Tuesday, October 24, 2017

From Ian:

PMW: Fatah seeks "true partnership" with Hamas; Neither will give up violence
Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub says the unity agreement with Hamas does not mean that Hamas has to give up its use of "resistance," i.e., the PA euphemism for violence and terror against Israel, since Fatah itself "has not given up and will not give up the resistance."
Rajoub explained in an interview on the Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen that Fatah wants to achieve "national unity" based on "true partnership" with Hamas:

Al-Mayadeen TV host: "What has actually changed? Why will the reconciliation [with Hamas] eliminate the resistance, or the idea of resistance (i.e., violence)...?"
Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub: "First of all, Fatah has not given up and will not give up the resistance. We are ready to enter a dialogue [with Hamas] and to refine our positions in order to reach a general agreement... We want to achieve national unity [with Hamas] on the basis of true partnership." [Lebanese TV channel Al-Mayadeen's YouTube channel, Oct. 6, 2017]

Another Fatah Central Committee member, Azzam Al-Ahmad, elaborated on this, explaining that Fatah has not changed its principles which remain "popular resistance, armed struggle, and negotiations." "Popular resistance" is a term Palestinian leaders at times use to refer to violence. During the PA terror wave of 2015-2016, Palestinian Media Watch reported that Mahmoud Abbas used the term "peaceful popular uprising" to describe Palestinian terror that had murdered 14 Israelis by stabbings, car rammings and shootings.

Fatah uses the concept "armed struggle" to describe organized terror using rifles and bombs, as was done in the PA terror campaign from 2000-2005, in which over 1,200 Israelis were murdered.
Seth Frantzman: What Iraq’s recent moves against Kurds mean for Israel and region
On Sunday, Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi began a historic visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is meeting the king of Saudi Arabia and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

It came at the same time that Iraq is strengthening its control over disputed areas seized from the Kurdistan Regional Government over the last week. The intentional weakening of the Kurdistan region comes less than a month after it held an independence referendum and has wide implications for the region. This affects Israel as well because of Jerusalem’s opposition to Iranian hegemony.

The main affect of Iraq’s decision to take back disputed areas from the Kurdistan region has been to reduce the areas the Kurds controlled and liberated over the last three years battling ISIS.

In addition Iranian influence has played a central role through Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani’s role in advising and attempting to broker a deal with some Kurdish officials to give up control around Kirkuk.

Despite conflicting accounts from different Kurdish and Iraqi officials, the result was that the Kurdish Peshmerga withdrew in the face of overwhelming firepower the Iraqi army brought to bare, including US-made tanks and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq.

This has weakened the Kurdistan Regional Government’s hand after the referendum, depriving it of a major city and half its oil revenue. The Peshmerga, lauded as a partner for fighting Islamic State, were not able to stand up to the partly US-trained Iraqi army, which has re-drawn the power relationship between Erbil and Baghdad.

While the US is concerned about clashes between Kurdistan forces and Baghdad and called on both sides to “cease all violence,” it is not making the crises a priority. Instead the priority lies in Riyadh.

The US is working to bring Baghdad to Riyadh and encourage it to grow closer to the Saudi alliance system in the region, the Iranians have other plans.
The time has come for FIFA to kick terrorism out of football
On October 27, the FIFA Council is set to meet in Kolkata, India.

Alongside the other issues, it is worth paying special attention to the agenda items titled “Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine” and “First Report of the Human Rights Advisory Board.”

The first item will discuss FIFA’s insistence on entertaining the baseless, and purely political, demand of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA) to sanction the Israeli Football Association (IFA) for allegedly breaching FIFA’s statutes.

The claim is that the IFA is in breach of FIFA’s statutes since six of its registered clubs play in Judea and Samaria, in what the PFA refers to as “its territory.”

The claim is both factually and legally baseless. From a factual point of view, according to FIFA’s own website, the IFA inherited the status of the Palestine Football Federation (PFF) that was accepted to FIFA in 1929. The PFF was set up by the famous Jewish sportsman Josef Yekutieli and comprised mainly Jewish clubs that played against the British. When accepted into FIFA, the Zionist movement’s PFF was granted exclusive rights to organize football in all of mandate Palestine, including Judea and Samaria.

