Thursday, January 26, 2017

From Ian:

NGO Monitor: Council of Europe Report on Gaza – Another NGO Echo Chamber
Jansson also fails to support her claims with verifiable sources, often referring to unnamed “NGOs” with no proper citation. For example she states, “As I was told by Palestinian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) during my visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah, those who do manage to cross the borders are sometimes arrested by the Israeli authorities or incited to collaborate with them”. She further fails to provide a source for the claim, “According to Palestinian NGOs, 51% of children in Gaza are suffering from physical and mental traumas”.
In one place, Jansson names and cites a severe and unverifiable allegation from the Palestinian political NGO known as the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, regarding “a massive and exceptional escalation in Israel’s attacks and harassment of Palestinian fishermen, including use of live fire, arbitrary arrest employing humiliating and degrading practices and use of physical violence and verbal abuse”. Al-Mezan regularly describes Israel’s policies as “apartheid,” accuses Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and “war crimes,” and promotes the “Nakba” narrative, and these allegations should be seen in that context.
Jansson’s report further cites The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) extensively. OCHA also repeatedly publishes reports, factsheets, and informational databases that rely on and repeat NGO claims, thereby lending credence and credibility to highly misleading accusations. For example, on December 29, 2015, OCHA published a “2016 Syrian Arab Republic Humanitarian Response Plan.” According to media reports, after consulting the Syrian government, OCHA “altered dozens of passages and omitted pertinent information to paint the government of Bashar al-Assad in a more favorable light.” (For more on OCHA bias and politicization, see NGO Monitor’s report UNOCHA-oPt: Politicized Activities and Funding in the Arab-Israeli Conflict.)
The Council of Europe document highlights the lack of credibility resulting from reliance on claims of political NGOs, without independent verification. The Council of Europe and other organizations repeatedly overlook the abuse of human rights rhetoric by groups that disperse misinformation in the service of radical political agendas. Thus, instead of suggesting “practical recommendations to improve the situation” in Gaza, this publication simply restates the biases and unfounded claims of NGOs, fueling the conflict and doing nothing to address the humanitarian concerns.
The Losers of 2016: The Palestinians
In 2016, supporters of the Palestinian cause clung to one symbolic victory at year’s end: the passage of a UN resolution (passed with a crucial abstention from the U.S.) condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal. But the fact that this toothless declaration from a UN echo chamber, passed with the help of a lame duck American presidential administration in its death throes counts as the Palestinians’ main accomplishment in 2016 only underscores how much trouble the Palestinian cause is in.
The problem for the Palestinians is this: organizationally and economically they remain weak compared to their Israeli opponents and rivals, and the gap between the capabilities of the Palestinian movement and the Israeli state widens every year. The Palestinian movement has attempted to counter this growing disparity by building alliances with external actors who, for a variety of reasons, either dislike and fear the Israelis, or, for a mix of religious, ethical, or cultural reasons are disposed support the Palestinian cause.
Over the years, the Palestinians have gradually managed to build significant alliances with the wealthy Gulf Arab states, the European Union, and liberal Democrats in the United States. Those alliances have resulted in significant diplomatic and economic support, to some degree offsetting the underlying weakness of the Palestinian movement considered in itself.
These external alliances do things for the Palestinians that the Palestinians cannot do for themselves. The Palestinian Authority, for example, could not pay its bills, operate educational or health systems, police its territory or provide for its civil servants without recurring annual subsidies from donor governments. The Palestinian Authority has no ability to meet the needs of Palestinian refugees outside the West Bank; such aid as they receive comes from international donors.
