Thursday, August 23, 2018

From Ian:

PA Leaders Have Lost Interest in Institution-Building
The centrality of institution-building to the Palestinian leadership's approach toward Palestinian state-building has declined, aggravating serious political decay in the West Bank and Gaza.

The Oslo process led to the founding of the Palestinian Authority that built structures to administer Palestinian affairs. The PA ran everything from education, healthcare, and traffic, to the licensing of NGOs, even as it created the institutions of an eventual state, from police forces to a parliament. After Hamas took over control of Gaza in 2007, PA institution-building in the West Bank became the centerpiece of efforts by Palestinian leaders and their international backers to achieve statehood.

However, today, a quarter of a century since the first Oslo agreement made the PA possible, PA leaders no longer behave as if domestic institution-building is a critical part of the search for statehood. This is reflected in the greater emphasis on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas personally, with his photo prominently displayed throughout the PA. Official rhetoric stresses the PLO, the Palestinian National Council, Fatah, and the Palestinian "revolution" more than the PA.

PA structures actually serve as administrative afterthoughts that are no longer viewed as kernels of a statehood effort. Leading Palestinian institutions are sometimes bent to serve the interests of senior officials and repress opposition. Creeping authoritarianism, the personalization of authority, and disregard for legal and professional norms are all unmistakable signs of a leadership that has lost interest in good governance.

‘Fauda’ and the Two-State Solution
In the international hit Israeli TV series Fauda, the head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) security service is a fictional character named Abu Maher. Played by Qader Harini, an Arab actor from eastern Jerusalem, Abu Maher is reconciled to peace and co-existence, and therefore willing to cooperate with the Israelis to combat Islamist terror.

In an episode of the show’s second season (this is not a spoiler for the main plot line, so you can keep reading even if you haven’t watched the series), Abu Maher takes his son — a student who sympathizes with Hamas — to lunch on the Jaffa beach inside Israel. He tells the youngster to look at the skyscrapers of neighboring Tel Aviv. Those mighty buildings and the industry, creativity, power, and wealth they represent, he says, show the permanence of Israel. The Jews are interested in life rather than death, and since they can’t be defeated, Abu Maher believes that the Palestinians must choose peace.

I’m sure I’m far from the only audience member who saw that scene and pondered what life would be like if the actual head of the PA was someone like the fictional Abu Maher, instead of Mahmoud Abbas or the other real-life Fatah functionaries who are still fixated on the century-old war against Zionism, in which they have yet to admit defeat. With such a person leading the Palestinians, a two-state solution might indeed be possible.
Two Bombs in Yemen
On August 9, an airplane belonging to the Saudi-led coalition appears to have hit a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 boys between the ages of six and eleven. According to investigators, the bomb was American-made—not a surprise, as the U.S. has been supporting Saudi Arabia and its allies in their efforts to drive the Iran-backed Houthi rebels and al-Qaeda from Yemen. The civilian deaths again brought to the fore concerns about Washington’s role in this bloody civil war, which has dragged on for almost four years and precipitated a humanitarian crisis. Noah Rothman comments:

Elsewhere in Yemen, another American bomb is making headlines of a different sort. On Tuesday, American and Yemeni officials revealed that they have high confidence that a U.S. drone strike killed Ibrahim al-Asiri, who was described by Barack Obama’s former acting CIA director Michael Morell as “probably the most sophisticated bomb maker on the planet.” . . . Asiri is one of many al-Qaeda leaders and mid-level commanders dispatched by U.S. drone patrols in Yemen, and Americans are safer because of those operations. Those American bombs get less attention than the munitions the United States provides to Saudi Arabia and its allies around the world, but they are all part of the same campaign.

The bomb that killed 40 young boys on August 9 was part of a shipment to Saudi Arabia that was approved by the State Department in 2015, under President Barack Obama. That was not a particularly controversial move at the time. . . . The possible disruption of America’s anti-terror operations [against al-Qaeda] in this theater wasn’t the only peril posed by this new conflict.

