Thursday, November 23, 2017

From Ian:

Alan Dershowitz: How Ten Dem (Dumb) Members of Congress Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists
In a desperate effort to justify her proposed legislation Congresswoman McCollum argued that, "peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children." McCollum's hypocrisy in this context is palpable. She claims to be an advocate for "the rights of children." Yet the Congresswoman refuses to acknowledge or condemn the Palestinian leadership for perpetrating acts of child abuse by recruiting children to commit terror attacks on Jewish women and children. She expressed no outrage when members of the Palestinian leadership have been caught posting material on social media inciting and encouraging young Palestinians to go out onto the streets and stab Israelis. McCollum failed to protest when Hamas set up training camps — under the mantra "Vanguards of Liberation" — aimed at training children as young as 15 to use weapons against Israel, or when children in Gaza were crushed to death when the terror tunnels they were recruited to build by the Hamas leadership, collapsed on their bodies.

So I ask: what do these members of Congress think Israel should do? If children as young as 13 or 14 were roaming the streets of New York, Los Angeles or Boston stabbing elderly women as they shopped at the supermarket or waited at a bus stop, would they protest the apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators? Of course not. No country in the world would tolerate terror in its cities, regardless of the age of the terrorists. Israel has a right — according to international law — to protect its citizens from constant terror attacks, even those committed by young Palestinians. Indeed, it has an obligation to do so.

If Israel were to be punished for trying to protect its citizens from teenage terrorists, it would further incentivize terrorist leaders to keep using children in pursuit of their key objective: wiping the Israel off the map. Meanwhile, rather than condemning the abhorrent and unlawful use of children as pawns in this deadly process, this group chose to single out only the nation-state of the Jewish people for punishment, as it tries to protect its own citizens from indiscriminate terror attacks. People of good faith on both sides of the aisle should call out this double standard for what it really is: an attack on Jewish victims of teenage terrorism and their state. For shame on this group of biased anti-Israel "progressive" Democrats, which include the following members of Congress: Mark Pocan (WI), Earl Blumenauer (OR), André Carson (IN), John Conyers, Jr. (MI), Danny K. Davis (IL), Peter A. DeFazio (OR), Raul Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez (AZ), and Chellie Pingree (ME). They give a bad name to the Democratic Party, to the Progressive Caucus and to Congress.

MEMRI: Kuwaiti Writer Abdullah Al-Hadlaq: Israel Is a Legitimate State, Not an Occupier; There Was No Palestine; I Support Israel-Gulf-U.S. Alliance to Annihilate Hizbullah
Kuwaiti writer Abdullah Al-Hadlaq said that Israel was an independent and legitimate sovereign state and that there was no occupation, but instead, "a people returning to its promised land." "When the State of Israel was established in 1948, there was no state called 'Palestine,'" said Al-Hadlaq. He recalled that he had once written: "I wished that we could be like the people of the State of Israel, who rallied, down to the very last one, to defend a single Israeli soldier." In the interview, which was broadcast by the Kuwaiti Alrai TV channel on November 19, Al-Hadlaq further said that he believed in peaceful coexistence with Israel and envisioned a three-way alliance of Israel, the Arab Gulf states, and America "in order to annihilate Hizbullah beyond resurrection." The interview caused an uproar in the Arab media and social networks.

Host: "What is Israel? What does it represent? Is it a state? A group? A terrorist organization? An entity? How can we define it before we go into our topic of discussion?"

Abdullah Al-Hadlaq: "Like it or not, Israel is an independent sovereign state. It exists, and it has a seat at the United Nations, and most peace-loving and democratic countries recognize it. The group of states that do not recognize Israel are the countries of tyranny and oppression. For example, North Korea does not recognize Israel, but this does nothing to detract from Israel or from the fact of its existence, whether we like it or not. The State of Israel has scientific centers and universities the likes of which even the oldest and most powerful Arab countries lack. So Israel is a state and not a terror organization. As I was saying, it is an independent country..."

Host: "Is it a legitimate country?"

