Sunday, April 05, 2015

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Arabs Blast "Obama's Deal" With Iran
Many Arabs have expressed deep concern over the nuclear deal that was reached this week between Iran and the world powers, including the US.
Arab leaders and heads of state were polite enough not to voice public criticism of the agreement when President Barack Obama phoned them to inform them about it. But this has not stopped Arab politicians, political analysts and columnists reflecting government thinking in the Arab world from lashing out at what they describe as "Obama's bad and dangerous deal with Iran."
The Arabs, especially those living in the Gulf, see the framework agreement as a sign of US "weakness" and a green light for Iran to pursue its "expansionist" scheme in the Arab world.
"Some Arab countries are opposed to the nuclear deal because it poses a threat to their interests," said the Egyptian daily Al-Wafd in an article entitled, "Politicians: Obama's deal with Iran threatens Arab world."
The newspaper quoted Hani al-Jamal, an Egyptian political and regional researcher, as saying that the deal means that the international community has accepted Iran as a nuclear power. He predicted that the framework agreement would put Iran and some Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt on a collision course.
FoxNews: Report shoots down Hamas' claims of 'journalist' deaths in war with Israel
A new report claims Hamas owes the world a retraction for its claim that Israeli forces killed 17 journalists during last year's war in Gaza.
The terrorist organization, which clashed violently with Israel last summer when the Jewish State moved to destroy tunnels it said Hamas used to mount attacks from the Palestinian territory, claimed the journalists were killed as they tried to cover the fighting. But a closer look by the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre found that eight of the 17 dead were full-fledged terrorists and the rest were lower level, non-combatant Hamas operatives who worked for Hamas media organizations.
“Not only are the Palestinians trying to claim immunity for their military terrorist operatives, they are also trying to defame Israel by claiming it deliberately killed those "journalists" and prevented them from doing their jobs,” the report stated.
Anti-Israel protesters call ‘Kill the Jews’ in Vienna
Bosnian soccer fans joined a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Vienna on Friday and shouted anti-Semitic epithets in one of the city’s central plazas, Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported.
A video posted to YouTube shows several dozen pro-Palestinian demonstrators waving Palestinian flags in Stephansplatz and calling “free, free Palestine!”
The Bosnian fans dressed in blue, yellow and white are seen standing among the protesters and joining them in their cries, before setting out on a chant of their own: “Ubij, ubij Židove!” or “Kill, kill the Jews!”
Bosnians were in the city to watch a match between Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina later in the day.
Austrian police said they were investigating the incident.
Bosnian Football Fans - Antisemitic Incident in Vienna, Austria
31.3.2015: Bosnian fans meet a group of pro-Palestine demonstrators and starts chanting "Ubij, ubij Židove" ("Kill, kill the Jews!") in Vienna's central square (Stephansplatz) a few hour before the international friendly Austria - Bosnia&Herzegovina.




Thomas Sowell: Obama doesn't get it; Iran can't be trusted not to cheat
Why is Barack Obama so anxious to have an international agreement that will have no legal standing under the Constitution just two years from now, since it will be just a presidential agreement, rather than a treaty requiring the "advice and consent" of the Senate?
There are at least two reasons. One reason is that such an agreement will serve as a fig leaf to cover his failure to do anything that has any serious chance of stopping Iran from going nuclear. Such an agreement will protect Obama politically, despite however much it exposes the American people to unprecedented dangers.
The other reason is that, by going to the United Nations for its blessing on his agreement with Iran, he can get a bigger fig leaf to cover his complicity in the nuclear arming of America's most dangerous enemy. In Obama's vision, as a citizen of the world, there may be no reason why Iran should not have nuclear weapons when other nations have them.
Politically, President Obama could not just come right out and say such a thing. But he can get the same end result by pretending to have ended the dangers by reaching an agreement with Iran. There have long been people in the Western democracies who hail every international agreement that claims to reduce the dangers of war.
