Monday, June 20, 2016

From Ian:

PMW: Palestinian Authority espouses Hamas’ religious war ideology
The Palestinian Authority is teaching its population that the conflict with Israel is based on a religious ruling which is identical to a significant religious ruling of Hamas. This Islamic religious ruling holds that all the land of the State of Israel is an inalienable religious endowment - a waqf - of which it is "forbidden to relinquish a single grain of soil." This means that Palestinians are prohibited from accepting Israel's existence in any borders as that is violating the waqf.
This week, PA TV's daily Ramadan program Palestine in the Quran taught:
Head of the Waqf's Al-Aqsa Academy of Heritage and Antiquities Najeh Bakirat: "Every grain of soil in Palestine is ours. The status of Hebron is part of the status of Palestine, as it is an integral part of the Palestinian land, like the status of Nazareth in our eyes, and Haifa, and Jaffa, and Acre (i.e., all are cities in Israel). Every grain of soil in Palestine is part of the blessed Palestine, and holy Palestine which is a waqf (i.e., an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law). Therefore it is forbidden to relinquish a single grain of its soil." [Official PA TV, Palestine in the Quran, June 11, 2016]
PA TV Ramadan lesson teaches that Islam prohibits Israel’s right to exist

Khaled Abu Toameh: "Selling a House to a Jew is a Betrayal of Allah"
The renewed campaign against Palestinians suspected of selling real estate to Jews is also part of the belief that the entire land is Muslim-owned, and no Muslim is entitled to give up even one inch of it to a non-Muslim. In other words, it is forbidden for a Muslim to sell his home or land to a Jew or Christian. This would be the nail in the coffin of any Palestinian leader who attempts to make any territorial compromise as part of a peace agreement with Israel.
This campaign has raised fears that Palestinians may resume extrajudicial executions of suspected land dealers.
"The land dealers should know that they would not be able to avoid earthly and life punishment. Not only will they not be buried in Islamic cemeteries, but their entire families will also be punished and it would be forbidden to marry or to deal in any way with their family members." — Palestinian National Work Commission in Jerusalem.
This campaign undermines Palestinians' long-standing claim that Jews "illegally seize" Arab-owned houses and land in Jerusalem. It seems that rather than illegal seizure, Jews have been paying willing Arabs cold hard cash for the properties.
Yair Lapid: The United Nations has lost it
The following is an edited version of a speech delivered by Yair Lapid to the Israel Law Center conference in Jerusalem.
The United Nation has lost it. When it comes to Israel the UN has lost credibility, lost common sense, and more than anything lost its most important asset – its integrity.
At the end of March, I stood in Geneva, with hundreds of protesters, wrapped in Israeli flags. We stood beneath the Broken Chair Monument which stands opposite the United Nations Human Rights Council. Inside, in the elegant hall, there was a debate, another debate, about Israel.
The UN Human Rights Council’s treatment of Israel strayed from the boundaries of legitimate criticism long ago. In the past decade the council has voted for 61 resolutions condemning human rights abuses across the world and 67 resolutions which condemned Israel.
Let me repeat that — The council has condemned Israel, a democratic country which upholds international law, more times than the rest of the world combined.
Israel is the only country on earth which warrants its own agenda item in the UN Human Rights Council. Agenda item 7 dictates that every time the council meets there will be a ‘discussion of the human rights situation in Israel’. This discussion happens irrespective of whether or not there have been reports of human rights violations. It happens without a factual examination of the complaints lodged by Palestinians, usually allies or members of the various terror organizations that are sworn to destroy Israel.

Before election, Labor chief promised PA 100% of territory
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog was prepared to uproot all Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and divide Jerusalem should he have become prime minister last year, Makor Rishon and Channel 10 reported on Sunday.
Herzog reportedly offered these concessions in talks conducted with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before the March 2015 elections. Herzog was said to be represented by left-wing activist Gershon Baskin.
According to the reports, Herzog agreed to give Abbas an area that was equivalent to 100% of Judea and Samaria, including 4% in land swaps. On the issue of Jerusalem, Herzog agreed to withdraw from neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, which would become the Palestinian capital. The two also agreed to set up a joint Israeli-Palestinian municipality to run the shared city. According to the plan, a multinational force was to administer the Temple Mount, although the Western Wall was to remain under Israeli sovereignty. The sides agreed to let Israel keep a symbolic presence in the Jordan Valley, including two staging areas for armored troops, and to have Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian security forces fight terrorism together.
