Tuesday, January 29, 2019

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Preparing for Peace - The Palestinian Way
If, in the eyes of the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, normalization with Israel is an act of "treason," a "crime" and a "big political and national sin," the Trump administration may well be wasting its time and prestige on a peace plan that envisions peace between the Arab countries and Israel, at least at this time.

To achieve peace with Israel, Palestinian leaders need to prepare their people -- and all Arabs and Muslims -- for peace and compromise with Israel, and not, as they are now doing, the exact opposite. Shaming and denouncing Arabs who visit Israel is hardly a way to prepare anyone for peace, or the possibility of any compromise.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration and the international community would be doing a real service to the Palestinians if they start paying attention to assaults on public freedoms, including freedom of the media, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Holding Palestinian leaders accountable for their systematic abuses of public freedoms, assaults on journalists and incitement is the only way to encourage badly needed moderate and pragmatic Palestinians and Arabs to speak out.
After Israel suspends Hebron observers, Palestinians call for permanent UN force
A top Palestinian official on Tuesday asked the United Nations to deploy a permanent international force in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a day after Israel said it would not extend the operations of a temporary observer force in the city of Hebron after more than 20 years.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced Monday it would not extend the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, an international observer group, following a number of incidents over the past year in which its members scrapped with settlers in the flashpoint West Bank city.

“We will not allow the continuation of an international force that acts against us,” Netanyahu said.

Palestinian diplomat Saeb Erekat responded in a statement that the UN should “guarantee the safety and protection of the people of Palestine not only ensuring the continued presence of TIPH in Hebron but also to deploy permanent international presence in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, until the end of Israel’s belligerent occupation.”

Erekat called Netanyahu’s announcement “an additional step towards Israel’s nullification of all signed treaties” and “further evidence that Israel is a rogue state that abhors international legitimacy and places itself above and beyond international order and the international community.”
Israel Boots Hebron Monitors, Media Boots Context
Israel announced that it will not renew the mandate for a group of international peace monitors stationed in Hebron.

The UN-affiliated Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) has been stationed in Hebron for more than 20 years. Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy and Turkey have contributed civilians to act as monitors on the ground in Hebron since the organization’s establishment in established in 1994 following the Tomb of the Patriarchs massacre, during which Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians at the holy site. Because the Hebron monitors’ mission was originally meant to be “temporary,” its mandate had to be renewed twice a year by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The announcement to send the Hebron monitors packing was picked up the three main international wire services: Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse (AFP) — none of whom shed any light on the questions of why.

So why are the Hebron monitors no longer welcome? Why is this happening now?

Reuters and AFP cited vague Israeli accusations of TIPH bias but reported that the Prime Minister’s announcement didn’t offer any reason for the move. AP’s four-paragraph piece didn’t even say that.

You’d think the nasty Israelis booted out the observers for no good reason.

On fourth try, Senate clears major hurdle to vote on pro-Israel, anti-BDS bill
The fourth time was the charm as the U.S. Senate finally cleared a major procedural hurdle on Monday evening to vote on a bill on Republican-introduced legislation that, if enacted, would impose fresh sanctions on Syria, boost security cooperation with Israel and Jordan, and attempt to tackle the anti-Israel BDS movement domestically.

The final tally to invoke cloture was 74-19.

The Senators who voted against the motion included Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Mass.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.).

Of that group, Gillibrand and Warren have each filed paperwork to form an exploratory committee as they inch closer to formally running for president in 2020. Brown and Sanders have been considering a 2020 run, with Sanders mulling it for a second time since running unsuccessfully in 2016.

Senators such as Gillibrand, Van Hollen, Warren, Feinstein and Sanders have previously expressed opposition to anti-BDS legislation.

The Combating BDS Act says that state and local governments have the right to punish state or local contractors from engaging in boycotting Israel. Such a measure has come under fire from the American Civil Liberties Union, which has said that it would violate the First Amendment. Senators such as Gillibrand, Van Hollen, Warren, Feinstein and Sanders have also expressed opposition, citing the ACLU’s concerns.

The Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act rolls four bills into one.
NYTs: Prominent Democrats Form Pro-Israel Group to Counter Skepticism on the Left
Several prominent veteran Democrats, alarmed by the party’s drift from its longstanding alignment with Israel, are starting a new political group that will try to counter the rising skepticism on the left toward the Jewish state by supporting lawmakers and candidates in 2020 who stand unwaveringly with the country.

With polls showing that liberals and younger voters are increasingly less sympathetic to Israel, and a handful of vocal supporters of Palestinian rights arriving in Congress, the new group — the Democratic Majority for Israel — is planning to wage a campaign to remind elected officials about what they call the party’s shared values and interests with one of America’s strongest allies.

“Most Democrats are strongly pro-Israel and we want to keep it that way,” said Mark Mellman, the group’s president and a longtime Democratic pollster. “There are a few discordant voices, but we want to make sure that what’s a very small problem doesn’t metastasize into a bigger problem.”

The group, whose board includes former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and a former Clinton administration housing secretary, Henry Cisneros, will create a political action committee later this year and may engage in Democratic primaries, Mr. Mellman said. They also are planning an “early states project” with the goal of organizing pro-Israel Democrats in the first nominating states to lobby the party’s presidential hopefuls.

Aaron David Miller (Ha'aretz): No, Israel and America Aren't Breaking Up
In comparison with the behavior of its neighbors, Israel still looks pretty good. Between Syria's Assad, Lebanon's Hizbullah, the mullahcracy in Iran, Hamas in Gaza, and even aspects of Abbas' Palestinian Authority, particularly its pay-for-slay and the martyrs' fund, there aren't a lot of democrats or human rights champions.

Getting points for not being Assad isn't such a compliment. But let's be clear. In the wake of the Arab Spring, the rise of Islamic State, the Syrian civil war and Assad's use of chemical weapons, the gap between Israeli behavior and that of key actors in the Arab world on the violence/terror scale is only growing.

From the standpoint of the vast majority of U.S. politicians and officials, the case for a strong relationship with Israel is still pretty easy to make. With all its imperfections, Israel remains the only country in a violent and dysfunctional region where there is any evidence of a shared alignment of both values and interests with the U.S.

I can't tell you how many memos I wrote in the 1980s arguing that the Palestinian issue was central to regional stability and the protection of U.S. interests. But today, a rising Iran, the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the emergence of the jihadis, the melting down of at least three Arab states (Yemen, Libya, Syria), and internal challenges to others have not only pushed the Palestinians off center stage, but created increasing exhaustion and frustration with the Palestinians themselves.

The factors supporting a continued U.S.-Israeli relationship are strong: the influence of traditionally pro-Israel organizations; support for Israel among large numbers of Evangelical Christians; the enduring power, still, of a Democratic party that sees little profit in blasting Israel; the reality that the vast majority of elected representatives in the House and Senate aren't sent to Washington to deal with the Israel issue; and there's still a political price to be paid for criticizing Israel.

Until I see a genuine debate in the House and Senate on Israel with large numbers of members taking positions that would have been unthinkable in previous eras, count me as yet to be persuaded.
Knesset Scraps Delegation to Ireland Over Pro-BDS Bill
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein scrapped a Knesset trip to Ireland on Monday due to an Irish bill that would prohibit commercial activity connected to areas that were outside Israel’s pre-1967 territory.

“It’s not surprising that Ireland is once again looking to hurt and boycott Israel,” said Edelstein. “The law to boycott Judea and Samaria has serious repercussions for relations between the countries. Therefore, I instructed to cancel the MK delegation to Ireland that was meant to take place in March.”

“We are happy to take the time to go to a country that wants to cooperate with all of Israel and not just parts of it, instead of wasting our time in a country that obsessively looks for ways to hurt us,” he added.

