Friday, September 28, 2018

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Europe's appeasement of Iran
Remarks this week about Iran by US National Security Adviser John Bolton contained some of the most ferocious language ever used by an American administration about a foreign state.

Bolton told the Iranian regime: “If you cross us, our allies or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay. Let my message today be clear: ‘We are watching, and we will come after you.’”

Earlier this year the US pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran, re-instituting potentially crippling sanctions against the regime. At the UN, President Trump delivered a similar message. America, he said, would not allow “the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism” to possess “the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth.”

Bolton went further and threatened “terrible consequences” for those doing business with Iran. But Britain and Europe are intending to do exactly that.

Earlier in the week, the EU and the three European co-signers of the Iran deal – Britain, France and Germany – said they would set up a new payment system to allow oil companies and businesses to continue trading without relying on the US-led global market. Commentators agree this sanctions-busting ruse is unlikely to work.

Big companies are already pulling out of Iran because the US says they can trade with Iran or America but they can’t do both. The European maneuver is likely merely to antagonize the US. As its Secretary of State Mike Pompeo angrily said, the Europeans were now “solidifying Iran’s ranking as number-one state sponsor of terror” with “one of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional peace and security”.
Ron Prosor: Forcing Iran's allies to face the truth
The United Nations is an organization where ‎democratic influences and the truth get sidelined ‎far too often, but addressing the General Assembly ‎on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood ‎before world leaders and spoke the truth. Not "his ‎truth" – just the plain, clear truth about Iran and ‎the Palestinian issue.‎

The evidence Netanyahu presented for the existence ‎of secret nuclear facilities in Iran and Hezbollah ‎missile bases in the heart of Beirut is the best ‎answer to Europe's appeasement policy vis-à-vis ‎Iran. This not only exposed Iran's true, nefarious ‎designs for the region but also exposed the ‎weakness of many European leaders and the ‎incompetence of the International Atomic Energy ‎Agency.‎

Despite being privy to detailed, verified and ‎accurate information on Iranian violations of the ‎‎2015 nuclear deal, the IAEA and EU have done nothing ‎to stop it. In their naivety and shortsightedness, ‎they are willing to gamble away the future of the ‎Middle East and the rest of the world, acting as if ‎Iran will one day relinquish its nuclear aspirations ‎willingly.‎

European leaders may opt to see no evil, hear no ‎evil and speak no evil, but Netanyahu reminded them ‎that Israel sees and hears everything and that it is ‎not wary of speaking or taking action wherever ‎necessary.‎

Now it is up to the Israeli government and the Trump ‎administration to demand that, confronted with ‎clear-cut ‎intelligence findings, Germany, Britain ‎and France explain why they insist on supporting the ‎Iran deal. ‎

US envoy urges world to join America in ‘being direct, frank with Palestinians’
US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt on Thursday defended the US administration’s drastic recent funding cuts to the Palestinians, arguing that billions given to this cause over decades have failed to significantly advance the cause of peace.

Rather, he said in a speech to a conference of international donors, it was time to “realistically evaluate what works and what does not,” and to embark on “a new, sustainable path.” While he declined to provide any details of the peace proposal he and other White House officials have been working on for months, he asked members of the international community to study it carefully and be open to new ideas.

“It is time to look at the situation realistically. We could continue the same pattern for years to come, but that would be folly,” Greenblatt told participants of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee’s annual meeting at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

“Clearly, none of our financial assistance is getting Israelis and Palestinians closer to a solution.”

Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials also attended the conference.
U.S. Will No Longer Subsidize PA Anti-Normalization Campaign Against Israel
Speaking to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of international donors to the Palestinians on Thursday in New York, U.S. Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt said efforts to improve life for Palestinians in the West Bank "are constrained by Palestinian Authority leaders who refuse opportunities to build the economy due to an anti-normalization prejudice towards doing business with Israelis. Such policies only harm the Palestinian people, leave them further and further behind, and cost donor countries more and more money."

"The Trump administration has closely watched the PA leadership thwart economic improvement for Palestinians in the West Bank and directly challenged them to change their destructive policies or lose American support....Clearly, none of our financial assistance is getting Israelis and Palestinians closer to a solution."

"We must all ask ourselves why we should keep struggling to raise money when everyone can plainly see the Hamas regime and the PA are squandering the opportunities our money provides for a better future for Palestinians....The United States will not use the hard-earned tax dollars of its citizens to subsidize anti-normalization."

