Wednesday, September 20, 2017

From Ian:

Trump’s Turtle Bay Triumph
President Trump delivered his first speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, and it was a triumph.

The speech offered the clearest sign yet that the administration has parted with Steve Bannon and other Breitbart types who wanted to use Trump as a bulldozer against liberal order. At Turtle Bay, Trump recommitted Washington to the defense of a U.S.-led world order. He also called out forcefully the rogue states that seek “to collapse the values, the systems and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom.”

Trump praised the founding of the U.N. and the Marshall Plan, based on the “noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent and free” and the “vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security and promote their prosperity.” Robert Kagan couldn’t have said it better.

Turning to specific global security challenges, Trump similarly telegraphed a return to the GOP’s postwar foreign-policy traditions.
  • On Iran: “We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities [in Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen] while building dangerous missiles. And we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program . . . Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever. The day will come when the people will face a choice: Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror? Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous?”
  • On socialism in Venezuela and beyond: “The problem in Venezuela isn’t that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba, to Venezuela; wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.”
  • On U.N. reform: “Too often, the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process. In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble ends have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them. For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.”
  • On the threat from revanchist regimes in Moscow and Beijing: “We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.”

Netanyahu at UN: Despite Iranian Threats, “The Light of Israel Will Never be Extinguished”
In his speech before the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hailed what he called a “revolution” in Israel’s acceptance around the world and warned that despite Iranian threats “the light of Israel will never be extinguished.”

“This is happening because so many countries around the world have finally woken up to what Israel can do for them,” Netanyahu explained. “Those countries now recognize what brilliant investors like Warren Buffet and great companies like Google and Intel, what they’ve recognized and known for years: That Israel is the innovation nation – the place for cutting-edge technology in agriculture, in water, in cyber security, in medicine, in autonomous vehicles – you name it, we’ve got it.”

Netanyahu added that Israel doesn’t just give the world the technology to improve lives, but the information needed to save lives, “Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. You may not know this, but your governments do, and they are working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe.”

After noting that hundreds of foreign dignitaries visited Israel in the past year, Netanyahu said, “After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world.”

Despite the positive changes, the Prime Minister also noted that Israel still isn’t fully accepted, a problem that, he observed, was apparent at the UN.

Pal. activist: Flotillas are for propaganda, not humanitarian goals
Hamas-affiliated flotilla leader Zaher Birawi has admitted that the goal of flotillas sailing toward Gaza is not really humanitarian, but propaganda, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reported on Tuesday.

The British-Palestinian activist has also predicted that the next flotilla designed to break Israel’s naval blockade of Hamas in Gaza will take place in summer 2018.

He made the statements in a recent interview by Felesteen, Hamas’s daily newspaper, translated and analyzed by the intelligence center.

Birawi is the chairman of the International Committee for Breaking the Siege on Gaza, an umbrella organization established to send flotillas to Gaza.

According to the Center, the flotilla leader said the flotillas’ main goal is propaganda aimed at keeping the Palestinians, Gaza and the “siege” as “live” topics in global discourse.

He stated that the objectives of the flotillas are to defame Israel, and to increase the effect of the political and media campaigns accompanying the flotillas.

At UN, Netanyahu Declares a Belligerent Iran ‘Has No Fiercer Enemy Than Israel,’ Lauds Jewish State’s Enhanced Global Status
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu devoted much of his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon to a blistering attack on the Iranian regime, pointedly citing similarly strong remarks made by US President Donald Trump from the same podium a few hours earlier.

“Iran vows to destroy my country every day,” Netanyahu told the gathered delegates, quickly turning to his criticism of the Iran nuclear deal of 2015.

“Two years ago, I stood here and explained why the Iranian nuclear deal not only doesn’t block Iran’s path to a bomb, but paves its way to a bomb,” Netanyahu said.

The Israeli leader argued that the deal’s fatal flaw is the “sunset clause” governing restrictions on Iran’s nuclear development — echoing his 2015 speech before the UN in which he stated, “what makes matters even worse is that we see a world celebrating this bad deal, rushing to embrace and do business with a regime openly committed to our destruction.”

