Friday, September 07, 2018

From Ian:

The Oslo handshake, 25 years on
From the perspective of 25 years, however, it’s clear that Rabin’s deep skepticism was sound and the public’s euphoria groundless. The Oslo process didn’t lead to peace. Arafat’s pledge to renounce “terrorism and other acts of violence” was a sham. In an Arabic-language broadcast on Jordanian TV the very day of the White House ceremony, he assured Palestinians that he was signing the accords not to end the conflict, but to acquire territory from which the war to “liberate” all of Israel could be pursued.

The Oslo process was the worst self-inflicted wound in Israel’s history. Palestinian terrorism didn’t end, it spiked. In the 24 months following the handshake, more Israelis were killed in bombings and suicide attacks than in any previous 24-month period in the country’s history.

Yet Rabin, of all people, refused to pull the plug. He had declared at first that the Oslo accords were reversible; if Arafat and the new Palestinian Authority didn’t uphold their commitment to halt all violence, Rabin had said, Israel would reoccupy the territory it relinquished.

It was a threat he never carried out. Instead, as terror attacks surged, Rabin grimly repeated that the empowerment of the Palestinians must go forward. “For all his exasperation, he could not bring himself to break with Arafat,” writes Karsh. “Acknowledging that Arafat had made no serious effort to fight terrorism or to enforce law and order in Gaza, he nevertheless insisted that ‘there is no other partner. . . . We must abide by our commitments.’ ” It was as if, having surmounted such a steep psychological barrier and forced himself to publicly shake Arafat’s hand, nothing could ever again induce him to reverse course. Perhaps that would have changed had Rabin not been assassinated, but there’s no way to know.

Twenty-five years on, Oslo is a monument to the folly of magical thinking in diplomacy. Land-for-peace was a deadly delusion. The crowd swooned at the White House that day, but it was Rabin whose instincts were right. He should have trusted his intuition and refused to take that anti-nausea pill. Instead he shook hands with a mass killer, and led his nation into disaster.
David Singer: Jordan’s Re-entry into West Bank Looms Large as Trump Dumps PLO
2. The PLO announced it had refused Trump’s proposal to create a Jordan-West Bank confederation:

Israel and the PLO have been unable to agree on the creation of an additional Arab State between Israel and Jordan after fruitless negotiations conducted over the last 25 years.

Rejecting a Jordan-West Bank confederation now sees the PLO hoisted by its own petard– leaving Jordan to fill the yawning diplomatic void by stepping in and negotiating with Israel to engineer Jordan’s return to a large part of the West Bank – occupied by Jordan from 1948 until its loss to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Restoring Jordanian citizenship to the West Bank Arab population – as existed between 1950 and 1988 – would once again see parity of rights re-established between the Arab populations spanning both sides of the Jordan River.

The 29 refugee camps in Jordan and the West Bank could be closed and their inhabitants integrated into the general population. “Palestinian refugees” would be relics of the past.
No Arab or Jew living in the West Bank would be forced to move.

Palestinian Arabs residing in other Arab countries could emigrate to this newly-merged Jordan-West Bank entity – which might even choose to rename itself “Palestine” – comprising as it would about 80% of the territory contained in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. Israel would end up exercising sovereignty in about 19 per cent – leaving sovereignty in the remaining 1 per cent – Gaza – to be determined by Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

As with any good settlement – no-one would be 100 per cent happy – but 100 years of conflict would be ended and Trump would have pulled off yet another stunning success.

Palestinians: Spitting in the Well
In reality, the Palestinians have one main message for the US administration: We hate you and incite against you, but we fully expect that you will continue providing us with cash, to the tune of billions of dollars. And, when you do try to help us, we reserve the right to spit in your face.

The entire existence of Fatah, the faction that dominates and controls the Palestinian Authority, relies heavily on financial aid from the US, EU and other Western donors.

So, while the protesters in Ramallah were demanding that the US rescind its decision to cut off its funding to UNRWA, Abbas's men in east Jerusalem were trying to block a US-sponsored meeting to discuss ways of helping the Palestinian economy.

Abbas and his top officials in Ramallah evidently want to have it both ways -- to continue their incitement against the Trump administration while being bankrolled by US taxpayer money.