"We care about all Palestinians - those in the West Bank, those in Gaza, and those languishing in refugee camps who have been used as pawns in a political game, and who should have started new lives years ago. We will not continue to invest in temporary solutions that only prolong the cycle of suffering and violence."

Palestinian in Germany caught planning chemical terror attack in Israel
A 21-year-old Syrian-born Palestinian man has been arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning to carry out a terror attack in Israel using chemical weapons, according to German media reports.

Security forces armed with automatic weapons arrested the man last week outside a restaurant in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood, Bild reported Thursday.

The man had already recruited others to join the Islamic State terror group, the report stated.

The German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) reportedly received a tip from a foreign security service about the man, who arrived some time ago from Libya using a false passport.

The German newspaper Welt reported that the man intended to use chemical weapons for his planned terror attack in Israel, and in a phone call intercepted by security officials stated that he had already acquired the necessary materials.

However, police had not yet found the materials, the reports stated, and the investigation was ongoing.
Netherlands says major terrorist attack at public event foiled, 7 arrested
Dutch police arrested seven men Thursday suspected of plotting to carry out a major terrorist attack at a public event using explosive belts and an AK-47 assault rifle, the public prosecutor’s office said.

“Police arrested seven men on Thursday… suspected of being at a very advanced stage of preparation for a major terrorist attack in the Netherlands,” it said in a statement, adding one of the suspects had wanted to kill “many victims.”

Prosecutors and investigators were “convinced that a terrorist attack was prevented” as a result of the arrests in the cities of Arnhem and Weert which followed a months-long police operation.

Officers had placed a group of people under surveillance, a central figure being a 34-year-old man of Iraqi origin convicted in 2017 of attempting to reach territory controlled by the Islamic State terror group, the statement added.

Those arrested ranged in age from 21 to 34.

The suspects came from Arnhem, Rotterdam, and villages close to those two cities. Two others in the group also had convictions related to attempts to travel to Iraq or Syria.
JPost Editorial: The UN is the joke
It was the laugh heard around the world: The UN General Assembly responded to US President Donald Trump’s boast that "in less than two years, my administration has accomplished much more than almost any administration in the history of our country” with mirthful chuckles that grew even louder when Trump expressed surprise at their reaction.

Nearly two years after Trump was elected, it’s clear that the man can’t help himself and brings the bluster to all public appearances, even when his bragging is totally irrelevant to the occasion. There is something humorous in that.

The real joke, however, was not Trump’s patting himself on the back. The UN itself is far more absurd than that. The UN consistently gets very serious matters laughably wrong, so their judgment about what is funny should not be trusted.

Not a chuckle was heard when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said “we will never resort to violence and terrorism,” a laughable claim less than two weeks after a Palestinian teen, inspired by Abbas’ claims about Israeli designs on the Temple Mount, murdered Ari Fuld
Trump Puts the Ball Back in the Palestinians’ Court
Is the two-state solution back in play? That’s the upshot of the latest comments from Donald Trump.

At the United Nations on Wednesday, Trump signaled that he was open to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While he had previously expressed indifference as to how the conflict might be resolved — whether by one state or two — this week he said that two states is “what I think works best,” and that it is going to be the way things will work out in upcoming negotiations.

If that weren’t enough, he also signaled that he was open to resuming US aid to the Palestinians at some point in the future.

That’s a stand that some might have thought would discomfit Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu expressed theoretical support for a two-state solution in 2009 and took part in negotiations with former Secretary of State John Kerry towards that end in 2014. Since then he’s been hostile to the notion — to the point of promising Israeli voters when running for reelection in 2015 that there would be no Palestinian state created on his watch.

But Netanyahu didn’t seem bothered by Trump’s statements. While he sought to dance around the issue by saying that it depended on how one defines the term, it’s clear that he didn’t view it as much of a threat. That’s interesting because we already know that some of his coalition partners have already warned they could topple his government over that issue.
Put the EU in its place
Some of the important countries in Europe joined together to threaten Israel over the razing of Khan al-Ahmar. The Europeans are losing their own sovereignty at home but have no qualms about infringing upon the sovereignty of Israel, which among other requirements of a democratic country is acting in accordance with the rule of law.