In response to the reports, Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) said, "The unearthing of the secret agreement between Herzog and Abbas proves once again that the Likud's victory in the last election saved Israel from this suicidal plan that involved extremely dangerous concessions, including the division of Jerusalem." Elkin added that the reported agreement showed "just how radicalized the Labor party [the Zionist Union comprises a Labor-Hatnuah joint list] has become and that there is a deep ideological gulf between us."
Inside the Herzog-Abbas agreement'
Following revelations on Sunday of a secret letter of understanding between Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which the two leaders outlined the parameters for a future Palestinian state, Efraim Sneh spoke with Arutz Sheva about the agreement – and what it could mean for Israel going forward.
Sneh, a long-time Labor Party member, served as one of Herzog’s principle negotiators during talks with Abbas ahead of the 2015 Knesset election.
The framework agreed upon by the two parties includes the formation of a Palestinian state, which would encompass all of Judea and Samaria. Jerusalem would be divided in two, the eastern portion of which would serve as the capital of Palestine. Israel would also accept some refugees under the “right of return”.
The Old City of Jerusalem would also be divided, according to the outline, though as Sneh noted, Israel would retain the Western Wall.
“The most important thing is that the Western Wall remains under Israeli sovereignty. Eastern Jerusalem is divided, separating [predominantly] Israeli neighborhoods from [predominantly] Arab ones, which we don’t see as being part of Israel’s capital.”
The division of the city, Sneh acknowledges, will not be easy.
“We need to change the lifestyle in Jerusalem. [But] it’s better to have two separate capitals [in Jerusalem] than a single [united] city ridden with conflict.”
Shaked: 'We were saved from Camp David 2'
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) does seem to be too excited over the agreement between opposition head Yitzhak Herzog and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. However, she did express pleasure over Israel avoiding what she called "Camp David 2."
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Shaked said that the information about the existence of negotiations between Herzog and Abbas, which were conducted by Ephraim Sneh, is not at all surprising. "This is the clear agenda of the Labor Party and we don't need to get angry at them for trying to put their agenda into effect. I am just happy that the Jewish People was smart enough to choose a right-wing government in order to prevent such plans from coming to fruition."
Furthermore, she insisted that the talks should not be seen as an attempt to undermine the government, but rather a legitimate part of the election campaign and an attempt to prepare Herzog for leadership. "This was during the election period and he prepared himself for ruling. I think that this emphasizes the between the Right and the Left in the recent election. As I said, the Jewish People are smart and wise, and we were saved from an attempt at Camp David 2, after Barak's Camp David brought us the Second Intifada."
Next American administration must grasp risks Israel faces
This is the season of the conventions. First the Republicans will convene in Cleveland and the following week the Democrats will meet in Philadelphia.
Each promises to be exciting. And the Middle East in general and Israel in particular will feature prominently in both US conventions.
When it comes to Israel, US administrations have a problem. Not just this administration. I’m talking past, present and, although we do not yet know who will occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue come January, the future administration, as well. The White House just does not understand Israel. For the White House, Israel is an enigma – and not just Israel. As everyone who monitors US foreign policy is painfully aware, American administrations don’t really grasp the reality of the Middle East.
Do not mistake an affinity toward Israel or being pro-Israel for an understanding of Israel and the Middle East. And don’t blame America for this lack of understanding – it’s a part of America’s DNA.
Americans have an innate optimism. They believe that their point of view is the prevailing point of view and they feel that they can convince anyone. And if that doesn’t work, bribery – military aid, monetary aid, UN votes – will. Americans are hardwired to fundamentally be fair and even-handed, they want to make certain that everything is equal, that the playing field is even.
Here is the biggest problem with this approach: when the playing field is even, it is your friends that suffer the most.
Netanyahu, Kerry said set to meet next week in new peace bid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly to meet early next week with US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Israel’s Channel 2 said the meeting would take place in a European capital. The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately confirm the meeting, saying it would “make an announcement when there is something to announce.”