“In a few years, those restrictions will be automatically removed, not by a change in Iran’s behavior or a lessening of its aggression, they will be removed by a mere change in the calendar,” Netanyahu asserted on Tuesday. “The sunset will cast a dark shadow over the Middle East and the world. Iran will be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons.”
PMO: Prime Minister Netanyahu at the UN: Iran Vows to Destroy My Country Every Day
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday:

In recent years, Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. You may not know this, but your governments do, and they are working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe.

Iran vows to destroy my country every day, including by its chief of staff the other day. Iran is conducting a campaign of conquest across the Middle East and Iran is developing ballistic missiles to threaten the entire world.

In the last few months, we've all seen how dangerous even a few nuclear weapons can be in the hands of a small rogue regime. Now imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian Islamist empire, with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on earth. I know there are those who still defend the dangerous deal with Iran, arguing that it will block Iran's path to the bomb. That's exactly what they said about the nuclear deal with North Korea, and we all know how that turned out.

Fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause. And beyond fixing this bad deal, we must also stop Iran's development of ballistic missiles and roll back its growing aggression in the region. I warned that when the sanctions on Iran would be removed, Iran would behave like a hungry tiger unleashed, not joining the community of nations, but devouring nations, one after the other. And that's precisely what Iran is doing today.

We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria or in Lebanon for use against us. And we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border.
Netanyahu slams Iran deal in fiery UN speech, urges world to ‘fix it or nix it’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly condemned the Iran nuclear deal in a speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, warning that the accord will pave the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons if it is not scrapped or altered.

After praising Donald Trump’s address earlier in the day from the same podium, in which the US president called the Islamic Republic a “murderous” regime and the nuclear deal an “embarrassment,” Netanyahu said the 2015 accord strengthened Iran’s nuclear program and posed a grave threat to the entire world.

“Imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian Islamist empire, with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on earth,” he said.

Netanyahu singled out for criticism the deal’s so-called sunset clause, which will lift limitations on Iran’s nuclear program when the accord expires in over a decade.

“When that sunset comes, a dark shadow will be cast over the entire Middle East and the world, because Iran will then be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons,” he said, adding that the failure of past agreements meant to limit North Korea’s nuclear program showed that the Iran pact “will turn out exactly the same way.”
David Horovitz: With US president in his corner, Netanyahu brings new swagger to his UN address
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an accomplished veteran of United Nations General Assemblies, a reliably eloquent orator, whose team devotes immense time and effort to formulating his annual appearances at the global podium. Unlike some of his Israeli prime ministerial predecessors, his English is flawless. He never stumbles over his words. He never mangles those carefully constructed sentences.

And so it was on Tuesday, at the Assembly’s 72nd session. The difference, this time, was in the prime minister’s air of assurance.

He has never been short of self-belief. But Netanyahu spoke not as the embittered outsider protesting the world body’s history of anti-Israel bias, not as the friendless target of our region’s aggressors, and not as the exasperated lone voice despairing at his peers’ refusal to interpret current affairs with his wisdom. Netanyahu spoke, rather, with the ultra-confident mien of a national leader who believes the tide of history is turning toward him and his country.

One key factor in that dramatically elevated level of confidence, of course, is the change of US presidency since the last such gathering. Where president Barack Obama championed the Iranian nuclear accord, pushed a reluctant Netanyahu relentlessly for compromise with the Palestinians, and voted an extremely discomfiting resolution through the United Nations Security Council, President Donald Trump shares his horror at the nuclear deal, has made no public demands of Netanyahu regarding the Palestinians, and is determined to reform the UN’s anti-Israel obsessions.

Another major cause of the prime minister’s undisguised sense of growing vindication, as he made plain in his speech, is the simple fact that he is finding a friendly welcome among numerous countries around the world that are gradually recognizing how much of a powerhouse Israel has become in areas central to their national well-being — innovation, technological advances, intel, counter-terrorism and more.
Netanyahu hails Trump’s ‘courageous’ UN speech blasting Iran
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised US President Donald Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, in which the American blasted Iran and North Korea, calling it the most “courageous speech” he had ever heard at the world body.

“In over 30 years in my experience with the UN, I never heard a bolder or more courageous speech,” Netanyahu said in a statement after the speech. “President Trump spoke the truth about the great dangers facing our world, and issued a powerful call to confront them in order to ensure the future of humanity.”

Netanyahu, who, in attendance at Trump’s speech along with his wife Sara, applauded enthusiastically at turns. He is set to speak at the UN later Tuesday in an address expected to include a scathing rebuke of the Iran nuclear deal and Tehran’s support for terror groups.