After taking [the capital city of] Sana’a, the Houthis descended on the strategic port of Aden, which is situated on the vital Bab al-Mandab Strait. That tiny, two-mile-wide northbound shipping lane leads directly into the Suez Canal and provides every port on the Indian Ocean with access to the Mediterranean and Europe. If the Houthis captured it, Iran would be free to shut the strait by deploying mines or harassing shipping vessels. No American administration, Republican or Democratic, would tolerate such a threat to international trade and global security.

NGO Monitor: Background on Members of UNHRC Commission of Inquiry into Gaza Riots
On July 25, 2018, the UN Human Rights Council appointed three individuals to serve as members of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) into what has been predetermined to be Israel’s “military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests” along the Gaza border. The COI is the result of a biased UNHRC Resolution (S-28/1), which condemned “the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli occupying forces against Palestinian civilians, including in the context of peaceful protests.”

The three members of the COI – David Michael Crane of the US, Sara Hossain of Bangladesh, and Kaari Betty Murungi of Kenya – all have experience in leading UN inquiries, including on Sierra Leone, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Rwanda.

Past COIs on the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as the 2009 “Goldstone Report” and the 2014 “Schabas-Davis Commission,” relied almost entirely on unverified or false claims made by a narrow group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). As the 2017 State Department Human Rights report on Israel acknowledges, “In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some of those sources have been accused of harboring political motivations.”

In addition, as noted, the COI’s mandate singles out Israel, and the Commission will be working with the secretive Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In order to avoid the mistakes made by their predecessors, the Commission should consult a wide-variety of source material, conduct all activities in a transparent and documented manner, employ identified legal and military experts, and closely scrutinize all NGO submissions for compliance with international fact-finding standards.
Chair of UN Probe of Gaza Border Violence Quits Less Than Month Into Job
Former war crimes prosecutor David Crane, an American who was named only last month to lead a UN investigation into violence in Gaza this year, has resigned, the United Nations said.

The UN said in a statement dated Aug. 22 that Crane had informed the Human Rights Council of his decision a day earlier “due to a personal circumstance that has arisen” and that the council was “considering next steps.”

Crane, a former senior US legal official who served as chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2002-2005, was named chair of the three-person inquiry on July 25.

He could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.

At least 170 Palestinians — many of them members of terrorist groups — have been killed during weekly riots on the Israeli border that began at the end of March. One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper as well.

Netanyahu Says Still Hopes US Will Recognize Israel’s Golan Hold
Israel still hopes the US will recognize its claim to sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, after a top American official said the issue is not currently under consideration by Washington.

Israel captured much of the Golan from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed it, in a move not endorsed internationally. In May, a senior Israeli official said that US recognition could be forthcoming within months.

But in a Reuters interview during a visit to Israel this week, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said “there’s no discussion of it, no decision within the US government.”

Netanyahu was asked whether Israel, in light of Bolton’s remarks, had dropped expectations of US recognition of Israel‘s Golan claim. He replied: “Would I give up on such a thing? No way.”
Netanyahu lands in Lithuania, grandma’s birthplace, in search of European allies
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Lithuania on Thursday for a Baltic summit through which he said he hoped to deepen ties with eastern European nations to counter the EU’s “not always friendly” relations with Israel.

Netanyahu, who has Lithuanian roots, was greeted by the Baltic country’s foreign minister at Vilnius airport.

“I want to achieve a balance in the European Union’s not always friendly relations with Israel in order to maintain fairer relations,” Netanyahu said before boarding the plane for the first-ever visit by an Israeli premier to Lithuania.

“I am doing it through contacts with blocs of European Union countries, Eastern European countries, and now with Baltic countries and other countries, of course.”

Netanyahu will meet the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia together in Vilnius during his visit which is set to last until Sunday. He will also pay tribute to Lithuania’s once vibrant Jewish culture and its tragic end during the Holocaust.

