Thursday, May 26, 2016

From Ian:

Fred Maroun: The Lie of "Disproportionality"
A Betrayal of both Israelis and Palestinians
By making an accusation of disproportionality without defining the meaning of the term, Sanders and Haaretz betrayed not only the Palestinians and the Israelis, but also their professions. They made false and unsubstantiated accusations while ignoring the thousands more Palestinian deaths that the Palestinians are inflicting on their own people -- by training toddlers and children for war, using their own people as human shields and failing to provide shelters for them, as the Israelis do for their citizens.
In addition to helping Sanders attract the naïve and anti-Israel vote, and helping Haaretz attract anti-Semitic readers, unsubstantiated claims of disproportionality divert attention from the fact that preventing more wars requires replacing Gaza's Iranian-backed terrorist regime with a regime that is interested in the well-being of the Palestinians. Sanders and Schechter propose nothing to achieve this. They prefer falsely to accuse Israel of anything that might possibly sound damning, and hope that no one will dig for some truth or ask any questions.
To naïve people, Sanders and Schechter appear thoughtful, compassionate individuals who care about the Palestinians; in fact, they merely are either ignorant themselves or duplicitous. If betraying Israelis and Palestinians equally is what Sanders means by "a more balanced position," all that is disproportionate is their unjustified hostility towards Israel that is also unhelpful to the Palestinians.
PMW: Fatah event today to "honor" suicide bomber
Ayyat Al-Akhras was a Fatah terrorist who carried out a suicide attack in a supermarket in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood in Jerusalem in March 2002. Two people were murdered in the terror attack, and 28 were injured.
The Fatah Movement announced yesterday that today, Thursday May 26, at 3:45 PM "an event will take place to mark the anniversary of the death as a Martyr (Shahida) of Ayyat Al-Akhras."
The invitation added: "To honor she who watered the ground with her pure blood."
Earlier this year, Palestinian Media Watch documented that Fatah commemorated murderer Ayyat Al-Akhras' death as a "Martyr," naming her "Bride of Palestine."
Ben-Dror Yemini: Breaking the slander
Rather than offering constructive criticism of IDF actions, Breaking the Silence has chosen to accuse without being held accountable.
There is a clear difference between constructive criticism and a horror show of propaganda. Breaking the Silence could choose the former option, but instead it has chosen the latter. Any organization that sends representatives to tell journalists, diplomats and foreign activists that IDF soldiers fire machine guns at civilian populations as if in a video game, and tell UN delegates from Iran and Sudan that Israeli soldiers are looters and criminals, does not deal in legitimate criticism. Rather, it is part of a system bent on Israel's demonization.
Among others, Breaking the Silence cooperates and gets its funding from sources that support the BDS movement. It is not interested in improving Israel's morality, but to deny Israel's right to exist. Based on all of this, in addition to discredited public testimonies, should Breaking the Silence be allowed to continue with its uncorroborated slander? Is this what amounts to criticism, democracy and due process?
In a democratic country there is room for soldiers to criticize actions that took place during their army service. There are, after all, exceptional cases that should be dealt with, just as there is an ever-present need to correct and improve what is currently considered acceptable conduct. But Breaking the Silence has chosen a different path. It wants to be above the law, to vilify without being held accountable. Israeli authorities should not lend a hand to this kind of trickery.

MEMRI: Secretary-General Of Palestinian Presidency Delivers Speech On Behalf Of President 'Abbas: In Fighting For Palestine, Our People 'Loves Death More Than Life'

On May 22, 2016, Palestinian Presidency Secretary-General Al-Tayeb 'Abd Al-Rahim delivered a speech on behalf of Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas to a group of Palestinian National Security Forces. The speech was part of a ceremony celebrating their second-place win in the international 8th Annual Warrior Competition, which took place in Jordan on May 2-6, 2016.
In his speech, 'Abd Al-Rahim condemned attempts to intimidate the Palestinian people and divert it from its path, and called such attempts futile, as "our [Palestinian] people loves death more than life." He added that the National Security Forces victory was a step on the way to establishing an independent Palestinian state, and rejected the notion of establishing a separate independent entity in Gaza, or a state with temporary borders in the West Bank alone.
