Monday, October 23, 2017

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: The Iran-Hamas Plan to Destroy Israel
Some Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials have recently claimed that Israel was not happy with their "reconciliation" agreement and was doing its utmost to foil it. The truth, however, is that it is Iran and Hamas that are working to thwart the agreement by insisting on maintaining the status quo in the Gaza Strip. Iran's message to Hamas: If you want us to continue providing you with financial and military aid, you must continue to hold on to your weapons and reject demands to disarm.

What is in it for Iran? Iran wants Hamas to retain its security control over the Gaza Strip so that the Iranians can hold onto another power base in the Middle East.

Iran wants Hamas to continue playing the role of a proxy, precisely as Hezbollah functions in Lebanon.

The last thing Iran wants is for the Palestinian Authority security forces to return to the Gaza Strip: that would spoil Tehran's plans to advance its goal of destroying Israel.

Iran's continued support for Hamas stems not out of love for either Hamas or the Palestinians, but from its own interest in consolidating its presence in the Middle East.

Many Palestinians see the "successful" visit of the Hamas officials to Tehran as a major setback for efforts to end the 10-year-long Hamas-Fatah dispute. Similarly, the Egyptians are now wary of the sudden rapprochement between Iran and Hamas and are beginning to ask themselves whether they have been duped by Hamas. An Israeli delegation that visited Cairo on the eve of the signing of the Hamas-Fatah deal is said to have warned the Egyptians that the "reconciliation" would not work unless Hamas disarms and severs its ties with Iran. However, the Egyptians reportedly failed to listen to the Israeli warning.

As for Israel, the US and other Western parties, the lesson to be drawn from the renewal of ties between Hamas and Iran is that Hamas has not changed one iota.

Contrary to delusional hopes, discussed on the heels of the "reconciliation" agreement in Cairo and based on lies and thin air, Hamas is not headed toward moderation and pragmatism. By openly supporting Hamas, Iran is once again demonstrating that it aims to fan the fire in the Middle East and continue to sabotage any prospects for peace.
PMW: Netanyahu compared to Hitler by PA TV hosts
In a show on official PA TV, the hosts compared Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to Hitler. The discussion was about mugs with a picture of Hitler that were “the most popular in Bulgaria” that had been removed from stores by police following a complaint by Israel’s ambassador.

PA TV’s Israeli Affairs Expert Fayez Abbas commented critically about Israel's complaint: “Look what they’ve come to.” The PA TV host responded by comparing Netanyahu to Hitler, and asked what would Israel have done had it been Netanyahu’s picture:
Israeli Affairs Expert Fayez Abbas:“Coffee mugs with Hitler's picture are the most popular in Bulgaria. However, the Israeli ambassador in Bulgaria interfered and submitted an official complaint, and the police seized the mugs from the stores. Look what they’ve come to.”
PA TV host: “If there was a picture of Netanyahu on them...”
Fayez Abbas: “On the contrary, they [Israelis] would be encouraging it.”

[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, Oct. 11, 2017]

Official PA media and leaders often compare Israel to Nazis and Netanyahu to Hitler. Palestinian Media Watch documented when the official PA daily published an op-ed, that Netanyahu "imitates Hitler's racism," which he acquired "genetically from the days of the Nazis and the Aryan race."

UNESCO-affiliated scholars slam agency’s anti-Israel bias, plead for rethink
A group of scholars affiliated with UNESCO criticized the agency for recent one-sided resolutions on Jerusalem, calling for a new approach to sensitive holy sites that takes into consideration everyone’s religious sensitivities.

“The UNESCO decisions on the holy sites in Jerusalem have failed to draw on expert scholarship and knowledge,” the scholars said in a joint statement, issued Thursday at the close of a conference in Israel’s capital.

"The reality in Jerusalem is complex. Complexity is the solution, not the problem. To understand the multi-layered situations and to avoid simplistic, inadequate and divisive responses that can, and do, have harmful consequences, scholarly expertise is required.”