The road to World War II was strewn with arms control agreements on paper that aggressor nations ignored in practice. But those agreements lulled the democracies into a false sense of security that led them to cut back on military spending while their enemies were building up the military forces to attack them.
Iran will carry on with full nuclear programme if deal with west collapses
Iran is ready to reinstate its full nuclear programme if the deal agreed with the West collapses, the country’s foreign minister has said.
Speaking on Iranian television, Mohammad Javad Zarif, insisted the country would be able to return its previous levels if the agreement with six western countries is not confirmed.
Mr Zarif, who was the country’s chief negotiator in Lausanne, added that UN sanctions would be lifted immediately once the deal is ratified.
What was described as an agreement in principle will, if confirmed, see Iran abandon plans to enrich uranium at its underground nuclear facility at Fordow.
Mr Zarif's remarks were seen as an attempt to convince hardliners in Tehran to back the deal.
"Either side in this agreement can, in the case of the other side violating the agreement, cease its own steps," Mr Zarif said, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
He was greeted by cheering crowds on his return to Iran.
Mr Zarif has insisted that Iran negotiated from a position of strength.
Netanyahu on US TV: Iran’s missile program aims at you, not us
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that the political framework for a nuclear deal with Iran reached Thursday in Switzerland would keep Tehran’s vast nuclear program in place, and that its inter-continental ballistic missile system (ICBM) — an issue not addressed in the deal — was more of a threat to the US than to Israel.
Speaking to CNN as part of a US media blitz, the Israeli prime minister said the deal will not roll back Iran’s nuclear program. The deal “keeps Iran’s vast nuclear infrastructure in place, not a single centrifuge destroyed, not a single nuclear facility shut down, including the underground facilities that they built illicitly. Thousands of centrifuges will keep spinning, enriching uranium, that’s a very bad deal.”
“They’re getting a free path to the bomb,” he said.
Netanyahu also warned that Iran’s ICBM program, an issue that was not negotiated on as part of nuclear talks, was a real threat to the US.
The ending of their ICBMs, that’s not in the deal, and those missiles are only used for you, they’re not used for us. They have missiles that can reach us and they’re geared for nuclear weapons,” he said.
Netanyahu: Iran Deal Pours 'Billions' Into Iran's 'Terror Machine'
NETANYAHU: I think this is a bad deal. It leaves Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. It lifts the sanctions on Iran fairly quickly and enables them to get billions of dollars into their coffers. They’re not going to use it for schools or hospitals or roads; they’re going to use it to pump up their terror machine worldwide and their military machine busy conquering the Middle East now.
Third, it’s a temporary deal. That is, whatever restrictions are placed on Iran’s nuclear program, they’re removed after a few years and Iran will be free to have a vast arsenal with which to ultimately produce many nuclear bombs. I think for the preeminent terrorist state of our time to have a free pass, an easy pass to nuclear weapons endangers Israel, endangers the region, endangers the world, endangers everyone listening to me right now.
US ‘improved bunker buster bomb’ as Iran talks progressed
According to the report, Pentagon officials had ordered a redesign of the 30,000-pound (13,608 Kg) Massive Ordnance Penetrator in 2013 due to concerns it was not powerful enough to penetrate some of Iran’s more fortified facilities. Testing of the new weapon, which sports an improved guidance system in addition to the upgraded firepower, was being conducted as recently as January of this year.
An attack would likely call for at least two MOPs to be dropped onto a target site in quick succession in order to penetrate and destroy it. The new guidance systems would prevent the enemy from jamming the bombs’ signals and knocking them off course.
US officials were reportedly now confident that the weapon, if need be, could successfully be used against Iranian and North Korean facilities. The report called the MOP one of the most destructive conventional weapons in the US arsenal. Improvements to the bomb, however, were ongoing.
PM Compares Iran Deal with Clinton's Failed North Korea Deal
Speaking on CNN Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu compared the arguments being made for accepting the nuclear deal with Iran to those made when the United States negotiated a nuclear deal with North Korea in 1994 – and noted that in the end, North Korea got the bomb.
