Friday, April 22, 2016

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: When in Doubt, Try Intimidation
The Palestinians argue that security cameras on the Temple Mount would be used by Israel to identify and arrest Muslim worshippers who protest against visits by Jews. What they seem to have forgotten is that these "protesters" regularly harass Jewish groups and individuals touring the Temple Mount.
While Mahmoud Abbas claimed he was in favor of the plan to install the security cameras, his Islamic clerics and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials continued to incite against the plan
The straw that broke the Jordanian back was a leaflet that was distributed at the Temple Mount during Friday prayers two weeks ago. The leaflet urged Muslims to smash any cameras installed at the holy site.
In one blow, Palestinians have managed to undermine Jordan's historic role as "custodian" of the holy sites in Jerusalem and humiliate King Abdullah, who was the mastermind of the camera plan.
Mordechai Kedar: Sorry to tell you, but…
My dear friends, Jews in Israel and the Diaspora.
I am sorry to tell you that the terror attacks we from which we suffer today and yesterday, a week ago, a month, a year and a decade and century ago, are all part of the same war, the same struggle, the same Jihad waged against us by our neighbors for over a century. Sometimes it is a full scale war with tanks, noise, flames, planes and ships and sometimes it is a war on a slow burner known as "terror" with explosions, stabbings and shots. Each of these is Jihad in Arabic, each is aimed at Jews just for being Jewish.
I regret to remind you of the fact that this war began way before the establishment of the Jewish state declared in 1948. The riots and massacres of 1920, 1921, 1929, 1936-39 et al, were not due to a Jewish state or what our enemies call the "occupation" of 1948, and certainly not because of the 1967 "occupation". The bloody and cruel massacre of the Jews of Hevron in 1929 was carried out against Jews who were not part of the Zionist movement, quite the contrary. The Palestine Liberation Movement (Fatah) was founded, may I remind you, in 1959 and The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, years before the 1967 "occupation" that was a result of Israel winning the Six Day War.
I hate to point out to you that the shouts we heard, mainly in the 1948 War of Independence, were "Itbach al Yahud" – "Butcher the Jews" – and not the "Israelis" or the "Zionists," because their problem is with the Jews who refuse to be dependent on the mercy of Islam, refuse to live as dhimmi, protected ones, the way Islam mandates for Jews and Christians. In the Arab world, children still sing (in Arabic): "Palestine is our country and the Jews are our dogs." The dog, in Islamic tradition, is an unclean animal. Sharia law stipulates that if a Muslim is praying and a dog, pig, woman, Jew or Christian walks in front of him, his prayers are worthless and he must begin the entire ritual once again.
Caroline Glick: Our estranged generals
It’s been a long time in coming, but it finally happened.
The IDF General Staff has lost the public trust.
This is terrible for the General Staff. But it is more terrible for the country, because the public is right not to trust our military leaders. They have earned our distrust fair and square.
The final straw came in less than optimal circumstances.
But such is life. Things are never cut and dry. On Purim, Sgt. Elor Azaria killed a terrorist in Hebron as he lay on the ground, shot, following his attempted murder of one of Azaria’s comrades.
Still today, we don’t know whether Azaria acted properly or improperly. He claims that he believed the terrorist had a bomb beneath the heavy jacket he was wearing in the middle of a heat wave.
Azaria claims that he shot him because he feared that the terrorist – who was moving – was trying to detonate the bomb. This view was shared by emergency personnel at the scene caring for the wounded soldier.

Michael Oren: Presidential candidates should face facts on Israel
Israelis are reeling from the terrorist bombing of Jerusalem bus that wounded at least 21 civilians. Earlier in the day, Israeli forces revealed they had found a tunnel leading from Gaza under our southern border, dug by Hamas terrorists, potentially placing huge numbers of Israelis in danger.
These outrages underscore the need for all the U.S. presidential candidates to know the facts about Israel and the brutal neighborhood in which we live -- especially as Israel has increasingly been making headlines in the campaign.
Sadly, inaccurate figures have been cited, as well as slanted descriptions of Israeli policies.
This does not mean that the topic should not be honestly debated by those aspiring to the leadership of the free world. On the contrary, America's alliance with Israel is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy, the formulation of which should be a key issue in any national contest. The only condition must be that Israel be discussed on the basis of facts, not misconceptions.
The facts are these: Israel remains committed to the two-state solution with the Palestinians. Indeed, a higher percentage of Israelis support that solution than do Americans. Yet that same Israeli majority understands that Palestinian leaders have repeatedly rejected offers of statehood and are currently either unable or unwilling to make peace.