The 15 scholars who issued the statement are members of UNESCO’s UNITWIN network for interreligious and intercultural studies. They include experts in intercultural studies from the US, Israel, France, Tajikistan, New Zealand, Russia and India.

Earlier this month, the US administration announced it was quitting UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Israel commended Washington for the move, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying UNESCO “has become a theater of the absurd” that distorts history instead of preserving it. He ordered the Foreign Ministry to “prepare Israel’s withdrawal from UNESCO in parallel with the US.”

Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Depressing conclusions to be drawn from the sad story of the Kurds
Israel will indeed be the darling of the "moderate Sunni axis" – that is, for as long as there is an Iranian threat. Once that is gone, the fracturing of Iran into ethnic components (on the lines of the former USSR, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia) will obviate the need for relations with Israel. For this reason, Israel would do well not to give up its lands for a piece of paper with the word "peace" stamped on it, because that paper can easily fly away in the desert wind while the worlds on it fade in the blazing Middle Eastern sun.

There are two unassailable proofs for this phenomenon: The first is the peace with Egypt. This peace was a result of Sadat's need for economic assistance from Europe and Europe's insistence that peace with Israel precede the granting of that aid so that its money is not squandered on wars. That peace treaty did not stand in Mubarak's way when he allowed Hamas and its supporters to smuggle arms from Sinai to Gaza, because it was in Mubarak's interests to bring about a war between Israel and Hamas, allowing Israel to do the dirty work with the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. As soon as the Sinai became Jihadistan and began fighting Egypt, the weapons smuggling from Sinai to Gaza ceased abruptly. In sum, the peace between Israel and Egypt exists for as long as it suits Egyprian interests.

The second proof is the peace with Jordan, based on Yitzchak Rabin and King Hussein's shared interest in preventing a Palestinian state from being established. This common interest created wide-ranging cooperation between the two countries. Hussein's son, Abdullah II, changed his father's policies and is a strong backer of the idea of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria whose capital is East Jerusalem . That is why he acts against Israel in every international forum, as if he were one of Israel's greatest enemies. He relates to the peace treaty as an agreement to refrain from war and no more, while enjoying the economic benefits he gained from it.

The clear conclusion from the Kurdish, Egyptian and Jordanian situations is that Israel must not jeopardize its existence, security and interests by placing them in bankrupt Arab insurance companies. Israel absolutely must strengthen its position in the Land of Israel, create local governing emirates for the powerful Arab families in urban Judea and Samaria while battening down Israeli control of the rural areas. No peace treaty can give Israel a lasting insurance policy, and the faster Israel and the world internalize this truth the better.
Netanyahu Lobbies World Powers to Stem Iraqi Kurd Setbacks
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lobbying world powers to prevent further setbacks to Iraqi Kurds as they lose ground to Baghdad's army, Israeli officials say.

Israel has been the only major power to endorse statehood for the Kurds, partly, say analysts, because it sees the ethnic group - whose population is split among Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran - as a buffer against shared adversaries.

Iraqi armed forces retook the oil-rich Kirkuk region this week, following a Sept. 25 referendum on Kurdish independence that was rejected by Baghdad, delivering a blow to the Kurds' statehood quest.

Israeli officials said Netanyahu raised the Iraqi Kurds' plight in phone calls with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week and with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

It has also come up in his contacts with France and the Israeli national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, has been discussing the matter with Trump administration officials in Washington this week, the officials said.

A Netanyahu government official, who declined to be named, given the sensitivity of Israel-Kurdish ties, suggested Israel had security interests in Kurdistan, given its proximity to Israel's enemies in Tehran and Damascus.

"This (territory) is a foothold. It's a strategic place," the official said without providing further detail. He said Israel wanted to see Iraqi Kurds provided with the means to protect themselves, adding:

"It would be best if someone gave them weaponry, and whatever else, which we cannot give, obviously."

Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with Kurds since the 1960s, in the absence of open ties between their autonomous region in northern Iraq and Israel.
Kirkuk Was Not an Iranian Defeat of America
Regardless, the KRG lost control of disputed areas (repeat: disputed areas officially belonging to the Iraqi central government, not Kurdish territory) because Kurdish officials struck a deal to allow it, almost without a shot. The Hashd units have not entered the cities and have largely left the Kurds alone. The same cannot be said back in 2014 when Kurdish peshmerga destroyed Arab villages in zones they sought to annex.

Lastly, and back to the theme that it's not always about us: This was a win not for Iran, but rather for Iraq. Not every Shi'ite is loyal to Iran and, indeed, most resent Iranian arrogance. Nor is Da`wa—the political party from which Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi emerged—also in Iran's pocket. There are huge theological differences between Qom and Najaf on one hand, and between factions of Da`wa on the other.

Abadi is neither an American puppet nor an Iranian plant. Rather, he is an Iraqi patriot. He is a nationalist, but one with a vision that embraces multi-sectarian, multi-ethnic tolerance. True, Iran has influence in Baghdad, but so too does the United States when we are present diplomatically and otherwise to wield it.

The Kirkuk operation was precipitated not by Iran or Iraq but by the refusal of de facto Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani to compromise. He acted unilaterally and turned down a deal, as Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake showed, that would have given him what much of what he wanted through a diplomatic process. Iranian influence, of course, is real, and it is in Washington's interest to seek to constrain it, if not roll it back. We can't be naïve.

That said, there is a silver-lining in that recent events give Abadi a boost as the man who defeated the Islamic State and defended the Iraqi constitution in the months before Iraq heads toward elections. This means that not only does Iran not win because of Iraqi moves on Kirkuk, but also that it actually loses -- the events of the last week weakened Iran's real proxies among Iraqi politicians tremendously.
David Singer: Balfour Declaration Centenary Shames Arab and UN Deniers
The continuing Arab refusal – aided and abetted by the United Nations – to recognise the international legitimacy of the Balfour Declaration 100 years after it was first issued on 2 November 1917 – remain the greatest obstacles to resolving the Jewish–Arab conflict.

The current Arab culprits are the Arab League, the PLO and Hamas who unconditionally reject the binding international legal validity of the Balfour Declaration. However their efforts to nullify the Balfour Declaration would have been undermined long ago had the United Nations not lent its support by propagating a fictitious narrative of the Jewish-Arab conflict.

United Nations involvement has occurred through the “Division for Palestinian Rights of the United Nations Secretariat for, and under the guidance of, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People” which has published “The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem 1917-1988” containing numerous false and misleading facts on the Jewish-Arab conflict which remain uncorrected.

The Balfour Declaration – when issued – was merely a “declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations” having no binding legal effect – since “Palestine” was still then part of Turkey’s Ottoman Empire and had been so for the previous 400 years.

The Balfour Declaration first gained international endorsement following Turkey’s defeat in World War 1 when the Treaty of Sevres – concluding a truce with Turkey – was signed on 10 August 1920 by:
1. The British Empire, France, Italy and Japan (“The Principal Allied Powers”)
2. Armenia, Belgium, Greece, the Hedjaz, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, the Serb-Croat-Slovene State and Czechoslovakia (constituting with the Principal Allied Powers “the Allied Powers”) and
3. Turkey
Netanyahu to go to London next week for Balfour Declaration centennial
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to London at the beginning of November to take part in events marking the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

This will be Netanyahu’s second visit to Britain in a year after his meeting there with British Prime Minister Theresa May in February. During that meeting, the British prime minister invited Netanyahu to take part in events marking the centennial of the Balfour Declaration.

Though the itinerary of the visit has not yet been announced, Netanyahu is expected to meet with May and other senior British officials during the trip. He is tentatively set to leave on Wednesday, November 1, and return to Israel on Sunday, November 5.

May has steadfastly rejected Palestinian demands that Britain apologize for the Balfour Declaration – the seminal document issued on November 2, 1917, that helped pave the way for the establishment of Israel – saying last month the declaration was “one of the most important letters in history.”

