Thursday, August 24, 2017

From Ian:

PA spends more on terrorists' stipends than on welfare benefits, report finds
The payments made by the Palestinian Authority to jailed terrorists and to terrorists' families are much higher than the welfare payments it provides to Palestinians in need, a new report by the Middle East Media Research Institute revealed Wednesday.
The Palestinian Authority spends millions of dollars annually on these stipends, which in 2016 amounted to 1.15 billion shekels ($319 million) -- 7% of the PA's total budget for salaries and about 20% of the foreign aid it received.
The Palestinian Authority's extensive support for prisoners and terrorists' families prompted the United States to halt the transfer of $221 million to Ramallah earlier this year. The Palestinians claimed that the so-called "martyr" payments -- monthly stipends paid to terrorists and terrorists' families -- were equal to the welfare benefits provided to needy families, arguing that in both cases, the family had lost its primary breadwinner.
But according to the MEMRI report, stipends to prisoners and terrorists' families, appearing in the PA 2017 budget book under a section titled "The Plan for Protection and Care for the Prisoners and Their Families and Support and Training for Released Prisoners," are defined as a "monthly salary" while the welfare payments are only made once every three months (quarterly). A review of the figures showed that the terrorist stipends are sometimes 20 times higher than the welfare benefits provided to needy families.
Isi Leibler: The peace process farce
Unless the U.S. is willing to confront Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the latest peace mission headed by presidential adviser Jared Kushner and negotiator Jason ‎Greenblatt may well prove highly counterproductive, causing more harm than good.
As he approaches the end of his reign, Abbas is determined to shape his legacy into that of an embattled ‎‎"freedom fighter" whose objective was the restoration of Arab hegemony from the Jordan River ‎to the Mediterranean Sea. ‎
Until now, he has ignored U.S. President Donald Trump's requests and demands. Incitement reached a record ‎high as he whipped up religious hysteria on the false assertion that Jews were desecrating ‎Al-Aqsa mosque, triggering riots and encouraging terrorism. Meanwhile, Palestinian children are being brainwashed into ‎regarding Jews as subhuman in propaganda replicated from Nazi sources.‎
The PA and its leaders continue honoring mass murderers by dedicating mosques, city squares, and ‎schools in their names. ‎
Despite American demands, Abbas has vowed that he will never close the Palestine National ‎Fund, which provides massive financial awards to imprisoned terrorists and to families of deceased terrorists. Incarcerated murderers receive monthly payments of 11,000 shekels (more than ‎‎$3,000), with a grant of $25,000 upon release from jail. This year, the fund has ‎distributed $345 million -- a sum equivalent to half the foreign aid received by the PA. Thus, the U.S. ‎and Europe have indirectly been incentivizing Palestinians to murder Israelis. ‎
PMW: Special Report: FIFA Must Correct Its Double Standard
FIFA moves quickly and forcefully to punish all acts of discrimination and racism throughout world football, yet it ignores Palestinian football's institutionalized discrimination, glorification of terror and terror promotion.
This special report contrasts FIFA's inaction on PMW's complaint against the Palestinian Football Association's serious violations of fundamental FIFA statutes with FIFA's swift and forceful punishments, even for relatively minor violations, by other teams or their fans.
Click here to read as a PDF
In April 2017, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) submitted a complaint to both the Disciplinary Committee and the Ethics Committee of FIFA against the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) and its president Jibril Rajoub. The full complaint documents the repeated violations by the PFA and Rajoub, which include explicit encouragement of terror, glorifying terrorist murderers of civilians, sponsoring sporting events named after killers, referring to Jews as "satans" and "Zionist sons of bitches," and much more.
PMW's complaint documented that the PFA is in violation of at least Articles 3 and 4 of the FIFA Statutes and Articles 53 and 58 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code, and the potential punishments include "suspension or expulsion," and a minimum fine of 30,000 Swiss Francs. Although PMW received notification that our complaint was received and was being reviewed, and despite a number of follow-up inquiries, until today, PMW has not been invited to give testimony and no disciplinary action has been taken against the PFA or Jibril Rajoub.

Daniel Pipes: Iran vs. Turkey, the Mideast's Perpetual Rivalry
News that Iran's and Turkey's governments reached an accord on Idlib, a Syrian town now the focus of American interests, brings relations between two of the largest and most influential states in the Middle East momentarily out of the shadows.
