Thursday, May 18, 2017

From Ian:

White House: No Plans to Announce Embassy Move During Israel Visit
The White House does not expect to announce plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, despite President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to do so.
“There’s no planned announcement for the embassy on the trip,” a White House official told Breitbart News. The official however cautioned that the plan could change, pointing out that Trump “has his own mind and will make his own decisions.”
Trump’s U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley indicated on Tuesday that the capital should be in Jerusalem and that she saw the Western Wall as part of Jerusalem.
A White House source speaking to Reuters said that moving the embassy to Jerusalem remains a goal of the Trump administration, but that they do not want to complicate their goal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The official signaled optimism about an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, although the administration was “well aware” that many presidents had tried and failed to reach a deal.
Cruz: Western Wall 'part of Israel' & Jerusalem Israel's capital
Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reiterated his position on the Western Wall and Jerusalem Tuesday, telling Conservative Review that the former is part of Israel and the latter remains its “undivided” capital.
The Texas senator’s statement follows statements from three separate Trump administration officials refusing to say whether the Western Wall in (Israel’s capital city of) Jerusalem is part of Israel. The wall is one of the holiest sites in Judaism, and it’s visited by thousands of Jews from all over the world each day.
“The Western Wall is part of Israel,” Cruz tells Conservative Review, “and Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel.”
Cruz has long pushed for the president and the past administration to make good on promises to move the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In January, he introduced (along with Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.) the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, which called for the relocation of the embassy.
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Sen. Cruz said in January. “It is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel.”
Unfazed by Western Wall row, Jerusalem mayor still expects Trump to move US embassy
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat insisted Wednesday he is unfazed by US officials disputing or refusing to affirm Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall, and said he still expects the Trump administration to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Four days before President Donald Trump is due in Israel for his first-ever visit, Barkat praised Russia’s recent recognition of Western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and said he expected more from the Americans. While it was legitimate for Trump to consult with all regional stakeholders before relocating the embassy, the mayor said that the president’s appointment of several top officials seen as staunchly pro-Israel indicates that he will ultimately order the relocation.
“I wouldn’t give too much value to a statement by a person anywhere in the world,” the mayor said, referring to reports that a US consular official stationed in Jerusalem told his Israeli counterparts during preparations for the Trump visit that the Western Wall is not Israeli territory but “part of the West Bank.”
“Everywhere you put a shovel in the ground there are Jewish roots. So we don’t need anybody to explain to us how the city was and will always be — Jewish, on one hand, but respectful of other religions on the other. I do think that the Trump administration understands that very well,” Barkat told journalists during a briefing on the sixth floor of City Hall.

LISTEN – Mark Levin: Trump ‘Playing Footsie’ With ‘Known Terrorist’ Abbas
Radio talk show star Mark Levin slammed President Donald Trump for playing “footsie” with “known terrorist” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, saying, “This is turning into Obama 2.0.”
On his program on Monday, Levin also criticized Trump for seemingly being on the road to backtracking on his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
“Why is the president of the United States playing footsie with Abbas, who is a known terrorist?” Levin asked.
“Abbas dresses nicely, he comes to the U.S. and he makes what people consider reasonable demands and then when he goes back, the [PA] continue[s] to fund terrorism, they continue to encourage their children in elementary schools – and even in preschool – to become suicide bombers. I’m not even talking about Hamas, I’m talking about Fatah – the moderates!”
Abbas, who Levin notes received his PhD for a thesis denying the Holocaust, is a “gruesome, loathsome, genocidal maniac who is treated as if he’s some kind of statesman.”
Mark Levin: Will Trump betray Israel on the issue of U.S. embassy & the Western Wall?

Amb. Alan Baker: Four Pertinent and Timely Comments on the Trump Visit
Threats against U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
According to media reports, officials at the U.S. State Department, U.S. Defense Department, and the U.S. intelligence community have warned the White House that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be “harmful to the peace process and carry broader regional risks.”
The warning echoed sentiments coming from within the White House as well as those of Gulf states, Arab diplomats, and the Palestinian leadership.