Writing in September in a magazine published by the Conservative Friends of Israel, May wrote that the anniversary would be noted with “pride.”
US: Report on upcoming peace plan inaccurate, efforts ongoing
The White House on Sunday dismissed a Channel 2 News report that the U.S. was finalizing a comprehensive regional peace plan that would depart from previous administrations' initiatives, saying the report did not properly reflect ongoing diplomatic efforts.

A senior administration official told Israel Hayom that "it would be more newsworthy if we weren't working towards an enduring peace."

Channel 2 News reported that the supposed plan would be "sharp and to the point." The channel also cited U.S. officials who said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was genuinely interested in a peace deal. According to the report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conveyed to his ministers that President Donald Trump might "exact a price" from Israel or the Palestinians if they refused to embrace his upcoming plan, even if this led to a coalition crisis in Jerusalem.

The administration official seemed to dismiss all this as well, saying: "We are engaged in a productive dialogue with all relevant parties about an enduring peace deal but are not going to put an artificial deadline on anything. We have no imminent plans beyond continuing our conversations. As we have always said, our job is to facilitate a deal that works for both Israelis and Palestinians, not to impose anything on them."
The Threats Posed to Israel by a Palestinian State
To the IDF reserve general Gershon Hacohen, the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank would, given the current circumstances of the Middle East, create a graver danger for the Jewish state than either Iran or Hizballah. More damaging still, he argues, is the attitude among many Israelis that the two-state solution is a necessity for Israel. He writes:
Since the Oslo process began in the fall of 1993, dramatic changes have occurred in the international arena. . . . For then-Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin, Oslo was based on the superpower status of the U.S. . . . At the time, the Arabs were in a state of crisis and aware of their weakness—all the more so after the U.S. vanquished Iraq in the First Gulf War in the winter of 1991. . . . It was that awareness of weakness, along with the PLO leadership’s state of strategic inadequacy, that paved the way for the Oslo process.

[But] over the [intervening] years, the America’s hegemonic power has declined while Russia has returned to play an active and very influential role. . . .

Something essential has changed, too, with regard to expectations in the Israeli-Palestinian sphere. At first, in the early days of Oslo, the expectations were of mutual goodwill and reconciliation. Over the years, however, as the cycle of blood has continued, the belief in Palestinian acceptance of Israel in return for Israeli concessions has been transformed in the Israeli discourse into nothing more than the need to separate from the Palestinians—“They’re there, we’re here”—solely on our own behalf.
Trump’s Middle East Envoy Slams Hamas for Bringing Only ‘Ruin and Misery’ to Palestinians
US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations stepped up his rhetoric against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Monday.

Jason Greenblatt — the president’s former lawyer who is currently playing a pivotal role in the administration’s attempt to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table — said on Twitter that Gaza-ruling Hamas had only “brought ruin and misery” to the Palestinian people.

Greenblatt’s comments came as a delegation of senior Hamas officials continued an official visit to Iran.

He emphasized that Hamas was letting down the Palestinians time and again.

Greenblatt later tweeted a photo of himself with a delegation of Palestinian businessmen from Gaza, whom he said were much more ready for the day-to-day challenges facing their people.
UN envoy chides Hamas leaders for urging Israel’s destruction

The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process panned Hamas leaders Sunday for urging the destruction of Israel, and said Palestinians should make resolving the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip the focus of their efforts.

Nickolay Mladenov’s comments came after senior figures in the Hamas terror group declared that a reconciliation with rival Fatah does not mean that Hamas will end its efforts to wipe out the Jewish state.

“I condemn the latest statements made by some Hamas leaders, reportedly calling for the destruction of the State of Israel,” Mladenov said. “They do not serve the interest of peace and the goal of achieving a negotiated two-state solution.”

“Under the auspices of Egypt, Palestinian leaders have embarked on a course to solve the grave humanitarian crisis in Gaza and enable the government to take up its responsibilities in the Strip. I encourage them not be distracted from this objective.”

Palestinians factions Fatah and Hamas agreed earlier this month in Cairo on a landmark deal to end a decade-long split and are seeking to form a unity government along with other parties.
Deputy Hamas Chief: Iran to continue support for 'resistance'
Iran agreed to continue its support for “Palestine and the resistance,” Hamas Deputy Chairman Salih al-Arouri said.