Hillel Neuer: UK, France, Germany join UN to single out Israel as world’s only violator of health rights
The UN reached new heights of absurdity by enacting a resolution which accuses Israel of violating the health rights of Syrians in the Golan, even as in reality Israeli hospitals continue their life-saving treatment for Syrians fleeing to the Golan from the Assad regime’s barbaric attacks.
Shame on Britain, France and Germany for encouraging this hijacking of the annual world health assembly, and diverting precious time, money, and resources from global health priorities, in order to wage a political prosecution of Israel, especially when, in reality, anyone who has ever walked into an Israeli hospital or clinic knows that they are providing world-class health care to thousands of Palestinian Arabs, as well as to Syrians fleeing Assad.
At the same time, I commend the principled stand taken by the U.S., Canada, Australia, Paraguay, Guatemala, Micronesia and Papua New Guinea in joining Israel to oppose perpetuating a politicized agenda item. The U.S. and Canada both took the floor to strongly object to the anti-Israel exercise.
The vote was 107 to 8 for the resolution, with 8 abstentions and 58 absent. The resolution calls for reports on a series of alleged Israeli violations, including on “the impact of prolonged occupation and human rights violations on mental, physical and environmental health” in “the occupied Palestinian territory.”
UK votes "Yes" to single out Israel at UN's 2016 World Health Assembly

'World Health Organization condemnation of Israel is anti-Semitism,' says Lapid
A World Health Organization resolution stating Israel violates Palestinians’ health rights is “a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism,” Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid wrote to WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan on Thursday.
The letter came after the WHO singled out Israel for condemnation, passing a resolution at the UN organization’s annual assembly in Geneva Wednesday against its operating in the area of Palestinian hospitals, and claiming Israel violates health rights in the Golan Heights. The resolution passed 104-4 with six abstentions.
As Lapid pointed out, Palestinian terrorists often operate in and around hospitals, like in 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, when the Shifa Hospital in Gaza was used to launch rockets into Israel, targeting civilians. At the same time, Israel set up a field hospital to treat injured Palestinian civilians.
“The blame here lies with those who abuse medical facilities and turn them into military facilities. It is Hamas and the Islamic Jihad who should be the focus of your condemnation,” he wrote.
In addition, Israel often treats those injured in the Syrian Civil War, bringing them into Israel through the Golan Heights.
JPost Editorial: Face to face
Israel has withdrawn from vast swaths of Arab territory in pursuit of ending a conflict that is not about territory.
Leaving Sinai, southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip were painful concessions that have so far reduced threats, but not brought about peace.
“We didn’t freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them,” Netanyahu observed to the UN in 2011. “We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.” This did not prevent the 2014 Gaza war.
Abbas told the General Assembly that the Palestinians are armed “only with their hopes and dreams” – yes, but also with Grad rockets supplied by Iran, Netanyahu retorted, “not to mention the river of lethal weapons now flowing into Gaza from the Sinai, from Libya, and from elsewhere.”
The PA declines to condemn Palestinian attacks on Israelis and glorifies the murderers of Jewish civilians as heroes, naming parks and streets after them, and providing their families with incentives. The indoctrination of a new generation of Palestinians with vile anti-Semitism continues unabated in Palestinian schools, planting the seeds of future terrorism.
By agreeing to the Paris initiative, the Palestinians are again hoping to get a state without the sacrifice this requires. Once more, as Abba Eban said, they are not missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Palestinian official: Egypt peace bid ‘not in conflict’ with Paris push
The Egyptian president’s Arab-Israeli peace initiative neither conflicts with, nor replaces, French moves to broker a peace deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah, a senior Palestinian official said Thursday.
The Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Cairo, Jamal al-Shoubaki, spoke in the run-up to Friday’s visit to the Egyptian capital by PA President Mahmoud Abbas for an Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting, according to the Ynet news website.
Egyptian officials have denied reports Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is working behind the scenes to jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and arrange a parley with Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Cairo hopes to arrange a three-way summit “in the near future,” in which Sissi would play the role of intermediary, a Palestinian official confirmed to the Yedioth newspaper on Tuesday, adding that “no one is closing the door” on the Egyptian initiative.
Recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity.
US voices concern over new Israeli coalition
The Obama administration gave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s expanded coalition a chilly reception on Wednesday, with State Department spokesman Mark Toner saying the Israeli government’s new composition raised “legitimate questions”.