The Irish parliament advanced a bill last week that would make Ireland the first European Union nation to criminalize doing business beyond the pre-1967 lines, including eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Violators could be subject to a fine of almost $285,000 or five years in prison.
Angela Merkel: Israel Has "Right" to Defend Itself Against Iran in Syria
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israeli public radio that it was "important and right" that Israel defends itself from Iranian forces in Syria.

"Iran has policies that are threatening to Israel," Merkel told Kan Reka radio. Asked about recent Israeli airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, she said "Israel must secure its existence."

Germany was also working to ensure that Iranian forces do not approach the Golan Heights near the Israeli border, she added.

'Wipe Israel off the Earth'

Israel, which rarely comments on its military operations in Syria, admitted last week that its warplanes had struck elite Iranian troops in Syria.

After the strike, the head of Iran's air force reportedly said his soldiers were ready to "wipe Israel off the Earth."

Israel fears that Iran, which, along with Russia, is allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad, could build up a military presence near its border.
Our right to UN membership was ratified in 1947, Palestinians say
The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations said Monday that the day will come when "obstacles" in the Security Council to full U.N. membership will be removed "but that day is not today."

The main hurdle is the United States, a veto-wielding Security Council member that insists the Palestinians only gain full membership in the United Nations after negotiating a peace deal with Israel.

"We disagree with them on that," Ambassador Riyad Mansour told a group of journalists. "We believe that our statehood, and our admission, is an innate right for the Palestinian people … to exercise it alone. It is not open for negotiation with anyone – nor will we ask for permission from anyone."

Mansour said the legal right for Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations was formalized in the 1947 General Assembly resolution that partitioned British-ruled Palestine into "independent Arab and Jewish states."

Israel was accepted as a U.N. member, he said, and Palestine "will continue fighting for that right."

The Palestinians initially had observer status at the U.N., but in 2012 the 193-member General Assembly raised their status to an "observer state," giving the Palestinian Authority a green light to join international organizations. Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority became chair of the largest voting bloc at the U.N. – the 134-nation Group of 77.

Mansour stressed that "negotiation is different than expressions of self-determination."

In reversal, Defense Ministry says man killed in 2015 was a terror victim
The Defense Ministry on Tuesday declared that an Israeli man beaten to death two years ago was a victim of terror, reversing two previous decisions that did not grant such recognition.

David Bar-Kapara, a resident of Rehovot, was fatally beaten near Pedaya, a village in ventral Israel, in 2015 by two West Bank Palestinian cousins.

Police and the Shin Bet security service determined that the cousins set out to rob Bar-Kapara because they believed he was wealthy, but his family has always insisted it was a terror attack. Bar-Kapara’s recognition as a terror victim means his family will be eligible for benefits.

In a statement on Tuesday, the body responsible for determining whether an individual is a terror victim stated that the decision was made on the basis of findings revealed in the course of the convictions of the two men that showed “the accused resorted to exceptional and cruel violence against the deceased.”
Vandals desecrate Jerusalem synagogue, throw Torah scrolls on floor
Vandals broke into a synagogue in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel overnight Monday and damaged the prayer house, throwing Torah scrolls and other Jewish artifacts onto the floor.

“We arrived this morning for prayer and we saw the synagogue completely upside-down,” worshiper Yisrael Levy told the Ynet news site. “The burglars tried to break into the ark and when they did not succeed, they cut into it and threw all the Torah scrolls on the floor,” he said, referring to the ornate cabinet where the scrolls are kept.

Levy, who serves as a lay leader for the Siach Yisrael French-speaking community, said there was no friction between worshipers and people outside the community, adding that there are no security cameras located nearby.

Many members of the community are French immigrants to Israel, Hadashot TV news reported, saying they had left France to escape anti-Semitism and felt they were now experiencing it in Israel.

