Thursday, September 24, 2020

From Ian:

Amb. Alan Baker: What Was in the Abraham Accords Signed in Washington?
The provisions regarding the prevention of terror (Article 4) and normalization (Article 5) are drafted as intentions to further develop and negotiate future arrangements in these spheres, again, as soon as practicable.

The normalization spheres include finance and investment, civil aviation, visas and consular services, innovation, trade and economic relations, healthcare, science, technology and peaceful uses of outer space, water, energy, maritime arrangements, telecommunications and post, agriculture, legal cooperation, tourism, culture, and sport, and other spheres.

These spheres are detailed in the Annex to the agreement and are similar to the list of civil affairs spheres detailed in the Third Annex to the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement.

Article 6 entails a reciprocal commitment to respect and foster mutual understanding, respect, coexistence, encourage people-to-people programs, interfaith dialogue, prevent incitement, and observe a “culture of peace.”

The concept of a culture of peace is based on universally accepted principles set out in resolutions of the General Assembly. (See above)

Article 9 is important in that the parties represent that there exist no inconsistencies between their obligations in this agreement and their other treaty obligations. This is especially significant in light of the UAE’s relationship with the Arab League and its member states. “An identical provision appears in the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.”

Article 12 regarding registration of the agreement with the UN Secretary General pursuant to article 102 of the UN Charter is a vital, legal provision that enhances the formal nature of the agreement as an international treaty between two independent sovereign states.

Conclusion The instruments signed in Washington represent a significant symbolic and substantive breakthrough in the relationships between Israel and the Arab world. This will undoubtedly be further developed as the relationships strengthen, and mutual confidence and good faith are enhanced.

It is regretted that critics of this development and the documents signed in Washington prefer to allow partisan views and personal antagonism to color their reasoning, rather than to acknowledge this development on its merits.
US lawmakers push bipartisan resolution against PA's 'pay to slay' policy
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) introduced a bipartisan resolution on Monday condemning the murder of three Americans in the Jerusalem Jaffa Road bus bombing in February 1996 and calling for the Palestinian Authority to renounce salary payments to terrorists.

The "Resolution to Stop Rewarding Terrorists" is co-sponsored by Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Rep. Max Rose (D-NY).

The resolution names three Americans killed in the suicide bombing: New Jersey resident Sara Duker and her boyfriend, Connecticut resident Matthew Eisenfeld; and New York City resident Ira Weinstein.

The resolution states that "Hamas has killed more than 400 Israelis and at least 25 United States citizens" and that "the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that 1,360 people have been killed by Palestinian violence and terrorism since September 2000."

It calls out the PA for financially rewarding terrorist "martyrs" and their families.

The measure acknowledges the Taylor Force Act enacted in March 2018, which defunds most US assistance to the PA for said payments.

In a statement, Gottheimer linked the resolution to this week's student body vote at Columbia University on a non-binding BDS referendum on whether they believe that the school should divest its holdings with companies that do business with Israel.

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"Nearly 25 years since the terrorist attack which killed innocent American citizens, including Sara Duker, from my district, the Palestinian Authority continues to reward terrorist perpetrators with generous 'martyr payments.' This brutal practice is indefensible, and should be condemned by all who care about justice and human rights," said Gottheimer.
Gay Palestinian-American man comes out swinging for Donald Trump
Hazem Farraj, a former Muslim and Palestinian-American whose family abandoned him when he became a Christian as a teenager, came out supporting Donald Trump ahead of the November 3 elections.

"As an American citizen, I have hope, because someone like Trump sits in the Oval Office," he claimed in a video shared on Twitter by Richard Grenell, former US ambassador to Germany and former acting US director of national intelligence who was the first openly gay member of a presidential cabinet.

A journalist and reporter for 20 years, Farraj is explaining in the four-minute video how him and his "Muslim friends" are thankful for Trump's leadership, saying that "through his policies for peace in the Middle East, he is allowing freedom to flourish."

"In just three years," he continued, "Trump has completely crushed ISIS, brought home the troops just like he promised, and took out two of the region's most brutal terrorists, ISIS leader [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi and Iranian General [Qasem] Soleimani, who was responsible for the death of 600 American troops.

"Donald Trump is the right leader to bring peace to a war-torn Middle East, the only candidate who will create the possibility for change in the Middle East.

"I know terrorists fear [Trump], that's why I support him," he continued.