Abbas and company would do well to learn that when they spit in the well they drink from, the water they draw will be bitter indeed.

GOP senator introduces bill targeting UNRWA refugee model
Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma introduced a bill on Thursday that would demand the UN Relief and Works Agency change its definition of who qualifies as a Palestinian refugee or else permanently lose its annual congressional funding.

The senator's bill, titled the Palestinian Assistance Reform Act, would siphon UNRWA aid "to other entities providing assistance to Palestinians living in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon," unless the organization reforms, the senator said.

Lankford dropped his bill days after the Trump administration announced it would unilaterally end all aid to UNRWA, citing similar reasons.

But an amendment to the typical congressional appropriations model for UNRWA would codify Trump's new policy long after he leaves office, making Lankford's legislation, if it were to pass, far more weighty and permanent than Trump's executive action.

“American assistance to the Palestinians is an important component of our nation’s engagement in the Middle East, and this bill reinforces that reality,” said Lankford in a statement. “We are currently funding an entity that has ensured that a refugee population of several hundreds of thousands 70 years ago has exploded to more than 5 million. This is not sustainable—for American taxpayers, who are asked to finance the welfare of these individuals, for the Palestinians themselves, or for the Israelis."

"UNRWA’s methodology strains regional tensions more each generation as it increases rather than decreases the number of refugees in the region of Jewish Israelis who, by being registered as ‘Palestine refugees’ with UNRWA, may be wrongfully implied as having an internationally sanctioned right to return to Israel," the senator continued. "Clearly, there is an effort to create a narrative."
INSS: The End to US Funding to UNRWA: Opportunity or Threat?
In any case, the dire humanitarian situation on the ground, particularly in Gaza, demands that alternatives to UNRWA be devised if and when it is dismantled. Despite anticipated antagonism from certain players in the international community, and the pledges of some states to fill the UNRWA budget vacuum, the current situation could be leveraged to create a better alternative. At the very least, several guidelines could help contain the potential damage.

First, there should be new criteria for determining who are Palestinian refugees. Palestinians residing in Gaza and the West Bank in areas that presumably would be part of a future Palestinian state, as well as Palestinians with Jordanian citizenship can no longer be accounted for as refugees. As such, humanitarian aid to Palestinians living in these areas should be granted depending on each person's actual needs, and not as a product of one's refugee status.

Second, funds for Palestinians in these areas should be channeled to the Palestinian Authority and the Jordanian government. The original Palestinian refugees in Syria and in Lebanon – who have not been granted citizenship in these states and have not been able to become integrated into the general society – should be transferred to the care of UNHCR. This will improve their chances of bettering, rather than prolonging their dire situation, and will simultaneously help deflate the narrative that millions of Palestinians will one day return to live in Israel.

Third, a centralized UNRWA should be replaced gradually by different modular agencies: UNHCR in Lebanon and Syria; organizations under the official Jordanian and Palestinian leaderships in Jordan and the West Bank, respectively; and an alternative humanitarian organization in Gaza. Such a move should be complemented by political and economic initiatives to neutralize antagonism and increase the likelihood of leveraging the single step into a comprehensive political process.

The US decision to cease funding UNRWA is no less than historic. Although the Palestinians view such a step as a serious blow, if it is presented as a necessary step on the path to Palestinian statehood, it has the potential to harbor long term, positive implications. While Israel should certainly prepare for negative scenarios that such a policy move may generate in the near term, it is unwise to cling to the current paradigm that distances the Palestinian leadership's pragmatic and ethical responsibility for rehabilitating and resettling Palestinian refugees within the Palestinian territories. With staunch Israeli, American, and international incentives and policy initiatives, the US decision to cease funding UNRWA can serve as a wake-up call to the Palestinian leadership and potentially inject new life into the Israeli-Palestinian process.
CAMERA Letter-To-The-Editor: The Full Truth About UNRWA
The Aug. 31 front-page article “U.S. to end aid to U.N. agency” failed to fully detail problems with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. As the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and others have noted, UNRWA employees have been caught praising anti-Jewish violence, and, per a 2015 U.N. investigation, the organization’s facilities were used by terrorist groups to launch and store rockets during the 2014 Israel-Hamas War. According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, UNRWA has even employed Hamas operatives.