The control of the area of Judea and Samaria was only temporarily stripped from the IFA, in 1948, when five Arab states invaded the nascent Jewish state.

The illegal occupation of the area by the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan finally ended in 1967 when Israel, and the IFA, regained control of the area.

Netanyahu announces he will visit India in January
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to travel to India in January, he announced Monday following the highly successful visit on the Indian leader to Israel earlier in the year

Netanyahu would be the first Israeli prime minister to visit India since Ariel Sharon went to New Delhi in 2003. Sharon’s trip — the first-ever of an Israeli leader to the country — was cut short by a terrorist attack in Israel.

“In the past year, I have visited all the continent besides Antarctica,” Netanyahu said that opening of the Knesset’s winter session. “And in January, I will make a reciprocal visit to my dear good friend, Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, whose population is a significant part of humanity.”

He did not provide additional details about his travel plans.

In July, Modi became the first Indian head of government to visit the Jewish state.

“You may have seen the pictures,” Netanyahu told the United Nations General Assembly last month. “We were on a beach in Hadera. We rode together in a jeep outfitted with a portable desalination device that some thriving Israeli entrepreneur invented. We took off our shoes, waded into the Mediterranean and drank seawater that had been purified only a few minutes earlier. We imagined the endless possibilities for Israel, India, for all humanity.”
The right of self-determination must be earned
What is most infuriating – and perplexing – in all this is Washington's stance. The military entities who have led the effort to derail the Kurdish bid for independence are spearheaded by Iranian-backed Shiite forces. They are definitely not conducive to President Donald Trump's efforts to prevent Iran's regional hegemony. In fact, they serve the exact opposite agenda.

Washington's halfhearted diplomatic effort to prevent violent clashes between the Kurds and the Iraqi forces has shown that it is actually Tehran, rather than U.S. policymakers, who calls the shots in Baghdad. The U.S. has decided to stand idly by as Iran's proxies crush its allies' dream of independence. This not only sends the wrong message to other U.S. allies in the region, it also undermines Washington's own geopolitical posture in the Middle East.

Some have tried to draw comparisons between the Kurdish right to self-determination and the supposed right of the Palestinians.

But the Palestinians have flunked Haass' test. Let's look at the criteria.

A collective Palestinian identity? No such thing, not even in what they refer to as Palestine. Their identity has a strong link to many other groups in the neighboring Arab states.

Does the current status quo impose a large political, physical, and economic price on the Palestinians? Do the Palestinians truly believe their current (or expected) leadership ould improve their lives in a new state? Would a new state be viable? Doubtful.

As for the final criteria – ensuring that the new state does not jeopardize neighboring states – neither Israel nor Jordan would sign off on that easily.
The Case for Assyrian Independence
Assyrian Independence, as with Kurdish Independence, would provide two wonderful solutions to the longstanding instability in the Middle East.

First, it would provide a homeland to the Assyrian Christians and people who scattered all over the world do not want to be refugees and go to Australia, Europe, and the US, but simply want to live in their homeland.

It is a solution to the refugee problem after centuries of persecution. Not only could Assyrian Christian refugees stay where they were, but as Jews did in Israel, they could come "home".

Second, we owe it to the brave 4,888 Americans who died, the 35,000 who were injured and the 2.5 million who were ready to sacrifice their lives in Iraq so it could be free.

While the Arab part of Iraq is, like other Arab nations, an ongoing disaster, at least the northern third of Iraq, comprising Assyria and Kurdistan, is on its way to being another "shining city on a hill" in the Middle East -- an example, a source of hope and blessing to an area with so little.

For the allies of both nearby Israel and Egypt, the prophecy of Isaiah 19 could be a solution to at least part of the crises in the Middle East, as the non-Arab people there work together to bring the region back from the brink.