In a video filmed at the UN ahead of his speech and posted on social media, Netanyahu said his speech would not be one the Iranians will soon forget.
Macron defends ‘solid, robust’ Iran nuke deal after Trump speech
French President Emmanuel Macron stood firm Tuesday that the landmark agreements limiting Iran’s nuclear program and climate change would not change, as he gently nudged US President Donald Trump to drop his opposition to the accords.

Macron, like Trump appearing for the first time at the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders, met his US counterpart on Monday for their latest meeting — which appeared to be friendly, but did not bridge differences.

Trump devoted much of his own address at the General Assembly to denouncing Iran, calling the seven-nation agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program championed by his predecessor Barack Obama an “embarrassment to the United States.”

But Macron said that the 2015 deal — reached between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — was a “solid, robust agreement that verifies that Iran will not build a nuclear weapon.”

“To reject it now without proposing anything else would be a grave error, and not respecting it would be irresponsible,” Macron told assembly.
Families of Americans Imprisoned in Iran Applaud Trump’s Call for Their Return in UN Speech
Families and advocates for Americans imprisoned in Iran applauded President Trump for demanding the release of all U.S. prisoners and others unjustly detained in Tehran during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.

Family members of Siamak and Baquer Namazi, a father and son who are being held in Iran's notorious Evin prison, also urged Trump to take urgent action to try to secure their release. They warned that 81-year-old Baquer Namazi's life is hanging in the balance after he underwent heart surgery to install a pacemaker just hours before Trump spoke.

During Trump's speech to the United Nations, he demanded that Iran free all Americans, as well as those from other countries, who the regime is holding captive on false charges.

"It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations they have unjustly detained," Trump said.

The president also condemned North Korea for its "deadly abuse" of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia college student held in North Korea for more than a year and a half, much of it in a coma. Pyongyang released Warmbier in June while still in a coma to his parents in the United States, and he died just days later.

"My family is rapidly running out of time," Babak Namazi, the brother of Siamak and son of Baquer, said in a statement Tuesday after Trump's speech. "I hope and a pray that my father and brother won't suffer the same fate [as Otto Warmbier] at the hands of the Iranian government. I urge the president to spare no effort to bring my family home."
U.S. Mideast Envoy Jason Greenblatt: International Community Should Help the Palestinian People and Isolate Hamas
Speaking at a conference of donor nations to the PA on Monday, Jason Greenblatt, the U.S. special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, said, "The United States is deeply committed to achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement....After years of well-meaning attempts to negotiate an end to this conflict, we have all learned some valuable lessons. Instead of working to impose a solution from the outside, we are giving the parties space to make their own decisions about their future. Instead of laying blame for the conflict at the feet of one party or the other, we are focused on implementing existing agreements and unlocking new areas of cooperation which benefit both Palestinians and Israelis."

"The time has come to stop monitoring the situation in Gaza and start changing the situation in Gaza. For too long, Hamas has exploited the people of Gaza as hostages and shields, bullying them into submission. Hamas rules by the fist, instead of by improving the lives of the people it purports to govern. Hamas continues to divert money belonging to the Palestinians of Gaza - including funds provided by international donors - and uses these funds to build terror tunnels, missiles and for other nefarious uses....It's time for the Palestinian Authority to take control of Gaza - and for the international community to take steps to help this happen. Relief from the suffering in Gaza can only be found when all interested parties gather together to help the Palestinian people and isolate Hamas." 
MEMRI: 'Abbas Ahead Of UNGA Speech: I Will Continue Payments To Families Of Prisoners And Martyrs
On the eve of his speech at the UN General Assembly and his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas reiterated his refusal to meet the U.S. and Israeli demand to halt the payment of salaries and allowances to the prisoners and to the families of the martyrs, calling them Palestinian fighters and stressing his commitment to them.

In an interview with the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 'Abbas referred to the Al-Aqsa events – which erupted following Israel's decision to install metal detectors at the Al-Aqsa compound gates in response to the deadly shooting perpetrated on July 14, 2017 by three Arabs – as "non-violent popular resistance" and stressed that such activity would continue. He also said that security coordination with Israel will not be renewed, explaining that the Al-Aqsa events had provided an opportunity to implement the decision taken two years ago by the PLO Central Committee to suspend the security coordination.

