Wednesday, November 18, 2020

From Ian:

Trump’s Parting Gift to Biden: A More Stable Middle East
The indictments of U.S. foreign policy under President Donald Trump are as varied as his critics. The mandarins of the foreign-policy establishment have led the charge by insisting that the norm-shattering president has weakened U.S. alliances and empowered the country’s adversaries. Overlooked is the fact that the Trump administration has pursued a successful Middle East policy. And it succeeded precisely because it challenged entrenched assumptions. In the end, Trump will hand President-elect Joe Biden a region that is more stable than it was four years ago and an alliance network that is stronger than the one Trump inherited. This is a worthy legacy that will be squandered by the Democrats if they are determined to eviscerate all things Trump.

Among the world’s revisionist powers, none has taken the battering of Iran. Trump’s successes have confounded his critics. At first, many in the commentariat insisted that if Trump were to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Washington would stand alone and be incapable of maintaining multilateral economic sanctions. In the end, the European co-signatories of the deal may have complained—but more importantly, European businesses complied. The next pillar of wisdom to fall was the notion that should the United States walk away from the deal, Iran would rush to the bomb. Tehran has accelerated some parts of its nuclear activities, but the country is still years away from having a nuclear bomb. The sabotage of Iran’s nuclear installations by unconfirmed intelligence actors has moved the atomic goal post further out of Tehran’s reach. And finally, the last notion to fall was that Trump’s killing of Iran’s famed Quds Force commander, Qassem Suleimani, would spark a war. Instead it provoked a missile attack on a relatively unoccupied potion of a U.S. military base in Iraq—with sufficient forewarning by Tehran to Washington that was passed on via the Swiss.

The stark reality is that the clerical oligarchs were prepared to negotiate with either winner of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. A regime that cannot stabilize its currency or protect its people from the ravages of a pandemic needs relief from sanctions and understands that the pathway to the global economy and financial system runs through Washington. The problem is that the Americans who will show up at the table after Jan. 20 may be so disdainful of Trump’s maximum pressure strategy that they fail to appreciate its many advantages.
Eli Lake: Israel’s Success Against Iran Poses a Challenge for Biden
When President-elect Joe Biden finally starts getting intelligence briefings, he may want to pay special attention to Israel’s successful operation against Abu Muhammad al-Masri, al-Qaeda’s second in command.

The significance of that operation, which took place in August and saw al-Masri shot dead in the street, is its location: Iran. According to the center-left conventional wisdom, this sort of thing should be impossible. While many analysts acknowledge that senior al-Qaeda leaders fled to Iran after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, they have insisted that there was no significant relationship between the Shiite majority regime in Tehran and the Sunni-jihadist terrorist group.

In fact, al-Qaeda’s No. 2, who was wanted by the FBI for his role in planning the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa, was living freely in an Iranian suburb. It should be obvious by now that Iran is willing to cooperate with al-Qaeda when their interests converge.

Iran and al-Qaeda have cooperated for decades against U.S. targets in the Middle East. “There is ample evidence going back to the 1990s that Iran is willing to work with al-Qaeda at times,” said Thomas Joscelyn, a founding editor of the Long War Journal. “Sometimes their interests are opposed and sometimes they converge.”

This came to the public’s attention in 2017, after the CIA released a batch of documents recovered at the compound of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. One of those documents is a 19-page memo laying out the quarter-century history of al-Qaeda’s relationship with Iran. It says Iranian intelligence offered al-Qaeda money, arms and training and facilitated the travel of some operatives, while providing safe haven for others. Indeed, after the fall of the Taliban, the wives and children of bin Laden and his deputy fled to Iran.
Scoop: Senators urge Trump to label goods from West Bank settlements "Made in Israel"
A group of Republican senators led by Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sent a letter to President Trump this week urging him to issue an executive order allowing goods produced in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank to be labeled “Made in Israel." Axios obtained a copy of the letter.

Why it matters: While the rest of the world views the settlements as illegal under international law and not part of Israel, the Trump administration has taken several steps intended to legitimize them and blur the differentiation between Israel and the West Bank.

- The letter — signed by Sens. Cotton, Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) — pushes the administration to issue the order before Jan. 20.

The letter was sent to Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. - The senators warned that a Biden administration would return to a policy of differentiating between Israel and the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. - That would make goods from the settlements “prime targets for BDS boycotts," they wrote, referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.


How To Build Upon Recent Progress in the Middle East
The alliance between some Arab states and Israel also introduces a new wrinkle in the Iran debate. The Middle East countries that were largely excluded from the last round of Iran deal negotiations are now likely to come together with one unified voice. Last time, Arab states quietly cheered while Israel contested the concessions that the United States and others made to Tehran. This time, they are likely to work openly with Israel, and to demand closer communication and coordination. Additional points of friction should be expected, particularly given Iran’s continued aggressive and provocative actions across the region.