The TV report said Netanyahu would tell Kerry he backs potential Egyptian-led efforts to revive negotiations, rather than the international approach being pushed by France.
Netanyahu has recently given mixed signals on the Saudi-drafted Arab Peace Initiative as a means to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, suggesting partial support for it but also calling for it to be amended.
Obama administration: 'Settlements are corrosive'
Obama administration officials and leaders of the Zionist Union party lambasted Israel’s government on Sunday over a 70 million shekel spending plan for Yesha towns, including a large allocation to boost security.
The coalition government passed on Sunday morning the spending plan, which includes 15 million shekels to bolster Yesha communities suffering from Arab terrorism in recent months. Also included in the spending package is 10 million shekels for renovations and improvements on public facilities, 12 million shekels for security improvements, 6 million shekels for social services, and 5.5 million shekels for tourism sites.
In response, US State Department spokesman John Kirby condemned the spending plan, saying it strengthened “settlement activity”, which he described as “corrosive”.
“Our position on settlement activity remains clear and consistent. We strongly oppose all settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace,” said Kirby. “We continue to look to both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to a two-state solution. Actions such as these do just the opposite.”
Will Rivlin meet Abbas in Belgium?
President Reuven Rivlin and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are both scheduled to address the European Parliament this week – Rivlin on Wednesday, and Abbas on Thursday. Rivlin is expected to talk about the need for confidence-building measures between Israel and the Palestinians, one of his pet themes when hosting foreign visitors.
Since the start of his presidency two years ago, Rivlin has steadfastly maintained that Israelis and Palestinians are not doomed to live together, but rather are destined to live together.
The two men have known each other for a long time, and Rivlin has publicly invited Abbas to resume peace talks as has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a tête-à-tête with Rivlin last Friday.
Rivlin and Abbas are meeting in the aftermath of the June 5 international meeting in Paris, which was convened to discuss ways of pressuring Israel and the Palestinians to get back to the negotiating table – with neither side being represented at the confab.
Backing French peace push, EU adds carrots to sweeten deal
The European Union on Monday proposed “concrete” incentives for Israelis and Palestinians to restart peace negotiations at a peace summit later this year in Paris.
During their monthly meeting in Brussels, the EU’s 28 foreign ministers tasked the European Commission and the EU’s External Action Service — its equivalent of a foreign ministry — to make a “concrete and substantial contribution” to international efforts seeking to revitalized the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process through a “global set of incentives” for both two parties.
“The EU is determined, alongside other international and regional partners, to bring a concrete and substantial contribution to a global set of incentives for the parties to make peace with a view to an international conference planned to be held before the end of the year,” the foreign ministers said in a statement.
Monday’s Foreign Affairs Council specifically mentions “economic incentives,” invoking the EU’s 2013 offer of an “unprecedented package of political, economic and security support to be offered to and developed with both parties in the context of a final status agreement.”
The United Nations’ Remorse for “Creating” Israel
The United Nations did not choose June 4 or June 10 as the date to stand together with Palestinians. Those dates in 1967 were the beginning and end of the Six Day War when the Jordanians (together with Palestinians who were then citizens of Jordan) launched an attack on Israel and consequently lost the “West Bank” which they had illegally annexed. If the root cause of the plight of Palestinians was “Israeli settlements” in the West Bank, then those dates would have been more appropriate to anchor the anniversary.
But the United Nations wanted to mark its own poor decision. While the Palestinians rejected partition in 1947 and launched wars in 1948 and again in 1967, those bad decisions and actions were not deemed relevant. The UN chose to tell the Palestinians that it was not their fault. Their situation stemmed from decisions that the UN itself made.
Today, while the UN may no longer outwardly state that “Zionism is Racism,” the global body has adopted Abbas’s narrative that the UN planted a colonialist flag in Palestine. The Europeans and liberal press now echo Abbas and the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who claim that Israel is a foreign and dangerous entity that was unnaturally inserted into the Middle East, and that the Arabs are the sole indigenous people and the land itself is inherently “Arab.”