Moving on, the next bullet point also stems from the threats over Khan al-Ahmar and pertains to the anti-Israel strategy of undermining the Jewish state through crude intervention in its internal affairs. Trump mentioned those international bodies that have assumed the right to implement a new form of tyrannical charlatanism and oppression. The EU has a large role in this negative development, which emboldens Palestinian terror. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will leave office in 2019. She has provided material aid and encouragement to the Palestinians, who have turned the areas under their control into terrorist strongholds. She will not be held accountable for any of her actions.

The EU boasts of the peace and liberal societies that have flourished on its soil since the end of World War II. They were only able to accomplish this under an American security blanket, but they simultaneously forged a policy of surrender and appeasement toward the world of terror, toward Iran, and during the Cold War toward the Soviet Union. We should remind Macron about his complaints about Israel to Trump. In the European worldview of today, Iran is favored over Israel; Hamas is favored over the Palestinian Authority. Attacking the European Union is more difficult than attacking Iran, but it's worth a shot.
Prime Minister Netanyahu at UN: Israel Will Defend Itself Against Iran's Aggression
"Israel openly opposed the nuclear deal with Iran. We oppose it because it threatens our future, even our very survival. We oppose it because the deal paved Iran's path to a nuclear arsenal. And by lifting the sanctions, it's fueled Iran's campaign of carnage and conquest throughout the Middle East."

"Last February, Israel conducted a daring raid on Iran's secret atomic archive. We obtained over 100,000 documents and videos that had been stashed in vaults in an innocent looking building in the heart of Tehran....Israel shared this information and even more damning evidence that we found with members of the P5+1, and with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Months have passed. The IAEA has still not taken any action....It has not demanded to inspect a single new site discovered in that secret archive."

"Iran has another secret facility in Tehran - a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and materiel from Iran's secret nuclear weapons the Turquz-abad district of Tehran. Iranian officials...have been busy cleaning out the atomic warehouse. Just last month, they removed 15 kilograms of radioactive material...and they spread it around Tehran in an effort to hide the evidence....This site contains as much as 300 tons of nuclear-related equipment and material."

"Why did Iran keep a secret atomic archive and a secret atomic warehouse? Because, after all, when South Africa and Libya gave up their nuclear programs, the first thing they did was to destroy both the archives and the material and equipment....The reason Iran didn't destroy its atomic archive and its atomic warehouse is because it hasn't abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons."

"I have a message to the head of the IAEA. Mr. Yukiya Amano....Go inspect this atomic warehouse, immediately, before the Iranians finish clearing it out. Do you remember when we were promised that inspections could take place anytime, anywhere?...Well, how about inspections right here, right now. And Mr. Amano, while you're at it, inspect the other secret sites we told you about. Once and for all, tell the world the truth about Iran."

"Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran's aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever and wherever we must act to defend our state and defend our people."
Israel - Prime Minister Addresses General Debate, 73rd Session

All the world’s a stage at the UN, and Netanyahu is a player
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may not like the UN very much, calling one of its bodies “morally depraved” on Thursday, but he loves addressing it.

Netanyahu relishes the chance to perform at the UN General Assembly, something his aides have attested to over the years, though they really don’t need to.

It’s clear from all the flourishes he uses time and again - the props, puns and pauses - that he’s enjoying himself.

The UNGA is high political theater, with the lines of Shakespeare’s As You Like It brought to life: “All the world's a stage/ And all the men and women merely players,” and Netanyahu played his usual part.

He displayed pictures of Iranian nuclear facilities, complete with coordinates to search on Google Maps, and a diagram of Hezbollah missile sites in Beirut.

The jokes were quick to follow - there are “radioactive rugs” at the cleaners next to the warehouse and Teheran residents can get Geiger counters for $29.99 on - if there weren’t US sanctions, that is.

But this time, there seemed to be even more righteous indignation simmering behind his words.
IDF releases photos of alleged Hezbollah missile sites near Beirut airport
The Israeli military on Thursday released satellite images of three sites in Beirut that it says are being used by the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group to hide underground precision missile production facilities.

The sites, located within close proximity of Beirut’s international airport, were first revealed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday night, during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

The factories, which are meant to convert regular missiles into more accurate precision ones, are not believed to be up and running. The Israel Defense Forces said they are currently being constructed with Iranian assistance.

The target of the Israeli airstrike last week, in which a Russian spy plane was inadvertently shot down by Syrian air defenses, was machinery used in the production of precision missiles, which was en route to Hezbollah, The Times of Israel has learned.