Clifford D. May: It’s time to look at Palestinian-Israeli conflict with fresh eyes
Palestinian leaders ought to be grateful. They aren’t, which only demonstrates that while times have changed, Palestinian leaders have not.

They continue to tell credulous audiences that the “Palestinian cause” is to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. More sophisticated audiences understand the goal is for a Palestinian state to replace the Jewish state. That’s what is meant by the chant: “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea!”

Hamas, Hezbollah and Tehran vow to achieve that goal through terrorism and warfare. The Palestinian Authority prefers ambiguity, in particular the demand that Palestinian “refugees” be granted a “right of return” to Israel. As many as 800,000 Arabs fled during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948-9. Perhaps 30,000 are still alive. But the demand is for all those claiming to be their descendants—about 5 million people—to “return.”

Israeli Jews, a majority of whom are from families driven out of such formerly diverse cities as Baghdad, Cairo and Damascus, know only too well what would happen were they to become a minority in Israel, ruled by people taught to despise them.

As Kushner looked at the Palestinian-Israeli conflict with fresh eyes, he undoubtedly came to realize that P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, pushing 85, would never make peace. Abbas wants to be remembered as a lifelong leader of the resistance, like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, not as an Arab Zionist who, in his final days, shook hands with Benjamin Netanyahu on the White House lawn.

Could Abbas’s successor decide to pursue peace and prosperity, accepting if not embracing Jews as neighbors? We don’t know who will follow Abbas. Establishing the institutions necessary for a functioning state, including a reliable mechanism for succession, is one of many missions Abbas never regarded as essential to the Palestinian cause.
Blair: Israel-Palestinian peace will come through ties with Arab states
Peace between Israel and the Palestinians will come through Israel establishing relations with Arab states, former British prime minister and longtime Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair said at The Jerusalem Post conference.

“The foundation of the approach in the region, that Israelis and Palestinians negotiate peace and then the rest of the region joins, is the diametric opposite of what should happen,” Blair said. “Actually, what you need to do is create peace between Israel and the Arab nations and include the Palestinian issue in that peace.”

Blair posited that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is not mainly about territory, but is about a need to accept one another.

Blair will speak at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference on Thursday, September 24 - watch at this link.

“We’ve got to try and bring forward a generation of Palestinian politicians that understand that the only way they’ll get a Palestinian state is through a genuine and deep understanding between people, between cultures and not just a negotiation about territory,” he said.

In the meantime, the most important thing for Israel to do is to try to alleviate the Palestinians’ economic situation.

Blair, currently the chairman of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, was a guest at the White House for last week’s Abraham Accords signing, and enthusiastically touted the agreements, saying they are a goal he has worked towards for many years.
US Amb. to UN: Another normalization accord will come in next days
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said in an interview with Al-Arabiya Wednesday that another normalization agreement between Israel and an unnamed Arab country will happen in the next day or two.

During the interview, Craft said regarding US intentions on pushing forward Middle East peace in the Arab-Israel conflict that "our plan is to bring more countries...which we will have more being announced very soon..."

When asked how soon by the interviewer, Craft said "well it could be today...there will be one in the next day or two... yes so we are very excited and know that others are going to be following, and what we don't want to do is to not isolate anyone but to bring everyone on board in hopes that this will allow the Iranian citizens to see that people really want peace in the Middle East and they are part of this peace.

A potential third Israel-Arab state accord comes following the recent normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, with the addition of Bahrain, that was signed on September 15. Speculation has been ongoing with the next potential Arab state to normalize relations with Israel, with some suggesting Oman and Sudan as the most likely candidates.

Much speculation also came after Sudanese transitional leader Adbel Fattah al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok returned to Khartoum from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday without securing a final deal for aid from the US and normalization of ties with Israel.
Sources: Netanyahu to Meet Sudan’s Leader in Uganda Soon
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudan’s leader, Sovereignty Council Chair Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, are likely to meet in the coming days in Uganda, i24NEWS learned.

According to sources close to the Sovereignty Council speaking to the Arabic edition of i24NEWS, on Saturday, September 26, the Sudanese-Israeli Friendship Association will be inaugurated in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

The event, where media will be invited for coverage, will set off a normalization process between the two countries, sources told i24NEWS.

Netanyahu’s office refused to make any statements on the matter when approached for comments.

