Tuesday, June 26, 2018

From Ian:

Gaza Baby Libel: Equal Narratives; Unequal Treatment
How is it that Hamas’ credibility is treated as equal to that of the IDF and Israeli authorities? Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard journalists complain about the way in which Israel has dealt with their needs in relation to the weeks of violence at the Gaza border. I’ve also heard the argument from at least one journalist that both Hamas and Israel have equal and competing narratives that should be reported equally.

One major difference between the two sides is that one actively lies.

The death of Palestinian eight-month old Leila al-Ghandour on May 14, reportedly as a result of Israeli tear gas, made global headlines. Doubts were raised at the time over the cause of death and Hamas eventually took the baby off its list of casualties of the Gaza border violence. Still, headlines such as the Daily Express’ “Mother’s agony as baby dies in Gaza gas horror” and “Drones drop deadly cannisters” contributed to the libel of Israel as a brutal baby killer.

Despite this framing of the incident, the media cannot be blamed for covering the story. They can, however, be held responsible for taking Hamas claims at face value, not only in this case but more widely.

Reports now suggest that Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar paid baby Leila’s parents NIS 8,000 ($2,200) to tell the media that the infant had died due to tear gas inhalation at the Gaza protests. This information comes from a relative of the family arrested and questioned over terror activities at the Gaza border who told Israeli authorities that the baby had died of a fatal blood condition that runs in the family.

Perhaps the media might be skeptical of any information of this nature given that it was apparently obtained from a Palestinian held in Israeli custody. Nonetheless, surely those same media outlets that reported the baby’s death in such a damning manner even while questions remained, have a duty to report this latest development? After all, how can the media not give equal coverage to what they would claim to be equal and competing narratives?

But, aside from a few reports, this new revelation simply didn’t register on most of the international media’s radars. A blood libel, like most of the blood libels leveled at Israel over the years, has essentially become part of the accepted narrative even if it is subsequently proven to be fake news.

Hamas knows it can get away with it.
Caroline Glick: Europe Seeks to Pin Down President Trump – and America
In light of Europe’s institutional hostility towards Israel, and given the collective Arab rejection of Israel’s right to exist, it is obvious that Johnson doesn’t want this meeting because he is keen to advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

He is working to set up a meeting where the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan gang up on the U.S. and tell the President’s son-in-law that they will not accept any plan that doesn’t reflect their animus towards Israel.

Kushner, for his part, reportedly responded to Johnson’s attempt to railroad the White House into giving the EU veto power over U.S. Middle East policy by saying that while he is open to outside input in the U.S. peace plan, the President will decide its contents.

Kushner’s response hit the proper note. But it bears pointing out that Johnson’s speech at the UNHRC, like his attempt to build a coalition to ensnare the White House in a Middle East policy predicated on hostility towards Israel, show that Europe’s refusal to back the U.S.’s positions at the UNHRC was not a simple disagreement about the best way to achieve common ends.

Rather, Johnson’s efforts reveal a much more basic and unbridgeable conflict between the U.S. and Europe about the proper ends of foreign policy, and the sovereign right of the U.S. to advance its goals in the international arena.

Sohrab Amari: The Iran-Turkey Switcheroo
Bernard Lewis issued a startling prediction in 2010: Iran—the land of scowling ayatollahs and flag burnings—would abandon Islamism by the end of the decade, while Turkey—Washington’s stalwart Cold War ally—would turn away from the West and burrow deeper into its Muslim identity. Lewis is no longer with us, and there are still a few years left in his wager, but events in both countries are proving him remarkably prescient.

On Turkey, Lewis has already been vindicated. Witness the ballot-box triumph of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party, or AKP. In the presidential contest over the weekend, Erdogan thumped his opponent, Muharrem Ince of the Republican People’s Party, 53% to 31%. A smattering of pro-Kurdish and secular candidates divided the remaining ballots. Erdogan’s AKP and its allies also locked a majority of seats in Parliament.