According to Netanyahu, these precision missiles are capable of striking with 10 meters (32 feet) of their given target. Hezbollah is believed to have an arsenal of between 100,000 and 150,000 rockets and missiles, though the vast majority are thought to lack precision technology.

They army said the facilities are “another example of Iranian entrenchment in the region and the negative influence of Iran.”
Hezbollah's Attempts to Construct Accurate Missile Project in Beirut

Iran derides PM’s ‘arts & crafts show,’ says ‘world will laugh’ at nuke claims
Iran on Thursday night responded with derision to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims of a new “secret atomic warehouse” near Tehran which he said concealed “massive amounts of equipment and material,” during his speech to the UN General Assembly.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a tweet suggested Netanyahu was throwing stones from a glass house, and ridiculed his use of props and oversize display boards.

“No arts & craft show will ever obfuscate that Israel is only regime in our region with a *secret* and *undeclared* nuclear weapons program — including an *actual atomic arsenal*,” Zarif said. “Time for Israel to fess up and open its illegal nuclear weapons program to international inspectors.”

Israel is widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal but has never publicly acknowledged it.

Zarif further called Netanyahu’s accusation an “obscene charge,” the state-run IRNA news agency reported Friday, and branded the Israeli prime minister a “liar who would not stop lying.”
At UN, Abbas lobs threats at US and Israel — but reserves true ire for Hamas
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the UN General Assembly did not contain any big surprises. His comments were predictable — attacks on Israel and the United States, and threats (once again) to reconsider agreements with Israel.

But the most aggressive message was reserved for the leaders of Hamas and residents of the Gaza Strip under the terror group’s rule.

Abbas’s speech contained an explicit threat to “remove all responsibility” from Gaza if Hamas does not agree to reach a deal with the Palestinian Authority. In other words, he intends to stop transferring PA funds to Gaza in the near future.

Clearly getting the message, some Gazans, shortly after Abbas’s address ended, gathered to protest his remarks in the city of Rafah in an event backed by Hamas, with masked men holding signs reading, “Abbas doesn’t represent me.”

Abbas’s speech and the Hamas-organized protest which followed it are a further reminder of how deep the rift is between Hamas and the PA, with the latter prepared to disconnect from the Strip and stop transferring the $96 million it spends there every month.
Abbas Praises Terrorists as ‘Hero Martyrs,’ While Claiming Jerusalem ‘Not for Sale’
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas went on the offensive against US President Donald Trump in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, harshly criticizing the American leader for his actions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and aid cuts while at the same time praising Palestinian terror prisoners as “hero martyrs.”

“Jerusalem is not for sale and the Palestinian people’s rights are not up for bargaining,” Abbas said as he opened his speech.

The Palestinian leader said that Trump has undercut the peace process by recognizing Jerusalem in December 2017.

“From the start of his tenure, from the same positive engagement, we welcomed his launching of the initiative of peace,” said Abbas. “We awaited his peace initiative with utmost patience. But we were shocked by his statements and actions that contradicted the aims of his administration in the peace process.”

The Palestinians have boycotted talks with the Trump administration over the last year as a result of the Jerusalem recognition. At the same time, Trump has retaliated on his own, cutting funding to UNRWA, the UN agency that handles Palestinian refugees, as well as direct funding to the PA and shuttering the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington, D.C.

“It’s really ironic that the American administration still talks about what they call the ‘Deal of the Century.’ But what is left for this administration to give to the Palestinian people?” Abbas asked. “When they remove from the table Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and security, what is left?”
Rejecting Trump, Abbas at UN says US is too biased to mediate peace talks
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday slammed US President Donald Trump for his policies toward the Palestinians, calling them an “assault on international law,” and rejected Washington as a mediator of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Abbas also hailed terror convicts in Israeli prisons as “heroes,” and signaled he could cut PA budgets to Gaza if Hamas does not relinquish power.

The US is “too biased towards Israel” in order to act alone as a fair mediator between the Palestinians and Israel, Abbas said, but indicated he could be open to others stepping in to broker talks and said the US could play a role as a member of the Middle East peace Quartet.

“This administration has reneged on all previous US commitments, and has undermined the two-state solution, and has revealed its false claims of concern about the humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people,” Abbas charged.