Their rivalry goes back a half-millennium, included eleven wars, and now remains, in the words of the Washington Institute's Soner Cagaptay, the region's "oldest power game." What does the recent accord signify and how will their competition influence the region's future?
Iranian and Turkish parallels are noteworthy. Both countries have populations of 80 million. (Egypt, the region's third large country, has 96 million.) Both boast ancient civilizations, long imperial histories, tensions with Russia, and a successful avoidance of European colonialism. In modern times, each came under the rule of a ruthless modernizer after World War I, followed more recently by an even more repressive Islamist.
The current leaders, Iran's Ali Khamene'i and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, enjoy near-absolute power and both feverishly try to hide this reality under a large and noisy apparatus of elections, parliaments, cabinets, laws, and NGOs. Both aspire to lead the entire Muslim community, perhaps someday claiming to be caliph. In an era of muted anti-Zionism from Arab states, Tehran and Ankara now lead the charge, with the Islamic Republic of Iran loudly denying the Holocaust and the Republic of Turkey comparing Israelis to Nazis.
In several ways, Iranians lead Turks, but the latter are catching up. Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979 and Erdoğan in 2002. Iran has long enjoyed massive oil and gas reserves but Turkey recently built an impressive economic base. Tehran deploys forces abroad, dominating four Arab capitals, while Ankara still fights domestic opponents, especially Gülenists and Kurds. Both governments despise the West but Iran's is openly hostile while Turkey's formally remains in NATO and ostensibly seeks European Union membership.
Syrian Dictator Assad Secretly Hosted Argentine and Iranian Foreign Ministers in AMIA Bombing Coverup, Ex-Ambassador Testifies
News outlets in Argentina were abuzz on Wednesday with speculation that the country’s former president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, and her foreign minister, Hector Timerman, may now face charges of treason for secretly negotiating a pact with Iran that exonerated the Tehran regime for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.
A sensational courtroom appearance by a former Argentine ambassador to Syria on Wednesday morning confirmed that Timerman had visited Syria in January 2011 to finalize the pact, at a meeting hosted by the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, that included Iran’s then-foreign minister, Ali Akhbar Salehi — who now heads the Islamic Republic’s Atomic Energy Organization.
For more than six years, Timerman, supported by Kirchner, has brazenly denied the reports that such an encounter involving the AMIA bombing was held.
Timerman’s journey to Damascus was first exposed by the Argentine journalist Pepe Eliaschev in March 2011 — at the time, Timerman effectively accused him of producing fake news, denouncing him as a “pseudo-journalist.” Nevertheless, details of Timerman’s meeting in Syria were included in the complaint against the Kirchner government compiled by Alberto Nisman — the Argentine special prosecutor who was closing in on Iran and Hezbollah’s culpability for the AMIA atrocity, in which 85 people were murdered and hundreds more wounded.
Nisman was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment on January 18, 2015 — the night before he was scheduled to present his complaint to the Argentine Congress. In May 2017, a new official investigation into Nisman’s death proved conclusively that he was murdered.
US State Department Refuses to Endorse Two-State Solution
In what can only be described as a complete about face, State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert would not make any statements endorsing or committing to the two-state solution for the Arab conflict with Israel.
Nauert said, “The President has made it clear that that is one of his top national security issues – one of his top priorities, I should say more correctly. We want to work toward a peace that both sides can agree to and that both sides find sustainable. Okay? We believe that both parties should be able to find a workable solution that works for both of them.”
This is particularly interesting in light of the recent statements by the Palestinian Authority ahead of the US delegation’s visit to the region, demanding the US clarify and confirm its endorsement of the two-state solution.
It very clear the Palestinian Authority received their clarification, just not the one they wanted to hear.
Nauert slaughtered another sacred cow when she pointed out the abject failure of the two-state solution to bring peace,
“It’s been many, many decades, as you well know, that the parties have not been able to come to any kind of good agreement and sustainable solution to this. So we leave it up to them to be able to work that through.”
State Dept: U.S.: We Are Not Going to Specify the Solution for Israeli-Palestinian Talks
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was asked on Wednesday about committing the U.S. to a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians. Nauert responded: "We want to work toward a peace that both sides can agree to and that both sides find sustainable. Okay? We believe that both parties should be able to find a workable solution that works for both of them."
