Thursday, August 30, 2018

From Ian:

Haley: US to Work With UNRWA Again When Refugee Numbers are Corrected
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared to put into doubt the Palestinian claims of a “right of return” to land inside the State of Israel, agreeing that the issue should be “off the table.”

Speaking at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank, she responded to questions, saying, “I absolutely think we have to look at right of return.”

When asked whether the “right of return” applies to Palestinians whose recent ancestors fled Israel during the 1948 War of Independence, Haley said, “I do agree with that, and I think we have to look at this in terms of what’s happening [with refugees] in Syria, what’s happening in Venezuela.”

She confirmed that the United States had cut the budget to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, by more than 82 percent, adding, “We will be a donor if it [UNRWA] reforms what it does … if they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account, we will look back at partnering [with] them.”

UNRWA claims a number of 5 million Palestinian refugees, including in that figure every descendant of Arabs who fled Israel during Israel’s War of Independence. However, international law states that refugee status cannot be passed down to descendants, meaning that only the original 750,000 refugees of 70 years ago can be legally defined as refugees.

Several days ago, Israel’s Hadashot news reported that the Trump administration would officially refute a Palestinian “right of return.” The White House offered no comment.
Is UNRWA a scam?
Why is the US discussing cutting funding to UNWRA? Here are some fast facts, with Emily Schrader. UNHCR covers all refugees in the world EXCEPT Palestinians...and they have 1 staff for every 5,982 refugees. UNRWA, the agency exclusive to the Palestinians, has 1 staff for every 186 refugees. Does that sound proportional to you?

David Singer: Trump Turns Screws as PLO Creates Fake News on Jerusalem and Refugees
The PLO and Hamas have maintained this discriminatory two-tiered refugee segregation system in both Gaza and the West Bank for at least the last ten years.

The failure to close these camps and integrate their residents into the general Gazan and West Bank Arab populations is a damning indictment of Hamas and the PLO.

Expecting Trump to pick up the tab as these inhumane practices continue for crass political purposes is arrogant and unwarranted.

Trump has made it clear these funds will go to relieving genuine refugee distress in other parts of the world.

The PLO’s outright refusal to negotiate with Israel on Trump’s long-awaited peace plan – inflamed by these latest false claims – only ensures the PLO’s increasingly-rapid slide into political irrelevance.

PMW: What`s the connection between the new PLO Head of Prisoners' Commission and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing?
The new Head of the PLO Commission of Prisoners, Qadri Abu Bakr, is in all likelihood the uncle of Mohammed Salameh, one of the terrorists convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Abu Bakr spent 18 years in an Israeli prison for an attempted terror attack before being released in 1986 and expelled to Iraq, where he was a senior PLO representative.

During the year prior to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Qadri Abu Bakr spoke on the phone with Mohammed Salameh over 40 times. The first to publicize the connection between Salameh and Abu Bakr was the Washington Post in a report published two years after the first WTC bombing documenting a possible Iraqi connection to the bombing:

"Another bit of intriguing evidence leading back to Baghdad are the more than 40 calls Salameh made to the Iraqi capital in June and July 1992 -- most of them to his uncle, Qadri Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr, who had spent 18 years in an Israeli prison, has been identified as a top official of a now largely inactive Iraqi-sponsored Palestinian group."

Professor Laurie Mylroie, in her book Study of Revenge: The First World Trade Center Attack and Saddam Hussein's War against America, documented the Iraqi connection to the World Trade Center bombing, and Abu Bakr's position. Abu Bakr, she explained, was arrested by Israel after he infiltrated from Jordan to carry out a terror attack and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. After serving eighteen years of his sentence he was released and made his way to Iraq. While in Iraq, Mylroie asserts that Abu Bakr was "number two in the PLO's "'Western Sector'... a terrorist unit within the PLO... under Iraq's strong influence."

Friedman sets low expectations for peace process and Gaza
US Ambassador David Friedman does not feel a sense of urgency to launch the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative anytime soon, and questions the extent to which Gaza can be resuscitated after 12 years under Hamas rule, the envoy recently said in an off-the-record call with an American Jewish organization.

