Monday, January 11, 2021

From Ian:

Kissinger: Return to Iran deal could spark Middle East nuclear arms race
The new US administration should not return to the spirit of the Iran deal, which could spark an arms race in the Middle East, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said Monday at a Jewish People Policy Institute online conference.

He criticized the 2015 Iran deal, which President Donald Trump left in 2018. President-elect Joe Biden seeks to return to it if Iran agrees to comply again with the agreement’s limitations on its nuclear program.

“We should not fool ourselves,” the 97-year-old diplomat, consultant and author said. “I don’t believe that the spirit [of the Iran deal], with a time limit and so many escape clauses, will do anything other than bring nuclear weapons all over the Middle East and therefore create a situation of latent tension that sooner or later will break out.”

The current leaders in Iran “don’t seem to find it possible to give up this combination of Islamist imperialism and threat,” Kissinger said. “The test case is the evolution of nuclear capacities in Iran, if these can be avoided.”

“I do not say we shouldn’t talk to them,” he added.

Dennis Ross, a former adviser to presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, interviewed Kissinger at the JPPI farewell event for its founding director, Avinoam Bar-Yosef.

Ross asked Kissinger what he would advise Biden and his administration to do to take advantage of the Abraham Accords, in which four Arab states normalized ties with Israel.

“We should not give up on what has recently been achieved in these agreements between the Arab world and the Israeli world,” he said. “I would tell the incoming administration that we are on a good course.”

The accords “have opened a window of opportunity for a new Middle East,” Kissinger said. “Arab countries understood that they could not survive in constant tension with parts of the West and with Israel, so they decided they had to take care of themselves.”
New CIA nominee Burns widely respected in US, pro-Iran nuke deal
His initial choice, former CIA acting director Michael Morrell, had been vetoed by some US Senate Democrats for defending the CIA against allegations of post 9/11 torture of terrorist detainees.

Instead, Biden appears to have picked Burns due to his expertise on Russia and an impression that he will rally respect and legitimacy both to the CIA and in the intelligence community’s relationship with other parts of the government.

He served as ambassador to Jordan during the Clinton administration and as ambassador to Russia during the George W. Bush administration. Burns was significantly involved in the Obama-era negotiations toward the Iran nuclear deal.

He has criticized President Donald Trump for pulling out of the deal and for the “maximum pressure campaign.” He has expressed doubts about the assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

In a January 2020 op-ed for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he has been serving as president, Burns and incoming National Security Advisor-designate Jake Sullivan wrote: “As we’ve argued before, we’re at this dangerous juncture because of Trump’s foolish decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, his through-the-looking-glass conception of coercive diplomacy, and his willing hard-line enablers in Tehran.”


David Halbfinger’s Weird David Friedman Interview Ends Up Appearing More on Twitter than in the New York Times
The outgoing New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, David Halbfinger, interviewed the outgoing American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman — and the result, which appeared in Sunday’s print newspaper, was just weird.

Halbfinger’s 1,500-word dispatch included two paragraphs from the hard left Foundation for Middle East Peace, the Alexander Soros Foundation-funded vehicle that supports the anti-Zionist New York Times opinion page contributing writer Peter Beinart. It includes another two paragraphs from “Husam Zomlot, who headed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington.”

The third-party comments took so much space that there wasn’t room for much of Halbfinger’s actual interview with Friedman. Rather than publish a fuller version to the Times’ website, Halbfinger took to newly Trump-free Twitter — which is outside the paper’s paywall — and published two threads, totaling 44-tweets, of remarks from the outgoing-David-on-outgoing-David interview. Strung together, the tweets ran longer in accumulated word-count than the New York Times article, and were more informative, sticking more closely to Friedman’s comments.

As for the Times article reporting on the interview, it was inaccurate and tendentious. Halbfinger writes, “The Trump administration said it wanted to achieve peace. It will leave office this month as far away from that goal as ever.” Actually, it’s closer than ever to that goal: it succeeded, with the Abraham Accords, in advancing normal relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.