Police said in a statement that a forensic team was immediately sent to the scene and an investigation into the incident has been opened. They later announced the formation of special task force to investigate the attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement saying he was “shocked” by the attack, adding that he hoped the perpetrators would soon be caught and brought to justice.
Israeli party introduces revolutionary 'direct democracy' app
The new Israeli political party Yashar has developed a first-of-its-kind mobile app to facilitate communication between party members and their Knesset representatives.

Bills submitted to the Knesset will be loaded onto the app so that party members can decide whether to vote yay or nay.

Party members vote via the app, and the party's representatives will cast their ballots in the Knesset in line with the result of the app vote.

Yashar is one of several new parties to join the crowded field in the upcoming Israeli national elections.

"The party presents a liberal democratic platform, including a comprehensive regional framework for the resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict," Yashar party advisor Ran Fadut told The Jerusalem Post.

Fadut also said the party supports the official recognition of all Jewish denominations, civil marriage and public transport on Shabbat. (h/t Zvi)
Haaretz’s Mordechai Kremnitzer Can’t Pass On the Weimar Comparison
Haaretz contributor Mordechai Kremnitzer uses the occasion of the manslaughter indictment of a Jewish teen accused of throwing a rock which killed Palestinian woman Aisha Mohammed Rabi to compare Israel to Weimar Germany, a smear that he bases on the false suggestion that Palestinians suspected of the same crime against Jews are invariably charged with murder.

In his Jan. 25 op-ed, the senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute writes (“Waiving Murder Charge in Killing of Palestinian, Israel Fails to Deter Next Jewish Terrorist”):
We have become used to the privilege accorded to those who kill Arabs in the course of security operations… they are only found guilty of manslaughter… Does such a privilege… now also excuse the acts of civilians who break the law, as long as they are good Jews?

Kremnitzer’s implication is clear: Arabs who kill Jews by throwing rocks at their cars are charged with murder, while Jews who do the same against Arabs are only charged with manslaughter.

Kremnitzer reinforces this notion, stating later in the article: “Law enforcement agencies must treat everyone equally.”

And further on comes the Weimar comparison: “Israel is being put to the test. Is it committed to the equality of human life or is it tainted by the Weimar Republic syndrome…?”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Fatah raises Hamas ire after calling for new PA government in West Bank
Hamas said on Monday that attempts by its rivals in Fatah to form a new Palestinian Authority government will deepen the crisis between the two parties and deal a severe blow to efforts to end divisions among the Palestinians.

On Sunday, the Fatah Central Council recommended that PA President Mahmoud Abbas form a government consisting of representatives of various PLO factions and independent figures. The government will replace the one headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah, said his faction has formed a special committee to negotiate with various Palestinian groups about the formation of a new government.

Hamdallah’s Ramallah-based cabinet is called the Palestinian National Consensus Government because it was established following understandings reached between Fatah and Hamas in 2014.

Fatah leaders said that in the wake of the continued crisis between their faction and Hamas, there was no point in keeping the present government in power. Some Fatah officials are also dissatisfied with the performance of Hamdallah and say they would like to see one of them replace him as prime minister.

Although he is affiliated with Fatah, Hamdallah – who previously served as president of An-Najah University in Nablus – does not hold any official position in the faction.

Fatah officials also believe that since their faction is the largest group in the PLO, it should have a strong presence in any government.

On Monday, Hamdallah signaled his readiness to step down any time he is requested to do so by Abbas.
Palestinian Authority PM Rami Hamdallah tenders resignation
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah tendered his resignation on Tuesday, a spokesman said.

“He and the rest of the government ministers resigned,” Ahmad Shami, one of Hamdallah’s spokesmen, told The Times of Israel, adding that PA President Mahmoud Abbas would now have to decide whether to accept their resignations.

Hamdallah’s decision to submit his resignation came two days after the Fatah Central Committee recommended the formation of a government made up of representatives of factions in the Palestine Liberation Organization and independent personalities.

