Wednesday, November 29, 2017

From Ian:

The miracle of Israel lives on 70 years later
While much of the public debate is couched in terms of borders and settlements and sovereignty over Jerusalem, the larger truth is that Palestinians have pursued Israel’s destruction with more zeal than they applied to building their own state.

While you would never know it from most coverage in the American media, a two-state solution was offered to both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, but neither would say yes. To do so would have meant signing their own death warrants at the hands of fellow Arabs committed to Israel’s destruction.

The result is that many Palestinians remain scattered in “refugee camps” around the region established nearly 70 years ago, unwanted by their hosts while serving as political pawns. In their own self-governed territories, they are bitterly divided and impoverished, with much of the population living on international handouts and a fantasy that a Palestine without Jews is inevitable.

At times, there have been brief interludes of hope that internal change was coming. Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, told an Israeli journalist that he believed the Arabs’ 1947 rejection of the partition was a mistake that he hoped to correct.

That was six years ago. Since then, Abbas, finishing the 13th year of a four-year term, has done little to turn that idea into reality.

As I prepare for an upcoming trip to Israel and the West Bank, my third visit to the region, I expect to find an even more dynamic Jewish state, where even the constant threat of catastrophe does not interfere with a zest for life.

Then again, that’s Israel. A miracle among nations.
To get a state, Palestinians should do what the Zionists did
Seventy years ago, the United Nations created Israel. At least, that’s how Turtle Bay’s boosters and Israel’s critics remember it.

In reality, the UN General Assembly’s vote of Nov. 29, 1947, to partition Palestine merely recognized reality. The Jews had built their state; the UN acknowledged this fact. And getting the history right is essential to any hope of lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Early Zionists started arriving to join their fellow Jews in their ancestral land at the end of the 19th century. Bit by bit (or “a dunam here, a dunam there,” as their slogan went) they built up not only their numbers but their institutions. By the partition vote, there was a state in place.

This week that historic vote is commemorated twice, demonstrating the difference between two national movements.

At the Queens Museum, the site of the 1947 tally, Israelis and Americans (including Vice President Mike Pence) reenacted the drama on Tuesday. They also tried to revive the euphoria among Zionists, as they celebrated around the world, from New York to Tel Aviv.

At Turtle Bay, meanwhile, the General Assembly will solemnly mark the date on Wednesday, as it does every year, by conducting an “international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people” — remembering one of the only consequential decisions the UN ever took by celebrating those who rejected it.

70 Years: UN Partition Day
Remembering the historic day the UN voted in support of a Jewish state and an Arab state paving the path for the modern state of Israel and ending the British Mandate.

Prime Minister Netanyahu on the 70th Anniversary of the UN Partition Resolution
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks at celebration of the 70th anniversary of the historic November 29, 1947 United Nations vote that called for the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel.

VP Pence makes remarks 70 years since UN Vote calling for establishment of state of Israel
Vice President Mike Pence makes keynote remarks commemorating 70 years since the 1947 UN Vote calling for the establishment of the Jewish state in Israel.

Uruguayan son of key proponent of partition plan: ‘My father would have been proud’
Daniel Rodriguez Otezia, the managing editor of Uruguay’s leading newspaper El Pais, heard a lot growing up about November 29, 1947, and United Nations Resolution 181, which passed that day and paved the way for the creation of Israel.

The reason: His father, Enrique Rodríguez Fabregat, was the Uruguayan envoy to the UN in 1947 who not only cast his country’s vote in favor of partition, but also – as a member of the UN Special Committee on Palestine team that recommended partition – convinced other states to do so, as well.

Rodriguez, in the country this week as part of a 10-person Uruguayan delegation sponsored by the Foreign Ministry and Jerusalem Affairs Ministry, told The Jerusalem Post that his father told the story often.

“My father was a proponent and drafted the partition plan because he thought the best solution was the creation of a Jewish state, and also a Palestinian state,” he said. “He thought that any other solution would put the Jewish people at the hands of the Arabs, who would be a majority in the region.”