Halbfinger also writes, “It was Mr. Friedman, 62, who drove the radical overhaul of White House policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, dreaming up the seemingly endless list of political giveaways that President Trump bestowed upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters on the Israeli right.”

There was nothing “radical” about the Trump administration’s Israel policy. US-Israel relations have a strong bipartisan foundation based on mutual interests and shared values that transcends any particular presidential administration. Rather than characterizing American actions as “political giveaways,” the Times news article might have more accurately described the policies — such as moving the American embassy to Israel’s capital — as righting historical injustices, fulfilling long-made promises, and adhering to laws like the long-ignored Jerusalem Embassy Act. When the Obama administration provided $150 billion in cash and sanctions relief to the terror-supporting, genocide-pursuing Iranian government, the Times described it not as a “political giveaway” but rather as an exchange “in return for nuclear concessions.”


The Challenge of Solidifying the Abraham Accords
The Morocco case paints a more muted but similar picture. Despite the absence of full diplomatic relations, Israel and Morocco have had strong societal ties due to the one million Jews of Moroccan descent who live in Israel, and the situation for Jews in Morocco has not been as dire as in other Arab states. Israel and Morocco maintained diplomatic offices before the Second Intifada, and thus the resumption of these ties is not a peace deal or a new normalization agreement but a return to the status quo ante. Morocco did not agree to a public signing ceremony or to open an embassy in Israel but did agree to reopen its shuttered diplomatic liaison office, and while this falls short of the precedent set between Israel and the UAE, it still constitutes a tangible improvement from the state of Israeli-Moroccan relations that reigned during the past two decades.

But the announcement of a resumption in relations also came with the publicly announced and explicit quid pro quo of American recognition of Moroccan control over the disputed territory of Western Sahara, which is an enormous foreign policy victory for Morocco that simultaneously complicates the U.S.’s ability to oppose annexation of other territories conquered by force, with Russia’s annexation of Crimea being a pressing example. Not simultaneously announced but subsequently reported was that the U.S. would be selling drones to Morocco as part of a $1 billion arms package that it has also long sought but was unable to secure until now. Once again, an Arab state that has independent reasons to establish ties with Israel revealed a willingness to do so only if it was able to secure a win from the U.S. on other unrelated fronts. The previous relationship between Israel and Morocco makes this development more worrisome, as there should have theoretically been a lower barrier to overcome. It also serves as a reminder that this is not the first time that Israel has heralded new ties with Arab states, and that those ties proved to be more prone to rupture than many hoped.

None of this may matter to Israelis, who will benefit from this unprecedented flood of new relationships and new opportunities. But it should. Agreements to recognize Israel that are contingent upon unrelated policy moves from a third actor are inherently fleeting and subject to being rolled back, as already demonstrated by immediate complication with Sudan. Given the whiplash in foreign policy that took place when Trump replaced President Barack Obama and that is now expected to happen again with the shift to President Biden, American commitments in particular are in doubt in ways that were previously unthinkable. Any normalization agreements that depend on continuity in U.S. foreign policy in order to guarantee them may be fleeting. Open questions remain about how normalization with the UAE might be impacted if the arms package gets delayed or altered in the future, or how normalization with Morocco will proceed if a future administration withdraws recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. Relations that are built on self-interest can be lasting, but only if that interest is squarely in the relationship itself rather than on tangential issues.

The Biden administration should pursue the continuation of this process. Normalization between Israel and its former foes not only benefits Israel but benefits American interests and regional stability as well, and puts to rest an ugly boycott that delegitimizes Israel’s fundamental right to self-determined sovereignty. The challenge for Biden and his team will be to help broker agreements between Israel and its regional neighbors that rest on their own strength, and do not require the U.S. to guarantee their stability and durability with completely unrelated incentives and conditions that may ultimately challenge Israel’s newfound regional inclusion.
What’s the big deal about the pre-1967 'borders'?
Any compromise arrangement in which the Palestinian Arabs felt that they were not getting what they believe is truly theirs, would never give the Israelis the acceptance they crave. It may bring a short term ceasefire at best until the Palestinians have the opportunity to rearm.