Today, Kurdistan. Next, Assyria!
Getting the US to fund iron dome against all odds
All cameras were on Barack Obama as he gave an emotional speech against the backdrop of around 100 spent Hamas rockets in Sderot back in 2008 during his first presidential run.

It was then that he made his memorable statement: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that. I would expect Israelis to do the same thing." He promised that if he was elected, he would do everything in his power to protect Israel from Hamas rocket attacks.

Standing about 30 feet away from the cameras was a man would also become arguably the most key player responsible for ensuring that this promise was kept.

Eric Lynn is not a household name like Shapiro. But in Israeli and US defense circles he is well known.

From spring 2009, when he became a top official in the US Defense Department, until 2014, Lynn was the one fighting for Iron Dome funding in the trenches of Washington defense politics.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post back when he entered his office at the Defense Department, Lynn said that he found “a classified file about Iron Dome which Israel had been working on for some time and had come to the US asking for funding… But the file had a 2008 rejected stamp.”
In NY synagogue, Saudi Royal and ex-Mossad chief debate Trump’s Iran approach
While the Iran deal has brought Israel and Sunni Arab states together in ways few imagined just years ago, difference were still clear when former Saudi and Israeli spy chiefs shared a stage in a New York synagogue.

During the unprecedented event Sunday, Prince Turki bin Faisal al-Saud, a former chief of Saudi intelligence and ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom and Efraim Halevy, former director of the Mossad debated the US President Donald Trump recently-announced strategy for amending the nuclear agreement, while also addressing Tehran’s ongoing non-nuclear provocations.

“If you want to put pressure on Iran, you have to do whatever it means to do that and decertification is one way of putting in that pressure to make them live up not just to the letter of the deal, but the spirit,” said Faisal.

“The signers of the deal, when they signed it, portrayed the holy picture that it was going to turn into a very friendly and open and hospitable place to do business with, but that hasn’t happened.”

Faisal spoke during a panel discussion with Halevy and Michèle Flournoy, former US undersecretary of defense for policy. Organized by the Israel Policy Forum, a liberal Middle East advocacy organization, the talk was moderated by its executive director David Halperin.

Faisal, who has appeared onstage with Israeli officials before, told the audience the summit was his first time in a Jewish synagogue. He said he hoped “it would not be the last.”
Former Mossad chief: US leaks of Israeli intel not fatal to relationship
Tamir Pardo, the former director of the Israeli intelligence and counterterrorism agency Mossad, said that recent intelligence leaks would not have substantially hampered his relationship with his counterparts in the United States.

“We don't have any other choice,” Pardo, who served as the Mossad’s head until January 2016, told The Hill in an interview.

Recent media reports about Kaspersky Lab’s role in Russian espionage operations were based on alleged Israeli intelligence, and were leaked to the media by people in the United States.

Apparently leaked copies of the NSA’s tightly-guarded hacking tools appear to have been used in international malware outbreaks WannaCry and NotPetya.

In May, Israel reportedly changed its intelligence sharing protocols with the United States after President Trump was said to have told Russian diplomats highly classified information that could have endangered the life of an Israeli operative.

“What we had to clarify with our friends in the United States, we did,” defense chief Avigdor Liberman told Israeli Army Radio at the time, although he did not explain what protocols changed and whether or not they would restrict intelligence sharing from its then-current state.

“I think when I was in my position, I would say I am not happy about it, but it does not stop our need to share intelligence,” said Pardo, who said he was sure the NSA had done its best to protect its files.
How the Israeli Left Views the Palestinians
Some Jewish institutions in America are under siege these days, and their principal critics aren’t neo-Nazis. Despite the clear leftward tilt of a large part of organized Jewish life, liberal critics are constantly telling us that mainstream groups like AIPAC and Jewish federations are toadies of an Israeli government that is pursuing policies that many American Jews abhor.

The ferment on the Jewish left runs from tame — and largely irrelevant — liberal Zionist groups like J Street, to more extreme opponents like IfNotNow and the virulently anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Peace, which also dabbles in antisemitic libels and support for boycotts of Israel.