The comments came during a State Department press meeting on Thursday, following the signing of a new coalition agreement bringing the Yisrael Beytenu party into Netanyahu’s government.
Toner said the State Department had “questions” about the future of Israeli government policy following the addition of Yisrael Beytenu and the appointment of Avigdor Liberman as Defense Minister.
"We have also seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel's history and we also know that many of its ministers [inc. Moshe Ya'alon] have said they oppose a two-state solution, " said Toner. "This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in ... and what kind of policies it may adopt.” [Liberman supports a two state solutions]
High Court: State should decide fate of illegal EU structures
Israeli authorities should not be forced to implement demolition orders that were issued for European Union-built structures east of Jerusalem, the High Court of Justice said on Monday.
The Kfar Adumim community and the Regavim movement had asked the court to order the implementation of the demolition orders for more than a dozen structures in Kfar Adumim's municipal boundaries, claiming that the state was shirking its duty to enforce the law.
The court rejected that request, saying that the Israeli government should have wide discretion when it comes to the demolition of illegal structures on state-owned land. The court essentially accepted the Defense Ministry Civil Administration's view that it can determine the pace and timing for implementing such measures, despite the petitioners providing photographic evidence to support their claim.
The court noted that the Delegation of the European Union to the State of Israel had sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry in which it cited its diplomatic immunity. But the court said that "even without the claim of immunity, we are not of the opinion that the dialogue between the Israeli authorities and the European Union should be held inside a courtroom."
The New Jordanian-Palestinian Chasm
Abdullah ignored Palestinian desires for a state – and Palestinian nationalism, in general ― and declared that Palestine is part of “Arabism” [Arab identity] meaning that there is no Palestinian distinctiveness.
The Crown Speech came after a progressive deterioration in relations between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to the point of a break between the King and the head of the PA, Abu Mazen. It began two years ago when Palestinians forced the Jordanian delegation to the UN Security Council to submit a proposal contrary to Jordan’s position on Jerusalem. It continued with the shameful expulsion of a senior Jordanian religious figure from the al-Aqsa Mosque, Jordan’s failure to install security cameras on the Temple Mount after Palestinian objections, and most recently, the abrogation of a written agreement between Jordan and the PA about Jordan representing Jerusalem at UNESCO. A reminder: the Palestinians passed a decision at UNESCO erasing Jewish history on the Temple Mount.
Looming over the Jordanian-PA rift is the possible Jordanian option to close the bridges over the Jordan River as Egypt closed its Rafah crossing with Gaza. Jordan threatened to do so after the expulsion of its representatives from the al-Aqsa Mosque, and it has never rescinded the threat. This explains a delegation of Hebron merchants to Jordan to create a separate commercial arrangement between Hebron and Jordan that would not be harmed by the bridge closings. A large delegation of the Hebron Hills villages is currently being organized.
Israel opposes Palestinian bid to join Interpol
The international police organization Interpol is expected to decide next week whether to admit the Palestinian Authority as a member.
Israeli diplomatic officials are working to convince Interpol, which according to its website has 190 member countries, to reject the PA's membership request.
The PA's bid to join Interpol is part to the PA's wider efforts to turn international groups against Israel.
In addition to the symbolic victory admission to Interpol would represent, the PA could try to use membership in the force to take legal steps against Israel.
Israel strikes in Gaza Strip in response to rocket attack
The Israeli air force attacked two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip Wednesday night, hours after terrorists in the Strip fired a rocket into Israel from the territory.
Palestinian media reported that a second rocket fired towards Israel exploded inside Gaza territory.
Walla News said a small group with ties to the Islamic State, the Omar Hadid Brigade, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The IDF said in a statement that it held Gaza’s Hamas rulers responsible for keeping the peace in Gaza.
There were no reports of injuries or damage in the rocket attack, which was not preceded by a warning siren. Reports suggested the rocket hit an open area in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council bordering the Gaza Strip.
Israel has seen sporadic fire from the Gaza Strip, usually claimed by small Salafi groups engaged in a power struggle with Hamas.
Salafi group in Gaza claims overnight rocket launching at Israel
Ajnad Bait al-Maqdis, a salafi terror organization operating in the Gaza Strip, claimed responsibility for rocket fire at southern Israel on Wednesday night.