The incoming administration should also remember that mutual concern about Iranian aggression served as a key motivation for peace between the UAE and Israel. Iran concerns played a role in the normalization agreements with Bahrain and Sudan, too. The next administration should leverage this if it decides to engage with Iran, reminding the regime of the growing coalition of countries in the region that seek to contain Iran’s nuclear program, as well as its missile proliferation and support for terrorism. A myopic focus on one challenge that ignores the others is not likely to resonate well in the new Middle East, where an Arab-Israeli coalition is increasingly speaking with one voice.

Finally, a word of warning. Some Democrats want to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia, as justifiable outrage lingers from the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, human rights violations at home and botched military operations that killed civilians in Yemen. But retribution is a mistake. It would likely deter Saudi normalization with Israel and disrupt the positive diplomatic trends in the Middle East, given Riyadh’s quiet leadership in this space. It might also push Saudi Arabia toward Russia and China, or even prompt the Saudis to reverse course on recent domestic reforms. This is not to say that Saudi transgressions should go unaddressed. The key is addressing them wisely and prudently.

The coalition between the pragmatic Arab states and Israel is off to a running start. It has the potential to expand—in terms of both numbers and influence. One can only hope that this new leverage will be used to serve the American interest. Specifically, it can be used to encourage increased regional cooperation as a means to counter Iran and advance a more realistic vision for Middle East peace.
JCPA: The Palestinians and a Democratic President in the White House
On November 17, 2020, the Palestinian Authority announced it would restore security cooperation with Israel and agreed to receive tax monies Israel had collected for them.

But for the near future, the prospects for the Palestinian Authority (PA) stay gloomy. The Arab Spring changed priorities in the Middle East. Observers must be careful to avoid the common mistake of judging the prospects for the PA through the two-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while the truer, wider assessment should be regional. The Palestinians must make decisions with their eyes focused on their natural milieu – the Arab Sunni world – and not Turkey, Iran, or the Shia world, in general. In this new reality, the Sunni Arabs find themselves siding with Israel and not with the Palestinians.

What makes things even worse for the PA’s leader Mahmoud Abbas: the Israeli-Arab Sunni alliance is attracting European powers such as France because of the Turkish-French tensions in the Mediterranean and the war by their proxies in Libya. President-elect Biden cannot ignore these real facts on the ground and dismiss them. What he can do is convince the PA and Israel to return to the negotiation table, not to challenge the Israeli-Arab Sunni alliance, but to add the PA to it.

The PA’s hesitation in this regard is that of losing Turkey and Iran as diplomatic cards to use and being compelled to rely on Qatar to balance the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. During the Trump term, this was not possible. In the Biden presidency, the PA hopes it can keep the Sunni world while placing Turkey and Qatar on the side without losing them. This is especially important to Mahmoud Abbas because of the challenge of political rival Mohammed Dahlan who lives in the United Arab Emirates. Relying only on the Gulf with no other cards to play means strengthening Dahlan’s loyalists on the West Bank and the Palestinian diaspora.
The never-ending 'struggle for Palestine'
When Arafat began his political career in the 1950s, he ran on these catchphrases, denouncing the Arab world for betraying the Palestinians in 1948. This became the core of the Fatah movement.

The PLO's basic strategy was in line with Abu Iyad's (Salah Mesbah Khalaf, PLO deputy chief and head of intelligence under Arafat) 1971 statement that it had "no right" to negotiate a settlement but must keep struggling, "even if they cannot liberate a single inch," to preserve the option to regain all of Palestine someday. In 1984, he still thought so: "Our steadfastness and our adherence to our land is our only card. … We would rather be frozen for 10 more years than move toward treason."

Abu Iyad further believed that a PLO victory would bring a revolution and transformation to the Palestinians, saying, "The struggle itself was transforming Palestinians from 'poor helpless refugees' into heroic combatants."

In short, the struggle is the endgame.

Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz summed up armed struggle this way:
"If one side cannot completely disarm the other, the desire for peace on either side will rise and fall with the probability of further successes and the amount of effort these would require. If such incentives were of equal strength on both sides, the two would resolve their political disputes by meeting halfway. If the incentive grows on one side, it should diminish on the other. Peace will result so long as their sum total is sufficient – though the side that feels the lesser urge for peace will naturally get the better bargain."

Clausewitz's last point is the key. While each party must feel equally rewarded by peace, in the Palestinian case it will be a zero-sum game for as long as the struggle remains more attractive than the alternative.
The United Nations stands in the way of Arab-Israeli peace
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which recently normalized relations with Israel by signing the Abraham Accords, nonetheless supported seven United Nations General Assembly resolutions singling out and condemning Israel this month. While Israeli-Arab rapprochement is racing forward, reconciliation is proceeding at a turtle’s pace at Turtle Bay.

