Wednesday, July 06, 2016

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Can the Palestinians Hold Free and Fair Elections?
Even as Hamas continues to resist Fatah demands to relinquish control over the Gaza Strip, Hamas representatives could easily win elections in several West Bank cities and villages, especially in the Hebron area, where the Islamist movement is considered more popular than the Fatah faction. Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah have yet to recover from their recent defeat by Hamas at Bir Zeit University's student council election in April.
The decision to hold the municipal elections was announced at a time when the West Bank is witnessing increasing lawlessness among Palestinians, and Palestinian Authority security forces seem to be losing control.
Holding elections without Hamas's participation, will risk further consolidating the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- and reinforcing the reality that the Palestinians already have two separate mini-states.
The current mayhem plaguing West Bank cities, villages and refugee camps will not help in holding any free and fair elections.

Elliot Abrams: The Iran deal a year after: There are no benefits
Most critics of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA ), or the Iran nuclear deal, thought the costs outweighed the benefits. Supporters of the deal thought the benefits outweighed the costs. But today, after a year of experience, we can conclude both sides were wrong – because there aren’t any benefits.
Consider the arguments made during the debate over the agreement. In every single case – with one possible exception we will get to later – the arguments have already been disproved.
First, transparency.
On July 14, 2015, President Barack Obama said: “Because of this deal, we will, for the first time, be in a position to verify all of [Iran’s] commitments.
That means this deal is not built on trust; it is built on verification.” The next day, he said the deal offered “unprecedented, around-the-clock monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities and the most comprehensive and intrusive inspection” ever.
But this year’s two quarterly reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) included less information on Iran’s nuclear program.
How is this possible? “In the previous reports, the bases were the previous UN Security Council resolutions,” IAEA head Yukio Amano said in March. “But now they are terminated. They are gone.”
Yes, and so is our access to information.
U.S. Bankrolling Hezbollah
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, said that U.S. sanctions would have no impact on the organization, as it already obtains complete financial and weaponry assistance from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
After the flimsy and uncompleted nuclear agreement, the Obama Administration immediately began transferring billions of dollars to Iran's Central Bank. One of the payments included $1.7 billion transferred in January 2016. $1.4 billion of this sum came from American taxpayers.
Thanks to President Obama and the continuing lifting of sanctions, the money that Iran is receiving from the U.S., from international trade, and from increased oil sales is most likely being directed toward Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards, Iran's major beneficiaries, which keep attempting to scuttle U.S. foreign policy objectives in the region.

Denial, ISIS wins when you are silent
Remember the stories about how “ISIS captors didn’t have a Koran” or they couldn’t quote the Koran, which ostensibly provided evidence that they were not really into religion? In Dhaka, the murderers asked hostages to recite the Koran, which means the perpetrators were versed in it.
With Dhaka, the media has made a conscious effort to downplay the heinous crime. CNN writes: “In a perverse gesture, the gunmen separated the Muslims from the non-Muslims... the non-Muslims didn’t fare well.” They were hacked to death. The BBC said they were “tortured” if they couldn’t recite the Koran.
The media doesn’t want to show blood-stained floors or describe the injuries because that might make the public aware of the nature of the evil perpetrated. Auschwitz details you can know, and how the KKK lynched, you can know, but what happened at the Holey Artisan Bakery is left to the imagination.
It’s okay, the same was done about the mass murder at West Gate in Nairobi, when Muslims and non-Muslims were separated, or in Mumbai.
They kill non-Muslims for being non-Muslim, and they kill Muslims for being the wrong kind of Muslim.
There are two levels of denial regarding ISIS and other Islamist terrorist groups. One involves the Pavlovian response that they are not Islamic.
The second involves media purposely toning down the crimes and turning the attackers into “militants.”
Don’t blame Israel for ISIS
An Orlando man with violent tendencies committed the deadliest non-military mass shooting in American history and called 911 to profess allegiance to ISIS.
For some, this might as well have been the result of the Israeli “occupation.”
Not long after the Orlando attack, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told the EU Parliament, “Once the occupation ends, terrorism will disappear; there will be no more terrorism in the Middle East or anywhere else in the world.”