Lithuania has traditionally been one of Israel’s better friends in the European Union.
Merkel due in Israel for first time in 4 years amid Iran tensions
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to make her first visit to Israel since February 2014 in October, despite strained relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met Merkel in Berlin in June.

During her visit, Merkel is scheduled to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa. She is also expected to visit the Israel Museum and Foreign Ministry exhibit on innovation featuring the work of six Israeli companies.

When Merkel and Netanyahu last met, Netanyahu said that Israel was looking at various ways of mitigating the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu blamed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for the crisis in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave and said that Hamas itself was opting to sink resources into terrorism rather than the welfare of Gaza's residents.

But the main point of dispute between Merkel and Netanyahu is Iran – namely the Iran nuclear agreement reached between Tehran and six world powers in 2015. Netanyahu has consistently warned that the deal, which aimed to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, fell short of preventing and Iranian bomb and neglected to address the other threats posed by Iran. Merkel, however, represents a strong European faction currently trying to salvage the agreement, which all but collapsed when the U.S. withdrew from it in May.
Senate Democrats Opposed U.S. Ambassador Ric Grenell, Who Ended Up Deporting Nazi
Senate Democrats fiercely opposed Richard Grenell’s nomination to become the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, and earlier this year, sought his removal after a Breitbart News interview where he said he wanted to empower conservative voices in Europe.

If Democrats had been successful at either endeavor, an accused Nazi labor camp guard would be roaming free in the U.S. today.

Thanks to Grenell’s efforts, the Trump administration deported Jakiw Palij, the last known Nazi collaborator living in the U.S., to Germany early Tuesday morning.

Palij was a former Nazi SS labor camp guard in German-occupied Poland. Thousands of Jews were murdered at the Trawniki labor camp where he worked. After World War II, he lied about being a Nazi and sought asylum inside the U.S. in 1949, and became a U.S. citizen in 1959, living in Queens, New York.

Despite a 2004 removal order, the Bush and Obama administrations were unable to deport him.

“To protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families, President Trump prioritized the removal of Palij. His long-overdue deportation sends a strong message: The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on U.S. soil,” the White House said in a statement on Tuesday.

The deportation would not have happened if Grenell had not convinced Germany to accept him, according to reports.
Arab MK slams 'racist right-wing' push to ban Palestinian flags
Knesset members from the Joint Arab List voiced their strong objection Wednesday to a bill drafted by MK Anat Berko (Likud) that would outlaw the display of flags of enemy states or hostile entities – including the Palestinian flag – at demonstrations in Israel.

Under Berko's legislation, anyone waving an enemy flag would face criminal proceedings and could be sentenced to a year in prison.

MK Yousef Jabareen, a member of the Knesset Ethics Committee, said the bill was a product of "the radical, nationalist, and racist Right."

The bill's only purpose is to "sow barriers and hatred," Jabareen said. "The Palestinian flag is the collective national symbol for the entire Palestinian people, not a flag of the Palestinian Authority, the PLO, or any particular faction."

"The Arab citizens of Israel belong to the Palestinian people," he continued. "Two peoples live in Israel, and common sense demands that we give legitimacy to the right of both sides to display their national symbols."
Trump's declaration on peace talks 'meaningless,' Palestinians say
The Palestinian Authority and Hamas on Thursday both dismissed U.S. President Donald Trump's recent declaration that Israel would be made to "pay a higher price" in peace talks as a result of official U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital last year, calling Trump's pledge "meaningless."

Trump's assertions that his regional peace plan had "removed the issue of Jerusalem from the negotiating table," and that the Palestinians "will get ‎something very good, because it's their turn next," were also dismissed.

Ahmed Tamimi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, denounced the statement as "a continuation of U.S.'s biased policy in favor of Israel. The U.S. administration is peddling an illusion, as if the 'deal of the century' can be implemented without Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state in any future agreement.

