Wednesday, March 25, 2015

From Ian:

Resetting the Mideast Peace Process
Moreover, under current circumstances Israeli withdrawals would likely lead to establishment of a second “Hamastan” in the West Bank (or worse, an ISIS type regime) – not to a stable and peaceful reality.
So Netanyahu is accurately tapping into a mainstream, dominant Israeli mindset that is realistic and cautious. Indeed, if you factor out Israeli Arab and Haredi voters, one in every three Israeli voters opted for Likud.
For good reasons (born of bitter experience), Israelis distrust Palestinian intentions; for very good reasons, Israelis are wary of the Islamic terrorist armies that have encamped on the Jewish state’s borders; and for crystal-clear reasons, Israelis are suspicious and resentful of the Obama White House.
It has been this way ever since the Palestinian terrorist war against Israel of 2000-2004 (the second intifada); the rejection by Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas of sweeping Israeli peace proposals three times over the past 15 years; the emergence of Iranian-dominated enclaves on Israel’s northern and southern borders following Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza; and Obama’s decision to wedge “daylight” into US-Israel relations while sprinting towards strategic partnership with Israel’s arch-enemy, Iran.
In truth, Herzog was no more likely to bring about establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state over the next two years than Netanyahu is.
So it’s time for Israel to re-articulate its thinking about the process of achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. Netanyahu should capitalize on his sweeping victory to reset the diplomatic table by outlining a pragmatic process that Israel can participate in, and to draw clear Israeli red lines as to acceptable contours of a solution.
Doing so is especially urgent since Israel is already facing a renewed international campaign for West Bank withdrawals. The Obama administration is not-so-subtly threatening to throw its support behind a new United Nations Security Council resolution recognizing Palestinian independence and demanding rapid withdrawal to the 1967 lines (with some itsy-bitsy possible land swaps mentioned as a sop to Israel).
Obama’s Pointless Israel Spats Illustrate Spite, Not Strategy
This has, after all, been a constant theme since the president took office in January 2009 determined to make a correction from what he felt was the Bush administration’s coziness with Israel. Throughout the last six years, with only a one-year break for a re-election campaign Jewish charm offensive, President Obama has picked numerous fights with Netanyahu government over settlement building and borders as well as the status of Jerusalem. The goal throughout has been to persuade Israel to take “risks for peace” involving retreating from the West Bank and dividing Jerusalem.
This struggle has been undertaken in the name of saving Israel from itself because as the president noted in his Huffington Post interview, he wanted to preserve Israel’s democracy. But, like his admirers among the crowd at J Street, at no point has the president chosen to hold the Palestinians accountable for their consistent rejection of Israeli peace offers or efforts to torpedo talks, such as the end run around negotiations and unity pact with Hamas that blew up the talks sponsored by Secretary of State John Kerry last year.
Nor is there any answer to the widespread concern voiced by Israeli voters about what would happen if their country heeded Obama’s advice and withdrew from the West Bank, whether to the 1967 lines or not. After the example of Gaza, from which Israeli pulled out every last soldier and settler and which was then transformed into a vast terror base from which rockets are rained down on Israeli cities, why should Israelis believe a pullout from the West Bank end any differently. (h/t NormanF)
AP Reporter Grills State Dept. Spokeswoman
As the White House continues its attacks on Israeli Premier Netanyahu for things he never said, the Administration seems to be ignoring the Supreme Leader of Iran's calls for "death to America." When Associated Press reporter Matt Lee challenged State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on the issue during Tuesday's press briefing, Psaki did all she could to avoid answering the question.
Lee: This has been raised before by other people, but I will ask it again now in this---the same context. When the Supreme Leader of Iran is continuing---in the middle of these negotiations is continuing to make statements like, “Death to America,” how is that not problematic for you? How is that not something---why are you just willing to let it slide basically, and you are holding the Prime Minister of Israel to comments that he made and since changed?