Given that this is the case, why do the Western powers insist on imposing a solution to a problem that does not take into account the true wants of both sides of the conflict?

There may be diplomatic and political answers to this question. I would like to offer a metaphysical one. The 1967 borders are not arbitrary borders. The issue isn’t truly about a green line. The issue is what this 1967 line represents to the nations of the world.

In 1967, Israel was attacked by a multitude of Arab armies simultaneously on all of its fronts. At the time, the feeling in Israel and around the world was that less than three decades after Auschwitz, the Jews would be finally be finished off once and for all - and in their own land. When the puny Jewish State was able to overcome several massive Arab armies backed by the Soviet Union in only six days, no one could deny that Israel had experienced a miracle. Not only did the Jews survive a massive slaughter, but they went on to capture territory which would significantly expand Israel's size.

When the same nations of the world, who stood by in silence as the Jews were being massacred by the millions in Europe, preach about Israel’s moral prerogative to return the land that is captured in 1967, their demand is not simply about creating a fair deal for the Palestinians. In truth, they could not care less about the Palestinian Arabs.

Their real issue and sticking point is not about one particular border or another, one "settlement" or another. Their issue is not about equity, dignity, or compromise. Their issue is wanting to undue the miracle that was done in 1967. More so than any other national event in Israel’s history, the events of the summer of 1967, presented on the world stage the fact that there was still a G-d in the world, and He was looking out for His people. Perhaps no other event in recent history was a more poignant example of that fact.

That is precisely what the secularist, liberal world powers want to undermine. They are uninterested in accepting the concept that the world is divinely run and orchestrated and certainly are not happy about the fact the Jews are His chosen people. If the Jews would agree to reverse what happened in 1967, that would undermine the miracle and send a message that humanity is not interested in G-d or His miracles. (In a way, it is perversely reminiscent of the Vatican not recognizing Israel until 1993 because its establishment went against the belief that the Jews had been replaced by the Christians).

When we take the time to understand what each side in the conflict, including the mediators, hopes to achieve, it becomes much easier to solidify ones own position.

Any idea or discussion of negating or reversing that Six Day miracle is more than just a political or diplomatic discussion.
Iran, China, Promise to be the Biggest Tests of Biden's Presidency in 2021
There is eager anticipation among many of Washington's foes that Mr Biden's inauguration will result in the new president adopting a less confrontational tone with the outside world than his predecessor.

China's communist rulers, for example, are hopeful that Mr Biden will engage in the kind of meaningless trade deals so beloved of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama. These are the trade deals where Washington agrees to improve trade ties with Beijing on the understanding that China addresses the unfair trading relationship between the two countries, knowing full well that China's communist rulers have absolutely no intention of fulfilling their end of the bargain.

Before making any move that he may later regret, Mr Biden needs to think long and hard about the likely implications of trying to improve relations with Tehran.

As Iran has demonstrated consistently since signing the 2015 nuclear deal with the Obama administration, Tehran's primary objective is to become the dominant power in the Middle East -- not to live in peaceful coexistence with other nations in the region.


Netanyahu Announces 800 Housing Units Including Town Where Jewish Jogger Was Murdered by Arab
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday ordered that the construction of approximately 600 housing units in Judea and Samaria be advanced, including more than 100 units in Tal Menashe, the home community of the late Esther Horgan.

Esther Horgan, 52, a resident of Tal Menashe in Samaria, was found lifeless in a forest in late December with signs of violence on her body. Three days later, the Shin Bet detained a suspect, Muhammad Cabha, 40, from the village of Tura al-Gharbiya, near Jenin, who has previously served sentences for terrorist activity. Four additional suspects were arrested with him for assisting him in hiding from the security forces following the attack.

Netanyahu also ordered the construction of more than 200 units in Rehalim and in Nofei Nehemia, pursuant to providing a regular status for the community.

