussions to open embassies in each other’s countries, during a high-level government meeting in Abu Dhabi.

The Israeli delegation headed by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, together with his American counterpart Robert O’Brien, White House special advisers Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, and others arrived on the first-ever direct flight by an Israeli airline from Israel to the UAE. The El Al plane, bearing an Israeli flag, was also the first-ever Israeli flight over Saudi Arabia.



Israel should treat the EU like it treats us
There is no longer any point in denying reality. All the attempts to paint the situation in the best light, to ignore it, to continue on as if nothing has happened, have been ineffective. The opposite: they only made the European Union's negative attitude toward Israel worse. Therefore, we need to say it plainly: the European Union's blatant and ongoing hostility toward Israel, which is now expressed as an ultimatum to Serbia and Kosovo about their decision to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem, has made it into an enemy, and it should be treated as such.

While the US administration is creating a historic precedent by linking a peace process that is not happening in the Middle East to the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and finally allowing Israel to normalize with Kosovo, the EU shows up and makes it clear to Kosovo and Serbia – which are still not member nations – that if they want to be, they must give up their plans to open embassies in Jerusalem, immediately.

This gives Belgade and Pristina a taste of what EU membership is like: giving up national sovereignty and bowing to the whims of the arrogant and boastful bureaucracy of the EU system in Brussels. The European threat is gross intervention in the affairs of Serbia and Kosovo. The Europeans know that the economic carrots they are holding out to both nations allow them to wave the stick of anti-Israeli sentiment, and beat them with it. It's doubtful the US will be able to offer an alternative.

Serbia and Kosovo now have a golden opportunity to change the way the EU conducts itself. They can simply refused to cave in to the mafia-like behavior of Brussels and announce that they are unwilling to continue the process of EU membership under a condition like that. It's important to underscore that the EU's position has no basis in international law, which recognizes the Jewish state's full right to Jerusalem.
How to Gauge the Economic and Political Impacts of UAE Deal
All these good tidings are exciting, but Joshua Teitelbaum of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan was more cautious, saying that each side is interpreting the deal differently.

He told JNS that if you look at the Aug. 13 statement released by the parties, each side views it from their own perspective, while still remaining loyal to the spirit of the text.

For instance, while the statement reads, “The parties will continue their efforts … to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” it is possible Israel and the UAE have different ideas of how this needs to come about.

The statement uses all kinds of language, but it does lay out certain steps establishing concrete measures on the ground, such as “to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications, technology, energy, health care, culture, the environment, the establishment of reciprocal embassies, and other areas of mutual benefit.”

“It is definitely a historic agreement,” said Teitelbaum, “but it is not yet a full peace.”

Gil Feiler, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for International Studies at Bar-Ilan University, specializing in Arab markets and economies, noted that most of the dealings between the UAE and Israel will take place between government agencies and companies.

He split the deal into three stages.

The first stage will see the two governments working on bilateral cooperation in seven key areas: investment, finance, health, the civilian space program, civil aviation, foreign policy and diplomatic affairs, and tourism and culture.

The second stage would see businessmen in the UAE who are close to the government and the decision-makers receiving a green light to work with Israel. They will focus on cyber technology, startups, water technology, joint research and more.

The third stage will see the rest of the local population involved in retail working together with Israeli businesses.


Saudi Columnist: Palestinians Have No Right To Judge Arab Countries Wishing To Normalize Relations With Israel
In her September 8, 2020 column in the Saudi London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Amal 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Hazani criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its total rejection of the UAE's normalization agreement with Israel, as reflected, for example, in the emergency conference recently held by the Palestinian factions in Beirut, Ramallah and online to formulate a unified position against normalization and against the Deal of the Century.

Al-Hazani noted that, while many Arab countries hold ties with Israel, the Palestinians choose to focus their criticism on the UAE, which for years has been acting to promote their rights. She wondered why the PA does not condemn Qatar, whose influence on the Palestinian cause has been "negative," for it maintains ties with Israel and at the same time supports terror organizations in Gaza and throughout the world. She noted sarcastically that, by prompting the Beirut convention, the UAE attained at least one remarkable achievement: it caused all the Palestinian factions to come together and adopt a unified position.