This fantastical claim and implication that Israel is to blame for mass murder should come as no surprise, given Abbas’ past anti-Semitic comments (and his promulgating in the same speech the libel that Israeli rabbis called for poisoning Palestinian water).
But it is not just Abbas or the EU Parliament Members who applauded him. High-ranking US officials have made what is in essence, a more moderate version of Abbas’s ISIS-Israel claim.
In December 2015, President Obama’s “ISIS czar,” Rob Malley said that “the absence of a resolution [to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] is fueling extremism” and extremists “refer constantly” to it. Resolving the conflict, Malley said, would be a “major contribution to stemming the rise of extremism.”
It is the existence of a Western-Jewish state on what they believe is Muslim soil that infuriates them. This challenges their belief that the rule of Islam, as the absolute truth, must expand, not be rolled back in the Holy Land of all places.
As Samar Batrawi of the pro-Palestinian think tank Al Shabaka noted in an article on “Understanding ISIS’s Palestine Propaganda,” while ISIS uses the conflict for propaganda purposes, its propaganda makes clear that it does not view Palestinian suffering as the main problem, rather the lack of governance by Islamic law.
Two-State Solution Won't Solve Mideast Crisis, Says Brookings Expert
In his new book, author Shadi Hamid asks the fundamental question: Why exactly does the Middle East suffer from a lack of legitimate political order? The answer, he says, doesn’t lie in Israel’s backyard.
Born into a Muslim family in Pennsylvania, Hamid is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and recently authored a new book, “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World.”
“Yes, bringing about a two-state solution would help,” says Hamid. “It’s something that the international community should strive to do. But we shouldn’t be under any illusions that it would unlock the puzzle of [failed states] across the Middle East right now.”
In conversation with The Times of Israel, the expert explains that he believes that even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were somehow miraculously resolved tomorrow with a two-state solution, the Middle East would still be “a bloody dangerous place.”
“It feels like Israel-Palestine has almost become an afterthought for how we talk about the Middle East nowadays,” says Hamid. “It isn’t the central conflict in the region. Many of us thought it was, particularly in the pre-Arab Spring period.”
“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the key to resolving the ongoing problems, or making peace, in the Middle East,” he concludes.
US says Israel systematically seizing Palestinian land
The State Department on Tuesday accused Israel of systematically seizing Palestinian land after the Jewish state okayed the construction of 800 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In the unusually strongly worded statement, spokesman John Kirby said the reports of new construction permits, which came Sunday as a response to two deadly terror attacks, called into question Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution.
“If its true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be the systematic process of land seizures settlement expansions and legalization of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution. We oppose steps like these which we believe are counterproductive,” Kirby said.
He added that Washington was “deeply concerned” about the move.
“This action risks entrenching a one state reality and raises serious questions about Israel’s intentions,” he said, citing a report released by the Quartet for Mideast Peace which criticized Israeli settlement building.
Once a colonialist, always a colonialist
You can take the Europeans out of the former colonies, but you cannot take the colonialism out of the Europeans. That much is clear, at least as far as the European Union is concerned. In an interview with Israeli journalist and TV anchor Eylon Aslan-Levy, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen was asked why the EU supports the French peace initiative when the Israeli prime minister has called for direct negotiations. "Why doesn't the European Union simply pressure Abbas to take up Prime Minister Netanyahu's invitation?" asked Aslan-Levy.
Faaborg-Andersen replied, "Because I think experience has shown that the parties are not capable on their own to reach a stage where they are able to sit down and negotiate. There is a need for a third-party involvement and I think that the Paris conference was a recognition of that fact [sic] that there was need for international focus on this issue that has been somewhat dormant for some time, I mean the peace process, and I think this was the motivating factor behind the French initiative coupled with the fact that we are seeing a constant deterioration of the situation on the ground bringing us further away from a two-state solution rather than closer to [sic]."
The Europe of the postnational European Union no longer invades other peoples' countries in order to colonize them, but it still uses all its powers -- limited and toothless as they are -- to invade how other nations should think and feel about the world, and to impose its distinct European view of how the world should spin for the rest of us.
We all know how hard it is to break an old habit, and the ideological parts of colonialism still come very naturally to the descendant of the old Europe -- even if the EU mistakenly believes that being ostensibly riddled with post-colonial guilt and inviting half the world's migrants into its own backyard somehow exculpates it from all its past and present sins.
