Thursday, September 20, 2018

From Ian:

Kevin Williamson: If Palestinian Leaders Want Peace, They Should Stop Making War
Citing a routine by the comedian Bob Newhart in which a psychiatrist responds to a patient’s description of her self-destructive behaviors with the advice “Stop it!,” Kevin Williamson suggests that the Israel-Palestinian conflict will come to an end only when and if Palestinian leaders decide to stop engaging in, supporting, and funding terrorism:

A peace plan isn’t peace. Peace negotiations aren’t peace. Nobel Peace Prizes aren’t peace, either, though they were handed out after the Oslo Accords. Peace is peace.

And war is war: there were 169 Palestinian suicide attacks between 1993 [when the Oslo Accords were signed] and 2016, targeting shopping malls, bus depots, [and] the streets of downtown Jerusalem. In 2014 alone, there were 4,500 rocket and mortar attacks on Israelis. The Palestinians still proudly celebrate their stunning military victory over a pregnant woman, seven children, and five other civilians eating pizza at the Battle of Sbarro. There is constant violence on the Gaza border, and balloons and kites now are used to deliver incendiary devices into Israeli cities. There are practically no diplomatic relationships between the Israeli government and the Palestinian government, partly because the Palestinians have two competing governments run by two competing terrorist organizations: Fatah in the West bank and Hamas in Gaza. . . .

The conflict in Israel might be settled in a million different ways, but Palestinian powers reject 999,999 of those possibilities in favor of the one outcome that the Israelis cannot accept: the elimination of the Jewish state as such. To the extent that the Palestinian powers have the consent of the people they purport to rule, this is what is being consented to: war and more war, misery and more misery, with the Palestinians themselves suffering some of the worst of it. But the Israelis cannot make peace with people who will not make peace with them. They can only do what they have tried to do: protect themselves and look for harm-reduction opportunities.

[For the time being], the Israeli state exists, and the Palestinian state, thank goodness, does not, being as it is barely more than a dangerous hypothesis. A state is a weapon as fearsome as a nuclear missile, and one can guess what the Palestinians would try to do with one, if they had one that worked.

Human Rights Council Challenged Over Killing of Israeli-American: ‘Why Is The UN Silent?’
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman described Fuld as “a passionate defender of Israel and an American patriot. He represented the best of both countries and will be deeply missed.”

Palestinian terrorist groups lauded the killing of what they called a “settler” – a reference to the fact Fuld lived in Efrat, a community located in territory disputed between Israel and the Palestinians.

During a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer drew attention to the killing.

“I want to ask the United Nations and this council: Why has no official of this body condemned the murder?” he asked.

“Why is the U.N. silent when Hamas and Islamic Jihad – supported by Iran which just spoke here in this room – praised the murder?”

“Why were they silent when the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of Fatah which belongs to the P.A. – which sits here – welcomed the attack, stressing the necessity of ‘resistance’?”

The P.A. “prisoner affairs commission” has confirmed that the family of Fuld’s killer, Yusef Jabarin, will receive a monthly stipend of around $390, with the sum increasing if he remains in prison for a number of years.

Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, called news of the payment “outrageous.”

“Some people are complaining about U.S. cutting funds to the Palestinian Authority,” he tweeted. “But the P.A. continues to pay terrorists – in this case the terrorist who on Sunday murdered in cold-blood Ari Fuld, an Israeli-American father of four.”
Hillel Neuer at UNHRC: "Why are you silent on murder of Ari Fuld by Palestinian terrorist?
UN Watch's Hillel Neuer took the floor at the UN Human Rights Council, and asked: “Why are you silent after a Palestinian terrorist stabbed to death American-Israeli citizen Ari Fuld? Why won't you condemn the PA for incentivizing the murder of Jews by paying rewards to the families of terrorists?"

The Seductive Appeal of Jihadist Terror in Israel — and Around the World
While the professional literature on terrorism and counter-terrorism devotes considerable attention to martyrdom and jihad, not much has pertained to critically underlying promises of immortality. Nonetheless, it is precisely the cumulative appeal of these incomparable promises that could determine the success or failure of threatening terrorist movements. How, then, we must promptly inquire, can this exhilarating appeal be most efficiently countered or obstructed?