The Prime Minister also directed that the construction of approximately 400 additional units in Beit El, Evyatar, Shavei Shomron, Oranit, the Barkan Industrial Zone, Karnei Shomron, and Givat Zeev be submitted for approval by the Civil Administration’s Higher Planning Committee at its next meeting.
Israeli Lawyers Sue Palestinian President for Over $370 Million

Border guards arrest Palestinian teen who threw firebomb at Rachel’s Tomb
Border guards arrested a Palestinian teenager Sunday night after he threw a Molotov cocktail at the Rachel’s Tomb pilgrimage site in the central West Bank city of Bethlehem, the police said.

The suspect, 17, was caught after a brief foot chase, hiding in a grocery store in the nearby al-Ayda refugee camp, according to police.

The firebomb attack, which resulted in neither injury nor damage, came amid an uptick in violence in the West Bank in recent weeks, including a deadly terror attack in which an Israeli woman was murdered, numerous cases of Palestinians throwing rocks at Israeli cars, and several attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians and Israeli security forces.

Police said officers saw the suspect, a resident of al-Ayda, throw the Molotov cocktail at the Rachel’s Tomb site, a heavily fortified compound that has seen regular attacks by Palestinians over the years.

“Officers from the Jerusalem area Border Police conducted a foot chase after the suspect, which ended with him being arrested in the al-Ayda refugee camp as he was hiding out in a food store,” police said.
Palestinians, Jordan accuse Israel of ‘Judaizing’ Western Wall Plaza
The Palestinians and Jordan have accused Israel of seeking to “Judaize” the Western Wall Plaza because of renovation work that is being carried out there.

Referring to the renovations as “excavations,” the Palestinians and Jordan called for an immediate cessation of the work at the site.

The Jordanian-controlled Wakf Department in east Jerusalem, which oversees Muslim and Christian holy sites, said that the “excavations” were “part of the [Israeli] project to complete the Judaization of al-Buraq Plaza, southwest of the al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The Wakf claimed that the renovations contradicted international humanitarian law and decisions on this matter by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Al-Buraq is the name Muslims use to refer to the Western Wall. They believe it is the site where the prophet Mohammed tied his winged steed, al-Buraq, on his journey to Jerusalem before ascending to paradise.

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the United Nations Security Council to “halt the crimes of the Israeli occupation forces against al-Aqsa Mosque.”

The ministry condemned Israeli “excavations” at the Western Wall, referring to it as the “western wall of the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Says Anti-Israel Sentiment Is Fading
After becoming Israel's ambassador to Egypt in September, diplomatic corps veteran and fluent Arabic speaker Amira Oron, 54, tells the Times of Israel that relations with Egypt are looking up and that anti-Israel sentiment in the country is fading. She previously served as a junior diplomat in Egypt and knows the place well.

"The Arab world is shifting their approach to Israel and they realize that Turkey and Iran are the ones challenging the Arab world," she says. "In Egypt as well, they are rethinking how they relate to Israel. I see this change in social media and not just from the regime. I see more statements about Jewish history, and gratitude over the fact that Jews were part of the historical and cultural fabric of Egypt. Egyptian President Sissi resolved to repair the thousand-year-old Jewish cemetery" in Cairo.
Dear Mahmoud Abbas: Hold Palestinian Elections Now
Tragically, in addition to the lack of presidential and legislative elections in the Palestinian territories for the past 16 years, the Palestinian Authority provides no such liberties to its subjects. While Palestinian legislation does offer free expression to its people, the reality is in fact quite different. Writers, bloggers and other public figures have been arrested by Palestinian security forces for daring to criticize Mahmoud Abbas, in a clear attempt at intimidating independent thought and silencing dissent.

A hallmark of liberal democracy is freedom of religion and freedom of association. In Canada and Israel, peoples of all faiths – or no faith at all – face no government sanctioned persecution. But in the Palestinian territories, it is illegal to sell land to a Jew, and numerous Palestinians have been murdered after being suspected of making an “illegal sale.”