Abdullah Al-Hadlaq: "Yes, it is legitimate. It received its legitimacy from the United Nations.

"My colleague called Israel 'a plundering entity,' but this may be refuted both in terms of religion and politics."

Host: "In what way?"

Abdullah Al-Hadlaq: "From the religious perspective, Quranic verse 5:21 proves that the Israelites have the right to the Holy Land. Allah says: 'When Moses said to his people... Oh my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you.' So Allah assigned that land to them, and they did not plunder it. The plundering entity is whoever was there before the arrival of the Israelites. Therefore, I do not go for obsolete slogans and terms like 'Zionist plundering entity,' and so on. The fact that I am an Arab should by no means prevent me from recognizing Israel. I recognize Israel as a state and as a fact of reality, without denying my Arab identity and affiliation."

Guest: "I don't know... Let's determine the frame of discussion. Is Palestine and its occupation an Arab cause or a religious one?"

Abdullah Al-Hadlaq: "There is no occupation. There is a people returning to its promised land.

PMW: PA educator praises “blood of Martyrs” in broadcast on school radio
On the annual day celebrating the Arab headdress, the keffiyeh, the director of the Qalqilya district Directorate of Education - which is a branch of the PA Ministry of Education - told Palestinian teenage girls that the blood of "Martyrs" is "the purest." His statement was broadcast on the school radio:

"Fahmawi reviewed the symbolism of the Palestinian keffiyeh... and added that the Palestinian keffiyeh has been colored with the purest blood, the blood of the Martyrs (Shahids) of Palestine during their resistance to the occupation, and the keffiyeh has become the shroud of the Palestinian fighter who has sacrificed his soul for the homeland."
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 17, 2017]

This glorification of Martyrdom-death to Palestinian youth is in line with general PA education as Palestinian Media Watch has detailed in its report PA Education - A Recipe for Hate and Terror.

Two days ago, PMW reported on similar praise for "Martyrs' blood" expressed by parents of dead terrorists at another PA school.

The school at which the PA educator spoke of "Martyrs' blood" is named after terrorist Abu Ali Iyad who was appointed head of Fatah military operations in 1966 and was responsible for several terror attacks. The attacks included a bombing in the town of Beit Yosef in northern Israel on April 25, 1966 (injuring 3 people), and placing bombs in the town of Margaliot in northern Israel on July 19, 1966. He was killed in 1971 in Jordan by the Jordanian army when it forced Fatah members out of the country.

Belief in Palestinian Openness to Two-State Solution Amounts to Insanity
When in June 2009 Netanyahu broke with Likud’s ideological precept and agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state provided it recognized Israel’s Jewish nature, PLO chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat warned that “not in a thousand years will Netanyahu find a single Palestinian who would agree to the conditions stipulated in his speech,” while Fatah, the PLO’s largest constituent organization and Abbas’s alma mater, reaffirmed its longstanding commitment to the “armed struggle” as a strategy, not tactic, “...until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated.”

As late as November 2017 Abbas demanded that the British government apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration – the first great-power public acceptance of the Jewish right to national self-determination.

Can this 80-year-long recalcitrance be considered outright, unadulterated idiocy? It most certainly can. Had the Palestinians accepted the two-state solution in the 1930s or 1940s, they would have had their independent state over a substantial part of mandate Palestine by 1948, if not a decade earlier, and would have been spared the traumatic experience of dispersal and exile.

Had Arafat set the PLO on the path to peace and reconciliation instead of turning it into one of the most murderous and corrupt terrorist organizations in modern times, a Palestinian state could have been established in the late 1960s or the early 1970s; in 1979, as a corollary to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty; by May 1999, as part of the Oslo process; or at the very latest, with the Camp David summit of July 2000. Had Abbas abandoned his predecessors’ rejectionist path, a Palestinian state could have been established after the Annapolis summit, or during Barack Obama’s presidency.