Arouri’s comment came after multiple meetings in Tehran between him and senior Iranian officials including Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“The main result [of our meetings] is the continuation of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]’s commitment towards Palestine and the resistance in Palestine…We hope this support will continue and grow until the resistance will be able to defeat the occupation,” Arouri said in an interview on Sunday with Iran’s al-Alam TV, referring to Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzeldin Qassam Brigades.

Iran has long supported the Qassam Brigades, which is comprised of some 25,000 members who have fought in three wars with Israel over the past ten years.

According to Arouri as well as Hamas Chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, Iran is the biggest backer of the Qassam Brigades.

Arouri also responded to Israeli criticism of his visit to Tehran, saying that Hamas undertakes many actions and holds multiple positions that do not please Israel.
Abdullah: Hamas-Fatah deal 'important step' toward relaunching peace process
Jordanian King Abdullah said the Egyptian-brokered agreement to advance reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah constitutes “an important step” for efforts to relaunch negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Egyptian Intelligence Directorate helped Hamas and Fatah reach an agreement on October 12 to restore the Palestinian Authority’s governing authority over the Gaza Strip. Hamas forcibly ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from Gaza in 2007.

The Jordanian king’s comments on Sunday came during a meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the Husseiniya Palace in Amman.
“Abdullah affirmed that the reconciliation deal is an important step to move forward efforts to advance the peace process and relaunch serious and effective negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis on the basis of the two-state solution,” the state-run Jordanian news site Petra reported.

In peace talks sponsored by US president Barack Obama, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah essentially negotiated on behalf of the West Bank only as it maintained no control over Gaza.

PLO officials have said that if the Egyptian-sponsored Hamas-Fatah deal restores the PA’s control over Gaza, they will be able negotiate on behalf of all the Palestinian territories.
Report: Jordan Won’t Host Hamas Office After Reconciliation Deal
Jordanian authorities have decided not to open an official Hamas embassy or consulate in the kingdom, according to a report in the Jordanian Al Ghad newspaper.

Al Ghad was reportedly told by a Jordanian official that in the wake of the impending reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, the Islamic terrorist organization would not be granted official representation in Jordan.

“No Hamas representation will be reopened in the kingdom,” said the source. “Hamas is a Palestinian movement and party. Its place and its activities are in Palestine and the Palestinian territories. Besides, the law of parties in Jordan forbids the opening of branches of non-Jordanian parties in Jordanian territory.”

In light of the reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas, reports indicated that Hamas might return to Jordan with official representation. The Jordanian government closed Hamas’ so-called embassy there in 1999 and expelled the movement’s representative from the kingdom.

Until the closure of Hamas’ representation in Jordan in 1999, the kingdom served as the main headquarters for Hamas’ leadership and the movement’s officials lived there. This included Hamas’ former leader and politburo chief until a few months ago, Khaled Meshal.
PreOccupiedTerritory: City Of Oslo Regretting Its Name Attached To Failed Israeli-Palestinian Accords (satire)
The Norwegian capital has grown to dislike its association with a much-hyped 1993 accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization that has become one of history’s great disappointments, friends of the city reported today.

Oslo, which gave its moniker in popular parlance to the eponymous set of agreements that granted Palestinians limited autonomy in certain areas previously controlled by Israel, now shies away from contexts in which that connection is invoked, and hopes people will stop mentioning it, they have noticed.

“She used to take great pride in it,” recalled Helsinki. “Those were heady days, when people talked of a ‘New Middle East’ and the whole region’s problems were going to be solved as the ostensible linchpin of the Arab-Israeli conflict was removed. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, as we all know. Somehow Yasser Arafat never got around to conditioning his people for genuine peace, and never went about taking actual measures to end the conflict. The fact that he shared a Nobel Peace Prize for his part makes it all the more disgraceful in retrospect.”