To begin, one main point must not be overlooked or subordinated: Whatever the particular jihadist enemy of the moment (e.g., ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, or some other more or less kindred terror organization), the core struggle is never really about territory, sovereignty, geography, or democracy. Always, whether we are referencing fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, or Gaza, the jihadist enemy seeks something vastly more compelling and personal. This special “something” is power over death.

In exploring suitably generalized recollections of religious faith and the human fear of death, such urgent issues are not by any means limited to Islam. Rather, these thorny issues are more broadly human and species-wide. They should, therefore, be dealt with conceptually and theoretically, and not merely as ad hoc or discrete current events.

Certain obvious questions arise. How shall we effectively counter and combat such a seemingly unchallengeable form of adversarial power? Indeed, must we not quickly ask, “Can any other earthly promise ever compete successfully with religion-based offers of immortality?”

Our answers, however partial and tentative, will have to be based upon well-reasoned analyses. In turn, these answers must be fully civilizational and cultural. Furthermore, these required answers will have little or nothing to do with any still-envisioned applications of military force, whether characterized as “military advisers,” “boots on the ground,” or “aerial bombardments.” In essence, to deal successfully with jihadist foes is not primarily an operational or logistical problem. If it were, the recognizable threat would already be more accessible to narrow tactical remedies. Instead, we will need to also look elsewhere, at least if we should very determinedly seek meaningfully realistic counter-terrorist remedies.

While counter-intuitive, jihadist terror has little to do with land, politics, or strategy. Ultimately, it reveals itself as a presumptively necessary expression of “sacred violence” — that is, of doctrinally based harms that are directed against assorted apostates, heretics, and outright “unbelievers.” This still-expanding network of orchestrated homicides now generally represents an au courant form of religious sacrifice, a long-standing practice that stems from distinctly pre-modern customs (not necessarily Islamic) and that links each applicable suicide’s “martyrdom” with a “properly” designated victim. Without such a specific connection, martyr-based terror can never be anything more than ritual slaughter, that is, unholy, vulgar, and resolutely counter-productive.
When You Can’t Blame the Jews, Blame the Settlers
Ari Fuld, the Israeli Jew stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist on Sunday, was a resident of the town of Efrat—part of an area of Israel from which Jews were violently expelled in 1948, and to which they returned after 1967. Thus, many reports on Fuld’s murder have emphasized that he is “a settler,” a term that has become one of contempt. Jonathan Tobin explores this attitude in his review of a recent HBO documentary on the Oslo Accords and their aftermath:

Like the hundreds of thousands of other Jews who live in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Fuld was reviled as an “obstacle to peace.” That’s why the reaction to attacks on those who fall into this category is so often one of heartless indifference—if not gloating about people who had it coming—on social media and elsewhere. Not only Palestinians who consider all violence against Jews justified acts of “resistance” hold this attitude. Across the world and even among many Jews, “settler” is an epithet more than a description. Since the Oslo Accords were signed 25 years ago, settlements and settlers have become the all-purpose scapegoat for the lack of peace and [are often considered] undeserving of sympathy even when settlers are slain by terrorists. . . .

Oslo Diaries puts forward the thesis that there were two peace camps—one in Israel led by Prime Minister Yitzḥak Rabin and his government, and the other led by the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat. Opposing them were two anti-peace camps—one led by the current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his Likud party, and their settler supporters, and the other composed of Hamas and other Palestinians who opposed peace.

According to this account, the agreement was destroyed by Baruch Goldstein, the settler who murdered 29 Arabs in cold blood [in 1994]; Yigal Amir, the right-wing student who assassinated Rabin; and Netanyahu, who, [according to the documentary], encouraged extremism and sabotaged a process that was on the verge of working. [Thus], post-Oslo Palestinian terror is seen as merely a response to Goldstein’s terrible crime, rather than something that went on before and after the Hebron massacre, [as indeed it did]. . . .
US envoy: Abbas pay to family of terrorist who killed Ari Fuld is unconscionable
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday lambasted the Palestinian Authority’s declared intention to make monthly payments to the family of the Palestinian terrorist who stabbed Israeli Ari Fuld to death on Sunday.

Friedman called the payments “unconscionable” and said the PA’s practice of making such payments to terrorists and their families was an obstacle to peace.

“The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Commission has confirmed that the family of the terrorist who murdered Ari Fuld is ‘eligible to receive a monthly salary’ as compensation for his incarceration,” Friedman tweeted. “This practice is unconscionable and must stop if there is to be any hope for peace.”