Avnery’s failure to see this stark historical record for what it is, and his unwavering belief in Palestinian openness to the two-state solution, may not qualify as idiocy, yet surely conforms to Albert Einstein’s famous definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Netanyahu considering firing deputy FM over jab at US Jews — report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday was reportedly considering firing Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely over her claims that US Jews struggle to understand the Middle East because they lead comfortable lives and don’t perform military service.

The report by Hadashot news came hours after the prime minister issued a swift and sharp condemnation of Hotovely’s remarks to i24 News the previous day.

The channel also reported that Netanyahu had spoken to Hotovely before she made the comments, telling her to stop antagonizing US Jews. Netanyahu also serves as foreign minister.

Earlier, Israel’s Reform movement called for Hotovely to be removed from her position.

“A Knesset member who enjoys pouring fuel on the flames of Israel’s ties with global Jewry should not serve as the State of Israel’s deputy foreign minister and ought to be fired,” said Rabbi Gilad Kariv, who heads the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism.
Israel's Red Lines on Iran's Foothold in Syria
The U.S. and Russia have finalized a deal regarding the ceasefire and de-escalation zones in southern Syria. Among the understandings reached this month between the powers is acceptance of Iranian forces and Iranian-controlled militias deployed not far from the Golan Heights border, where Israel had announced it would not tolerate an Iranian presence.

A senior U.S. official said the understandings allow Iranian troops, Shiite militias, and Hizbullah to be stationed 7 km. from the Israeli border on Mount Hermon and 20 km. from the border in the central and southern Golan Heights.

During the previous round of talks between the U.S. and Russia in July, Israel worked behind the scenes to keep Iran's forces and proxies 60 km. from the border. In neither round of talks was there discussion of Iran's consolidation in Syria - including the establishment of Iranian ground, naval, and aerial bases and infrastructures for the manufacturing and storage of advanced arms.

Senior Israeli officials have stressed that Israel is opposed to any Iranian military presence in Syria, and that the understandings between Russia and the U.S. do not provide a solution for Israel's security interests in Syria. Thus, Israel is not bound by these understandings and will continue to maintain the red lines it drew in the past.

The U.S. and Russia have handed Iran control and influence over Syria on a silver platter and at this point have no desire to confront it. Now Iran is busy tightening its long-term grip on Syria.
Clifford D. May: Territories Taken from the Islamic State Should Not Be Surrendered to the Islamic Republic
Soon after taking office, President Trump ordered his national security advisers to provide “a complete strategic review of our policy toward the rogue regime in Iran.” Last month, based on that review, he announced a new strategy “to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions,” including its development of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, its support for terrorists, and its neo-imperialist aggressions. This month that strategy is facing its first serious test.

Ironically, it’s the success of Mr. Trump’s policy of expeditiously defeating the Islamic State that has brought matters to a head so soon. The territories being liberated from the Islamic State are coveted by the Islamic Republic of Iran. You don’t have to be Carl von Clausewitz to grasp the consequences should those territories be surrendered to that regime.

Iran’s rulers are global revolutionaries and jihadis — that’s how they describe themselves. Their immediate goal is to establish what Jordan’s King Abdullah II has called a “Shia Crescent” in the Middle East.

They intend to become so powerful — and so dangerous — that no Iraqi government will dare defy them. Bashar Assad, the mass-murdering dictator they’ve rescued, is to serve as their obedient Syrian satrap. Hezbollah, their terrorist foreign legion, has been tightening its grip on Lebanon. Yemen’s Houthi rebels depend on Tehran for funding, arms and, presumably, instruction.

What the theocrats in Tehran plan to do next is no mystery. They will increasingly threaten the pro-American nations of the region: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Israel among them.
Head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps: Any New War in Middle East Will Lead to Israel’s ‘Eradication’
Any new war in the Middle East “will lead to the eradication of the Zionist regime,” the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps declared on Thursday, according to the semi-official state news agency Fars.

Israel — Maj. Gen, Mohammad Ali Jafari asserted to reporters in Tehran — saw “a part of the resistance front’s power during the 33-day and 22-day wars (the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead) and today that the great resistance front has been formed, this word has been proven.”