Psaki: Well, Matt, I think we would hardly put the Supreme Leader and the leadership of Israel in the same category. Israel is a strategic partner, a security partner---
Lee: Are you saying the Iranians can be trusted but the Israelis can’t? Is that what you are saying?
AP’s Matt Lee Grills State Dept. On Treatment Of Iran Vs. Israel

AP Reporter Grills State Dept for Obama Admin's 'Anonymous Whining' about Israel

Don’t you know Obama’s toxic? Why there’s no reason to fear Obama’s inevitable turn on Israel
But won’t Israel pay a price for this stubbornness? Well, no. Just as the “peace process” with its neighbors has forged a more pragmatic Israel, so too will “international pressure” be a benefit. It is unlikely that the coalition will include Labor not because Herzog would bend over, but because this “unity” coalition would be seized upon as a vulnerability to be exploited, resulting in more “pressure.” Some, particularly President Obama, imagine Israel to be the proverbial nail that must be hammered into place. But the Jewish people know their rights and will not unthinkingly obey whatever fashion trend passes through the White House. After all, if Judea cannot have rights in Israel, where can they? If the only choice the Arabs are offering is the same they have always offered–unconditional surrender–what alternative is there? Jewish independence in this land is what generations of Jews have fought for because it is a necessity. The land of Israel acts as an anvil, and with Israel’s new government acknowledging this, the more Israel is hit by a hammer, the more the State of Israel will be shaped into a sharper, more effective tool for watching over the rights of Jews.
How? Israelis are learning well that good behavior is ignored, Palestinian bad behavior is ignored, and Israel is blamed no matter what. And it is the discriminatory international pressure with its dark undertones that taught us this. Even after all the Bibi drama regarding his relationship with the White House, if trying to placate Obama’s feelings was seen as a viable strategy then Herzog would have received quite a bit more support. Each strike against Israel will sharpen the understanding that concessions and defensiveness are losses that will be compounded rather than rewarded. An emphasis on protecting Jews’ lives and freedom in their land will result in gains. Only thus will Israel cut through the unjust equivalency, libels, and wrong-headed assumptions upon which the “peace process” was built. As this understanding develops, it will become easier to pressure Arab leaders and their deep-seated lack of legitimacy. Jews tend to be attacked when they are thought to be vulnerable, and Israel tends to be “pressured” when it is seen as the most flexible party. This is basic shuk negotiating logic, elementary realism, and simple Zionism.
The Big Inversion: White House Soft on Khamenei, Hard on Netanyahu
This week, the Obama administration had decidedly different attitudes about statements from leaders of the Jewish state of Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As the negotiations on a nuclear deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, between the P5+1 powers and Iran near their March 31 deadline, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded to a crowd in Tehran shouting “Death to America” that, “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.”
Khamenei was referencing the sanctions that have been levied on the Iranian economy and indicated an antagonistic view of the US that was clearly at odds with statements made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who recently said that “achieving a deal is possible” by the deadline.
In response to this statement by Khamenei, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that his remarks simply “underscore why it is so critically important” that the US and other world powers “succeed in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
White House vs. Netanyahu Debated on Fox News Sunday

Don’t believe Obama’s faux outrage at Netanyahu
So here’s the dynamic: Netanyahu, while talking tough publicly about terms for an Israeli-Palestinian deal, was much more accommodating privately during actual negotiations. Just before Israeli elections, the U.S. government likely leaks evidence of his flexibility to harm Netanyahu. As a result, Netanyahu starts to lose right-wing voters to smaller parties, and the left-leaning major opposition party takes a lead in the polls, putting Netanyahu’s leadership in question, just as the U.S. wanted.
Netanyahu responds by using increasingly right-wing rhetoric (including denying that he ever agreed to the framework in question), to win back the voters from smaller parties that the leak cost him. He wins, and almost immediately announces that his campaign rhetoric was misunderstood, and that he still supports a two-state solution when conditions allow. The Obama Administration then announces it nevertheless has to reassess relations with Israel, allegedly because Netanayahu is no longer committed to the two-state solution.