Friedman tweeted his condemnation a day after The Times of Israel reported that the family of Khalil Jabarin, the 17-year-old terrorist who killed Fuld, would be eligible for a monthly salary from the PA once the correct paperwork had been completed.

The Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs’ Commission denied an Israeli TV report that the PA had already sent a multi-thousand shekel advance to the Jabarin family, but it made clear that such regular monthly payments would ultimately be made.
Humanitarian Concessions Will Not Reduce Hamas Violence: Here’s the Evidence
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman appears to be accepting the argument that humanitarian gestures towards Hamas will buy quiet from the terror group. But the evidence provided by UN agencies in an effort to advocate for humanitarian gestures ironically proves that there is in fact no correlation between such gestures and a reduction in Hamas violence.

Politicians, commentators, diplomats, citizens, international fora, and — above all — Israel’s major media sites endlessly debate Gaza’s alleged humanitarian plight, as well as the virtue of humanitarian gestures as a means to mitigate it.

Even the hardline Lieberman appears to be buying into this argument. He advocated for re-opening the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which had been closed in reaction to Hamas’ launching of nearly 200 missiles over the space of two days. The fishing rights of Gaza fishermen will be widened to 12 kilometers in the hope that Hamas will stop the launches. Hamas will also be free to continue sending off incendiary balloon bombs and to violently challenge Israeli troops at the security fence every Friday.

But the hopes of buying off Hamas with humanitarian gestures is in vain.

There is overwhelming evidence that humanitarian gestures do not reduce Hamas-orchestrated violence. The best evidence of the futility of the humanitarian argument is to be found in figures and graphs compiled by UN agencies and other pro-Palestinian fora that strenuously champion the humanitarian argument.
PMW: PA arrests Palestinians for selling land to Israelis/Jews, follows Mufti's religious prohibition
Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority Mufti ruled that Islam forbids selling land to "enemies," as reported by Palestinian Media Watch. Doing so would be "treason" and "a sin."

Now the Palestinian Authority is acting according to this prohibition. In cooperation with the PA's General Prosecution, the PA's Preventive Intelligence Force "succeeded in thwarting a deal for the illegal transfer of land" and arrested those involved:

"The [PA] Preventive Intelligence Force succeeded - through security cooperation, relying on intelligence information, surveillance on the ground, and intensive monitoring, and in legal coordination with the [PA] General Prosecution - in thwarting a deal for the illegal transfer of land (i.e., to Israelis/Jews) in the Hebron district... The Force succeeded in arresting those involved... and they were transferred to the legal system for the completion of the legal steps against them." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 31, 2018]

The Mufti emphasized the gravity of the sin of transferring land to non-Muslims a few months ago, explaining that it constitutes "heresy." He made it clear that anyone guilty of such a land transfer is seen by Allah as similar to someone "who fight[s] Muslims because of their religion." Such a person is considered a "traitor" who has "left Islam" and should be "banished" and "excommunicated" - no one should "do business with him, marry him, or demonstrate friendliness to him," and no one should "participate in his funeral, pray for him, or bury him in Muslim cemeteries:"
Russia demands ‘further explanations’ from Israel on downed plane
Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday demanded Israel open an investigation into the downing of a Russian surveillance plane over Syria by Syrian air defense operators on Monday night in a deadly strike the Kremlin has blamed on the Jewish state.

The Russian Foreign Ministry urged “further inquiries and explanations from Israel,” according to the Russian Interfax agency.

It also said “new information” on the incident would “emerge soon,” without elaborating.

There was no immediate response from Israel.

The comment came as an Israeli army delegation led by Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin was due in Moscow to present the IDF’s findings on Monday’s incident, in which a Syrian S-200 air defense missile downed a Russian plane while apparently aiming for an Israeli jet that had been carrying out an airstrike against a Syrian facility the IDF said was involved in transferring advanced arms to the Hezbollah terror group.

Russia had blamed Israel for the incident, calling it a “provocation,” while Israel has maintained Syria is to blame but expressed sorrow over the deaths of the Russian servicemen.
Russia denounces Israel Air Force activity over Syria
The Russian Foreign Minister used sharp words to denounce Israel Air Force activity in Syria in response to the downing of a Russian jet by Syrian anti-aircraft weapon systems.