UNRWA’s politicized definition of “refugee” is not dependent on need and also applies to citizens of recognized states, allowing, for example, wealthy, third-generation Jordanian citizens to be considered Palestinian “refugees.” Also left unsaid: The organization’s demand for a “right” to “return” to a country that many were never born in negates the idea of Palestinian statehood — unless that state means, by its definition, includes the demographic end of the Jewish nation of Israel.

Perhaps that is why some Palestinian leaders prefer it and have instead chosen to reject U.S. and Israeli proposals for peace and statehood.
Palestinians, You Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee
"Dramatic shifts are rare in American foreign policy. One undeniable example is the Trump administration's decision last week to cease funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the main U.N. agency giving aid to Palestinians. At once a nearly 70-year-old Gordian knot has been cut, but what comes next?
The decision to cut Unrwa's funding corresponds with the Trump administration's broader perspective on foreign policy. Like trade policy, the U.N. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, President Trump insists that foreign aid must benefit the U.S. in a more substantial way than merely sustaining stability. Unrwa does not, and has not. It retards the development of Palestinian civil institutions and affirms several of the Palestinians' self-defeating grievances.

The so-called right of return for Palestinian refugees, which Unrwa promulgates through its educational and policy organs, bolsters a sense of disenfranchisement among Palestinians throughout the world. Unrwa's definition of 'refugees' to include millions who never set foot in British Mandate-era Palestine runs counter to international law and practice. And in the long run, the agency's assumption of duties that ought to belong to the Palestinian people might slow the emergence of a two-state solution to the standoff with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority must now overcome its shock and rage and recognize reality..."
Head of UNRWA: The organization is a pawn in Trump’s plan for Palestinians
The Trump Administration has targeted UNRWA as a pressure tactic to force the Palestinians to accept its demands, the organization’s Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl told The Jerusalem Post.

It is part of a US move to politicize humanitarian aid, the Swiss diplomat warned.

Krähenbühl spoke with the paper less than a week after the US’s historic decision to defund the premier international body that has serviced Palestinian refugees for the last 70 years.

The defunding decision “was evidently political in nature and not related to UNRWA’s performance,” he said. “What I cannot do is to become involved in the politics of the way in which a country wishes to put pressure on another actor, in this case the US on the Palestinian Authority.”

It wants “to use the humanitarian funding that comes to UNRWA as another piece of leverage,” Krähenbühl said. “On this I have no influence. There is nothing I can do.”

Krähenbühl said he feels on solid ground with his claim because in November 2017 he concluded a series of discussions with the US officials in preparation for the renewal of UNRWA’s framework agreement with the US State Department.
Impact of the UNRWA Funding Cutoff
Washington's announcement that it was ceasing all contributions to UNRWA, the primary aid organization for Palestinian refugees, should not have a dire impact on the Palestinians. Only a small percentage of UNRWA-registered refugees receive food rations and it has sufficient resources to take care of those services even without U.S. funds. Only about 4% of UNRWA's budget is devoted to "infrastructure and camp improvement." Again, the agency has sufficient resources to cover this.

UNRWA's biggest expenses lie in education (54% of the budget) and healthcare (17%). UNRWA could reduce the costs of these programs by making them means-tested, such as charging a small fee for visiting a UNRWA clinic. 16% of the budget falls under "Support Services," including promoting "the rights of Palestine refugees under international law, through the monitoring and reporting of violations and by engaging in private and public advocacy," principally with regard to alleged Israeli actions. The task of representing Palestinians against Israel should not be the responsibility of a humanitarian organization. In short, UNRWA has enough funds to finance its core functions without U.S. assistance.

Jordan may see some positives in the situation - especially if Washington used the funds it withholds from UNRWA to quietly boost assistance to Jordan. The king has long sought to unify his population, so he may favor replacing UNRWA's Palestinian-focused services with Jordanian government services.
Dermer ‘confident’ Trump peace plan will incorporate Arab states
Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, expressed “confidence” on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace plan will capitalize on thawing ties between the Jewish state and the Arab world.