“We welcomed Trump when he was elected and praised his announcement of [a] peace plan, but were shocked by his actions concerning the process,” Abbas said in New York.
Abbas Planning to Impose Additional Sanctions on Gaza
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas plans ‎to impose additional sanctions on the Gaza Strip, ‎Palestinian officials were quoted by Arab media as ‎saying on Wednesday.‎

According to the reports, Abbas, who is currently in ‎New York to attend the 73rd UN General Assembly, plans to convene his government upon his ‎return to Ramallah and outline a series of new ‎financial sanctions against Hamas, the ‎terrorist organization that rules Gaza.‎

Hamas routed Abbas’s Fatah-led government from power ‎in Gaza in 2007, effectively splitting the ‎Palestinian population ‎into two separate political ‎entities. Egyptian efforts over the past ‎‎decade to ‎‎‎promote a ‎‎reconciliation between the rival ‎‎‎Palestinian ‎‎factions—the latest ‎‎brokered ‎‎in ‎October 2017—‎have so far failed.‎

The consistent failure to reinstate the PA’s power in Gaza has prompted Abbas to ‎impose a series of crippling financial sanctions on ‎its rulers, including suspending the salaries of ‎thousands of Hamas government employees and cutting ‎PA payments for the electricity used in Gaza, in an ‎effort to regain control of the Strip.
Ministers lambaste Abbas for rejecting US, praising ‘martyrs’
Israeli ministers on Thursday accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of rejecting peace and embracing terror in his speech to the United Nations, saying it showed he is only interested in revenge and cannot be entrusted with a Palestinian state.

Though the address at the General Assembly in New York was far milder than the angry broadside many had expected, Abbas drew fire for rebuffing the US as a possible peace mediator and hailing terror convicts in Israeli prisons.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beytenu) accused Abbas of pushing the region further into conflict by rejecting peace talks.

“Instead of answering the outstretched hand of an Israeli and US [peace] agreement, all that interests Abbas is to get even, and to push the area into conflict,” the hawkish minister said in a short statement

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) took aim at Abbas’s support for Palestinian terror convicts, who are paid stipends by the Palestine Liberation Organization. In his speech, Abbas seemed to push back against criticism of the payments, paying “tribute to our hero martyrs and prisoners of war.”

“Abbas’s speech is reminder to all of us of one basic fact: A people who sanctify murders and a leader who funds terrorists will never merit a Palestinian state in the heart of Israel. We are here to prevent that,” Bennett tweeted.
Palestine confirmed to head massive bloc of developing countries at UN
The State of Palestine was formally handed on Thursday the presidency of the Group of 77, the largest bloc of developing nations at the UN.

The event took place minutes before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was to take the podium at the UN General Assembly, for a speech in which he was expected to harshly attack Israel.

Palestine — which is not a member state of the UN but has observer state status — was chosen in July to head the so-called G77 plus China, a consortium now consisting of 134 nations that often speaks in one voice at the UN General Assembly, starting January 1, 2019. On Thursday, that decision was confirmed.

Abbas, speaking from his seat in the back of the room, promised that his government “will bear its responsibility and perform its duties in all honesty and integrity and in a manner that deserves the trust of the members of G77.”

He said Palestine was committed to work with all members and secretariat of the group. He did not mention Israel or other regional issues in his brief remarks.
Shin Bet will no longer ask would-be entrants to Israel about their politics
One of Israel’s top law enforcement officials said Thursday the Shin Bet security service would no longer ask detainees at border crossings about their political views and that regulations to that effect would be reiterated to officials at the borders, while defending the agency’s detentions and questioning of Israel critics that sparked criticism and a government inquiry.

“It should be made clear that the questioning carried out by the Shin Bet in these situations was not intended to interfere with [political] protest activities, but to prevent violent and illegal actions carried out from nationalistic motives or in relation to terrorist groups,” Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber, who conducted the inquiry over the past month, wrote in a Thursday letter to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, one of the NGOs that complained about the detentions.

The questioning at the border was “based on intelligence information that raised concerns, and was unrelated to the political identification or affiliation of the questionee,” Zilber said, defending the Shin Bet’s actions.

However, the letter goes on to acknowledge that some Shin Bet and border officials behaved in ways that did not conform to the legal and policy restrictions placed on such questioning — including the requirement to notify the detainee that their questioning was voluntary, and to avoid asking questions about their political views.
Report: Breaking the Silence spokesperson detained in Hebron
Spokesperson for Breaking the Silence Dean Issacharoff was detained while leading a tour of the organization in the city of Hebron on Friday.

Issacharoff was asked by IDF officers not to continue beyond a point and refused to comply, which led to his arrest as well as the arrest of one other member in the group that was touring the city.