"Moscow views the Israeli attack in Syria as irresponsible which exposed the Ilyushin aircraft to danger and lead to the deaths of 15 crew members. Russia will take all necessary measures to eliminate threats to our security and military in their fight against terrorism," the Russian Foreign Minister wrote on twitter.

The statement was released while an Israeli delegation led by the commander of the IAF Maj.-Gen Amikam Norkin was en route to meet with his counterparts in Moscow.

The Israeli delegation is expected to present photographic intelligence relating to the event, including preoperation photos, proof of Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to Hezbollah and establish its positions in Syria, and the Israeli findings after the investigation.
Syria’s Assad blames Israel for downing of Russian plane
Syrian President Bashar Assad on Wednesday blamed Israel for the downing of a Russian plane, which was accidentally hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire during an Israeli missile strike.

“This unfortunate incident was the result of Israeli arrogance and depravity,” the Syrian leader said, offering his condolences in a letter to his Russian counterpart for the death of 15 Russian crew members killed in the incident over Syria on Monday.

“We are determined that such tragic events will sway neither you nor us from continuing the fight against terrorism,” he continued in the letter, published by the official Sana agency.

The Russian plane was downed by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 air defense system and all aboard were killed.

The Russian military initially accused Israeli pilots of using the Russian plane as a cover, “exposing it to fire from Syrian air defenses.” But Syrian media and opposition sources reported Wednesday that several Syrian soldiers who were involved in the downing of the Russian plane were arrested and interrogated.
Nasrallah: Despite Israel’s efforts, Hezbollah has acquired ‘precision missiles’
The leader of Hezbollah boasted Thursday that the Lebanese terror group now possesses “highly accurate” missiles, despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons.

Hassan Nasrallah didn’t offer specifics on the weapons in his traditional televised speech commemorating Ashura, a top religious holy day for Shiite Muslims. But he told supporters they need to be confident in Hezbollah’s capabilities and that the regional balance of power has changed.

He claimed Israeli strikes in Syria to prevent Hezbollah from acquiring precise missiles had proven ineffective.

“I tell (Israel) no matter what it did to cut the [weapons transport] route, it is over. It has already been achieved,” he said, adding that Hezbollah “now possesses precision missiles and non-precision and weapons capabilities.”

Israel worries Hezbollah has been improving its capabilities and has acknowledged carrying out scores of strikes in Syria, most of them believed aimed at halting suspected arms shipments for Hezbollah.

“If Israel imposes a war on Lebanon, Israel will face a destiny and reality it didn’t expect any day,” Nasrallah said.

Israeli leaders have said they will not allow “game-changing” weapons, such as guided missiles, to reach Hezbollah.
Netanyahu to Hezbollah: 'Provoke Israel and we'll hit you harder than you can imagine'
Israeli premier Binyamin Netanyahu spoke out Thursday afternoon, following an address by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, in which the terror chief demanded Israel halt its attacks on military targets in Syria, and boasted that his group had obtained ‘precision missiles’.

“I heard the arrogant comments from Hezbollah,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“This is coming from the same man [Nasrallah] who said after the 2006 [war] that if he would have known what Israel’s response would be to the kidnapping of our three soldiers, he would have thought twice about it.”

“So today I suggest that he think not just twice but 20 times about it, because if he provokes us, he will get hit harder than he can even imagine.”

On Thursday, Nasrallah spoke at a Shi’ite religious event, demanding that “Israeli aggression in Syria” be stopped, referring to the Israel Air Force strikes on weapons development centers in northern Syria earlier this week.
PragerU: What Is Hezbollah?
When listing the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations, why is it that Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram so quickly spring to mind, while Hezbollah is frequently forgotten? In this video, Tony Badran, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains how the backing of Iran has served to legitimize Hezbollah on the world stage, while simultaneously making the group all the more dangerous.

Russia said to constrict Cyprus airspace and waters as it boosts Syria activity
Russia has effectively sealed off much of the airspace and waters surrounding Cyprus, increasing its activities in the area following the downing of a spy plane during an Israeli strike in Syria, the island’s largest newspaper reported Thursday.

According to Phileleftheros, Moscow issued several notices to Cypriot authorities of heavy military activity planned in the region over the coming week.

The paper noted that the Russian operations will cause considerable difficulties for traffic moving into and out of the island.
Iran asks U.N. to condemn Israeli nuclear program following airstrike
Iran's ambassador to the United Nations has asked the world body to condemn Israeli threats against Tehran and to bring Israel's nuclear program under its supervision in letters to UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the Security Council.