Rodriguez said his father, who visited the displaced persons camps in Europe after the Holocaust, insisted that the Jews of Europe be allowed to come to Israel. He was greatly impressed that when he went to those camps, the people – “in deplorable conditions” – said they “wanted to go to Israel, that they wanted to go to their land.”
Queens Museum mystery as to who tried to cancel Israel’s celebration
The 70th anniversary celebration was also touch-and-go. In June, Israel’s Mission to the UN asked the Queens Museum to use the historic hall and was told yes. But by August, for some reason, the museum reneged.

After a justified firestorm broke out, the museum quickly reinstated the event, with the board promising a probe. Was it anti-Israel bias or just a mix up?

The report, by an outside law firm, was due Monday. New deadline: next month.

That will make it nearly six months that Board of Trustees Chair Mark Coleman and his colleagues have been hunkered down. When they get the report it must be made public, all of it, along with how much it cost and who paid for it.
Kerry: Israel, Egypt, Saudis pushed US to bomb Iran before nuke deal
Former Secretary of State John Kerry said both Israel and Egypt pushed the United States to “bomb Iran” before the 2015 nuclear deal was struck.

Kerry defended the deal during remarks Tuesday at the Ignatius Forum in Washington, saying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “genuinely agitating towards action,” before he struck the accord with Tehran.

Kerry said when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he met with Saudi King Abdullah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Netanyahu, who all lobbied for military action.

“Each of them said to me, you have to bomb Iran, it’s the only thing they are going to understand,” he said.

But Kerry said that was “a trap” since the Arab countries would have publicly criticized the US if it bombed Iran.

It was not clear when the conversations took place. Kerry chaired the Senate panel from 2009 to early 2013. Mubarak was deposed in February 2011.
MK Oren: John Kerry has 'acrid & obsessive' place in his heart for Israel
According to Oren, who was Jerusalem's ambassador to the US from 2009-2013, “Israel, along with other like-minded governments in the Middle East, understood that a credible American military option was the only way to resolve the Iranian nuclear threat, whether militarily or diplomatically.”

Oren said that while the Obama administration, including Kerry, framed the options as binary, insisting that the only alternative to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat was war, “nobody in the Middle East believed it, above all the Iranians.”

The alternative to the Iranian deal was not war, Oren argued, “but a better deal and one of the ways you could get a better deal was to have a credible military threat. The irony was that the more credible the military threat, the less likely you would have to use it.”

According to Oren, Kerry “has a particularly acrimonious and sometimes obsessive place for us [Israel], and for the prime minister. He also thinks that the Iran nuclear deal was a historic diplomatic achievement. I personally feel that it was the collapse of American credibility in the Middle East and a significant danger to our future and the future of our children. That is a huge difference.”

Oren said that Kerry revealed his mindset toward Israel in the speech he gave in December 2016 defending the US non-veto of an anti-settlement resolution at the UN Security Council that placed the onus for the stalemate in the Middle East diplomatic process on Israel’s shoulders because of the settlements.

“Kerry gave an hour-and-a-half speech about the settlements, talking about how American ideals drove him to go against the settlements,” Oren said, noting that those same ideals did not drive him to do much about the half million people being killed in Syria.

Oren said that speech – which he noted omitted any mention of the peace offers Israel made the Palestinians, the disengagement from Gaza, the thousands of rockets fired at the country, the 1,000 Israelis killed by suicide bombers, and the fact that the Palestinians walked away from the negotiating table – “is indicative of a certain mindset toward Israel.”
Isi Leibler: Storm clouds gathering
The Syrian civil war is almost over. President Basher Assad remains in power, and Iran and its proxy Hezbollah are the clear victors.

Disconcertingly, the Americans and Russians have apparently agreed to let Hezbollah and Iranian ground forces remain, threatening Israel's northern borders. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has given assurances that Israel's security will not be threatened, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that, if necessary, Israel will take military steps to keep the Iranians at bay. This will require a balancing act because Netanyahu does not wish to jeopardize his good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The tension is being compounded by Iranian threats to destroy Israel and by the upheavals in Lebanon, with Prime Minister Saad Hariri announcing his resignation but retracting it a week later, and President Michel Aoun warning of an imminent Israeli attack.