"We know nothing about the negotiations Trump is talking about. Jerusalem lies in the Palestinian people's soul and the Arab and Islamic nation's heart and it can never be removed from our hearts," he said.

A statement by Hamas, the terrorist group ruling the Gaza Strip, said, "The conspiracy that is President Trump's 'deal of the century' is slowly dying."
Palestinians lambast Trump's 'audacious' comments on Jerusalem
Palestinian leaders expressed outrage on Wednesday at US President Donald Trump’s “audacious" and "biased" statements made the previous night in which he said that his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital removed the central sticking point off the table in any future peace negotiations.

A Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) statement said that Trump’s comments point to “the continuation of a biased policy in Israel’s favor, and the continued illusion of the American administration that it is possible to achieve the ‘deal of the century’ without Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.”

At a campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia, Trump said Israel would “have to pay a higher price” in negotiations with the Palestinians in return for his December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which was followed up by the transfer of the American Embassy to the city in May.

His overtures to the Palestinians by adding that “they’ll get something very good because it’s their turn next. Let’s see what happens" did little to allay the anger he sowed in the same remarks by repeating that he has “taken Jerusalem off the table.”

“And if there’s ever going to be peace—remember I said it—with the Palestinians it was a good thing to have done because we took it off the table because every time there were peace talks, they never got past Jerusalem becoming their capital, so I said let’s take it off the table,” Trump said, explaining his strategy,”
Egypt, Saudi Arabia Less Optimistic over Trump's Middle East Peace Plan
Even as the White House moves to unveil its’ “Deal of the Century” vision for Middle East peace, it’s increasingly clear that Arab enthusiasm to partner with President Donald Trump on a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement is faltering.

The central thrust of the plan – which Arab leaders have reportedly asked the Trump administration to withhold – is to focus first on an economic development program for Gaza with similar incentives applying to the West Bank only if Palestinians concede permanent control over Jerusalem with large settlement zones for Israelis and a limited sovereignty arrangement that is several steps short of full independence.

But after a year of shuttle diplomacy and multiple meetings with leaders in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Amman and Cairo, American envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have failed to convince Egypt or other key Arab states that the U.S. can broker a fair solution.

“Most of the Arab world – including Egypt and Saudi Arabia – have rejected the U.S.-proposed Deal of the Century,” said Saad El Gammal, head of the Egyptian parliament's Arab Affairs Committee.

El Gamal and other critics of the emerging deal say detailed planning for a free trade zone or building power and desalination plants in Gaza before tackling the political questions of Jerusalem, borders and refugees is sidestepping core Arab concerns.

“Trump’s claims of ongoing support to the peace process are entirely false,” El Gammal said, pointing to the administration’s move of the U.S Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May and American efforts this summer to shut down UNRWA – the UN refugee agency assisting Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan.
Analysis: What price will Israel have to pay for the U.S. embassy move?
Like the Israelis, Palestinians want of the Americans both symbolic acts – such as recognition of east Jerusalem as their own future capital, recognition of a Palestinian state or, at minimum, an embrace of the two-state solution – as well as tangible actions, such as aid and investment commitments.

But Trump’s Middle East peace team has given no indication that it is prepared to concede on either, removing all reference to an independent Palestinian entity in US State Department language, to an Israeli occupation of the West Bank or to Palestinian refugee claims. It has slashed aid to UN bodies related to the Palestinian cause and threatened major cuts to the Palestinian Authority itself.

Privately, members of the peace team do acknowledge that Israel’s permanent presence in the West Bank – both its military presence as well as the continued growth of settlements – is a hindrance to peace. So Trump might push the Israelis on this front in some way.

But he has already directed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “hold back” on settlement activity and to restrict building to existing settlement footprints – loose guidelines that the Israeli government has barely followed as it is. And even if Trump were to take a harder stance, it would only bring him in line with past administrations, all of which have agreed on the corrosive nature of the settlement enterprise and publicly admonished Israel for it.

