Tuesday, October 13, 2020

From Ian:

Palestinian PM: God help us if Trump wins
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday that voting US President Donald Trump out of office is critical for the Palestinians.

“The election is very important. God help us, the EU, and the whole world if there are four more years of Trump,” he said.

Shtayyeh spoke out against Trump’s peace plan, presented earlier this year.

“Trump has wasted four years of everyone’s time,” he said. “The ultimate deal was not delivered. [Trump’s plan] was rejected by the Palestinians, the Arabs and Europe… The US is just too biased.”

Shtayyeh called for Europe to recognize a Palestinian state, saying it would help bring about a two-state solution and called for a full association agreement to be drawn up between the EU and the PA in preparation for statehood.

The PA prime minister lamented Trump’s “unilateral measures,” such as moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and the US cutting aid to the Palestinians.

Among other reasons, the US slashed the aid because of the Taylor Force Act, which halts American funding to the PA until it stops paying terrorists and their families through its Martyr’s Fund. In 2019, the PA spent NIS 517.4 million ($152.6m.) on salaries to terrorists, in and out of prison.

MEP Charlie Weimers of Sweden, a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists, challenged Shtayyeh on this front, asking: “Can you look European taxpayers in the eye and promise that none of their money - directly or indirectly - will be used for terrorism? Can you promise them that you will cease the support for terrorism and embrace peace?”

Weimers highlighted “loopholes in EU counter-terrorism financing legislation, which lead to EU funds to the PA being funneled to EU-listed terror organizations.”

Poll: Ahead of US Elections, 63% of Israelis Say ‘Trump Better for Israel’
A clear majority of Israelis favor the reelection of US President Donald Trump come November’s presidential elections, a new poll conducted for i24NEWS showed Monday night.

Answering the question, “which US presidential candidate do you think will be better for Israel?” 63.3% of respondents chose the Republican leader.

In contrast, Democrat candidate and former vice president Joe Biden came up with a mere 18.8%.

Moreover, 53.2% said they thought the Israeli right would be significantly harmed if Trump was not reelected. A little over 21% replied that “Israel acts independently,” and therefore won’t be influenced by a change in the White House.

Almost half of Israelis (48.2%) thought that US Jews are “mistaken” to support the Democratic Party, versus 35.5% who thought they were “correct” in doing so.

On the question of whether a rift has grown between American Jewry and the State of Israel in recent years, 47% replied that it could be mended, 35.3% said there’s “no rift, only debate,” and 12.4% answered the rift could not be mended.
i24NEWS Poll: Ahead of US Elections, 63% of Israelis Say Trump Better for Israel

MEMRI: Saudi Journalist: Peace With Israel Is A Necessity, Not A Choice; Turkey And Iran Are A Greater Threat Than Israel
In an article titled "Peace Is A Necessity, Not A Choice" in the Saudi state daily 'Okaz, published one day before the signing of the peace agreements between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, Saudi journalist Fahd Ibrahim Al-Dughaither welcomed these agreements as harbingers of coexistence, economic growth and constructive competition in the region. Al-Dughaither added that Saudi Arabia not only does not oppose the agreements, but has future development plans of its own that require peace and stability; therefore, it has the right to make decisions that serve its supreme interests, at a time of its choosing.

Al-Dughaither wrote further that the Arab states have supported the Palestinian cause for years and have sacrificed for it, yet the Palestinian leaders have been stubborn and corrupt, filling their own pockets with the aid money provided by the Gulf. Responding to Palestinian claims that normalization with Israel is an act of betrayal,[1] Al-Dughaither stressed that the Arab countries that have signed peace agreements with Israel, starting with Egypt and Jordan, have continued to support the Palestinians and their rights. However, he said, the recent decades have seen vast changes in the region, chief of them the growing threat to the Arabs posted by Turkey, Iran and their regional proxies, which is much greater than the threat posed by Israel. These changes have caused the Arab countries to reassess their priorities and to advance towards peace with Israel.