“They said the same arguments about North Korea – it'll make them peaceful, it'll make them moderate, it'll make them abandon their program – and the opposite has happened,” Netanyahu said.
In the interview, Netanyahu refused to say that he trusts President Barack Obama, despite being asked twice.
The deal, he said, “doesn't roll back Iran's nuclear program. Thousands of centrifuges will keep spinning and enriching uranium.”
Iran will have sanctions lifted “pretty much up front,” he added, and the money it will gain will be used “to pump up its military and terror machine.”
Twitchy: Déjà vu alert: Madeleine Albright’s Iran deal excitement extinguished by this flashback reminder
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright congratulated current Secretary of State John Kerry for reaching a tentative nuke deal with Iran.
Something about this deal that’s “good for” the America and the world rings a bell:
Not so great.
In 1994, the Clinton administration brokered a similar agreement with North Korea (Albright traveled to Pyongyang in 2000 as Secretary of State). It was an agreement that Albright in 2004 admitted North Korea broke:
Bill Clinton on Virtues of North Korean Nuclear Deal - History Repeats Itself
Speech by Bill Clinton on 21 October 1994 on how the world is a safer place based on the "good deal" with North Korea, preventing it from obtaining nuclear weapons.
On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced that it had successfully conducted its first nuclear test.
Barack Obama has just made the same speech regarding Iran.
History repeats itself? (h/t Yenta Press)


US, Iran publicly at odds over 6 key aspects of nuke deal, Israeli expert finds
Ya’ari cited the following central gulfs between the two sides’ accounts of what was resolved at the Lausanne negotiations last week:
1. Sanctions: Ya’ari said the US has made clear that economic sanctions will be lifted in phases, whereas the Iranian fact sheet provides for the immediate lifting of all sanctions as soon as a final agreement is signed, which is set for June 30.
2. Enrichment: The American parameters provide for restrictions on enrichment for 15 years, while the Iranian fact sheet speaks of 10 years.
3. Development of advanced centrifuges at Fordo: The US says the framework rules out such development, said Ya’ari, while the Iranians say they are free to continue this work.
4. Inspections: The US says that Iran has agreed to surprise inspections, while the Iranians say that such consent is only temporary, Ya’ari said.
5. Stockpile of already enriched uranium: Contrary to the US account, Iran is making clear that its stockpile of already enriched uranium — “enough for seven bombs” if sufficiently enriched, Ya’ari said — will not be shipped out of the country, although it may be converted.
6. PMD: The issue of the Possible Military Dimensions of the Iranian program, central to the effort to thwart Iran, has not been resolved, Ya’ari said.
Netanyahu’s Spokesman: Do You Really Trust Iran to Allow Monitoring?
Israel took its campaign to ditch the deal with Iran to American media Friday with interviews on Fox News and MSNBC with a single message that Iran cannot be trusted.
That would not seem to be such big news or a surprise on the Israeli side of the Mediterranean Sea, but millions of Americans believe the Obama administration that they can count on Iran to allow monitoring of its nuclear faculties and research.
“The deal leaves Iran with an enormous and extensive nuclear infrastructure,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark told MSNBC. “It doesn’t close down, not even one uranium nuclear facility, not one.”
Regev added, “Why is Iran building intercontinental ballistic missiles? They’re not building them to attack Israel. They can do that. They are building intercontinental ballistic missiles to hit … targets in the United States. They’re a threat to you, too.
The biggest hole in the “key parameters” agreement with Iran is that issue of monitoring its nuclear facilities.
Israeli Leftist: Bad Iran Deal is Obama's Iraq War
Left-wing Israeli writer Ari Shavit, an ardent advocate of Israeli concessions to the Palestinians, has blasted President Barack Obama’s “framework” deal with Iran, saying that Obama is making the same mistakes for peace that George W. Bush made for war. Just as Bush launched an invasion of Iraq with no clear idea of the strategic consequences, Shavit says, Obama does not realize the deadly results of a bad deal with Iran, including a nuclear Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.