Such warnings may well emanate from viewpoints and opinions held by various administration officials based on past U.S. policies and positions over the years. However, since such policies never achieved progress in the peace process, they can no longer be considered relevant, useful, or effective.
In fact, they represent a misreading of the present political and legal situation, as well as being at odds with Congressional directives and legislation.
Above all, they are the result of a distinct policy of intimidation aimed at preventing any anticipated change or innovation in the handling of the peace process, as well as preventing the realization of assurances voiced by the President on this matter.
The contrary viewpoint has no less, and even more, merit.
As long as the Administration allows itself to be intimidated by threats, it cannot expect to be considered credible regarding this or any other issue that may come up in the political negotiating process.
Evelyn Gordon: Arab-Israeli Ties: Hostage No More?
On any other day, the Wall Street Journal’s report on Tuesday would have been a major bombshell. Instead, it was unjustly overshadowed by the news that Donald Trump had shared sensitive third-party intelligence (apparently provided by Israel) with Russia. Granted, the intelligence story reveals something important about the U.S. president. But the WSJ story revealed something important about long-term trends in the Middle East–and for once, it’s unabashedly good news. Major Arab states have grown tired of having their relationship with Israel held hostage to the Palestinian problem, and they’re actually seeking to do something about it.
The Journal reported that the Gulf States are discussing a proposal to normalize certain types of commercial relations with Israel in exchange for Israeli gestures toward the Palestinians (the report is behind a paywall, but the Times of Israel helpfully provided a detailed account of what the WSJ article said). Two countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have already told both America and Israel that they’re willing to adopt it, the Journal added.
But the real bombshell–actually, several bombshells–lay in the proposal’s details: In exchange for Israel freezing settlement construction in “certain areas” of the West Bank and relaxing its blockade of Gaza, the Arabs would establish direct telecommunication links with Israel, let Israeli aircraft overfly their countries, lift certain trade restrictions and perhaps grant visas to Israeli athletes and businessmen. All these details are significant even in the likely event that the proposal goes nowhere.
Benjamin Netanyahu Palestinians the stumbling block to peace
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinians were the stumbling bloc to peace as he met with Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel A. González Sanz.
“The failure to achieve resolve the conflict with the Palestinians and achieve peace lies with the Palestinian refusal to accept the existence of the Jewish State in any borders,” Netanyahu told Sanz.
He spoke in advance of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel next week, which is suppose to help usher in a new peace process with the Palestinians. Trump is expected to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Abbas in Bethlehem and will speak with both leaders about potential talks.
Trump is not expected to unveil a new peace plan during his two-day trip. His envoy Jason Greenblatt is already in the area meeting with Israelis and Palestinians.
David Singer: Trump Must Honour Bush-Congress Deal with Israel
Trump’s broad-ranging foreign policy speech on 27 April 2016 highlighted the disgraceful way Israel had been treated by the Obama Administration:
"Israel, our great friend and the one true democracy in the Middle East has been snubbed and criticized by an administration that lacks moral clarity.
President Obama has not been a friend to Israel."

Trump’s claim was certainly justified.
Obama – aided and abetted by his two Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry – had deliberately undermined the written commitments made to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by President Bush on 14 April 2004 and subsequently endorsed overwhelmingly by the Congress by 502 votes to 12 (“Bush/Congress Commitments”).
Trump promised:
“To our friends and allies, I say America is going to be strong again. America is going to be reliable again. It’s going to be a great and reliable ally again. It’s going to be a friend again. We’re going to finally have a coherent foreign policy based upon American interests and the shared interests of our allies.”
The shared interests of Israel and America became inextricably entwined after the Bush/Congress Commitments had:
1. secured Israel’s total disengagement from Gaza and a part of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) in 2005
2. promised President Bush’s stalled 2003 Roadmap proposing the two-state solution a real chance of coming to fruition.
Jerusalem, the capital by law
A visit to the Western Wall by the advance team preparing U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Israel next week ended with a diplomatic incident when the Americans demanded that the Israeli team accompanying them leave the area, saying the Israelis had no business being there as the Western Wall was "in the West Bank" and Trump's visit to the holy site was a private one. Not only was this undiplomatic conduct, this went against American and international laws.