“The fate of the resistance front is interwoven and they all stand united and if Israel attacks a part of it, the other component of the front will help it,” Jafari claimed.

Jafari’s comments came as Lebanon stood on a knife’s edge amid the ongoing political intrigue surrounding Prime Minister Saad Hariri and following the recent launch of a missile from Yemen at Riyadh — an “act of war” that Saudi Arabia blamed on Iran-backed Hezbollah.

In an interview published last week by the Saudi newspaper Elaph, the chief of staff of the Israeli military, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, said the IDF had no intention of initiating an offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon, and accused Iran of seeking to escalate tensions there.

Meanwhile, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted on Thursday by the semi-official state news agency Mehr as calling Israel a “cancerous tumor” that “should be fought against.”
Trump divulged to Russia details of a daring Israeli raid in Syria — report
US President Donald Trump revealed details of a daring top-secret mission into northern Syria by Israel’s Mossad spy agency and elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit in a May meeting with Russian officials, sticking a dagger into the robust Israeli-American intelligence-sharing apparatus, according to a report Thursday.

The account, published in Vanity Fair based on information from unnamed sources the magazine described as “experts on Israeli intelligence operations,” sheds new light on both the highly sensitive covert operation deep in the heart of Syria and the damage done to the security relationship between the allies after the president revealed the secret information while apparently bragging about the quality of his intelligence reports.

A number of details about the operation, which involved an Israeli intelligence source that uncovered an Islamic State plot to use laptops to bomb planes, have already been reported on.

According to the Vanity Fair account, two Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters carrying Israeli commandos and Mossad agents flew into northern Syria, as part of a mission to insert a listening device to spy on an Islamic State cell that was devising new methods of carrying out bombing attacks sometime at the end of last winter.

The troops and spies were dropped off and transferred to jeeps, in which they drove to their target, where the commandos patrolled while the Mossad agents planted the device. The commandos and agents then raced back to the helicopters and returned to Israel undetected, the report said.
US Vice President Mike Pence to address Knesset during Israel visit
United States Vice President Mike Pence will address the Knesset during his scheduled visit in Israel next month, Channel 10 News reported Wednesday.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein confirmed that a request of that nature has reached his office and welcomed Pence's desire to address the Israeli parliament.

Sources privy to the issue told Channel 10 that Pence will address the Knesset on Dec. 18, adding the speech is expected to focus on the Iranian threat as well as on Israel's protection of its Christian population at a time when Christians in the Middle East face persecution.

Pence, who will also visit Egypt as part of his trip, is slated to meet with senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. The vice president is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority officials.
In possible nod to Israel, two top Saudi officials visit Paris synagogue
In a historic first and possible nod to Israel, two top officials from Saudi Arabia – both former government ministers – visited a synagogue in Paris this week, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The officials were Secretary General of the Muslim World League Dr. Muhammad Abdul-Kareem al-Issa, a former Saudi justice minister, and Khalid bin Mohammed Al Angari, a former Saudi education minister who currently serves as Riyadh’s ambassador to France.

The Muslim World League is an international Islamic NGO based in Mecca that works to spread Islam. Alongside al-Issa’s work in the league, he also serves as an official adviser to the royal court in Riyadh and to the Saudi minister of defense.

The pair, who visited the Grand Synagogue in Paris on Monday, were hosted by France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia and the synagogue’s rabbi, Moshe Sebbag.

Sebbag and Korsia removed a Torah scroll from the Ark during the visit and showed it to the Saudi officials, explaining the significance of the text and showing them various ornaments in the sanctuary.
Netanyahu to attend inauguration of Kenyan president
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to fly to Nairobi next week to attend the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta, his office said Thursday.

Netanyahu will fly in Tuesday morning and leave later the same day after attending the ceremony to swear in Kenyatta, who has led the East African country since 2013 and won a controversial election last month, which some observers say was rigged.