'Abbas criticized Arab countries that are acting to normalize their relations with Israel prior to the signing of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, stating that this contravenes the Arab peace initiative. He also said that he would take legal and diplomatic action to compel Britain to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and criticized the U.S. for failing to pressure Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders.
UN: Economic peace can’t replace Palestinian statehood
Refueling the Palestinian economy must go hand-in-hand with a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, UN Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman told a high level donor meeting in New York on Monday night.

“Economic development, critical as it is, is no substitute for sovereignty and statehood,” Feltman said.

“For more than 20 years, we have told Palestinians that they need to focus on institution building and socioeconomic development.

“We have encouraged and supported them in preparing for statehood. The time has come for us to deliver on that promise,” he told the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which held its annual meeting in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

The forum is held twice a year and is the only venue in which Israelis and Palestinians hold a regular dialogue with the donor and international community.
JPost Editorial: Bibi and Sisi
Egypt and Israel also share an interest in preventing Iranian influence in the region, whether it be via proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah or in areas of Syria that have remained under the control of Bashar Assad.

In short, there is much of common concern to Netanyahu and Sisi and it is only natural that they meet regularly and publicly.

The toxic atmosphere that surrounds any attempts at normalization between Israel and Egypt is largely the result of deep-seated perceptions in the Muslim world about Israel and Jews. Antisemitism and the vilification of Israel are rampant in Egypt. Wild conspiracy stories are widely believed. If Sisi wants to be able to meet with Netanyahu without being lambasted at home, he needs to take steps as the leader to change perceptions.

But Israel is not completely without blame. Netanyahu might be successful as a political survivor, but he also needs to provide vision and direction as a leader of the Jewish state. An honest attempt needs to be made to reengage with the Palestinians. Though Netanyahu had hoped during his meeting this week with US President Donald Trump that the Palestinian issue would not come up, Trump made it clear via Tweets and public statements that he still views the peace process as a prerequisite to improved relations between Israel and Muslim countries in the region. There are no short cuts. Improved relations with Egypt depend on the success of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

One day a public meeting between Israeli and Egyptian heads of state will be taken for granted. But before that happens both Netanyahu and Sisi have to fulfill their duties as leaders.
Egypt Expert: Public Netanyahu-Sisi Meeting Likely Meant to Signal a Further Warming of Jerusalem-Cairo Ties
Monday’s public sit-down in New York City between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was a manifestation of increasingly close Jerusalem-Cairo ties, an expert on Egyptian politics told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.

“It appears as though this meeting was designed to signal a further warming of relations, and take what had been a behind-the-scenes strategic relationship public,” Eric Trager — the Esther K. Wagner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank — said of the event, which took place on the sidelines of the 72nd UN General Assembly session.

“Sisi and Netanyahu met, ostensibly, to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but, in all likelihood, it covered a range of shared interests, including the situation in Sinai, as well as their mutual concerns regarding Turkish and Qatari support for various Islamist movements,” Trager noted.

Furthermore, he said, the two leaders “likely also covered recent developments regarding Hamas, which is increasingly in Egypt’s orbit, rather than Qatar’s.”

“From Israel’s standpoint, that is likely preferable, given that it trusts Sisi more than it trusts Doha,” Trager explained.
Egypt's President Sisi Urges Palestinians to Co-Exist with Israelis
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged Palestinians to overcome their differences and be ready to co-exist with each other and with Israelis in safety and security.

"I tell the Palestinian people it's extremely important ... to overcome the differences and not to lose opportunities and to be ready to accept co-existence with the other, with Israelis in safety and security," Sisi told the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering of world leaders in New York.

Following Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Western-backed Fatah faction, Islamist Hamas said on Sunday it would dissolve its "administrative committee" to enable Abbas' administration to retake control in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas urged Abbas on Tuesday to respond by ending his sanctions on the impoverished enclave.

Addressing the Israelis, Sisi said: "We have an excellent experience in Egypt in peace with you for longer than 40 years."

"We can repeat this experience and this excellent step once again - the peace and security of the Israeli citizens together with the peace and security of the Palestinian citizens," Sisi told the 193-member General Assembly to a round of applause.
Iran translator mocked for soft-balling Trump’s UN speech on state TV
An Iranian television translator defended himself Wednesday after being widely criticised for soft-balling US President Donald Trump’s attacks on Iran in his maiden speech to the UN General Assembly.