So you get it? The Obama Administration, or someone with similar motivations, leaks a document showing that in practice, Netanyahu was surprisingly flexible in negotiations sponsored by the U.S. Netanyahu then tries to compensate by sounding tough in the closing days of his campaign. The administration then pretends that this is much more meaningful than its actual experience with Netanyahu, as indicated by the document it likely leaked, because it was out to punish Israel for electing Netanyahu regardless.
Indeed, recent reports show that the administration was planning to retaliate against Israel diplomatically if it reelected Netanyahu months ago, not only before his controversial election remarks, but before his Iran speech to Congress was even planned. (In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Israeli intelligence had gotten wind of this, and thus Netanyahu thought he had little to lose by irritating Obama further with his speech).
The V15 Failure
If only we had realized in real time the size and extent of this outrage, it may very well have been that the antagonism towards the NGO V15 and the Labor party would have been expressed not only in the voting booths, but also several weeks earlier. We might also have to assume that even in the Tel Aviv strongholds of the V15, at the very least, people would be slamming doors in their faces.
The V15 Affair created among many the feeling that a line was somehow dramatically crossed with regards to US-Israel relations. The direct involvement of prominent figures in the US Democratic Party in Israel’s internal affairs revives the stereotype which the US suffered from in South American in the mid-1980’s: that of a superpower involving itself in and stirring the pot of the internal politics of various countries, without the slightest pangs of conscience, and regardless of the local citizen’s desire, and all for personal interest.
But that is not how a friend is meant to be treated, how an ally is to be treated. The Unites States government can criticize Israel all they like, they know that Israel will always be at their side when the bugle calls. So then, why treat Israel which such brutality? Israel is not a third-world country. It is a democracy in a geo-political region defined by many as a literal “Hell on Earth”. So there should be no surprise that there was created a fierce and immediate outrage in the Republican Party aimed at Obama and his administration. Outrage that will only increase once the dust settles and the picture becomes clearer.
Dear Mr. President, Israel is not the enemy – nor is Netanyahu
Palestinians are not like the long-victimized blacks.
To Israelis, “Arabs” means fellow citizens who deserve respect as well as the enemy who triggers fears. Arabs have murdered thousands of Jews over decades. Not every Arab is a terrorist of course, but almost every anti-Israel terrorist is an Arab – that complicates matters, without justifying hatred. Every day, anti-Semitic calls for Israel’s destruction emanate from the Arab press and especially from Palestinian society, sometimes illustrated with crude racist caricatures of you. Some radical Arabs in Knesset regularly (and freely) slander the country that pays their salaries. And in a society where leftists frequently condemn “the ultra-Orthodox” for acting democratically, including “voting in droves,” Netanyahu’s cry about Arabs was unworthy, ugly, tribal but, again, not racist.
Note what else happened on Election Day, the very day Netanyahu behaved so poorly, that proved that Israeli democracy is far from “lost.” An Israeli Arab, the Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran, supervised the elections. This week, Israel’s President Reuben Rivlin requested Justice Joubran’s permission to initiate coalition discussions early. Such everyday occurrences didn’t make headlines in Israel because they are so commonplace and were ignored abroad because they disprove the Bad-Israel narrative.
Last week, Arab voter turnout was 64 percent. You were reelected in 2012 with 57.7% voter turnout. Only 36.4% of registered Americans voted in 2014. Did you call America’s democracy “lost”? As long as we’re comparing, remember the Democratic candidate who dismissed conservative Democrats who disagreed with you, er, I mean him, as “bitter, they cling to guns or explain their frustrations”? Just as you don’t want to be defined by your most offensive, inflammatory statements, don’t lock Netanyahu into his, especially since he apologized. Our biblically- inflected overlapping Christian, Jewish and American traditions cherish repentance. More pragmatically, we acknowledge politicians’ occasional slipperiness. Allow Netanyahu to make amends, for all our sakes.