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[2] "After the signing of the peace and normalization agreement between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain we have begun to see, even if from afar, a new future, different from the past 70 years: a future that contains some hope of coexistence, development, constructive competition and the avoidance of war and military conflicts -- even if it does bring about the realization of all the aspirations related to the Palestinian issue. This is a trend that can isolate the rogue regimes and organizations, which support violence and benefit from the rivalry in our region. This future is very different from the destructive future that former U.S. president Barak Obama envisioned for our region, [namely] the so-called 'Arab Spring'…

"Saudi Arabia certainly does not oppose the trend of peace and has impressive development plans for the future, whose implementation required an environment of stability and mutual interests vis-ร -vis all the countries of the world. Therefore, Saudi Arabia has the sovereign right to make decisions according to its supreme interests, whenever it wants and without paying attention to populist rumblings [that are heard] here and there. Let me just remind [the readers] that it was Saudi Arabia that laid down the foundations for the Arab peace initiative, known already in the 1980s.[3] [And] what have I said about Saudi Arabia and its development ambitions is also true for Israel and of all the Arab states…

PMW: Why does BBC promote my daughter’s murderer?
In August 2001, Ahlam Tamimi brought a guitar case filled with explosives to the ‎Sbarro Pizza shop in Jerusalem. She handed it to a suicide terrorist who detonated it in ‎the pizzeria, murdering 15 people, 8 of them children. Asked about the families and ‎children she murdered, Tamimi answered she had “no regrets.” When told that she ‎murdered 8 children she broke into a big smile. ‎

Tamimi is the unrepentant child murderer who BBC Arabic TV chose to help last week ‎by broadcasting her appeal to the King of Jordan to help her reunite with her husband. ‎A Jordanian radio station had abruptly cut her off, refusing to let her deliver her ‎message.‎

As soon as he discovered this BBC broadcast, Arnold Roth, whose 15-year-old ‎daughter Malki was one of the children murdered by Tamimi at Sbarro, called ‎Palestinian Media Watch. He wanted to alert us to how the BBC’s Arabic-language TV ‎channel had willingly served as mouthpiece for the terrorist responsible for the killing ‎of his daughter.‎

Terrorist murderer Tamimi was sentenced to 16 life sentences, but was released after ‎only 10 years as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange deal between the Israeli ‎government and Hamas. (See below.)‎

BBC’s service to a convicted murderer illustrates how major powers in the news ‎industry abuse their influence and support terror and terrorists. ‎

Maurice Hirsch on Stopping the Palestinian Authority's "Pay-to-Slay" Program
Maurice Hirsch, director of legal strategies at Palestinian Media Watch, spoke to participants in an August 17 Middle East Forum webinar (video) to discuss efforts to abolish the Palestinian Authority's (PA) "pay-to-slay" system of financially rewarding terrorists.

Hirsch recounted dedicating his two-decade career in the IDF to prosecuting Palestinian terrorists only to realize that the lengthy jail sentences he meted out were "mak[ing] the terrorists rich" due to the PA's pay-to-slay program.

Under this system, which began with the PA's inception in 1994 and was further codified in 2004, 2006, and 2011, Palestinians who carry out acts of terrorism against Israelis receive financial rewards, payable to their families for those killed or in prison. Every terrorist serving time in an Israeli prison is "entitled to a monthly cash reward" that gets higher the longer he or she is behind bars. The average base salary a terrorist earns jumps considerably after three years in prison. After five years, benefits are added and the terrorist receives a pension for life. Those who serve ten years are guaranteed a highly paid position in the PA.

The pay-to-slay system has actually led some captured terrorists to reject shorter jail sentences in plea negotiations so as to qualify for more money. Hirsch recalled a defendant's lawyer rejecting a 52-month sentence in a case he prosecuted, demanding 60 instead. "Why spend 52 months in jail and be released just having received your salary, when at the price of just another eight months you can receive a pension for the rest of your life?"

Israeli-US delegation to visit Bahrain on second ‘historic’ flight to ready pact
A joint US-Israel delegation is planning a trip to Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates early next week to continue working on implementing normalization agreements with Israel signed in Washington last month.

The delegation is expected to fly from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to Manama on Sunday in what would be the first-ever commercial nonstop flight from Israel to the Gulf kingdom.

According to several officials involved in the preparations for the trip, the US delegation will be headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and include the White House’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Avi Berkowitz.

The Israeli delegation will reportedly be headed by Foreign Ministry director general Alon Ushpiz.

After a day of meetings to prepare for the formal signing of the peace treaty with Bahrain, the delegation will hop to nearby Abu Dhabi for another round of talks between Israeli and Emirati officials about bilateral agreements in a wide range of areas, including trade, health and the reciprocal opening of embassies.

Shortly after the Israeli delegation returns to Tel Aviv, a senior delegation from the UAE will arrive in the city as well for additional talks.

This delegation will reportedly be headed by two senior members of the Emirati cabinet and would mark the first time UAE ministers visit the Jewish state publicly since the two countries announced the normalization of ties on August 13.
Israel sees commercial aviation deal with UAE within days
Direct air traffic between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi or Dubai would be a tourism and business boon for Israel and the Gulf power, while also easing Israelis’ travel to Asia.