Nima Chitsaz, a translator for state broadcaster IRIB, said he had decided in the heat of the moment to spare his Persian-speaking viewers from the verbal attacks by the US president.

“I don’t think it would be nice for me to speak on national TV against my own country,” he later told IRINN television.

As a result, when Trump accused Iran of being a “depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos”, Chitsaz’s Persian translation was simply: “Iran speaks of destroying Israel.”

Trump later told the UN assembly: “Other than the vast military power of the United States… Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most.”

Which was translated for Iranian viewers as: “The US Army is a very strong army and the Iranian nation is a very strong nation.”
A year of security challenges
On the eve of Rosh Hashanah 2017, it seems there are three main regional and global factors that Israel must consider as it forges ahead: The first is an unstable world, which apparently no longer has agreed-upon tools with which to deal with issues that arise between states.

The second is an ambiguous system of world order, in which the United States has withdrawn from its role as the world's policeman; Russia uses its military power to promote its interests in the Middle East while breaking familiar rules; and China, which is gaining economic power, is flexing its muscles and all but ignoring the U.S.

The third is a dynamic Middle East that is undergoing one of the most violent transition processes in its history. In this Middle East, Iran plays an active role and is the main beneficiary of the events of the past seven years, mostly over its support – alongside Russia – of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

The combination of these conditions presents Israel with both an improved strategic situation and several real challenges. On the one hand, these changes have resulted in the fact that none of Israel's neighbors enjoy a true alliance with a superpower, as Israel has with the U.S. Russia may have spared no effort to save Assad, but it did so to demonstrate its power more than out of any sense of deep friendship, and Moscow's relations with Tehran are nothing more than a marriage of convenience.
5 soldiers talk about the year in which they became heroes
These past few years have entailed a difficult and complex day-to-day reality in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria that requires the country's defense and security forces to be on the alert for every possible scenario.

On more than one occasion, these individuals' bravery has made them heroes as they thwarted attacks, saving people and avoiding a disaster.

Meitar Arbiv, 20, from Ahuzat Barak in the Jezreel Valley, serves in the IDF's 282nd Artillery Brigade. In her first years as an officer in the Etzion Brigade, while on a routine patrol near Tekoa, she spotted a suspicious figure and engaged him in conversation. Then he tried to stab her.

"He started to come at me and we physically grappled," Arbiv says.

"At one point, I managed to push him away so there would be room for the officer who was with me during the incident to shoot him and immobilize him."

Arbiv was wounded in the attack, but she says, "Even when it was happening, I was thinking about how to get back to my routine and my soldiers as quickly as possible."
Israeli Security Services Uncover, Dismantle 8-Member Terrorist Cell in Jerusalem
An eight-man terrorist cell in Jerusalem nicknamed the “Ghosts of Silwan” was uncovered and dismantled by Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), police and the Border Police undercover unit in recent weeks, the security organization said on Tuesday.

Eight men, who are Israeli citizens, were arrested in connection with planning to carry out shooting attacks on Israeli vehicles and other targets in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

According to the investigation the cell members were involved in several attacks in the Silwan area such as throwing Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and stones at security forces and security vehicles.

The investigation also found that the cell planned to purchase weapons in order to carry out a shooting attack against Jewish targets in Silwan, such as against Jewish vehicles or homes in the neighborhood.

According to the Shin Bet, the head of the cell identified as 19-year-old Silwan resident Muhammad Farouk was in contact with sources in Lebanon and Gaza who were financing the cell.
The True Enemies of the Palestinians
The agreement makes no reference to Hamas's security control over the Gaza Strip. This means that Hamas and its armed wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam, will remain the main "law-enforcers" in the Gaza Strip. The idea that Hamas would allow Mahmoud Abbas's security forces to return to the Gaza Strip is pure illusion.

There is no mention in the agreement of Hamas's political and ideological agenda. The agreement does not require Hamas to abandon its charter, which calls for the elimination of Israel. Nor does it require Hamas to lay down its arms and accept Israel's right to exist.

The agreement absolves Hamas of its financial responsibilities towards its constituents in the Gaza Strip. The resumption of Palestinian Authority (PA) funds to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will allow Hamas to redirect its resources and energies to building up its military capabilities in preparation for war with Israel. Hamas will no longer have to worry about salaries and electricity and medical supplies to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip because Abbas will be taking care of that.