Trump could state that Israel must choose between one of two future realities: a unitary, undemocratic state, or two states for two peoples requiring an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Since his peace team says it will negotiate based on “realities,” Trump may “take off the table” a dream of the Israeli Right that they can have their cake and eat it, too.

But Trump has given no real clues as to his plans. To quote one of his favorite refrains: We’ll see what happens.
Hamas, Israel, And The Fantasy of the War of Attrition
The latest conflict between Hamas and Israel reminds us that one thing is certain in the Middle East: there will always be war between Hamas and Israel.

As long as Hamas believes in the viability of a war of attrition as both a short-term tactic and long-term strategy to defeat Israel, the next war is waiting around the corner.

The perception of the function of guerrilla warfare is based on the writings of the Chinese leader Mao Zedong and their application in Vietnam under General Vo Nguyen Giap.

A self-educated military strategist, Giap was recognized as one of the foremost architects of guerrilla warfare in the 20th century.

Giap’s success and the withdrawal of colonial powers from both Asia and Africa gave guerrilla warfare mythical status as to how small bands of under-equipped but dedicated local forces could defeat larger, better-equipped armies.

Nowhere was this perception more enhanced than with the publication in 1965 of Robert Taber’s The War of the Flea. Taber’s conception of guerrilla warfare was that “the guerrilla fights the war of the flea and his military enemy suffers the dog’s disadvantages: too much to defend; too small, ubiquitous, and agile an enemy to come to grips with.”
Muslim Arrested On Terror Charges After Threatening To Kill 'Zionist Police Officers
A self-confessed Muslim male was arrested on terror charges in Marseille after climbing onto a promontory by the coast and declaring the area solely for Muslims, threatening to kill police who later arrived on the scene.

The 50-year-old Muslim man climbed up on the coastal rock on Sunday at around 5:30 pm int he evening and started shouting to passers-by saying, “this is the rock of the Muslims, anyone who is not a Muslim has no place to be here,” La Provence reports.

The disruption caused by the man soon attracted the attention of local Marseille police officers. Arriving on the scene, they were met with a flurry of threats from the man who said he would slit their throats calling the officers “henchmen of [Marseille Mayor Jean-Claude] Gaudin and Zionists.”

Following the threats, the officers moved in and arrested the crazed man, identified later by his first name Omar, who resisted several times before being placed into custody.

Local prosecutors are now looking at pursuing charges of threats against public officials, apology of terrorism and rebellion.” The 50-year-old was previously known to police for minor offences in the past and is scheduled for a psychological evaluation.

The incident is just the latest to involve a Muslim making a threat toward police or bystanders in France. In April, a woman with her children in the city of Cannes threatened to blow herself up while yelling “Allahu Akbar” outside of the CanneSeries television festival.
Life-Saving Trees Burnt by Incendiary Kites
Hundreds of acres of security plantings carried out in this part of Israel since the 1950s have now gone up in smoke due to incessant incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza. KKL-JNF teams are working around the clock to mitigate the damage to these security trees by caring for them on a daily basis.

Extensive damage has been inflicted upon thickets of trees planted around eleven communities in the Western Negev in the 1950s to provide a natural protective screen between them and the Gaza Strip. In recent years these thickets have been fortified by many more lifesaving trees planted for this purpose with the help of KKL-JNF’s Friends throughout the world.