Israel, meanwhile, is developing a common front with Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has described the Iranian supreme leader as a new Hitler. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot told a Saudi newspaper that Israel is willing to share intelligence about Iran with Saudi Arabia. In turn, two Saudi former ministers visited a Paris synagogue – an important signal.

Yet the covert alliance between the moderate Sunnis and Israel is based on expediency and may not last long.

The Saudis insist they have no relationship with Israel, yet they exert major influence on U.S. President Donald Trump and have urged him to revisit their original plan, which does not meet Israel's security requirements.

Collaboration with Egypt against the Islamic State group and the personal relationship with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi are excellent, but the Egyptian media and mosques continue their anti-Semitic incitement.

The Palestinian unity government has not lessened Hamas' ambition to obliterate Israel and determination to retain control of Gaza.
Rabbi Shmuley: Saudis More Serious About Iran than American Jewish Leaders
The past few weeks have witnessed an extraordinary and desperate PR and marketing gambit on the part of the government of Qatar in the highest reaches of New York and Washington Jewry.

Qatar, which serves as the single biggest funder of Hamas, and grants safe haven to its terrorist masterminds, is against the ropes because of a Saudi-led blockade, itself occasioned by Qatar’s support of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood (which includes Hamas) and its close association with Iran.

Rather than changing their ways, however, Qatar seems to have opted for a strategy of lobbying Jews in America and using those relationships to prove their moderate credentials to the Trump administration. After all, they’ve now got the Jewish friends to prove it.

I know what you’re thinking. No responsible Jewish leader would be part of this effort. And yet, every day the media exposes another rabbi or Jewish leader who is either visiting Qatar, escorting a Qatari ambassador around Jewish fundraising galas, or hosting a Qatari dignitary at a personal yet noticeably public function.

The motivation of those working on behalf of Qatar will be made clear in due course. Such things cannot remain hidden forever.

But for now, let’s note the following. The Jewish community has no dog in the fight between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Both governments have historically shown hostility to Israel and Jews, and neither country has diplomatic relations with Israel.
Anne Bayefsky: Nikki Haley Talks the Talk, but Isn't Walking the Walk, at the UN
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and the Trump administration are being pinned down in the trenches of the United Nations, outmaneuvered not only by smooth U.N. operators, but by Obama-era engineers.

Twice in November, the United States failed to vote with Israel against the U.N. hordes, despite the oft-repeated words of Ambassador Haley about having Israel's back. The self-proclaimed "new sheriff in town" is finding out the hard way that failure to match action with talk is a fast-track to impotence at the U.N. Corall.

On November 16, the Trump administration failed to support Israel on a resolution about the notoriously anti-Israel U.N. Human Rights Council. The vote took place in the General Assembly's Third Committee, a committee that focuses on human rights and is composed of all 193 U.N. member states. The resolution gave a pass to the annual report of the Council, a report that includes all of the body's anti-Israel goings-on. In U.N.-eze, the General Assembly "takes note" of the report and makes no criticism of any of its activities.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 117 in favor, 2 against, and 60 abstentions. Israel (and Belarus) voted against. The United States abstained.

Haley's move is particularly surprising in light of the history of this resolution. The George W. Bush administration voted with Israel and against the resolution, while the Obama administration did not vote with Israel and merely abstained for the past three years. Haley is following in Obama's footsteps.
Move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
When Israel took East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967, it annexed the remainder of the city, a move still not recognized internationally. The argument goes that, were the U.S. embassy moved to Jerusalem, it could prejudice final-status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians over a city that has been divided in one way or another since the Truman administration.

That argument is, to quote Ambassador Bolton, “at best disingenuous, since no serious proposal has ever suggested building Embassy facilities anywhere east of the Green Line [in East Jerusalem].” Nor has any serious proposal for a peaceful settlement to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict since the Oslo Accords suggested that Israel give up its claim to West Jerusalem, where the U.S. embassy could be opened.

Indeed, a U.S. embassy is already open in a divided capital of a Middle Eastern country. Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, has been divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 cut the island nation and its capital in two. Despite the lack of a resolution to “final status” issues between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, the presence of ~40,000 Turkish troops in the north, and the impediment of a fortified U.N. partition zone between the two halves of the capital city and the entire country, the American ambassador to Cyprus has lived comfortably in south Nicosia for decades, firmly signaling our support to the government of the Republican of Cyprus.