The following are translated excerpts from her article:[1]
"One of the more cheering pieces of news lately was the one about the conference of the Palestinian faction leaders, which was held in Beirut and convened by PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas. This is great news, because the last time they convened during the schism between Gaza and the West Bank, which has been ongoing for 13 years, was nine years ago. Even more heartening was [the fact that] the conference brought the entire spectrum of Palestinian [factions], from the communists to the Islamists, to the table, something we have not seen for a very long time. But the great achievement was the agreement reached by all the conference participants on the need for Palestinian unity and for renewing contact between the rival sides – so much so that Chairman 'Abbas even downplayed the reasons that had led to the schism [between the West Bank and Gaza], calling them meaningless!

"This is an astonishing achievement, which makes us wonder: Why did all the Arab efforts to unite the Palestinians fail, while they themselves have succeeded in achieving this, and what does this mean? What has changed? What caused all these friends to convene so quickly around the same table, and [what caused] all of these faction to pledge that the PLO is the sole representative of the Palestinians, that there can be no [Palestinian state] without Gaza and that Gaza will not be an independent state, and to rally around Mahmoud 'Abbas?
In blow to Palestinians, Arab League refuses to condemn Israel-UAE deal
The Arab League failed to pass a resolution on Wednesday proposed by the Palestinian Authority which would have condemned the normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

“After a three-hour debate, some Arab countries refused to include [a] statement condemning [the UAE] for abandoning Arab decisions. Additionally, they struck out a clause which discussed the trilateral agreement” between the UAE, US, and Israel, Palestinian Authority Representative to the Arab League Muhannad al-Aklouk told Ma’an News.

Senior Arab League official Hussam Zaki said: “Discussion around this point was serious and comprehensive. But it did not lead to agreement over the resolution proposed by the Palestinians.”

Zaki ultimately blamed the Palestinians for the failure to pass the resolution, claiming they had insisted they would either accept a condemnation or no statement on the Palestinian issue at all.

“A number of amendments were proposed, and then counter-amendments…and we were at a point in which Palestinian demands had not been realized, and the Palestinians preferred it not to pass rather than have it pass in a manner which they believed to be inadequate,” Zaki said.

Palestinian politicians condemned the deal as soon as it was announced in mid-August by US President Donald Trump, with many calling it “a stab in the back” by an Arab ally. Palestinian Liberation Organization chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that if Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit could not condemn the treaty, he ought to resign.


Facing Isolation, Palestinians Walk Back Criticism of UAE-Israel Peace Deal
The Palestinian government reportedly softened its stance toward a recent peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, signaling that Palestinian leaders have become even more isolated regionally as a result of their hardline rhetoric and ongoing support for terrorism.

Palestinian leaders are scheduled to unveil a draft resolution on the Israel-UAE peace accord later this week during a meeting of the Arab League in Cairo. While senior Palestinian officials initially reacted to the historic peace deal with anger and threats, their draft resolution walks back this hostility. The measure "does not include a call to condemn, or act against, the Emirates over the U.S.-brokered deal," according to Reuters.

The Palestinian government recalled its ambassador from the UAE after the peace deal was announced and vowed he would not return to the country until the peace agreement was nixed. The Palestinians found themselves further isolated in the region, however, as the deal gained support from Gulf Arab nations and others, paving the way for Bahrain to possibly ink its own peace deal with Israel. In recent days, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas issued orders banning his government from condemning the deal and attacking Arab supporters.

The draft Palestinian measure now states that the peace agreement does not "diminish Arab consensus over the Palestinian cause, the Palestinian cause is the cause of the entire Arab nation," according to Reuters. "The trilateral announcement doesn’t change the principal Arab vision based on the fact that the two-state solution on the 1967 borders is the only way to achieve peace in the Middle East."
In shadow of UAE-Israel deal, Abbas, Haniyeh fight to survive
Supposedly, the aversion within the Palestinian camp to the peace and normalization treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates has created a basis for cooperation between Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh. In reality, however, it is forcing both of them to seek salvation and gains outside the camp. In both cases, the "national issue" conflates with the personal interest, and pertains directly to the battles for succession transpiring in the background.