Breaking the Silence is a group composed of former IDF soldiers devoted to sharing their experiences from serving in the West Bank and the Gaza strip with Israeli society, which is why they operate guided tours in Hebron and elsewhere.

Executive Director of Breaking the Silence Avner Gvaryahu wrote on social media that "once again two of our guides were arrested in Hebron".

"Rather than letting former soldiers tell what they did in the city", Gvaryahu wrote, "the army salutes the extreme settlers and follow what they order it to do."

Dean Issacharoff is the son of Jeremy Issacharoff, the current Israeli diplomat in Germany.

The group is highly controversial, as it has accused Israel of committing war crimes in international forums.
Palestinians say 3 killed, including a 14-year-old, in Gaza border clashes
Three Palestinians, including a teen, were reported killed Friday as thousands of Palestinians protested along the Gaza border fence, throwing hand grenades, rocks and burning tires in clashes with IDF troops, who responded with tear gas and live fire.

Three people were killed, including a 14-year-old, and at least 180 Palestinians were wounded, including an 11-year-old boy, who was in a serious condition, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. It said some 50 of the wounded were hit by live fire.

The IDF said about 10,000 Palestinians were taking part in violent protests, spread out among a few locations along the Gaza security fence.

In several instances they threw hand grenades and explosive devices at soldiers. In one case IAF aircraft carried out a strike against grenade throwers, the army said, noting there were no injuries to IDF forces.

IDF troops were also responding with tear gas and other less-lethal riot dispersal means as well as live fire “in accordance with the rules of engagement,” the army said.

Also, Palestinians launched several fire balloons into Israel, causing at least 11 blazes near Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services said. Firefighters were working to extinguish them.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad chooses new leader, remains close to Iran
Palestinian terror group Islamic Jihad selected a new leader for the first time in more than 20 years Thursday, a senior official said, but is likely to remain close to Iran.

Syria-based Ziad al-Nakhala will take over as the movement’s secretary general from Ramadan Shalah, who has been suffering from serious health issues for months, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Shalah, who has led PIJ since 1995, is believed to be in a coma after an unknown illness, though the group has not publicly confirmed this.

The official said Nakhala was selected without a challenger, with a second source in the party confirming the announcement.

Nakhala, who was born in Gaza in 1953, is close to both Iran and Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. He had been the deputy leader to Shalah since the 1990s.
UNRWA raises $118 million for Palestinians to offset shortfall
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency raised $180 million in donor funds for Palestinians on Thursday, thereby reducing its budgetary shortfall to only $68 million for this year.

The pledges, which included $40 million from the European Union, were made at a meeting in New York on Thursday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“The announcement of an additional $118 million is a very significant step in the direction of overcoming UNRWA’s greatest and gravest financial crisis ever,” its Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl told reporters at the UN.

He spoke after a ministerial meeting, chaired by Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman H. Safadi. In the meeting, the diplomats discussed the funding crisis created by the United States’ decision in late August to cut its funding to UNRWA, including $300 million the organization had expected to receive this year.

That cut, plus a deficit from the previous year, left the organization with a shortfall over $400 million.
European Union proposes additional €40 million of funding for UNRWA
The European Union proposed an additional €40 million for Palestine Refugees in a ministerial meeting of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on the sideline of the UN General Assembly on Thursday night.

The funds are intended to allow the agency to keep providing access to education for 500,000 Palestine refugee children, primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 vulnerable Palestine refugees, according to a press release of the European comission.

Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini said commented that "Today we reaffirm the EU's political and financial support to UNRWA, with an overall contribution from the EU and its Member States of €1.2 billion for the past three years.

"UNRWA is essential for the perspective of a two-state solution. Supporting the agency means supporting peace and security in the Middle East. And this is in our strategic interest."
UK set to outlaw Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah — report
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid is set to ban all branches of the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, possibly as soon as next week, according to British media reports.

At next week’s Conservative Party conference Javid is set to announce he is taking action to outlaw all parts of the Lebanon-based group, The Jewish Chronicle reported Thursday. But the Daily Mail, citing “well-placed sources,” reported that though he had committed to the move, Javid would not use his keynote speech to make the announcement.

Javid is reported to have received backing for the decision from the UK’s new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. On the “National Campaigns” section of his website, Hunt had harsh words for the terror group.