MEMRI: Saudi Journalist: The Palestinians' Reliance On Armed Resistance Is Political Suicide; The Palestinian Cause Is No Longer The Arabs' Primary Concern
In his January 2, 2017 column in the official Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, titled "The Palestinians Have No [Choice] But Peace," journalist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh criticized Palestinian factions that advocate armed resistance, such as Hamas and radical left-wing factions, on the grounds that relying on such resistance and rejecting the option of peace is political suicide. He called on these factions to realize that the two-state solution is the only option that is feasible and is backed by most of the world's countries – especially given the existing circumstances, with the U.S. Congress expressing pro-Israel positions, and the Arab world, preoccupied with more pressing crises, no longer intensely concerned with the Palestinian cause. A stubborn insistence on armed resistance will only end up hurting the Palestinians themselves, he concluded.
Aal Al-Sheikh's column sparked diverse responses on Twitter, some supporting his opinion and others opposing it. The following are excerpts from his column, and a sampling of the reactions.

100 Syrian children orphaned by civil war to find homes in Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Wednesday approved a framework to enable some 100 Syrian children orphaned by the civil war in their country to find homes in Israel.
According to Channel 10 News, foster families in the Arab sector would care for the children, and some may be placed in Arab-Israeli boarding schools.
Once safe in Israel, authorities would make efforts to bring the children's immediate families to Israel as well.
During the course of the bloody civil war in Syria, which began in 2011, Israeli hospitals have often cared for wounded refugees.
In a meeting with foreign journalists in December, Netanyahu revealed that he had instructed the Foreign Ministry to explore ways in which Israel can increase the medical assistance offered to Syrian civilian casualties and refugees fleeing Aleppo.
The ‘never again’ imperative: Why and how Israelis are helping Syrians
The scale of destruction and death caused by the Syrian civil war has struck an old, dark chord in the hearts of many Israelis. For more than half a decade, a war has raged just across the border from the Jewish state, reportedly claiming the lives of nearly half a million souls and driving millions more from their homes.
The Israeli government has declared itself neutral in the complex conflict, careful not to get sucked into the violent whirlwind threatening the whole region. But Israel has not avoided the gravitational pull of the massive humanitarian catastrophe at its own doorstep.
Israel and its northern neighbor have formally been at war for seven decades. But following the outbreak of the civil war, the Jewish state has been treating Syrian casualties, including wounded fighters. More than 2,000 Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals since 2013, according to the Israeli army. Still, Israeli civilians, who are forbidden to enter Syria both under Israeli and Syrian law, have had little ability to act on any sympathy they may feel for the war-struck nation.
But two recent Israeli civilian initiatives, driven by the oath of “never again” — understood by Jews worldwide as a moral imperative to prevent any genocide after the Holocaust — are giving everyday Israelis a chance to help.
IsraellyCool: Haters Having Hard Time Dealing With News Israel To Take In Orphan Syrian Child Refugees
Given the news that Israel is taking in Arab children from an enemy state on humanitarian grounds clearly goes against everything the Israel haters claim about us, most of them are – at least at the time of this post – silent on the matter.
Most, but not all. There are those who won’t let this get in the way of their derangement.
Accusations against Israel hide the real issues
The truth is it is highly unlikely Abbas and the PA could currently obtain the political mandate required to enter into and implement any settlement that involves a compromise on Palestinian demands and that will guarantee Israelis an end to conflict and future peace and security.
This will not change should the latest Russian-sponsored reconciliation agreement to end fratricidal internal differences between Hamas and Fatah be implemented.
Today, post-Paris, a two-state solution is as much a desert mirage and political fantasy as was the Arab Spring in 2011.
Experience has proved that statements such as the one issued in Paris and recent UN-related resolutions on the conflict do not positively contribute to the achievement of a settlement nor end the PA lauding as holy martyrs those who commit terrorist atrocities.
Daniel Pipes: The Three-Way Option: Arab States, Israel, Palestinians
Foreign Affairs magazine has published a major statement from Israel's former minister of defense Moshe Ya'alon, a likely future candidate for prime minister, on his view how to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, titled "How to Build Middle East Peace: Why Bottom-Up Is Better Than Top-Down" (Jan.-Feb. 2017).