The elections were not exactly fair. As the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observed, the state of emergency imposed following a 2016 coup attempt constricted “freedom of expression and assembly” for the opposition. Erdogan has used the emergency laws to dismiss more than 100,000 soldiers, teachers, police officers, and journalists. And some 50,000 people have been jailed and are awaiting trial, according to rights groups.

With numerous opposition reporters languishing in prison, it came as no surprise that the ruling party dominated the media landscape, which led European Union officials to conclude that “conditions for campaigning were not equal.”

The end of an era
In their love affair with Abbas, the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini promised the Palestinian leader the earth at Israel's expense, and led the PA to harden its positions. At the UN, countless condemnations of Israel gave the PA reason to celebrate and fostered allusions Israel would succumb to international pressure any minute now and cede its security and national assets.

But the White House has a new president, one who is not easily given to Palestinian manipulation, and at the U.N., the U.S. envoy sides with Israel.

There is also change in Europe: EU states are on the brink of bankruptcy and subject to an influx of Islamic immigration, and they are putting less pressure on Israel. The Arab states and former enemies of Israel that survived the Sunni "Arab Spring," awoke to a nightmare of a nuclear Shiite Iran. They now see in Israel and the U.S. strategic partners for the defense of the region.

While the Trump administration is busy consolidating a regional peace plan, Abbas is losing whatever cards he has left to play. When it comes to the fictitious Palestinian narrative, the cat has been let out of the bag, and the policy of attrition and rejectionism, along with the justification of terrorism as "legitimate resistance," has come crashing down. Abbas' last meeting with Trump, in which the U.S. president angrily accused him of lying about his commitment to peace, and Kushner's interview with Al-Quds are a slap in the face to the Palestinians. This is not how you build a state.
Khaled Abu Toameh: PA Officials Deny Pressure from Arab Countries to Accept U.S. Peace Plan
The Palestinians are not facing any pressure from the Arab countries to accept US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East, Palestinian officials said on Monday.

The officials claimed reports suggesting a number of Arab countries – including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt – have accepted the plan were untrue and were part of a campaign of misinformation designed to drive a wedge between the Palestinians and these countries.

“The US administration is facing a crisis after failing to market its peace plan to the Palestinians and Arabs,” a member of the PLO Executive Committee told The Jerusalem Post. “This administration is living under an illusion, if it thinks that it would be able to find Arab or Palestinian support for its suspicious plan.”

The PLO official said he was unaware of any pressure on the Palestinian leadership from any Arab country to accept the plan. ”We only hear these reports in the Israeli media and from some unreliable and suspicious Arab media organizations,” he added. “There is full coordination between the Palestinian leadership and our Arab brothers regarding the US administration’s policies.”

According to the Palestinian officials, US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt failed to win Arab support for Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan during their recent visit to the region.
Israel reportedly agrees to set up seaport for Gaza in Cyprus
Israel has reportedly agreed to set up a floating dock in Cyprus to receive goods bound for the Gaza Strip as a way to ease the rehabilitation of the ailing Palestinian enclave, conditioning the plan on the return of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers held by the Hamas terror group.

Israel intends to put together a working plan in the coming months and then pitch it directly to the public in Gaza, bypassing the Hamas rulers of the coastal territory, Hadashot TV news reported Monday.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman proposed the idea to Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades in Cyprus over the weekend, the report said.

The plan is to set up a project team within two weeks, with the goal of putting together a working scheme within three months.

The dock would include a system enabling Israeli monitoring to prevent Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, from using the opportunity to smuggle weapons and materials for terror attacks into Gaza. Hamas has long made access to a sea port a key strategic goal.
White House Warns Palestinians of Aid Cut without End to "Martyr" Payments
The Trump administration is warning Ramallah to end its policy of compensating the families of Palestinians convicted of murder and terrorism in Israel, as it reviews whether to cut foreign aid to the organization.

US officials tell The Jerusalem Post that “nothing has changed” since the president signed into law the Taylor Force Act, a bill that requires the administration to freeze aid to the PA unless it halts the decades-old program.