The country’s opposition boycotted the rerun election, leading the incumbent to garner 98.25% of votes cast. Voter participation was at 38 percent.
Commission: Downgrading S. African Embassy in Tel Aviv unconstitutional
The Cultural Religious and Linguistic Commission has warned South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party that downgrading the country’s embassy in Tel Aviv would be unconstitutional.

Last week, Thoko Mkhwanazi Xaluva, chairwoman of the commission, noted at a symposium that if South Africa downgrades its embassy in Israel it will “unfairly impact on the ability of Africans Jews to practice and identify with their religious and cultural heritage. As such, it would probably be unconstitutional.”

At the symposium, prominent community leader Rabbi Dovid Hazdan said that downgrading the embassy would “have a devastating and far-reaching impact on Jewish life in South Africa.” He noted that Jews throughout the world were “inextricably bound to the land of Israel” and recalled the years he spent in Israel studying for his rabbinic ordination before returning to South Africa to practice as a religious leader and educator.

Hazdan said that Israel had been “the incubator, inspiration and source of instruction for Jewish leadership in South Africa,” adding that his studies in Israel motivated him to return to South Africa to make a positive difference for the Jewish community and for all of its people.
Palestinian Rally in Ramallah Attacks South African Government Over Continued Diplomatic Relations With Israel
In a rarely-seen display of anger toward one of their closest international allies, Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank city of Ramallah this week turned on South Africa as they demanded an end to Pretoria’s diplomatic ties with Israel.

Protestors outside the South African representative office in Ramallah on Monday carried English-language placards accusing the South African government of betraying the Palestinian cause. One sign read, “We stood firmly with your liberation struggle, too much to expect your support for ours?”, while another declared, “South Africa can’t support our struggle for self determination? Do no harm at least!”

Palestinian propaganda continually emphasizes a special relationship between the Palestinian cause and the South African struggle against the former white minority regime, asserting that South Africans therefore have an extra obligation to support the Palestinians unconditionally. The claim is rooted in the belief that like blacks in South Africa, both Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the Israeli-controlled West Bank are governed by a doctrine of apartheid — although key aspects of the racial segregation suffered by South African blacks, such as the denial of voting rights and basic education, and an outright ban on interracial relationships, are absent.
Mother of Slain Argentine Prosecutor Alberto Nisman Demands Investigation Into Possible Involvement of Former President Kirchner in Son’s Murder
The mother of Alberto Nisman, the Argentine federal prosecutor murdered in January 2015, has formally requested that former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner be investigated for possible involvement with her son’s death.

Nisman, who had spent a decade investigating the Iranian-directed bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires in July 1994, was found dead in his apartment on January 18, 2015 – one day before he was due to unveil charges at Argentina’s Congress that Kirchner and her government had negotiated a secret pact to exonerate Tehran of responsibility for the AMIA atrocity. On Wednesday, Nisman’s mother, Sara Garfunkel, filed a request with Argentine federal judge Julian Ercolini for the investigation of Kirchner personally in connection with the murder

While the initial official reports into Nisman’s death alleged that the prosecutor had committed suicide, a federal police report issued one year after Kirchner lost the Argentine presidency to centrist candidate Mauricio Macri concluded that the cause of his death was murder. Forensic evidence contained in the report indicated that Nisman was assaulted and beaten by two individuals. He was then shot through head with .22 caliber bullet while on his knees.
IDF weighs new tool to legalize settler outposts
The Civil Administration is weighing a new legal tool that would help authorize settler outposts.

It could be used in cases where the only other options is a government decision to declare that they are new settlements.

Upon orders from Israel’s upper political echelon, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has already held two discussions on this issue in the last year.

The government is under international pressure not to legalize new settlements, so the only way to authorize an outpost is to declare it as a neighborhood of an existing settlement.

But the principle of “adjacent land” means that only outposts close to existing settlements can be legalized this way.

For those outposts too far away from a settlement, the only method for legalization is the creation of a new settlement.