Addressing guests at a Rosh Hashanah reception, including members of the peace team, Dermer said that Israel is ready for the release of Trump’s long-awaited peace proposal and believes it will “try to use the new realities taking shape in our region to help us forge a new path to peace and reconciliation.”

The administration has repeatedly denied or dodged rumors that the plan – spearheaded by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, his special envoy to the peace process – would offer Palestinians a confederation with their Arab neighbors, diminish the identifying status of Palestinians as refugees, or lower Arab League standards for a complete resolution of the conflict focused on the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

“What is new is the behavior of many Arab states,” Dermer told the crowd, praising the Trump team for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year and for withdrawing from an international nuclear deal with Iran. “They are no longer reflexively dancing to the Palestinians’ tune.”

“Despite the best efforts of Palestinian leaders to whip up opposition to President Trump’s Jerusalem decision, the response in the Arab world was mostly silence,” he said. “And that silence should give us real hope for the future – the hope that after 70 years of demonizing Israel, some Arab states may finally be ready to turn the page.”
Abbas threatens to sever relations with Israel if it negotiates with Hamas
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to sever ties with Israel if the state makes an agreement with Hamas, Palestinian sources told Al Hayat, a London based newspaper on Friday.

According to the report, the sources said that Abbas's position caused Egypt to place the internal Palestinian reconciliation at the top of its list of priorities and to reject the "calm first" option.

Abbas said that he had met with Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman in early September. Argaman had tried to persuade Abbas not to sabotage the efforts to arrange a settlement between Israel and Hamas and to ensure a Palestinian reconciliation, according to an Israeli source on Monday. According to the report, Argaman told Abu Mazen that this is a historic opportunity and it would be a shame to waste it.

Because of this change in priories, Hamas might be forced to seek alternatives other than direct talks with Israel towards a calm agreement, including possibly reaching a truce with Israel but having PLO delegate Azzam al-Ahmad sign the agreement.

The sources also said that Hamas sought calm over Palestinian reconciliation because of the unacceptable conditions imposed by the PA, including handing over responsibility for the Gaza Strip.

US pressures Paraguay over Jerusalem ‎embassy move
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has urged Paraguay's new ‎president to stick to his predecessor's decision to ‎move the Paraguayan Embassy to Jerusalem, ‎Pence's office said on Thursday.

His comments followed Paraguay's announcement the previous day that it would shift the Paraguayan mission back ‎to Tel Aviv, dealing a blow to Israeli's ‎quest for recognition of Jerusalem as its capital. Paraguay had followed the United States and Guatemala in relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.‎

Most countries do not recognize Israeli sovereignty ‎over the entire city, saying its final status ‎can be determined only as part of the Israeli-‎Palestinian peace process.‎

Pence, who played a key role in President Donald ‎Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy to ‎Jerusalem, spoke on Wednesday with ‎Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez, who was ‎elected on Aug. 15.‎

Pence "strongly encouraged" Abdo Benitez ‎to follow ‎through with Paraguay's commitment to move the ‎embassy to Jerusalem "as a sign of the historic ‎relationship the country has maintained with both ‎Israel and the United States," Pence's office said ‎in a statement.‎
Arab League praises Paraguay
The Arab League on Thursday welcomed Paraguay's decision to relocate its embassy from Jerusalem back to Tel Aviv, reported The Associated Press.

Saeed Abu Ali, assistant to the league's secretary-general for Palestinian Arab affairs, was quoted as having told reporters the move serves as a model for other countries in the face of Israeli plans and US pressure.

Abu Ali also said the move will also positively reflect on Arab-Paraguayan relations.

He hailed Paraguay's move as being on the "right track" and in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions.
Gazans hang, burn, beat and trample Trump effigies at border rallies
Thousands of Palestinians rallied near the Gaza border Friday afternoon in weekly protests at the Israeli frontier.

The Israeli military said demonstrators hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, who responded with tear gas and other less lethal means. Troops fired at Palestinians who attempted to breach the border fence and enter Israel.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 24 people had been wounded, of which 12 had been injured by gunfire.

Several attempts to fly incendiary balloons and kites into Israel were reported. Two fires broke out in Israel as a result of arson attacks.