The Green Line Is Not Israel’s Border
All peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must properly address where Israel’s Eastern border is. The border is the Jordan River, not the “Green Line.”
Under international law, a state has the rights to all the land within its borders. It is likely that Israel will withdraw from territory east of the “Green Line,” but the starting point of negotiations must be that Israel has the rights to the territory up to the Jordan River. Many fail to understand the nature of the line dividing the State of Israel and the West Bank. Even world leaders, such as President Obama, are susceptible to this fundamental mis
The “Green Line,” or the “1967 border,” is mistakenly considered Israel’s Eastern border, but it is simply an armistice line. Under international law, armistice lines have no legal significance in constituting a border. To name the armistice line “the 1967 border” is misleading and factually incorrect.
After the cessation of hostilities of the 1948 War of Independence, Israel signed bilateral armistice agreements with the warring countries, including Jordan. The Jordanian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement created the demarcation line along Israel’s eastern front, the “Green Line.” The name “Green Line” stems from the fact that the Israeli general was using a green marker on the map to indicate where the respective armies had to withdraw.
Israel’s preexisting border, as defined by the Palestine Mandate (the League of Nations Resolution of 1922 that gave the Jews the rights to Palestine), left Israel with the Jordan River as its Eastern border. This border was not changed by the armistice agreements, and Israel’s border remained the same even though Israel temporarily lost control of its territory between 1949 and the 1967.
Yehuda Glick: 'We must show them we're here to stay'
MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) gave a speech at the Knesset assembly on Wednesday, in support of an emergency bill to deal with the increasing number of terror attacks.
"Last week I attended two funerals. The first was for Hallel Ariel, the daughter of my very good friends, after a terrorist broke into her bedroom while she was home alone and stabbed her about 10 times in the chest alone. He did so to show his monstrosity and to murder a helpless 13-year-old child in cold blood," he began.
"The next day my good friend of over 20 years, Mickey Mark, was murdered. The community of Otniel, in which I live, has suffered many losses - seven members have been killed, along with another four yeshiva students. We are very hurt, but we are not pitiful. We have suffered a very hard blow, and it hurts. There are now ten orphans from a wonderful family."
Glick added that "The community of Otniel is in pain and broken, but we are not pitiful. Otniel and the the other communities in Judea and Samaria are strong, and they will continue standing against this brutal and murderous wave of terror. But this terror is motivated by the hope that it can drive us out of the Temple Mount and the entire Land of Israel, so they can create a Palestinian state on the ruins of our communities. It is our duty to apply sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria, and to continue building, living and flowering. To continue traveling on the roads, to move into the waiting homes in Hevron, to build more neighborhoods -- all these will give the message that we are here to stay.
Abbas urges UN Security Council to reject Quartet report
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday harshly criticized a newly released report by the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, saying it would not further the cause of peace, and called on the United Nations Security Council to reject the document.
The Quartet — the UN, United States, European Union and Russia — on Friday published its long-awaited report on the peace process, which saw for the first time a major international body cite Palestinian incitement to violence against Israel as a major obstacle to ending the conflict.
Incitement was one of the three “negative” trends highlighted in the report penned by UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov. The envoy said all three trends (settlements and the Palestinian Authority’s lack of control over the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip being the other two) “severely undermine hopes for peace.”
But Abbas, visiting the grave of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, reiterated the PA’s rejection of the Quartet report.
Lapid rips UNRWA 'insanity'
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid lambasted the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) on Tuesday, following the organization’s condemnation of the recent demolitions of the homes of two terrorists responsible for a deadly stabbing attack last December.
“UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness harshly criticized our decision to demolish the homes of two terrorists who last December stabbed two Israelis to death at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem,” Lapid wrote on Facebook.
“I have one question for Mr. Gunness: What’s it got to do with you? Actually I have another one: Who asked you?”
“UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees. Its role is clear. It is meant to help Palestinians find work and if they can’t find work then to assist them with food and medication.
That’s it. It doesn’t have another role. There is nothing in UNRWA’s mandate which justifies intervention in security matters. There is nothing in Chris Gunness’ past which qualifies him to give us advice on how to protect ourselves.”