After vote, Pyrrhic victories for both Netanyahu and Obama
Netanyahu managed a victory large enough to ensure a right-wing coalition without meaningful ideological or political gaps among its members, a relief after the experience of his last government, which was fractured by widely divergent views.
But his opponents won a kind of victory as well, handed to them by Netanyahu’s own campaign strategy, in which he may have been too savvy for his own good.
It is the White House, though, and not the Zionist Union party that has worked the hardest to capitalize on Netanyahu’s missteps, though the Americans’ strategy may turn out to be faulty as well.
Obama Aided Communists, Islamists, Palestinian Nationalists in Elections
And only Hillary's candidacy (though not election) can save the US-Israel relationship
He doesn't go into detail about which Israeli Arab leaders came to America, but it is clear they were members of the Joint Arab List. As we have pointed out, despite its neutral sounding name, the Joint List is an amalgam of Communists, anti-Zionists, Islamists, and Palestinian Nationalists. None of its leaders has come out in support of Israel as a Jewish State (at least not to our knowledge), with some (Masud Ghnaim, Ibrahim Sarsur) advocate replacing Israel with an Islamic Caliphate and support enemy regimes like Syria and Iran and terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.
Shouldn't it be news that the Obama White House invited anti-Zionist and Islamist Arabs to Washington to support their goal of unseating the Israeli Prime Minister? Of course it should! But given the lack of attention invitations to the Muslim Brotherhood - Hamas's parent organization - got in 2012 and this year, it certainly isn't surprising this followed the same path to obscurity. It was even less likely to make waves since the media was so enamored of the idea of a single, unified Arab party in Israel that almost no Western news outlet discussed its radical Islamist and anti-Zionist ideology.
Without US cover at UN, Israel could face diplomatic avalanche
True, Jerusalem will maintain the ability to prevent the de facto establishment of a Palestinian state. But one Security Council resolution on the matter will lead to another, and Israel’s violation of all of them will eventually put Israel on a collision course with the entire international community, Saltzman added.
“There will be an accumulative effect of these resolutions and eventually, even if Netanyahu sustains his premiership for the full four years, the pressure will only increase over time,” he said.
Israelis are proud that they accepted the UN partition plan of 1947 while the Arabs rejected it, Saltzman said. Israel ignoring a Security Council resolution calling for a two-state solution could undermine that position, he posited.
“It will allow the Palestinians to assume the role of Israel in the late 1940s and 1950s. We will have a complete reversal of the roles of David and Goliath.”
More dangerously, Saltzman added, an American willingness to abandon Israel at the UN has the potential to unleash sanctions and penalties from the European Union, which has long considered imposing certain restrictions, especially on goods from the West Bank.
“The international community is very much fed up with the Israeli occupation,” he said, and if it the US translated that frustration into policy, “this could seriously undercut European-Israeli relations. Israel will be in a very precarious situation.”
Silvan Shalom – Israel Can’t Trust US Brokering of Future Agreements
Minister Silvan Shalom, on Reshet Bet’s Yoman HaBoker with Aryeh Golan, criticized the US administration this morning, saying that Israel won’t be able to trust the US to broker any future agreements.
Shalom told Golan that according to the Oslo Accords, signed on September 13, 1993, and sponsored by the White House together with President Bill Clinton, no side is allowed to make unilateral steps that violate the agreement.
And now, the US, “instead of censuring or threatening the Palestinian Authority for its unilateral moves [at the UN] that are in complete breach of their obligations per the Oslo Accords, the US is saying it will give the PA backup for their unilateral steps!”
Golan pointed out that the US said they are “reassessing”.
Silvan responded, the US is telling Israel, that Israel “should not sign any agreements in the future [with the PA], because every treaty is in danger of being breached.”