The lack of Palestinian democracy is not merely an internal issue; it is a regional one. Currently, the autocratic regime of Mahmoud Abbas seeks only to maintain its own stranglehold on power, and has shown little interest in the welfare of its people. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The more that the Palestinian people see that they have a stake in their own future, the more likely they will be to seek peace and dialogue with the Jewish State. Democracies have tended to have a more peaceful relationship with each other than dictatorships, an unsurprising fact because in a democracy, voters see the consequences of their leader’s actions, but dictators rarely do. As the last few months have shown, a growing number of Arab & Islamic states are establishing peace agreements with Israel, and it’s only a short time till more join the circle of peace brought on by the Abraham Accords. It’s arguably in the best interests of the Palestinians, and of the wider cause of peace in the Middle East, that the Palestinian Authority provides both electoral and liberal democracy to its people.

While the news media can and should hold Israel accountable for decisions its government makes, certainly the same should apply to the Palestinian leadership, as well. The Palestinian Authority claims to offer democratic voting rights to its people, but has continued to deny them those same rights for more than a decade. That should be objectionable to anyone who believes that the Palestinian people should have a say in their own future.
Abbas: “We will end this oppression…Jerusalem was, is, and will forever be the capital of Palestine”
[Official PA TV filler, Dec. 4, 2020]
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas: In the name of All Merciful Allah, “and those who, when oppressed, defend themselves” [Quran 42:39] – We will triumph, Allah willing, and end this oppression that has befallen us all: The Palestinians, the Arabs, the Christians, the Muslims, the free people worldwide. Jerusalem was, is, and will forever be the capital of the State of Palestine. It is the pearl in the crown, the flower of the cities, and the land of [Prophet Muhammad’s] Night Journey and Ascent to Heaven. There is no peace or stability without it being so.“


“Take my blood,” “We waved machine guns… We won’t relinquish our weapons” – songs at Fatah rally
[Official Fatah Facebook page, Dec. 23, and Dec. 30, 2020]
Lyrics:
Stand on the Martyr’s grave, make sounds of joy, and read out verses of struggle
For Fatah does not forget the blood of its men

Visual: A child dressed in military uniform and wearing a keffiyeh (Arab headdress) around his neck is holding what appears to be a toy assault rifle. Member of Fatah’s Central Committee and Fatah Commissioner of Mobilization and Organization in Gaza, Ahmed Helles, is standing next to the boy.


Hamas Forcibly Expels Residents from their Homes near Gaza-Egypt Border
Hamas bulldozers began demolishing the homes and farms of 23 Palestinian families east of Rafah on Jan. 3.

On Dec. 15, the Palestinian Land Authority decided to expropriate these lands to expand the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt for commercial purposes.

Local residents hurled stones at Hamas security forces as they started destroying their homes and uprooting their trees. Local sources said Hamas security forces arrested nine citizens and assaulted dozens of others.

The Mayor of Rafah, Anwar al-Shaer, issued a statement on Facebook on Jan. 4 denouncing the decision.
JCPA: Iran Is Projecting Its Power to Pressure Biden Into a Deal. But Iran Is Actually in Distress, and That Needs to Be Exploited
The Iranian situation is entirely different from the image its leaders are trying to create. The economic pressure and regional developments - the Abraham Accords and the reconciliation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia - worry Tehran.

The appropriate response to the Iranian moves to enrich uranium to 20% is to make clear that any attempt to acquire enough enriched uranium for the production of nuclear weapons will be met harshly.

At the same time, the economic pressure must be continued in order to compel Iran to accept a new agreement that would scrupulously prevent any possibility of its stockpiling nuclear weapons, which includes full oversight everywhere and at all times, the lifting of restrictions on the duration of the agreement, the demolition of the enrichment facility in Fordo, and the inclusion of ballistic missiles in the deal.
IAEA chief: Iran moving rapidly to enrich uranium, mere ‘weeks’ to save deal
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog said Monday that there were “weeks” left to salvage the nuclear deal with Iran.

Rafael Grossi, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said at the Reuters Next conference that Tehran was advancing “quite rapidly” toward enriching uranium to 20 percent, as it has announced it would, in breach of the accord. He said the IAEA has assessed Iran will be able to produce some 10 kilograms a month.