Months earlier, Trump had called for a broad review of all US foreign aid, including of aid to the Palestinians. But one National Security Council spokesman said on Monday that the new law would tie their hands and require action from Palestinian leadership if they wanted aid to continue unaffected.

“At President Trump’s direction, assistance to the Palestinians remains under review,” the White House official said. “While the Taylor Force Act restricts aid to the Palestinian Authority, with very limited exceptions, the Palestinian Authority has the ability to ease those restrictions by ending the abhorrent policy of inciting violence against Americans and Israelis through payments to terrorists and their families.”

Palestinian officials said the compensation scheme amounts to a welfare program for the families of legitimate combatants in their struggle against Israel. Israel and the Trump administration consider it an immoral practice that incentivizes terrorism against civilians.

An i24News report this weekend claimed that aid had already been frozen pursuant to the Taylor Force Act, which passed in March. A State Department official denied the accuracy of the report.
Hamas claims Russia opposes Trump peace plan
A top leader of Hamas said Monday that Russia will oppose the White House’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace as a delegation from the terror group met with Russian officials in Moscow.

“We agreed with the Russians that we won’t allow the advancement of the deal of the century,” Moussa Abu Marzouk said, according to the Haaretz daily.

The assertion by Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas’s politburo, came after he met with top Russian diplomats in Moscow, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s envoy to the Middle East.

“The participants focused on the problems of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement in accordance with the well-known international legal framework, including UN resolutions, and the soonest possible restoration of national Palestinian unity based on the agreement signed in October 2017 in Cairo between the Hamas and Fatah movements,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said after Bogdanov’s meeting with the Hamas delegation.
Lapid asks US lawmakers to recognize Israeli sovereignty of Golan Heights
Visiting the US capital on Monday, Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid met with high-level American lawmakers, urging the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over in Golan Heights.

“It’s time for the world to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he told reporters, shortly after he addressed the influential Brookings Institution on the same subject.

“Israel has declared sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” Lapid said. “There were all kinds of discussions throughout the years, but this is over, because it is so obvious that nobody in their right mind is going to give the Golan Heights to a mass murderer who just killed half a million of his own people.”

Referring to Bashar Assad’s reign of power in Syria, in which he is accused of brutalizing his own people and carrying out war crimes, including the use of chemical weapons, Lapid insisted that any Israeli handover of territory to the regime was off the table — and that it was time for the international community to recognize that.

“Now that the risks are so obvious, we will never renegotiate the Golan Heights,” he said. “It’s ours and always has been. It’s not like the West Bank or anything.”
Bennett: Jerusalem is our capital only
Education Minister and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett opened the weekly Jewish Home faction meeting Monday by speaking about the controversy surrounding the "Appellants Law."

"The law appointing the legal advisers that the justice minister is submitting is a correct, balanced, and necessary law. Our goal is simple: advisers will advise, the government will govern, and judges will judge. In the elections scheduled for November 2019, the public will again elect its leaders, not the officials," Bennett said.

Bennett addressed the security situation in the south: "The enemy's experience is clear - to accustom us to a situation in which the south is burning and the Israeli response will be moderate to weak."

According the Bennett: "There have been arguments over the last few weeks about the nature of the enemy and the nature of the treatment of the kite launchers and the detonators,. So yesterday the debate was decided with the IDF announcement - this is neither popular resistance nor eight-year-old children. This is terrorism initiated, directed and operated by Hamas. In the face of terror, we do not fight with silk gloves. When a terrorist acts against the State of Israel, we shoot him in order to hurt. This is my position, and I will continue to advance it, out of an understanding of the importance of force and its operation."
New report confirms Trump wise to leave UN Human Rights Council
The U.N. Human Rights Council is not only anti-Israel; it is also anti-United States.

A new report commissioned by the group, which reads like a Bernie Sanders campaign pitch and is mired in the wrong-headed economic philosophies that failed the Obama administration, confirms it: The Trump administration was entirely correct to exit the council.

The U.N. report blasts the U.S. for excessive poverty, racial discrimination, inadequate health care and many other flaws. On some fronts (like below-par education) the critique is accurate.