Last Tuesday marked the 45th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly declaring Zionism to be racism and establishing the Committee for the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, or CEIRPP, a pillar of the U.N.’s anti-Israel infrastructure. After several failed attempts to defeat the Jewish state by military means, the Arab world launched a decadeslong political war to delegitimize Israel, mainly at the U.N.

To facilitate this work, the General Assembly created the (misleadingly named) Division for Palestinian Rights within the U.N.’s Department for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

The CEIRPP and DPR receive around $2.7 million annually, along with support from the U.N. Department of Public Information, to disseminate their anti-Israel propaganda. The DPR organizes anti-Israel meetings and conferences, coordinates with anti-Israel NGOs (including the agricultural arm of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other groups allegedly tied to terrorists), and organizes an annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People every Nov. 29.

The anniversary of the vote to partition Mandatory Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, is a peculiar choice of day for anti-Israel events, reports, and resolutions, given that Jewish leadership at the time mostly accepted the plan while the Arabs roundly condemned and rejected the move. The U.N. appears to be celebrating Palestinian rejectionism.

If the goal of the Abraham Accords is to promote the “spirit of coexistence, mutual understanding and mutual respect,” all the parties to the accords and their allies should prioritize the elimination or reform of multilateral organizations whose work only sows discord. The UAE, for example, remains an observer at the CEIRPP. With its own signed peace treaty with Israel, the UAE should renounce its observer status immediately, and others should follow.
U.N. and other international organizations hijacked by despots
Israel has long been the U.N.’s favorite whipping boy. Earlier this month, the U.N. unmistakably escalated from anti-Israelism to anti-Semitism when 138 member-states approved a resolution referring to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in the world for Jews (Israeli or otherwise) as an Islamic holy site and nothing else — in effect, denying Jewish history. Among the countries supporting the resolution: France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Britain and, yes, Germany.

Yet another organization working to defame America is the International Criminal Court. It was created by a treaty not ratified by the U.S., which means that under international law the U.S. is not subject to its jurisdiction. What’s more, according to its own rules, the ICC is to refrain from intervening in nations that have credible judicial systems.

Nevertheless, the court’s prosecutors are targeting U.S. military and intelligence personnel for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. Israelis are also in their sights for defending themselves from Hamas’ terrorist attacks.

In response, the Trump administration has imposed sanctions on ICC officials. In response to that, more than 70 nations have now openly sided with the ICC — including several NATO allies that depend on the U.S. to defend them.

“By giving our full support to the [ICC] and promoting its universal membership, we defend the progress we have made together towards an international rules-based order, of which international justice is an indispensable pillar,” declared German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen.
Pompeo: Abraham Accords isolate ‘malign’ Iran
The Abraham Accords send a message to Iran to change its policies, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the opening of a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdulatif bin Rashid Al Zayani in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The agreements “tell malign actors like the Islamic Republic of Iran that… they are ever-more isolated and shall forever be until they change their direction,” Pompeo warned.

“These agreements are… important to the whole world,” the secretary of state said. “Countries you wouldn’t expect are grateful for the work Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates and Israel will do together.”

Pompeo commended Israel and Bahrain for turning the agreements into “real action, bold action.”

The secretary of state said peace between the countries will advance religious freedom, allowing more Muslims easier access to pray at the Temple Mount.

Netanyahu expressed enthusiasm for “three peace agreements in six weeks,” saying: “I don’t think it gets any better than that!”
Israel- Bahrain-US Trilateral Meeting in Jerusalem



Israel, Bahrain Agree to Open Embassies
Israel and Bahrain will open embassies soon, their foreign ministers said on Wednesday, as the two countries look to broaden cooperation that Washington has promoted as an anti-Iran alliance and potential economic bonanza.

On a first official visit by Bahraini officials to Israel, the Gulf kingdom’s foreign minister, Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, said his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Asshkenazi, would visit Manama in December.

“I was pleased to convey to Minister Ashkenazi the Kingdom of Bahrain’s formal request to open an embassy in Israel and to inform him that Israel’s reciprocal request for an embassy in Manama has been approved. This is a process which I hope can now move forward relatively quickly,” said Al-Zayani.

Askenazi, speaking at Israel’s Foreign Ministry with Al-Zayani, said he hoped the opening ceremonies would be held by the end of 2020.

Israeli and Bahrani officials signed several memoranda of understanding in October in Manama covering trade, air services, telecommunications, finance, banking and agriculture.
In Jerusalem, Bahrain FM urges Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace talks
In his first visit to Jerusalem, Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani on Wednesday called for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, indicating that the region will only know true peace with the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Delivering a statement alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, al-Zayani said he hopes the emerging cooperation between Israel and Bahrain would “pave the way for a dawn of peace for the entire Middle East.”