Fatah student movement encourages Martyrdom, stabbing and car ramming attacks
Video posted on the official Fatah Facebook page on April 20, 2016
The video “Martyrdom-seeking unites us” is produced by Fatah’s Shabiba student movement at Birzeit University
Text at the beginning of the video:
“The Shabiba student movement – the Martyr (Shahid) Yasser Arafat Bloc presents”
The video simulates a car-ramming and stabbing attack at the Atara checkpoint near Ramallah. Three young Palestinians are seen planning and carrying out an attack in which they kill two Israeli soldiers by ramming their car into one of them and stabbing the other. They are all shot and killed by the soldiers during the attack.
The next part of the video shows the family of one of the terrorists receiving the news of his death as a “Martyr.” The terrorist’s mother hears her dead son’s voice talking to her, telling her that the “Martyrs” will be back.
The last part of the video shows the “Martyrs’” return at a ceremony honoring them, and in a speech, one of the “Martyrs” mentions names of other terrorists - Ahmad Yassin, Abu Ali Mustafa, Fathi Shaqaqi, and also Yasser Arafat, adding that “we are Martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the cause.”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, April 20, 2016]

'Palestinian girls become terrorists so they could meet good-looking guys'
Young Palestinian females turn to terrorism as a means of reaching heaven and meeting good-looking male “martyrs,” Israel’s public security minister said Wednesday.
Gilad Erdan made the remark during a pre-Passover toast in Rishon Lezion. “They used to promise terrorists that they would attain 72 female virgins,” Erdan said. “What happened was that there were a number of terrorists who were so good-looking, that the female terrorists told interrogators that they wanted to die so that they could meet them.”
Erdan cited the example of Fadi Alon, a 19-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem’s Isawiya neighborhood on Mount Scopus. Alon was shot dead after stabbing a 15-yearold Jewish boy in Jerusalem last October. The boy suffered moderate wounds in the attack.
Abbas statement on security cooperation sparks uproar
A comment made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this week about the PA's security cooperation with Israel has caused outrage in the various Palestinian factions.
Abbas made the statement in an interview with Der Spiegel during his visit to Germany, saying "Our security forces are working very efficiently to prevent terror. Just a couple of days ago, three young men were tracked down and arrested. They were planning an attack."
He went on to say that, "Our security cooperation with Israel is functioning well. Hamas is trying to sabotage things, but we have the situation under control."
Hamas was quick to condemn Abbas's statement. Sami Abu Zuhri, the Islamist movement's spokesperson, said that "Abbas is denying the intifada and the resistance's operations." He called on Abbas "to stop making statements that are foreign to our people's culture and national positions."
Other Palestinian factions have also taken shots at Abbas. The Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) called on the PLO Executive Committee, the highest decision-making body in the Palestine Liberation Organization, "to hold the President of the PA accountable and question him (in light) of his political attitudes that cross the line in terms of the customs and tradition of our people and its modern revolution."
The PFLP was angered by the fact that Abbas's statements describe the resistance as terrorism.
PA calls on Arabs to 'protect' the Al-Aqsa Mosque
The Ramallah-based Palestinian government on Thursday warned against Israel trying to “Judaize” the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and issued a call to Palestinian Arabs to arrive en masse at the compound in order to “protect” it.
In a statement, the government warned against the “dangers” by “extremist” Jewish organizations which, it claimed, are planning to build a Holy Temple on the compound.
It further claimed that it is a move by Israel aimed at taking over the entire area of ​​Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to “Judaize” the mosque.
The Palestinian government also accused Israel of “racist” behavior and of waging a “religious war” against the Palestinians, and then called on the Palestinian people living within Israeli territory to go to Jerusalem and cling to the Al-Aqsa Mosque any prevent any possible attack against it.
The statement also called on Arab and Islamic nations to help the steadfastness of the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and other PA territories who are facing “settlement attacks” as well as “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Fearing terror attacks, IDF closes West Bank, Gaza ahead of Passover
Israel will close off the West Bank and Gaza Strip for 48 hours beginning Friday, amid fears of attacks by the Hamas terror group during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins Friday night, the army announced Thursday.
The closure will begin at 12:00 a.m. on Friday and is expected to end at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, the army said. However, the reopening will be subjected to a “situational assessment.”
Entering and exiting the West Bank and Gaza will be forbidden for Palestinians during those two days, with the exception of “humanitarian, medical and exceptional cases,” according to an IDF statement.