There are four instances in U.S. law that contradict what the officials in Trump's advance team said:
First, the 1922 Lodge-Fish joint resolution endorsing the establishment of the Jewish homeland in then-British Palestine, signed by U.S. President Warren G. Harding.
Second, the 1924 Anglo-American Treaty on Palestine, which incorporated the text of the British Mandate for Palestine that had been ratified by the League of Nations. The tenets of this treaty have been part of international law ever since, and according to international law, a nation's ratification of a treaty makes its content part of its legal code.
Netanyahu to unveil economic incentives for Palestinians on eve of Trump visit
Anxious for US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel and the West Bank to take place in an atmosphere of relative conciliation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly preparing a package of economic incentives for the Palestinians that he will unveil on Sunday, the day before Trump’s arrival.
Netanyahu plans to present the measures to his cabinet for approval on Sunday, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported on Wednesday evening.
In similar cooperative vein, the report said, Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon held talks in Jerusalem earlier Wednesday with his Palestinian Authority counterpart Shukri Bishara.
Among the measures they discussed were the opening of the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan 24 hours a day, progress on industrial zones near Jenin and Tarkumiya (west of Hebron), and more efficient arrangements for handling Israel’s transfer to the PA of taxes it collects on PA exports. A key concern raised by Bishara, the report said, was the high level of unemployment among well-qualified Palestinian graduates.
Zionist Union tours settlement blocs in message to Trump
Zionist Union leaders and MKs visited settlement blocs Thursday in a message to US president Donald Trump four days ahead of his visit to Israel.
Party head Isaac Herzog said he hoped Trump's visit would be successful. He said Trump's presidency was a great opportunity to reach an agreement with the Palestinians in which Israel would keep settlement blocs like Ma'ale Adumim.
Ma'ale Adumim was built by Yitzhak Rabin in his first term as prime minister," Herzog said, looking out at the Jerusalem hills. "A month before Rabin's assassination, he promised at the Knesset that Ma'ale Adumim will be part of Israel in any agreement. We are here because we believe in a diplomatic agreement, keeping the settlement blocs, and separating from Palestinians."
Livni told The Jerusalem Post at the event that the timing of the visit was coincidental and her party's message was consistent: The blocs like Ma'ale Adumim should not be "held hostage" by outposts like Amona.
On Israel, Trump has moved from outsider to wimp
The problem here isn’t just that Trump’s ego has gotten the better of his judgment.
Moving the embassy or recognizing that Jerusalem is part of Israel may generate violence in the Muslim world. But by adhering to the same discredited policies that don’t recognize that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and that for the first time in history the city’s holy places are open to all faiths, Trump is going to get the same disastrous results as Obama.
So long as the Palestinians are allowed to get away with delegitimizing Jewish rights even at the Western Wall, they won’t make peace.
Only by forcing them to accept the reality of Jewish Jerusalem will they come to grips with the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. Reinforcing their delusions, as Trump has done, will make peace even less likely.
Trump will have an opportunity to correct this mistake by going off-script when he’s in Israel next week. But if he doesn’t, it’ll be clear that at least as far as the Middle East is concerned, the brash outsider has become a captive of his establishment minders.
Six reasons Trump’s trip appears jinxed
To show his love for Israel, Trump has made the country his second stop during his first foreign trip as president. None of the other five US presidents who visited Israel while in office made it here so quickly.
It’s a trip designed to affirm the tight US-Israel ties and to erase what many Israelis feel were an acrimonious eight years with Obama, as best expressed in his tense relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But as the Jerusalem Municipality is poised to line its streets with festive American flags, a trip that was expected to be one long, smiling photo-op has suddenly gone way off script, as the spring love affair comes closer to hitting the reality of the summer heat in the Middle East.
There are at least six reasons for the sudden meltdown, all of them coming from Washington.
Trump's Inauguration Rabbi: President Likely to Affirm His Stance on Jerusalem During Next Week's Visit
President Donald Trump’s inauguration rabbi criticized the president and his administration for its seeming reticence to clarify its position on Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem, but added that he was confident the president would erase all doubts once he arrives in Israel next week.