Shavit writes at Politico:
Ten days after the Iraq War began, I happened to be in Washington on a work visit. I had the chance to observe up close the imperial capital that had just embarked on the most perilous adventure of the new century….I met with administration officials, spoke with well-known strategists, and dined with advisors to the White House—and was amazed to discover how utterly without doubt they all were…as an Israeli, I sensed what a terrible historic mistake America was making….
This is how I feel now, as the news from Lausanne arrives….Not only as an Israeli but also as a citizen of the free world, I want a strong America to protect freedom, maintain world order and remain the global leader in the 21st century, as it was in the 20th century.
MANDATORY REVIEW? Corker fights to ensure Congress gets a say in Iran deal
Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker said Sunday that he’s moving ahead with his bill to give Congress a mandatory review of the recent Iran nuclear agreement but that the legislation is still several votes short of veto-proof passage.
Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that the GOP-controlled chamber is two or three votes shy of the 67 needed to override a vowed White House veto. Corker said he talked over the weekend to Democratic holdouts to get their votes and reach the veto-proof majority.
He also made clear that he is open to a deal that would curtail Iran’s ability to create a nuclear weapon but said that “Congress needs to be playing a role.”
The United States and five other world powers reached the tentative agreement Thursday with Iran to limit that country’s nuclear enrichment program toward a final, June 30 deal.
The Republican-led Congress has insisted that members have a final say on the deal to ensure Americans that the Obama administration is not accepting a bad deal.
Iran Framework Deal: Greatest Political Hoax Ever?
I have fallen into the trap almost everyone has, in referring to an Iran “nuke deal” and “Framework deal.”
Based on what the White House has revealed, the “deal” is a very bad deal, as we have explored here repeatedly: It purports to give Iran its dual goals of maintaining and improving its nuclear infrastructure while removing sanctions and ensuring the economic viability of the oppressive Mullah regime.
But it’s even worse. Based upon statements made after the initial announcements, it’s clear that there is no deal, just enough vague vergiage to allow each side to portray the “deal” however it wants. There is no meeting of minds, not binding contract, nothing.
This was revealed initially in tweets by the Iranian Foreign Minister disputed White House “spin” on the “deal,” insisting that sanctions would be lifted immediately, and crowing that Iran’s enrichment would continue.
But what if Iran simply exits the deal?
This can certainly be challenged, especially taking into account the chain of decisions that will need to be taken after a violation has been detected, all the way up to taking action to counter it. And this assumes there is initial agreement (among whom?) that the violation is “real” and significant enough to confront Iran.
Unfortunately, Iran is not prone to making things easy for the international community, with blatant and easily detected violations that make it easy to gather support for a response. Rather, Iran is more likely to push the lines in a more subtle manner, slowly accumulating its gains without any one violation being blatant enough to warrant a swift international response.
But we also need to consider the second option that Iran has: the perhaps more realistic scenario whereby at some point Iran simply decides to exit the deal. In this scenario, Iran would most likely do so after accusing the West of not upholding its end of the bargain – on sanctions relief for example. So it wouldn’t be a case of an Iranian violation, but rather a decision to defect, using the excuse that the other side is not complying with the terms.
This is precisely what happened in 2004 – Iran reneged on the deal it had concluded with the EU-3 while accusing the EU-3 of bad behavior. If this happens regarding a future comprehensive deal, after Iran has ensured that it maintains a quick route to nuclear breakout, what would the options be to stop Iran?
Iran military chief hails nuclear deal
The remarks by General Hassan Firouzabadi — a close ally of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has yet to comment on the agreement — were published Sunday on the Revolutionary Guards’ sepanews.com website.