Saudi Arabia has agreed to expedite such flights by letting them pass over its territory. But Riyadh has indicated it is not ready to establish formal ties with Israel, as the UAE and Bahrain did at a Sept. 15 ceremony in Washington.

Ofer Malka, director-general of Israel’s Transportation Ministry, said in an interview the UAE aviation deal is “more or less ready, and we will sign it in the coming days”.

Israel has also agreed to UAE commercial flights over its soil to westward destinations and back, Malka told Army Radio.

An Israeli delegation accompanied by senior U.S. officials is due to fly out to Manama and Abu Dhabi on Oct. 18-19, returning to Tel Aviv on Oct. 20 with UAE delegates aboard making a first official visit to Israel, a source told Reuters.
Dubai-based company to bid for purchase of Israir Airlines
A Dubai-based company said Monday it will bid in an ongoing auction for Israir Airlines, one of Israel’s largest carriers and tourism companies.

NY Koen Group, founded by Ukrainian businessman Naum Koen, said in a statement that is is “excited about the potential purchase of Israir and the opportunities this presents.”

Describing Israir as the country’s third-largest airline, the statement said “the company has built a great reputation for itself over the years, and NY Koen Group looks forward to inheriting the Israir brand and [the] legacy that comes with it.”

NY Koen Group said it would draw on experience from its subsidiary Aero Private Jet, which has been operating since 2003 and “has access to over 7,000 planes and 4,000 airports.”

“Israir stands to gain a great deal should they succeed in purchasing the company,” the statement said.

“Our highly experienced personal managers will help you plan your flights and all the accompanying services,” Koen said in the statement.

The Ukrainian Koen has ties with the Chabad community in the UAE and speaks Hebrew.
Why Dictators Will Win U.N. Human Rights Council Seats
When it comes to voting for the 47 countries tasked with overseeing the U.N.’s response to human-rights violations, countries have generally been impervious to moral sentiment and respect for human-rights. What matters more are backdoor deals and political coercion. Understanding this, the results are predictable.

So what are the prospects for change? Before the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the body in 2018, U.S. officials visited Geneva to resolve the council’s failings. In addition to seeking to change a UNHRC standing agenda item that targets Israel, the administration sought to make it easier to remove members of the council. Under the present rules, suspending a council member “that commits gross and systematic violations of human rights” requires a two-thirds vote of the General Assembly. When negotiators came away from these talks empty-handed, the U.S. pulled out.

Neuer’s preferred reform to the council is a simple one: Make every member of the General Assembly a member of the Human Rights Council. That way, winning election to the Council can’t be held up as an accomplishment as it currently is: “The moment after the election happens, you will see media in all of the countries that I mentioned and other countries that have abused human rights, you will see them proudly proclaiming how wonderful they are and how the international community chose them to be on the highest human-rights body.”

In an ideal world, any of these ideas might take root, but an overhaul of the Human Rights Council is just not feasible in the present political context. Too many countries have too much to lose. And even as human-rights advocates continue to pan the Trump administration’s decision to leave the body, European governments have gotten a free pass for their silence on the current state of the body.

All of this speaks to one of the U.N. system’s fundamental weaknesses. In order to get buy-in from countries around the world, the organization is required to balance competing priorities, such as whether to give everyone a say, or just specific countries. As the past several decades of failures at the council and its predecessor, the commission, would suggest, though, allowing any country to run for a seat without so much as a debate about its qualifications has been disastrous.

Without considerable reform, the Human Rights Council, and the international human-rights architecture with it, is likely to continue down its perilous present path. Today’s election suggests that the council is not any better than the commission that it replaced — and it might even be worse.

Growing consensus against Turkey’s threats to Greece – analysis
Turkey has been threatening Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, the UAE, Libya, Greece, France, Armenia, Syria, Iraq and other countries in recent months. Turkey has also bombed Iraq, sent extremists into Syria to ethnically-cleanse Kurds, Yazidis and Christians, encouraged Azerbaijan to attack Armenia, sent Syrian extremists to Azerbaijan to attack Armenia, claimed that Jerusalem belongs to Ankara and that Turkish-backed Islamists will “liberate” Jerusalem, hosted Hamas terrorists, exported Syrian rebels to Libya, threatened a French warship, flown drones near Greek islands, used a Russian S-400 system to threaten Greek planes, harassed a Greek F-16, and also sought to involve itself in the US election.