Speaking to the Algemeiner on Tuesday, Rabbi Marvin Hier — the founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) in Los Angeles — said he believes Trump will reaffirm his stance that “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.”
“Trump is not going to let it stand that the Kotel (Western Wall) is going to be under the sovereignty of another nation, or that it’ll be ‘internationalized,’ as the Vatican would like,” Hier said. “Those are unworkable suggestions that are never going to be agreed upon by the State of Israel. Trump has made it clear on so many occasions that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, so it would be quite a reversal for him to state differently on this occasion.”
Hier’s remarks came after a press briefing earlier in the day by Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who declined to give direct answers when pressed as to whether the U.S. regards the Western Wall as part of Israel. McMaster only said that the matter was a “policy decision.”
Seth Frantzman: If Trump leaked Israel secrets, why doesn’t Israel seem to care?
So why did the Israeli media miss these local sources who “confirmed” this story? No one close to the government seems concerned or willing to speak even anonymously. One could conclude they remain mum for fear of scuppering Trump’s visit or because they want to preserve the close relationship with the Americans. But the US-Israel intelligence relationship has survived worse scandals, such as the Jonathan Pollard affair.
What if the stories about a spy’s life “hanging in the balance” are exaggerated? The laptop ban on flights from Middle Eastern countries went into effect in March and a possible European ban is being discussed. The agent discovered the laptop plot months ago; why is his or her life only threatened now? This old intel was already shared with Middle Eastern and European states, and the Russians know as well.
If the laptop spy is not what Trump passed on, what are these sources talking about? Al Jazeera’s Ali Younes quoted a former CIA officer skeptical of “Israel’s ability to obtain highly sensitive intelligence of this nature about ISIS. If it was the Jordanians or the Turkish intelligence services who have done that, it might make more sense.” On Wednesday Reuters couldn’t find Israeli sources to confirm the story.
The Israeli sources that BuzzFeed quoted appear not to have had the high level access to confirm details of the story. The US officials who were the source of the story don’t seem to have more information on it. So what was this all about? Is it designed to make ISIS suspicious of its own people? Is a spy’s life really in danger? Beyond a known laptop plot, what did the Russians learn? Does it overshadow Trump’s visit? Why doesn’t Israel seem to care? We’re left with a tautology: We don’t know what we don’t know.
When media rely on anonymous sources with unclear or exaggerated access, we are left with more questions than answers.
Israeli intel experts alarmed by Trump leak, don't foresee damage"
Michael described Israel as having far better intelligence capabilities in the region than the United States, making it a critical partner for Washington. Yet both sides have an interest in continuing to cooperate fully on intelligence.
"What happened is a problem, it shouldn't have happened. But mistakes do get made, not only by the Americans, but sometimes by the Israelis too," said Michael.
"I assume that Trump had other considerations in mind and was perhaps not aware of the consequences of what he was saying. But this should not change the level of cooperation, which needs to be constantly broadened and deepened."
Amnon Sofrin, former head of Mossad's intelligence directorate, said the issue was unlikely to be touched on when Trump visits Israel on his first foreign trip next week.
Handling the fallout from the leak would be dealt with through intelligence channels -- between Mossad and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency -- not diplomatic ones.
"Cooperation between our two organizations is so solid that I don't believe that a special event will cause any big damage, it may cause local damage, but not a disaster," he said.
"None of us in Israel's intelligence community likes this event. But I think it can be put aside and allow [Trump's] visit to be very fulfilling and I hope very successful."
Report: Jordanians claim leaked intel was theirs, not Israel's
Intelligence about ISIS that US President Donald Trump allegedly leaked to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during an Oval Office meeting last Wednesday was sourced by Jordanian spies, not Israelis, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday morning.
According to the report, "veteran Jordanian intelligence officials" claimed that the numerous media reports that the information Trump disclosed to the Russians originally came from Israel are false. Speaking to Al Jazeera anonymously, the Jordanian officials said that they "don't believe Israel has any high level spies" inside ISIS.