In a statement issued following the rocket attack, the group said: "We announce our responsibility for targeting Nahal Oz military base with a Katyusha rocket that was developed by our brave jihadists today at 23:00 p.m."
The group, which has clashed with Hamas in Gaza, said that it hoped its rocket attacks on the South would prompt Israel to retaliate against its rival Hamas.
"Today, we are renewing our rocket attacks against Jewish settlements near the Gaza Strip in order to avoid a war against Hamas, whose security forces have recently started arresting salafi jihadists," the statement read.
We believe that this problem will be solved by steering the compass against the Jews, thereby preventing the negative repercussions of Hamas's oppressive moves against salafi groups," the organization added.
Palestinian with knife arrested in Hebron
Border Police troops arrested a Palestinian man Thursday in possession of a knife near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a police spokesperson said.
The man, a 26-year-old resident of the West Bank city, “aroused the suspicion” of the officers and they found a knife on his person when they searched him, police said.
The suspect was handed over to security forces for questioning.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs, a flashpoint site considered holy to Jews and Muslims alike, has been the scene of numerous stabbings and attempted stabbings since Israeli-Palestinian violence escalated last October.
In an almost identical incident earlier this month, Border Police arrested a Palestinian man in possession of a knife near the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Tel Aviv 'police brutality' claim exposed as false
Israeli media raised an uproar after security cameras apparently showed an Arab Israeli supermarket worker in Tel Aviv being hit by eight police officers - but a closer investigation of the footage has debunked the claims of unprovoked police brutality, and even caused some in the media to apologize.
Maysam Abu Alqian, 19, a Bedouin Arab from the Negev town of Hura, was asked by plainclothes Border Police officers on Sunday to see his teudat zehut (ID card) as he stood outside the Super Yuda store in central Tel Aviv where he worked.
According to Alqian, he refused to show his ID until an officer in uniform showed up, and he claims that the plainclothes officers began hitting him for no apparent reason.
But during an internal police investigation of the incident, a close examination of the security camera footage revealed by Walla shows the officers were actually attacked first and responded according to protocol.
Knesset warns Arab MKs against Temple Mount visits during Ramadan
MKs on the Temple Mount during Ramadan could provoke escalated tensions, Knesset Chief Security Officer Yosef Griff warned Thursday, in response to Islamic Movement-affiliated lawmakers who planned to visit the holy site.
On behalf of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Griff emphasized in a letter that all Knesset members are barred from visiting the Temple Mount.
On Wednesday, Joint List MK Masud Gnaim, wrote a letter to Edelstein in the name of himself and MKs Abdel-Hakim Haj Yahya and Taleb Abu Arar, all of the United Arab List, which is aligned with the Islamic Movement’s southern branch, stating that they “intend to enter the Al-Aksa Mosque and pray in it during the month of the fast of Ramadan.”
“Fulfilling this religious commandment is a basic right and part of our lifestyle as Muslims and religious people. For your information,” the letter reads.
Authorities foil attempt to smuggle metal pipes, motors into Gaza
Israeli authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle metal pipes and motors into the Gaza Strip, which could have been used for building rockets and tunnels, the Defense Ministry announced Thursday.
The Gaza-bound shipment came through Tarkumiya, a small village outside of Hebron in the West Bank. The trucks were headed to the Kerem Shalom crossing, where they would enter the coastal enclave.
Inspectors at the Tarkumiya crossing, along with the Shin Bet security service, intercepted the packages, which were believed to have been on their way to the Hamas terror organization in the Gaza Strip, the ministry said in a statement.
According to officials, the “large shipment” consisted of “hundreds of pipes with a diameter under four inches, with a special kind of screw that is used for the production of mortars and rockets.”
Israel forming civil defense units in preparation for possible conflict with Hezbollah
Israel is forming civil defense units throughout northern Israel to assist in any future conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, Col Eren Makov, the Northern Regional Commander of the Homefront Command told The Media Line in an interview.
“There is a big change in the Arab population in Israel in that they are much more willing to cooperate with us,” Makov said. “We give them training in what to do and they see it as a contribution.”