Those special cases will require the approval of the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of the Government’s Activities in the Territories.
According to Israeli media, security services have “warnings, although not concrete,” of plans for terror attacks in the coming days.
Sovereignty signs protest IDF withdrawal from Judea-Samaria
In response to heated Cabinet discussions on negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) on an IDF withdrawal from Area A in Judea and Samaria, Women in Green activists went out on Thursday night to make a statement.
The activists hung signs calling for the application of Israeli sovereignty on the red warning signs at the entrance to Area A, a series of regions classified by the 1994 Oslo Accord as being under full PA security and administrative control. The IDF was forced to reenter the regions due to the rampant terrorism of the 2000 Oslo War or Second Intifada.
Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar, the leaders of Women in Green, spoke about the reason for their night-time mission.
"During these days, immediately before the holiday of Freedom, when there is more and more talk of the IDF no longer entering Area A, it is precisely now the correct time to apply sovereignty over the Land of Israel," they said.
"If the IDF does not enter Area A it means a surrender of the area against the will of the people," they said, adding, "Ministers (Ze'ev) Elkin and (Naftali) Bennett did well in preventing, for now, this terrible decision."
Soldier who killed wounded Palestinian stabber goes home for Passover
Sgt. Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier charged with manslaughter for shooting dead a Palestinian attacker who had been neutralized in Hebron last month, was released on furlough from on-base detention to his home Friday for the Passover holiday.
He must return to his army base — where he has been held since the incident in late March — on Sunday. A military court has ordered his detention until the end of proceedings.
Azaria was welcomed home by friends and family to hugs, songs and cheers.
“Thanks for the support. Thanks to the judges who allowed him to have the holiday at home. With God’s help this whole thing will end and we’ll go back to being a normal family,” the soldier’s father, Charlie, told reporters outside the family home in Ramle. “We love Israel, we’re not enemies of the state.”
Danon: Why isn't the UN condemning Hamas?
The call comes after Israel this week uncovered a massive terror attack tunnel leading from Gaza into sovereign Israeli territory, and after a Hamas terrorist conducted a bus bombing in Jerusalem on Monday leaving 15 victims wounded, in the first bus bombing of the current Arab terror wave.
"The UN must call Hamas by name and condemn the murderous terror visiting upon the state of Israel," wrote Danon in his letter.
Noting on how Hamas has been siphoning off humanitarian goods to build terror tunnels and construct rockets, he continued, "the terror tunnel was not built overnight."
"The leadership of Hamas has openly declared their intention to use all means standing at their disposal to conduct lethal attacks against Israel."
Danon pointed out that the UN Security Council has yet to condemn the newly discovered tunnel, or the bus bombing in Jerusalem.
"The UN must condemn the murderous terror of Hamas," he wrote, adding that by ignoring the Hamas threats the UN is harming Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Bus bomber's relative is a jailed terrorist murderer
Abd al-Hamid Abu Srour, the 19-year-old Hamas terrorist who conducted a bus bombing attack in Jerusalem on Monday, is related to a terrorist currently serving a life sentence for murder.
Abu Srour, who was caught in the blast that wounded 15 victims and later died of his wounds on Wednesday, is related to the terrorist Nasser Abu Srour.
Back in 1993 Nasser murdered his Israeli Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) handler Chaim Nahmani at their meeting apartment in Jerusalem, reports Channel 2 on Thursday. He was given a life sentence that he continues to serve at Hadarim Prison.
Three years ago Channel 2 reporters spoke with the jailed terrorist as part of a special project for the program "Friday Studio," and in the interview Nasser threatened that there would be more intifada terror wars.
"As long as there is no solution of two states for two peoples, we will continue to die on this land," he said in the interview, calling on Palestinians to continue attacking until Israel is "liberated."
France to Convene Mideast Peace Meeting Without Israel or Palestinians
France will convene a summit on May 30 of some 30 countries and international organizations to discuss the parameters for an international peace conference to be held in the French capital in the second part of the year, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Thursday.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians will be invited to the summit, though they will be asked to join the peace conference.
“There is no other solution to the conflict other than a two-state solution, Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem a shared capital,” Ayrault said in Paris.
“The two sides are more divided than ever. I’m not naive, but am acting in good faith. There is no alternative.
The other option is fatalism and I refuse it,” he said.
According to the French Embassy in Tel Aviv, the May 30 meeting will be on the basis of the 2002 Arab League’s peace plan [a distortion of UNSC 242 to make the 1967 lines effectively borders].