"We are not going to state what the outcome has to be. It has to be workable to both sides. And I think, really, that's the best view as to not really bias one side over the other, to make sure that they can work through it. It's been many, many decades, as you well know, that the parties have not been able to come to any kind of good agreement and sustainable solution to this. So we leave it up to them to be able to work that through."
Israeli PM Netanyahu Meets With Visiting Bipartisan US Congressional Delegation
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Tuesday with a bipartisan delegation from the US Congress, thanking the lawmakers for their “strong support” of the Jewish state, according to a statement from the Israeli leader’s office.
Netanyahu and the six-member American delegation discussed regional security challenges as well as opportunities for further US-Israel economic collaboration.
The prime minister’s meeting with the lawmakers came before President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and international negotiations representative Jason Greenblatt arrived in Israel on Wednesday night for discussions on renewed US-led peace efforts in the region.
More than 50 members of the US House of Representatives have visited Israel this month in visits facilitated by the American Israel Education Foundation. The delegations are primarily comprised of lawmakers serving their first term in office.
Eighteen Democratic members of Congress, led by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), met with Netanyahu on Aug. 7. Thirty-three Republican lawmakers, headed by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), met with the prime minister on Aug. 10.
Kushner: Israel-US ties 'stronger than ever'
The US-Israel relationship is “stronger than ever,” US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor said Thursday in Tel Aviv at the top of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump “is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in the area, and we really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister in engaging very thoughtfully and respectfully in the way the president has asked,” Kushner said.
Kushner, along with Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell and Mideast negotiator Jason Greenblatt, arrived in Israel Wednesday evening after visiting Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt in an effort to re-ignite the diplomatic process. Following the delegation's meeting with Netanyahu, where it was joined by Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and US Ambassador David Friedman, the delegation is scheduled to go to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Netanyahu said that he has “a lot of things to talk about” with the delegation, including how to advance peace, stability, security and prosperity in the region.
Palestinians to Jared Kushner: In 45 Days, We Blow Up Your Peace Process
The Palestinian Authority reportedly plans to give White House envoy Jared Kushner an ultimatum when he visits Ramallah on Thursday: deliver Israeli concessions in 45 days, or we blow up the peace process and go to the UN.
The ultimatum marks a stunning reversal in negotiating postures since Kushner officially took up the task of negotiating a deal between Israelis and Palestinians on behalf of his father-in-law, President Donald Trump.
At the start of the administration, the Palestinian leadership was so shocked by Trump’s election victory that they did not even know whom to call in the White House. They were fearful of the incoming administration, which was stacked with pro-Israel advisers and appointees, and which was determined to upset the Beltway consensus about everything, especially the Middle East. Trump, and Kushner, had virtually unprecedented negotiating leverage.
That leverage was enhanced when Trump set aside the two-state solution, accepted existing settlements in Judea and Samaria, and made a regional alliance with Arab states a higher priority than satisfying the Palestinians.
EXCLUSIVE – PLO Official: Meeting With Kushner Will Be A ‘Waste of Time’
Meetings between the Palestinian Authority and American delegates led by President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner are “a waste of time,” Dr. Wasel Abu Yousef, director of the Palestinian Liberation Front and member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Executive Committee, told Breitbart Jerusalem.
“The meeting planned for Thursday with government delegates who are coming to advance the political process is just another meeting in an effort to buy time,” claimed Yousef. “It’s a waste of time and we aren’t seeing any declaration or clear statements from the American delegation regarding Palestinian demands.”
Kushner is currently leading a delegation to the Middle East that includes Jason Greenblatt, envoy for international negotiations, and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell. The three are in Cairo on Wednesday and are due in Israel on Thursday for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
According to Yousef, the Palestinians intend to present the Americans once again with their position demanding the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders “and the cessation of the settlements, which are an ongoing war crime against the Palestinians.”
Yousef glossed over the fact that the Palestinians turned down previous statehood offers by Israel and that PA President Mahmoud Abbas failed to respond to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s settlement freezes, which were enacted as gestures to jumpstart Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Senior Sudanese Official Seeks Establishment of Relations With Israel
In an unusual move, a senior Sudanese government official has expressed support for establishing diplomatic relations between his country and Israel.