Official U.S. policy towards Israel, our most important Middle Eastern ally, is to give deference to a defunct U.N. General Assembly Resolution that never had the force of law; to undermine legitimate Israeli claims to West Jerusalem; and to allow decades-old threats of violence to veto where and how America’s ambassador and diplomatic staff conduct their work and live their lives.

Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is complicated, and should only be done in consultation with the Israelis, with the knowledge of Arab governments, and with a great deal of sensitivity to the holy sites in East Jerusalem. But it is the right thing to do and it would be an immediate win for President Trump.
VP Pence: Trump considering when and how to move US embassy to Jerusalem
US President Donald Trump is “actively considering when and how” to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, Vice President Michael Pence said Tuesday, placing the issue back on the agenda six months after Trump signed a waiver keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv.

Pence’s comment came at an event put on by the Israeli mission at the UN to mark 70 years since the passing of UN Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947. That vote paved the way for Israel’s creation by calling for the partition of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Tuesday’s event took place at the Queens Museum, where the original UN vote – which passed 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions – took place.

Although Trump pledged repeatedly during his campaign to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he signed a waiver on June 1 blocking the move.

After Trump signed the waiver, a White House spokesman said moving the embassy was a matter of “when, not if.”

Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating moving the embassy but stipulated that each US president could sign a waiver every six months that would effectively keep the embassy in Tel Aviv. Trump will have to make a decision within the next couple weeks whether to sign it once again.
Israel bars Swiss officials from visiting Gaza after Hamas meetings — report
Israel has reportedly banned Swiss officials from entering the Gaza Strip from its territory following a series of meetings between representatives of the European country and Hamas leaders.

The ban was issued by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman after the matter was brought to his attention by the Israel Defense Forces’ Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Yoav Mordechai, Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2) reported Tuesday.

The TV report said Liberman gave the order until the matter is fully investigated. Liberman said he would not consider lifting the restrictions until consultations were held with Swiss officials.

The decision to order the prohibition came after a pair of meetings between Swiss diplomats and top Hamas figures in Gaza in recent weeks, including the terror group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh and its Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar.
Netanyahu to African leaders: Together we can defeat terror
At luncheon in honor of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta's inauguration in Nairobi, PM Netanyahu says Israel will open embassy in Rwanda • Netanyahu also meets with leaders of Gabon, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and Ethiopia.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Nairobi for an official visit on Tuesday in honor of the inauguration of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was sworn in for a second five-year term.

Although unable to attend the official ceremony due to security concerns, Netanyahu was a guest of honor at a luncheon hosted by Kenyatta in honor of his inauguration at State House, the official residence of the Kenyan president, and attended by world leaders, ambassadors and diplomats.

In an address to African leaders at the luncheon, Netanyahu said Israel "would like to work with you and with every one of your countries to electrify Africa. ... So for every, every one of your initiatives, there will be an initiative on our part to seize the future, to make life better and safer for your people. It's good for you, it's good for us, it's good for Africa."
In bid to boost Africa ties, Israel to open embassy in Rwanda
Israel is opening a new embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, and is weighing direct commercial flights to the East African country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday.

“This is part of the expansion of Israel’s presence in Africa and of the deepening cooperation between Israel and African countries,” Netanyahu said after a meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi.

Currently, the Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia deals with Rwanda-related affairs.

Israel recently agreed to pay the Rwandan government $5,000 for every African migrant in Israel it is willing to accept, as the Jewish state steps up efforts to deport the largely Sudanese and Eritrean population residing in the country illegally.

Netanyahu arrived in Kenya for a whirlwind visit to celebrate the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta and for a marathon session of bilateral meetings with African leaders.
Hotovely's faux pas: Telling the truth about American Jews
What Germans might call the Hotovely-Americanische Judische-wort-gewitter – Hotovely’s American Jewish verbal thunderstorm – has hit. As usual, truth and reason suffer.

Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely is being called “ignorant,” even “antisemitic,” for noting that Americans Jews live safer, more “convenient” lives than Israelis and “most” don’t serve in the military.