Shami said that if Abbas accepts their resignations, Hamdallah and the other PA ministers would continue to serve until the formation of a new government.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the PA government’s resignation, saying it was aimed at paving the way for the establishment of “a new separatist government” that serves Abbas and his Fatah party’s interests.

Fatah Central Committee Member Azzam al-Ahmad said on Sunday that the Palestinians planned to form a new government in response to Hamas not handing over the Gaza Strip to the PA.
PMW: PA university awards jailed murderer with honorary certificate
Karim and Maher Younes are Israeli Arab terrorists serving a 40-year sentence for having kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1980. They are among the Palestinian Authority's so-called "veteran" prisoners, and as such are glorified tremendously by the PA. The fact that they have both "endured" 36 years in prison was celebrated by the PA this month.

"Under the auspices" of PA Chairman Abbas, the Tulkarem district held a "rally of solidarity" in Maher Younes' honor with the participation of Fatah Deputy Chairman and Abbas' representative Mahmoud Al-Aloul, Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, Tulkarem District Governor Issam Abu Bakr, Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr, and PA-funded Prisoners' Club Chairman Qadura Fares.

At the event, Abbas' deputy Al-Aloul "conveyed the blessings of President [Abbas] and the leadership to prisoner Maher Younes, his family, and all of our heroic prisoners." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 20, 2019]

It was also announced at the event that the PA's Al-Istiqlal University in Jericho - the Palestinian Academy for Security Sciences - is venerating murderer Maher Younes and awarding him with an honorary certificate:

"The board of governors of Al-Istiqlal University has decided to present prisoner Maher Younes with an honorary certificate in military science as a sign of appreciation for his role and sacrifice."

Commemorating the anniversary of Karim Younes' arrest, official PA TV honored him in a filler that it broadcast several times. It included this poster of him, referring to him and other terrorist prisoners as "brave":
Mother to murderer son: “You did nothing wrong… On the contrary, you bring us pride”
TRANSCRIPT: Terrorist murderer Karim Younes' mother: "He [Karim Younes] is the one that strengthens my endurance: 'Mom, I didn’t do [anything wrong] – I didn't steal. I didn't harass a woman. I did nothing for you to be ashamed of. On the contrary, mom.' He always encourages me… I told him: 'Don't worry... You did nothing wrong.' ... [To all his fellow prisoners I say:] 'Don't despair and don't worry. You did nothing wrong that harms your families or [causes] them to be ashamed of your actions. On the contrary, you bring us pride.'” Official PA TV reporter: "By becoming a symbol of adherence to the [Palestinian] cause and the land, he has turned into a source of pride for his town 'Ara within the Green Line, and to all of Palestine." [Official PA TV News, Jan. 6, 2019] Karim Younes - Israeli Arab serving a 40-year sentence for kidnapping and murdering Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1980 together with his cousin Maher Younes. Younes was originally sentenced to life in prison, but Israeli President Shimon Peres reduced his sentence in 2012. In May 2017 Younes was appointed by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the Fatah Central Committee.

Young relatives of murderer dream of meeting him; PA TV: He is a role model for children
TRANSCRIPT: Official PA TV reporter: "The prisoners' pride and the symbol of resolve and undefeated willpower - [Younes] is first not only in the length of his imprisonment, but also in his personality and his determination…" Terrorist murderer Karim Younes' nephew: "My name is Karim Younes, after my uncle Karim. One of my life's dreams is that I’ll be able to see my uncle Karim…" Official PA TV reporter: "The pride that Karim has sown in his family members and all Palestinians has taken root in the children of his family and beams love and appreciation for him and his personality. Meeting with him has become their dream, wish, and hope for them." Terrorist Karim Younes’ brother Nadim Younes: "The children don't forget… My young daughter who is in first grade, said to her mother: 'When will I be in fifth grade?' Her mother said: 'Why fifth grade and not sixth grade or high school?' Her answer was: 'Because you told us that in fifth grade my uncle Karim will come out [of prison].' She connects everything to her uncle Karim, to prisoners, and to events that are connected to the cause of the Palestinians..." Official PA TV reporter: "How can Karim Younes not be a role model and a dream for these children, and how can he not be the greatest headline of the day?" [Official PA TV, Good Morning Jerusalem, Jan. 11, 2019]