Firouzabadi congratulated the Iranian leader on the “success of the team of Iranian negotiators and thanked the president” Hassan Rouhani and officials involved led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Opinions in Iran have been split on the agreement since it was reached in the Swiss city of Lausanne on Thursday
Other officials have also expressed support for the agreement, which heralds the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran’s economy if it sticks to the terms of the deal.
Russia Will Deliver Advanced S-300 Missiles to Iran if Sanctions Lifted Under Nuclear Deal, Defense Expert Says
Russia is ready to restart a deal to deliver advanced S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran if the UN lifts its sanctions on the Islamic Republic, Iran’s semi-official state news agency Fars reported on Friday, citing a leading Russian defense expert.
The new possibility follows the announcement on Thursday of a framework nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers which will include the lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“Lifting sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, would be an absolutely logical thing to do,” said Igor Korotchenko, who heads the Global Arms Trade Analysis Center think tank in Moscow. “Of key importance to us is the delivery of the upgraded S-300 missiles to Iran… A contract to this effect could be resumed on terms acceptable to both Moscow and Tehran.”
Tehran and Moscow signed a deal in January to expand their defense cooperation and also resolve issues that have prevented the delivery of Russia’s S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Iran in recent years. The agreement was penned by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan and his Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu.
Iran originally signed a $800 million contract to buy five S-300 batteries from Russia in 2007. The deal was strongly opposed by the US and Israel and was delayed in 2010 by then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev because of Iranian sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council. Iran then sued Russia for $4 billion in the international arbitration court in Geneva and the lawsuit is currently pending review.
Assad regime welcomes framework nuclear deal with Iran
Syria said on Friday the framework deal Tehran has struck with world powers on its nuclear program was the result of efforts by Iran to ease geopolitical tensions.
"Syria welcomes the statement issued on the discussions," state television quoted a foreign ministry source as saying.
Syria "considers that this framework agreement will be followed by positive steps and will be another contribution by Iran ... to ease tensions in the region and the world."
Hezbollah hails Iran deal as victory for ‘axis of resistance’
Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem said the deal cements Tehran’s position in the world, and dominance in the region, the Lebanese al-Manar TV reported.
“The Lausanne nuclear understanding is the triumph of right, stability and will of free nations as well as the axis of resistance under the leadership of the Islamic Iran,” Qassem was quoted as saying, referencing the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah alliance.
Under an agreement reached Thursday between the Islamic Republic and the six world powers, known as the P5+1, economic sanctions on Tehran will be relaxed in exchange for a partial curtailment of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. The world powers and Iran have until June 30 to hammer out a final accord.
Funded and backed by Tehran, Hezbollah is currently fighting alongside Assad regime forces in Syria against rebel groups and Sunni militants.
Iran 'is intensifying efforts to support Hamas in Gaza'
Iran has sent Hamas’s military wing tens of millions of dollars to help it rebuild the network of tunnels in Gaza destroyed by Israel’s invasion last summer, intelligence sources have told The Sunday Telegraph.
It is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks used to bombard residential neighbourhoods in Israel during the war, code-named Operation Protective Edge by Israel.
The renewed funding is a sign that the two old allies are putting behind them a rift caused by the conflict in Syria, where Shia Iran is backing President Bashar al-Assad against Hamas’s mainly Sunni allies.
Iran has sponsored Hamas’s military operations for years, despite the contradiction that Hamas is part of the worldwide, Sunni-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood, while Iran is Shia.
Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshaal, who left Damascus for Qatar after falling out with the Assad regime, has often fought with Hamas’s military wing over the strength of the Iranian connection.
Saudi Arabia’s hostile relationship with Russia is leaving Egypt stuck in the middle
At a gathering of Arab leaders in Sharm el-Sheikh this weekend, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi read a letter from Vladimir Putin. "We support Arab nations in their effort to ensure a safe future and urge them to resolve all emerging challenges peacefully without any foreign involvement," the Russian president's message read, according to Sputnik News.
These comments did not go down well with those in attendance. In particular, Saudi Arabia, which accused the Russian leader of hypocrisy. "He speaks about the problems in the Middle East as though Russia is not influencing these problems," Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said immediately after the letter was read.