“Hezbollah’s beliefs are outrageous, disgusting, and should be condemned at every opportunity. I deplore the group in its entirety,” he wrote. “Proscription is an important part of the Government’s strategy to disrupt the activities of terrorist groups and those who provide support to them.”

The military wing of Hezbollah has been banned in the UK since 2008, but the political wing is not banned. This has allowed protesters at anti-Israel rallies around Britain to openly wave the yellow Hezbollah flag emblazoned with a green rifle over the globe of the world.

The US, Canada, Israel and the Arab League consider Hezbollah to be a terror group.
Expert: Trump Must Insist on Total Cutoff of Iranian Banks for Sanctions to be Effective
United States President Donald Trump must be willing, for sanctions to effectively change Iran’s destabilizing behavior, to sanction the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), if it maintains connections with sanctioned Iranian banks in November, Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, argued in an op-ed published Wednesday in the New York Post.

SWIFT is an organization that carries messages back and forth between banks. If it does not disconnect access from Iranian banks after November, when the U.S. re-imposes banking sanctions, European nations will be able to sidestep those sanctions by enabling deals between European banks and sanctioned Iranian banks through SWIFT.

Shortly after Trump announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the nuclear deal in May, the European Commission announced its intent to “evade US sanctions by processing payments to Iran through European central banks,” Goldberg wrote.

In 2012, Congress passed a law allowing the president to sanction members of SWIFT, who violated U.S. sanctions. These sanctions, which Goldberg helped design as a top aide to then-Sen. Mark Kirk (R – Ill.), cut off Iran’s central bank and helped force Iran to negotiate. However, as part of the nuclear deal, Iranian banks once again had access to SWIFT, and Western leverage to force Iran to negotiate or compromise was lost.

Instead of cutting off sanctioned Iranian banks, some are suggesting a compromise plan that would allow SWIFT to penalize only those Iranian banks that violate its standards, and engage in terror-financing and money-laundering. Goldberg dismissed such an arrangement as “a dressed-up version of the status quo and exactly what JCPOA supporters want.”
Iran’s Twitter offensive and the UNGA
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to Twitter to highlight his speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. He sought to isolate the United States by portraying Iran as the responsible country, pointing a finger at Washington’s decision to walk away from the Iran Deal. It is part of a wider selective and strategic Twitter campaign by Iranian regime officials being conducted in recent months.

Rouhani joined Twitter in May 2013 soon before he became president that year. Like many regime officials, he only follows a handful of people. Among the eight he follows are his own Farsi language Twitter account, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Masoumeh Ebtekar, the vice-president on women and family affairs.

He tweets relatively frequently, but whoever runs his account pulled out the stops for the UNGA. In 10 tweets he highlighted how the US was “dismissing the basic principle of state continuity,” and “violating obligations” it had affirmed. State continuity is an international legal concept that even if a state’s regime changes it still must adhere to obligations. He was implying that under US President Donald Trump, the United States was acting like a bull in a china shop.

The main message of Rouhani is that the Tehran regime opposes war, sanctions and US “bullying.” He also said Iran opposes terrorism and has been a victim of ISIS and other terrorist groups. In addition, he stressed that Iran was against foreign intervention in Syria, a reference to the US’s involvement. Rouhani’s generalized statements were aimed at making Iran appear a normal country at the UN, not a country which recently fired ballistic missiles into Iraq.

Ayatollah Khamenei’s Twitter offensive is the bad cop to Rouhani’s good cop routine. Feeding into the western narrative that Iran is divided between “moderates” and “hardliners,” the Ayatollah tweeted on September 24 that Iran “never recognized [the] Zionist regime” and that Iranian athletes won’t compete against “Zionist regime envoys.”
MEMRI: In Video, Iranian News Agency Fars, An IRGC Affiliate, Threatens Vengeance Against Riyadh, Jerusalem In Response To Attack On IRGC In Ahvaz
On September 24, 2018, a video bearing the logo of the Iranian news agency Fars, which is affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was disseminated on social media.[1] It included a threat of an Iranian response to the September 22 terror attack on an IRGC military parade in Ahvaz, Iran, in which 25 were killed. According to the video, Iran will avenge the attack by targeting the Saudi capital Riyadh and Jerusalem.