It is well passed time for Israel to actively combat this claim of colonialization, the way activists overturned the “Zionism is Racism” UN edict in 1991. It is time to clearly educate the world that RE-ESTABLISHING the Jewish State and not banning where Jews can and cannot live is neither colonialist nor racist, but the essence of freedom and justice.
Israel confirms it’ll ratify nuke test ban, ‘at the right time’
Israel said Monday it would ratify a treaty banning nuclear tests, a move that could be significant for Middle East peace, but only at “the right time.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Lassina Zerbo, the visiting head of the UN organization created to implement the treaty, that Israel supports the terms and therefore signed it, his office said in a statement.
But the further matter of ratification depends on “the regional context and the appropriate timing,” Netanyahu said.
His comments were backed up by Zerbo, who told The Associated Press after their meeting that the prime minister considered the issue of ratifying the treaty a matter of “when, rather than if.”
Israeli ratification would move the treaty closer to taking effect, leaving only seven holdouts among the 44 countries that must ratify it for the pact to go live.
Ahram: Palestine Revisited
In the official Arab discourse, the Palestine cause is still the "Arab's first cause" and the "crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict." Today, however, such talk seems to have lost credibility at both the official and grassroots levels. Egypt since 1979 and Jordan since 1994 are bound by peace treaties that oblige them to normalize relations with Israel, regardless of Israel's position on the Palestinian cause. Moreover, in 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) itself signed the Oslo Accords, committing it to security cooperation with Israel.
In addition, some Arab governments today openly hold that Israel is no longer a major threat to the security of Arab states and peoples. They promote the idea of cooperating with it beneath the guise of the need to fight terrorism or, alternatively, the need to counter the Iranian expansionist project in the region.
At the grassroots level, the Palestinian cause has fallen to the bottom of the list of Arab priorities now that the region is infested with the plagues of extremism, sectarian strife and civil wars with no end in sight. Shia Arabs are at war with Sunni Arabs. The Kurds in Arab countries are at war with Arab citizens, whether Sunni or Shia. Most Muslims in the region, whether Arab or non-Arab, are at war with non-Muslims. Even the Palestinians are so divided that one camp accuses the other of serving as an Israeli tool designed to bury the Palestinian cause.
Until the Palestinians unite and all factions agree on a new and unified strategy for managing the conflict with Israel, there can never be a real opportunity for a political settlement.
Israel to take delivery of new stealth F-35 fighter jet this week
The Israeli defense establishment calls it a game changer, and views it as the plane that will provide the country with unparalleled aerial capabilities against its enemies.
On Wednesday, the IAF will move a step closer to deploying the F-35 Lightning II, one of the world’s most advanced stealth fighter jets, when the first of its fifth-generation warplanes is officially rolled out by manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
Defense officials say the jets will transform Israel’s combat capabilities and significantly upgrade the air force’s ability to confront the threats posed to it, particularly by Hezbollah.
Wednesday’s ceremony, to be attended by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman alongside top IAF officers, will take place at Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The unveiling comes just weeks before Israel marks the 10th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War.
The F-35’s stealth features include advanced sensors, guided weapons, and the ability to fuse data from various sources, allowing the pilot to focus on tactics, rather than on running the aircraft. The first two jets will arrive in Israel in December.
Gaza Arabs demand UN stop Israel's anti-terror tunnel wall
Construction of an underground security wall along Israel’s border with Gaza has prompted an outcry in the Strip, with calls for intervention by international human rights organizations and the United Nations to block the Israeli plan.
The wall, which will run tens of yards into the ground and is intended to block Hamas terror tunnels, will be built entirely on Israel’s side of the border.
That hasn’t stopped Palestinians from crying foul, however, with claims that the wall would cause environmental damage.
In an interview published on Sunday by the Falastin newspaper, a Hamas mouthpiece, Gaza environmentalists warned that the security wall would block groundwater from Israel moving into the Gaza Strip. This, they claim, would prevent the replenishment of underground aquifers and force Gazans to draw more heavily from alternative sources.
The experts cited in the interview also suggested that the wall could cause cave-ins along the border, and would block the movement of animals across the Gaza-Israel border.
Hamas-Fatah unity talks stall - again
Reconciliation talks between longtime rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah continue to stall, and a new planned round of meeting has been put on hold, the Ma’an news agency reports.