But the overarching message is that under President Trump, the U.S. has become a “champion of inequality” and that the country is heading in the wrong direction.

The author notes that most of the issues raised “could not reflect the policies of the Trump administration,” since they were decades in the making. But he condemns the very policies — such as the GOP tax cuts — that are boosting the economy and creating new opportunities for rich and poor alike.

As even the Washington Post reported recently, “America's poverty rate has likely gone down — not up — since [Trump] took office because the economy as a whole continues to improve, according to poverty experts.”
Cheer the US exit from UN Human Rights Council — but demand more
And the U.N. has long provided a global stage for dictators and theocrats to justify and launder their crimes: Iran's Hassan Rouhani, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Cuba's Fidel Castro. Etc. By elevating such vicious tyrants to the dignity of statesmen, the U.N. gave them moral cover.

When Amb. Nikki Haley announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Rights Council, she said it was "not a retreat from our human rights commitments," but an affirmation of them.

True, it was a good step in the right direction: To be a member of the Human Rights Council is to serve as an accessory to its lies, injustices and crimes. So too is remaining in the U.N. To uphold the ideal of freedom, then, withdrawal from the U.N. should be a further goal.

But there’s even more the US should do to resolve resolve the contradictions in its foreign policy. Remember, it was just days ago that President Trump praised North Korea's Kim Jong Un as "very talented" and a leader who "loves his people." While Trump has been particularly effusive toward a number of authoritarians, it’s a longstanding problem that U.S. policy often cozies up with tyrannical regimes.

The Trump administration was right to withdraw from the U.N. Human Rights Council. But to truly uphold the principle of rights, the U.S. itself needs to take seriously the moral difference between freedom and tyranny. A start would be to recognize the vicious character of the dictators and tyrants whom the U.N. enables.
UN pleads for new funding for Palestinian refugees
The United Nations on Monday implored member countries to fill a critical funding gap that the Trump administration created by sharply cutting the U.S. contribution to a program that helps Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

The U.N. held a conference to raise money for basic services – from food assistance and medical care to sanitation – for 5 million refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. (Unlike all other refugees in the world, when it comes to the Palestinians, not only are those who fled in the 1948 conflict counted as refugees, but also their descendants, leading to exponential growth in their numbers.)

After the session, the United Nations was still tallying how much was pledged by which countries against this year's shortfall of $250 million facing the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, which leads the relief efforts.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, the agency's director, said the 50% funding cut by the United States, the program's top donor, is endangering basic services such as food assistance in Gaza and medical clinics spread among the five areas, while about 500,000 children may not be able to start the school year in September.

"The situation of Palestinians is defined by great anxiety and uncertainty, first because Palestinian refugees do not see a solution to their plight on the horizon," Krahenbuhl said at a briefing before the conference.
Citing ‘new spirit’ at UNESCO, Israeli envoy wants to rethink withdrawal
Israel’s envoy to UNESCO on Tuesday suggested a rethink of the country’s planned exit from the world cultural body, citing a “new spirit” in the organization after it agreed to delay a series of resolutions critical of the Jewish state.

“I was the first to recommend leaving the organization after the United States announced its withdrawal, but now Israel must not ignore the new spirit emanating from UNESCO, and we need to reevaluate, in full coordination with the US, the question of leaving,” Ambassador Carmel Shama Hacohen said Tuesday.

Jerusalem and Washington should at least consider “a certain delay” of their withdrawal in order to signal that “if all the politics and the going after Israel will be history, Israel has an interest in cooperating in a positive way on the issues of education, culture and science with all the nations of the world, and especially our neighbors,” the diplomat said in a statement sent to Israeli reporters.