These critics and the naysayers have the ear of many Jews. The reason for this has more to do with the demographic collapse and decline of a sense of Jewish peoplehood among the non-Orthodox denominations that make up about 90 percent of American Jews, than it does with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s shortcomings. But it’s also true that the majority of the non-Orthodox Jewish community has little sympathy with the Israeli government’s positions on the peace process.

The notion promoted by former President Barack Obama — that Israel needs to be saved from itself — still resonates among many Jews who voted for him. This view holds that Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank is the prime obstacle to peace, as well as the future of the Jewish state. But while this liberal consensus deems Netanyahu a problem, its proponents rarely stop to ask why he was elected prime minister four times, including winning the last three elections in a row.

The answer is simple: There exists a broad consensus within Israeli society that contradicts the assumptions held by many American Jews. The majority of Netanyahu’s compatriots see his policies as the only possible response to a Palestinian political culture that still refuses to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn.
PA urges Germany to pressure Israel
Rami Hamdallah, the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) government, met on Monday in Ramallah with the head of the German Socialist Council and discussed with him bilateral relations between Germany and the PA as well as the Israel-PA peace process.

Hamdallah stressed the importance of placing international pressure on Israel, particularly by Germany, in order to force it to stop the “settlement” and to convey the message that there will be no solution other than the framework of a two-state arrangement.

He called on Germany to work to end “the occupation” and to preserve the decisions of the international institutions dealing with the right of the Palestinian people to achieve freedom and self-determination.

Hamdallah claimed that the Palestinian Arab side has adhered to all the demands of the peace process in order to establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

He added that any political settlement must be carried out within the framework of the Arab Peace Initiative, which will guarantee a just and comprehensive peace.

Hamdallah's government just recently signed a reconciliation agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization, whose leaders openly call for Israel's destruction and which is close to the Iranian regime.
AP: Netanyahu Loves Personal Interest, Not Human Rights
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu hates Barak Obama and adores Donald Trump. Why? Because Netanyahu prefers leaders who do not strongly support human rights.

This idea is quickly becoming gospel in journalistic circles, one of those concepts that is so “obviously” true that journalists are allowed to simply assume it as fact, like the existence of gravity.

Unless you’re a mind reader, there is no way to know for certain what any political leader thinks. But a journalist can examine a politician’s public statements to draw conclusions. If one does so in a professional manner, then one thing becomes crystal clear: neither Netanyahu’s supposed “love” for Trump nor “hatred” for Obama are supported by actual facts. Intuition may argue that even absent facts these assertions must be true, indeed many believe them to be “common knowledge,” but intuition alone does not count as professional journalism.

Take this article from the Associated Press, which is re-printed in numerous mainstream publications around the world:

Author Aron Heller does intellectual gymnastics to make his point: hiding context, cherry-picking facts, and spinning historical events out of all recognition, all in order to disguise his personal opinion as if it were news:

Widely unpopular around the world, President Donald Trump can take solace in the adulation of Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu…[who] finds himself among a group of world leaders who seem to prefer a president driven by interest calculations more than human rights.

Adulation? Preferring leaders who shy away from supporting human rights? What is the factual basis for this claim?

In fact, most of Netanyahu’s actual statements about Trump are highly similar to his statements about former president Obama, former secretary Clinton, and numerous other world leaders. Perhaps Netanyahu did indeed feel differently in his heart of hearts, but short of claiming the power of clairvoyance, all we can know for certain is his actual statements and policies. AP examines Netanyahu’s positive statements toward Trump, but hides the critical context, by failing to compare them to statements about other world leaders.
WHO’s sickening honor for butcher Mugabe
Mugabe, sadly, does have influence: He was head of the African Union when it united to push Tedros, an Ethiopian technocrat, to take over at WHO. But he’s a cancer.

Two generations ago, Mugabe inspired many around the world — an anti-imperialist who fought successfully to end white minority rule in then-Rhodesia.

But in the decades since, he’s gradually crushed all dissenting voices, massacred tens of thousands (overwhelmingly blacks) and ruined the nation’s economy, leaving it even more impoverished than when he first took power in 1980.