The list of those to be invited to the parley was not released, though it is expected to include representatives from the US, Russia, European Union, UN, Arab League and the members of the UN Security Council. The invitations to the meeting are expected to be sent out on Friday.
David Singer: Palestine – France Embarks On Flight Of Fancy
Ayrault has reportedly said the discussions would be based on the 2002 Saudi peace initiative — approved by the Arab League but not Israel.
That decision in itself will guarantee the failure of the French initiative.
There is no mood in Israel to commit national suicide – which the Arab peace initiative unashamedly seeks.
Ayrault adopts an air of typical Gallic condescension as he intones:
“We have to explain to the Israelis that settlement activity is a dangerous process and that it puts their own security in danger.”
Maybe the newly-appointed Foreign Minister should look at the rapidly expanding Islamic settlement activity taking place in France and address that threat to France’s security before he seeks to interfere in Israel’s affairs.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who brokered a previous round of Israel-Palestinian peace talks that collapsed in April 2014 gave the French proposal a guarded welcome when he visited Paris in March:
“Not any one country or one person can resolve this. This is going to require the global community, it will require international support”
Kerry is right but at the same time he is wrong.
What Kerry and President Obama continue to fail to acknowledge are the firm written commitments made to Israel by former President George Bush on 14 April 2004 – overwhelmingly endorsed by the Congress.
Were Obama and Kerry prepared to rally the global community to get behind the Bush-Congress commitments and take Abbas dragging and screaming to the negotiating table – maybe some movement towards a resolution of the conflict could eventuate.
Pushing the 2002 Arab Initiative whilst ignoring the 2004 Bush-Congress Initiative is destined to become an exercise in futility and certain failure.
Palestinians to hold off on UN move against Israeli settlements
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Thursday that a push for a UN resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement expansion will be put on hold to focus instead on a French proposal for a peace conference.
The draft resolution was circulated to Arab countries and to some members of the Security Council earlier this month as part of a drive for UN action in support of the two-state solution.
Al-Maliki said the draft would be shelved to focus instead on the French initiative, which provides for a first ministerial meeting in Paris on May 30, without the Israelis and Palestinians, ahead of a summit including the parties later in the year.
Senate Introduces Resolution Calling on US to Veto UN Palestinian Statehood Bid
Sen. Marco Rubio (R – Fla.) and co-sponsor Sen. Joe Manchin (D – W. Va.) introduced on Tuesday the Senate version of a concurrent resolution calling on the United States to “continue to exercise its veto in the United Nations Security Council on resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.” A bipartisan version of the resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives on Monday.
A statement from the Israel Allies Foundation (IAF) explained the significance of the congressional action:
As France continues to organize for a UNSC binding resolution that would mandate a procedural role for the UNSC in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and parameters for such negotiations, President Obama has yet to announce whether he would exercise America’s veto. The absence of an American veto in such a situation would be change in long-standing American policy that has ensured negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are direct and without United Nations interference.
In a statement on the resolution, Rubio condemned “the disingenuous actions by the Palestinian Authority leadership to seek statehood through the U.N. and bypass direct talks with Israel.” He added, “This is just the latest sign that Israel currently lacks a true partner for peace. These attempts by the Palestinians will only push the two parties further apart. It is the duty of the United States to stand with Israel and continue to veto any U.N. resolution that inserts the United Nations into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.”
Last week, 90% of the members of the House of Representatives signed a letter written by six congressional leaders, including Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinin (R – Fla.) and Rep. Ted Deutch (R – Fla.), urging President Barack Obama “not to back any resolution at the United Nations that sets parameters for Israeli-Palestinian talks.”
Unworthy of statehood
Incitement and anti-Semitic hate spewing out of the mouths of Palestinian leaders, empty words designed to perpetuate Palestinian self-promotion as the perennial victim when, in truth, they are only the victims of their own emptiness, the constant eruption of violence against Israelis from Palestinian Arabs raised to hate Jews and destroy Israel.
If anyone is so utterly unworthy of statehood it is the Palestinian Arabs.
Fraudulent history, internal divisiveness, wastage of massive global assistance, the diversion of international funding to propaganda purposes, incitement, lessons of hate, the financing and support of terrorism, their predilection to violence and the total inability to display to the world any respect for their neighbors, whether it be Israel from the Palestinian Authority, or to Egypt from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
How can any international diplomat or journalist worth his salt in honesty make out a case to grant this dysfunctional, inefficient, unwilling entity sovereignty?