In the increasingly complicated web of alliances in the Middle East and farther afield, Faisal's comments highlight a noteworthy split. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are important allies; right now, they are partners in a joint Arab military intervention in Yemen, where Iran-backed Shiite rebels have toppled the government. And under the leadership of Sissi, Egypt has become increasingly close to Moscow and moved away from Washington.
But for Saudi Arabia – a stalwart U.S. ally and a powerful Sunni-led Arab state – relations with Russia have faced a distinct chill in the past few years. It's an important fault line in a coalition formed by Sunni states to counter the influence of Iran, the region's Shiite superpower – and it's probably not the only one.
Muslims Seethe as Jews Tour Temple Mount on Chol Hamoed Pesach
Videos taken by Shlomo Walfish show dozens of Arabs of all ages harassing Jews who toured the Temple Mount Sunday morning, on the first day of Chol Hamoed Pesach.
A message sent later in the day from Students for the Temple Mount said that police were no longer allowing Jews to make the complete tour of the Mount, and that “any Jew who ascends to the Temple Mount is immediately taken out through the Shalshelet Gate, which is adjacent to the entry gate.”
The Temple Mount organizations said Sunday that hundreds of Jews who hoped to make the pilgrimage to the Temple Mount of Pesach are now forced to return home disappointed because of the police's “loss of control in the face of Muslim threats.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that he will not allow the issue of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount to cause a religious war in the Middle East. Critics like ex-MK Moshe Feiglin claim that it is precisely the lack of sovereignty on the Mount that causes instability and wars.
US President Barack Obama’s Belated Passover Greetings
Official video Passover greetings from U.S. President Barack Obama to Jews around the world were posted to the Internet Saturday night – 24 hours after the start of the holiday and too late for American Orthodox Jews to have heard his message, since the holiday lasts 48 hours outside the Land of Israel.
The video greeting also came a day after Israeli Jews had already celebrated their own Passover seders as well.
An official press statement from the president on Passover was issued by the White House on April 3, however, in time for the first night of Passover.
Obama explained Saturday night in his video message that he and his family had held a Passover seder at the White House in solidarity with Jewish families celebrating the holiday.
The Blood Libel On Arab TV Reports On Jews Using Children's Blood For Passover Matzos


Spanish report claims Israel targeted UN in Lebanon
A confidential Spanish military report on the death of a Spanish UN peacekeeper in Israeli shelling in Lebanon said he was manning a post that appeared to have been targeted, a newspaper reported Sunday.
El Pais cited extracts from the report which drew on testimony from soldiers following the January 28 incident when the Israeli military shelled border areas following a Hezbollah attack on an IDF convoy in the Golan Heights. The Hezbollah fired killed two Israeli soldiers, Staff Sergeant Dor Chaim Nini and Major Yochai Kalangel of the Givati Brigade, and injured seven others.
Spain and Israel have agreed to carry out a joint probe into the death of 36-year-old corporal Javier Soria Toledo.
Israel has stated repeatedly that the shelling of the UN position was accidental.
Meretz Website Hijacked by Pro-Palestinian Hackers
The left-wing Meretz party's website was virtually hijacked Saturday night by a group of pro-Palestinian hackers called AnonGhost.
The hackers left a statement greeting the "world" and announcing their intentions to "punish" people.
"We are the voice of Palestine and we will not remain silent! We are the sound of the forgotten people, the freedom fighter in the cyberworld and our main target is Zionisme (sic) and israhell (sic)," the group wrote.
Explaining why Meretz's website was hacked, the group stated it wanted "to share our message and show the world who we are. We are not looking for fame but we have a goal to achieve." (h/t Bob Knot)
Swastikas spray-painted on IDF memorial in Negev
Anonymous vandals defaced a memorial for fallen soldiers from the community of Omer, near Beersheba in the Negev over the weekend, the Omer local council says.