Israel and the US announced at the beginning of the year that would be leaving the group by the end of 2018.
The Red Sea Becomes a Center of the Middle East Conflict
In recent years, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have established military bases on the Horn of Africa, while Qatar has gained rights to use the port on the Sudanese island of Suakin. On the other side of the strategically crucial Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni Arab allies are fighting a bloody proxy war with Iran in Yemen. Oden Eran and Yoel Guzansky explain the ramifications of these developments for Israel and the Middle East more broadly:

Israel has a clear interest in ensuring that the Arab coalition in Yemen has the upper hand, as the Iranian Quds Force and Hizballah contingents in Yemen pose a threat to Israeli interests and [even] to maritime traffic to and from Israel. [Iran] could also turn Yemen into an intermediate stop for smuggling to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, [a role now played by] Sudan. According to foreign sources, Israel also has a military presence in Eritrea and intelligence access to the Yemeni arena. In the past, the [Iran-backed] Houthi rebels have threatened to strike at these Israeli installations.

The Horn of Africa and Red Sea region has [also] witnessed increased competition among Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Turkey. All of these countries are striving to consolidate their presence in African states—in some cases failed states—in order to gain access to distant arenas and to project power far beyond their borders. As a result, many actors, some of whom are hostile to Israel, are trying to establish themselves along the southern access route to the Gulf of Eilat and the Suez Canal, which could also result in security threats. . . .
The target: infrastructure
When it comes to the success of directing him to try and persuade others to supply up-to-date information about what was happening in Israel, beyond what Hezbollah is able to glean from studying the Israeli media (and it must be said, they are very skilled at this), there is a very wide gap between theory and practice.

In theory, it is a good idea that's feasible through constant intelligence work, but not when we're talking about someone whose criminal past Israelis in relevant positions remember, and whom they are careful not to let drag them into dark corners.

What remains? Apparently, beyond what we know about other intelligence efforts by Hezbollah and Iran, the Iranians – seeking to destroy Israel – are mainly interested in identifying attack targets, especially major ones. The former energy minister is an asset who can produce a lot in this area, as someone who was responsible for sensitive infrastructure systems.

It is hard to say how much damage has been done and it will be discovered only through a detailed investigation. But even if we are satisfied with what we already know, we can understand plenty about Iran and its goals and the limits of the Iranian intelligence community's capabilities. If this is the best they could do, Israel's proven intelligence superiority is in no danger.
IDF targets car, observation post used by Gazans launching fire balloons
An Israeli drone targeted a car and observation post that were being used by a group of Palestinians to launch incendiary balloons into southern Israel from the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, according to Palestinian reports.

The Israeli military confirmed that an aircraft conducted two strikes in response to repeated arson attacks from the Palestinian coastal enclave.

No Palestinian injuries were reported.

“An IDF aircraft attacked a car in the northern Gaza Strip that was being used by a group of incendiary balloon launchers, as well as an observation post from which they were launching balloons,” the army said in a statement.

According to the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news outlet, the airstrikes were conducted by an Israeli drone east of Gaza City near the security fence.

A number of small fires were reported in southern Israel throughout the day on Tuesday, apparently sparked by incendiary kites and balloons from the Gaza Strip.
Syrian media: Two Israeli missiles strike near Damascus Airport
Syrian state TV said late Monday night that two Israeli missiles struck near Damascus international airport, without giving further details.

The pro-Syrian regime online newspaper Al-Masdar News (AMN) cited reports stating that missiles targeted an Iranian cargo plane being unloaded at the airport. According to the reports, regime forces' air defense systems subsequently intercepted an Israeli drone in south-western Syrian airspace.

The head of the British-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, told AFP that "Israeli missiles hit arms depots for Hezbollah near the airport," adding that Syrian air defense systems failed to prevent the alleged Israeli strikes.

Israel has regularly refused to confirm or deny mounting overnight raids in Syria, but has repeatedly stated that it is unwilling to accept Iranian military presence in Syria.

In May, however, Israel said it struck 50 Iranian targets in Syria after 20 rockets were fired towards Israel’s front defensive line in the Golan Heights by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force.

The targets all belonged to the Quds Force and included intelligence sites, logistics headquarters, a military compound and logistics complex in Kiswah near Damascus; weapons-storage sites at Damascus International Airport; and intelligence systems and installations, as well as observation, military posts and military hardware in the buffer zone.