Lapid then launched into a more general criticism of the UN agency, noting the special treatment Palestinians received, above and beyond what millions of other refugees from around the globe are given.
“[W]hy is it that only the Palestinians have a refugee agency of their own? What do they deserve that the 21.5 million refugees from Tibet, Darfur, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere don’t?”
Three IDF soldiers hurt in suspected West Bank car ramming attack
Three soldiers were lightly wounded on Wednesday afternoon when a light blue Palestinian car hit their vehicle causing it to overturn on Route 60, in the Gush Etzion section of the West Bank.
The Palestinian driver of the vehicle was taken to a hospital in Jerusalem, in serious condition, for medical treatment.
An initial investigation pointed to the possibility of a vehicular terror attack, the IDF said.
Security forces are on alert along Route 60 as it stretches through the West Bank from Jerusalem to Beersheba.
On Friday, on Route 60 in the South Hebron Hills, Palestinian gunmen killed Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark, 47, who was the director-general of the Othniel yeshiva. The father of 10 was driving on that road with his wife and two of his children.
Dashcam captures attempted Palestinian stabbing attack
A video released Tuesday evening captures the moment a Palestinian woman attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at a bus stop near the West Bank settlement of Ariel earlier in the day.
The dashcam footage recorded by a driver passing shows a young woman in a hijab approach the soldiers with a knife behind her back. As she raises the blade above her head, the soldiers back away with their weapons drawn.
The woman continues to walk towards them with the knife drawn for several meters before she is shot in the abdomen by the soldiers.
While grainy footage of attacks are often caught on security cameras, the video captured Tuesday is unique in both being clearly visible and seemingly showing the attack from beginning to end.
The attacker, whose identity was not immediately known, received medical treatment at the scene before being taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment, a military spokesperson said.
She was in serious condition, according to Channel 2.
Attempted stabbing near Ariel

Despite Netanyahu's pledge, Israel transfers tax money to PA
While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged last week that following the murders of two Israelis at the hands of Arab terrorists Israel would no longer transfer taxes collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in full, a report by Channel 10 Tuesday evening revealed that the government did not in fact deduct money used for terror from the transfer.
After the gruesome murders of Hallel-Yaffa Ariel in her home in Kiryat Arba and Michael “Miki’ Mark on Route 60 south of Hevron by Arab terrorists, the Prime Minister had declared on Friday that Israel would deduct from the monthly transfers the amount of money given by the PA to jailed terrorists and the families of terrorists who died while attacking Israelis.
The decision was endorsed during a cabinet meeting Saturday night, and praised by senior ministers.
"Israel needs to take new action in order to deal with this new kind of terror. I cannot be that families of terrorists will celebrate and receive financial reparations from the Palestinian Authority," Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) told Reshet Bet on Sunday.
Yet it appears that the planned deductions have been scrapped.
Missing soldier’s family protests prison benefits for Hamas inmates
The family of a fallen Israeli soldier whose remains Hamas is holding in Gaza demanded Tuesday that Israel’s government cancel recent improvements to jail conditions for prisoners from the terror group.
In a letter addressed to Prisons Service Commissioner Ofra Klinger and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the parents of slain soldier Oron Shaul said they were “shocked to discover” a decision to give some 3,500 Hamas prisoners a number of perks over the past month.
These benefits included permission to watch the 2016 European soccer championships, an increase from three to seven television channels, hard-boiled eggs at meals, and an additional NIS 200 ($128) for the canteen, although the letter did not say how often the extra money would be granted.
“It is unacceptable that Hamas prisoners will enjoy easy conditions and a host of benefits while the Hamas organization refuses to return our sons Oron and Hadar Goldin who were captured in Operation Protective Edge,” wrote the parents, also referring to another soldier whose remains are being held in Gaza.
Hamas's Haniyeh: No prisoner swap with Israel until re-arrested Schalit deal prisoners freed
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has denied the rumors about an approaching prisoner deal between Israel and Hamas regarding the return of Oron Saul and Hadar Goldin, the two Israeli soldiers whose bodies have been held by the terrorist group after they were killed during the 2014 Gaza war.