Journalists were on the call unbeknownst to the ambassador and published its contents on Wednesday. As first reported in Jewish Insider, the envoy said that no "timetable" exists for the release of their peace plan and clarified that President Donald Trump does not seek a reciprocal move by Israel after the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May.

Trump, on a riff at a rally earlier this month, had suggested that Israel would pay a “higher price” for the embassy move in peace talks with the Palestinians.

But regional powers are no longer pressing the administration to reassemble peace talks like they once were, Friedman said. He suggested that other issues – Iran’s activity chief among them – have taken priority.

The peace initiative designed by two of the president’s closest aides – Jared Kushner, his son-in-law; and Jason Greenblatt, his special envoy to the conflict – is “not imminent,” Friedman said, according to the reports. He denied that the plan would be rolled out around the time of the UN General Assembly in New York next month.
US Ambassador: No demands in exchange for embassy move
The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, addressed President Trump's remarks that Israel would have to pay a price for the transfer of the embassy.

According to a transcript published in the Jewish Insider of a conversation with representatives of the American Jewish Congress, Friedman said that "There is not and there never was any demand made of Israel that they do anything in exchange for the Embassy move.”

“The President feels that if the parties are lucky enough to be sitting in a room and making progress, he might say to the Israelis, ‘Look, can you do a little bit more? Look what we did for you. Is there’s something more that you could do?’ It’s not that he has something specific in mind, but just that under the circumstances that the United States has engaged in really significant good faith efforts to strengthen Israel and strengthen its historical multi-thousand-year connection to Jerusalem, maybe the Israelis could make it clear by leaning in a little bit as well. That’s all it meant… I was there when the [Jerusalem] decision was made. I was there watching it and advocating for it in real time."

He also referred to the American peace plan in the conversation and said that its publication was "not imminent."
US envoy censures PA for undermining Israel-Hamas deal
The U.S. leveled harsh criticism at the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday for derailing Egyptian-led efforts toward a long-term cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

In a statement late Wednesday, U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said that "The Trump administration strongly supports the efforts of [Egyptian] President [Abdel-Fattah] el-Sissi and the Egyptian government ‎to help facilitate an agreement to restore calm in Gaza and bring about the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza."

"The Palestinian Authority cannot criticize from the sidelines," Greenblatt continued. "The Palestinian Authority should be part of the solution for the Palestinians of Gaza and Palestinians as a whole. If not, others will fill that void," he warned.

"Leadership is about making hard choices," Greenblatt said, in a veiled dig at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "The people of Gaza, and Israelis in the area around Gaza, have suffered for far too long. It is time for the Palestinian Authority to lead the Palestinian people – all Palestinians – to a better future."

Greenblatt's statement comes days after Palestinian media quoted Abbas as voicing outrage at the Egyptian moves toward striking an agreement between Israel and Hamas. According to reports, Abbas described the emerging agreement as "a betrayal and a defiance of the [Palestinian] leadership."
Hamas Leader: We'll Fire Hundreds of Rockets at Israel If Ceasefire Talks Fail
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on Wednesday said there was no concrete ceasefire agreement yet with Israel, but warned that if hostilities resume the terror group could launch hundreds of rockets deep into the Jewish state.

“Until now, there is no final text for a ceasefire. What is being circulated is proposals and ideas,” Sinwar told Palestinian writers and analysts in Gaza, according to the Hamas-linked Shehab news agency. “We decided to end the siege on our people, who have the right to live a dignified life.”

Sinwar warned that if talks broke down Hamas would fire hundreds of rockets in Israel.

“What the resistance launched in 51 days in the last war, it can launch in five minutes during any [future] Israel aggression,” he said, referring to the 2014 conflict.

The Hebrew Walla news site quoted him as saying that “Hamas could set off rocket warning sirens in the Tel Aviv region for six months straight.”
As Abbas appears to soften peace demands, PA officials say his views unchanged
Despite a series of ostensibly conciliatory statements, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has not softened his stance on any of the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, officials in Ramallah stressed this week.