Gholam Ali Khoshrou, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, has asked the United Nations to force Israel to join the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty and bring its nuclear program under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN atomic watchdog, Iranian state television reported.

Iran's condemnation follows an Israeli air strike Wednesday on a Syrian military facility which housed weapons systems that were about to be transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon from Iran, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
Israel steps up defense of nuclear facilities amid Iran threats
Israel has stepped up security at its nuclear facilities, head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and Israel's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency Zeev Snir said in an unusual statement on Tuesday during the IAEA's 62nd General Conference.

"The covert Iranian nuclear weapons program is a documented fact. The new information recently revealed by Israel conclusively proves that Iranian activities were part of a well-orchestrated plan to continue the development of nuclear weapons," Snir said.

"The IAEA Board of Governors has unfortunately closed, within the context of the JCPOA [the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran] the agenda item on the so-called 'Iranian Possible Military Dimensions.' In light of these destabilizing elements, we cannot ignore the repeated and explicit threats made by Iran and its proxies to attack Israel's nuclear sites," he said.

"These outrageous threats require Israel to take action and continue to protect and defend its nuclear facilities. These facilities are constantly upgraded and reinforced, in line with IAEA safety guidelines, in order to withstand any attack."

Snir said that "Israel has been an active member of the agency since its establishment in 1957. Israel commits its best human capital to its activities with the IAEA, and benefits from the expertise and knowledge possessed by the agency."
Will Iraqi territory be used to fire rockets on Israel from Iran?
Tehran, not Baghdad, will determine whether to launch Iranian rockets stationed in Iraq against Israel, former National Security Council chief Maj.- Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview.

In an article for the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, where he is a fellow, Amidror raised the question of whether Iran will use Iraqi territory to fire rockets on Israel, Saudi Arabia or Jordan.

While Amidror did not specify whether he believed Iran has moved rockets to Iraq, Reuters reported the weapons transfer took place in late August, drawing swift responses from Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Most importantly, Amidror emphasized to the Post that if the report were true, Iraq’s desire not to alienate the US and avoid a superfluous confrontation with Israel would not be the decisive factor.

Rather, he said that Iran would control any weapons systems it had transferred into Iraq, and Tehran had tremendous political influence there.
UN Official Accuses Bolton of ‘Threatening Judges of the ICC’
At a press briefing on Wednesday at the United Nations, Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide at the United Nations, slammed President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton for the recent announcement that the United States will no longer recognize the International Criminal Court.

“It is simply regrettable I would say, to say the least, that a senior U.S. official – not to name him, Mr. Bolton – went to the extent of threatening judges of the ICC,” Dieng said.

“I would have hoped that the United States, which I respect so much because of the observance of the rule of law in this country,” Dieng said. “You can be even the president of the United States, but you are not above the law.”

“So simply because the justice system in this country is so strong and I would have hoped to see the same support to be deflected with the International Criminal Court,” Dieng said.

Bolton made the announcement about the U.S. break with the court, which he called “fundamentally illegitimate,” during a speech at a gathering of the Federalist Society in Washington, DC, on the eve of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks by radical Islamists on U.S. soil that killed almost 3,000 innocent Americans.

The timing of the announcement, Bolton said, was because of an expected imminent ICC announcement that it would launch an investigation into the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan and alleged war crimes committed since it began, including some committed by the United States military and intelligence personnel.
What should Abbas and Coveney talk about?
Assuming that efforts to persuade deputy head of government of Ireland and Government of Ireland second-most senior officer Tánaiste Simon Coveney to cancel his meeting with Mahmud Abbas fail, what should they talk about over coffee and biscuits?

Abbas performs a difficult tightrope act.

On one hand he has to convince Hamas and generations of Palestinians that through him they will eventually gain ‘return’ (even if they never lived there) and with it the eventual destruction of Israel, together with the death or expulsion of the Jews.

On the other he has to convince his backers that he is really the statesman of peace and so keep the money flowing in. Even worse than the drop in donations is the possibility that if he veers too far towards Hamas then Israel might drop the tacit support keeping him in power.

Tightrope walking requires skill and nerve, even if you have Abbas’s estimated $100 million in assets as a safety net. On the other hand he has been performing this circus act for a long, long time.
What questions should Coveney ask Abbas?