One source told Al Jazeera that when it comes to ISIS, "Unlike Jordan, Israel relies on its electronic surveillance collection and its intelligence-sharing arrangement with its Arab partners." They also said that Jordan, on the contrary, relies on human spies on the ground who infiltrate groups like ISIS.

US President Donald Trump and Jordan's King Abdullah spoke by phone on Tuesday ahead of the American leader's upcoming visit to the Middle East.
FLASHBACK: Obama Administration Accused Of Repeatedly Leaking Israeli Military Secrets
Amid reports that President Donald Trump allegedly disclosed classified intelligence provided by Israel during a White House meeting last week with Russian officials, it may be instructive to recall that the Obama administration was repeatedly accused of deliberately leaking Israeli military secrets that may have damaged Israel’s defense capabilities.
In 2012, Israel suspected the Obama administration leaked information to prevent the Jewish state from striking Iran’s nuclear facilities. The leak appeared in a Foreign Policy magazine article quoting anonymous U.S. officials that revealed Azerbaijan, which borders Iran, secretly provided Israel with airbases from which the Israeli military could strike Iran.
“The Israelis have bought an airfield,” one senior Obama administration official was quoted by Foreign Policy as saying, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”
The White House denied it was behind the leak.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton did not believe the White House denials: “Clearly, this is an administration-orchestrated leak. … It’s just unprecedented to reveal this kind of information about one of your own allies.”
Jonathan Pollard seeks to ease parole conditions
Freed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s lawyer faced a skeptical appeals judge as he tried Wednesday to convince a three-judge panel to ease his client’s parole conditions.
Pollard’s lawyer Eliot Lauer tried to win a relaxation of conditions requiring Pollard to submit to a curfew and monitoring of his workplace computer and his whereabouts. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals did not immediately rule.
Circuit Judge Reena Raggi seemed to side with the government, saying parole conditions only had to be rational.
“It doesn’t have to be supported by a preponderance of the evidence or any other proof,” she said.
Pollard was freed in 2015 after serving 30 years for giving secrets to Israel. He pleaded guilty in 1986. Prosecutors say he gave secrets to Israeli agents in 1984 and 1985 when he worked as an intelligence research specialist in the US Navy.
Israeli Minister Cancels Visit to Jordan Amid Row Over Terror Attack
A diplomatic row between Israel and Jordan escalated on Tuesday when Israeli Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis cancelled a scheduled visit to the Hashemite kingdom for a ceremony highlighting regional scientific cooperation.
The cabinet minister called off a visit marking the launch of the “SESAME” particle accelerator — a project Israel co-founded with a state investment of $11.2 million — following a terror attack carried out by a Jordanian national in Jerusalem on Saturday. The Jordanian government criticized Israel for killing the terrorist.
Regarding the cancellation of his trip to Jordan, Akunis told Army Radio, “A country can’t take blow after blow and show restraint. Now and then a country needs to make a diplomatic protest… Peace with Jordan is very important but standing up for the truth is more important than anything.”
IDF seizes blood-money Hamas gifted to family of 2014 murderer-kidnappers
Israeli security forces seized thousands of shekels and property Wednesday night from the families of the terrorists responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys in 2014.
As part of a large-scale operation to combat Hamas infrastructure in Hebron, Israeli Police in Judea and Samara seized money given to families of several terrorists, including the families of the perpetrators of the 2014 kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel. Confiscated items include thousands of shekels, two vehicles, and two computers.
A car given as compensation to a terrorist's family by Hamas, later seized by Israeli security forces. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)A car given as compensation to a terrorist's family by Hamas, later seized by Israeli security forces. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
According to the IDF, Hamas distributes funds to the families of terrorists in order to encourage such activity and recruit new operatives.
Settler fires on rock throwers who attack his car, kills Palestinian, injures journalist
An Israeli man whose car was attacked by rock throwers shot dead a Palestinian man and injured an Associated Press photojournalist during a riot in the northern West Bank city of Hawara on Thursday, officials said. He said he believed his life was in danger, and that he fired in self-defense.
A group of Palestinians were throwing rocks at cars along the road near Nablus, when the Israeli civilian, a resident of a nearby settlement, opened fire with his handgun, the army said.