Makov said that more than half of the residents of northern Israel are Arab citizens of Israel, and are under the same missile threat from Hezbollah as Jewish citizens of Israel. While the vast majority of Arab citizens of Israel do not serve in the Israeli army, he said these civil defense units are not part of the army but of the Home Front Command and, for example, volunteers do not wear uniforms.
The idea is to train them in both disaster relief and working with the population. After earthquakes, Makov said, 25 percent of those saved are rescued in the first hour, often by their neighbors. A similar situation would probably be in force if Hezbollah, which is believed to have more than 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel, scored direct hits on buildings in residential areas.
Hezbollah says it is digging tunnels 'to make Israeli enemy lose sleep'
The Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah said on Wednesday that it was digging tunnels along the border with Israel.
In remarks first reported by the Lebanese daily Al-Safir and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Hezbollah said that despite heavy losses it was incurring in Syria, “Israel cannot ignore…the strengthening of the security and stability equation on both sides of the Palestine-Lebanon border.”
Hezbollah says it that it has succeeded in establishing a “balance of terror” that has made southern Lebanon “the most secure region in the entire Middle East.”
The article in Al-Safir, a pro-Hezbollah daily, was published on the 16th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from the south Lebanon “security zone.” May 25 is considered “Liberation Day” in Hezbollah-controlled enclaves in Lebanon.
In Gaza, a wall of silence over child sexual assault
Life has turned into a nightmare for Fatma’s family since her eldest son, 11, was sexually assaulted, a trauma which has damaged them all and forced them to move house.
“It started one night when our son came home late obviously very troubled,” the 30-year-old mother of seven said, speaking to AFP under an assumed name to protect the boy’s identity.
“He told me that someone from our extended family and a neighbor took him to an isolated house.
“He said, ‘They undressed me and started a pornographic video on their computer, I wanted to escape but they caught me,'” Fatma recalled, saying she immediately called the police.
Two men, in their twenties, were arrested.
Fatma’s family is one of the rare victims who speak out on a taboo issue in the conservative Gaza Strip and to bring the case to court.
“Even though they are part of the family, I asked for the death penalty,” she said.
But while one of the suspects was jailed, the other was quickly released.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Abbas To Convene Estates General (satire)
Versailles, Palestinian Autonomous Territories, May 25 – Faced with an increasing gap between the economic fortunes of the elite governing class and everyone else in Palestinian society, and the simmering threat of unrest that such a situation portends, King Abbas I has decided to hold elections for the advisory assembly for the first time in living memory, a palace spokesman said today.
Speaking from the royal compound built by his illustrious predecessor King Yasser I, who coined the statement, “L’état, c’est moi,” the royal vizier Nabil Aburdeineh told reporters that because the nation faces challenges of epic proportions, it is only fitting for His Highness to convene the Estates General, which will represent the interests of the three groups it contains: aristocracy, clergy, and all other citizens.
Aburdeineh stressed that it may take some time for the body to assemble properly, since elections were last held so long ago that none of the representatives can reasonably claim to represent the current will of his constituency. Given that, the Estates General is likely to be ready for its first session no earlier than this coming winter.
“We must lay the groundwork for this august body to perform its duties,” he explained, duties that do not bind the Crown in any way, but do provide a picture of the interests of each segment of society. “It will be helpful to His Highness Abu Mazen to consult with hoi polloi and then do as he pleases to preserve his power and cement his system of cronyism, rather than simply doing as he pleases to preserve his power and cement his system of cronyism,” he added, using the special honorific for the king that refers to his late son Mazen, the dauphin.
Muslim mob torches seven Christian homes in Egypt
A Muslim mob ransacked and torched seven Christian homes in the Minya province south of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, after rumors spread that a Christian man had an affair with a Muslim woman, according to a statement by the local Orthodox Coptic church.
Released late Wednesday, it said that during the May 20 attack, the mother of the Christian man was publicly stripped of her clothes by the mob to humiliate her. Her son fled the village.
Police arrived at the scene nearly two hours after the attacks began and arrested six people, according to the statement by Minya’s top cleric, Anba Makarios. He said the family of the Christian man had notified the police of threats against them by Muslim villagers the day before the attack.
“No one did anything and the police took no preemptive or security measures in anticipation of the attacks,” he told a television interviewer Wednesday night.