“There is no problem normalizing relations with Israel. The Palestinians normalized relations with Israel even Hamas is talking to Israel,” Mubarak al Fadil al Mahdi, Sudan’s minister of investment, said in an interview Sunday with Sudania 24, a Sudanese satellite station, Haaretz reported. “The Palestinians receive tax money from Israel and electricity from Israel. The Palestinians sit with Israel and talk to Israel. They have disputes but they sit with them.”
Like other countries in the Arab-Muslim world, Sudan has long viewed Israel as an enemy nation. The African country is famously known for hosting the 1967 Arab League summit in the wake of the Six Day War, where the Arab world issued what became known as the “Three nos: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”
Currently Israel does not have relations with Sudan, but the Jewish state established full ties with South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011.
Israel is also the only country that Sudanese citizens are barred from entering, while the Sudan has had past ties with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. Sudan is run by President Omar al-Bashir, who was indicted for war crimes in Darfur in 2009.
Halamish terrorist chose home because he heard laughter – indictment
An indictment filed by the Israeli military prosecution Thursday against the terrorist who killed three members of the Salomon family said Omar al-Abed chose their home in the Halamish settlement after hearing laughter emerging from within.
The 19-year-old native of the neighboring Palestinian village of Kobar was charged with the murders of Yosef, Elad, and Chaya Salomon and the attempted murders of Yosef’s wife Tova and daughter-in-law Michal along with her five children.
Along with the indictment, military prosecution requested that Abed remain behind bars until the end of legal proceedings against him. The army also said that the Salomon family has been “constantly updated” on the proceedings against Abed.
After sneaking into Halamish late Friday night on July 21, the indictment said, Abed “noticed that the house to his right was dark and quiet, while the house to his left was lit up, with laughter emerging from within.”
Mosque's muezzin aided Temple Mount terrorists
It has been cleared for publication that Amjad Muhammad Ahmad Jabareen, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, was detained for questioning within the context of an investigation by Shin Bet security forces and Israel Police on suspicion of involvement in the attack on the Temple Mount in which two policemen were murdered.
Findings of the investigation revealed a local network of terrorists, which was formed in the “Al-Malsa” mosque in Umm al-Fahm, where Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Jabarin was in charge of cleaning and the muezzin of the mosque.
The findings also indicated a clear link between the Al-Malsa mosque and the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, which was declared an illegal association in November 2015 and is now considered a terrorist organization.
In addition, connections were established between the terrorists and the Islamic Movement, both with respect to support for ideas disseminated by the movement and to membership in organizations that have a clear connection to the Islamic Movement.
Thus, for example, Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Jabarin was a former member of the “Murabitun” organization, which was also declared an unlawful association in September 2015 due to its activity against the security of the state in the Temple Mount compound and its direct contact with the Islamic Movement and the Hamas terrorist organization.
Controversial Islamist cleric indicted for incitement to terror
Prosecutors on Thursday charged a controversial Islamic cleric with incitement to terror for praising the three Arab Israelis who shot dead two police officers last month just outside the Temple Mount complex in Jerusalem.
Sheikh Raed Salah, a leading member of Israel’s now-outlawed Northern Branch of the Islamist Movement, has been held in custody since his arrest last week.
Among the suspected calls for incitement to terror cited by the indictment filed at the Haifa Magistrate’s Court was a speech given by Salah at the funeral of the three men who carried out the July 14 attack at the Temple Mount, and who like Salah were from the Arab Israeli city of Umm al-Fahm.
In his speech, Salah praised the three attackers — all of them named Muhammad Jabarin — as “martyrs” and asked for “God to have mercy upon them.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman: Israel will not be a bystander in Syria
As Iran continues to entrench itself in war-torn Syria, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that Israel will not remain a bystander as Iran creates a new reality in the Middle East.
"Iran, through the Revolutionary Guard, is trying to create a new reality around us with Iranian air and naval bases in Syria, with Shiite militias with thousands of mercenaries and precision weapons being produced in Lebanon,” he said. “The State of Israel does not intend to remain a bystander and accept these attempts.”
Liberman was speaking during a meeting with the Forum of the Directors-General and Chairmen of the Israel Institute of Energy and Environment on Thursday shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the resort town of Sochi.