This year Mandelblit has explored a possible reinterpretations or modification to the principle of “adjacent land” as it is applied in some cases in Judea and Samaria.
Hamas member nabbed entering Israel spills info on Gaza tunnels
A member of Hamas’s military wing, captured after he entered Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, has provided Israeli investigators with a wealth of information about the terror group’s tunneling operations, the IDF said Thursday.

In a statement, the army said Ahmad Magdi Muhammad Avid, 23, from Shejaiya in the Gaza Strip, was captured on September 27 after crossing the border fence in northern Gaza. He was not armed at the time of his capture and the army did not say what his purpose was for crossing the heavily guarded border.

Avid was a member of the Hamas military wing, which he joined in 2013. He trained in the use of anti-tank weapons, military engineering operations, and sniping. He was also involved in tunnel digging in the area of Shejaiya and was a member of the Hamas border patrol forces.

During his interrogation, Avid gave up a considerable amount of information about the Hamas tunneling operation in the Gaza Strip, including attack tunnels leading into Israel and tunnels inside Gaza intended for use in battles against the IDF, the statement said.

“The investigation of Ahmad Avid once again revealed Hamas’s terror activities, using tunnels to advance terrorist activity against Israel,” the army said.

He was indicted on October 23 at the Beersheba District Court on “serious” security-related charges, the army said, though it did not specify.
Report: Abbas refuses phone call from Kushner
Arab media reported on Wednesday that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas had refused a phone call from U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

According to the report, Abbas’s secretary referred Kushner to a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representative in Washington. The move came in response to the American threat to close the PLO's mission in Washington.

The U.S. administration has yet to comment on the report.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last weekend put the PLO on notice that he would shut down its mission in Washington, DC, unless the PA sits down for peace negotiations with Israel.

The notice to the PLO came after Tillerson determined that the Palestinians ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

A State Department official said that in September, Abbas crossed that line by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis.
Arab American groups offer to host PLO mission if shuttered by US
Arab American groups offered to host the Palestine Liberation Organization in their offices if the Trump administration shuts down the PLO representation in Washington.

“If your staff are shut out and forced to move, you’re welcome to use tables and have desks and internet in our office,” James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.

Samer Khalaf, the president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, also extended the offer.

The Trump administration says it is in the process of shuttering the PLO office, at least temporarily, because the organization has violated a US law that triggers a shutdown if the PLO pursues actions against Israelis in the International Criminal Court.

The conference call came as nine Arab American groups urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to stop the shuttering of the office.
Palestinian factions leave Cairo with little reconciliation progress
Palestinian leaders left the Egyptian capital Cairo on Thursday after fresh unity talks that resulted in calls for elections but provided little clarity about a key transfer of power in Gaza next week.

Analysts said a three-page document agreed on between the 13 largest Palestinian political parties Wednesday offered little substantive change, with no steps agreed on key points of difference.

They said questions would now be raised over the fate of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement signed last month between the two largest parties, Hamas and Fatah.

Under that deal, the Hamas terrorist group is supposed to hand over power in the Gaza Strip to the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority by December 1.

Significant issues remain, however, including the future of Hamas’s armed wing and punitive measures taken by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against Gaza.
Palestinian factions agree to hold general elections by late 2018
Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed to hold a general election by the end of 2018, a joint statement by several groups said on Wednesday following talks in Cairo.

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in October in Cairo-backed talks after Hamas agreed to hand over administrative control of Gaza, including the key Rafah border crossing, a decade after seizing the enclave in a civil war.

The Palestinian groups in Cairo said they would defer the choice of a final date for the general election to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from the Western-backed Fatah in a military coup in 2007. But last month Hamas, after a 10-year rift and several failed reconciliation attempts, Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt.

Salah al-Bardawil, a Hamas official involved in the talks, called Wednesday's agreement "vague" and expressed concern that it would be unable to progress on key issues such as lifting sanctions imposed by Abbas and the secure and full opening of the crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

The talks also failed to address security responsibilities in Gaza, which have so far remained in the hands of Hamas-backed security services.
Palestinian denied German citizenship for acting against 'democratic order'
A court in the German state of Hesse dismissed a legal suit on Tuesday from a 39-year-old Palestinian seeking German citizenship, on the grounds that he attended pro-Muslim Brotherhood seminars and represents a threat to the country’s democracy.