Apparently, obvious truths aren’t very diplomatic these days.

Perhaps we could discuss our differences calmly if she had first affirmed that American Jews are our “brothers” and sisters and that she “cares” about them. She could have “welcomed” all Jews to see Israel as their “home.” And she should have singled out radicals trying to impose a “liberal dictatorship” who shut down alternative viewpoints and only blame Israel without acknowledging the conflict’s “complexity” or any Palestinian culpability.

Surprise! Watch the entire i24 interview: that’s what she did. She highlighted the importance of the relationship before conveying her accurate criticism.

Many Israeli and American Jewish leaders seem to be suffering from an attack of the stupids. Israeli and American Jews have never had more constructive grassroots contact. Forty percent of American Jews and Israelis have visited one another’s country. That percentage doubled in 20 years, thanks to Birthright Israel, general tourism and other bridge-building initiatives.
Israel to replace Jordanian envoy in effort to mend ties — report
Israel will replace its ambassador to Jordan in an effort to alleviate tensions with Amman following a deadly July embassy compound shooting, a diplomatic source told Reuters Wednesday.

Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, has prevented Israeli Ambassador Einat Schlein from returning to her posting along with the rest of the embassy’s staff, all of whom left the country following the July 23 episode.

In that incident, Israeli embassy guard Ziv Moyal shot dead two Jordanians after allegedly being attacked by one of them, sparking a diplomatic crisis between Jerusalem and Amman.

“The Jordanians don’t want her back, and this has been a big obstacle in patching things up,” the Israeli diplomatic source told Reuters, in reference to Schlein. “We’re looking for a replacement.”

Schlein assumed her post in September 2015, meaning her three-year term is set to expire this upcoming summer, regardless.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon declined told The Times of Israel that Israel “is working on a solution that will bring bilateral relations back on track.” He did not elaborate.
Pro-Erdogan Turkish Columnist: UAE Crown Prince Is 'Israeli Intelligence Member'
Ibrahim Karagül, the editor-in-chief of the stridently pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak, called the crown prince of UAE “an Israeli intelligence member” in a column on Monday, in which he warned of the United States and Israel’s attempts to destroy the Muslim world.

In his typically belligerent and outlandish columns in defense of the worldview of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Karagül has accused the United States of attacks against Turkey and organizing the failed coup against Erdogan in July 2016.

Human Rights Watch has described Yeni Şafak as a “major Islamist daily” and “a paper for Islamist intellectuals.”

In his column this week, Karagül refers to a variety of headlines coming out of the Middle East as “strange, extremely dangerous developments,” beginning with the corruption crackdown manned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and launched this month. He argues that, in the fight against terrorism, Arab nations appear increasingly concerned with limiting the influence of Iran in the region and eradicating uncontrollable jihadist movements. He describes this as part of a larger plan to bring the Arab Muslim world into Israel’s orbit at the expense of the non-Arab Muslim world, led by Turkey and Iran.

“A new era that is prepared in the U.S.-U.K.-Israel axis, carried out through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, served through young Arab rulers, that pushes aside the Shiite-Sunni separation, that is adjusted to give rise to Arab nationalism and centers entirely on Arab-Israel friendship has been launched,” he writes.
Storm in UK as Trump retweets anti-Muslim videos by extreme far right group
US President Donald Trump retweeted a series of inflammatory videos Wednesday purporting to show violence being committed by Muslims.

Trump retweeted them from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the far-right group Britain First, a small fringe group whose profile was elevated by Trump’s attention.

The group’s tweets read: “VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!” and “VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” and “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” The origins of the videos could not immediately be determined.

Britain First is a far-right group that opposes multiculturalism and what it calls the “Islamization” of Britain. It has run candidates in local and national elections, with little success, and has campaigned against the construction and expansion of mosques.
Sarona gunmen get four life sentences for shooting that killed four
Three terrorists involved in the deadly shooting that killed four Israelis at central Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market in June 2016 were each given four life sentences by the Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday.

All three were also given an additional 60 years in jail for attempted murder in an attack in which 41 people were wounded. Each of the three also were fined NIS 258,000 as compensation to each family of the murder victims.