Abbas, after realizing he won't be saved by the Arab League, is betting on the Turks. He knows, however, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an ardent supporter of Hamas (although their relationship has somewhat cooled as of late). Form Abbas' perspective, though, this is less important right now.

What's more important to the Palestinian Authority leader is that Turkey is a bitter rival of the UAE. The ruler of the UAE, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed, is a fierce critic of Erdogan's brand of radical political Islam, and both countries are positioned, among other issues, on opposite sides of the war currently raging over control of Libya.

And what's even more important to Abbas when it comes to the Turks, who threatened to recall their ambassador from the UAE in response to the normalization agreement with Israel, is their bitter enmity toward former senior PA official Mohammad Dahlan, who now serves as senior security adviser to the UAE crown prince. Erdogan believes Dahlan was involved in the attempted coup against him four years ago, and has even put a bounty on his head. Abbas is convinced that Dahlan is doing everything in his power to succeed him.




‘A Small Step on a Long Journey’: Israeli Fintech Company Salaryo Sees First-Ever UEA Investment
Israeli Fintech company Salaryo, which provides credit and digital banking services to small businesses in the US, has raised $5.8 million in credit and equity. The company declined to detail how much debt it had incurred, but it is estimated to be the main element of the deal.

The equity component was led by UAE-based private equity and venture capital fund KEN Investments, which has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the deal. This is estimated to be the first time an Emirati fund has openly invested in an Israeli company and follows the announcement last month that the two countries had agreed to normalize diplomatic relations.

Other investors included British venture capitalist Michael Ullman, Variant Investments, and Techstars Ventures in whose accelerator Salaryo had participated.

In a conversation with Calcalist, Salaryo co-founder and CEO Yair Levy spoke about the connection to the UAE-based fund. “We made contact with the fund through one of our investors. Unfortunately, we have yet to visit the country and the negotiations were conducted entirely remotely using digital means.”

Levy noted that the fund had no issue with investing in an Israeli company and treated it as a purely financial investment.

“The fund had no problem on the business level and the big challenge was the technical one. It took us a long time to complete due to concerns over transferring funds from Dubai to Israel. At the end of the day, it required a lot of creativity and there are still challenges in executing the deal,” Levy said.


Abu Dhabi instructs hotels to provide kosher meals following normalization
The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has sent a message to all hotels in its territory saying that they should provide kosher food options to their visitors, in the expectation of a surge in Israeli and Jewish visitors following the pending normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

In a message sent to hotels in the emirate on Tuesday, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism said that hotels were “advised” to adopt the measure to guarantee that all visitors are catered for.

The statement said later that it was “instructing” such establishments to ensure kosher food is available.

It was not immediately clear whether the department’s message to hotels was a mandatory regulation in what is an authoritarian country ranked as “not free” by the Freedom House democracy watchdog, or merely a recommendation.

“Based on the commitment of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi to ensure certain foods are available for all visitors and tourists in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, please note that all hotel establishments are advised to include kosher food options on room service menus and at all food & beverage outlets in their establishments,” the department stated.




Will Netanyahu meet Biden when he visits the US next week?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office would not comment - confirm or deny – on whether his his staff has tried to set up a meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during his visit to the US next week.

Netanyahu will be in Washington, DC on September 15 to sign a peace deal with the United Arab Emirates at the White House. The UAE is sending its foreign minister Abdullah bin Zayed.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said that it would be premature to discuss Netanyahu’s schedule, and pointed out that Biden is not based in Washington at this time. Nevertheless, Wilmington, Delaware where Biden lives, is just about 100 miles – a two-hour drive - from the
US capital.