The administrative court said that the Palestinian “supports attempts against the free, democratic order” because of his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Germany’s intelligence agencies – the rough equivalent to the Shin Bet – monitor the Muslim Brotherhood because the Islamic organization is viewed as a threat to Germany’s constitutional democracy, according to intelligence reports in the Federal Republic. “The Muslim Brotherhood and their allied organizations pursue on the whole anti-constitutional efforts,” wrote the court in Hesse.

A lower court initially sustained the Palestinian’s lawsuit to become a German citizen. The complainant arrived in Germany in 1996 for an academic study program. In 2007, the man received a residency permit.
Why Russia must take Israel’s interests in Syria into account
The Russians see Turkey as their trojan horse in NATO. Erdogan is also offering Putin his ability to influence the moderate opposition forces, like the Free Syrian Army which is based in Turkey. Turkey, on its part, sees Russia as the only ally capable of maintaining its interests against hostile elements like the Kurds and against the infiltration of refugees into its territory.

The Iranians will receive Damascus, a considerable part of the Syrian army systems, inhabited by pro-Iranian militias and Hezbollah men. The Iranians basically control the Syrian army. So despite the conflict of interests, the Russians will receive the Assad regime’s stability from the Iranians.

Russia will start diluting its forces in Syria till the end of the year and will remain with reduced forces in western Syria along the coast, where the Russians will have a limited aerial deployment and a changing naval deployment, as well as a defense system for these forces. That is also what the Russians will bring to the permanent agreement talks in Geneva. The Americans, who are allegedly leading the talks, are being updated at best by the Russians and are only waiting for the moment they can get out of Russia.

Assad is a marionette. And what about Israel? It will have to take care of its interests on its own. As part of the Russian attempt to soften Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s statement on Iran’s right to remain in Syria, the Russian ambassador to Israel announced Tuesday that Russia was taking Israel’s interests in Syria into account. The Russians should do so, as Israel is the leading element that could spoil the party.

If Israel decides that it considers permanent pro-Iranian Shiite forces in Syrian military camps as a “red line” and bombs them, the Russians will have to explain to their Iranian allies why they are failing to control the Israelis. The day the Iranian-run airport in Syria is erased, all agreements will go up in the flames that will be ignited on the Israeli-Syrian border.
Russia says Iran, Turkey back 'new order' in postwar Syria
The leaders of Iran and Turkey on Wednesday supported the convocation of a Syrian people's congress as one of the first steps to establish an inclusive dialogue in the war-ravaged country, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Speaking after meeting his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin said the three leaders had instructed their diplomats, security and defense bodies to work on the composition and date of the congress.

Syria's leadership is committed to the peace process, constitutional reform and free elections, Putin said after the trilateral meeting held in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi. The three presidents agreed to step up efforts to finish off terrorist groups in Syria, he said.

Putin, who hosted Hassan Rouhani and Tayyip Erdogan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi two days after a visit by Syrian President Bashar Assad, said the Iranian and Turkish presidents had agreed to support a Russian proposal for a "Syrian people's congress."

Russia wants the congress, also to be held in Sochi, to open dialog alongside a formal U.N.-sponsored peace process in Geneva.

Syria's civil war, which is in its seventh year, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and created the world's worst refugee crisis, driving more than 11 million people from their homes.

All efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution have swiftly collapsed, with the opposition demanding Assad leave power, the government insisting he stay on, and neither side possessing the strength to force the issue by achieving a military victory.

But since Russia joined the war on behalf of Assad's government in 2015, the balance of power has turned decisively in the government's favor.
Russia declares ‘death’ of body probing Syria chemical attacks
Russia’s UN ambassador said Wednesday the expert body that has determined responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria “is dead” — but Moscow is ready to discuss “a new mechanism.”