Prime minister, chief executive and head of government of Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar apparently wants to ask Abbas about gay rights in Palestine. There is an element of self-interest here as Varadkar has come out as gay†. It is not hard for Abbas to dodge that. Homosexuality is not illegal in the Fatah controlled West Bank but it is in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip. LGBT rights are not protected in either.
Could Ari Fuld's murder have been prevented?
Niv Nehemiah, who was seriously wounded in the terror attack at a Yavne supermarket a little over a year ago, is attacking the decision not to destroy the house of the terrorist who tried to kill him.

"While I struggle every day and every moment to rehabilitate my life and my body following the attempted murder, the terrorist sits and enjoys himself," says Nehemiah to Arutz Sheva.

"My house has changed completely and my family's entire life has been stopped, but the terrorist's family has not been hurt at all."

Nehemiah adds, "The terrorist who murdered Ari Fuld was the neighbor of the one who tried to murder me, and if his house had been destroyed, it could very well have deterred the terrorist and Ari would still be with us today."

In light of this, Nehemiah calls on Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, "Reveal an iron fist and destroy the house of the terrorist, who unfortunately for him could not kill me."
Murderer's son leads Temple Mount riots
Recently, Shin Bet interrogators, together with the Israel Police, uncovered a network of Arab youths, residents of Israel from eastern Jerusalem, who led violent confrontations on the Temple Mount at the end of July this year after Friday prayers.

In addition, a squad of activists who purchased firecrackers were discovered and later smuggled into the Temple Mount to attack the security forces outside the mountain area at the end of Friday prayers on the Mount. Following the severe incident, four policemen were injured, and as a result of the violent incidents, the Temple Mount was closed for several hours.

In the course of interrogations by the Shin Bet and the police, Ahmed Abu Tzibah, a Hamas terrorist from Kafr Aqab, who had been released a few months earlier, was found to have began the group after being sentenced to eight months in prison for his activities in the terrorist organization Shabab al-Aqsa.

Tzibah is the son of Mesbah Abu Tzibh, who carried out a deadly shooting attack in October 2016 in Jerusalem, during which Livneh Malihi and the Yossi Kirma were murdered.
Hamas ramps up pressure to resume negotiations
Sources in Gaza told Ynet Tuesday that Hamas has decided to escalate the weekly "March of Return" demonstrations in order to pressure Egypt and Israel to renew ceasefire talks, which have been suspended for the past three weeks.

Since the end of August, after Israel and Hamas reached advanced stages of the agreement—mediated by Egypt and the UN envoy to the Middle East—the ceasefire talks have been brought to a halt.

The reason for the delay is an explicit threat made by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Egypt, saying that truce at in Gaza—that includes significant efforts to ease the Israeli and Egyptian blockade—without the PA's involvement, will result in the PA's complete withdrawal of monthly payments transferred to the strip.

Abbas's strong opposition stems from concerns of appearing to be ineffective, fearing that Hamas would flaunt its achievements, gained using violent methods, to demonstrate the PA's apparent ineptitude.

For the time being Egypt has responded to the threat by suspending the negotiation process.

In the past two weeks, Hamas has been encouraging the public in Gaza to intensify the weekly clashes on the fence. Sources in Gaza said that last week a $200 grant was handed over to every Palestinian who was wounded during the riots since the beginning of September.
Abbas plans NY meeting following closure of PLO office
Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas has called on senior diplomats and United Nations officials to join him in a meeting in New York next week, ahead of his planned address before the United Nations General Assembly.

Abbas is scheduled to speak at the UN General Assembly on September 27th.

On Wednesday, Palestinian Authority representative in the United Nations Riyad Mansour said that Abbas had invited 30 foreign diplomats and UN Security Council representatives to a meeting in New York.

The meeting is set to take place on September 26th, a day before Abbas’ address to the General Assembly.

According to Mansour, the meeting is intended, in part, to address what he called the “radical shift” in US policy vis-à-vis the Middle East that has occurred under the Trump administration.

The PA’s leadership has snubbed senior US officials since President Trump’s December 6th, 2017 declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, including the refusal of Abbas to meet with Vice President Mike Pence.
IsraellyCool: What ‘Shirley Temper’ Ahed Tamimi Says With a Straight Face
What a cheek! (and no, I am not fat shaming her and referring to her fuller face)

Yes, Ahed Tamimi just spoke about Israelis being brainwashed, being fed with hatred, and needing to find their humanity and differentiate good from evil.