Some protesters staged a mock execution of Israeli and US leaders, hanging effigies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Libermand and US President Donald Trump.

Photos showed other demonstrators burn dolls and cutouts of the US president and trample pictures of him. One demonstrator carried a bloodied up puppet of the American leader.
Israeli aircraft strikes incendiary balloon squad in Gaza — IDF
An Israel Defense Forces aircraft opened fire Friday at a group of Palestinians who were trying to send incendiary balloons over the border in the northern Gaza Strip, the military said. Two people were lightly injured, according to reports in Gaza.

The incident came hours before thousands of Palestinians were expected to converge on the border in a mass protest, after weeks of relative calm.

Both Israel and the terror group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have been denying reports of a UN- and Egypt-brokered truce agreement that would end a months-long flareup of hostilities — the most severe since the 2014 war.

The surge of violence in Gaza began in March with a series of protests along the border that were dubbed the “March of Return.” The clashes, which Gaza’s Hamas rulers orchestrated, have included rock and Molotov cocktail attacks on troops, as well as attempts to breach the border fence and attack Israeli soldiers.
'A person with special needs is being held hostage in Gaza'
The families of the Israeli civilians held by Hamas in Gaza, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayedd, hold a joint press conference for the first time in front of at the offices of the International Press Club in Jerusalem Thursday.

The press conference was held following the publication of the IDF's assessment that the two captives are still alive.

The families demanded the immediate release of the the captives and called for the treatment of prisoners with special needs not to be influenced by political considerations.

Al-Sayed and Mengitsu both suffer from mental illnesses and have a long history of hospitalization in psychiatric hospitals. The two accidentally crossed the border into the Gaza Strip in separate instances and were captured by terrorists in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

lan Mengistu, the brother of Avera, said at the press conference: "A person with special needs is being held as a hostage. This is cruelty. Ours is a human tragedy that crosses borders, and Hamas is on the spot to release him immediately, as required by international law. I turn from here to the leader of Hamas: Be human beings and free my brother. The decision is up to you. A four-year-long tale of suffering can come to an end and Avera ​​will receive medical treatment.

Free Avera Mengistu

The Myth of an Independent Lebanon
Since 2006, American policy has been to support the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with money and equipment in the hope that doing so will give it the capability to restrain, and perhaps forcibly to disarm, Hizballah. But, argues Tony Badran, the Lebanese will never do anything of the sort so long as Hizballah controls the government in Beirut:

Western intelligence sources have revealed that in July and August Iran used a civilian airliner to fly arms to Hizballah directly through the Beirut International Airport. That would be right after the United States completed the delivery of light attack aircraft to the LAF in June, and right before a high-ranking [U.S military] delegation visited Lebanon in mid-August. On both occasions, American officials praised the LAF as the “defender of Lebanon’s borders.” . . . The key to solving the “Hizballah problem,” according to this line of thinking, was to assist the Lebanese state to exert control over all its territory.

This same reasoning is evident in [annual] State Department reports on terrorism, which have classified Lebanon as a “terrorist safe haven.” The U.S. government defines terrorist safe havens as ungoverned or poorly governed areas where the absence of state control allows terrorists to organize and to move about freely. Hence, in the 2015 and 2016 reports, the State Department declared that the Lebanese government “did not have complete control of all regions of the country, or fully control its borders with Syria and Israel.” . . .

But the issue in question is not a remote border region where government authority is lacking—especially since the LAF has been deployed to the south since 2006, and in recent years it has completed its deployment to the eastern border with Syria. None of this has meant anything for Hizballah’s ability to operate freely. If anything, the LAF has protected and facilitated it. . . .

Take, for example, this data point: . . . over the course of more than a decade, [the UN] has referred over 10,500 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese navy for inspection. How many vessels, out of 10,500, did the LAF find to be carrying arms? Zero. In other words, the LAF is . . . actively facilitating Hizballah’s armament. The U.S., meanwhile, foots the bill, and soaks the LAF in praise. . . . The LAF will never take action to prevent Hizballah’s arms smuggling, because it will never be asked to by the Lebanese government.