Ya'alon offers an impressive analysis of why decades of diplomacy failed and its enduring stagnation. His "bottom-up" solution contains four elements, three of which are somewhat antique bromides and one of which is an exciting, untried idea – the three-way option that I will dwell on below.
Stripped to its essentials, Ya'alon's article calls for (bolding is mine):
"the promotion of Palestinian economic growth and infrastructure development"
"improve Palestinian governance, anticorruption efforts, and institution building in general"
"Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation"
"a regional initiative that would bring in Arab states interested in helping to manage and eventually solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - whether or not those states have formal relations with Israel"
The first three have been tried repeatedly through the decades and failed to bring resolution closer:
Three Reasons Why a Double Standard is Imposed on Israel
The third and final reason for the double standard is the Holocaust, the European genocidal project to murder all Jews. Germany expertly designed and engineered the Holocaust, but was joined enthusiastically by many in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, and collaborated with by Western European countries. Even those who did not take direct part, such as Britain, Sweden, and Switzerland, did nothing to stop the Holocaust, in spite of pleas that they do so, and some blocked their gates to Jews trying to escape their fate.
The shadow of the Holocaust – its blame, shame, and guilt – has hung over Europe since 1945. After 70 years, Europeans are fed up with hearing about it. Current generations were not even alive at the time. Why should they be blamed and feel guilt, they wonder, about something that they did not do, do not approve of, and would not do themselves. Yet the shadow prevails.
How can it be removed? Well, if it turns out that the Jews are evil – that, given the chance to be in charge as in Israel, they behave exactly like the Nazis – then the ledger is balanced. European hyper-criticism of Israel makes both Europeans and Jews oppressors and murderers, equally guilty and thus equally innocent. Extravagant denunciation of Israel, however dishonest, frees Europe of its guilt. Americans, implicated in the Holocaust only to the extent of having closed its doors to Jews trying to flee, currently favor Israel over the Palestinians, according to annual Gallup polls, by four to one, while Europeans heavily favor Palestinians. Americans do not need to escape the blame for the Holocaust, while for Europeans condemning Israel is the easiest route.
Israel. Still the only democracy in the Middle East
The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index rates 167 countries scored on a scale of 0 to 10 based on 60 indicators
In 2016, Israel was ranked as a flawed democracy, with scores increasing steadily over the past few years.
The Palestinian territories remain in free-fall, without an election in sight.
Israel. Still the only democracy in the Middle east.
Ralph Peters Slams Obama for ‘Stunning’ Move Giving Palestinians $221 Million
Retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters said Wednesday it is “stunning” that former President Obama would give the Palestinian Authority $221 million right before he left office while the Palestinians “reject peace.”
Peters spoke with Fox News anchor Shannon Bream and discussed Obama’s attitude toward Israel.
“I would ask the former president, ‘How does it advance peace in the Middle East to reward the Palestinians for rejecting peace?'” Peters said. “This is stunning to me and you know President Obama has also had his alternative facts as it were.”
Peters said that Obama has always been anti-Israel and criticized the former president for overlooking corruption in the Palestinian Authority.
The “little guy” will never see the $221 million in the West Bank or elsewhere, Peters said. He then asked a rhetorical question about the Obama administration and whether it ever raised the issue about the Palestinian Muslim majority driving out Palestinian Christians from their homeland.
“I feel the American people never realized just how doctrinaire hard-left ideologically he was,” Peters said.

Jennifer Rubin: Understanding what Israel did and didn’t do
The predictable anti-Israel critics uttered predictable hysteria. (“‘It is evident that Israel is exploiting the inauguration of the new American administration to escalate its violations and the prevention of any existence of a Palestinian state,’ said Hanan Ashrawi, a leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization.”)