Canada: ISIS Threat Making Sinai Peacekeeping Mission Less Viable
Canada's top military commander has warned that one of the country's long-standing signature Middle East peacekeeping missions is growing more violent, calling into question its viability.
The comments by Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff, about the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai come as the Liberal government is crafting a new defence policy around promises in last fall's election to return the military to more benevolent UN-flagged operations.
The peacekeeping mission, one of the last traditional ceasefire monitoring operations, is actually outside of the auspices of the UN and is meant to maintain the truce between Israel and Egypt, but Vance says the situation has evolved with the growing influence of ISIS.
"It is becoming increasingly dangerous, as many places are in the world where we had relatively benign missions, conducting peace support missions such as the MFO mission; [it is] now turning more hostile," he told a defence industry trade show on Wednesday.
Reporter Confronts State Department Over DC Visit by Islamist Group Leader
A reporter confronted Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner during the press briefing at the State Department on Monday over the reported visit to the United States of Labib al Nahhas, a senior member of the Islamist group Ahrar al Sham.
McClatchy DC reported on Saturday that al Nahhas visited Washington, D.C., in December 2015. It is not clear who he met with or where, but it was said that they were “third-parties.”
Ahrar al Sham is not currently listed as a terrorist organization by the United States government, but the group has connections in Syria with the Al-Qaeda aligned group Al-Nusra Front. Both groups are fighting the current Syrian regime.
“McClatchy wrote that the group’s, the Ahrar al Sham’s group’s foreign affairs director, Labib al Nahhas, was allowed into the United States for a brief visit six months ago. The outlet cites four people with direct knowledge of his visit to Washington, D.C. Were U.S. officials aware of this visit?” the reporter asked.
“I’m not sure that we that were aware of it. I don’t believe he had any meetings here, certainly. But, and I can’t speak to visa records, it’s privacy considerations, so I don’t have much detail I can share with you regarding whether he received a visa to come here, but I can look into it,” Toner said. “I just don’t have any more detail.”
“But one of the leaders of a group with known ties to al Qaeda comes to the United States and you can’t doubt it?” the reporter said.
Obama Admin: U.S. Stopped Sanctioning Iranian Human Rights AbusersAfter Nuke Deal
The Obama administration has not designated a single Iranian as a human rights abuser since finalizing last summer’s comprehensive nuclear agreement, despite rising abuse in the Islamic Republic, including state-sanctioned killings and the imprisonment of opposition figures.
The administration’s hesitance to use sanctions as a tool to confront Iranian human rights abuses, despite past promises made to Congress, has prompted outrage on Capitol Hill among lawmakers who were given assurances the administration would act.
A senior administration official admitted during questioning on Capitol Hill Wednesday that the U.S. has not sanctioned a single Iranian human rights abuser since the deal was finalized. The disclosure calls into question further administration promises to continue using sanctions as a tool to pressure Iran.
The White House is pressuring Congress not to pass new Iran sanctions as the old measures near expiration later this year.
Republicans and Democrats alike are now accusing the administration of misleading Congress about its commitment to sanctions and saying that it has avoided such designations in order to prevent the Iranian regime from walking away from the deal.
Democratic Congressman Advocates Sanctions on Iran
Rep. Brad Sherman (D., Calif.) heaped criticism on the Iranian nuclear deal during a Wednesday hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calling for more sanctions on Iran to punish its military involvement in Syria.
Sherman has been one of the most vocal Democratic dissenters from the Obama administration’s diplomatic agreement with Iran.
“People in this country want us to get along with everyone around the world. We long for peace. And there are those who say that sanctions contradict that,” Sherman said. “But when you look at what Iran has done in Syria, hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million people killed by Assad, with funds provided, weapons provided, thugs provided by the Iranian government, when you see people killed by barrel bombs and sarin gas, we realize that the right response to the Iranian regime cannot be ‘kumbaya.’”
“This House was divided on the Iran deal, but we were united in one thing, sanctions work and Mr. Zubin, and thanks to you and your predecessors, you proved they work by working hard to make sure that they work,” Sherman said. “Some believe that the sanctions got us a good deal, some believe the sanctions would have gotten us a better deal, the only agreement was sanctions work. And I join with the ranking member (Rep. Eliot Engel [D., N.Y.]) in saying that we ought to have new sanctions and Ambassador Mull, thank you for clarifying that that will happen.”