Silvan clarified this further stating the US is apparently telling Israel that “every agreement signed with the Palestinians, even agreements sponsored and backed by the US, in the end won’t receive the US’s backup and support – even after they sponsored it! It’s inconceivable.”
The Next Crisis? United States Might Limit Aid to Israel by Amount it Spends on Settlements
The State Department might be attempting to limit the loan guarantees Israel receives from the United States, based on Israel’s expenditures on West Bank settlements, according to an Israeli media report published on Tuesday.
Israel’s Walla news said that the State Department will be submitting a brief to Congress detailing Israel’s investment in settlements over recent years – purportedly in the billions of dollars.
Officials familiar with the report currently being formulated told Walla that after this move in Congress, Israel might remain with a “very limited” amount of financial guarantees. The effect of offsetting the guarantees would only be felt by Israel when it actually seeks to use them, for example when there is an economic or security crisis. The last time Israel sought to use its loan guarantees from the US was a decade ago, in 2005.
Plan for 1,500 homes in East Jerusalem reportedly frozen
A large construction plan for 1,500 housing units in the Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa has been frozen by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Hebrew media Ynet website reported Wednesday.
According to the report, the project was supposed to have been reviewed at a Jerusalem Municipality Local Planning meeting and then followed up at a Jerusalem District Planning meeting of the Interior Ministry next week.
However, the Housing Ministry, which initiated the plan, and the municipality both claimed the agenda item was removed from the schedules of the meetings.
David Singer: Why The "Two State Solution" Has Gone Nowhere
"Words matter," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters this week.
Regrettably Earnest was being less than earnest in failing to point out that words can also have several meanings – which can result in people failing to actually communicate with each other because each has a different understanding of the words he is using.
As a lawyer with extensive experience in drafting agreements – I have found the most critical part in any agreement is the definition of terms used in those agreements – so that the parties are in no doubt at all as to the meaning of the words they are using.
The so-called “Two State Solution” has gone nowhere in the last 20 years for precisely this reason.
The parties to the negotiations – including America on its own and as part of the Quartet – have been talking at cross purposes without first agreeing on the meaning of the terms they are using.
EU presses Israel on peace in annual progress report
The European Union urged Israelis and Palestinians on Wednesday to quickly restart peace talks that collapsed last year, as the bloc's new foreign policy chief seeks to reinvigorate European involvement in the negotiations.
Israel should make "every effort to ensure an early resumption of the Middle East peace process," the EU said in a series of annual reports assessing progress on democracy and human rights in countries close to the 28-nation bloc.
A separate report urged the Palestinian Authority to pursue "positive steps" to restart peace talks.
German parliament to vote on Palestine recognition
The German parliament is set to vote on the recognition of a Palestinian state.
A resolution proposed by Die Linke, a far-left opposition party, calls on the government in Berlin to “immediately recognize the State of Palestine in the 1967 borders” and to promote its full membership in the United Nations.
No date has yet been set for a vote.
Die Linke, which holds only 64 seats out of 631 in the Bundestag, is known to be extremely critical of Israeli policies, and its proposal on Palestine is therefore unlikely to attain the required majority, several experts on German politics said.
UN Gaza war probe to also investigate Palestinian human rights violations
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s probe into the Gaza war will look beyond alleged Israeli human rights violations and also examine those supposedly committed by armed Palestinian groups.
The commission of inquiry’s new chairwoman Mary McGowan Davis publicly clarified the matter on Monday.
The commission was tasked with investigating human rights violations that occurred in Gaza, east Jerusalem and the West Bank from June 13, 2014 until the end of Operation Protective Edge.
But it was assumed that the probe’s overwhelming focus would be on Israeli actions, as in past UNHRC reports.
Palestinian security to reassess ties with Israel this week
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said she supports a comprehensive reappraisal of Palestinian relations with Israel due to what she called the intransigence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in negotiations.