We should understand what this does and does not entail. “This construction is mostly in Jerusalem and the major blocks. It changes nothing,” an old Israel hand explained to us. “Obama would have exploded; George W. Bush would have had the State Department issue a bland statement about further construction being ‘unhelpful’ and let it go at that.” With a new president, no secretary of state and no one in the White House with extensive, relevant experience, the administration is ill-prepared to provide clarity on U.S. policy. “The Trump administration hasn’t clarified its policies yet, so they are best off ducking until Netanyahu and the president have a chance to talk face to face,” the source said. The two are expected to have a meeting next month.
The good news from both U.S. and Israeli perspectives is that the leaders are meeting and talking without the acrimony and sniping that characterized relations in the Obama presidency. “The embassy in Jerusalem, the two-state solution, how to handle the Palestinian Authority, settlements and above all the Iran nuclear deal: They’ll have a lot to talk about,” said the Israel hand.
While it may seem like ancient history, before the Obama presidency there was actually a workable understanding in place between the Israel and U.S. governments regarding building, one that gave encouragement for then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to give back land (the Gaza pullout alas did not bring peace) and ease transit between the West Bank and pre-1967 Israel.
Trump To Sign Executive Order Against UN Funding, Calling For ‘At Least a 40 Percent Overall Decrease’
President Trump is set to sign an executive order that may dramatically reduce U.S. funding to the United Nations.
The move comes a month after the UN Security Council’s egregious anti-Israel resolution, labeling the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, and the Jewish Quarter illegally occupied territory.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump’s draft order, aptly entitled “Auditing and Reducing U.S. Funding of International Organizations, demands “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in American funding for international organizations that violate certain criteria. One such criterion is whether a given UN body recognizes full membership to the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority, Islamist-inspired political projects accused of promoting terrorism and violence against Jews.
With the scrutiny of a seasoned businessman, Trump also plans on cutting funds to UN organizations guilty of: supporting terrorism-sponsoring states; supporting countries accused of violating sanctions; inappropriately engaging with sanctioned countries; supporting programs which fund abortion.
Moreover, “The outline specifically asks the committee to examine U.S. funding for peacekeeping operations abroad,” notes The Hill, citing the Times report. “The committee will also be asked to scrutinize the International Criminal Court, the United Nations Population Fund and development aid to countries that “oppose important United States policies.”
If Trump follows through with his defunding plans, UN organizations heavily reliant on American dollars may be severely impaired or cease to function altogether.
Trump will threaten UN bodies over Palestinian membership
US President Donald Trump is preparing an executive order that would halt all US funding to UN agencies that recognize the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization as a full member.
The move, first reported in the New York Times, would create a committee tasked with reviewing US aid to the international bodies and programs. The order specifically calls for a review of aid to UN peacekeeping efforts.
But the terms of this executive order have already been codified in US law, according to former Obama administration officials, who were compelled to cut funding to UNESCO after the body accepted Palestine as a full member in 2011.
At the time, Victoria Nuland, then spokesman for the State Department, said the US was following longstanding congressional restrictions that required an immediate halt to its aid.
Danon welcomes Trump plan to defund UN bodies recognizing PA membership
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon suggested on Wednesday that he welcomes US President Trump’s plan to sign an executive order that would halt all US funding to UN agencies that recognize the Palestinian Authority or Palestine Liberation Organization as a full member.
"The Palestinians continue threaten us with additional unilateral actions and we will continue to battle these attempts,” Danon said after news of the potential initiative broke out “We welcome any initiative aimed at thwarting these attacks.”
“The international community must make clear to the Palestinians once and for all that the only way to move forward is by them ending terrorism and incitement and returning to direct negotiations,” the ambassador added.
The move, first reported in the New York Times, would create a committee tasked with reviewing US aid to the international bodies and programs. The order specifically calls for a review of aid to UN peacekeeping efforts.
UN holds off action over new settlement construction
The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss Israel’s plan to build new settler homes in the West Bank, but took no action.