The European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that Turkey sending its navy and research vessel Oruc Reis to harass Greece was “regrettable” and Germany also condemned Ankara’s action. The unity of condemnation against Ankara appears to represent a growing consensus that no longer accepts Turkey’s propaganda and claims and realizes Ankara is purposely threatening Greece. The US has also critiqued Turkey’s ruler for hosting Hamas in August.

Ankara’s actions are now getting more of a spotlight. Russia has expressed concern about Turkey sending Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan. Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean gas forum with Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and others are coalescing into a mutually beneficial economic grouping and Ankara has tended to try to challenge all the countries that are part of that emerging group.

The increasing criticism from Europe and the US about Turkey’s actions are still just diplomatic and it remains to be seen if the European countries or the US will put their naval might behind Greece and make it clear that further abuse of these NAVTEX drills by Ankara will not be welcomed. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recent trip to Greece and Cyprus indicates the is taking this seriously. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz also said that Turkey was opposed to regional peace, another example of the rising number of voices against Ankara’s constant threats, aggression an crisis-making policy.
Israel's coronavirus death toll exceeds 2,000
Israel's coronavirus death toll exceeded the grim 2,000 mark on Monday, new data released by the Health Ministry showed.

Having recorded 16 more deaths since midnight, the death count hit 2,016 since the outbreak of the pandemic in mid-March.

The ministry said that 1,915 new coronavirus cases were added by the ministry, bringing the country's overall tally of cases to 293,553.

Of the 52,892 active cases throughout the country, 827 patients are in serious condition – including 227 on artificial lung ventilation – 287 individuals in moderate condition, and the rest in mild condition or showing no symptoms at all.

While more cases were detected on Monday versus Sunday's 1,618 infections in 24 hours, the positive test ratio downwards trend continued at 6.5% – the lowest figure in weeks.

In total, the country conducted 23,032 screening tests on Monday.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said he was optimistic as to the possibility of some lockdown restrictions being lifted next week amid the downward trend in morbidity.

However, he still urged caution and stressed that kindergartens will reopen only when coronavirus infection figures decrease further.

Israel, Lebanon maritime border talks to begin Wednesday
Israel and Lebanon are set to begin negotiations to set their maritime border on Wednesday after a decade of aborted attempts to start talks.

The sides – together with US Ambassador to Algeria John Desrocher, who will mediate – will meet in a tent at the headquarters of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in Naqoura, Lebanon, next to the border with Israel.

The Israeli and Lebanese delegations will be professionals and there will be no political representation. The Israeli team will be led by Energy Ministry Director-General Udi Adiri, while Lebanon nominated Hadi Hashem, an official from its Foreign Ministry, after Hezbollah complained that sending a diplomat would make the talks political.

The senior Energy Ministry source said the negotiations were “not a similar process to what happened with the United Arab Emirates,” with which Israel signed a normalization pact last month.

“We have a pragmatic, realistic attitude. We have a defined goal to solve the disagreement and set a border for our economic waters… The goal is very limited and clear,” the source said.

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said this week that the talks would only be about the countries’ economic waters and not about peace or normalization.

“We must have realistic expectations about negotiations with Lebanon,” he told the Knesset Channel. “It’s not talks for peace and normalization; rather, it’s an attempt to solve a technical-economic dispute that for 10 years has delayed the development of natural resources in the sea for the benefit of the nations of the region.”
Guatemala to Enforce Ban on Hezbollah With Anti-Terrorism Financing Legislation
The Guatemalan government on Tuesday reaffirmed its commitment to a ban on Hezbollah — Iran’s Shi’a proxy in Lebanon — by announcing new legislation to prevent the financing of terrorism.

Speaking at a press conference, Alejandro Giammattei — Guatemala’s president — argued that a “regulatory framework” to crack down on Hezbollah’s ability to transfer laundered funds was imperative for the ban on the organization to have teeth.

“We have declared Hezbollah to be a terrorist group, but we need more than this designation to be applied to this organization, which already has a presence in Latin America,” Giammattei said. “We need the regulatory framework to ensure that there are no funds from this country which are financing the harming of other countries. Consequently, prevention and repression are justified.”

The government’s proposed bill for the “Prevention and Repression of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism” has been designed to impose tighter controls on banks and other financial institutions that are used by Hezbollah to process and move its funds.

Passage of the legislation would enable Guatemala to present itself to the international community “as a state that seeks to combat corruption, money laundering and other illicit activities, and the financing of terrorism, head-on,” Giammattei said.