“We certainly should redefine our relationship with Israel in all areas, because Netanyahu has reneged on all agreements and is working deliberately and aggressively to destroy the chances of peace,” she said, declining to comment on the position of the Palestinian security establishment. “We have to work in ways that will rescue the chances of peace … whatever it takes, we have to do.”
In the run-up to election day, Netanyahu told Israeli news site NRG that he will not allow a Palestinian state to be established on his watch. But following his reelection on March 17, Netanyahu qualified his comments by saying he was still committed to a two-state solution when “circumstances change.”
Qatar trying to broker long-term Israel-Hamas ceasefire
In recent weeks a senior Qatari official has been mediating between Israel and the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, in a bid to negotiate a long-term ceasefire agreement and broker terms for the rehabilitation of the Palestinian coastal enclave, The Times of Israel has learned.
Qatar’s representative to the Gaza strip, Muhammad al-Ahmadi, met with top Israeli and Hamas officials to arbitrate a deal, Palestinian sources in Gaza and Ramallah said.
Ahmadi is overseeing a number of construction and infrastructure projects in the Strip funded by the Qatari government, including paving new roads and rebuilding public buildings and hundreds of new homes, following extensive damage inflicted during last summer’s war between Hamas and Israel.
Ahmadi entered the territory via the Erez border crossing from Israel, even though Qatar and Israel do not have formal diplomatic relations.
Still Needed: Regime Change in Iran
How can the Obama administration expect Iran’s regime to comply with a nuclear agreement when Rouhani cannot deliver on basic commitments to human rights?
All this helps to explain why my FDD colleague John Hannah’s January article, “It is time to pursue regime change in Iran,” carries great urgency.
The U.S. and the West can choose between encouraging a democratic Iranian social and political order defined by a liberal economy and free society or supporting the continued existence of a fanatically anti-American regime on the brink of developing nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration’s recent moves suggest they’d prefer the latter.
White House on Ayatollah's 'Death to America': 'Intended for Domestic Political Audience'
On Monday, the White House dismissed Ayatollah Khamenei’s “Death to America” rhetoric, telling CNN that it was “intended for a domestic political audience.” That comment came on the heels of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explaining that such rhetoric provided even more reason for negotiating a deal with the Iranian regime.
At the same time that the White House essentially blew off Ayatollah Khamenei’s “Death to America” routine, the White House deliberately misinterpreted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments the day before and the day of his re-election in Israel. Apparently the things said during an election do not constitute electioneering; the things said in a country that has not had free elections for three decades constitute electioneering. Welcome to the delusional anti-Semitic world of the Obama administration, where Palestinian diplomats can refuse to disassociate from Hamas, and Iran can openly embrace the destruction of America and Israel, but it’s the Jews who need to be clubbed into line.
Obama Admin’s Deadline for Iran Nuke Deal Arrives, Still No Agreement
The March 24 deadline set by negotiators working on an Iranian nuclear agreement has arrived, and no “political framework agreement“ has yet been reached.
A group of ten Senate Democrats stated in a Jan. 27 letter to President Obama that if no agreement is reached by the agreed upon deadline of March 24 they would support legislation that would impose additional sanctions on Iran.
“We remain deeply skeptical that Iran is committed to making the concessions required to demonstrate to the world that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful by March 24—the deadline agreed upon for a political framework agreement,” wrote the group of senators.
The senators added that the March 24 “deadline is the critical test of Iranian intentions.”
The deadline has already been extended twice since talks began.
Senate to Vote on Iran Sanctions Bill if No Deal is Reached
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the United States Senate would vote on a bill to toughen sanctions on Iran if international negotiators miss a deadline at the end of this month for reaching a framework nuclear agreement, Reuters reports.
"Another heavy dose of sanctions would be an appropriate remedy if there's no agreement at all," McConnell told a weekly news briefing.