On Wednesday, Burhan returned to Sudan from the UAE, where he conducted talks with US officials on matters including Arab normalization with Israel, as per his statement.
Toronto Star Op-Ed Calls for Canada To Not Support Peace Between Israel and UAE
Yasser Dhouib’s September 21 column in the Toronto Star (Canada should not support the deal between Israel and the UAE) is a tragic representation of much of the diplomatic thinking in the Middle East over the last several decades – lofty, but unsuccessful ideas. Instead of lauding peace between the Jewish state and an Arab country, leave it to the Toronto Star to publish a commentary lamenting peace!

In his column, Dhouib writes that “there is little to celebrate or support” with the recent peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, bemoaning that while the new bilateral treaty establishes full diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries, the Palestinian Authority is excluded.

His position is a popular one in diplomatic circles around the world, but it’s not a position that has been successful in actually securing peace in the region.

Decades of diplomatic thinking posited that the road to peace in the Middle East ran through Jerusalem and Ramallah, and only by establishing peace between Israel and the Palestinians could peace exist elsewhere in the Arab world. But recent weeks alone have shattered that myth. First, Israel and the United Arab Emirates establish a peace deal, followed less than a month later by a separate agreement between Israel and Bahrain.

Despite the efforts involved for years based on these parameters, not only has peace not been achieved between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but there has also not been any peace agreements or progress elsewhere in the Middle East until recently, either.
MEMRI: Qatari Political Cartoons Slam Emirati, Bahraini Peace Agreements With Israel
On September 15, 2020, the UAE and Bahrain signed peace agreements with Israel at the White House. The announcements of the upcoming agreements, by the UAE on August 13 and by Bahrain on September 11, were welcomed by many Arab countries, but others condemned them harshly. Among the latter were first of all the Palestinians,[1] but also Qatar, which itself maintains relations with Israel in order to support Hamas in the Gaza Strip and strengthen its own position and influence in the region. The Qatari criticism of the agreements was expressed in a harsh media attack against the UAE and Bahrain – which have been boycotting Qatar since June 2017 – and against their Arab allies, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

As part of this attack the Qatari press published numerous cartoons mocking the Arab countries which support normalization with Israel. These countries were portrayed as traitors who serve Israel and the U.S. while stabbing the Palestinians in the back. Some cartoons ridiculed U.S. President Donald Trump and implied that the peace agreements were part of his presidential election campaign. Others contained antisemitic motifs, for example a cartoon that portrayed Israel using a stereotypical image of a Jew, and another that referenced a popular antisemitic hadith about the war between the Muslims and the Jews on Judgement Day. According to this hadith, the Jews will seek refuge by hiding behind rocks and trees, but the latter will cry out, "O Muslim, O Abdallah, a Jew is hiding behind me, come and kill him."

Below are some of the Qatari cartoons criticizing the peace agreements. Arabs Who Normalize Relations With Israel Are Tools Serving Israel, U.S.
The normalizing Arab is a puppet manipulated by Trump, who is himself a puppet of Israel (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, September 16, 2020)
"Trump's advisor Kushner" subjects the "Arab regimes" to the fate of black U.S. citizen George Floyd (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, September 5, 2020)
Can the Palestinians get away with lying as they have for years?
The Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels unfortunately proved to the world that it is possible to lie in several contradictory directions at once. For example, you can claim that Jews are both innately capitalist and innately communist, two conflicting vilifications that facilitated the Holocaust. Of course, some Jews were capitalists and some were communists, but this was also true of almost everyone else.

One would like to believe that educated and decent citizens of the world would reject the authenticity of lies that contradict one another. But do they? The claims made by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the many media sites they support and spawn, mostly with the help of the European Union (which should know better), put these decent citizens to the test.

Officials in the Palestinian Authority and members of the BDS movement frequently accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing. At the same time, in Arabic, they boast of the power of the Palestinian womb to overcome Israel in the long term. The second statement irrefutably contradicts the first.

In reality, neither is correct. True, the Palestinian Arabs have a high population growth rate that exposes the lie of the claim of ethnic cleansing, but their fertility—as is true elsewhere in the Arab world—is rapidly falling, especially in Judea and Samaria.

Depopulation (rather than ethnic cleansing) is taking place in the Balkans, including Muslim Bosnia and Kosovo, thanks in part to the European Union’s policy of encouraging the young to emigrate to Germany and the Scandinavian countries. There, they are eagerly absorbed by the local labor markets, leaving much of the Balkans and eastern Europe geriatric disaster areas.