Jerusalem has repeatedly said that it would not allow Iran to set up a permanent presence in Syria, and Liberman has warned in the past that while Israel has no interest in entering Syria’s seven year civil war, there are red lines that Jerusalem has set including the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah and an Iranian presence on its borders.
Russia, which views Iran as a key player in resolving the crisis in Syria, has repeatedly emphasized the importance of the role that Iran plays in the war-torn country, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov praising the cooperation between Russia, Iran and Turkey regarding de-escalation zones as successful and effective.
Police allow one-day ‘trial’ for MKs to enter Temple Mount
Israel Police has announced that Knesset members will be allowed to enter the Temple Mount for one day next week as part of a “trial” coordinated with the Prime Minister’s Office.
“The decision was made in light of the improvement in the security situation at the compound,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.
The announcement came hours after MKs Yehudah Glick (Likud) and Shuli Mualem-Refaeli were stopped by police while attempting to enter the Temple Mount compound through the Mughrabi Bridge entrance.
Last Monday, Glick held office hours outside an entrance to the Temple Mount in protest of the ongoing ban against MKs visiting the holy site.
“I’m here to protest the fact that the prime minister won’t enable police to allow us to enter the Temple Mount,” Glick told journalists at the site.
'I will not be the Prime Minister's guinea pig'
MK Yehuda Glick (Likud) blasted news of a one-day removal of the ban on MKs ascending the Temple Mount, to take place next Tuesday.
According to Channel 2 News, the Israel police are allowing members of the Israeli legislature to visit ascend the mount as a pilot program to see if the security situation would allow the visits to resume for good. The initial proposal was for the ban to be lifted for a full week. However, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered the plan plan be reduced to one day.
The ban on all MKs, Jewish and Arab, against ascending the Temple Mount has been in place since November 2015.
A few weeks ago, the Jerusalem district police chief, Yoram Halevi, recommended that the police commissioner attempt to renew the visits of the MKs to the holy site.
Channel 2 reported that MK Yehuda Glick, who is active in promoting Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, was critical of the one-day lift of the ban, seeing it as a political game in which MKs are the pawns.
“The Prime Minister needs to tell the Supreme Court by September 15 why he doesn’t allow MKs to ascend the Temple Mount,” Glick said. “”He’s trying to come to the Supreme Court with clean hands, to say ‘I tried, and it didn’t work.’”
“I told the Prime Minister’s Office that I have no intention of being the Prime Minister's guinea pig.”
Amnesty slams PA, Hamas for clampdown on freedom of expression
Amnesty International on Wednesday slammed the PA and Hamas for what it called a clampdown on freedom of expression in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, respectively.
“The last few months have seen a sharp escalation in attacks by the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, on journalists and the media in a bid to silence dissent,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International. “This is a chilling setback for freedom of expression in Palestine.”
In early August, the Palestinian Authority arrested five journalists, who work for Hamas-affiliated news outlets, for allegedly “leaking sensitive information to hostile authorities,” according to PA-run media in the West Bank.
The arrests came after the PA issued a new cyber crimes law, which permits authorities to imprison anyone “who aims to publish news that would endanger the integrity of the Palestinian state, the public order or the internal or external security of the state.”
Palestinian civil society groups, including the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, have called on the PA to rescind the cyber crimes law.
In June, the PA also blocked several websites critical of President Mahmoud Abbas.
PFLP threatens to harm Knesset members
The Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group, is threatening to harm Knesset members based on intelligence information it has obtained.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the group said that one of its units which deals with electronic security has managed to obtain a database of all MKs, including residential addresses, e-mail addresses and other personal information.
"Our message on memorial day (the day in which PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustapha was eliminated -ed.), which is directed at the leaders of the criminal occupation, is that our response is still continuing and did not end after the fall of our leader Abu Ali Mustapha, who planted in our hearts the love for the homeland, the sacrifice, the struggle and not the bargaining. There is no place immune to the beatings of the forces of the struggle. We are behind you everywhere and in every arena," the statement said.
The PFLP is responsible for the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001. The organization's leader, Ahmed Saadat, and two other senior members are serving sentences in Israel for their involvement in the murder.