The video presents Iran's policy of response to any attack on Iranian forces, both inside and outside Iran, as follows:
  • The June 2017 Islamic State (ISIS) attack on the Iranian Majlis, avenged with IRGC missiles fired on ISIS command posts at Deir Al-Zour, Syria, that same month.
  • The Israeli attack (no date given) on the T4 airbase in Syria was, according to the video, avenged with an attack of 68 missiles on 10 military points in the Golan, in May 2018.
  • An attack by Iraqi Kurdish forces on Iranian forces at the Iran-Iraq border was avenged with IRGC missiles fired on Kurdish command posts in Iraq's Kurdistan province, in September 2018.
  • The September 22 terror attack at the IRGC military parade in Ahvaz will, according to the video, be avenged in Riyadh and Jerusalem.
UK accuses Iran of detaining innocents for ‘diplomatic leverage’
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Iran on Thursday of detaining innocent people as “an instrument of diplomatic leverage,” after pressing the case of a British-Iranian woman jailed in Tehran.

He was speaking after a “very, very frank discussion” with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

In an interview with Sky News television, Hunt raised the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is serving a five-year jail sentence for alleged sedition.

“It’s not just Nazanin,” he said, adding that the Iranian government was “detaining innocent people as an instrument of diplomatic leverage.”

“We can’t do that, and we can’t accept it. We’ve just been talking about Russia — even Russia doesn’t do this.”
MEMRI: Egyptian Writer Laments Extinction Of Egypt's Jewish Community, Extends New Year Greetings To Egypt's Few Remaining Jews
In a September 13, 2018 article in the daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, Fatima Na'out, an Egyptian poet, writer and translator, praised the important role played by Egypt's Jews in their country and lamented their exodus from Egypt in the mid-20th century. Extending New Year greetings to the few Jews who still remain in Egypt, she also apologized to Egypt's Jews, saying that they contributed greatly to the country's culture and economy and were driven to emigrate by "blind and ignorant thugs" who persecuted them with violence and hatred following the establishment of the state of Israel. She noted that the tautological title of her article – "The Egyptian Jews of Egypt" – is directed at her compatriots who do not understand that Jews can be loyal Egyptians just like them and that there is no connection between an individual's religion and his national identity and citizenship.

The following are translated excerpts from her article:[1]
"Is there anything wrong with the title [of this article – 'The Egyptian Jews of Egypt']? Of course there is! It is nearly ungrammatical, because it confirms what is already confirmed and defines what is already defined. It's like saying 'the Egyptian farmers of Egypt' or 'the garden butterfly in the garden,' 'or the room of the house which is inside the house.' All these awkward expressions apply the same description to an item twice, which is not linguistically acceptable... Therefore, I apologize for the title of this article; it is not directed at linguists or historians, but at young people who do not know that there are Jews who are native Egyptian citizens and have nothing to do with Israel, and whose attitude towards Israel is one of renouncement, no different from the attitude of all us Egyptians towards the occupying Zionist entity.

"As a matter of fact, the Jews of Egypt paid dearly for the establishment of the state of Israel, for they were persecuted and exiled from their homeland, expelled from their homes by force, and their institutions and factories were torched. [The Jews] experienced various disasters, until they almost completely disappeared from the Egyptian landscape. The awkwardly-phrased title [of this article]... is directed as those who do not know that religious faith has nothing to do with [national] identity and citizenship, and that a citizen's [religious] beliefs do not detract from his civil rights.

"Here I must present a simple political fact to those who are unaware of it: An individual is entitled to citizenship in a given country based on one of the following principles: 1. The principle of land, which states that an individual is entitled to citizenship in the country of his birth, regardless of the nationality of his parents; 2. The principle of blood, which states that a person is entitled from birth to be a citizen of his father's homeland. 3. The principle of immigration, which states that an individual can be naturalized in a country to which he has immigrated if he meets the criteria of that country's immigration [laws] and if the host country agrees to grant him [citizenship]; 4. [In the case of Jews, there is also] the Law of Return, which applies to every Jew in the world, regardless of citizenship or country of birth, and grants him an Israeli passport the minute he sets foot in occupied Palestine.

"Here we must pause and reflect: Why did the Egyptian Jews who live among us today on Egyptian soil, and have only Egyptian citizenship, forego [the right to] an Israeli citizenship that would grant them unlimited privileges, and prefer to remain in Egypt? It does not take [great] intelligence or analysis to answer this question. [They did this] because they are loyal Egyptians who cleave to their Egyptian identity just as they cleave to their [religious] faith. This is the main point of my article: for me, the honor of being an Egyptian is the only meaning of Egyptian citizenship.

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