“I can’t say I envy her,” agreed Copenhagen. “What used to look so promising has turned out to be an embarrassment, any way you slice it. Some of us blame Israel, some of us blame the Palestinians, and some of us note there’s plenty of blame to go around, but whoever’s at fault, that doesn’t change the fact that a final status agreement is no closer now than it was twenty-four years ago when this all began, with Palestinian attempts at bloodshed occurring almost daily. The name ‘Oslo’ will always be associated with this fiasco.”
Israel, PA and Jordan to practice fighting fires together
An EU sponsored two-day forest fire drill involving Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will begin on Tuesday at numerous locations around the country and will include the participation of 400 first responders simulating a scenario where a regional disaster strikes and moves across borders.

Teams from France, Spain and Italy will also participate in the exercise, which is supported by the European Commission's Civil Protection Exercise.

“The overall goal of the exercise, is for participants to exchange knowledge and attain common capacities, to effectively respond to disaster situations, especially along and across mutual borders,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the joint exercise “aims to preserve lives and natural resources, regardless of nationality and/or borders.
Saudi Arabia denies prince made diplomatic visit to Israel
Saudi Arabia on Sunday denied that any of its officials had visited Israel, after Israeli media reported that a senior prince had made a secret diplomatic trip there.

“Reports of a secret visit to Israel by a Saudi official, which have appeared on some media, are unfounded,” a spokesman for the Saudi foreign ministry said.

“Saudi Arabia has always been transparent as regards contacts and visits” to foreign countries, the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official SPA news agency.

Israeli radio last month reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had secretly met officials in Israel.

Israeli officials never confirmed the reports.
Golan Heights Residents on Edge After Latest Cross-Border Exchange of Fire; ‘After Syria Civil War Ends, Guns Will Be Turned on Israel’
Residents of Israel’s Golan Heights region are on edge following the latest exchange of fire on the border with Syria.

Early Saturday morning, five rockets were launched from Syria into Israel, hitting open areas, causing no injuries or damage. This prompted an IDF strike later in the day on three Syrian artillery pieces.

“Whether errant or not, any future occurrences will force the IDF to intensify its response,” the IDF said. “The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible and won’t tolerate any attempt to breach Israeli sovereignty or threaten Israeli civilians’ safety.”

Eli Malka — the head of the Golan Regional Council — told the Hebrew news site nrg, “I hope that the clear response of the IDF will stop the shooting, but we are preparing for any potential escalation.”

Since the civil war in Syria erupted in 2011, Israel has largely sought to remain neutral in the bloody conflict, which has drawn in many regional players. However, the IDF has responded with pinpoint strikes to occasional cross-border fire — both errant and deliberate — in the Golan Heights and has reportedly targeted a number of Hezbollah-bound weapons convoys in Syria in recent years.

Israel has also provided medical treatment to thousands of people wounded in the fighting in Syria.
Israeli judo team not allowed to fly to Turkey
Middle East

The Israeli judo team, which was supposed to fly to the United Arab Emirates via Istanbul for the Grand Slam event, was stranded at Ben Gurion Airport after Turkish Airlines refused to allow them on its plane, Channel 1 reported.

The 12 Israeli jukokas were supposed to receive their visas to the United Arab Emirates in Istanbul and arrive for the competition tonight (Monday). The team will now have to travel to Amman to receive the visas instead.

Moshe Ponte, the president of the Israel Judo Association, said: "We will not give, even if we have to reach Abu Dhabi on foot. Now we have to fly to Amman to get visas there instead of flying to Istanbul as we planned. We are looking to change our tickets. We will arrive after 14 hours of waiting in Amman. We may arrive exhausted, but we will not give up."

The Israeli judo team has already experienced discrimination in the competition in Abu Dhabi. The team will not be allowed to compete under the Israeli flag during the event, and will be the only nation prevented from doing so. The team will also not be allowed hear their national anthem, “Hatikvah," should they win.

Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates.
51 arrested in overnight operation in Jerusalem's Issawiya
51 men who are suspected of disrupting public order were arrested in a large-scale overnight operation Monday in Issawiya, a neighborhood in east Jerusalem.