The agreement facilitates Hamas's effort to project itself as a legitimate player in the Palestinian arena and win international recognition and sympathy. Hamas will now be able to market itself as a legitimate partner in Abbas's Western-funded PA governments.
Quietly, Israeli high-tech companies contract Gaza engineers
So far the Gazan company hasn’t faced pressure from Hamas.
When Mellanox announced it was going to take on staff in Gaza, it was covered in both Israeli and Palestinian media.

Hamas, the Gazan CEO said, could reasonably guess the company but taking action would make dozens of people unemployed and their families poorer.

“Gaza is small and everyone saw the news. No one said anything,” he said.

Yet having lost a family member in the 2014 war, he said he could understand that most Gazans were not ready to work with Israelis.

Waldman said right-wing Israeli politicians had spoken out against the idea.

“We also have some employees that have extreme right political views. They definitely voiced their views,” he said.

None of the staff working in Gaza for Mellanox were willing to speak, even on condition of anonymity.
And while the 10 staff in Gaza are effectively employees of Mellanox, their salaries are paid through a Palestinian firm to avoid tensions.

“We felt it was too sensitive for them to have an Israeli company there,” Waldman said. “One missile can blow the whole thing up.”
The Hubris of Hizbullah
So, for nearly two years now, Israeli military and intelligence officials have been warning every American official who comes through Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that the next war is coming. Israel has methodically prepared its allies—and most especially the Americans— for a very, very ugly war on the horizon. I don’t claim to know the precise spark that will ignite the next conflict, but Israel has been clear about the things it considers to be casus belli, and Hezbollah has consistently ignored them.

I shudder to think what the next conflict will look like. Since 1993, each clash between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon has been successively more violent. 1993’s Operation “Accountability” in southern Lebanon involved mostly air and artillery. 1996 brought Operation “Grapes of Wrath,” and the destruction of Lebanese civilian infrastructure beyond southern Lebanon. The war in 2006 leveled entire neighborhoods in Beirut, and led to the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of civilians in both Lebanon and Israel.

Now, especially since Hezbollah has dispersed its arsenal across Lebanon, the entire country will burn, and Israel will suffer mightily. Not one but two U.S. allies—for the United States has invested heavily in the Lebanese army, which Israel will almost certainly treat as hostile, and which will almost certainly attempt to defend Lebanese territory—will suffer.

And for what? What will Hezbollah have accomplished, other than the destruction of its villages and cities? It has duped its young fighters, who have been fighting the Israeli project of late in such hotbeds of Zionism as Aleppo and Deir az-Zour, into thinking Israel is weak.

Hezbollah has grossly underestimated Israel, a mistake that will prove costly. Hundreds and perhaps thousands of Israelis could die in another conflict, but Israel isn’t going anywhere. This is existential for them. It will be the Lebanese who suffer immeasurably more.

If only Hezbollah could realize that, rather than pursue its present course, so much pain could be avoided.
Syria war crimes investigator blasts impunity in farewell speech
"Outgoing Syria war crimes investigator Carla Del Ponte said on Monday she had quit her post out of frustration over 'total impunity', in a fiery farewell speech.

Del Ponte, an accomplished war crimes prosecutor, announced last month that she was leaving the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Syria, a UN-backed panel that has collected evidence of alleged atrocities committed in the country since the outbreak of civil war in 2011.

'I resign to put an end to my frustration,' Del Ponte told the Human Rights Council, after the COI presented its latest report.

'Seven years of crimes in Syria and total impunity. That is not acceptable'...

She said that when she joined the COI she did not anticipate that the international community would fail to set up a court capable of trying crimes committed in Syria. The commission has repeatedly urged the United Nations Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court, an effort that has been blocked by the Damascus regime's ally Russia...
US Reminds Russia It Will Defend US-Backed Militias In Syria
The U.S. sent a veiled warning to Russia on Monday, saying that it will not hesitate to defend the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which Russia reportedly hit Saturday with airstrikes.

“@CJTFOIR will defend itself and #SDF against threats; continue to defeat #ISIS in Syria,” Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, tweeted out Monday.

Dillon’s tweet is clearly in reference to the Pentagon’s claim that Russian airstrikes targeted the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led SDF in Deir Ezzor east of the Euphrates River.