Singaporean PM honors Arafat, but names 'Temple Mount'
He noted that he had lunch with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, adding, "we value our friendship with the Palestinians, and want to see them living at peace with Israel. I encouraged them to resume negotiations towards a two-state solution."
"One modest way we can help the Palestinians is through technical assistance. This is why we are doubling our Enhanced Technical Assistance Package from S$5 million to S$10 million," he said, announcing Singapore will donate 10 million Singaporean dollars (just under $7.5 million).
"I visited the Temple Mount"
However, while Lee may have paid respects to Arafat, he also referred to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as the "Temple Mount," in a significant wording given the UNESCO decision last weekend to only call the site the Al-Aqsa Mosque, so as to divorce the Jewish connection to the site of the First and Second Temples.
"Earlier, I visited Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The site holds special significance for many - it is a holy site for Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. I was honoured to have the chance to visit a place which means so much to so many, and to see the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque up close," wrote Lee.
Report: Russian Forces in Syria Fired on Israeli Jets at least Twice
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Thursday was held amid reports that Russian fighter jets fired at Israel Air Force aircraft on at least two occasions, which were denied by Moscow.
The issues was reportedly raised during Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's visit to Moscow, when Putin claimed this was the first he had heard of it.
Then a few days ago, a Russian fighter jet was scrambled to intercept an Israeli aircraft for an unknown reason. There was no contact made between the planes, and the Israeli plane carried on its way.
Asked about the alleged incidents, however, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "In this case, Israeli press reports are far from reality."
But Netanyahu, in remarks published by Israeli reporters whom he briefed by phone, said "there have been problems" regarding Israeli military freedom of operation in Syria.
Kremlin denies reports on Russian fire on Israeli jets in Syria
The Kremlin on Friday denied media reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had discussed alleged incidents involving Russian forces in Syria and Israel Air Force aircraft.
"In this case, Israeli press reports are far from reality," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with journalists.
Earlier on Friday, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth first reported that Russian forces in Syria have fired at least twice on Israeli military aircraft, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek improved operational coordination with Moscow.
The unsourced report gave no dates or locations for the incidents nor any indication Israeli planes were hit. Russia mounted its military intervention in Syria in September to shore Damascus up amid a now 5-year-old rebellion.
Separately, Israel's Channel 10 TV said a Russian warplane approached an Israeli warplane off the Mediterranean coast of Syria last week but that there was no contact between them.
Analysis: Relief that New York did not ‘feel the Bern’
No one would admit it, but there was probably a huge sigh of relief in the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday morning when it became clear that Hillary Clinton handily beat Bernie Sanders in Tuesday’s New York Democratic Party primary.
No one would say that, because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – criticized in the past for his allegedly heavy handed intervention in the American political process – is now being extremely careful about doing or saying anything that could be construed as trying to impact the results of the US elections.
(Compare that with Vice President Joe Biden’s remark on Monday to Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir at a J Street event that he wished her views would “begin to once again become the majority opinion in the Knesset.”) But think about Netanyahu’s very, very likely preference for Clinton over Sanders for a moment.
This is Hillary Clinton, whose husband he famously did not get along with during his first prime ministerial term from 1996-1999; Clinton, with whom he had an imperfect relationship while she was secretary of state from 2009-2013; and Clinton, who is running against the first serious Jewish US presidential candidate ever.
And still it is safe to assume that Netanyahu prefers her to Sanders, which just goes to show how much concern there is about Sanders.
Video Game Where Player Defends Europe From Islamic State Invasion
A Polish video game developer is launching “IS Defense”, a game where the player defends the “old continent” of Europe from a terrorist invasion.
Destructive Creations, the game’s unapologetically politically incorrect creators, say the game is “our personal veto against what is happening in the Middle East nowadays.”
“Killing terrorists is xenophobic? Cool, so call me xenophobic, as I would like to shoot evil people”, they wrote on Facebook.
Predictably, the liberal media is not impressed, branding the game “far right” and “Islamophobic”.
The company’s controversial CEO did not shy away from the suggestion that there was an anti-migrant as well as anti-terrorist undercurrent to the game.
Khamenei vows full support for Hezbollah
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated the Shi’ite country’s full support for its ally Hezbollah, as the Lebanese organization came under harsh attack by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states for its involvement in Syria’s civil war.
“Hezbollah and its faithful youth are shining like the sun and are a source of honor for the Muslim world,” he told members of the Iranian Students’ Islamic Association in Tehran on Wednesday, Fars News Agency reported.