During the operation, dubbed "Operation 700," police also checked business licenses and accompanied municipality construction workers to fix infrastructure and hazards in the east Jerusalem neighborhood.

Police searched suspects' homes and collected evidence which indicated that they took part in criminal activities or disruptions of public order, such as throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails at security forces vehicles.

Meanwhile, municipality workers collected garbage, removed hazards from roads, erased graffiti from walls and fixed street lighting. They also painted pedestrian crossings and sidewalks near schools.

Jerusalem Police Chief Asst. Chief Yoram Halevy said the aim of the operation was to apprehend those who are involved in criminal and terrorist actions and to improve the quality of life of the law-abiding residents of the neighborhood.
Palestinian festival drops film over director's Israel trips
A Palestinian film festival on Sunday canceled the screening of a movie by a Lebanese-French director following pressure by activists who opposed his previous work in Israel.

"The Insult," the latest movie by director Ziad Doueiri, was set to close the Palestinian Days of Cinema festival on Monday and was competing for the festival's top award.

But after a charged campaign by activists on social media, the city of Ramallah, which was hosting the screening, told the festival to scrap the showing, according to Khulood Badawi, a spokeswoman for the festival, which agreed to the cancellation. It was not clear if the film was still eligible for an award.

Doueiri's previous film, "The Attack," about a Palestinian surgeon living in Tel Aviv who discovers that his wife carried out a deadly suicide attack, was filmed in Israel and featured several Israeli actors. That film was banned in Lebanon and most Arab countries. Last month, Lebanese authorities briefly detained the Paris-based Doueiri because of his visits to Israel.

"The director showed no remorse and insisted on his stand, and we think screening any of his work at a Palestinian cinema festival would be a big mistake," said Abed Hamayel, an activist who campaigned against the film's screening.
3 Gazans said briefly kidnapped by gunmen from Sinai
Three Gazan laborers went missing Monday morning while working in a tunnel on the Egyptian border, apparently kidnapped by Islamic State gunmen, but hours later were returned home safely, Gaza’s Hamas-run interior ministry and witnesses said.

Iyad al-Bazm, the spokesperson for the ministry, confirmed “the disappearance” of three Palestinian workers inside a tunnel on the Palestinian-Egyptian border, adding that the disappearance was being investigated.

One witness told AFP that a group of masked gunmen snatched the three and took them across the border into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

The account of the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not confirmed by authorities.

However, a few hours after going missing, Bazm released another statement saying the workers had been located on the Egyptian-Palestinian border, “and were returned safely to Gaza.”
The Iran Deal: The Dog's Dinner Obama Dished Out
During his long years in the US, part of it as diplomat in New York, Zarif had established contacts with the Democratic Party, including John Kerry who took over from Mrs. Clinton as Secretary of State. Zarif persuaded his bosses not to miss "the golden opportunity" provided by Obama's administration which included many "sympathizers" with Iran.

Thus, in just two years what had proved impossible for 10 years became possible.

A vague text was established, fudging the issue, and declaring victory for both sides. The participants in the game agreed to keep the text away from their respective legislatures so as not to risk scrutiny of the witches' brew they had cooked.

The so-called "deal" was dubbed a non-binding "roadmap", implying that the "roadmap" isn't the same as the journey.

Two years after unveiling, the "roadmap" remains just that.

Neither Iran nor the G31 have delivered on their promises. Iran's path to developing nuclear weapons remains open, although this doesn't mean that Tehran is currently making a bomb. For their part, the G31 have not canceled the sanctions imposed on Iran.

Both sides have lied to one another and to their respective audiences.

Obama has left a dog's dinner of diplomatic deception. Interestingly, Trump hasn't thrown that dog's dinner into the dustbin and promises to rearrange and improve it.

Is that possible?
Iranian Nuclear Revelations From Argentina
It’s important to remember that by the time the secret pact was signed by former Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, in January 2011, the revelation of Iran’s surreptitious nuclear activities was almost a decade old. A series of UN Security Council resolutions had been passed calling on Iran to cease its enrichment activities and open its nuclear facilities to international inspection, and international sanctions against Tehran were locked in place. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but it was far better than the one we have now.