Jews pass on evil in their genes, humanity will never be able to live with them, says PA TV preacher
TRANSCRIPT: Sheikh Osama Al-Tibi: "These are the Jews who haven’t changed throughout history… These are the Jews who expose their fangs whenever they get the chance. They are causing devastating corruption throughout the land… We must mention… the truth about these Jews, which Allah wrote in his book [the Quran] Among the Jews’ characteristics is that they have offended Allah... They murdered the prophets.... They strove to kill Prophet [Muhammad]… Another characteristic is that they are cursed, and they have been denied Allah’s mercy… And among their vile characteristics is that they have breached contracts, conventions, and agreements. 'So for their breaking of the covenant We cursed them' [Quran]. 'And made of them apes and pigs and slaves of Taghut' [Quran]. These are the Jews… Always fighting, always corrupting, always scheming, and always plotting against humanity – not just against the Muslims, but rather against all humanity… And another characteristic is that Allah has imposed on them humiliation and misery… So how did Allah curse them, the Jews at the time of Prophet [Muhammad], since these things [sins] were done by their ancestors? The [Quran] commentators explained: … these malignant genes and cursed characteristics continue in them. They transfer them – Allah save us – from generation to generation. They inherit it from father to son… Humanity will never be able to live together with them. And that’s why, my brothers, even Europe, America, and others have spit them out, down to the last one… Our prophet [Muhammad] informed us [that] at the end of time the Muslims will fight the Jews until the Jews hide behind a stone or a tree… The tyranny of the Jews did not just reach humans, but also the inanimate objects and all creatures: 'Until the Jews hide behind a stone or a tree, and the stone or a tree will say: 'Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him' ... Allah, strike your enemies, the enemies of the religion, count them and kill them one by one, and do not leave even one."

Hamas says Egypt will reopen Gaza crossing for 3 days
Hamas on Monday said Egypt will briefly open its border with the Gaza Strip in both directions for the first time in three weeks.

The Rafah crossing will operate for three days starting Tuesday, Gaza's Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Egypt has kept the crossing shut for outbound Palestinians since the Palestinian Authority withdrew its forces earlier this month in a dispute with Hamas.

The Islamic terrorist group seized power in Gaza in 2007 but allowed the Western-backed Palestinian Authority to operate the crossing in a 2017 reconciliation agreement that has since unraveled.

Rafah is the main gate to the outside world for the Gaza Strip's 2 million residents.
JCPA: The Rocky Marriage of Convenience between Russia and Iran in Syria
The tensions between Iran and Russia about Iran’s continued presence and the nature of its activities in Syria are expected to continue and even worsen. For now, both countries are successful in keeping the tensions in a low media profile, but occasionally they rise to the surface as they did this past week after the air force attack and previous attacks that resulted in many Revolutionary Guard casualties. In recent days there were also unconfirmed reports of fighting in various areas in Syria between armed forces loyal to Iran (Syrian Army Division 4) and those loyal to Russia.

In the short-medium term, both countries share an interest in shoring up the regime of Bashar Al-Assad. However, the day after stabilizing the regime, the controversies and opposing long-term interests of the two countries will float to the surface. Iran considers Syria another forward base on the front alongside Lebanon for confronting Israel. This could lead to instability and hurt Russian interests in establishing a permanent and stable presence in the Mediterranean region (including Libya).