Council members heard a report from UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov after the Israeli government approved a major expansion of 2,500 homes, a month after a UN resolution that demanded an end to settlement construction.
The United States refrained from using its veto on Resolution 2334, abstaining from the vote in late December and allowing the resolution criticizing Israel to pass during the final weeks of former president Barack Obama’s administration.
During the closed council meeting on Wednesday, the US representative did not take the floor to speak, diplomats said.
The settlement building “needs to be condemned,” Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog told reporters.
Aussies wrap Israel’s knuckles over settlements
Australia on Wednesday issued a statement expressing “concern” at the government’s announcement the day before of 2,500 new housing units beyond the Green Line, the first time Canberra has issued a statement on settlement construction since August 2014.
“The Australian government is concerned about the significant recent settlement announcement in the West bank,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry read. “We continue to call on both sides to avoid unilateral actions that diminish the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution.”
The statement comes about a month before Netanyahu’s scheduled trip to Australia and Singapore, making him the first sitting prime minister to go to either of those two countries.
Abbas: ‘Dangerous consequences’ for new settlement construction
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said there would be “dangerous consequences” following Israel’s announcement on Tuesday approving the construction of 2,500 housing units in settlements in the West Bank, Israel Radio reported Thursday morning.
Speaking at a meeting of his Fatah party in Ramallah, Abbas also reportedly said that Palestinian diplomats will work to try and put a halt to the construction and that he is in consultations with officials from both Arab and other unspecified countries on how to introduce the subject in international forums.
Following Tuesday’s announcement, numerous Palestinian officials condemned the move, including Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi. “Such a deliberate escalation of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise constitutes a war crime and the flagrant violation of international law and conventions, in particular UN Security Council Resolution 2334,” she said, a reference to a resolution from last month that condemned Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as “a flagrant violation under international law.”
That resolution passed 14-0 after the United States withheld its veto and abstained on the measure. In 2011, the administration of former US president Barack Obama vetoed a similar UN Security Council resolution.
Giuliani Kushner will be an effective Mideast negotiator
US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner will be an effective Mideast negotiator because of his closeness to the President, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Giuliani pushed back against those saying Kushner cannot be an effective broker because he lacks diplomatic experience and is an Orthodox Jew whose family has contributed to Israel and the settlements.
His role, Giuliani said, should not really be one of being a broker, but rather as one whose job is to get the Palestinians to be more realistic, and not think that they can get the world to impose a solution on Israel.
That Trump appointed Kushner to this position “is important because they are so alike, it is almost like giving [this portfolio] to himself,” Giuliani said.
Proposed US embassy move not roiling Palestinian street – IDF
The Palestinian Authority might see the proposed transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a “declaration of war,” but average Palestinians don’t seem as aggravated by the notion, an IDF intelligence officer said Thursday.
The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity as per army regulations, said the conversation on the Palestinian street revolves more around its own internal problems.
“The facts don’t show that there’s a big trend here” of Palestinians fretting about the move, the IDF Central Command officer told reporters.
“The daily conversation in the West Bank is mainly about the electricity shortage in the Gaza Strip, not the embassy,” he said.
Interior minister revokes residency of terrorist's family
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Wednesday revoked the residency status of 11 family members of Palestinian terrorist Fadi al-Qunbar, who perpetrated the ramming attack in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood earlier this month.
Following the attack, which killed four soldiers and wounded 15 others, Deri announced that he would take measures to immediately cancel the residency status of the terrorist's family, many of whose members were living and working in Israel under a family reunification program.
Qunbar, a resident of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, plowed a truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem on Jan. 8 and was shot and killed at the scene.
Deri said in a statement that after listening to family members and consulting with security officials, he decided to revoke the interim residency status of 10 members of the al-Qunbar family, as well as the permanent residency of al-Qunbar's mother.
IDF soldier wounded in Jenin during arrest raid
An IDF soldier was lightly wounded in clashes between troops and residents in the West Bank city of Jenin early Thursday morning, the army said.