“Russian munitions impacted a location known to the Russians to contain Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition advisers,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “Several SDF fighters were wounded.”

No U.S. advisers embedded with SDF were hit, but a U.S. official told CNN that U.S. special operators were only a couple miles away from the location where the Russian airstrikes hit. The U.S. is still exploring the possibility that the strike was merely an error by the Russians, as opposed to a deliberate attack.
ISIS Propaganda Online Draws More Clicks in U.S. Than Anywhere in Europe
Islamic State propaganda disseminated online draws more clicks in the United States than in any country in Europe despite much-publicized counter efforts by Silicon Valley, according to a new report published Monday night.

Analysts from the Britain-based Policy Exchange think tank reported that over a six-month span beginning in February, the United States was the second most frequent location from which jihadist content was accessed online, preceded only by Turkey.

By a conservative estimate, ISIS produces about 100 items of new content each week, including execution videos and orders for suicide attacks, despite significant territorial losses in Iraq and Syria over the past year.

The analysts said ISIS penetrates western social media platforms through an online "ecosystem" in which content is first disseminated to its core followers through the encrypted Telegram app, and then dispersed by so-called "missionaries" across various mainstream domains such as Twitter and Facebook. The strategy enables the group to reach tens of thousands of users worldwide, many of whom are based in the United States.

The report arrives before British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron this week to deliberate possible measures to crackdown on online extremism. Penalties could include fines against tech companies such as Google and Facebook if they fail to ramp up efforts to remove jihadist content.

The summit comes after the attempted bombing of a subway in London on Friday using an explosive device that can be built from instructions found online.
Iran Dramatically Increases Funding to Hezbollah in Wake of Nuclear Deal
Iran has drastically increased financial support for its Lebanese-based terrorist proxy Hezbollah since the Iran nuclear deal was signed two years ago, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Iran secured $100 billion in frozen assets and sanction relief in January 2016 as a result of the deal with the United States and European countries. Flush with cash, Iran immediately increased its support for terrorist proxies in the region — and nefarious activities worldwide. Hezbollah was receiving $200 million from Iran before the nuclear deal. Now, it’s reportedly $800 million.

Last month, Hamas terrorist leader Yahya Sinwar admitted that “relations with Iran are excellent and Iran is the largest supporter of the [Hamas military wing] Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades with money and arms.” Iran reportedly provides Hamas with about $60-$70 million a year.

Both Hezbollah and Hamas remain dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and continue to invest considerable resources to fight the Jewish state. Iran also spends hundreds of millions of dollars on Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq, while increasing support for Houthi militants in Yemen.

Shortly after the July 2015 nuclear deal was signed, Iran expanded its presence in regional conflicts, and even increased its own intervention in Syria’s civil war, leading to mounting Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) casualties.
Al Qaeda: Trump ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’
An al Qaeda-backed media group has issued a "wanted poster" for President Donald Trump that features a picture of the U.S. president with the words, "Wanted dead or alive for crimes against Islam," according to a copy of the poster and accompanying screed published by a Middle East media watchdog group.

Al-Hijrah Media, a pro al Qaeda group, released a statement earlier this week seeking the death of Trump for the United States' involvement in Afghanistan, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI.

In addition to the wanted poster, the group released a statement lashing out at America for its continued presence in Afghanistan.

The "message to Trump and the Americans" claims that the United States is "weaker today than ever" and that it continues to fail in its efforts to defeat jihadi groups in Afghanistan.

"The U.S. was unable to defeat the Mujahideen when it had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan," the message states.
Iran frees one of seven Baha’i members jailed for spying for Israel
The Baha’i community on Tuesday welcomed the release of a member serving a 10-year prison term in Iran, but expressed concern for six co-religionists tried alongside her.

Mahvesh Sabet, 64, was released on Monday, Diane Ala’i of the Geneva-based Baha’i International Community told AFP.

Sabet, a former teacher and school principal, and six other leaders of the minority community were arrested in March 2008 and sentenced to 20 years in jail for heresy and espionage for Israel.

Their sentences were later reduced to 10 years.

Iran allows prisoners more than halfway through their sentences to win parole for good behavior.

Sabet “will naturally be awaiting the release of her six colleagues who continue to be unjustly imprisoned,” BIC said in a statement.

“Although the news of the release of Ms Sabet… is a welcome development, it does not signal the end of the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran,” it added.

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