The Palestinians’ pattern of lying in opposite directions is illustrated by the invocation of the most ubiquitous term used to describe Israel’s relationship to its historic homeland: “occupation.” The mere mention of the Gaza Strip will almost immediately prompt a reference to Israel’s “occupation,” despite the incontrovertible fact that Israel relinquished control of the Strip’s Palestinian population in Gaza and withdrew from it, down to the last Jewish man, woman and child, in 2005.
Israel Tightens COVID Lockdown as Surge of Infections Brings Country to ‘Edge of the Abyss’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet decided on Thursday to tighten Israel‘s coronavirus lockdown after he said a surge in infections was pushing the nation to “the edge of the abyss.”

Israel went back into lockdown, its second during the pandemic, on Sept. 18. But over the past week, the number of daily new cases has reached nearly 7,000 among a population of 9 million, severely straining the resources of some hospitals.

“If we don’t take immediate and difficult steps, we will reach the edge of the abyss,” Netanyahu said in public remarks to the cabinet, which met for about eight hours.

The new restrictions require all businesses and workplaces, except for those designated essential, to shut down for at least two weeks starting on Friday. A list will be released later in the day, an official statement said.

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz and Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron objected to the new curbs, according to the finance ministry, which estimated the damage of a three-week lockdown to the economy at around 35 billion shekels ($10.06 billion).

Israel is already in a recession and unemployment is above 11%.

Schools will remain closed, but synagogues will stay open on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, next week, although the number of worshippers will be limited. Religious parties in the coalition government had fiercely opposed shuttering synagogues.

A survey published by the non-partisan Israel Democracy Institute on Wednesday showed only 27% of Israelis trusted Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
IDF Troops Thwart Attempted Firebombing; Two Palestinians Reportedly Wounded
Israeli forces conducting operations near Kafr Malik in Judea and Samaria opened fire on a group of Palestinians who had been preparing to hurl firebombs, the Israel Defense Forces said on Wednesday.

“The soldiers identified a number of terrorists who attempted to throw Molotov cocktails and fired at them. A hit was identified,” the IDF said in a statement.

The Palestine News Agency (WAFA) reported on Wednesday that “two youths” were moderately wounded in the incident, and had been arrested and taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment.
MEMRI: Former Palestinian Authority Minister: Our Discourse Has Become Like A Broken Record, Makes Us Seem Like Peace Rejectionists
Israel's recent peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain, which, to the Palestinians' chagrin, were welcomed by many Arab countries, reflect the failure of the Palestinian diplomacy in the Arab and global arenas. The Palestinians' harsh criticism of the agreements led to unprecedented tension between them and the Gulf states, who responded by accusing the Palestinian leadership of ingratitude, corruption and the unwarranted rejection of every peace initiative over the years. Moreover, in an unprecedented move, the Arab League turned down a Palestinian proposal to condemn the peace agreement between Israel and the UAE.

The Palestinian position was expressed in a series of harshly critical media articles against the Arab normalization with Israel and the U.S. policy in the region. Amid this criticism, the daily Al-Quds, based in East Jerusalem, published an article that took a different tone. Authored by Ziad Abu Zayyad, a former Palestinian MP and minister for Jerusalem affairs, the article stated that the Palestinian discourse and diplomacy have reinforced the rejectionist image of the Palestinian leadership in the eyes of the Arabs and the world, and have prevented the Palestinians from gaining political achievements.

Abu Zayyad wrote that the Palestinian discourse is rigid and has failed to adapt itself to the spirit of the age, and has therefore become like a "broken record" that the world can no longer listen to. He called to discard the language of curses and invective -- which was directed, for example, at the Trump administration after it moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and following its announcement of the Deal of the Century, and against the UAE and Bahrain for normalizing their relations with Israel – and to adopt instead a gentler diplomatic language that will enlist Arab support for the Palestinian cause and restore it to the top of the agenda. He stressed that this does not mean relinquishing the Palestinians' essential arguments and demands, but only clothing their message in a new garb that does not portray them as rejectionists.
Fatah, Hamas say they’ve agreed to hold Palestinian elections in coming months (not satire)
After reconciliation talks in Istanbul earlier this week, the Fatah and Hamas movements said Thursday they had agreed to hold general Palestinian elections within the next six months.

Similar announcements of planned elections have fallen through in the past, largely due to long-running conflict between Fatah and Hamas. If the vote goes forward, however, it would be the first Palestinian national election in fourteen years.