In September 2016, when Netanyahu was in New York for the UN General Assembly, he met both candidates running for president, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Wasserman Schultz op-ed opposing F-35s to UAE puts Dem strategy on display
Reflecting the Democratic Party’s Jewish campaign strategy ahead of November elections, a leading party member said the United States should not sell advanced F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates because it puts Israel’s security in danger.

US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida made the case in a weekend op-ed in the Miami Herald. The plans for the sale were announced together with last month’s normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE — a breakthrough because for years it was thought impossible to forge a deal with a Gulf Arab state absent a peace deal with the Palestinians.

In targeting Jewish voters, the Republicans have touted an array of policy changes in line with Israel’s right-wing government. Among them is the normalization agreement. Top Israeli and Emirati officials will meet in Washington, DC, next week to formalize the deal.

Wasserman Schultz, a past chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, wrote that the sale of the jets to the UAE would erode Israel’s qualitative military edge, which the United States by law must uphold. The fighter jet has “unique capabilities that should be reserved only for Israel’s use,” the Jewish lawmaker wrote.

Congress has the option of keeping the sale from going ahead.
US official says progress made in Israel-Lebanon talks over maritime borders
An American envoy said on Tuesday that he hoped to establish a framework agreement between Lebanon and Israel in the coming weeks in order to begin discussions on their disputed maritime borders.

In 2018, Lebanon signed a contract for oil and gas drilling in its territorial waters, specifically in an area disputed by its southern neighbor Israel, with whom it has a long and bloody history.

The Israeli government said in May 2019 that it had agreed to start talks with Lebanon through the United States to resolve the conflict with the territory.

"I believe that we are making progress step by step," said US Assistant Secretary for Middle East Affairs David Schenker.

"I look forward to ending this framework agreement so that you and the Israelis can ... continue to negotiate your borders," he told Lebanese journalists during a conference call.

"I hope to be able to come to Lebanon and sign this agreement in the coming weeks," said Schenker, who described revolving trips between Israel and Lebanon for discussions on establishing a negotiating framework as time-consuming.
United States Formally Announces Troop Reduction in Iraq
The United States military on Wednesday announced that it would be reducing its presence in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 troops this month, formalizing a move that had been long expected.

Last month, Reuters reported that the United States was expected to reduce its troops presence in Iraq by about a third.

The United States has around 5,200 troops that were deployed in Iraq to fight the Islamic State militant group. Officials in the U.S.-led coalition say Iraqi forces are now mostly able to handle the remnants of Islamic State on their own.

"We are continuing to expand on our partner capacity programs that enable Iraqi forces and allow us to reduce our footprint in Iraq," Marine General Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, said during a visit to Iraq.

A senior administration official had said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump would be announcing a reduction of U.S. troops from Iraq.

The United States and Iraq in June affirmed their commitment to the reduction of U.S. troops in the country in coming months, with no plans by Washington to maintain permanent bases or a permanent military presence.

In 2016 Trump campaigned on ending America's "endless wars," but U.S. troops remain in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, albeit in smaller numbers.

Last month during a meeting with the Iraqi prime minister, Trump redoubled his promise to withdraw the U.S. troops still in Iraq.
Israeli and German Defense Ministries Holding ‘Strategic Dialogue,’ as Countries Mark 55 Years of Diplomatic Ties
Israel and Germany are holding a high-profile dialogue between their respective defense ministries, marking 55 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday that its delegation had embarked for Berlin, where the annual Strategic Defense Dialogue with the German Federal Ministry of Defense was to be held.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense said, “The parties will discuss recent regional and strategic developments in the Middle East, Europe and around the globe, as well as security threats and challenges of mutual concern.”

Also on the agenda is technology and research and development collaboration.

“This year, the Strategic Dialogue is especially meaningful, as we mark 55 years of diplomatic relations, in addition to the major benchmark in our cooperation ‐‐ the joint training of the air forces, which took place for the first time in German skies,” the ministry stated.

Last month, the Israeli and German air forces took part in a joint exercise that included a flyover of the site of the Dachau concentration camp.