To this end, he added, “I continue to emphasize, in all my meetings, that in order to achieve and consolidate such peace, the Palestinian-Israel conflict needs to be resolved. I therefore call for both parties to get around the negotiating table to achieve a viable two-state solution, as is also sought by the international community.”

Zayani is the first minister from the tiny Gulf kingdom to visit Israel, about two months after the two countries agreed to establish diplomatic relations.

In that short period of time, Jerusalem and Manama made “considerable progress” on the path to a more stable region based on peace, dialogue and understanding, Bahrain’s top diplomat said.

“Equally, we are demonstrating what is possible, outlining a positive goal and bringing a new sense of optimism for the future of the Middle East,” he added.
Ashkenazi to be first Israeli minister to visit Bahrain next month
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi is set to be the first Israeli minister to make an official visit to Bahrain, after accepting an invitation from Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said, who led the first-ever delegation from his country to Israel on Wednesday.

Ashkenazi agreed to attend the 2020 Manama Dialogue, a summit of ministers from across the region on December 4-6 hosted by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“I promise to come to Manama very soon to continue our constructive dialogue started today and to promote conversation between our countries and leaders,” he said.

Ashkenazi also expressed hope that Israel would open its embassy to Bahrain by then.

Following his meeting with Ashkenazi, Al Zayani gave Ashkenazi a formal request to open an embassy in Israel, and announced that Manama had approved Jerusalem’s request to do the same in Bahrain.
Bahraini Journalist: We are all Zionists and we stand with Israel against Iran

Freedom for Jonathan Pollard is a matter of urgency – opinion
Our voices must be heard here at home by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by President Reuven Rivlin, and by US President Donald Trump. The Pollards are not only US citizens, they are also Israeli citizens; and lest we think that Israel has been there for the Pollards throughout their tortuous travails, think again. We unfortunately have been deceived into believing that the government of Israel has been helping and supporting the Pollards. Sad to say, not true! To quote Esther Pollard in Katz’s article “in fact, they are doing nothing to help, and absolutely nothing to get us home.” A close friend of Pollard, Rabbi Avraham Heschel, reiterated “the Israeli government has abandoned its own agent, something no self-respecting country would ever consider doing.”

This unfolding reality is frightening because it portends life-threatening possibilities for Pollard, who has multiple serious illnesses acquired from his long years of imprisonment, and for his wife Esther, ill with cancer. Trump, who has shown so much support for Israel has, to date, left Pollard off the commutation of parole list, thereby joining the list of all US presidents who have done the same since Pollard’s imprisonment. If the Parole Commission doesn’t abide by the “five-year statutory presumption” and if at that point, Trump doesn’t take action to commute Pollard immediately, his fate and that of his wife, God forbid, maybe sealed for years to come.

Sad to say, I do not believe that if the Parole Commission does not follow the “five-year statutory presumption,” and if Trump doesn’t step to the plate, that the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden and US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will take up Pollard’s cause. I fear that if any objection to commutation is raised from within the Democrat Party’s progressive wing, Biden may just throw the Pollards under the bus. Of greater concern is that it was Biden, as US president Barack Obama’s vice president, reported in a Post article “Column One: Justice for Jonathan Pollard,” by Carolyn B. Glick on October 7, 2011, that according to a New York Jewish Week report, Biden “in a meeting with 15 rabbis in South Florida on September 23, 2011, provided an unsolicited monologue about Pollard’s case. Repeatedly referring to Pollard as a “traitor,” Biden said, “It would take the Third Coming before I would support letting Pollard out.”
Nine Israelis rescued from Ethiopian war zone
Nine Israelis who had been stranded in an area of northern Ethiopia that has transformed into a war zone have been safely evacuated, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

“The Israelis were rescued from the battle zones in Tigray in a complex rescue operation conducted by the Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the Ethiopian government and the local army, the United Nations and the international aid organizations in the area,” the ministry said.

Five were employees of the Netafim and Baran companies who were working on irrigation projects, and were rescued by the Ethiopian army. The other four were volunteers with the Collective Aid humanitarian NGO group and were extracted by a UN rescue convoy.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his Ethiopian counterpart last Friday and asked him to make sure that the Israelis were retrieved from the combat zone and looked after.

The ministry said it was in constant contact with the families of the Israelis throughout the operation. It did not say when, or whether, the Israelis were planning on returning home. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during a media conference in Pretoria, South Africa, Sunday, January 12, 2020. (Themba Hadebe/AP)

Last week the fighting claimed its first victim from Gondar’s Jewish community, Girmew Gete, 36. He was killed in the border area between Tigray and Amhara, which is disputed by the two neighboring regions.
JPost Editorial: Regarding Jerusalem comments, EU needs to be careful
European Union officials are expressing concern about possible housing construction at Givat Hamatos in Jerusalem. European Union foreign policy head Josep Borrell said he was worried that the developments would be an obstacle to a possible two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

“This is a key location between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank,” he asserted, adding that construction of homes would harm the “possibility of a negotiated two-state solution in line with the international agreed parameters and with Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also said that the construction would hamper reaching agreement on a two-state solution. The European Union, the Palestinians and other groups appear to be coordinating messaging on this issue.