The sides began a third round of talks last Wednesday in the Qatari capital of Doha, but they took a negative turn Saturday when Hamas accused Fatah over the failure of that day’s meeting surrounding the issues of employment and legislative council.
Hamas Spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement quoted by Ma’an that Fatah officials had allegedly recounted on previous agreements made in past sessions, something Fatah officials denied.
Abu Zuhri added that the Fatah delegation did not complete the day’s scheduled meetings and withdrew during the second session.
In the statement, Hamas held the Fatah leadership entirely responsible for “failing” the meeting, stressing that there was no” political will to achieve reconciliation” on part of Fatah.
Workers in the PA: Better salaries force Palestinian workers to Israel
Laborer from Hebron, Qassem Abu Hadwan: "The lack of monitoring of [Palestinian] owners of companies and factories and their exploitation of workers is what has forced people to Israel, to work and build in Israel. If only [the salary here in the PA] was at least half of the salary [in Israel]… no one would work in Israel. However, workers have to go to Israel, because no one [in the PA] gives them what they deserve for their work, whether in factories or in companies, and even in municipalities..."
Official PA TV host: "Do you think that the low income and exploitation by [Palestinian] factory and workshop owners are what force people to go [to work] within the Green Line [in Israel] or in the settlements?"
Laborer from Hebron, Qassem Abu Hadwan: "It is what forces the workers to Israel. Even though the Israelis exploit them, they give them what they are entitled to. In the end, when a worker goes to Israel and earns 200 or 180 shekels [a day] as opposed to what he earns here [in the PA], 50, 70, or 100 shekels, then he says: A month's work here equals a week's work there [in Israel]. How can it be compared?"

Arafat’s shadowy money man visits Israel — report
Deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s former money man Muhammad Rashid visited Israel on June 12 and held meetings with Israeli officials as well as figures connected to Syrian rebel groups, the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, Al-Hayat al-Jadida, reported.
According to the report, Rashid traveled on a Canadian passport, arrived with a delegation of senior officials from Iraqi Kurdistan, and stayed at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. During the visit, Rashid, who is a fugitive from the PA, where he has been convicted of embezzlement, was said to have met with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and an IDF intelligence officer.
From Jerusalem, Rashid reportedly went on to Haifa and met with senior Israeli officials at a restaurant, where the delegation was hosted by Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kara told The Times of Israel that “it is no secret that I am connected to the Kurds, the Yazidis, and the Syrian Druze,” but refused to discuss specific details of the Palestinian media report.
Gazans squeezed by triple taxes as Hamas replaces lost income
Standing in his big, but nearly empty, warehouse, Hamam al-Yazjji, is struggling to keep his business alive.
It is not just the daily hardships of making a living in besieged Gaza that are hitting him hard, but the high taxes imposed by Islamist group Hamas, which controls the tiny coastal strip.
Hamas has recently further raised taxes after a drop in financial support from allies, such as Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the collapse of its tunnel trade with people in Egypt.
"I used to import tens of food items from around the world, but in the last two years Hamas makes it almost impossible to make a profit because of the high taxes they imposed," says Mr Yazjji, who is based north of Gaza City.
Consumers and businesses in Gaza are hit three times by tax.
Israel collect taxes on imports into Gaza and the West Bank on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and transfers the money to the PA after deducting a small administrative fee.
Candid Camera Show Drops Two ‘Israelis’ in Gaza City and Waits for the Lynching to Start [video]
The makers of a Gaza TV candid camera show in honor of the month of Ramadan were wondering how would rank and file Gazans respond if they realized that there are a couple of Israelis standing and walking in their midst. The concept was funny enough, and the two actors, Chouikh and Abu Zubaydah, depicting the hapless Zionists were equipped with a visual aid, just in case their subjects didn’t get the idea from their mix of broken English and Arabic — they each had an unmistakable, blue and white Israeli flag printed on their shirts. And so, with the hidden camera rolling, the two brave actors showed up in different parts of Gaza City, in front of a variety of astonished local men of all ages.