“A violent riot broke out near Hawara, in which hundreds of Palestinians threw rocks at passing vehicles,” a military spokesperson said. The protest was held in support of hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli jails on hunger strike since April 17. A spokesperson for the Samaria Regional Council said in a statement that it was the third day in a row of riots along the highway near Hawara.
Lynch mob attacks Jewish driver
Closed-circuit security camera footage of the near-lynching of a Jewish motorist on Route 60 Thursday has been released, showing the harrowing moments when rioters converged on the trapped driver.
Hundreds of Arab rioters blocked Route 60, the primary traffic artery spanning Judea and Samaria, in the village of Hawara, which is built around the road.
When a Jewish driver from the town of Itamar in Samaria was on his way home from grocery shopping, rioters surrounded his vehicle in an attempted lynch.
The riot developed out of a demonstration held in support of hundreds of jailed terrorists conducting a mass hunger strike.
As can be seen in the video footage, just as the motorist is about to force his way through a crowd of rioters blocking the road, an Arab ambulance pulls in, blocking the driver’s way.
The lynch mob then converges on the car, hurling stones and attempting to force their way into the vehicle.
The driver then opened fire in self-defense, killing one terrorist and wounding another.

Gazan woman charged with smuggling explosives as cancer medicine
Prosecutors on Thursday charged a Palestinian woman with attempting to smuggle explosives into Israel from Gaza by taking advantage of a humanitarian entry permit issued for her sister to seek cancer treatment.
The indictment filed Thursday at the Beersheba Magistrate’s Court alleges that Ibtisam Musa, 59, was enlisted by the Hamas terror group to smuggle tubes labeled for medication into the country, one of which was filled with nitroglycerin.
A Hamas operative told Musa that the explosives were meant for an Israeli-Arab woman known as “Umm Shadi Hosni” and were to be used in terror attacks in Israel. Prosecutors do not know the identities of either the Hamas operative or Umm Shadi Hosni, according to the Haaretz daily.
Prosecutors requested that Musa be held in custody for the duration of her trial.
Musa was arrested on April 19 along with her sister at the Erez Crossing to Israel.
Report: Arab, European States Meet With U.S. To Discuss Blocking Funds to Hezbollah
The U.S. held a meeting in early May with representatives from 20 Arab, European and South American countries to discuss ways to confront the extensive economic and commercial activity used by the terrorist group Hezbollah to finance its activities, according to a report in the Saudi newspaper Al-Seyassah.
According to the report, the meeting was held on May 4 and 5 with the participation of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar in addition to European countries and nations in South America where large Shi’ite Lebanese populations live.
The meeting reportedly focused on formulating a joint international strategy for confronting Hezbollah and drying up its financial resources.
According to the report, the meeting also dealt with threats to the Lebanese banking system as a result of Hezbollah’s economic activity there. Ways to restrict Hezbollah’s activity in Lebanese and international banks were discussed.
One of the decisions made was the need to deal with Western charities that transfer large amounts of money to Hezbollah and formulate a policy for dealing with Lebanese businessmen who live outside of Lebanon and continue to transfer large sums to the organization.
JPost Editorial: Witnessing genocide
While nothing in the Middle East is nearly that simple, US Jews also drew parallels with the Holocaust. The head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, spoke for all Jews in a statement on Tuesday:
“As Jews, we are particularly shocked by the extreme brutality of the Syrian regime, which evokes the worst nightmares of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people. The world learned from the 20th century that it did not do enough to stop the crimes of the Nazis, which led to the genocide of six million Jews." He challenged the international community “to put an end to the inhumane actions of the Syrian government.”
The Assad regime’s use of the outlawed sarin gas to asphyxiate civilian opponents is well documented and should have already been brought before the International Court of Justice for it to issue a warrant for his prosecution.
The reason it has not yet done so – according to Jonathan Spyer, director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya – is realpolitik. He warns that Russia’s ever increasing intervention in support of the Assad regime could result in a possibly violent showdown with the US.