During a meeting with an Israeli group on Tuesday, Abbas said he does not support a solution to the contentious issue of Palestinian refugees that would “destroy Israel.”

At the same meeting in his Ramallah headquarters, the Palestinian leader also said he believed a future Palestinian state should be demilitarized, offering rare backing for a key Israeli demand in any peace deal.

“The president has been saying this not only since he was elected, but he has been saying this since the 1970s,” Elias Zananiri, the vice chair of the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society, told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

“What he said Tuesday he had said on dozens of occasions, including to a group of 300 students from all over Israel a few years ago. But the media doesn’t want to listen.”
PA denies TV report Abbas suffering memory loss, limiting work day to 2 hours
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s health has deteriorated rapidly lately, an Israeli report said Wednesday, prompting swift pushback from the Palestinian leader’s office.

Citing unnamed officials close to the PA chief, Channel 10 news reported that Abbas has suffered significant memory lapses in recent months and struggles to remember names and faces — including those of close associates.

Furthermore, Abbas has experienced disorientation and a general feeling of weakness, the report said, and has significantly reduced his work load, only showing up at his office for two hours a day. He has a doctor on hand at his Ramallah headquarters, and the doctor checks him at least once a day, the report also claimed.

An official in Abbas’s office swiftly denied the report.

“The president has been coming to work regularly. He has been coming to work for four hours in the morning and early afternoon and then again in the evening for five hours,” the official told The Times of Israel.
Arch-terrorist Barghouti criticizes PA
Arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is imprisoned in Israel, on Wednesday criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) over its security coordination with Israel.

In a message delivered by his wife, attorney Fadwa Barghouti, the terrorist said, "It is unthinkable that the Palestinian Authority will be the guardian of the occupation when it should be the bridge to freedom and independence.”

Barghouti called for Hamas and Fatah to join hands at this time in order to deal with the challenges facing the Palestinians.

He also expressed support for the establishment of a national unity government that would work to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip.

Barghouti is serving several life sentences in Israel for his role in planning terrorist attacks against Israelis.
27 terrorists captured in Judea and Samaria
During the night, IDF, Shin Bet, and police arrested 27 wanted terrorists in Judea and Samaria suspected of involvement in terror activities and riots.

The suspects were interrogated by the General Security Service.

During an IDF operation to locate weapons in the villages of Beitunia and Harela in Binyamin and Gush Etzion, fighters seized a homemade Carlo weapon and a pistol with a cartridge. The Carlo sub-machine gun is a crude imitation of the Swedish-made Carl Gustav recoilless rifle and is being manufactured in small workshops in Judea and Samaria.

In addition, during the IDF Beit Rima activity a violent riot broke out where dozens of Arabs threw firebombs and a pipe bomb at the soldiers.
JCPA: Hamas Reports on Israeli Recruitment of Agents in Gaza
Israel and Hamas are waging an intelligence war that has become more complex and difficult since Hamas took over Gaza in the summer of 2007 and entrenched its military rule.

Over the past decade, Hamas’ intelligence units have published reports on the arrest (and execution) of dozens of agents who conveyed information to Israel, including information that served for Israeli targeted counterterror operations. Some agents were brought before the camera to tell in detail the story of their treachery, express regret, and reveal Israeli intelligence’s methods of recruitment and deployment.

Gaza’s transformation into a political entity ruled with an iron fist by Hamas, its security forces, and the al-Qassam Brigades poses a challenge to Israeli intelligence when it comes to recruiting and running new agents and maintaining contact with existing ones.

Based on monitoring and interrogation of agents who were revealed, Hamas’ intelligence mechanisms, which invest great effort in identifying and countering Israeli intelligence activity, have outlined Israeli intelligence’s method of activating Palestinian agents who live in Gaza. The following is a translation of the relevant passage in an article in the Al-Qassam Brigades’ Al-Midan booklet (December 2017, p. 24).
'We saw an Israeli truck bringing wild boar'
The Ad Kann organization revealed documentation from a Combatants for Peace organization tour where residents of the a-Dik village in western Samaria claim that area settlers release wild boar into the village.