Nope, does not happen. This is a classic case of projection.

I mean, this is coming from someone who calls for terrorism against Israelis, idolizes terrorists, supports genocidal, Jew-hating terror organization Hizbullah, and is so brainwashed, will follow orders from her vile parents like a robot, no matter what the cost.

Do not be part of the problem and fall for this well-scripted propaganda.
Inside Israel's New Iran Strategy
Israel has confirmed that it has carried out over 200 air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria over the last two years, indicating a zero tolerance defense posture toward Iran's military presence in Syria. In May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed that "we believe that there is no place for any Iranian military presence, anywhere in Syria."

Israel's security strategy towards Iranian presence in its neighborhood is driven by three major factors:

First, Israel does not seem to be entirely convinced of the Trump administration's willingness to take on Iran in Syria, nor can it rely on Russia to keep Iran in check and secure Israeli interests in its backyard.

Second, the strategy of opposing Iranian military presence anywhere in Syria resonates strongly with the Sunni Arab bloc in the region and can bring Israel closer to Tehran's other nemeses, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE. These emerging ties, which Netanyahu calls the silver lining of the "bad" Iran deal, are very important to Israel.

Third, the Israeli security establishment has a deep-rooted belief that Iranian revisionism and expansionism knows no limits, and that the Islamic Republic is hell-bent on creating an aggressive empire in the Middle East and beyond.

The apocalyptic rhetoric of Iranian hardliners vowing "annihilation" of Israel, coupled with the much-vaunted tour of Iran-backed paramilitary commanders along Israel's border with Lebanon and Syria, have stoked these fears.
U.S. Appeals to Allies Ahead of U.N. Meetings to Put Pressure on Iran
The Trump administration's new adviser on Iran pressed European allies Wednesday to join the United States in adopting a hardline stance against Tehran, making the appeal ahead of next week's United Nations General Assembly in New York.

"The reality that U.N. member states ignore at their peril is that Iran has continued to develop and test ballistic missiles," U.S. special envoy for Iran Brian Hook said during an event at the Hudson Institute think tank in Washington, D.C. "We want more nations to join us in confronting the array of Iran's malign activity. We are asking every nation that can no longer tolerate Iran's destructive behavior to protect its people by joining us."

European allies were dismayed by President Donald Trump's decision in May to pull the United States out of the Obama-era nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers.

The accord sought to limit Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, but administration officials contended it was too narrow and had little-to-no effect on Tehran's malign behavior.

Trump is set to lead a session on Iran with heads of state of the United Nations Security Council during the Sept. 26 U.N. meetings in New York. U.N. envoy Nikki Haley said the meeting is meant to further pressure Tehran over its violations of council resolutions, including its ongoing testing of ballistic missiles.

"We are working multilaterally to constrain Iran's missile program and bring allies and partners onboard our campaign," Hook said. "We are coordinating with allies to interdict missile related transfers and target Iranian missile proliferation activities in third countries."
Iranian Official Slams Regime Over Mistreatment of Imprisoned American
A senior Iranian official's pointed public criticism of the regime's mistreatment of a U.S. permanent resident imprisoned in Iran for three years is offering a glimmer of hope for his family and advocates of all western prisoners held in Iran after years of despair and stalled negotiations.

Shahindokht Molaverdi, an outspoken senior adviser on human rights to Iranian President Rouhani, late last week for the first time said the Iranian government had "failed" to help Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born internet-freedom advocate who she had invited to a government-sponsored summit.

After participating in the summit and posing for photos with Molaverdi and several other Iranian officials, Zakka was captured on his way to the airport to fly back to the United States by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Sept. 18, 2015, and jailed, according to his attorney and Molaverdi. He was later charged with spying for the U.S. government and sentenced to 10 years in Iran's notorious Evin prison.