Foreign report: Israel armed Syrian rebels to fight Iran proxy and Isis
Israel reportedly armed and funded at least 12 rebel groups in southern Syria to prevent Iranian-sponsored insurgents affiliated with Islamic State from becoming embedded near the Golan, according to a report in Foreign Policy magazine.

Testimonies from more than 20 commanders in Foreign Policy noted that Israel supplied the weapons and cash to rebel groups throughout “Operation Good Neighbor” – launched in 2016 and shut down in July once the Assad regime regained control of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights – to keep troops belonging to Hezbollah and Iran away from the border of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

On Monday, the IDF maintained its position that the IDF did not interfere in the Syrian Civil War.

In addition to allocating funds for Syrian insurgents to purchase arms on the Syrian black market, Israel reportedly paid $75 monthly per soldier, according to testimonies from journalists and rebel fighters in Syria.

Through Operation Good Neighbor, the Israeli military provided more than 1,524 tons of food, 250 tons of clothes, 947,520 liters of fuel, 21 generators, 24,900 palettes of medical equipment and medicine.

Reports first surfaced of Israel providing arms and cash to rebel groups several years ago. The regime of Bashar Assad claimed Israel was providing arms to terrorist groups, and that its forces regularly seized arms and munitions stamped in Hebrew.
U.S. Slaps New Sanctions On Syria’s Assad Regime Ahead of ‘Imminent Attack’ With Russia, Iran
The Trump administration issued a series of new sanctions on the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ahead of what U.S. officials believe is an "imminent attack" by the regime with help from Russia and Iran, according to an announcement by the Treasury Department.

The new sanctions will target four individuals and five entities tied to the Assad regime that are believed to be conducting weapons shipments and financial transactions supporting upcoming attacks against civilians.

"Millions of innocent people in Idlib province are currently under the threat of imminent attack from the Assad regime, backed by Iran and Russia, under the pretense of targeting ISIS," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement accompanying the new sanctions. "At the same time, the Assad regime has a history of trading with the terror group … The United States will continue to target those who facilitate transactions with the murderous Assad regime and support ISIS."

One of the newly sanctioned individuals, Muhammad al-Qatirji and his company Qatirji Company, maintain "strong ties to the Syrian regime and facilitates fuel trade between the regime and ISIS, including providing oil products to ISIS-controlled territory," according to information provided by the Treasury Department, which oversees and enforces sanctions.
Eli Lake: For John Kerry, Every Brag Is Humble
Kerry’s humble-bragging is most evident when he talks about his physical injuries. He recounts the story of a painful accident he suffered playing broom hockey in Sun Valley, Idaho, with some kids and his neighbor (perhaps you’ve heard of him: Tom Hanks). Kerry broke his nose and bruised his face. Yet the secretary of state was needed in Oman. “I grabbed a pair of big black sunglasses and off I went,” he writes. Then there is his infamous bicycle accident in the French Alps in 2015, which caused him to spend the final rounds of negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal on crutches.

When Kerry was visiting Israel in 2009 as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he made it a point to visit Gaza, over the objections of the U.S. embassy in Israel. Touring a refugee camp, he just couldn’t stay in his armored car. So he got out to talk to a little girl playing by the road. The resulting photo of Kerry “walking amid the rubble was worth more to the Palestinian people than a thousand statements,” Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas later told the senator, according to the senator.

And on it goes. Some chapters in Kerry’s career, however, cannot be spun. One example is his unrequited pursuit of his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Kerry tries to retain some pride by noting that he eventually did read the Russian diplomat the riot act, in September 2016 at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. The timing is damning: That was after Russia and Syria had put the lie to a cease-fire Lavrov and Kerry had negotiated that summer.

Kerry’s confrontation with Lavrov also happened after the U.S. secretary of state had he helped negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015. The Russian diplomat was a player in that drama as well.
The Sum of All Tears
International business consultant Wendy Sherman was the chief American negotiator of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal agreed to by President Obama in 2015 and abrogated by President Trump earlier this year. She has a new book out, Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power, and Persistence, and in the space of 14 Tweets promoting it the other day she managed to combine basically everything I dislike about Washington.