The memorial was spray-painted with swastikas and graffiti of a Palestinian flag, as well as a distorted Star of David. The council filed a complaint with police.
Council head Pini Badash says that “in the last two weeks arsonists had been operating in the area. We wondered who set fire to the plants near the memorial. When I see the graffiti, with Arabic text and swastikas, it already testifies who is behind this. There should be no forgiveness, the perpetrators must be found. We will have to install cameras nearby.” (h/t J_April)
PA rejects Israel's partial transfer of tax funds
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday Israel had released frozen tax revenues to the Authority but that he had ordered the funds to be returned because money had been deducted to cover debts to Israeli utility companies.
Israel started withholding around $130 million a month in tax and customs revenues in December. The move came after the Palestinians announced that they were joining the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move finalised on April 1.
Under international pressure, Israel agreed last week to resume the transfers, saying it would immediately pay around $400 million -- the withheld revenues minus the amount owed by the Palestinians for utilities supplied by Israel.
Abbas said those deductions amounted to a third of the total sum that Israel owed the Palestinians.
Abbas: Israel to face terrorism, extremism without solution to Palestinian issue
Abbas reiterated his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“We have accepted and recognized Israel a long time ago,” he said. “If Netanyahu wants to change the status of Israel, he can go to the United Nations and ask for that. This is not our business.”
Solving the Palestinian issue would rid the region of all the terrorist groups that have popped up over the past few years, Abbas said. “The Israelis need to be aware that this could reach them at any time,” he said, referring to the terrorists.
Abbas accused Israel of trying to “kill” the Oslo Accords.
“They have started backtracking on the terms of the Oslo Accords,” he claimed. “Nothing has been left of the accords. That’s why we decided to revise the accords and other agreements with Israel. They have damaged the Oslo Accords.”
Erekat compares Netanyahu to Islamic State leader
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the leader of the Islamic State terror group, Israel Radio reported Saturday.
“What’s the difference between Benjamin Netanyahu and IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?” Erekat asked during a Friday interview on Palestinian television. He then drew a parallel between the two, saying al-Baghdadi “claims he is the head of the Islamic State, while Netanyahu claims he is the head of the Jewish State.”
Erekat appeared to blame Netanyahu for the murder of Arab teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir by Jews in July 2014, saying he saw no difference between Netanyahu and Islamic State executioners.
“What’s the difference between a terrorist criminal who beheads foreign journalists in Iraq and Syria, and a criminal who pours gasoline on a 16-year-old teenager, Muhammed Abi Khdeir, and burns him (to death)?” Erekat asked. (h/t Bob Knot)
As IS beheads Palestinian refugees in Syria, Hamas slams ineffectual Abbas
Hamas criticized the Palestinian Authority Sunday for failing to help Palestinian refugees living in Syria, as the largest refugee camp in the country fell into the hands of the Islamic State over the weekend.
Battles at the camp, just south of the capital Damascus,continued to rage on Sunday between anti-Assad Islamists belonging to IS and al-Nusra Front — two groups labeled terror organizations by the US — and the Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis Brigades, a little-known Palestinian group comprised of some 200 fighters, according to the Jerusalem-based daily al-Quds. As of Sunday afternoon, IS had captured most of the camp.
“The role of the Palestinian Authority has diminished in managing the latest crisis,” Hamas’s representative in Lebanon Ali Barakeh told the Hamas-affiliated daily Al-Resalah Sunday. “This is contrary to the efforts made by the PLO in the past to solve previous crises in the camp.”
The Assad regime has intermittently besieged Syria’s largest unofficial Palestinian refugee camp over the past two years, reducing its population from nearly 150,000 to just 18,000. The UN has been unable to deliver food to the camp since April 1.
Israel transfers some 400,000 liters of fuel to Gaza
Israel transferred some 400,000 liters of fuel to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, Israel Radio reported.
The fuel, delivered as part of an approximately NIS 20 million transaction, is slated to help renew activities at Gaza's troubled electric plant.