At this stage, the differences of opinion between Moscow and Tehran about the nature of Iran’s presence in the Syrian arena do not influence bilateral political, economic, and military cooperation (weapons procurement) between the two countries. Russia will not join the U.S. sanctions move against Iran and will support the nuclear deal. However, in the long run, the growing tensions and gaps regarding future policy in Syria may break the Iranian-Russian marriage of convenience and erode the current broader and common strategic interests of the two countries in the region and even affect their bilateral relations.
After Holocaust Commemoration at UN, ‘It’s Time for Member States to Take Stand Against Iran’s Threats,’ Says Israeli Envoy Danny Danon
After Iran marked International Holocaust Memorial Day by once again threatening the Jewish state with a war of “elimination,” Israel’s United Nations envoy said on Monday he “expected more” from the UN’s member states when it came to condemning the Tehran regime’s rhetoric.

Asked in an interview with The Algemeiner whether the UN was sufficiently aware of the antisemitism underpinning Iran’s statements about Israel, Ambassador Danny Danon highlighted the importance of individual countries speaking out.

“I don’t think you can generalize and say ‘the UN,'” Danon remarked. “You have different organs, you have the member states, you have the secretariat.” He emphasized that in his speech at a special UN General Assembly session marking Holocaust Memorial Day earlier on Monday, he had been speaking “mainly to the member states, because I expect more from them.”

“I expect them to speak out loud when they hear Iran’s leaders threatening Israel, when they see the writing that threatens Israel with destruction on Iran’s missiles,” Danon said. “I think it is about time that all member states take a stand against Iran.”

Danon noted that in his remarks to the General Assembly, he had spoken of the importance of learning the lessons of the Holocaust. “We cannot forget what the Holocaust was all about,” he stated. “That’s why in my speech, I said that we can learn the lessons, but we should not compare the Holocaust to any other genocides, or any other problems we are facing today. It’s important for people to learn from the Holocaust without comparing the Holocaust to today’s reality.”
Iran attacks Israel in cybersphere ‘daily,’ Netanyahu charges
Iranian hackers target Israel every day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged at a cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

“Iran attacks Israel on a daily basis,” he told a gathering of government officials, cybersecurity experts and entrepreneurs at the CyberTech conference. “We monitor these attacks, we see these attacks and we foil these attacks all the time.”

Israeli officials have long accused Iran of seeking to hack important systems, as well as voiced concerns that it could try to meddle in the April 6 elections. The Islamic Republic has also been named by other Western powers as a rising force in cyberwarfare.

Meanwhile, Tehran’s nuclear program has reportedly been the target of several powerful attacks by Israel and the United States,

In his Tuesday speech, Netanyahu also hailed Israel’s cybersecurity experience and general technology prowess, saying they created diplomatic inroads for the nation.

“Every single county is talking to us about cyber,” Netanyahu said.

Turkey: Imprisoning Dissidents while Bidding for EU Membership
Erdogan did not hide the fact that his statements promising "freedom of faith, freedom of thought and freedom of opinion" were part of his "preparations for the 2019 local elections." The Turkish president did, however, hide the fact that his words were completely false.

On December 19, Prof. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for being one of 2,212 signatories to an "Academics for Peace" petition in 2016. The petition called on the Turkish government to cease its violence against the Kurds in southeastern Turkey. Fincanci is one of 429 academics who, as of December 19, have stood on trial since December 5.

Erdogan was not telling the truth when he declared that everyone in Turkey would enjoy "freedom of faith, freedom of thought and freedom of opinion." In fact, Turkish jails and prisons are so packed with people imprisoned for expressing their beliefs, that the government just announced it will be building 228 more prisons over the next five years to accommodate the overflow.

Simultaneously, Turkey is stepping up its decades-long bid to become a member of the European Union. As part of this bid, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul announced on December 11 that he would be unveiling a new strategy for judicial reform. Under no circumstances should the EU allow itself to be duped by such a transparently deceptive and deceitful move.

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