"This is in no way approved by the government," Molaverdi told the Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview published on Friday. "We did all we could to stop this from happening, but we are seeing that we have failed to make a significant impact."
Grenell: Volkswagen to comply with US sanctions on Iran
The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen will leave the Iranian market to comply with US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

“Volkswagen has told us they will comply with US sanctions on Iran. We are pleased with this decision because Iran diverts its economic resources away from its people to support the Assad regime and spread violence and instability across the globe,” said Grenell. The decision was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Volkswagen’s decision to pull the plug on its car business in Iran is another in a series of economic setbacks for the clerical rulers in Tehran. The US embassy in Berlin’s Twitter feed confirmed on Tuesday that the German chemical company BASF has also decided to stop its business with Iran. The embassy wrote “BASF confirmed to Amb. @richardgrenell: They will comply w/ US sanctions. This is the right decision.”

BASF says in its company profile that it is the second largest “producer and marketer of chemicals and related products in North America.”

Multi-national companies like Volkswagen and BASF have understood that forfeiting the powerhouse US market in exchange for the tiny Iranian market would decimate their financial health. The companies could also face economic sanctions.
Japan's oil refiners temporarily halt Iranian loadings on sanctions threat
Japanese oil refiners have temporarily halted Iranian oil loadings ahead of US sanctions and are buying alternatives as it remains unclear whether Japan will receive an exemption, the head of the country's refinery association said on Thursday.

The United States has demanded that nations cut all their Iranian oil imports when sanctions on the country's petroleum sector over Tehran's nuclear program are re-imposed on Nov. 4.

"It is my view that each firm is taking the same stance and temporarily suspending (the loading) and watching the situation carefully," Takashi Tsukioka, the President of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), said when asked if Japanese refiners plan to halt Iranian loadings from October.

Tsukioka, who also serves as chairman of refiner Idemitsu Kosan, however, did not comment on the details of each refiner's reaction.

Many refiners in Japan, the world's fourth-biggest oil consumer, say they are resigned to completely halting imports from one of their historically important suppliers, unlike during a previous round of sanctions when they only reduced imports from Iran.

Iran is an important supplier of oil to Japan, accounting for about 5 percent of its crude imports, and Japanese refiners, together with the government, will try to maintain its good relationship with the Middle Eastern country, said Tsukioka, adding that the US sanctions will not cause a major impact.
Pompeo on John Kerry’s Meetings With Iranian Officials: He ‘Can’t Seem to Get off the Stage’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sharply criticized the conduct of his predecessor, John Kerry, telling Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Wednesday that he "can’t seem to get off the stage."

"It’s one thing to meet with your counterpart. It’s another thing to do what Secretary Kerry, Wendy Sherman, Ernest Moniz, frankly the whole gang has done, which is to actively seek to undermine what President Trump is trying to achieve," Pompeo said during an interview on "The Ingraham Angle."

"It’s okay to talk with them, but you have to be working for America, working for American foreign policy, and they’re not. They’re working for the foreign policy that is theirs, not the one that belongs to the United States," the secretary of state continued.

Since President Barack Obama left office, Kerry has met privately with Iranian officials in an effort to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. He discussed his interactions with Iran while promoting his new book, Every Day is Extra, last week, acknowledging he met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif "three or four times" in recent months, without consulting the Trump administration.

Kerry said he has conducted sensitive diplomacy on his own with Iran, discussing the nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. earlier this year. He told radio host Hugh Hewitt that he has criticized the Trump administration in these discussions for not pursuing negotiations with Iran.
State Department: Iran Allows al-Qaeda to Operate Key Network Inside Iran
The State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism today. The report covers events during the previous calendar year. As in past assessments, State says that Iran “has allowed” al Qaeda to operate its key facilitation network on Iranian soil.

“Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior al Qaeda (AQ) members residing in Iran and has refused to publicly identify the members in its custody,” Country Reports on Terrorism 2017 reads.*

Moreover, “Iran has allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran since at least 2009, enabling AQ to move funds and fighters to South Asia and Syria.”

The language closely mirrors that included in past State Department reports and statements, as well as in a series of terrorist designations issued by the Treasury Department. The paragraphs below borrow from previous reports on these official statements, including an article summarizing last year’s Country Reports on Terrorism. FDD’s Long War Journal has repeatedly summarized these official US government reports in the past. See, for example, State Department: Iran continues to host al Qaeda’s ‘core facilitation pipeline’.

Since July 2011, the US Treasury and State Departments have repeatedly stated that the Iranian regime allows al Qaeda to maintain a “core pipeline” on its soil. This arrangement is the result of a specific “agreement” between the Iranian government and al Qaeda’s leadership. A timeline of these statements is included below.

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