If there is an agreement, he said lawmakers would move ahead on a bill that would require President Barack Obama to submit the deal for Congress' approval.
The President has threatened to veto both bills.
Iran’s Nuclear Agency Rebuffs IAEA Demand for Snap Inspections
The head of Iran’s atomic energy agency rejected the call of Director General Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) for Iran to submit to snap inspections of its nuclear facilities, the Associated Press (AP) reported today.
Iran’s nuclear spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Amano’s comments harm the delicate negotiations. “It would be much better if Amano only talked about the IAEA’s seasonal and monthly reports,” he said, according to state TV. …
Iran and the so-called P5+1 — the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — hope to reach a rough deal on the nuclear program by the end of March and a final agreement by June 30. Iran has called for a single-stage final accord soon.
Among the unresolved issues meant to be part of an agreement is a ruling by the atomic agency on whether Iran worked on nuclear arms in the past.
Iran to insist all sanctions removed in nuclear deal
Iran will insist that all sanctions against it are lifted as a condition for a nuclear deal, the foreign minister said on Wednesday, showing no sign of compromise on a major sticking point in its talks with world powers set to resume this week.
"This is the position that the government has insisted on from the start," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.
The United Nations, United States and European Union have imposed a wide array of sanctions on Iran to try to curtail its nuclear program as they fear Tehran wants to develop an atomic weapon. Iran insists its aims are peaceful.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last word on all matters of state in the Islamic Republic, said in a speech last week that the immediate lifting of sanctions must be a part of any nuclear deal.
EU to reinstate sanctions on 40 Iranian companies
Dozens of shipping firms are set to be placed back on a European Union sanctions list as a means to pressure the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program, according to letters obtained by Reuters and published Tuesday.
The move comes several months after the EU lifted sanctions on 40 firms linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) carrier. In January, the European Union’s General Court stated in a ruling that the multi-national body had not provided sufficient evidence that IRISL was actively supporting nuclear proliferation.
However, in a letter addressed to the shipping firms’ lawyer Maryam Taher earlier this month, the European Council indicated it would reinstate sanctions on the 40 companies.
Taher expressed outrage over the EU’s decision, saying the move was “purely politically motivated and not based on any proper evidence,” Reuters reported.
Israel Saved Iranians Before The Mullahs Stopped It
Contrary to what the Iranian mullahs tell their people, Israelis not only don’t hate the Iranian people, they actually helped them survive before the mullahs came to power. In 1962, after the deadly earthquake in the Qazvin region of Iran that killed over 12,000 people, a chain of wells that Iranian engineers had constructed in a tunnel style collapsed.
Israel sent drillers to help build artesian wells were drilled; they were so successful that Israel’s water engineering company was hired by the Iranians to identify and gain access to other underground resources. In 1968, a desalination company run by the Israeli government built dozens of desalination plants in Iran.
In 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, cooperation between the countries ended. One team of water experts took one of the last direct flights from Tehran to Tel Aviv.
Obama To Send Condolences To Germany On Hitler Death Anniversary (satire)
Obama’s sudden sensitivity to the deaths of overseas personalities or their close relatives represents an aspect of his personality and foreign policy unseen in his administration until the recent expression of sympathy for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the loss of his mother. The president noticed how few of those statements his office issues, and saw historical injustice in that unstated policy of silence. Obama then ordered aides to prepare a list of the most prominent global figures at whose passing the White House had not extended condolences, vowing to rectify all possible slights.
The new direction dovetails with Obama’s overall reassessment of American foreign policy assumptions through the last several decades and his departure from containment of hostile entities, especially in the Middle East. “The president believes that it is not up to the US to decide which countries should or should not have hegemony,” explained National Security Adviser Susan Rice. “That’s why he wants to leave the various powers and countries to sort out their own affairs without asserting particular American interests in the region. This new policy is simply a logical extension of that thinking, under which it is not America’s place to determine which foreign leaders are worthy of American condolences when they die.”