It is time to realize that concerted action, not fruitless diplomacy, is the Syrian people’s lifeline. “It’s an insane regime and good that the administration is telling people about it,” Spyer concluded. But as a largely silent world contemplates the grim, black-and-white US satellite photos of the Syrian crematorium, Israelis cannot help but be reminded of how a similar silence condemned millions of Jews to death just a lifetime ago. It is time to do something.
House to Vote on New Sanctions Against the Syrian Regime
The House is expected to vote Wednesday evening on bipartisan legislation that would impose new sanctions on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad for war crimes and human rights abuses against civilians, sources with the House Foreign Affairs Committee confirmed.
The 4 p.m. vote is set to arrive two days after the State Department accused the Syrian government of using a crematorium to dispose of human remains from mass executions at a military prison north of Damascus unofficially named the "slaughterhouse."
The legislation, introduced in March by Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and his Democratic committee counterpart Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), has more than 100 co-sponsors. More than half of the co-sponsors are Democrats.
The bill would impose sanctions on the Assad regime and its foreign backers by requiring the Trump administration to blacklist any company or person that does business with the Syrian government and its entities, including Assad-controlled industries such as energy and air travel. It also would provide U.S. assistance to groups pursuing investigations into Syrian war crimes in order to galvanize prosecutions.
The Obama administration prevented a similar measure from receiving a House vote in the fall despite broad bipartisan support.
Trump Admin Sanctions Iran’s Ballistic Missile Program
The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it is sanctioning several entities in connection with Iran’s ballistic missile program, which the U.S. intelligence community estimates could be used to carry nuclear weapons over great distances, according to an announcement by the Treasury Department.
New sanctions will be leveled on two senior Iranian defense officials, including one who "facilitated the sale of explosives and provided other support to Syria and the director of the organization responsible for Iran's solid-fueled ballistic missile program," according to an announcement by the Trump administration.
New sanctions also have been leveled on a Chinese-based network believed to be supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program via "millions of dollars' worth of missile-applicable items."
Another Iran-based entity known to support Iran’s missile program also was hit with sanctions.
The Obama administration had avoided such sanctions to avoid upsetting the Iranians and potentially complicating the nuclear agreement.
The new action comes just days after Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats disclosed to Congress that Iran is continuing to boost its ballistic missile program, including inter-continental ballistic missiles that are capable of delivering a nuclear payload.
Canada Is Restoring Ties with Iran, but Appears to Be Getting Nothing in Return
Five years ago, Ottawa broke off relations with Tehran. But since becoming prime minister in 2015, Justin Trudeau has promised to restore ties, and Canadian diplomats traveled to Iran last week for talks. Michael Petrou, noting the Islamic Republic’s support for terror, backing of the murderous rule of Bashar al-Assad, and atrocious human-rights record, is skeptical that any good will come out of reconciliation between the two countries:
[The] former Canadian resident Saeed Malekpour has been jailed [in Iran] for almost a decade, accused, among other charges, of propagandizing against the Islamic Republic. The Concordia University professor and Canadian citizen Homa Hoodfar was released by Iran last September, after more than 100 days in Tehran’s Evin Prison. . . . While diplomatic relations worked in that case, they didn’t save the Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who, in 2003, was jailed at Evin, tortured, raped, and murdered. . . .
This doesn’t necessarily mean Canada shouldn’t have diplomatic relations with Iran. Canada has official ties with all sorts of obscene regimes. . . . But it would be refreshing if Canada were more candid about the tawdry nature of these relations. Trudeau once dismissed the weaponized armored vehicles Canada sells to Saudi Arabia as “jeeps”—a ridiculous statement, but one that was easier to square with his government’s supposedly more principled foreign policy.
Trump State Dept. Breaks from Obama White House: Afghan Taliban Is a ‘Terrorist Organization’
President Donald Trump’s administration, marking a departure from the position of its predecessor, did not hesitate to refer to the Afghan Taliban, which has killed and wounded U.S. service members for nearly 16 years, as a “terrorist organization.”
When pressed whether or not it considered the Afghan Taliban a terrorist organization, former President Barack Obama’s White House said the jihadists are not terrorists, referring to the group as an “armed insurgency” instead.