The funniest reactions were those of irate Gazans who grabbed the provocative Israeli before them and started beating him up, and the canned laughter loved those scenes. Some of the violent responses immediately followed the appearance of the blue Star and David between two parallel lines; others emerged following an exchange with the actors, in a clothing store, on a soccer field, on the street in front of a warehouse. Each time, the actor under attack, occasionally under a mob attack, would start yelling, “It’s a hidden camera” and urged the crew members to save his life.
But there were less violent, and more introspective reactions, too, when the subject would enter a lengthy argument with the two actors over their proposal that he become Israeli, for instance, because Israel is a mighty superpower. Unaware of being on camera, several subjects stood up to declare their fealty to their nation and their faith, expressing their anger at the provocation.
Vindication for Regime Change
As Max Boot observed, Barack Obama suffered an unpleasant surprise on Thursday evening. An insurrection at the State Department over the White House’s Syria policy has gone public. While the president was off at Yosemite National Park this weekend waxing poetic about the majesty of American topography, this mutiny spread to his Cabinet. According to the New York Times, Secretary of State John Kerry more or less agrees with the diplomatic revolt against the White House’s paralytic approach to the crisis in Syria. In taking this position, Kerry has retroactively vindicated the ouster of irresponsible regimes in the Middle East and dispelled the myths that supposedly explain the rise of the Islamic State.
The 51 diplomats’ missive, in which they dissent to Obama’s prescriptions for Syria, indicts the White House’s approach to the crisis from the very start of the Arab Spring-inspired revolt against Bashar al-Assad. Obama’s craven attempt to outsource the job of enforcing geopolitical norms prohibiting the use of chemical weapons on the battlefield and against civilians has only kept the Assad regime on life support. The Russian-U.S. partnership in Syria has now deteriorated into a virtual proxy war, with all the potential for escalation therein. “Failure to stem Assad’s flagrant abuses will only bolster the ideological appeal of groups such as Daesh, even as they endure tactical setbacks on the battlefield,” the diplomatic correspondence read. In short, the only way to destroy ISIS is to replace the regime in Damascus.
The fact that Secretary Kerry apparently agrees with this objectively accurate assessment of the increasingly dire situation in the Levant is a political earthquake. Kerry has seen his tenure at State consumed by the bloodletting in Syria. The administration’s desperation to avoid entanglement in that nation’s civil war led them to justify Iranian and Russian direct intervention in the conflict. Attacking the Assad regime now so as to shift the balance of power against Damascus, as these diplomats recommend, means risking broader conflict with Tehran and Moscow. In this way, the administration’s inaction justifies more inaction, and the crisis continues to spiral.
Syrian opposition denies any link to activist who spoke at Israeli conference
The Syrian opposition has officially disavowed the person who addressed the Herzliya Conference that took place last week, claiming to speak on behalf of the Syrian opposition.
The man, Essam Zaytoon, presented himself as the "Spokesman of the Southern Front's Foreign Relation Office." The Southern Front is a rebel faction operating under the umbrella of the biggest Syrian opposition organization, the Free Syrian Army.
In an interview with the Israeli TV channel i24 that was broadcast live at the conference, Zaytoon said that his participation in the conference is " proof that the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian opposition still exists."
In a statement issued on Saturday, the deputy chairman of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, Samira Musalama, denounced Zaytoon's participation in the conference, emphasizing that he "does not represent the Syrian revolution."
Uranium Found at Parchin More Proof Iran Lied About Building Nuclear Bomb
"The Obama administration has concluded that uranium particles discovered last year at a secretive Iranian military base likely were tied to the country's past, covert nuclear weapons program, current and former officials said, a finding that contradicts Tehran's longstanding denials that it was pursuing a bomb.
Traces of man-made uranium were found at the Parchin facility, southeast of Tehran, by investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, as part of an investigation tied to the landmark nuclear deal reached last July between Iran and global powers.
The Iranians have claimed that the site was used for developing and testing conventional weapons. The particles were the first physical evidence-on top of satellite imagery and documents from defectors-to support the charge that Iran had been pursuing a bomb there...
Critics on Capitol Hill believe the Obama administration played down the extent of Tehran's nuclear work to advance President Barack Obama's signature foreign policy initiative.
They and some U.S. allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia, fear that Tehran could quickly resume nuclear weapons work when the deal expires, or do it covertly...