Mugabe has “turned the breadbasket of Africa — and its health system — into a basket-case,” notes UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer. “The notion that the UN should now spin this country as a great supporter of health is, frankly, sickening.”
Why is Everyone Suddenly Surprised That the United Nations Honored Robert Mugabe?
The real question, then, is not: Why did the U.N. honor a brutal dictator? It is: Why did anyone care this time? Why did the WHO buckle in 2017, but not the WTO in 2011?

Several possible answers present themselves. First, the advent of the Trump administration and its international retrenchment has led the U.N. to fear for its funding. The United States is the body’s largest benefactor, and Republicans have long advocated trimming that support. With America’s recent withdrawal from UNESCO, those threats do not seem entirely idle. As such, U.N. bodies are no doubt on high alert to avoid embarrassing public spectacles that could imperil their funding.

Second, the new U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has expressed a desire to embark on reform of the sclerotic and often corrupt institution. Most likely, he believes that this is both a moral and pragmatic imperative for preserving the body’s flagging authority on the international stage. If the U.N. can’t save Syria, it can at least stop granting top posts to it and other abusive regimes. Whether Guterres has the savvy and clout to push through real change, it seems the message has begun filtering down the organization he leads.

Whatever the motivation, the upshot of this little episode may be more than meets the eye. Mugabe receiving this honor was unremarkable; that he so quickly lost it could prove to be a bellwether.
UN Watch on CTV: Investigate appointment of Mugabe as WHO goodwill ambassador

John Bolton: Thanks to Obama, America is two steps behind Iran in Middle East
There, Iran is continuing the long struggle for hegemony within Islam and in the broader Middle East, Shia against Sunni, Persian against Arab. Israel is just unlucky enough to be in the middle, not to mention being a prime target for Iran's nuclear-weapons program.

Russia is also benefitting from America's Middle East myopia. Moscow built from scratch a new air base at Latakia in Syria and increased its overall regional influence to levels not seen since Egypt's Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet advisers in the 1970s. Russia's next objectives are not yet clear, but the 180-degree reversal of more than four decades of successful U.S. efforts to keep Russia from meddling in the Middle East is stunning and dangerous.

President Trump must not allow bureaucratic inertia to block his efforts against Iran's threat. Washington should recognize Kurdish independence and urgently supply training and equipment, particularly armor and artillery which the Kurds need to withstand the U.S. equipment previously supplied to Baghdad's forces.

But broader leadership is also required. Rapidly increased pressure against Iran's role as the world's central banker of international terrorism, stressed in Trump's October 13 speech, cannot come fast enough. Abrogating Obama's Iran nuclear deal cannot be delayed further.

Moreover, U.S. efforts to pressure Iran are undercut if the Europeans, through trade and investment, are propping up the ayatollahs. The administration should not allow the Europeans a free ride, but should instead pressure them to reduce their business dealings with the mullahs.

If not, Tehran will rightly conclude the United States is really not serious about confronting their threat to us and our allies. That is the legacy of the Obama administration. It should not also be the legacy of the Trump administration.
Hezbollah-aligned German center declares 'resistance' against Israel
The chairman of the Hezbollah-affiliated Islamic center Al Mahdi in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) urged his supporters to wage “resistance” against Israel on Saturday, according to a report in the regional paper Neue Westfälische.

“Israel is the enemy – we carry out resistance,” said Hassan Jawad, chairman of the Al Mahdi cultural center in the city of Münster.

Jawad’s cultural center is building a meeting center for 800 to 1,000 religious believers in Bad Oeynhausen, a spa town with a population of nearly 50,000 in NRW. The Al Mahdi center has served as a hotbed for Hezbollah activity for over twenty years, according to the paper.

The NRW interior minister Herbert Reul told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that “when somebody in Germany says that Israel is the enemy, that is, for me, intolerable. I am a big friend of Israel, and the friendship to Israel belongs to Germany’s raison d’état. Therefore this statement [from Hassan Jawad] is condemned by me in the strongest terms.”