In a speech marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday on Tuesday, Haniyeh charged that Israel must free the Palestinian prisoners who were released in the 2011 exchange and later rearrested before another deal is sealed.
"The resistance is able to conclude a prisoner exchange, but we will not start any negotiations until the enemy fulfills his previous commitments and releases all Palestinian prisoners who were part of the Schalit deal," he said.
Israeli released more than 1,000 predominantly Palestinian and Arab-Israeli prisoners in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who had been held captive by Hamas for five years. According to the Palestinians, Israel rearrested about 50 former prisoners released in the Schalit deal in the summer of 2014.
In addition, Haniyeh fiercely criticized ISIS for diverting the Arab world's attention away from the Palestinian issue by carrying out terror attacks in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Egypt said to cancel visit of large Hamas delegation
In another sign of deteriorating relations between Egypt and Hamas, Egyptian intelligence officials cancelled an invitation to a large Hamas delegation to visit their country, an Arabic newspaper reported on Tuesday.
A large Hamas delegation with members from Doha and Gaza, headed by deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk, had been invited to visit Cairo in the near future. However, informed sources told the London-based Arabic newspaper Rai al-Youm that the invitation was now canceled.
The reason for the cancelation, the report said, was that Egypt’s intelligence chiefs are not content with answers to questions posed to Hamas leaders during a meeting in Cairo between the two groups back in March.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a high level Hamas official, told the newspaper that the trip was “delayed” until Hamas could come up with the right answers.
MEMRI: Mounting Tension Between Egypt, Qatar Following Sentencing Of Former President Muhammad Mursi
On June 18, 2016, following a trial lasting almost three years, an Egyptian court in Cairo sentenced former Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi to 40 years in prison on several charges, including leaking secret documents and information to Qatar and conspiring to harm Egypt's national interests as part of what has become known as the "spying for Qatar" affair. The court, under Judge Mohamed Shirin Fahmy, sentenced six other defendants to death in the same affair, including two Al-Jazeera journalists.
The sentence sparked furious responses from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the countries that sponsor it. The two MB factions in Egypt issued statements condemning it, claiming that the entire affair had been fabricated by the Al-Sisi's security apparatuses in order to take revenge upon Mursi, who is considered an emblem of purity, patriotism and sacrifice for the sake of the homeland.
Turkey, which is considered an ally of the Egyptian MB and shelters many of its members, likewise issued a condemnation, which said: "We voice our deep concern over the sentence... [handed down] to President Mursi, who was elected democratically in Egypt and has been imprisoned since 2013. We condemn this and believe that the decision will not help bring peace and stability to Egypt..."
Qatar, likewise considered to be a sponsor of the MB, responded with anger as well. Its foreign ministry firmly condemned the sentences, calling the charges untrue. Foreign ministry official Ahmad Al-Rumaihi said: "The sentences are hardly surprising, considering the death sentences and life imprisonment sentences that Egyptian courts have handed down in recent years to over 1,000 people, only to revoke them later..." He added that the punishments had been imposed for reasons that had nothing to do with the law and constituted a dangerous precedent in relations among Arab countries. He noted further that Qatar had headed the countries that stood beside the Egyptian people since the January 25, 2011 revolution.
Horrifying mob of 5,000 attacks Christians for BUILDING CHURCH shouting ‘Egypt is Islamic’
Vigilantes torched and looted homes in Baidaa village after hearing rumours worship was taking place.
And the horror continued when six CHRISTIANS were arrested for the brutal attack.
Naim Aziz Moussa, who was one of the Christians taken into custody, had offered the top two floors of his home to Christian villagers to use for worship.
Visits by a Coptic priest to the house near Amria, a small town south of Alexandria, fuelled speculation.
A baying mob gathered and threw stones, destroyed a car and shouted “We don’t want a church, we will knock down the church building, Egypt is an Islamic country.”
Mr Moussa said: "More than 5,000 people, including young and old, men and women, mobbed my home. They were shouting: ‘One way or another, we’ll bring the church down to the ground’.
“‘No church will stand here in the village. It’s either us or you, infidels!’
"The building was ransacked, including our home. My brother’s nearby new flat was also destroyed.”