The planes also flew over the site of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, in which Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes.
Serbia won’t open Jerusalem embassy if Israel recognizes Kosovo – Serbian source
Serbia will not fulfill its promise to move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognizes its enemy Kosovo, a source close to the government in Belgrade warned Wednesday, adding that formal recognition of Pristina’s 2008 declaration of independence by Israel would “destroy” the Jewish state’s relationship with Serbia.

“This could end up being a real mess, unless there is a compromise on what sort of relationship Israel will end up having with Kosovo,” the source told The Times of Israel, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“Diplomatic relations with Kosovo are one thing, recognition as an independent country is another thing entirely. This would destroy the Israel-Serbia relationship,” the Serbian source said.

On Friday, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying that Kosovo and Israel had decided to “establish full diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

The arrangement was apparently a part of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia brokered by the US administration. Serbia and Kosovo — regional rivals that don’t recognize each other — each signed separate agreements with the US regarding the normalization of economic relations between the two Balkan countries.
Norwegian Police Arrest Palestinian Terrorist Wanted for Deadly 1982 Attack on Paris Kosher Restaurant
Police in Norway on Wednesday announced the arrest of a suspect in the deadly attack by a radical Palestinian terrorist faction on a kosher restaurant in Paris in 1982 that claimed the lives of six people.

A spokeswoman for the PST — Norway’s counterterrorism agency — told the AFP news agency that a man in his sixties had been arrested in the southern town of Skien “on a European arrest warrant issued by the French authorities.”

While the PST statement did not name the suspect, for the last five years, France has been pressing Norway to detain and extradite Walid Abdulrahman Abu Zayed — one of the two terrorists who opened fire with machine guns into the crowded dining room of Chez Jo Goldenberg on Rue des Rosiers in Paris during its lunchtime service on Aug. 9, 1982. Two US citizens were among the fatalities in the attack, which also left more than 20 people wounded.

Abu Zayed, a naturalized Norwegian citizen, has been living openly in Norway for nearly 30 years under the name “Souhail Othman.”

The PST confirmed that it had already received an extradition request from the French authorities for the man in their custody. “It will be examined carefully to see if the conditions are met,” the spokeswoman said.

Abu Zayed was identified and tracked down by the French authorities in 2015 on the basis of intelligence they received from former members of the terrorist Abu Nidal Organization.
'Charlie Hebdo' shooting survivor said gunmen shouted 'Allahu Akbar'
A survivor of the 2015 attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo told a French court on Wednesday how the gunmen said "Allahu akbar" ("God is greatest"), then shot him with their Kalashnikov rifles.

Simon Fieschi was the first employee the two gunmen encountered when they entered the magazine's Paris offices. He said that after being shot he lost consciousness, and the gunmen moved on to other targets.

"It was all very quick for me," said Fieschi, 36, who limped to the witness box using a crutch but declined an offer to take a seat, saying he preferred to testify standing.

"I remember the door opening violently, and gunshots. I remember a man who said: 'Allahu akbar,' and then, 'We don't kill women,'" said Fieschi, who was in charge of the magazine's digital platforms.

"I lost consciousness, which is without doubt what saved my life," he said. One bullet went into his neck and damaged his spinal column, leaving him with constant pain and reduced mobility.

Fieschi was speaking in the second week of a trial of 14 alleged accomplices of the Islamist gunmen who targeted French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, killing 17 people. The gunmen themselves are dead.
Palestinian indicted for terror, attempted murder in Rosh Ha’ayin stabbing
A Palestinian man was indicted Wednesday on charges of attempted murder and terror activity for a stabbing attack in Rosh Ha’ayin last month when he allegedly plunged a knife some 20 times into his victim, causing serious injury.

Walid Mansour, 23 from the town of Jenin in the West Bank, was also charged with causing severe injury, robbery and other offenses.

The attack at a construction site in the central city was initially investigated as a brawl, but after victim Refael Levi, 31, awoke from his coma, he told investigators information that led them to change course and probe it as a terror attack.