On Monday, a European Union delegation led by EU Representative Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff visited the Givat Hamatos hilltop to make their opposition known. They attempted to hold a press conference at the site, but were prevented from doing so by right-wing activists who heckled them and called them “antisemites.”

This behavior is, of course, unacceptable. But the visit by the European officials raises questions as to why they are involved in the first place in a matter involving Israeli building plans in its capital, Jerusalem.
Ruthie Blum: The usual suspects against Jewish construction in Jerusalem
A good way to evaluate a policy is by examining the identity of its critics. The controversy surrounding the tenders issued on Sunday by the Israel Lands Authority for the construction of 1,257 new housing units in the southeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos is a perfect case in point.

Outrage at the building plan, which has been in the works for six years, was swift to emerge from the usual suspects: the Israeli NGO Peace Now, the Palestinian Authority, the European Union and the United Nations. It’s basically all one needs to know before forming an opinion about the move.

Let’s begin with Peace Now. In September 2014, the organization that serves as a kind of settlement watchdog—growling and barking about every balcony added to an apartment in an area of the Jewish state that they deem “illegally occupied”—alerted fellow Israel-bashers across the ocean to the fact that the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee had approved the construction of homes in Givat Hamatos.

Never mind that the neighborhood, originally filled with caravans for the housing of new immigrants from Ethiopia, is outside the so-called Green Line.

Forget that the plan includes a phase of the construction of Arab housing on private lands belonging to the nearby Palestinian town of Beit Safafa.

Disregard the shortage of land available for Jewish housing in Jerusalem—a situation that has caused a hike in rent and purchase prices, as well as an exodus from the Israeli capital.
PMW: Have France, Spain and Ireland agreed to fund Palestinian terror organizations?
In August 2019, Palestinian terrorists detonated a bomb at a water spring, murdering 17-year-old Rina Schnerb and seriously injuring her father and brother. The investigation of the attack led to the arrest of dozens of terrorists from the internationally designated terror organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Four of the six main terrorists arrested were not only members of the PFLP, but were also central figures in Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that were the recipients of substantial aid from the European Union.

While the EU denied the possibility that EU aid given to the NGOs in which the terrorists worked had actually funded the attack, the EU announced after the murder that it had added a new condition to its “General Conditions” form for NGOs requesting support. According to the new requirement, all NGOs must now commit to preventing EU money going from them to any potential beneficiary on the EU’s restrictive measures list – i.e. EU designated terror groups:

“1.5 bis. Grant beneficiaries and contractors must ensure that there is no detection of subcontractors, natural persons, including participants to workshops and/or trainings and recipients of financial support to third parties, in the lists of EU restrictive measures.”

[Website of the European Commission – https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/europeaid/online-services/index.cfm?ADSSChck=1578925525617&do=publi.detPUB&searchtype=AS&zgeo=35466&ccnt=7573876&debpub=&orderby=upd&orderbyad=Desc&nbPubliList=50&page=1&aoref=167188]


While the EU as a whole took steps to ensure that its aid to NGOs does not fund Palestinian terror, the Palestinian Coordination Committee of the National Campaign Against Conditional Funding has announced that Spain, France and Ireland have agreed to continue funding to Palestinian NGOs, even in the absence of any assurance that their aid is not funneled through the recipient Palestinian NGOs to terror organizations actively involved in murdering Israelis.
Michael Oren: Restore Israeli deterrence now
Israel's power of deterrence has been harmed in recent years despite widespread Israeli military activity in Syria and even reports of covert operations in Iran. In 2019, an attack tunnel dug by Hezbollah under the northern border was discovered, something that would have justified the launching of a war, yet Israel did nothing in response. Hamas fired missiles at millions of Israel's residents in the south, and Israel responded in a purely symbolic manner. At the last UN General Assembly, Israel presented conclusive evidence Hezbollah was manufacturing precision-guided long range missiles in in underground factories in the heart of Beirut. It seems Israel has hung its hopes on UN involvement in the matter because we seem to not be doing anything else about it. The message that has been sent is not one of power, but of weakness.

At the same time, Israel is coming to terms with the presence of 150,000 missiles in southern Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip. In 1962, then-US President John F. Kennedy expressed a willingness to launch a nuclear war to prevent the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Five years later, Israel embarked on a preventive war to maintain deterrence. Then-Prime Minister Levi Ashkol, together with IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin came to the conclusion that if Israel did not fend off the forces coming together around it, Arab leaders would interpret this as Israel being scared and vulnerable. The result was an absolute victory for Israel and for the strategic alliance between it and the United States, which was deeply impressed by the result of the war.