An Ad Kann secret plant documented leaders of the tour, held four years ago in the village, describing how the settlers come at night with trucks full of of wild boar and release them in the village, and the damage that the animals cause residents and their crops.

On tape a village resident speaks in Arabic as a Combatants for Peace interpreter describes to the people how the wild pigs harm the residents: "We're suffering. The peasants and the farmers suffer from the pigs spoiling their agriculture; the pig only looks for where there's dirt and garbage. Lately, the pigs have begun to enter the houses and the gardens of the houses."

Later on, the interpreter explained that the settlers were the ones who brought the boar to the village, saying "the pigs that are here now are from the settlers, they brought them," and "we saw the truck bringing pigs. An Israeli truck carrying boars." In addition, a female resident spoke in Arabic, and the interpreter explained how she "saw a truck with pigs coming from the town of'Ali Zahav and released them into the village".
U.S. Seeks Global Consensus to Counter the Threat of a Revolutionary Iran (pdf)
Brian Hook, who leads the State Department's Iran Action Group, told the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington on Tuesday:
  • The Iranian regime is the last revolutionary regime on earth. The ideologues who forcibly came to power in 1979, and remain in power today, are driven by a desire to conform all of Iranian society to the tenets of the Islamic Revolution. And the full achievement of the revolution at home and abroad is the regime's ultimate goal. We can see the effects of the revolutionary mindset across the Middle East, and even the world.
  • The revolutionary worldview means that the regime cannot tolerate any ideas coursing through the veins of Iranian society that would threaten them. This is why the regime throws a teenage gymnast in jail for dancing on Instagram.
  • Instead of using the wealth generated from the Iran deal (JCPOA) to boost the material wellbeing of the people, the regime grabbed it for themselves. And they use the money to line the pockets of dictators, terrorists and rogue militias.
  • Iran provides Lebanese Hizbullah about $700 million per year. Iran has spent at least $16 billion on supporting its proxies in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Iran has historically provided over $100 million per year to Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran has extended at least $4.6 billion in lines of credit to Syria.
  • As a result of the failure of the Iran nuclear deal to effectively restrain proliferation, or to curb Iran's destabilizing behavior, on May 8 the president ended America's participation in the nuclear deal. Secretary Pompeo announced a new Iran strategy shortly thereafter with 12 objectives. And we have launched a multipronged pressure campaign that reflects his goal of protecting the American people and our allies and our partners from this outlaw regime.
  • The goal of aggressive sanctions is to force Iran into simple but hard choices of whether to cease or persist in the policies that trigger the sanctions. Regime leaders should feel painful consequences for their violence and bad decision-making. We are asking every nation that can no longer tolerate the Islamic Republic's destructive behavior to protect its people by joining this pressure campaign.
How should Israel respond if it can't stop Iran producing nuclear weapons?
Though he strongly hopes that a variety of economic, diplomatic and as a last resort, military measures, can stop Iran from going fully nuclear, former deputy national security council chief Chuck Freilich also believes in planning for the worst.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, Freilich updated some long-term ideas he had laid out in his recent book, Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change, regarding Israeli nuclear policy, in the worst-case scenario where Iran does some day obtain nuclear weapons.

Freilich does not confirm nor deny the existence of an Israeli nuclear weapons program and his comments are based on foreign sources reporting that it has between 80 to a couple hundred nuclear weapons and maintains a “nuclear ambiguity” policy.

Mostly, Freilich supports that policy – in which Israel does not formally declare its nuclear power, but leaks have provided its adversaries with enough information to deter them from certain levels of warfare.

“If it’s just Iran, I would stay with the current policy. There would be no need for any change of significance [regarding ambiguity.] Israel’s own deterrent capability should be more than enough. If we are talking about a multi-nuclear Middle East, then I don’t think there is any good solution,” he said.
CAMERA Op-Ed Tall Tales from Tehran
In the 1962 classic Western “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,” a newspaperman famously tells the protagonist, portrayed by Jimmy Stewart: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” And for more than half a century that is precisely what the press has done when it comes to the United States and Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran likes to claim that the United States is solely responsible for toppling the democratically-elected Iranian leader Mohammad Mossadegh in a 1953 coup. According to this narrative, Iran’s anti-U.S. attitudes are understandable — even justified. And long after evidence has proven otherwise, many in the media and academia seem intent on echoing Tehran’s line.