“It is clear that we don’t have many months ahead of us [to save the deal]. We have rather weeks,” he said.

If talks between the signatories of the accord are launched, “there will have to be a clear understanding on how the initial terms and provisions of the [nuclear deal] are going to be recomplied with,” Grossi said.

The comments came two days after Iranian lawmaker Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani declared that Tehran would expel IAEA inspectors in February unless the US lifts its sanctions on the country.

“If the sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran are not lifted by February 21, especially in the fields of finance, banking, and oil, we will definitely expel the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from the country,” said Farahani in a television interview, according to an English translation of his remarks by the Mehr news agency.

UN inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites are a key part of a 2015 pact with world powers that saw sanctions lifted from Iran in return for its dismantling the weapons aspects of its nuclear program.
Iran to boot out UN nuclear inspectors unless US sanctions lifted – lawmaker
Iran will expel United Nations nuclear inspectors next month unless the US lifts its sanctions on the country, an Iranian lawmaker said Saturday.

“If the sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran are not lifted by February 21, especially in the fields of finance, banking, and oil, we will definitely expel the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from the country,” said Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani in a television interview, according to an English translation of his remarks by the Mehr news agency.

UN inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites are a key part of a 2015 pact with world powers that saw sanctions lifted from Iran in return for its dismantling the weapons aspects of its nuclear program.

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018, and the remaining countries that signed it with Iran — Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia — have been trying to keep the accord from collapsing. The Trump administration imposed crippling sanctions on Iran while demanding it renegotiate stricter terms to the deal. Iran has refused and responded by walking back its own commitments to the accord.

“We do not see any reason to fulfill our obligations until the sanctions are lifted,” Farahani said.

“This is the law of Iranian Parliament and the government is obliged to implement it,” he stressed, referring to legislation passed in November last year and approved in December by Iran’s Guardian Council watchdog.
US expects Iran to prepare for talks with Biden, not plot attacks in Trump's final days
President Trump’s administration expects Iran to avoid attacking Americans in the near future as the regime prepares for an expected negotiation with President-elect Joe Biden later this year.

"Iran is trying to pile up chips for a negotiation with the Biden administration," a senior administration official told the Washington Examiner. “Of course, that’s our hope, that they recognize that they would be making a negotiation impossible, or extremely difficult, should they kill any Americans."

The fallout from the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday has stoked unease that American adversaries might feel emboldened to strike at a moment of domestic chaos, but current and former Trump administration officials believe that the U.S. military and Tehran’s optimism about talks with Biden will combine to restrain them.

“If Iran thought that what they're seeing meant they had an opportunity to do something, it would be a catastrophic mistake on their part,” said Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior adviser Richard Goldberg, the White House National Security Council’s director countering Iran’s nuclear weapons program in 2019. “But also, it would be out of line with their current strategy, which appears to be escalating a crisis environment, so they are a high priority for sanctions relief — potentially when the Biden administration comes into office.”

A tactical dance has unfolded between Trump’s team and Iranian officials in recent years, such as Tehran using proxy forces to threaten U.S. personnel in Iraq, while the United States raises the daunting specter of retaliation if any Americans die as a result of Iranian aggression. That process continued with a pair of provocations from Iran: the seizure of a South Korean oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz and a vote in Iran’s Parliament to begin enriching uranium up to 20%.

"The message from the United States has been clear ... that we're prepared to deal with any attacks," the senior administration official said. "But obviously, the hope is that they will recognize that their strategic interest is not served by attacking us."
Israel's Intelligence Minister: Keeping Current U.S. Policy on Iran Vital for More Peace Treaties
Israel's Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen has urged the US President-elect Joe Biden to maintain the current US policy on Iran.

In his Wednesday interview for i24NEWS, Cohen stressed that "the 8 years of [US President Barack] Obama's tenure did not lead to any regional political achievements" in the Middle East.

"In comparison, during President [Donald] Trump's 4 years in office, there was determined activity against Iran," he noted.