During the fighting, Palestinians fired gunshots and threw Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs at the troops, who opened fire at their attackers, the army said. It was not immediately clear which of these caused the soldier’s wounds.
The soldier received treatment on the scene and was then taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment.
The IDF initially did not initially release information about the wounded soldier, as his family had not yet been informed of his condition.
The army entered the Palestinian city’s refugee camp to conduct an arrest raid in the city, when they came under attack by local residents.
During the operation, the IDF picked up two suspected Hamas members — brothers Muhammad and Ahmed As’ad Abu Khalifa, according to Palestinian media.
Palestinian opens fire on troops in drive-by attack, is shot
A Palestinian man opened fire at Israeli troops from a moving car in the central West Bank on Wednesday night, the army said. The soldiers fired back, and injured him.
No soldiers were injured in the attack, which took place outside the village of Aboud, northwest of Ramallah.
The Palestinian gunman received medical treatment on the scene, the army said.
Inside the vehicle, the soldiers found a Carlo-style submachine gun, a makeshift weapon that is prevalent in the West Bank and in the Israeli underworld.
The shooting attack came hours after IDF troops shot dead a Palestinian man who rammed his car into a West Bank bus stop north of Jerusalem on Wednesday evening in an apparent terror attack.
The Israeli civilians and soldiers who were standing at the bus stop were uninjured.
Knife in hand, Palestinian slams car into bus stop, is shot dead
IDF troops shot dead a Palestinian man who rammed his car into a West Bank bus stop north of Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, the army said.
Upon searching the car, the soldiers found the driver to be holding a knife, the military said.
The Israeli civilians and soldiers who were standing at the bus stop were uninjured.
According to the army, the driver swerved from his lane and crashed his truck into the metal bollards surrounding a bus stop near the Kochav Yaakov settlement in the central West Bank, south-east of Ramallah.
Israeli troops who were stationed nearby opened fire, killing the Palestinian man.
Cash found to delay trial for Israeli held in Arab country
The trial of a Tel Aviv man facing murder charges in an unnamed Arab country has been pushed off by two weeks to allow time for a transfer of funds which may buy his freedom, an Israeli minister said Thursday.
The announcement by Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) came a day after a massive campaign on behalf of Ben Hassin managed to raise $120,000 in under a day following an appeal from Hassin’s father, who said his son could face a death penalty verdict as early as Sunday.
Ben Hassin, 21, who also holds Canadian citizenship, has been imprisoned since June 2015 after he allegedly killed a cab driver who threatened to kill him or sell him to the Islamic State jihadist group upon discovering that he was Jewish.
Hassin had been in the country, identified by Israeli officials only as an Arab state with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, to visit his grandparents, but volunteered to fight the terror group while he was there.
Israeli Tourist in Sinai: We’re Not Afraid, There Are Also Terror Warnings in Europe
Some Israeli citizens traveling in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula were undeterred by an urgent warning issued by their government on Tuesday that called on them to return home, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
“We’re not afraid, there are also warnings in Europe,” one Israeli tourist in Sinai was quoted as saying.
The Counter-Terrorism Bureau of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday elevated the risk level in Sinai to 1 — an “extreme concrete threat.” The warning noted that the sixth anniversary on Wednesday of the outbreak of the 2011 revolution that brought down the government of Hosni Mubarak could see violence in Egypt.
While the number of Israeli tourists visiting the Red Sea resorts in southern Sinai — a short drive from Eilat — have dropped since the pre-revolution era, the flow of visitors from the Jewish state has not completely stopped.
“There are warnings all the time,” one Israeli woman stated. “It’s very relaxed here, I feel at home. I have fun here. Israelis come here all the time.”
Hamas-run court sentences eight Fatah members to prison
A Hamas-administered court in the Gaza Strip sentenced eight Fatah members to various prison terms on Wednesday for “undermining revolutionary unity.”