On Aug. 19, 2018, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted “65 years ago, the U.S. overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship and subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years.”

Mr. Zarif — referring to a recently-created U.S. State Department team that seeks to change Tehran’s support for terror and attempts to acquire nuclear weapons — continued “now an ‘Action Group’ dreams of doing the same through pressure, misinformation, and demagoguery. Never Again!”

But when it comes to “misinformation,” it is Mr. Zarif who is an arch-purveyor.
IAEA says Iran continuing to meet nuclear obligations
Iran continues to comply with the nuclear deal reached in 2015 with major powers even after the withdrawal of the United States, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog said Thursday in a confidential report.

In the quarterly report distributed to member states and seen by The Associated Press, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has stayed with key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The conclusion comes as the other signatories to the 2015 deal — Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China — continue to try and salvage it after US President Donald Trump decided to pull the US out unilaterally in May.

The deal exchanges economic incentives for nuclear guarantees. Since the American withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions, Iran’s economy has already started to struggle and its currency has plummeted in value.

The other five nations have affirmed their commitment to the deal, which limits Iran’s enrichment and stockpiling of material that could be applied to a nuclear weapons program. In exchange, Tehran was granted widespread relief from international trade, oil and banking sanctions.

The nations have said it will take time, however, to negotiate the details of the guarantees that Iran is looking for.
Israel, US to form joint team to pressure Iran
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed Tuesday at a meeting in Washington to set to establish a joint team to work on enforcing economic sanctions on Iran. During their meeting in Washington, the two also discussed the economic cooperation between Israel and the US and joint tax issues.

This is the fourth time the two ministers have met in the past year. The meeting's main focus was enforcing US sanctions on Iran. The two agreed to enforce the sanctions in the high-tech sector, since the responsibility for implementing the economic sanctions rests with the ministries of finance of both countries.

The joint team will be staffed by professionals from Israel and the United States.

"The economic sanctions on Iran led by the US are proving to be effective," the finance minister said on Wednesday.

According to Kahlon, "the sanctions contribute to the removal of the threat to Israel's security and to the security of the entire free world, and this is why we should be thankful to the US."

"My meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is intended to further our strategic economic ties with the US. The joint team that we have formed will be of great importance in tightening sanctions on Iran. This is a great news to the State of Israel," Kahlon concluded.

In addition to the Iranian issue, the ministers discussed economic cooperation between Israel and the United States and joint taxation issues.

Iran's supreme leader says Europe cannot save nuclear deal
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday cast doubt on the ability of European countries to save the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers, and said Iran might abandon the agreement.

Khamenei urged President Hassan Rouhani not to rely too much on European support as he comes under increased pressure at home over his handling of the economy in the face of U.S. sanctions, with key ministers under attack by parliament.

Following the U.S. pullout from the international accord on May 8, European powers have been scrambling to ensure Iran continues to get the economic benefits it needs to keep it in the deal, which had aimed to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

But in comments published on his official website, Khamenei told Rouhani and his cabinet on Wednesday: "There is no problem with negotiations and keeping contact with the Europeans, but you should give up hope on them over economic issues or the nuclear deal.

"The nuclear deal is a means, not the goal, and if we come to this conclusion that it does not serve our national interests, we can abandon it."
Lebanese Singer and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Majida El Roumi: Global Zionism Is Implementing "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," Behind France Bombings
In 2016, Lebanese singer Majida El Roumi, who has served as a U.N. FAO Goodwill Ambassador since 2001, said that she had read "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" when she was young at her father's behest and that global Zionism "has a plan to fragment the Arab world in its entirety." El Roumi, who was speaking at the Beirut Arab University, said: "This notion is constantly in their heads: the kind of fragmentation of land that you see in various places, bullets flying in one place, rockets in another, bombings in France and elsewhere..." Her statements aired on the Lebanese Aghani TV channel on May 16, 2016.

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