For that reason, Bogado’s statements in Argentina are a reminder that the Iranian regime’s goal is to obtain complete, unsupervised authority over its nuclear program. To that end, it will do its level best to circumvent any restrictions laid down by the international community — just as North Korea did.

Iran may have lost its friends in Latin America like Kirchner and the unlamented Chavez — the man who fathered the current destruction of Venezuela — but its influence in its own region is as never before. President Donald Trump makes many of the right noises in response, but the kind of structural ambiguity plaguing his policy toward Iran ultimately serves the Iranian regime more than anyone else.

Trump understands that the Iranians want nuclear weapons, but he clearly doesn’t judge everything the Iranians do through that filter. Otherwise, he would not have adopted a Switzerlandesque “neutral” position when Iranian-backed Iraqi forces unilaterally attacked Kurdish areas of northern Iraq this week. Instead, he is pretending the Iraqi government in Baghdad is sovereign and independent in the same way that the Danish one in Copenhagen is. To the Iranians, this is a sign of weakness, and as Bogado’s account of their negotiations with the pliant Argentines appears to confirm, weakness is their best advantage.
Trump tells Europe on Iran deal: We don't need you on this one
U.S. President Donald Trump said in an interview released on Sunday that he had told European allies such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel that "we don't need you on this one" – referring to European support for his threats to increase sanctions or withdraw the U.S. from the international nuclear deal with Iran.

Trump made the comments in a wide-ranging interview on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Future," hosted by Maria Bartiromo.

"Honestly, I told them. They're friends of mine. They really are. I get along with all of them. Whether it's [French President] Emmanuel [Macron], or whether it's Angela, I get along – I really like those people. I told them, 'Just keep making money. Don't worry about it. We don't need you on this,'" Trump said.

"When Iran buys things from Germany and from France and from the various [countries] – you know, by billions of dollars – even us, they were going to buy Boeings. I don't know what's going to happen with the [nuclear] deal. We'll see what happens with the deal, but when they buy those things, it's a little harder for those countries to do something. Would they do it if I really was insistent? I believe they would. I told them, 'Just keep making money. Don't worry. We don't need you on this one.'"

Trump last week gave Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the 2015 pact agreed between Iran and six world powers. That has alarmed the U.S.'s European allies, who fear the deal will slowly unravel.
Report: Iranian president slams 'corrupt' Revolutionary Guard
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has taken on the Islamic republic's powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, saying they are corrupt and prevent free competition in Iran, thereby curbing its economic recovery after years of crippling Western sanctions, imposed over Iran's nuclear program.

Rouhani, elected for a second term in May 2017, is a moderate reformist. Both of his campaigns focused on economic prosperity, and he has been able to achieve much of his goals since signing a nuclear agreement with wold powers in 2015, after which many of the sanctions were lifted.

Now, according to The New York Times, Rouhani has turned his attention to the Revolutionary Guards, which control entire sectors of the Iranian economy.

"We must have free competition," Rouhani told reporters during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September. "No institution can use its authority to derive a benefit. We must be open and fair, and there can be no exclusivity in any one sector."

"All the sectors must be productive. We are pushing and promoting a more open atmosphere for businesses, with open and fair competition and no exclusive sectors," he said.
Saudi Arabia's Bogus Promise: Allowing Women to Drive
Saudi women will first have to get permission from a male guardian just to apply for a driver's license. Enabling women will still be mainly in the hands of their Saudi male guardians, and many will probably not allow their women to drive.

Any discontent felt by angry men who want total control over their women, household or other people will probably not allow their women to drive. If women are disappointed or frustrated by this domination, the blame will stay mainly within the Saudi family. The woman is not able to blame the government, but only her male guardian. Yes, the government may technically have annulled the driving ban but it has issued nothing actually to help women to drive.

The real challenge King Salman needs to face now is how to deal with calls for abolishing male guardianship -- a far more urgent and significant reform that, after calculating the risks and rewards, might be postponed indefinitely.

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