Vassily Nebenzia told reporters after a closed Security Council discussion that the Joint Investigative Mechanism, or JIM, “has discredited itself completely.”

“But we are ready to talk about establishing a new mechanism that would replace the JIM and do the work in … a truly professional and objective” way, he said.

Russia vetoed two council resolutions last week to keep the JIM in operation, and this week it rejected a Swedish-Uruguayan draft resolution before it went to a vote to revive the joint investigative body of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

At the heart of the dispute is Russia’s demand for major changes in the way the JIM operates, and the insistence of the US and about 10 other council members that its independence and operation remain unchanged.
Khamenei: ISIS a 'tumor' created by U.S. and Israel
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Wednesday praised his country’s contribution to the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) group, saying it had helped destroy a “tumor” created by the United States and its allies, including Israel.

In an address broadcast on national television and quoted by AFP, Khamenei told a gathering of Basiji militia fighters in Tehran that they had “managed to repel and destroy” ISIS.

“Successive plots fomented in the region by America, the Zionists, Arab reactionary forces and others have all been thwarted by the force of the Islamic Republic,” Khamenei was quoted as having said.

“One of these plots took the inhuman form of that apostate group, Da’esh,” the Supreme Leader added, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

“Thank God, (it) was destroyed by the efforts of pious men and people who had faith in the strength of the resistance,” he said.

“In the region, the Islamic Republic – namely you, the young people – managed to put arrogant America on its knees.”
Iranian official: Disarming Hezbollah nonnegotiable
Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards will play an active role in establishing a lasting "cease-fire" in war-torn Syria, its commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said, adding that disarming Lebanon's Hezbollah was nonnegotiable, state TV reported on Thursday.

"Hezbollah must be armed to fight against Lebanon's enemy, which is Israel. Naturally, they should have the best weapons to protect Lebanon's security. This issue is nonnegotiable," he said.

Regional tensions have risen in recent weeks between Sunni Muslim monarchy Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, whose rivalry has wrought upheaval in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.

Saudi Arabia has accused the heavily armed Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah of helping Houthi forces in Yemen and playing a role in a ballistic missile attack on the kingdom earlier this month. Iran and Hezbollah both denied the claims.

Jafari repeated Iran's stance on its disputed ballistic missile work, saying the Islamic republic's missile program is for defensive purposes and not up for negotiation.

The program was not part of the 2015 nuclear deal with Western powers under which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions.

"Iran will not negotiate its defensive program. There will be no talks about it," he said.
PreOccupiedTerritory: ‘Breaking The Silence’ Spokesman Confesses To Kennedy Assassination (satire)
Developments in the ongoing drama of an IDF watchdog NGO continued to surprise observers today after the organization’s spokesman, already facing embarrassment over his false claims that he abused a Palestinian detainee, told investigators that he, not Lee Harvey Oswald, fired the shot that killed President John F. Kennedy on yesterday’s date in 1963.

Dean Issacharoff, the public face of Breaking the Silence, retracted his initial confession Tuesday that he had kicked and beaten a Palestinian civilian while serving as a combat soldier, reframing his original recollection of the event as an exaggeration. In an effort to salvage some credibility for himself and the organization that purports to document IDF abuses of Palestinian civilians, Issacharoff told prosecutors that while he may have embellished his actions against Palestinians, he was definitely the guy who pulled the trigger from the grassy knoll in Dallas fifty-four years ago.

Prosecutors elected to close the case against Issacharoff last week upon discovering that the Palestinian he had claimed to beat, including several alleged jabs of a knee to the detainee’s face, testified that he had undergone no such treatment. While Issacharoff and other figures from Breaking the Silence and the Israeli left at first insisted the prosecution had found the wrong Palestinian, video of the alleged incident gave no indication that abuse as described took place, and in the end Issacharoff conceded his confession in that regard contained more fiction than fact. He maintained, however, that Breaking the Silence’s credibility as reporters of IDF misconduct should not suffer, since he was the man who assassinated JFK.

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