When asked if the interior ministry plans to ban the Al Mahdi center, the ministry told The Post that “associations that support Hezbollah can presently be banned, if financial support [for them] is provable.”
FM pushes back against reports of Israeli arms sales to Myanmar
Facing a slew of highly critical reports of alleged Israeli arms sales to Myanmar, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement Monday that “vigorously denies false reports disseminated in the media regarding its alleged involvement in the tragedy in the Rakhine region of Myanmar.”

Haaretz reported on Monday that “Israel sold advanced weapons to Myanmar during its anti-Rohingya Ethnic Cleansing campaign,” and the Al Jazeera web site published a story titled “Israel maintains robust arms trade with rogue regimes.”

According to the Haaretz report, Israel sold Dvora patrols boats to the country and that these were part of a larger deal signed between the two countries. The delivery of the boats, the report said, came even as the Myanmar Army was being accused of war crimes against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

The ministry statement said the policy of “supervising Israel’s defense exports is reviewed regularly according to various criteria, including the human rights situation in the target country, as well as the policy of the UN Security Council and other international bodies.”

In late September, the High Court of Justice issued a gag order on a decision it handed down regarding a petition to halt Israeli arms sales to Myanmar.
Report: Israeli Air Strikes Kill 10 Members of ISIS-Linked Group in Syria
At least 10 members of a small jihadist faction linked to the militant Islamic State group were killed on Monday by suspected Israeli air strikes in southern Syria, a monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes hit the town of Sahm al-Jolan in the west of Daraa province.

The monitor said 10 fighters from the Jaish Khaled Bin Walid group were killed, along with two women believed to be the wives of fighters from the faction. The strike hit a base belonging to the group, which has pledged allegiance to IS but was never formally incorporated into it.

The Observatory relies on a network of sources inside Syria, and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the report.

The Observatory said Monday’s strike came several months after 16 fighters from the group were killed in suspected Israeli air strikes in the same area.
Unlike slain soldiers, Israeli civilians missing in Gaza largely overlooked
On Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he had appointed Yaron Blum, a former Shin Bet officer and hostage negotiator, to take over the effort to secure the release of the Israeli civilians and slain soldiers held hostage in Gaza by the Hamas terrorist group.

The names of the two soldiers whose remains were captured by Hamas are known by nearly all Israelis: Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.

In the Knesset, political rivals MK Amir Peretz, of the Labor party, and MK Shuli Mualem, of the Jewish Home party, formed a caucus dedicated to bringing back the bodies of the fallen servicemen, who were captured during the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.

Yet the names and even the number of live Israeli civilians currently in Gaza have far less recognition. For the record, there are four: Abera Mengistu, Hisham al-Sayed, Juma Ibrahim Abu Ghanima and one whose name has not be released to the public. All willingly, and illegally, crossed over the border. Not all of them is necessarily being held captive by Hamas.

The lack of interest in their cases has raised allegations of racism — as one of the potential captives is of Ethiopian descent and the rest are Arab — as well as accusations of discrimination against the mentally ill, as three of the men seemed to be suffering from psychological disorders when they entered Gaza.
Conjoined twins born in Gaza join long list of unusual births in region
In November 2016, conjoined twins were born in Gaza but only survived six days. The twins, who were connected by most of their bodies, were delivered in the Children’s Department of Shifa Hospital. Dr. Ayman Shabkhani, department chair of the Labor and Delivery Unit, said, “The babies were born attached at the chest and abdomen, sharing only two lungs between them.” This was not the first instance of conjoined twins in Gaza; in 2010, conjoined twins connected by the abdomen were born in Khan Yunis’s Nasser Hospital. The fate of the twins is unknown.

The first reported case of conjoined twins in Israel was in 1995. The twins were successfully separated after birth at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikvah.

In September 2005, two conjoined twins connected by the chest and sharing a heart were born in Sheba Hospital in Tel HaShomer. The mother of the twins was shocked after the delivery, as she had no idea she was carrying conjoined twins and had not gone to any prenatal screenings.