Fatah Secretary General Jibril Rajoub, who led Fatah’s delegation to the Turkish capital, said in a statement that the proposal would be submitted to a joint meeting of Palestinian faction heads within a week.

Under the proposal, elections would first be held for the Palestinian legislature, then for the Palestinian Authority presidency, and finally for the central council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank, while the Hamas terror group rules the Gaza Strip.

“We are waiting for [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas to call the faction heads to endorse the principle and implement appropriate procedures, beginning with issuing a presidential decree,” Rajoub said.
Why Other Arabs Resent Palestinians
While many Arabs and Muslims hate Israel, a good many hate the Palestinians just as much. Many of the Palestinian Arabs are not originally Palestinians at all. They are immigrants who came to the Land of Israel from all over the Arab world during the British Mandate in order to find employment in the cities and on the farms the Jews had built. Why, ask the other Arabs, should they get preferential treatment over those who remained in their original countries?

At the end of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, the politics in the Arab world began to center on Israel and the "Palestinian problem," the solution to which was to be achieved by eliminating Israel. In order to succeed in that mission, the Arab "refugees" were kept in camps and not absorbed into other Arab countries. They were provided with food, education, and medical care without charge, even as other Arabs had to work to provide food, education, and medical care for their own families. "Refugees" would often sell some of their free foodstuffs to their non-refugee neighbors and make a tidy profit.

Over the years, the Palestinian Arabs were given many billions of dollars by the nations of the world, so that the yearly per capita income in the PA is several times greater than that of the Arabs in Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen.

Much of the Arab and Muslim world is convinced that the Palestinians do not in fact want a state of their own. After all, if that state were established, the world would cease its steady donations and Palestinian Arabs would have to work just like everyone else.
Palestinian funding from Arab countries dropped by 85% in 2020
Palestinian officials have a feeling that the recent normalization agreements between Gulf states and Israel have led to a sudden decrease in funding from Arab states to the Palestinian Authority.

According to The New Arab and data from the Palestinian Finance Ministry service, Ramallah has received no aid from Arab countries since March, in addition to a 50% decrease in foreign aid.

Ramallah's total revenues dropped by about 70% this year.

The Palestinian government's funding dropped by half with respect to foreign aid in the first seven months of the year, from $500 million in 2019 to $255 million in 2020, dropping in Arab aid during the same period by 85% – from $267 million in 2019 to $38 million in 2020.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki examined the reasons behind the sudden fall in funding in a press conference, claiming that "most of the Arab countries did not abide by the decisions of the Arab summits to provide a financial safety net of $100 million for Palestine in the face of US and Israeli sanctions."
PMW: PMW warns Mastercard and Visa to cut ties with PA banks or face civil and criminal liability
Mastercard and Visa provide credit card services to the banks operating in the Palestinian Authority, which facilitate both terror funding and the payment of terror rewards. Terror financing is illegal and exposes the credit card companies to both criminal and civil liability. Whereas, when they agreed to supply services to PA banks, Mastercard and Visa were probably unaware that the banks would facilitate both terror funding and the payment of terror rewards, PMW has now notified and warned both companies of the terror supporting operations of these banks. PMW also explained the necessity for them to cut all financial ties.

Since its creation in 1994, the PA has paid monthly salaries to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners. The terrorists paid include murderers, mass murderers, and other members of organizations that the US, the EU, and Israel have designated as terror organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PA also pays monthly allowances to the families of dead terrorists (so-called “Martyrs.”) These payments are a reward for participating in acts of terror – including murder - against Israel.

The payments to the terrorist prisoners, released prisoners and the families of the dead terrorists are made through the banks operating in the PA. All the banks operating in the PA offer credit cards from Mastercard and Visa.

When the PA banks - who can identify the accounts of the terrorist prisoners (or their proxies) and the released prisoners and the families of the dead terrorists - allow these groups of people to request and receive Mastercard and Visa credit cards, they are clearly breaching their contracts with the credit card companies.