JCPA: Bashar Assad's Pyrrhic Victory in Syria
Indeed, six years later, the Alawite regime is on life-support provided by Russia, Iran, Hizbullah, and Iranian satellite proxies. Still, the latest arrangements between Russia and the United States have convinced Bashar Assad that unless he is struck by lightning or he becomes victim of an act of terrorism, he is here to stay. As long as the political process has not ripened to create a new political reality in Syria, and as long as Russia and the United States have not reached an understanding on who is to succeed Assad in the transition period and beyond, Assad will remain in power.
Six years later, the impression is that all parties are exhausted from the war effort and need time to recover and reorganize. However, following the events on the ground, it looks like the different parties are still in a frenzy to consolidate the territories under their control. Such is the effort of Assad to take control of the Lebanese-Syrian border and to extend its grip towards Deir el-Zor and the Iraqi border; meanwhile, the U.S.-backed Kurds are progressing in their conquest of the Islamic State’s so-called capital, Raqqa. The same consolidation is true for Turkey in the north of Syria and also applies to the rebels in southern Syria.
No doubt, the events in Syria are showing a trend of stabilization and reinforcing positions. However, despite Assad’s efforts to claim he has won the war, it is crystal clear that the facts on the ground show that the regime has lost the original Syria that existed politically and geographically before 2011, and it is doubtful whether “that” Syria will be reborn from the ashes of the civil war. In any case, as long as the partitioning of Syria is not finished and the spoils of war distributed between the different actors involved, stability is not likely to return to Syria. Syria’s future will be determined not only by local developments, but also by the action/inaction of foreign powers present in the region. More important to the process of shaping the new Syria are events happening around Syria – the future of Kurdistan, the stabilization of Iraq, and the role to be played by regional actors such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
If Assad considers these developments to be a victory, then it can only be defined as a Pyrrhic one.
UN force in Lebanon says no evidence of Hezbollah weapon smuggling
The head of the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon said his force has no evidence that weapons are being illegally transferred to the country’s south, pushing back against US and Israeli criticism of the mission.
The UN Security Council is expected to renew the mandate of the force, known as UNIFIL, which is due to expire August 31.
US and Israel officials have called for improvements in its efforts to prevent Hezbollah from expanding its arsenal following the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese terror group.
Maj. Gen. Michael Beary said the 10,500-strong force has successfully maintained the peace for more than a decade.
“We should not be looking to upset that,” he told The Associated Press Wednesday aboard the UNIAO, the Brazilian flagship for the UNIFIL maritime force.
Barry Shaw: North Korea and Iran: The nuclear result of strategic patience
While American politics in melt down mode over the Democrats almost yearlong obsession in trying to find a scintilla of evidence with which they can hang Trump on charges of colluding with the Russians, both North Korea and Iran have been busy getting on with developing their nuclear missile programs.
North Korean President Kim Jong-Un has blatantly carried out a series of missile tests that show their capability of launching a nuclear missile strike that will put the west coast of the United States within range.
When President Trump warned North Korea of the “fire and fury, never seen before” should they test America’s patience, some Democrats and Obama hang-overs, such as Ben Rhodes, the White House Deputy National Security Secretary under President Obama, accused Trump on MSNBC of “extreme and false statements about all manner of things. It’s more concerning,” he said, “when they are about nuclear weapons.”
So who gets it? Ben Rhodes, or President Trump? Rhodes introduced a security policy of “strategic patience.” Rhodes, it should be remembered, was an ardent promoter of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran which rewarded the Islamic Republic to the tune of $150 Billion while allowing them to continue their intercontinental ballistic missile development program.
Compare Rhodes criticism to Trump’s statement to Donald Trump’s comments about making nuclear deals with regimes like North Korea on an NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ TV interview in October 1999. That was a decade and a half before Donald Trump entered politics. Here is what he said about the Administration’s refusal, or inability, to adequately close down North Korea’s nuclear program, “Do you want to do it in five years when they have warheads all over the place, each one of them pointing at New York and Washington, is that when you want to do it, or do you want to do it now?”
Iran Caught Shipping Soldiers to Syria on Commercial Flights in Violation of Nuclear Deal
New photographs obtained by congressional leaders show Iran shipping militant soldiers to Syria on commercial airline flights, a move that violates the landmark nuclear agreement and has sparked calls from U.S. lawmakers for a formal investigation by the Trump administration, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.