Two were convicted for murder and one as a partner to a murder in the terrorist attack.

In the investigation’s findings, the two, Khaled Mahamrah, 20, and Mahmoud Mahamrah, 21, said they were inspired by Islamic State, though they carried out the attack without being formally recruited or trained by the terrorist group.

The two are cousins from the West Bank town of Yatta.

According to the indictment, during the brutal shooting, the two terrorists came to the market and opened fire randomly on civilians at the Max Brenner Café and its surroundings.

Mahmoud became an ISIS admirer while studying in Jordan before he returned to Yatta in January 2016.
30 years in prison for terrorist who wounded Zvika Cohen
The military court on Wednesday sentenced the Arab terrorist who critically wounded Zvika Cohen in an ax attack in Ma'ale Adumim in 2016.

In addition to the prison sentence, the terrorist Sa'adi 'Ali Sa'adi Abu Hamad will pay compensation to Cohen in the amount of NIS 200,000.

Zvika Cohen worked as a security guard at the mall in Ma'aleh Adumim. The terrorist entered the mall and hid there. After the mall emptied of visitors, he attacked Cohen with an ax and severely wounded him.

The MDA team that arrived at the mall treated Cohen and evacuated him to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. Cohen lay unconscious for days. After he awoke, he underwent a long rehabilitation process at Beit Levinstein in Ra'anana and only then returned to his home and family in Ma'aleh Adumim.

The terrorist escaped from the mall and hid from the security forces who had begun a manhunt. A relative of the terrorist called police headquarters and asked to turn him in. IDF and Shin Bet forces then arrested him and he incriminated himself while being interrogated.
PA employees blocked from resuming work at Gaza ministries
Palestinian Authority employees were prevented from returning to work at a number of ministries in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, a union said, in another sign of tension ahead of a reconciliation deadline.

The UN envoy for the Middle East peace process meanwhile held meetings in the Gaza Strip as part of efforts to urge rivals Hamas and Fatah to follow through on their reconciliation accord mediated by Egypt.

The Hamas terror group is scheduled to hand back control of Gaza, including all ministries, to the Palestinian Authority by Friday, a decade after seizing it in a 2007 near civil war.

The Hamas-run union for public employees said it had instructed its delegates to block former employees from returning to work at the ministries, saying their return came in a “random manner” and aimed at “creating great problems.”

Witnesses said dozens of former employees were prevented from going back to work at the finance, health and education ministries among others.

After the 2007 power shift, the Palestinian Authority continued to pay around 60,000 staff in Gaza, despite the vast majority not working.
Egypt president gives military 3 months to calm Sinai after massacre
Just days after the worst terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on Wednesday gave his security forces a three-month deadline to restore “security and stability” in the troubled northern Sinai, the epicenter of an increasingly brutal Islamic insurgency.

In a televised ceremony marking the birthday of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, Sissi authorized his new chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Farid Hegazy, to use “all brute force” against the terrorists.

Hegazy, appointed last month, rose up from his front-row seat and stood in rigid attention as Sissi, a general-turned-president, addressed him.

“I am mandating Maj. Gen. Mohammed Farid Hegazy before you and the entire people of Egypt to restore security and stability in Sinai,” said Sissi. “With God’s benevolence and your efforts and sacrifices, you and the police will restore security and use all brute force, all brute force.”

This is the second time since Friday’s horrific massacre in a sleepy Sinai village that Sissi ordered the use of “brute force” against the jihadists. It was not immediately clear what the use of such force would entail, but it suggested a scorched earth tactic that many of the president’s loyalists in the media have been calling for.
With victory assured, why is Assad suddenly wary of Iran’s embrace?
The heavy price Iran has paid in blood and treasure drove a complex debate in Tehran over the Syrian question. The Iranians believe their entry into the civil war was meant, first of all, to ensure the survival of an ally. But as time went on and the death toll and expense of the venture rose, an appetite developed in Tehran to find ways by which Assad’s survival could be made to serve additional Iranian interests — not just Russian or Alawite ones.

For their part, the heads of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard see in the conclusion of the Syrian war a one-off opportunity to create an Iranian land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean.