MEMRI: France-Based Scholar: Muslims Who View the West as Oppressive Should Stay in Their Own Countries
On October 1, 2020, Al-Jazeera Network (Qatar) aired a debate about Islam in France, in the wake of President Macron's statement that "Islam is in crisis." Islamic scholar Wasfi Abu Zayd said that Muslims in France and the West should behave morally and respect their local laws, but that the Western countries that talk about Islamic terrorism should reflect on their own history and the bloodshed and terrorism for which they have been responsible. He also said that France is no authority on freedom and democracy, and that the Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad contradict Western values. France-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Bashir Hassan, a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, responded that Muslims who view Western countries as oppressive should stay in their own countries. He pointed out that European countries have opened their gates to Muslims and provided them with healthcare, rights, and greater freedom than they had in Islamic countries. He further argued that there is a defect in the way Muslims interpret their faith.

Iran Wants ‘Strategic Partnership’ with China
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani recently called for a "strategic partnership" with the similarly anti-American regime in China, the Economist reported Saturday.

Rouhani remarked October 1 that Tehran and Beijing had taken a "major step" forward in its 25-year partnership. The two countries have deepened security, technological, and economic ties in recent months, though many details of a potential breakthrough agreement remain unclear.

A partnership with China gives Iran an opportunity to revive its shattered export regime. Foreign investment in Iran's oil trade has ground to a halt, while the Iranian currency has hit a historic low in light of American sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic. Tehran, therefore, sees China as a vital partner.

The countries have already made some overtures. Tehran and Beijing share an abiding interest in challenging an American-led world order. Iranian foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif arrived in China Friday to deepen bilateral ties, citing anti-American sentiment as a major building block in the countries' relationship.

Iran and China "share views on important spheres such as the fight against the U.S. unilateralism and interference in the internal affairs of countries," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

Iran engaged in a campaign of executions this summer to flatten any political opposition to its Islamist regime, while China regularly places religious and ethnic minorities in concentration camps and has consolidated power in formerly democratic Hong Kong.

Qatari author slams women’s conference against child marriage as “a Jewish plot”
An initiative by a Gaza women’s organisation to hold a conference to discuss the banning of child marriage has been branded as “a Jewish plot to destroy Gaza society”.

Abd Al-Aziz Al-Ansari, a Qatari author who writes about social issues, reportedly described the plan for a conference as “a satanic demand”, according to MEMRI.

He made his comments in a video uploaded to his YouTube channel on 28th August after the independent Gaza women’s organisation AISHA called for a conference on the issue of child marriage.

In his video, Mr Al-Ansari urges his listeners to “marry off” their daughters at “the correct age,” which he states is “twelve or thirteen” because “delaying marriage increases depravity, homosexuality, lesbianism, prostitution and sodomy.”

He praises Yemeni society, where, he says, “they still marry their daughters off at the correct age. Early marriage is a tradition with them.”

He then mocks Western efforts to curb this practice, saying: “This has made the US Congress upset. They are losing sleep over this.”

Addressing the people of Gaza directly, Al-Ansari said: “The Jews failed to destroy you, kill you, disgrace you…They want to destroy you socially, by increasing your depravity.”

PreOccupiedTerritory: ‘Anti-Colonialist’ Arab States Oddly Fond Of Colonialist-Set Borders (satire)
Middle Eastern regimes that expend significant effort denouncing the institution and effects of foreign empire-building at the expense of local populations and political autonomy nurture a blind spot for the integrity of their countries’ boundaries, sources indicate, lines that such empires drew to suit their own geopolitical interests but have somehow become sacrosanct to the despots who now rule here.

Leaders in Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, Amman, Riyadh, Muscat, Manama, Kuwait City, Dubai, and other capitals in the Levant and North Africa dedicate sizable sums toward the maintenance of sovereignty within borders that British or French colonial rulers established more than a century ago, and that, by means not yet understood, now represent inviolable frontiers, the preservation of which represent axiomatic points of national pride. The same pride demands that those societies, and Arab society at large, denounce the depredations and long-term impact of that foreign rule, the removal of which during the first half of the twentieth century helped forge Arab patriotism in the first place.

Even entities whose political status falls short of full sovereignty have adopted this paradoxical attitude, observes analyst M. Bezzling. “Look at declared Palestinian ambitions,” he instructed. “The map, the image of ‘historic Palestine’ that supposedly got torn apart by Zionist-European settler-colonialism, precisely conforms to borders that British and French colonial powers drew to suit their imperialistic goals, and not, as one might expect, boundaries that reflect indigenous culture or affiliations of some sort.”

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