Photographs published by a Washington, D.C., think-tank and provided to Congress show Iran using its flagship commercial carrier, Iran Air, to ferry militants to Syria, where they have joined the fight against U.S. forces in the region.
The new photographic evidence has roiled congressional leaders, who accuse Iran of violating the nuclear deal, which prohibits it from using commercial air carriers for military purposes. These lawmakers are demanding the Trump administration investigate the matter and consider imposing new sanctions on Iran.
The release of these photographs allegedly showing Iran Air's illegal activity comes as top U.S. air carrier manufacturer Boeing moves forward with a multi-billion dollar deal to sell Iran Air a new modern fleet. Many in Congress have opposed the deal due to Iran's longstanding use of commercial aircraft for military purposes, such as transporting weapons and troops to regional hotspots such as Syria and elsewhere. It remains unclear the extent to which the former Obama administration was aware of this activity, which came in part while it was promoting Western airline sales to Tehran.
Iran Air's central role in the illicit transportation of militant forces to Syria could complicate Boeing's efforts to move forward with the sale, which still requires approval from the Trump administration's Treasury Department.
Congressional leaders are now calling for a suspension of all licenses permitting these sales in light of the new evidence, according to a letter obtained by the Free Beacon.
US says doubts over Iran deal remain after meeting nuke watchdog
The United States still has doubts and concerns over the nuclear deal with Iran, the US ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday, after a meeting with atomic officials intended to allay American anxieties about the landmark accord.
Nikki Haley also said the US is determined to ensure the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency has the resources it needs for “robust verification of nuclear-related activities in Iran.”
Haley met behind closed doors in Vienna Wednesday with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to be briefed on Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement, which US President Donald Trump has called into question, drawing threats from Iran of restarting its high-enrichment program.
“We came to Vienna with lots of questions about the Iran Deal. We received many good answers but we still have many doubts and concerns,” Haley wrote on Twitter after the meeting.
Iran Doesn’t Want Inspectors to Give Info to Nikki Haley
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley met with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, to discuss U.S. concerns about the Iran nuclear deal.
To make matters worse, Iranian officials have warned the inspectors at the IAEA not to share any information with Haley.
Haley held a meeting with “IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and was also to meet with the technical experts who monitor nuclear activities, including those in Iran governed by the nuclear pact signed by the U.S.” CBS News reported:
In a statement released after her meeting with Amano, the U.S. United Nations delegation said Haley had stressed U.S. “concerns about ensuring Iran strictly adheres to its obligations.” One of her primary missions — not just in Vienna but back at U.N. Headquarters — is to persuade the international community that Iran is not adhering to those obligations, and to ensure that it does.
Iran does not want Haley to receive any information, though. From The Washington Examiner:
But Iranian officials argued that the meeting undermined “the independence and credibility” of the inspectors and warned the IAEA not to share extra information about the regime’s nuclear program.
“Any contribution to the destructive approach of the US Administration to undermine ‘successful implementation’ of the [nuclear deal], or sharing any information on Iran and its nuclear activities, which is not included in regular updates that Director General provides to the IAEA Board of Governors, with any third party including the U.S. government’s envoy will not be in conformity with the above-mentioned provision,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in a letter to the IAEA.

To no one’s surprise, Zarif believes that Haley has tried “to corrupt the IAEA’s inspections and effectively break the nuclear pact.” Zarif even wrote that the international community sees Haley’s visit “to put pressure on the Agency and adversely affect the professional and impartial nature of the work of the IAEA.”
Qatar restores diplomatic ties to Iran amid regional crisis
Qatar restored full diplomatic relations with Iran early Thursday, disregarding the demands of Arab nations now locked in a regional dispute with the energy-rich country that it lessen its ties to Tehran.
In announcing its decision, Qatar did not mention the diplomatic crisis roiling Gulf Arab nations since June, when Qatar found its land, sea and air routes cut off by its neighbors over Doha’s policies across the Mideast.
However, the move comes just days after Saudi Arabia began promoting a Qatari royal family member whose branch of the family was ousted in a palace coup in 1972.
“Qatar has shown it is going to go in a different direction,” said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University who lives in Seattle. “It could very well be calculated toward reinforcing the point that Qatar will not bow to this regional pressure placed upon it.”

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