Obviously, the use of military force is not the solution to every problem or the correct response to every threat. It also certainly entails a price to be paid by Israeli citizens and soldiers. There is a place for diplomacy and negotiation in instances where these means can be effective, but in situations where there is no room for negotiation, we must not create the impression of hesitation. A country that hesitates to defend itself only invites greater aggression in the future.

Before a new US administration enters the White House, Israel must immediately take four steps to bolster its security and establish its defense: First, it must adopt a "no rocket, no tunnel" policy and commit to responding with massive force every time there is a violation of this principle. Second, it must issue an ultimatum to Lebanon that if it does not act to close these missile factories, Israel will do it for them. Third, Israel should publicly declare its refusal to accept that tens of thousands of missiles are aimed at its cities and villages. Fourth, it should embark on an international diplomatic campaign to explain that because Iran and its satellite states use civilian populations as human shields, they will bear sole responsibility for any harm to these populations as a result of Israel's need to defend itself.
IDF says it bombed barracks of top Iranian officers in Syria to ‘send message’
The Israel Defense Forces said a round of airstrikes it carried out in Syria on Wednesday morning was meant to send a message to Iran to leave the country, specifically the border area, following an attempted attack on the Golan Heights that was thwarted this week.

In the predawn hours of Wednesday morning, Israeli fighter jets struck eight targets in Syria — roughly half near Damascus and half along the Golan border — in response to an Iranian-directed effort to set off anti-personnel mines against Israeli troops, IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said. The explosives were disarmed on Tuesday morning.

According to the spokesman, the strikes targeted a number of facilities controlled by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ expeditionary Quds Force, which commands and supports proxy militias in Syria. In addition, the Israeli fighter jets bombed a Syrian military base, as well as several Syrian anti-aircraft batteries that fired at them.

The Syrian state news agency SANA said three soldiers were killed and one was injured in the attack, which it said targeted sites in southern Syria. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the IRGC.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition organization based in the United Kingdom, said 10 people in total were killed in the Israeli strikes, some of them Iranian. This could not be immediately confirmed. The Observatory has in the past been accused of inflating and even inventing casualty figures. In general, Israel does not intentionally target people in its strikes, instead focusing on infrastructure, as this has been found to reduce the likelihood of retaliation by Iran and its proxies.

Zilberman told reporters that the retaliatory attack was intended as both a message to Iran that “we won’t allow Iranian entrenchment at all and next to the border specifically,” and a message to Syria that it will be held responsible for allowing Tehran to maintain a presence in its country.


PreOccupiedTerritory: Jew Who ‘Stormed’ Al Aqsa Now ‘Thunders’ To Bathroom, ‘Tramples’ Way To Kitchen (satire)
A Jewish settler followed up on his desecration of the Haram al-Sharif through his presence yesterday with a series of actions this morning that involved further indignities to the sacred land, among them defiling the floor by treading upon it on his way to relieve himself in the morning, and contaminating the stairs and tiles of the hallway and kitchen by stepping upon them toward his morning coffee.

Ariel Katz, 29, ascended the plateau his usurping people call the “Temple Mount” Tuesday, escorted by Occupation police whose role included both preventing Jews from engaging in such blasphemous activities as prayer or bowing, and protecting the invading group from devout Muslims who would seek only to perform justice by stabbing and beating the group to death for the cardinal sin of not bowing to Islamic supremacy. Then, Wednesday morning, the father of three perpetrated further sacrilegious offenses by treading upon the holy floor tiles of Palestine with his filthy feet as he went about his profane daily routine of using the toilet, showering, brushing his hair and teeth, and applying deodorant.

The infidel father of three compounded his ungodly behavior by storming into his jacket and invading his 2013 Honda Jazz, using it to befoul his way to synagogue and join a quorum of other infidels in proclaiming such heresies as the oneness of the Almighty, a satanic ritual they perform three times daily. The hellbound Katz, descended of apes and pigs, then stampeded home in the same hybrid compact and proceeded to trample his way to the kitchen once again, where his insatiable rapacious Zionist maw devoured a helpless bowl of Kellogg’s corn flakes with milk.
Palestinians restore ties with Israel
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday said it has decided to renew its relations with Israel, including security coordination, after receiving assurances that Israel would abide by the signed agreements with the Palestinians.

The announcement was made by Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA General Authority for Civil Affairs, who is in charge of coordination between the Palestinians and Israel.

Senior Israeli officials confirmed that security coordination with the PA was being restored.