According to the indictment filed at the Tel Aviv District Court, Mansour slipped through a hole in the West Bank security fence armed with a knife. He encountered Levi at the building site, where the latter had an apartment under construction. The suspect allegedly lied to Levi that he had keys to check on the apartments in the building and the two went inside, ostensibly to review Levi’s property. Inside the building Mansour stabbed Levi some 20 times, leaving him in critical condition.

Taking his victim’s cellphone and car keys, he fled the scene and headed back to his home town of Jenin.
Honest Reporting: Twitter Nixes Israeli Lawmaker's Effort to Hold Hamas Accountable
Twitter has blocked an initiative by an Israeli politician to condition the delivery of coronavirus-related aid to Hamas on the terror group's release of Israeli civilians being held in the Gaza Strip.


UN Watch: 70 UN-accredited NGOs lodge UN case against Hamas & PA for arbitrary detention of Palestinian peace activist
Ahead of a United Nations debate next week on arbitrary detention, a coalition of 70 NGOs announced today that it lodged a legal complaint with the UN to demand the release of Rami Aman, the Palestinian peace activist in Gaza who has been famously jailed by Hamas since April 9th for having organized a Zoom video call between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, and who now faces increased danger due to fears of the coronavirus spreading in prison in Gaza.

The legal complaint to the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, an independent tribunal of five jurists and human rights experts, was submitted by a cross-regional coalition of more than 70 UN-accredited non-governmental organizations from numerous countries including Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Nigeria, Morocco, Pakistan, Switzerland and the United States. (See list of NGOs in annex to complaint.)

The NGOs intend to raise the case of Rami Aman at the UN Human Rights Council next week when the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention appears before the 47-nation plenary for an interactive dialogue on September 18th.

The UN experts’ rulings are not legally binding, but are cited by judges worldwide and can exert pressure on governments to release those imprisoned without due process.

“Hamas’s arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention of Mr. Aman for the crime of ‘normalization’ is part of a pattern of repression and intimidation against dissidents who dare to speak out against the authoritarian regime,” said Hillel Neuer, an international human rights lawyer, and director of the Swiss human rights NGO UN Watch, one of the 70 signatories of the appeal.

“Our complaint seeks to hold Hamas — and the Palestinian Authority, which claims jurisdiction in Gaza — accountable for the wrongful imprisonment of Mr. Aman, a violation of international law and of Mr. Aman’s universal human rights.”

“We hope that in next week’s UN debate countries like Canada, France, Germany, the UK and other democracies will take the floor to speak out for the release of Rami Aman.”
PMW: PA’s annual libel festival: An “extremist Jew” burned Al-Aqsa in 1969, Israel “deliberately prevented” the fire from being extinguished
As is the way of the PA, a grain of truth is turned into a grand libel. Once a year, the PA illustrates the anatomy of a libel in all clarity when it commemorates the arson at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969.

An Australian Christian named Michael Rohan who suffered from a mental health disorder set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. That is the true part at the base of this Palestinian narrative.

But the PA has used this incident as a spring board to annually repeat the libel of its false claim that Rohan was really a Jew and a Zionist, and was “acting on behalf of the Jewish religion”:

“General Supervisor of the Official [PA] Media Ahmad Assaf said that the fire that extremist [Michael Rohan] set on behalf of the Jewish religion 51 years ago is still burning and standing against the establishment of a just permanent peace in the Middle East and Palestine.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 14, 2020]


Furthermore, the PA alleges that to ensure the fire successfully played its role in the wider Israeli “plot” to gain control over and destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to build “the alleged Temple,” Israel also deliberately prevented Palestinians from
putting out the fire and even cut off the water supply.

But in fact it was Israeli firefighters who eventually put out the fire and not Palestinian firefighters. The Israeli firefighters arrived within minutes but rioting Muslims interfered with their work and broke the only fire hydrant at the site. PMW found no evidence for claims that Israel cut off the water.




A Who’s Who in the Race for Hamas’s Top Political Spot
And what is keeping Hamas busy elsewhere in the world?