How’s That Iran Nuclear Deal Working Out?
Since late last year, the administration has given in every time Iran threatened to scuttle the deal due to supposed American non-compliance. When the administration wanted to impose minimal sanctions on Iran for an October ballistic missile test, Iran threatened the United States, who then delayed the sanctions by several weeks. When Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif complained to Secretary of State John Kerry that the Visa Waiver Program didn’t include Iran and would thus have a negative effect on Iran’s ability to conduct international commerce, Kerry promised that the administration would issue visa waivers to Iranians or business people who had recently been in Iran. And most recently when Iran complained that it wasn’t receiving enough business due to American (non-nuclear) sanctions, Kerry traveled to Europe to urge European businesses to make deals with Iran and not fear penalties from the United States.
Maloney is correct that the administration should push back against the phony Iranian charges of non-compliance, but the administration keeps caving. She also quoted Zarif in a recent interview with The New Yorker saying “the United States needs to do way more,” with the added threat that “if one side does not comply with the agreement then the agreement will start to falter.”
Zarif’s comment is very similar to a line in the nuclear deal that states “Iran has stated that it will treat such a re-introduction or re-imposition of the sanctions specified in Annex II, or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”
This doesn’t mean that Iran will necessarily abrogate the agreement, but it does suggest that Iran may start pushing against the accepted limits and increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium or heavy water, and shorten its breakout time without totally withdrawing from the agreement. This would present a challenge to the P5+1 to either take actions or accept the Iranian violations.
As we noted after the deal was agreed to, this language gives Iran the leverage to escape the constraints of the deal.
8 Iranian missile launches since nuke deal signed, expert tells US Congress
In the 10 months since the Iran nuclear agreement was signed, the Islamic Republic has increased the frequency of its ballistic missile testing, according to researcher Michael Elleman, who testified before a US senatorial committee this week.
Iran is primarily focused on increasing the accuracy, not the range, of its missiles, Elleman said.
Elleman, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think tank, was called to speak Tuesday before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, which is investigating the effects of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the official name for the Iran nuclear deal signed in July 2015.
Since then, Iran’s ballistic missile program has become a central issue in the debate surrounding the nuclear deal, with opponents of the agreement saying test launches violate the terms of the JCPOA, while proponents argue missile tests are “inconsistent” with United Nations resolutions but not necessarily illegal.
Iran pledges $70 million to Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Iran has agreed a new support package to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, pledging to provide $70 million in annual assistance to terror group's "jihad" against the State of Israel.
Sources close to Islamic Jihad told the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat newspaper of the pledge, which came after a visit by PIJ leaders to Tehran in April for meetings with the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force, Qassem Soleimani. That delegation was headed by Islamic Jihad's Secretary General Ramadan Shalah, along with two of his top aides Akram Ajuri and Ziad Nakhleh.
Soleimani's Qods Force is in charge of international terrorism, espionage and proxy wars on behalf of the Islamic regime. The previously shadowy leader gained a high profile for leading pro-regime operations in Iraq and Syria against Sunni insurgents - operations which often included public appearances on the frontlines.
The meetings followed two years of strained relations between the Islamist terror group and Tehran, and essentially represented an emergency bailout as the cash-strapped group had been struggling to pay some of its personnel for several months.
It will also be seen as a serious snub towards Hamas, Islamic Jihad's main rivals in the Gaza Strip, which has over the past months in particular shifted away from Iran towards Tehran's arch-nemesis Saudi Arabia.
Yemeni Officials: Airstrike Kills 11 From Same Family
The death toll of a suspected Saudi-led coalition airstrike that hit a family's house in southern Yemen has been raised to 11, including four children from one family, security officials and witnesses said Wednesday.
The officials said that warplanes, thought to be Emirati, fired two missiles at the family's house in the town of el-Mahala, in the southern province of Lahj. The house was flattened and only one child from the family survived the strike, they said.
The officials said the home is adjacent to a building that is suspected of housing Islamic militants.
A witness, Ahmed Hadash, said he heard explosions for 40 minutes while the warplanes were flying.
"The bodies were distorted and the human remains were everywhere," he said.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 18 years and 38,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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