Obama Admin Under Scrutiny for Ignoring U.S. Law Banning Russian Arms Sale to Iran
The Obama administration is stalling a congressional inquiry into its ongoing refusal to uphold a U.S. law that would sanction Russia for selling advanced missile systems to Iran, according to recent communications between the State Department and Congress exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
President Obama has the authority under U.S. law to designate as illegal Russia’s recent sale to Iran of the advanced S-300 missile system, a long-range weapon that would boost the Islamic Republic’s military capabilities.
The administration has so far declined to exercise its sanction authority under law and has been stalling attempts by Congress to discern the rationale behind this decision, prompting accusations that the administration is ignoring U.S. law and “acquiescing” to the sale in order to preserve last summer’s comprehensive nuclear deal.
Rep. Steve Chabot (R., Ohio), who first launched an inquiry challenging the administration’s reluctance to sanction the sale in early April, told the Free Beacon that the White House is continuing to punt questions from lawmakers, jeopardizing efforts by Western nations to block the arms sale.
The administration informed Chabot on June 8—more than two months after his initial request—that it has not reached a determination as to whether it will move forward with sanctions as specified under the law.
Iran reaches deal to purchase 100 Boeing planes
Iran said Sunday it has reached an agreement with American aerospace giant Boeing to purchase 100 aircraft to renew its aging fleet, though the deal must still be approved by the US government.
The Islamic Republic has ordered about 200 planes from three Western manufacturers since mid-January, when economic sanctions were lifted following a deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
Ali Abedzadeh, head of Iran’s civil aviation authority, said in remarks published by the daily Iran newspaper that an agreement had been reached with Boeing for the purchase but said the deal was contingent on US Treasury permission.
Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, however, said Sunday that he hoped the initial accord could be completed within a month.
He told the Fars news agency that the deal would be “the largest and most important contract” with the United States — barring military deals — since before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran claims to foil ‘biggest terrorist plot’ in its history
Iranian intelligence officials have broken up “the biggest terrorist plot” to ever target Tehran and other provinces in the Islamic Republic, the country’s state television reported on Monday.
An anchor on state television read off a statement attributing the information to Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. Officials could not be immediately reached for comment to elaborate.
Several suspects have been arrested and are under interrogation over the plot after agents seized ammunition and bombs, the state TV said. The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying the attack was timed to hit during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The report didn’t identify those arrested, though it called them “takfiris,” a derogatory term in both Arabic and Farsi referring to Muslims who accuse others of being “nonbelievers.”
Istanbul riot police disperse 'Trans Pride' march
Istanbul riot police fired tear gas and rubber pellets on Sunday (June 19) to disperse a march for transgender people banned after ultra-nationalists said that "degenerates" could not demonstrate.
Hundreds of riot police cordoned off the city's main Taksim Square to prevent the "Trans Pride" rally taking place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Authorities have banned transgender and gay pride marches this month, citing security concerns after the ultra-nationalist warnings against any such events on Turkish soil.
The annual gay pride parade, described as the biggest in the Muslim world, was due to take place on June 26. Istanbul has held gay pride parades since 2003, attracting tens of thousands of marchers, but last year's was broken up by police.
Turkish border guards kill 11 after 'firing indiscriminately' at Syrian refugees
Turkish border guards have reportedly shot dead nearly a dozen Syrian refugees, including children, as they tried to cross into the country.
At least 11 people were killed after they were “fired on indiscriminately” at the unofficial Khirbet al-Jouz crossing, around 30 miles south of the Turkish city of Antakya.
Many of the victims were from the same family, which had recently fled the northern Islamic State-held town of Jarabulus.
Local activists gave their names as Obaid al-Abo, 50, and his children; Hassan, six, Waed, 15, Walaa, 17, Fatoum, 20 and Amani, 21. His wife and another son were injured, they told the Telegraph.
Footage purportedly taken after the incident showed a woman weeping as she cradled the body of a young girl of around two years old, who appeared to have been shot in the stomach.
Another child is seen lying prone on the floor, covered by a blanket.
"Several families from the city of Jarabulus, north east of Aleppo and Idlib tried to cross the border on Saturday night towards Turkey," one activist said. "The guards opened fire on them indiscriminately.”

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