Crackdown on Hezbollah accounts raises tensions in Lebanon
A bank crackdown on hundreds of accounts linked with Hezbollah is raising tensions in Lebanon, where the powerful Shiite terrorist organization enjoys fierce support.
The move follows the adoption late last year of a US law imposing sanctions on financial institutions that facilitate significant transactions associated with the Iran-backed movement.
Lebanese banks — keen to maintain the country’s role as a regional financial hub — have been working to comply with the law since May.
But Hezbollah, which acts in many ways as a parallel government in parts of Lebanon, has warned that it considers the account closures an “attack” on its supporters.
On June 12, an explosion hit the Beirut headquarters of one of the country’s largest banks, leaving one person with minor injuries.
Hezbollah was not linked directly to the blast, but several Lebanese newspapers said the attack was intended as a message to the banking industry.
One Year after the Iran Deal: Sinking Confidence in the U.S. Balancing Role
Yet Washington failed to deter Iran's outrageous seizure of errant U.S. Navy crews this January, and in fact commended more than condemned the regime for its actions. And despite its commitments to GCC states, the government has held up aircraft sales to Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar, key allies in fighting the Islamic State and deterring Iran. The United States has also done little to oppose Iran's encroachment in Lebanon. And most important, Washington had little response to the Iranian-Russian alliance in Syria, sealed just after the JCPOA, which reversed the Assad regime's fortunes, generated bilateral tension with Turkey and Arab states, and further weakened the U.S. commitment to anti-Assad rebels. In sum, for Ankara, Jerusalem, and most Arab states, Iran appears on the march in multiple theaters, without major U.S. pushback.
Absent a White House that is willing to "lead from the front," regional players have acted individually. Saudi Arabia has been the strongest in opposing Iran, leading the Yemen campaign, supporting Bashar al-Assad's overthrow, keeping its distance from Shiite prime minister Haider al-Abadi's government in Iraq, and withdrawing its bank holdings from a Lebanon that it sees as trapped within Tehran's sway. The United Arab Emirates and in some respects Qatar have followed similar strategies. Oman and Kuwait are on the sidelines. Jordan is worried about Iran but has more pressing threats. Egypt remains largely absent from the regional stage. Turkey supported a past Iranian nuclear deal (the 2010 "Tehran Agreement"), but it now sees Iran as a both a regional rival and trading partner, and it bitterly opposes the Assad-Tehran axis in Syria. As for Israel, many top figures, including leading military officials, recognize that the JCPOA has temporarily restrained Iran's nuclear quest, though Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself has not conceded this point. Israel has simultaneously courted Moscow, remained generally neutral on Assad, and reacted to the Iran-Hezbollah alliance with fairly frequent military strikes in Syria.
The result of all this is not pretty. The administration mainly appears interested in preserving the accord and its new channels with Tehran while running its still-limited campaign against the Islamic State. Left to their own devices and faced with an Iran on the march, regional states are responding in an incoherent and dangerous fashion, including Turkish shootdowns of Russian aircraft, the intractable Yemen conflict, and Israeli strikes into Syria. To the extent the JCPOA enabled this, it has degraded Middle East security.
Iran Gets Unexpected Support from U.S. In Its Push to Take Over Iraq
Iranian actions fighting ISIS in Iraq have been “helpful,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the latest indication that the Obama administration’s ISIS strategy involves allowing Iran’s efforts to spread its influence across the Middle East.
Asked by panel moderator Walter Isaacson about Iranian cooperation in the fight against ISIS (sometimes known in Arabic as “Daesh”), Kerry responded, “Look, we have challenges with Iran, as everybody knows, and we’re working on those challenges. But I can tell you that Iran in Iraq has been in certain ways helpful, and they clearly are focused on ISIL/Daesh. And so we have a common interest, actually.”
Isaacson followed up by asking if last year’s nuclear deal would lead to more opportunities for the United States and Iran to work together. “There’s no question that it opened up the opportunity for communication,” Kerry responded, citing the return of American sailors seized by Iran in January as an example.
Iran has honored the officers involved in the seizure of the sailors, whose treatment in captivity was dubbed by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to be “inconsistent with international law.”