On the other hand, the camp of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has urged a much more careful approach. His allies argue that Iranian over-involvement in the Syrian crisis could bring the international community to zero in anew on Iran’s negative influence in the region, and could even harm the Iranian economy by triggering new economic sanctions.

For now, it seems the Revolutionary Guard is winning the argument. Tehran’s efforts to completely absorb Syria into the Iranian sphere of influence are continuing apace, and even accelerating. One of the last bastions not under Iran’s direct influence lies on Syria’s eastern flank, where battles still rage between Islamic State, the Syrian Democratic Forces (mostly Kurds supported by the United States), Shiite militias and the Syrian army. If the Americans scale back their presence there, the Iranians may finally achieve their long-sought land bridge.

Yet, even if that happens, Assad, like his allies in Moscow, understands from messages passed directly and indirectly by Israel that acquiescing fully to Iranian pressure could lead to escalation and even war with the Jewish state.
North Korea: New missile can reach all of US mainland
The ICBM fired .by North Korea in the early hours of Wednesday morning could have reached all of the US mainland, a US official said.

The "Hwasong 15" missile was fired from a site near Pyongyang at approximately 3:17a.m. Wednesday morning local time. It reached an altitude of 4,475 km (2,780 miles) and traveled a distance of 950 km (600 miles) over a period of 53 minutes.

In a statement, North Korea claimed to be "a responsible nuclear power" and said its nuclear weapons were developed in order to provide protection from "the US imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat."

According to US scientists, if the missile had been fired at a lower trajectory, it could have reached Washington, D.C.

US Defense Minister Jim Mattis told reporters that the missile "went higher frankly than any previous shot they’ve taken, a research and development effort on their part to continue building ballistic missiles that can threaten everywhere in the world, basically."

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that the international community "must take additional measures to enhance maritime security," including the right to redirect maritime traffic traveling towards North Korea.
Khamenei Reaffirms Fatwa Prohibiting Women from Riding Bicycles
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reaffirmed a fatwa declaring that women are forbidden to ride bicycles in public and in the presence of strangers that are not part of their immediate family, Radio Farda reported on Monday.

Khamenei’s so-called fatwa office reported in August 2016 that “from the ayatollah’s point of view, women are only permitted to ride motorbikes or bicycles so long as it does not attract strangers or lead to corrupt behavior.” The statement added: “Therefore, women should contemplate where and in what situation they will ride a bicycle. If they respect the said points, then riding bicycles for them would be permissible.”

President Hassan Rouhani’s deputy for women affairs, Shahindokht Molaverdi, confirmed the guidelines shortly after the announcement. “According to the supreme leader’s office, riding bicycles by women is permissible, provided they respect the principles of shari’a law,” she said.

However, ultra-conservative outlets continue to refer to comments made by Khamenei 21 years ago at a meeting with the staff of the Physical Education Organization, in which he insisted that “It is improper for girls to ride bicycles on the streets of Tehran. And ostentation and attracting strangers is also forbidden for women in sports.”

Activists have since tried to protest the gender-discriminating policy by initiating a “Tuesdays Without Vehicles” campaign, but the group came under vicious attack by religious leaders and were forced to abandon their plans. The protest also led to several women being detained while riding bicycles in support of the initiative.
Unhappy Iran wrestler admits he was told to lose match to avoid facing Israeli
An Iranian wrestler said his managers told him to intentionally lose to a Russian competitor to avoid facing an Israeli wrestler in the next round.

Ali Reza Karimi told the semi-official ISNA news agency late on Monday that only one minute before the end of a Sunday round of the U-23 World Championship in Poland his coaches told him to throw the match to avoid facing an Israeli wrestler.

“In a moment, my whole world seemed to come to an end,” he said.

Israel and Iran are bitter adversaries and Iranian athletes traditionally refrain from competing against Israelis. Iran’s government usually rewards such behavior.

Karimi told ISNA that he was beating Russian Alikhan Zhabrailov when coaches told him to lose.

“I tried hard for months to get the world gold medal,” he said. “Achieving a world medal is the only happiness for any of us.”

A statement from Iran’s sport ministry praised Karimi for supporting “human values.”

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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