“Whoever is elected isn’t likely to affect Hamas’s satellites and activities in far-flung places like Yemen, where it has at least three representatives among the Houthi rebels,” said Michael Barak of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

“It’s not impossible that there are also senior members of [Hamas’s] military wing there, who arrived to teach the Houthis what they know,” said Barak.

Meanwhile, Hamas’s terrorist activity in Malaysia poses another military problem for Israel.

“Hamas’s military wing is gaining power there. The organization has training camps that are still operating there, some two and a half years after Fawdi al-Batsh was killed there,” said Barak.

Another significant issue will be the election for the Shura Council, which is responsible for agreeing on strategic decisions.

“If Sinwar is elected head of the politburo, it will bring the leadership back to the Gaza Strip,” said Ben-Menachem.

Moreover, if Sinwar is elected head of Hamas’ political affairs, it will necessitate the election of a Hamas leader for the Gaza Strip itself.

It’s hard to assess where the race stands, for a number of reasons. There is no official list of candidates, there is no voter registry that would allow the Palestinian public to know who is casting ballots and Hamas has yet to announce a date for the election. Basically, the organization’s Shura Council meets secretly on an unannounced date and the election process itself takes place in an undisclosed location, under heavy secrecy. The council announces the identity of the winner, and there is no appeals process.






Trump Admin Sanctions Hezbollah Boosters in Lebanon
The Trump administration on Tuesday slapped sanctions on two former Lebanese government officials for conspiring with Hezbollah, the Iranian-funded terrorist group running the country.

Former Lebanese government ministers Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil "provided material support to Hizballah and engaged in corruption," according to the Treasury Department.

The sanctions are part of a larger bid by the Trump administration to crack down on Hezbollah following an explosion last month in Beirut that rocked the country and forced its government to resign. While the United States and other nations have pledged humanitarian aid to help the Lebanese people rebuild, many have raised concerns that critical aid dollars will make their way to Hezbollah and its affiliates still inside the government.

"Corruption has run rampant in Lebanon, and Hezbollah has exploited the political system to spread its malign influence," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. "The United States stands with the people of Lebanon in their calls for reform and will continue to use its authorities to target those who oppress and exploit them."

"Hezbollah depends on Lebanon’s corrupt political system for survival," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on the new sanctions. "Anyone helping to advance Hezbollah’s political or economic interests is further eroding what remains of effective governance and facilitating financing for terrorism."

Lebanon’s government has been serving Hezbollah’s interests for years, and the terror group continues to stockpile munitions on the country’s border with Israel.




Athletes’ Union Wants Iran Expelled From Sport if Wrestler Executed
A global union representing 85,000 athletes called on Tuesday for Iran’s expulsion from world sport if it executes champion wrestler Navid Afkari whose case has stirred outcry.

The 27-year-old Greco-Roman wrestler faces two death sentences after being convicted of stabbing a water security guard to death and other charges relating to anti-government protests in 2018, according to state media.

“The horrific act of executing an athlete can only be regarded as a repudiation of the humanitarian values that underpin sport,” said World Players Association (WPA) director Brendan Schwab in a statement.

“It must result in Iran forfeiting its right to be a part of sport’s universal community.”

Afkari has said he was tortured into making a false confession, according to his family and activists, and his attorney says there is no proof of his guilt.

Iran’s judiciary has denied the torture claims.

“Based on clear evidence, Afkari stabbed to death an innocent man. He has confessed at the court. The court issued the death sentence based on strong evidence and the Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence,” the judiciary said in a statement carried by Iranian media last week.

Rights groups and foreign officials including US President Donald Trump have urged a reprieve while social media has seen a campaign for him under the hashtag #SaveNavidAfkari.

British-Iranian Aid Worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe Faces New Charge: State TV
British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned by an Iranian Revolutionary Court on Tuesday and informed about a new charge, state television reported.

“Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court summoned Nazanin Zaghari and her designated lawyer this morning and informed her of a new indictment,” state television cited an unnamed official as saying on its website.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter after a family visit.

She was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment. Her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of media firm Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny the charge.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was temporarily released from jail in March amid concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus in Iran’s prisons but is barred from leaving the country.




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