Iranian leader blasts US, Israel for Islamist terrorist attacks
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday blamed the US, UK and Israel for the series of Islamist terrorist bombings that have taken place during the month of Ramadan.
“Unfortunately, this year’s Eid al-Fitr (the fast-breaking festivities of Muslims at the end of the holy month of Ramadan) in some countries was turned into mourning by those terrorists who want to replace the real Islam with fake Islam at the order of their leaders; and these crimes are the outcome of nurturing terrorists by the security services of the US, the UK and the Zionist regime,” Khamenei said.
He was referring to attacks including Sunday’s suicide bombing in Baghdad claimed by the Islamic State group, in which more than 250 people were killed, making it one of the deadliest ever terrorist attacks in Iraq.
That attack was only the most recent in a series of attacks throughout the world which bore the hallmarks of the IS group. These attacks highlighted the reach of the jihadists beyond Iraq and Syria, where a US-led coalition is attempting to eradicate the group.
Twin Brothers Kill Mother In Saudi Arabia Because She Said They Couldn't Join ISIS
Twenty-year-old twin brothers in Saudi Arabia allegedly murdered their mother for trying to prevent them from joining the Islamic State in Syria — a case of radical Islamic ideology swallowing up Saudi Arabia’s already extreme Wahhabism.
“The only thing (we have established) is that they (the twins) follow Takfiri ideology,” Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki told Reuters. Takfiri is a phrase indicating militant Islamism. “The case is still under investigation,” he said.
The brothers, Khaled and Saleh al-Oraini, are currently in custody. They reportedly stabbed their mother, father and 22-year-old brother in Riyadh. They tried to cross into Yemen following the stabbing, but were picked up and arrested by Saudi authorities.
The mother later died due to severe injuries.
Jews arrested in Yemen released from custody
Members of the Jewish community of Yemen who were arrested earlier this year over the spiriting of a Torah scroll to Israel along with the recent aliyah of Yemenite Jews have all been released from custody.
The news was reported to Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara (Likud) by Yemenite olim who were part of what was billed as the "final" wave of aliyah from the impoverished, war-torn Middle Eastern state last March.
A tiny handful of Jews - numbering around 50 - opted to remain in Yemen for a variety of personal and commercial reasons, but a number of them, along with several Arabs suspected of helping smuggle the Torah scroll out of the country, were arrested in the weeks that followed. The Yemenite government has claimed that the scroll is part of Yemen's heritage, as opposed to belonging to the Jewish community, and accused them of stealing it.
All those arrested have now been released, Kara said.
The deputy minister revealed the good news at a conference of the Likud party's Netanya chapter.
PreOccupiedTerritory: King David Faces ‘Apartheid’ Allegations Over Lack Of Arab Advisers (satire)
NGOs and political figures are accusing King David of a policy of racial discrimination and of barring ethnic minorities from his government, noting that of the many advisers and officials in the palace, none are Arab.
A coalition of activists and grassroots organizations called for an investigative commission into royal appointment practices today, citing the lack of even a single Arab among the king’s officers, advisers, ministers, and taskmasters.
“It is mind-boggling that in this day and age such blatant discrimination is practiced,” said Zehava Gal-On, a local activist. “I’m sure you’ll hear plenty of questionable explanations from palace spokesmen about this disgusting phenomenon, such as there being no Arabs in the kingdom, but that only strengthens the problem – why, exactly, are there no Arabs in the kingdom of Israel? Why do we exclude them?”
Others echoed Ms. Gal-On’s shock. “Our government prides itself on its supposedly unified and comprehensive representation of all tribes in the nation, but a cursory glance indicates that is simply not the case,” argued Dov Hanin, who runs the Association for Native Arabs Collectively Held Removed from Offices of Nobility in Israelite Systems of Monarchy (ANACHRONISM). “For a society that purports to bring together diverse elements into a unified collective that nevertheless preserves the uniqueness of each element, there is a suspicious dearth of representation of certain ethnic minorities.”
“You can’t get any more minority than zero percent,” explained Hanin. “That’s why the king should be making a special effort to help bring this marginalized population – marginalized to the point of nonexistence, I must emphasize – into the halls of power.”

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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 12 years and over 25,000 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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The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

Algemeiner: "Fiercely intelligent and erudite"

Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

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