Twitter threads, for starters. These have proliferated much like WMD under liberal administrations. They no longer serve any useful function. The whole point of Twitter is to be succinct. That's why it's called a "micro-blogging platform." I can see how, even with the 280-character limit, one's thoughts might stretch to two, even three Tweets. A dozen takes things too far. Fourteen? You're trying our patience.

Keeping in mind the subtitle of Not for the Faint of Heart, I persisted. And found more stuff that annoyed me. Like beginning a story by saying, "I want to tell you a story." What if I don't want to listen? Get on with it, in any case. The "I want to tell you" preface isn't only superfluous and self-indulgent. It's a cliché. On Twitter everyone uses it. Grab the reader's attention with an original first sentence, an intriguing anecdote, a funny meme.

What I want to tell you about Wendy's story is that it's embarrassing, both self-pitying and self-congratulatory, and proves exactly the opposite lesson that it intends. The year is 2015. The scene is the Palais Coburg Hotel in Vienna. "I thought I'd be home in short order," Sherman writes. "By day 25 I had barely left the hotel and eaten only 1 meal outside the Coburg." The poor dear! Confined in this shack, this madhouse, this roach motel! It's a wonder she didn't go Jack Torrance on us.
IAEA Still Needs to Investigate Military Dimension of Iran's Nuclear Program
The discovery of an atomic archive in Tehran raised new concerns about whether Iran had declared all of its nuclear-related activities to the IAEA. The IAEA has not yet resolved all of the 12 areas of possible military dimensions (PMD) of the Iranian nuclear program that it had previously identified. Therefore, the IAEA secretariat remains obliged to continue its investigation and report its findings.

There remains a need to resolve the PMD issue, especially in light of the large archive of documents, blueprints, and CDs related to nuclear weapons design work that were found and whose existence was disclosed by Israel. Maintaining such an extensive cache related to the design and manufacturing of nuclear weapons calls into question Iran's compliance with provisions of both the Nonproliferation Treaty and the JCPOA, in which Iran committed never to "seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons."
U.S. Seizes Thousands of Iranian Weapons From Mystery Ship
U.S. military officials confirmed Thursday the seizure of more than 2,000 Iranian arms stockpiles that had been stashed on a mystery ship floating in international waters near the Gulf of Aden.

The seizure of the ship was first announced last week, but at the time Central Command officials said the origin of the weapons was unclear.

This afternoon, Centcom confirmed the USS Jason Dunham, a guided missile destroyer stationed in waters near the Persian Gulf, had discovered 2,521 AK-47 rifles "that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles, according to Conflict Armament."

The stateless skiff was first discovered floating in the Gulf of Aden on Aug. 28.

"As a part of our counter-trafficking mission, we are actively involved in searching for illegal weapons shipments of all kinds," Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, U.S. 5th Fleet, and the Combined Maritime Forces, said at the time. "Ensuring the free flow of commerce for legitimate traffic and countering malign actors at sea continue to be paramount to the U.S. Navy and its regional partners and allies."

Air Force marks planes to commemorate bombing Syria reactor in 2007
The Israeli Air Force marked the 11-year anniversary of its destruction of Bashar Assad’s secret nuclear reactor, in a ceremony that saw special markings placed on the warplanes that took part in the strike.

The strike against the reactor in the Deir el-Zour region of Syria took place on the night between September 5 and 6, 2007, but was only officially acknowledged by Israel earlier this year. The reactor had become operational a short time earlier, leading then-prime minister Ehud Olmert to order its destruction.

Three squadrons took part in the attack, dubbed by the military “Operation Outside the Box”: Squadron 69, known as “Hapatishim,” or “The Hammers” flying F-15i fighters; Squadron 119, “Ha’atalef,” or “The Bat” and Squadron 253, “The Negev,” flying F-16is.

The ceremony at the Hatzerim Air Force Base, west of Beersheba, saw the marking of the planes from squadrons 69 and 253. Squadron 119’s planes will be marked in a separate ceremony on September 14.

Pilots who took part in the operation, technical crews who armed the planes in 2007 and the commander of Squadron 69, Lt. Col. G., placed on the planes stickers bearing the symbol of the operation, the army said in a statement.

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


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