KKL-JNF Western Negev Recreation Area Coordinator Itzik Lugasi, who is in charge of the security plantings, explains: “These security plantings make an enormous difference. The trees conceal local communities and roads and make it hard for the terrorists to hit them directly. The camouflage they provide protects farmers from sharpshooters, and the army uses them for cover when necessary, too. What’s more, a missile fired at the area has a very good chance of hitting the trees first, and when it hits the ground they will absorb most of the shrapnel. When we planted trees along Route no. 25, I invited the father of Daniel Viflic, who was killed when an anti-tank missile hit his school bus in April 2011, to accompany us. He estimated that had there been trees at the site of the attack back then, his son would not have been injured.”
Gaza perimeter comes to Manhattan
A rally in support of residents of the Gaza vicinity will take place next week in Manhattan, New York, following the terror of incendiary kites and balloons from which residents have been suffering for months.

The rally will be held next Thursday, with the participation of three residents of the Gaza perimeter who will talk about the arson terror in the Gaza vicinity first-hand in order to raise awareness, identification and closeness between the American participants and the residents of the Gaza vicinity.

Israel's Consul General in New York, Danny Dayan, said ahead of the event that "Our strength is measured and tested again and again by the Hamas terror organization. The event is of crucial importance in the effort to expose the world to the unbearable situation that a million residents of the Gaza vicinity are forced to experience when Hamas controls the Gaza Strip. "

The event takes place as part of a campaign by the JNF in the United States seeking to reveal the wide range of terrorist activities led by Hamas against the southern communities in recent months.
Israeli products: Necessity or choice for Palestinians?
Thousands of Palestinians are crossing into Israel to prepare for the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha, the “Festival of Sacrifice." Despite the freezing of peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Palestinians of all ages are storming Israeli malls and shops, as well as enjoying the tourist facilities.

A spokesman for the office of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)—headed by Druze Arab-Israeli citizen Kamil Abu Rokon—told The Media Line that “Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] of all ages will be able to conduct family visits in Israel.” He added that married men over the age of fifty and women over the age of forty would also be able to attend prayers on the Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, atop which Al-Aqsa Mosque sits.

“This comes as part of an Israeli policy to improve the life of Palestinians in order to create security and stability,” the spokesperson noted. To this end, “the measures [taken] have been explained to all Israeli forces operating in the area regarding the dates and practices of the Islamic holiday."

Explaining the rush to enter Israel to buy goods, Amneh, a Palestinian citizen from Hebron who asked that only her last name to be used, told The Media Line that “we are not against Palestinian products, but we don’t trust them.” She said that due to a lack of ability on the part of assigned Palestinian officials to monitor the validity of products and their level of quality, Palestinians prefer the Israeli markets.

However, Amneh qualified, “If I find a good Palestinian alternative, I defiantly buy it instead. Unfortunately the Israeli products are better in terms of quality."

Another Palestinian contended to The Media Line, on condition of anonymity, that it did not make any sense to boycott Israeli products while Israel continues to be the Palestinians’ biggest trading partner. “Whether we buy from the West Bank or Israel, it’s the same thing and it won’t make any difference.” Noting that Palestinian shops and markets are filled with Israeli products, the individual elaborated, “I personally buy most of my things from Jordan but I don’t mind buying anything I like in Israel."
JCPA: Palestinian Leaders Threaten Jerusalem’s Arabs on Eve of City’s Municipal Elections
Prior to the local elections in Jerusalem on October 30, 2018, terrorist organizations are increasing the pressure on east Jerusalem's Arab residents to maintain the boycott of Jerusalem's municipal elections.

Surveys reflect a desire to participate in the elections in order to wield influence and channel budgets into services and infrastructure for the Arab neighborhoods.

A public letter in Arab media from "the Islamic nationalist forces in Al-Quds (Jerusalem)" calling on Arab Jerusalemites to boycott the elections asserted: "Whoever takes part in the elections is a traitor who harms all the Palestinian values."

This call echoed a religious ruling by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, which stated: "Whoever among the Jerusalem residents takes part in the local elections will be defined as someone who has left the fold of nationhood, the homeland, and the religion." The PLO Executive Committee took the same stance.

31% of Jerusalemites eligible to vote are Arabs. (Arabs constitute 41% of the population, but many are too young to vote.) In the 2013 municipal elections, only 1% of the city's Arabs voted.