In 2013, a set of conjoined twins was born in Rambam Hopsital in Haifa. One of them was born healthy; the other was stillborn, had stopped developing in utero and partially merged into the body of his living brother. After a four hour operation, doctors successfully separated the twins. The only shared organ between the two was the liver, which was left intact in the living twin.
Hamas 'begging Iran' for help, US envoy says
Hamas is "begging Iran" for help in its armed resistance against Israel, a senior Trump administration official said on Monday, addressing the visit of several Hamas leaders to Tehran over the weekend.

Their visit comes amid talk of Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, which have split rule over the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, respectively, for nearly a decade.

Fatah is committed to a peaceful, political path forward in its fight for Palestinian statehood. Hamas– considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the US and other Western powers– believes that violence is the right path forward in its efforts to "destroy Israel" and claim Palestine their own.

"Hamas, which has only brought ruin and misery to Palestinians, now begs Iran for help and again vows to destroy Israel," wrote Jason Greenblatt, the US' special representative for international negotiations, on Twitter. "Palestinians deserve so much better than this. We must find a better path forward toward peace and prosperity."
Palestinian President Abbas Begins Recruiting Gaza Security Forces
Following the recent unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has initiated a recruitment process in Gaza to resurrect his security forces in the Strip.

Fatah Central Committee member Hussein Sheikh revealed that Abbas’ aim is to restructure the security establishment amid calls for Hamas’ disarmament. “We want a security institution committed to the basic laws of the State of Palestine whose doctrine is to protect the national project and the political agenda of the legitimate Palestinian representative,” he stated.

According to sources, the PA plans to enlist some 5,000 Gazans between the ages of 18 and 22, who are medically fit and have unblemished records in their previous jobs.

When reached by The Media Line, both Palestinian Authority Vice President Mahmoud Al-Aloul and Fatah Central Committee member Tawfik Tirawi—the latter being the head of the PA’s military college in Jericho—refused to comment on the matter.

For his part, Abdul Haj Ibrahim, the head of the Department of Political Science at Birzeit University in the West Bank, explained that the new recruits will take the place of some six thousand officers who will be forced into retirement in an effort to both inject fresh blood into Gaza’s new security body as well as to ensure loyalty to Abbas.
Gaza activists battle Hamas plan to turn rare Bronze Age city into military base
Archaeologists and preservation activists in the Gaza Strip have managed to halt the destruction of a Bronze Age site for now, but the future of what remains may still be in jeopardy.

Palestinian archaeologist Moain Sadeq said the mound at Tell es-Sakan near Gaza City is a “unique” site that could offer an invaluable glimpse into the region’s ancient heritage.

It is “maybe the only fortified Canaanite city in southern Palestine” occupied continuously from 3200 to 2000 BCE, he says.

Since it was discovered by chance in 1998, the manmade mound has been scarred by bulldozers more than once.

A few weeks ago the earthmoving equipment returned yet again, destroying a large part of archaeological excavations carried out in 1999 and 2000 by Sadeq and his French colleague Pierre de Miroschedji.

The land was to be cleared for homes for public officials in the Hamas-ruled territory and later for Hamas military bases. But after a concerted effort by archaeologists, academics and those concerned with Gaza’s heritage, the work was eventually halted.
Hamas Celebrates Qatar’s New UN Gig, Media MIA
On Oct. 17, 2017, it was announced that Qatar would be appointed to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). In a largely underreported move, Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip, seemed pleased with the announcement.

Hamas’s official Twitter account said that “Qatar is a member in U.N. Human Rights Council after getting 155 votes.” It might seem odd that a terror group would take the time to celebrate a country’s appointment to a UN body ostensibly concerned with human rights.