Jordan’s Abdullah stresses sanctity of east Jerusalem in Trump meeting
East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future independent Palestinian state, King Abdullah II of Jordan told US President Donald Trump on Monday in a meeting at the White House.

Speaking with the president days after hosting his top aides in Amman for talks on the administration’s upcoming Middle East peace plan, Abdullah told Trump that a traditional framework for a two-state solution remains a “foremost” priority for Jordanians, according to a description of the meeting provided by their embassy in Washington.

“Discussing the peace process, His Majesty stressed that the two-state solution which guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on Palestinian national soil with east Jerusalem as its capital, is the only way to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and it is the cornerstone of achieving security and stability in the entire region,” the statement reads.

Following the tour by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who is leading the peace team, and Jason Greenblatt, his top envoy to the region, of the Middle East last week, reports began to surface of alarm in Jordan and Egypt over the contents of the coming plan, which may take an unconventional structure that would be dismissed out of hand by the Palestinians. Such a structure might include using land outside of Gaza and the West Bank for future use in a Palestinian state, in lieu of the growth of Israeli settlements.

The Palestinian Authority has cut off contact with the Trump administration ever since the president decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and to move the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv late last year. PA officials called the latest US tour a “waste of time” and dismissed any role the administration might have in a future peace effort.
MEMRI: In Light Of IMF Pressure And Diminishing Foreign Aid, Jordan Seeks To End Economic, Political Dependence On Its Allies
In recent years, Jordan has been experiencing a grave and ongoing economic crisis that is steadily worsening due to the influx of Syrian refugees to the country and the diminishing of foreign aid. Jordanian King 'Abdallah addressed this in a June 4, 2018 meeting with journalists and newspaper editors, at which he said: "Jordan has been coping with unforeseen regional and economic circumstances, and there is no plan that can efficiently and rapidly meet this challenge. Jordan is currently at a crossroads: We can either overcome the crisis and provide our people with a dignified life, or, God forbid, head towards the unknown. We must know where we are headed. International aid to Jordan has decreased despite the fact that the kingdom has shouldered the burden of hosting the Syrian refugees. This is negligence on the part of the world."[1]

The wave of protests that swept Jordan in May 2018, which included large strikes and demonstrations throughout the kingdom, is not the first; in recent years such waves have been occurring in Jordan on a frequent basis in response to the extensive austerity measures taken by the Jordanian governments. These measures, which include the elimination of subsidies, as well as price hikes and tax hikes, are mandated by the International Monitory Fund (IMF) as a condition for extending aid to Jordan, and are also motivated by Jordan's own desire to end its years-long economic crisis.

In light of this crisis and the IMF pressure, and since the regular aid extended to Jordan by the Gulf countries, chiefly Saudi Arabia, has dwindled to almost nothing, Jordanian officials have begun discussing the need to attain economic self-sufficiency so as to end Jordan's dependence on foreign aid. Moreover, Jordan has concluded lately that its economic reliance on its allies – especially the U.S. and Saudi Arabia – limits its political freedom of action and compels it to endorse their political line even if it contravenes its own. This has been especially evident in the last year, in the context of Jordan's disagreements with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over the Palestinian issue and the "Deal of the Century" that the Trump administration is said to be formulating with Saudi backing. In fact, when Jordan refused to toe the line it was hit with economic sanctions such as the halting of economic aid, or with threats to this effect. Jordan therefore feels that economic independence will lead to political independence as well, and this assumption is among the factors underpinning its current economic policy.
After Erdogan’s victory, what should Israel do?
Gazans might have shot off fireworks in celebration, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may have put in a congratulatory call, but there was obviously no joy in Jerusalem on Tuesday at Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s victory – and that of his party – in Sunday’s election.

Erdogan, who supports Hamas and is vitriolic in his rhetoric against Israel, again plunged Israeli-Turkish ties to a low point just a month before the elections by “temporarily” expelling Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, and recalling his own ambassador, following Israel’s response to the riots along the security fence in Gaza.