Dr. David Koren, Arab-affairs adviser to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, thinks there will be greater voting turnout in neighborhoods such as Wadi Joz, Beit Safafa, and Sur Baher, but he is not convinced that there will be enough for an Arab list to pass the minimum threshold. "The Palestinian Authority's ability to stick labels on [east Jerusalem residents] as 'Zionist agents and collaborators' still exists. And it has a deterrent effect."
UN says it has run out of funding for Gaza
The United Nations has run out of funding to pay for fuel needed for hospitals, water plants and other critical facilities in Gaza, the UN political chief said Wednesday, according to AFP.

Rosemary Di Carlo also told the Security Council that recent violent escalations between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist groups "threatened to plunge Gaza into war."

The comments came at the monthly meeting of the Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. The meeting was held as the United Nations was working with Egypt to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and halt the violence.

Di Carlo said she was "deeply concerned that funding for UN emergency fuel, which sustains some 250 critical facilities in Gaza has now run out" and appealed for $4.5 million to ensure essential services for the rest of the year.

The UN undersecretary-general for political affairs also raised concern over a "dangerously short supply of essential medicines" after 40 percent of the stocks of drugs were completely depleted.
British Airways, Air France scrap all Iran-bound flights
British Airways announced Thursday that it will scrap all of its Iran-bound flights starting in September after sanctions make the routes "not commercially viable".

According to the Associated Press, the carrier announced on Thursday that "we are suspending our London to Tehran service as the operation is currently not commercially viable.

"We are sorry for any disruption this may cause to our customers' travel plans and we are in discussions with our partner airlines to offer customers rebooking options.

"Alternatively, they will be offered a full refund or the opportunity to bring their flights forward."

Hours later, Air France announced that it was also cancelling its flights to Tehran as of September 18th.
MEMRI: In Statement On Occasion Of Eid Al-Adha, ISIS Leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Threatens U.S., Canada And Russia, Calls On ISIS Supporters In West To Carry Out Attacks Using Guns, Bombs, Knives, And Cars
On August 22, 2018, Al-Furqan, one of the media arms of the Islamic State (ISIS), released an audio statement featuring the organization's leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi threatening the U.S. and Russia and calling on ISIS supporters in the West to carry out attacks using guns, knives, bombs, and vehicles. In the statement, titled "Glad Tidings to the Steadfast," which was posted on multiple pro-ISIS Telegram channels and Twitter accounts, Al-Baghdadi also called for the killing of secular people, apostates, and atheists, and urged Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Jordan to oust their governments.

The following are the main points of his address:
Threatening Russia and the U.S., which he described as "the protectors of the cross," he said that what ISIS has prepared for them in Syria and everywhere "will make them forget what they experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Addressing the "sincere monotheists in this ummah in general, and in particular the generous mujahideen who remain steadfast on the battlefronts of Islam, the sons of monotheism who carry the message [of Islam], and the guardians of the [Islamic] creed in the world," he wished them a happy holiday and asked Allah to accept their deeds and grant victory to the Islamic State. Downplaying ISIS defeats and territory losses, Al-Baghdadi said that "the standard used by the mujahideen [for measuring] victory and defeat does not depend on a [particular] city or a village that had been liberated, nor does it depend on the enemy's aerial capabilities, intercontinental rockets, and smart bombs, or on [his] large number of allies and supporters... The two sides of the scale are based on the depth of one's belief in God's promise, commitment to monotheism and to the faith, and genuine willingness to fight the enemies of the religion... This is how the people of faith assess changes of circumstance."

Al-Baghdadi then stressed that the only way to "bring glory to this religion... is to fight, seek martyrdom for [Allah's] cause, and challenge His enemies, the criminal unbelievers everywhere." He urged the monotheists and the mujahideen to remain steadfast and "follow in the footsteps of Allah's Prophets, who fear no one but Allah."

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