Wednesday, January 30, 2019

From Ian:

‘Antisemitic’ Amnesty International Campaign Targets Historic Jewish Sites in Israel, Watchdog Says
Human rights group Amnesty International has been criticized for pursuing a “discriminatory, antisemitic” campaign against digital tourism companies that publicize Jewish historical and cultural sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“Precisely because tourism to Israel is at an all time high, Amnesty International is targeting this sector,” Professor Gerald Steinberg — founder and president of the Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor — said in a statement on Tuesday. NGO Monitor noted that Airbnb, TripAdvisor,,, and were among the leading online tourism sites being targeted by Amnesty.

“Amnesty is specifically contesting Jewish historic connections to biblical sites, including in Jerusalem,” Steinberg said. “In essence, Amnesty faults Israel for preserving Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians.”

Earlier on Monday, Amnesty published a report titled, “The Tourism Industry and Israeli Settlements,” that accuses Israel of deliberately locating Jewish communities near major archaeological sites in the West Bank.

The report held that Israel had established a “settlement tourism industry” to help “sustain and expand” the Jewish presence in the territory, taken control of by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel’s interest in Jewish archaeology was based on making “the link between the modern State of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,” while “rewriting of history [which] has the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region,” Amnesty claimed.

Steinberg argued that in “the foreground of Amnesty’s campaign is a long history of antisemitism.”

Prof. Phyllis Chesler: The clever cognitive war strategy deployed against Israel
Following in UNESCO’s 2017 footsteps, Amnesty International has just released a Report which accuses Israel of trying to Judaize Jerusalem (!) According to Gerald Steinberg at NGO Monitor:

"On January 29, 2019, Amnesty International published “The Tourism Industry and Israeli Settlements,” a report alleging that “the Israeli government has political and ideological reasons for developing a tourism industry in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank.” According to Amnesty, “Israel has constructed many of its settlements close to archaeological sites … [as] part of an active campaign to normalize and legitimize Israel’s increasing control of the OPT.”

This publication is “part of a broader campaign of BDS to bolster the forthcoming UN BDS blacklist. Amnesty denies Jewish connections to historical sites – including in the Old City of Jerusalem – and in essence faults Israel for preserving Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians. (Further), by suggesting that foreign tourism to Israel is about supporting settlements, not about religious and/or historical interest, Amnesty International erases the Christian connection to the Holy Land."

The propaganda against Israel which desires its isolation and de-legitimization exists on every continent. It is deeply rooted and geographically expansive. The following is just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of daily, ongoing, campaigns against the Jews in cities all across America.

This past weekend, on January 26th, 2019, the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary sponsored its 21st Racial Justice Summit. The third panel of the day was titled “Rewriting the Narrative: Reimagining the Future.” Someone in attendance wrote to me, in a small panic. She is afraid to be quoted by name but sent me a video of the third panel which, quite frankly, frightened and appalled her.

I have now viewed most of it. And I share her concern. Yes, Pittsburgh is where the abominable massacre of eleven Jews at prayer took place last fall. One might expect a heightened sensitivity, especially among justice-seeking Christian theologians. One’s hopes would be misplaced. Sadly, few progressives are willing to understand the connection between Jews and Jewish Israel, or the way in which the issue of Palestine is being used to defame Jews and incite large populations of aggrieved justice-seekers to potentially exterminate the Jews—yet again.

In Pittsburgh, it’s not only what invited panelist Susan Abulhawa, identified as a Palestinian-American novelist, said. It’s also who the moderator was. The same Big Lies, are, alarmingly everywhere, and increasing at warp speed. According to Abulhawa:
"Initially, when Zionism was born in Europe it was a political movement that was conceived by wealthy Jewish businessmen in eastern Europe and the idea was to establish a Jewish homeland. When all these Zionists started immigrating to Palestine and eventually took over the country and kicked the indigenous people out, the narrative was that these Europeans who had been in Europe for thousands of years, who had documented European history for thousands of years, in literature, and art, and culture, in science and politics, that these people were actually indigenous to Palestine and the indigenous people who had been there were, in fact, the squatters…"

JPost Editorial: TIPH off
The letter “T” in the acronym TIPH stands for “Temporary” but the Temporary International Presence in Hebron has been around continuously since 1997.