The continued provision of these services to the imprisoned terrorists, their proxies, and the released prisoners, in breach of the service contract and in the full knowledge that material assistance is being provided to terrorists who are paid rewards for their acts of terror, could potentially expose the credit card companies to both criminal and civil liability.
Song portrays conflict between Israel and Palestinians as between Allah and Jews
This song “Where are the millions?” is famous for being used to motivate Palestinians to take to the streets and wage “intifada,” i.e., engage in violence against Israelis.This version was performed by the band Sol. [Official PA TV, Aug. 22, 2020]


Hamas promises more prisoner exchange deals for Israeli hostages to free Palestinian terrorists
Hamas leader promises more prisoner exchange deals for Israeli hostages to free Palestinian terrorists [Official PA TV, From Beirut, Sept. 6, 2020]

Chairman of Hamas’ Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh: The prisoners are really a bleeding wound… We promise them that just as we did the first [prisoner] exchange deal, the Loyalty to the Free deal – [when] more than 1,000 [prisoners] were released in exchange for [Israeli soldier] Shalit – and before that the Popular Front – General Command’s deal in 1985, and before it, Fatah [did prisoner exchange deals] two or three times – [so too] Allah willing we will work to release you and break your chains by all possible means.

The Shalit Exchange - In October 2011, the Israeli government agreed to release 1,027 Palestinian terrorist prisoners including murderers, in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held hostage by Hamas for more than 5 years.

The Jibril Exchange was between the Israeli government and the terror organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP- GC), led by Ahmed Jibril. On May 21, 1985, Israel released 1,150 Palestinian terrorist prisoners, including murderers, in exchange for three Israeli soldiers who had been taken hostage by the PFLP.




US says new Iran sanctions coming on Thursday over rights violations
The United States will slap new sanctions on a number of Iranian officials and entities, including a judge who sentenced Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari to death, US Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams said on Thursday.

"The US is committed to holding accountable those who deny freedom and justice to people of Iran and later today United States will announce sanctions on several Iranian officials and entities including the judge who sentenced Navid Afkari to death," Abrams said during a hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Afkari was executed earlier this month after being convicted of stabbing a security guard to death during anti-government protests in 2018, Iranian state media reported. Iran’s Supreme Court rejected a review of the case in late August.

Afkari's case had sparked an outcry from Iranians on social media and from international human rights groups. US President Donald Trump also called on Iran this month not to execute the wrestler.

The athlete's family has maintained that his conviction depended on a confession that was extracted through torture, which Afkari later recanted.
Saudi-Iran tensions increase as King condemns Tehran
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called for the international community to take a firm stance against Iran. The remarkable speech seeks to confront the Iranian regime’s threats to international peace and security, he said. He also argued that appeasement would not work with the Islamic Republic.

Iranian media and officials slammed Riyadh’s comments.

What is driving the sudden decision for Saudi Arabia to speak up more strongly from the highest level about Iran’s threats, and what are Iran’s likely responses?

The speech was aimed at the 75th United National General Assembly now taking place until the end of the month, and comes in the wake of the UAE and Bahrain agreeing to normalization with Israel. The decision by regional states to begin a new round of relations with Israel is seen as part of a wider regional strategic consensus that is linked to Riyadh’s own support for its allies working with Israel.

Saudi Arabia has been threatened by Iran for decades and Tehran has increased its rhetoric against Riyadh and its Gulf allies in recent years. The Islamic Republic regularly condemns these states, arguing they have betrayed the Palestinian cause and are working with Israel and the US. Iran views America as a great evil and has vowed to “resist” the United States and the Jewish state. This “resistance” takes the form of attacks across the Middle East.
Iran is the most dangerous country for gay travelers - report
The finance website Insider Monkey listed the Islamic Republic of Iran as the most dangerous country for gay travelers following the regime’s execution of a man last year based on an anti-gay law.

The September 13 article said that Iran topped “the list of the 15 most dangerous countries for gay travelers, with the death penalty imposed for such acts. Again, it’s hard to confirm how many executions have actually been carried out, but there are reports of such executions taking place.”

According to a 2008 British WikiLeaks cable examined by The Jerusalem Post, Iran’s clerical regime has executed between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians since the country’s Islamic revolution in 1979.

The Post first reported in 2019 that Iran's regime publicly hanged a man for violating the country's Islamic Sharia anti-gay law.

US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus tweeted on Sunday: "On what legal basis does Iran execute homosexuals? How many have been executed since you've been in your office? Why does your government hang gay men from cranes? Questions for Zarif."

Ortagus proposed a question for Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif ahead of his webinar interview with the Council of Foreign Relations. The journalist who interviewed Zarif did not ask him about his defense last year of the executions of Iranian gays.



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The EU's hypocritical use of "international law" that only applies to Israel

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