The decision is likely to hinder efforts to end the dispute between the ruling Palestinian Fatah faction and Hamas, which has long opposed security coordination between the PA and Israel, dubbing it an act of treason.

The decision to restore the ties came in light of contacts made by PA President Mahmoud Abbas “regarding Israel’s commitment to the bilateral and signed agreements,” Sheikh said.

“Based on the official written and verbal letters we received, confirming Israel’s commitment, the relationship with Israel will be restored,” he said.
Gaza sees COVID cases surge, with nearly 1 in 4 tests returning positive
Palestinians reported a record 1,268 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, half of them in Gaza, as officials in both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas resisted calls to impose a second general lockdown.

Gaza health authorities identified 600 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, setting a new record for daily infections in the coastal enclave for the third consecutive day.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said on Wednesday that 22 percent of tests in the past 24 hours came back positive, indicating that the virus could be spreading widely undetected. As recently as a week and a half ago, 5%-10% of tests were coming back positive in the enclave.

There are currently 3,806 active coronavirus infections in the Gaza Strip, the ministry said. Around 234 have been hospitalized and 61 are critically ill, Gaza health official Majdi Daher said in a statement. Hamas has previously said that it has around 500 intensive-care beds in its health care system.

After the first cases of community spread were discovered in Gaza in late August, the Strip entered a lockdown which lasted nearly a month and a half. Weakened by a 14-year blockade by Israel and Egypt aimed at preventing Hamas from procuring deadly weapons, as well as poor governance by the terror group, authorities feared the coastal enclave’s health system could not withstand a wider outbreak.


Israel’s UN Envoy Urges Security Council to Take ‘Immediate Action’ Against Hezbollah Buildup in South Lebanon
Israel’s UN envoy urged the Security Council on Tuesday to take “immediate action” against Iran-backed Hezbollah’s “military buildup and ongoing activities in southern Lebanon.”

In an official letter to the 15-member body, Ambassador Gilad Erdan wrote, “Hezbollah uses human shields to protect its arsenal of more than 130,000 rockets and military infrastructure. It systematically deprives UNIFIL of its ability to discharge its mandate by restricting the organization’s freedom of movement in an effort to hide its activity.”

“The Security Council must immediately declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization and prevent it from receiving any direct or indirect assistance,” he went on to say.

The letter was sent in the wake of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres submission of a quarterly report on the implementation of UN Resolution 1701, which brought the Second Lebanon War to an end in 2006.

The report noted that Hezbollah’s military buildup violated Resolution 1701 and called on Lebanon’s government to ensure the disarmament of all armed groups in the country.


Latest Iran Nuclear Inspection Report Reveals Multiple Concerns
President-elect Joe Biden’s team has indicated that he wants to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and its numerous restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities once he takes office, but the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that Tehran’s program is moving ahead anyway. Even if the next administration does manage to reinstitute the JCPOA in some form, it will likely be a rather different accord.

A range of troubling issues surfaced in the latest quarterly report by the IAEA inspectors who monitor Iran’s adherence to the 2015 JCPOA. These issues are partly a consequence of Tehran’s 2019 decision to stop complying with certain limitations on its activities after the Trump administration announced its withdrawal from the accord.

Two issues stand out given the concerns they raise about potential nuclear weapons development: increased uranium enrichment and purification of plutonium from spent fuel. On the former, the report reveals that Iran’s overall stockpile of enriched uranium is now 2,442.9 kilograms, almost twelve times the amount agreed to under the JCPOA. Worse, most of this stockpile has been enriched to 4.5 percent of the fissile isotope U-235—a significant step up from unenriched uranium along the path to possible weapons-grade material, and above the JCPOA limit of 3.67 percent. (For more on the technical significance of enrichment levels and isotope types, see The Washington Institute’s Iran Nuclear Glossary.)

The report does not mention the mysterious explosion that devastated Iran’s Natanz centrifuge assembly plant in July. The incident, widely attributed to an Israeli attack, is thought to have disrupted Iran’s assembly of advanced IR-2m centrifuges, which would allow it to enrich uranium even more quickly and efficiently. The absence of public information on the matter—the explosion was not mentioned in the September IAEA report either—indicates that Iran considers the incident to be security-related and therefore classified. It is unclear whether inspectors visited the damaged building.
Iran’s Zarif Says Biden Can Lift Sanctions With ‘Three Executive Orders’
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran would fully implement its 2015 nuclear deal if US President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions on Tehran, which Zarif said could be done swiftly through “three executive orders.”

“If Mr. Biden is willing to fulfill US commitments, we too can immediately return to our full commitments in the accord… and negotiations are possible within the framework of the P5 + 1 (six world powers in the accord),” Zarif said in the interview posted on the website of the state-run daily Iran on Wednesday.

“We are ready to discuss how the United States can re-enter the accord,” Zarif said. “The situation will improve in the next few months. Biden can lift all sanctions with three executive orders.”

Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the 2015 accord, agreed by Washington when he was vice president, if Iran also returns to compliance.

But diplomats and analysts have said it was unlikely to happen overnight as the distrustful adversaries would both want additional commitments from each other.
UN watchdog: Breaching deal, Iran pumping uranium gas into advanced centrifuges
The UN’s atomic watchdog agency has reportedly found that Iran is pumping uranium gas into advanced centrifuges at an underground part of the Natanz nuclear facility, in the latest breach of the 2015 nuclear deal signed with world powers.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a document distributed to member countries that Iran is feeding uranium hexafluoride (UF₆) gas feedstock into the advanced IR-2m uranium-enriching centrifuges installed at the Natanz plant, Reuters reported Wednesday.

“On 14 November 2020, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding UF₆ into the recently installed cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) in Natanz,” the IAEA report was quoted as saying.

The nuclear deal Iran signed in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, only allows Iran to use first-generation IR-1 machines, and states that those are the only ones it was allowed operate at Natanz’s underground plant.
Iranian foreign minister: ‘Ready to discuss’ how Biden can rejoin nuclear deal
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tuesday that Tehran was willing to return to the 2015 nuclear deal if US President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions on Iran after entering the White House.

Biden pledged to return to the accord during his presidential campaign if Iran also adheres to its commitments again. Tehran began breaching the terms of the deal after President Donald Trump withdrew the US in 2018 and began sanctioning Iran.

“We are ready to discuss how the United States can reenter the accord,” Zarif told Iranian media, according to a translation by the Reuters news agency.

“If Mr. Biden is willing to fulfill US commitments, we too can immediately return to our full commitments in the accord… and negotiations are possible within the framework of the P5+1,” Zarif said, referring to the six world powers that signed onto the deal.

“The situation will improve in the next few months. Biden can lift all sanctions with three executive orders,” Zarif said. It wasn’t clear which executive orders he was referring to.

“This can be done automatically, and with no need to set conditions. The United States carries out its duties… and we will carry out our commitments under the nuclear deal,” he said.
Saudi prince cautions Biden against returning to Iran nuclear deal
Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, on Tuesday cautioned US President-elect Joe Biden against re-entering the Iran nuclear deal.

“While we all aspire to have Iran back as a normal peaceful nation-state within the international community, the last forty years’ experience with the Iranian regime is not encouraging,” said Faisal in a speech to the National Council on US-Arab Relations, in which he also warned Biden against repeating past “mistakes.”

Re-entering the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as Biden has said he wishes to do, “would not do service to stability in our region. Rejoining and then negotiating the other important issues would trap diplomacy and subject it to Iranian blackmail,” the envoy added.

The Saudi royal became just the second representative of a Middle Eastern country this week to urge Biden not to return to the nuclear deal. Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer on Monday said doing so would be a “mistake” and urged the incoming US administration to listen to the concerns of allies in the region such as Israel and Gulf states.
US imposes fresh Iran-related sanctions, targets Khamenei-linked charity
The United States on Wednesday announced a sweeping new sanctions package on Iran targeting a foundation controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as Washington accused Iranian officials of human rights abuses a year after a deadly crackdown on anti-government demonstrators.

The sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department marked the latest action to reinforce the "maximum pressure" campaign on Tehran pursued by President Donald Trump's administration and came just over two months before he is due to leave office after his Nov. 3 election loss.

The department imposed the sanctions on what it described as a key patronage network for the supreme leader. It said it blacklisted the Bonyad Mostazafan, or the Foundation of the Oppressed, which is controlled by Khamenei, as well as 10 individuals and 51 entities it said were associated.

The charitable foundation - an economic, cultural, and social welfare institution - has amassed vast amounts of wealth to the detriment of the rest of the Iranian economy and controls hundreds of companies and properties confiscated since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
ISIS Leader Wears Dress on Vogue Cover to Prove His Bravery (satire)
Looking to earn the respect of his organization’s fighters, ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi has agreed to appear on the cover of Vogue wearing a Gucci dress for the magazine’s January issue.

Qurashi, who has struggled to earn the trust of his mujahadeen since his predecessor Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, told The Mideast Beast that the idea came to him after he saw British singer Harry Styles praised as courageous for a similar appearance in the December issue.

“I always thought that bravery meant beheading a woman who exposed her ankles, facing down a predator drone, or strapping a bomb to your chest and detonating in a Shiite pre-school,” said Qurashi. “But Harry showed me that you can also be brave by defying gender norms and smashing the patriarchal vice-like grip on what fashion choices are acceptable.”

While the cover shoot has further strengthened the ISIS leader’s popularity among American liberals, conservatives including Ben Shapiro and Candace Owens have attempted to shame Qurashi for his non-conforming fashion choices.





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