Masked Fatah members trample Israeli flag while placing PA flag above it
Yesterday, Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party posted a photo on Facebook showing masked Fatah members stepping on the Israeli flag during a ceremony. A poem printed on the photo demonizes Israel and promotes Martyrdom-death for "Palestine" as the means to attain "Paradise" and its "pleasures":
"In Palestine is Jerusalem!
In Jerusalem - a demonstration!
In the demonstration - a young man!
In the young man - a heart!
In the heart - a bullet!
In the bullet - death!
In death - Martyrdom (Istish'had)
In Martyrdom - Paradise!
In Paradise - pleasures!
And Allah willing, we will return [to Palestine]!
[Facebook, "Fatah - The Main Page," March 24, 2015]
Promotion of violence and Martyrdom-death is a consistent Fatah message. Earlier this month, Fatah greeted the "Martyrs of Palestine" on Facebook as those "who are watering our roots with their blood, so that they will grow into a fruitful tree," as reported by Palestinian Media Watch.
In yesterday's photo, Fatah members are holding a giant Palestinian flag between them, while stepping on the Israeli flag as if it was a carpet, and possibly placing the PA flag upon the Israeli flag to express their aspiration to replace Israel with "Palestine."
'Martyr' Families Demand Terror Wages from PA
A protest was held on Tuesday in Gaza in front of the Hamas government building, in which the families of "martyrs," Palestinian Arabs who died during clashes against the IDF, demanded to receive monthly salaries from the Palestinian Authority (PA) unity government.
Adal Hanif, the spokesperson for the "martyr" families, said at the protest that 41 families of those who died taking part in the Hamas wars against Israel in 2008 and 2012 did not receive their monthly stipends from the PA, despite the fact that their names were on the lists sent to the unity government in Ramallah.
Hanif addressed his demand to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, urging him to command the PA finance ministry to pay those salaries that have yet to be transferred, as well as other wages for Gaza workers that have been delayed for the past six months.
Report: Switzerland Comes to Aid of Hamas, Will Pay Salaries to Gaza Operatives
Switzerland has put together a plan to reconstruct the Gaza Strip which includes paying the salaries of Hamas operatives, according to Palestinian officials interviewed by Israel’s NRG website. The plan would also reestablish the status of the Hamas terrorist organization as the only authority in the Gaza Strip.
In recent months, according to the report, Hamas has been faced with the danger of collapsing in Gaza, and turned to Swiss officials for help. Its relations with Egypt are at their worst ever, and funds intended to rehabilitate the coastal enclave after Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer have run out. Thousands of Hamas officials have not received their salaries for months, leading to weakening of Hamas’ legitimacy in Gaza, and raising the specter of protests against Hamas’ rule.
The Palestinian sources told NRG that the Swiss jumped into the fray and promised to pay the salaries of thousands of Hamas officials.
The issue of salary payments for Gaza based government employees has been the source of tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for some time.
Palestinians demonstrate after Egypt cuts power supply
Residents of Khan Younis and Rafah took to the streets Tuesday after Egypt had cut off power to parts of the southern Gaza Strip.
The protesters vented their anger at Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and his government in light of reports that the decision to take parts of those towns off the grid was made by high-ranking officials in Egypt's Ministry of Electricity and Energy. Egyptian media said the government resorted to that measure as a result of outstanding payments owed by a Palestinian utility company. The Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip cannot generate enough power on its own and has over the years had to rely on the Egyptian and Israeli grid.
As a result of ongoing power shortages, schools, hospitals and other institutions had to improvise. A senior official at the Palestinian Energy Ministry told Israel Hayom that healthcare facilities in the southern Gaza Strip had to rely on emergency generators but stressed that this was only a short-term remedy. According to the official, the Palestinian Authority has sent an urgent request to the Egyptian president's bureau, asking el-Sissi to have power restored to the area. He added that without Egypt's electricity, the area could descend into chaos.

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