Breitbart News posed a similar question to Trump’s State Department, in charge of maintaining the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
“Since 2002, the Afghan Taliban has been designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which imposes sanctions and penalties on terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism,” responded a State Department spokesperson. “As a result of the designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which the group has any interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them or to their benefit.”
“In addition to the Taliban’s designation under E.O. 13224, section 691(d) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008 mandates that the Taliban is considered a terrorist organization for immigration purposes,” continued the official.
Why did Turkey’s Erdogan lash out at Israel again?
“Israel kills children who play at the seashore, and there is no force that can deter it or make it put an end to this policy,” said President Erdoğan. “Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”
He called on all the Muslims in the world to visit the Islamic holy places in Israel, and as a goodwill gesture, he also extended $10 million in financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority.
Erdoğan, the old-new dictator who has been further empowered by his latest political victory, is playing a hypocritical and two-faced game. While posing as a paladin of human rights, he is systematically violating human rights in his own country.
Whoever looks into the human rights situation in Turkey since last year’s failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, will come up with amazing figures. Some 47,000 persons are now detained in Turkish prisons, 100,000 officials have been expelled from public service, and 4,200 judges have been dismissed.
Just recently the government issued arrest warrants for another 107 judges and general prosecutors on the grounds of membership in the “armed terror organization” of exiled leader Fethullah Gülen.
Congress Demands Criminal Charges Against Erdogan’s Bodyguards After Violent Beating Of Protesters In Washington, D.C.
Congress is demanding that someone be held to account after Tuesday’s violent altercation between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards and protesters exercising their First Amendment right. The facts of the case are clear.
Video footage shows men in black suits, identified as members of Erdogan’s security detail, and Turkish embassy staff, kicking, punching, and pummeling Kurdish protesters outside the residence compound of the Turkish Embassy. Casually putting their earpieces back in place, the Turkish security forces then retreat back to the compound where diplomatic immunity renders them virtually invincible.
Eyewitnesses, the U.S. State Department, and even Turkish state media have corroborated what was clearly shown in the video, prompting senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee to call for criminal charges against Erdogan’s bodyguards.
“To send a clear message that these acts of violence will not be tolerated, I ask that you immediately look into this matter and bring all appropriate criminal charges before these individuals leave the United States,” writes Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) in a letter addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior. Above all else, they should never be permitted to violate the protections afforded by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
Turkey’s Anti-Semitic, Anti-Democratic, Pro-Erdogan Hit Television Drama
One of Turkish television’s most popular series, The Last Emperor, tells of the final years of Sultan Abdulhamid II—before he was overthrown in 1909 by advocates of constitutional monarchy. While Abdulhamid is still remembered by many in Turkey as the ruler who revoked the Ottoman empire’s short-lived first constitution, instigated bloody pogroms against Armenians and other minorities, and cultivated a pan-Islamist ideology, the show makes him its hero. Aykan Erdemir and Oren Kessler describe its depiction of his opponents:
Of all the series’ villains, none are more sinister than the Jews. Two minutes into its very first scene, Abdulhamid is riding in a procession in Istanbul when a mustachioed onlooker flips a coin into the hand of one of the royal guards. The soldier opens his hand to find the coin is etched with a Star of David surrounding a squat cross in the style favored by Crusaders and Freemasons. The signal thus received, dozens of his fellow guards turn around and open fire on the royal carriage. The screen fades to black—and to the crescent moon that accompanies the mournful opening theme.
Later in the episode we learn that underneath the coin-flipper’s Ottoman fez is the black skullcap of a Catholic priest, for he is a Vatican emissary working for none other than Theodor Herzl, the Jewish Austrian journalist who founded modern Zionism. Herzl, his beguiling assistant Sarah, and their various co-conspirators are forever haunting Istanbul, meeting with wayward members of the sultan’s family who are themselves intoxicated by deviant, imported ideas such as popular sovereignty. Herzl is the series’ arch-villain, so perfidious as to hold his penniless father imprisoned without his mother’s knowledge — all because the old man opposes Zionism. . . .

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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 14 years and 30,000 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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