But Qatar champions Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel, the genocide of Jews, and which hides behind human shields while launching missiles at the Jewish state.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former terror analyst for the U.S. Treasury Department, highlighted Hamas’s celebratory tweet. Schanzer, who is now the Vice President at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, has noted Qatar’s support for terrorism before.
Qatar to supply Gaza with second cellular communication network
A Palestinian cellular provider announced Monday it will soon expand coverage from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. Wataniya Mobile, a subsidiary of Qatar's Ooredoo, said it plans to launch operations in Gaza very soon. The announcement was made at an event attended by Palestinian and Qatari officials at a Gaza City hotel.

Until now, Gaza has been served by one operator, Jawwal, launched in the Palestinian territories in 1999. Wataniya has been operating in the West Bank since 2009. Neither company offers 3G internet services, although in 2015 Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a deal granting 3G service to the West Bank only, not Gaza.

Wataniya's expansion was held up by the political division between the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority and the Islamic group Hamas, which rules Gaza, and the Israeli-Egyptian security blockade of the coastal territory.

The two rival Palestinian groups say they are close to reaching a reconciliation agreement that would restore Gaza to the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Wataniya Mobile CEO Durgham Maraee said hundreds of millions of dollars had been spent on building the network in the Palestinian territories.
Poll: 70 Percent of Americans Support Renegotiating Nuclear Deal with Iran
A strong majority of voters — including most Democrats — said the U.S. should renegotiate the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, according to a recent poll.

Furthermore, there is broad support for any new deal to be ratified by Congress, rather than implemented as an executive agreement, as former President Obama did in 2015.

According to the latest Harvard-Harris survey, 70 percent of respondents said the 2015 Iran deal should be renegotiated and verified by Congress, including 85 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 57 percent of Democrats.

Overall, 60 percent of polled voters said the deal is a bad one for the U.S., with two-thirds of voters saying Iran has not complied with the terms of the agreement. Half of Democrats agreed that Iran has not held up its side of the bargain.

Eighty-one percent said any new deal should require Senate approval and be certified by Congress in the same manner as a treaty.

“Americans see Iran as a bad actor on all fronts and substantial majorities believe this agreement is being violated and never should have gone into effect without a Senate vote,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn. “The polling certainly raises questions about the strategy of some Democrats to attack Trump when he attacks Iran or North Korea, two regimes universally despised by Americans.”
Iran sentences alleged Mossad agent to death
Iran’s judiciary said a court sentenced an alleged agent for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency to death.

Tuesday’s report on the judiciary’s news website Mizanonline.ir quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying the suspect had relayed information about some 30 significant Iranian figures to Mossad during meetings with more than eight members of the Israeli agency at various occasions.

He said the 30 Iranians were involved in research, military and nuclear projects, including two who were killed in bomb attacks in 2010, nuclear engineer Majid Shahriari and physicist Masoud Ali Mohammadi.

The report said the suspect provided information in return for money and obtaining residency in Sweden. It did not elaborate.

Iran occasionally announces similar verdicts. The fates of those sentenced remain unknown.
Saudis set $500 billion plan to develop zone linked with Jordan and Egypt
Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday a $500 billion plan to build a business and industrial zone that links with Jordan and Egypt, the biggest effort yet to free the kingdom from dependence on oil exports.

The 26,500 square km (10,230 square mile) zone, known as NEOM, will focus on industries including energy and water, biotechnology, food, advanced manufacturing and entertainment, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said.

The announcement came as an international business conference got under way in Riyadh, drawing over 3,500 people from 88 countries.

Arranged by Saudi Arabia's main sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), the conference is labelled the Future Investment Initiative - an effort to present the world's top oil exporter as a leading global investment destination.

Saudi Arabia's economy, though rich, has struggled to overcome low oil prices. Prince Mohammed has launched a series of economic and social reforms -- such as allowing women to drive -- to modernize the kingdom.

Officials hope a privatization program, including the sale of 5 percent of oil giant Saudi Aramco, will raise $300 billion. Riyadh is cutting red tape and removing barriers to investment; on Sunday, it said it would let strategic foreign investors own more than 10 percent of listed Saudi companies.

NEOM could be a major focus of new investment. The Saudi government, the PIF and local and international investors are expected to put more than half a trillion dollars into it in coming years, Prince Mohammed said.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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