According to the report, the fuel is expected to supply the coastal enclave's sole plant for some 20 work days.
Bittersweet Reception to Cancelation of Anti-Israel Hatefest at Southampton University
The UK’s Southampton University faced continued criticism on Thursday after it canceled an anti-Israel conference aimed at questioning Israel’s legitimacy.
“Southampton University’s statement is an embarrassment on all counts,” NGO Monitor Executive Director Gerald Steinberg told The Algemeiner on Thursday. “These officials should have denounced the event in terms of its substance — a pseudo-academic conference to promote hate against Israel and the Jewish people.
“Instead of acknowledging the damage to the university’s image and donor income, they invented a threat of violence from protesters, which is patently false and demeaning.”
Southampton University was scheduled to hold the conference on April 17-19 entitled, “International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism.” According to its official description, the event concerned Israel’s right to exist and would have focused on “exploring themes of Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism; all of which are posed by Israel’s very nature.”
After receiving sustained backlash regarding the conference’s subject matter, Southampton University released a statement on Thursday saying they were “obligated” to cancel the event “because of risks to safety and public order at and near the conference.”
UK Jewish leaders applaud cancellation of anti-Israel conference
Jewish communal leaders and pro-Israel supporters here have welcomed the news that Southampton University decided to cancel a three day conference questioning Israel’s legitimacy later this month, with some privately expressing hope that the outcome would deter other UK campuses from planning similar initiatives.
The university cited safety concerns as prompting its decision to abandon support for the conference, which was to have been held on the campus April 17-19. Critics maintained that the gathering would effectively be a blatant attack on Israel’s legitimacy and give legitimacy to anti-Semitism.
But The Jerusalem Post has learned that there is some disquiet at the highest levels of the Jewish community over the way in which several organizations fought for the cancellation.
Senior leaders had clearly advised – and evidently secured the agreement of – Jewish communal organizations not to cite security as having been behind the cancellation. The country’s organized Jewish community previously objected to using this as a reason so as not to put at risk pro-Israel conferences, which often are magnets for unruly protests.
Hidden Agenda at Southampton University?
The cancellation on “health and safety” grounds of a planned anti-Israel conference at Southampton University is causing much controversy. This hides a deeper problem with the conference: its organiser’s insistence that Zionism can only be understood by deep reference and understanding of Jews, Judaism, “Jewish being” and “Jewish pathology”.
The organiser is Professor Oren Ben Dor, whose thinking sits alongside that of the better known Gilad Atzmon. Both men are ex-Israelis living and working in Britain. They both hold up Jewish anti-Zionists as some kind of ultimate supposed proof that Zionism can only be fundamentally understood (and more importantly opposed) as an extension of Jewishness.
Atzmon’s anti-Zionism has caused turmoil in anti-Israel circles. Most left-wing anti-Israel activists anxiously manufacture distance between Zionists and Jews (i.e. between anti-Zionism and antisemitism). Ben Dor derides such thinking as “politically correct” and opposes it every bit as bitterly as does Atzmon.
Atzmon’s insistence on linking “the Jewish Question” and Zionism means leftist Jewish anti-Zionists have led a fractious but largely successful campaign to have Atzmon declared antisemitic and beyond the pale within anti-Israel circles. Now, with Ben Dor at its core, the Southampton anti-Israel conference threatens to derail this.
Thousands of Christians from around globe celebrate Easter in Old City
As thousands of Christians from around the world made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem’s Old City on a sunny Easter Sunday afternoon, many expressed awe of being so close to history, as well as hope for a peaceful future.
As he exited the Room of the Last Supper, Hans Putman, a native of Holland who has lived in Bethlehem for the past 30 years, said he was praying for the tens of thousands of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.
“Many Christians are being persecuted in Iraq and Syria, so I am praying for all the Christians in the Middle East to have strength,” he said. “This is the point of the resurrection – that good is stronger than evil; that love is stronger than hate.”


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