Israel responded by “temporarily” expelling Turkey’s consul-general in Jerusalem, who has responsibility for Turkey’s relations with east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

Turkey has poured massive amounts of money into Turkish-supported Islamic institutions and organizations in east Jerusalem, and has also used the consul general as the address to funnel aid into Gaza.

While there were some who attributed Erdogan’s expelling of the Israeli ambassador to the election campaign, few in Jerusalem believe now that the campaign is over – and Erdogan has often used his anti-Israeli positions to boost his electoral prospects – the relationship between the two countries will improve in any significant manner.

There is a debate, however, about what Israel should do now.

Should Israel try to salvage what is salvageable in the relationship with Turkey, believing that economic, business and cultural ties between the countries are still important and worth fostering, out of the belief that Erdogan will not last forever? Or should it write Turkey off as a loss, not worth the effort and not as strategically important as it once was to Israel?

After Iran Deal Pull-Out, Iran Gets a Taste of Its Own Medicine
The Trump administration’s nascent campaign to pressure Iran is underway. Economic sanctions have been reinstated and global companies are pulling out of the Islamic republic.

Carmakers Mazda, Hyundai, and Peugeot have all either suspended contracts with Tehran or declared their intention to exit the Iranian market.

France’s Total is pulling out of a $2 billion natural gas project in Iran, while British Petroleum has halted its investment partnership with the Iranian Oil Company.

Boeing nixed its contract to deliver more than 80 aircraft, valued at nearly $20 billion. Even Nike canceled — at the last minute — a delivery of soccer cleats to the Iranian national team for the World Cup.

Companies around the world are faced with a simple choice: You can do business with the US or you can do business with Iran. But you can’t do both. Being shut out of the world’s biggest economy in order to do business with the Islamic republic is too big a risk for these companies to take. As Siemens noted in a statement, its business with Iran represents a “very small portion” of overall revenue. The opposite is true of its business with the United States, where the German manufacturer makes about $20 billion a year and employs some 50,000 workers.

This avalanche of bad news for the Iranian economy comes as inflation is skyrocketing, banks are in turmoil, and the currency is collapsing. In short, the Trump administration’s pressure campaign has begun and is only going to get worse.
Iranian Protestors Chant "Death to Palestine"
Iranian civilian protestors, in a surprising turn of events in the country, are taking to the streets to express opposition to the hardline ruling regime by chanting, "Death to Palestine" and "Leave Syria, think of us," according to an independent translation of videos showing the protests.

The protests, just the latest in social unrest gripping the country, began over the weekend and have spilled into Monday, as anti-regime protestors express frustration over the plunging value of Iran's currency, the rial, and Iranian leadership's continued funding of regional terror groups and military operations in Syria on behalf of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

Protestors are said to be fed up with the Iranian ruling regime's focus on foreign intervention ahead of the country's own economy, which has been even further strained since President Donald Trump walked away from the landmark nuclear agreement and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran.

Protestors could be hard chanting in Farsi, "Death to Palestine" in apparent reference to the Iranian ruling regime's efforts to fund the terror-tied Hamas government in the Gaza Strip and foment terrorism against Israel.

Additionally frustrated with the Iranian regime's massive expenditures on war in Syria, protestors also could be heard chanting, "Leave Syria and think of us."
‘Where’d your money go?’ Liberman asks angry Iranians in Persian
Israel’s defense minister joined Iranian protesters speaking out against Tehran’s leaders for continuing to support militant groups abroad even as the country faces worsening economic woes.

“Citizens of Iran, where’d your money go?” Liberman wrote in a Persian-language post on his social media accounts, as protesters demonstrated in Tehran for a second straight day Tuesday.

Iranians took to the streets Monday following the collapse of the country’s currency amid the renewal of US sanctions over the regime’s nuclear program. Many of the protesters expressed anger at the regime’s financial support for Palestinian groups and Syrian President Bashar Assad as their own coffers drained.

“As of today, despite the economic difficulties at home, the Iranian regime continues to invest billions in Syria, Hezbollah, [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad, the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq,” Liberman wrote, according to a Hebrew translation from his office.

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