“The special military court…sentenced eight individuals today for undermining revolutionary unity,” a statement on the Hamas-run Interior Ministry website read, clarifying that the convicted men collected information on “the resistance factions, its structures, and tunnels.”
The court said that four of the eight convicted men started collecting data in late 2014 and were arrested shortly thereafter, without providing specific details on the four other convicted men.
All of the convicted men belong to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security forces, which have not operated in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took over the small coastal enclave in an armed coup in 2007. Three of the convicted men received life sentences and hard labor, while the rest were served sentences from seven to ten years in prison and hard labor.
Rethinking the Iran Agreement
Amb. Dore Gold describes the current dangers of the Iran Agreement and what needs to be done.
President Trump's invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit Washington for a summit meeting is very likely to bring into relief the whole question of the future of the P5+1 agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. As currently constituted, the Iran agreement is extremely dangerous for Israel, Western European countries, and for the United States, and requires careful consideration about whether and how the West should proceed with it.
First, the agreement doesn't cover, in any way, ballistic missiles. Back in the early 1990s when the UN had to define which Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to destroy, it related to nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, and ballistic missiles beyond a certain range - in those days 150 km. For some reason, when the Iran agreement was concluded, no prohibitions were put on Iran's ballistic missile program.
Iran has the largest arsenal of missiles and it's growing. The Iranians are testing missiles of greater range and greater potency that perhaps today can strike at Israel or Turkey, but in a decade will be able to hit the English Channel or even the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. That can't be permitted.
A second issue, even more fundamental, is the fact that the Iran agreement has a sunset clause. That's like a point in time in the future when the agreement is no longer in force. The Iran agreement is like a carton of milk that goes sour at some definite date in the future and what happens at that point is that Iran could then go ahead and enrich as much uranium as it wants, to whatever level it wants, including weapons-grade uranium, and the West can't say anything or do anything about it.
If you take those missiles that the agreement allows Iran to manufacture and you marry them up with the weapons-grade uranium that Iran will be able to enrich in any quantity that it wants, what you're left with in another decade or so is another Soviet Union, not run by godless Communists, but run by ayatollahs with a Shiite ideology, radical Islamic in intent, and extremely dangerous not just for the Middle East but for the world.
Therefore, the stakes behind these discussions over the future of the Iran agreement are so important. They're important for the security of America, they're important for the security of Israel, and they're important for the security of us all.

Iran Points To Asterisk In Geneva Conventions: *Only Applies To Israel (satire)
Scholars of International Law held a symposium today on the legality of Iran’s settlement of Shia Muslims in formerly Sunni areas of Syria and Iraq, from which the consensus emerged that as formulated, the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of occupied territory and the population under occupation does not apply to the case, since an asterisk in the section introducing those laws refers to a note that limits the restrictions to occupying powers that are Israel. As such, they noted, Iran is exempt from upholding the Geneva Conventions.
The symposium, attended by dozens of experts in International Law, the Laws of Armed Conflict, and related texts governing the conduct of armies and occupiers, included a presentation detailing the factors excluding Iran’s policies in Syria from those laws’ applicability. Specifically, noted Professor Jujeen Gondorveesh of Tehran University, a little-discussed provision of those documents notes that all the restrictions and obligations incumbent on occupiers refer only to when Israel is the country doing the occupying, as demonstrated by the asterisk pointing the reader to the lower margin of the page: *applies only to Israel.
Such a proviso helps explain the conduct of the international arena over several decades, according to experts. “The apparent double standard when it comes to, say, the UN’s treatment of Israel vs. its treatment of other countries involved in occupation, such as Turkey, Russia, Morocco, or China, has followed International Law the whole time,” observed William Schabas, a Canadian scholar. “Apparently no one openly discussed this, but it turns out that demanding adherence to all these procedures from Israel and only Israel is specifically embedded in the source documents on the subject.”

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