"If you want to maintain regional stability, if you want to advance further peace agreements, it is important that the policy vis-à-vis Iran continues," the official said, addressing the remarks to Biden.

"Wherever Iran goes, people are suffering," the minister asserted, pointing at Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, as well at Tehran's human rights record vis-a-vis its own citizens.

Cohen also hailed Israel's recent normalization accords with the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Sudan, adding that Jerusalem is " in touch with 6 or 7 additional countries, in Africa, in the Gulf and in East Asia. Arab and Muslim countries."

"They understand that the State of Israel is their partner, their partner in regional stability, a partner in a strong and significant security coalition," he added.

Estimating that the volume of Israel's trade with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain is set to exceed $5 billion within years, Cohen said that for "countries that seek security, stability, welfare for their people, economic potential, it goes through (ties with) the State of Israel."

"And if the US policy continues, without a doubt we will see more peace agreements," he stressed.


Pompeo to designate Yemen's Houthis as foreign terror group
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is leaving office soon. He is also leaving behind a long legacy as one of the stalwarts of the Trump era. The former head of the CIA has been a key figure and powerful secretary of state. He has used that office to confront Iran and Iran’s allies and minions across the Middle East. Now he has designated the Houthis in Yemen as a terror group. This has regional ramifications.

Pompeo has also sought to use his final days in office to go after more Iranian allies. The US targeted Falih al-Fayyadh for sanctions last week, the head of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, a group of mostly Shi’ite militias that are close to Iran and receive Iraqi government salaries. Fayyadh’s role has been known for years and the US appeared to accuse him of aiding the militias during an attack on the US embassy in the first days of 2020. Yet he was not designated until now.

Now Pompeo has also gone after the Houthi rebels in Yemen, a group called Ansar Allah. The group controls large swaths of Yemen and has threatened Aden, a key port city, as well as targeting government officials. Yemen’s embattled government is backed by Saudi Arabia, who recently reconciled with Qatar. The Houthis are backed by Iran and Saudi Arabia has become embroiled in the Yemen morass since 2015 by providing airstrikes and forces to counter the Houthis.

Riyadh’s role has led to accusations that it is at fault for the suffering in Yemen. It’s not entirely clear if Saudi Arabia is actually at fault. The Houthis are a vicious group whose official slogan is “Allah is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.” This is a group based on antisemitism and genocidal Jew hatred. The last Jews of Yemen have been forced to flee, ending thousands of years of diversity in Yemen.


Leading Iranian Dissident Urges Twitter to Suspend Khamenei's Accounts
Iranian journalist and dissident Masih Alinejad urged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Friday to permanently ban all accounts associated with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Alinejad, a women’s rights activist and founder of the My Stealthy Freedom/White Wednesday campaign, told The Jerusalem Post in a statement that “a close review of these accounts in multiple languages which include Persian, English, Spanish, and Arabic, shows that Khamenei has repeatedly violated Twitter rules. Even today, @Khamenei_ir account announced a ban on COVID-19 vaccines from the US and the European companies and blamed the French for giving Iran blood tainted with HIV virus.”

Alinejad tweeted on Friday that “In 2019 I called on Twitter to shut down Khamenei’s accounts for not only inciting violence but ordering the murder of 1,500 peaceful protesters. Some opposed this campaign, Now the same people are cheering that Trump has been suspended. It’s shameful.”

Twitter “permanently suspended” President Donald Trump on Friday, claiming the micro-blog wants to prevent Trump from inciting violence. Alinejad asked Twitter’s CEO: You’ve suspended the account of @realDonaldTrump, but you’ve not suspended the account of @khamenei_ir, who used the @Twitter platform to issue death threats. He’s imprisoned various twitter activists while banning Iranians from freely accessing Twitter. Why?”

The world’s greatest living chess player, Garry Kasparov, retweeted a tweet from Alinejad, urging Twitter to suspend Khamenei’s account for spreading dangerous lies about the pandemic. The Jewish paper Algemeiner honored the human rights activist Kasparov with its “Warrior for Truth” in 2020.





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