Khamenei’s comments came after Riyadh and its allies harshly criticized Iran and Hezbollah for their interference in the internal affairs of states in the region in the final statement at the 13th summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation last week.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have cracked down on Hezbollah, and have deported residents suspected of supporting the group.
Iran’s supreme leader also said that Iranian youth are being targeted in a “soft war” of the “imperialist front” led by the US and “Zionist regime” which includes the political, economic, and cultural fields, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported.
NYT Editorial: Corruption, Not Nuclear Sanctions, to Blame for Iran’s Economic Troubles
Iranians “to a large extent have themselves to blame” for their economic difficulties because of their country’s corrupt financial system and support for terrorism, The New York Times editorial board wrote on Monday.
While Iran has largely complied with the nuclear-related aspects of the deal it reached with global powers last year, leading to the lifting of European sanctions, American sanctions due to Iran’s support for terrorism, ballistic missile tests, and human rights abuses remain in place. This should not be a surprise, the editorial pointed out, because “Iran knew that lifting all American sanctions was never part of the nuclear deal.”
This means American companies are still banned from doing business in Iran, except for trade in civil aviation, carpets and agricultural products. Also, Iran is still barred from using the American financial system, and its dollars, through which most international business is conducted. Many foreign banks who are free to engage with Iran hesitate to do so, fearing they will run afoul of American sanctions.
Before the nuclear deal, Iran was largely isolated from the international banking system. It has not kept up with strict new rules to prevent money-laundering and terrorist financing. Experts say Iranian banks are badly run, politicized and lack transparency — warning signs for risk-averse foreign banks. Iran’s warlike behavior in the region — supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, arming Hezbollah and testing missiles — further discourages investment. As President Obama said recently, “Businesses want to go where they feel safe, where they don’t see massive controversy, where they can be confident that transactions are going to operate normally.” Iran can help itself by reforming its system and becoming a more constructive force in the region.

In the absence of choosing to reform its financial system and stop supporting terrorism, the current restrictions mean that the Islamic Republic will have to settle for smaller business deals that don’t involve using American currency, since Iran should continue “should be subject to sanctions when appropriate under United States law.”
Iran Conducts Space Launch
Iran this week conducted the first launch of a new rocket that the Pentagon views as a key element of Tehran’s effort to build long-range missiles.
The launch of the Simorgh space launch vehicle on Tuesday was judged by U.S. intelligence agencies to be partly successful but did not reach orbit, said defense officials familiar with reports of the test.
“It was either an unsuccessful launch, or a test of third stage” not meant to place a satellite in orbit, said a U.S. defense official familiar with reports of the test.
No other details of the test launch could be learned.
At the State Department, spokesman John Kirby said he could not confirm the missile launch.
“Obviously we’re watching this as best we can,” Kirby said. “Certainly if it’s true and we’re talking about a ballistic missile launch or the testing of ballistic missile technologies, that’s obviously of concern to us. It’s not consistent, as we said before, with the Security Council resolution…”
The large liquid-fueled rocket has been under close surveillance by U.S. satellites and other intelligence assets at a launch pad at Iran’s Semnan satellite launch center, located about 125 miles east of Tehran.
The Simorgh launch had been anticipated since March and comes amid growing worries about Iran’s development of long-range missiles.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) said he is concerned about the latest Iranian missile development.
“An Iranian Simorgh space launch vehicle test would be a provocation of the highest order and shows Iran’s true intentions,” Cotton told the Washington Free Beacon.
“The intelligence community has said publicly that this [space launch vehicle] technology would aid an Iranian [intercontinental ballistic missile] program. And the only reason one develops ICBMs is the delivery of nuclear weapons,” Cotton added.
Islamist Turkey seizes ALL Christian churches in city and declares them 'state property'
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken control of six churches in the war-torn southeastern city of Diyarbakir in his latest move to squash freedom of speech and religious movement.
The state-sanctioned seizure is just the latest in a number of worrying developments to come out of increasingly hardline Turkey, which is in advanced talks with the EU over visa-free travel for its 80 million citizens.
Included in the seizures are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches, one of which is over 1,700 years old.
They have now effectively become state property - meaning they are run by the government - in a country with a dire human rights record where about 98 percent of the population is Muslim.
The order to seize the churches was made on March 25 by Erdogan's council of ministers, according to the website World Watch Monitor. (h/t Messy57)

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