Originally, TIPH was established in the tense atmosphere that followed the despicable massacre of Muslim worshipers in February 1994 at the Cave of the Patriarchs by Baruch Goldstein, a resident of nearby Kiryat Arba. That first mission really was temporary, lasting for only three months, from May until August. In 1997, TIPH was mandated with monitoring compliance with the agreement that split Hebron as part of the Oslo Accords. Some 80% of the city, home to more than 220,000 Palestinians, was handed over to the Palestinian Authority and became known as H-1, while Israel maintained military control over the other 20%, called H-2, where some 1,000 Jews reside surrounded by Palestinians.

Its observers, all civilians, patrol the streets wearing their distinctive vests and produce reports focusing on alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinians.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would not be extending TIPH’s mandate, which was due for renewal at the end of the month.

Since the group was meant to be temporary, as its name suggests, under the Hebron Agreement it was determined that Israel and the Palestinians had to renew the organization’s mandate every six months. Although it has never been popular in Israel – and in particular has suffered poor relations with Jewish residents of Hebron – the monitoring organization’s mandate has until now been routinely and regularly renewed.

TIPH’s 64 international civilian observers, who operate alongside some 13 local members, come from Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. The presence of Turkish observers has been considered particularly absurd by Israelis, who say it prevents even the pretense of objectivity.

“We will not allow an international force to act against us,” Netanyahu said in a statement to the press announcing his decision to kick out TIPH.
World Council of Churches pulls observers from Hebron, fearing settlers
The World Council of Churches plans to pull its observers from the West Bank city of Hebron fearing that they are no longer safe from “harassment” by Jewish residents of the city and the IDF.

The announcement follows Israel’s decision to end the 22-year old observer mission, known as the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, which had 64 civilian participants from Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey that participated.

TIPH had operated in Hebron through an agreement that was signed twice a year by the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The observers reported on incidents of alleged human rights abuses by Jewish resident of the city and the IDF against Palestinians.

The WCC said that its program was “among several non-governmental and peacemaking organizations that have reached a critical point this week as a result of alleged harassment by settlers and by Israeli soldiers.”

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit said, “The WCC accompaniers are currently prevented from fulfilling their role as a peaceful protective presence for residents in Hebron,” said Tveit.

“We must strengthen our resolve for the pursuit of just peace, and not allow harassment or threats to keep us from this pursuit.”
UK's Jeremy Hunt: Israel is 'an 'inspiration,' 'beacon of democracy'
Speaking at the Conservative Friends of Israel's Annual Parliamentary Reception on Tuesday, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt cited the Jewish State as a source of insipiration and a model of a successful modern country, despite the "many challenges it faces at its borders."

Hunt went on to say that "UK support for Israel’s right to self defense is absolutely unconditional."

"There's a historic friendship between the United Kingdom and Israel," that started with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, Hunt said, adding that the countries' shared history has been one of "strong, deep-rooted friendship based on a huge historic admiration for what the State of Israel has achieved against all the odds."

Despite many enemies committed to its "total destruction and elimination," Israel "has thrived as with as a modern high-tech country with a huge amount of prosperity."

Pledging a commitment to stamping out anti-Semitism, the official said "if we don't learn the lessons of history, history would judge us very very poorly indeed."

"We must stand together as we both face challenges going forward. Israel's right to self defense is absolutely unconditional: we will support Israel in that. We are strong believers in a two-state solution and ultimately finding a way for Jewish people, the Israeli people and the Palestinian people to live side by side in harmony."

"Sometimes we disagree with what Israel does but we do so from the vantage point of friends and supporters of Israel."

"Because of our great friendship, trade is mushrooming between our two countries, and while I don't want to overdraw the comparisons between Israel and post-Brexit Britain, it's a great inspiration to see how you flourished despite the many challenges on your borders."
UK Foreign Sect: 1939 cap on Jews’ immigration to Palestine a ‘black moment’
Jeremy Hunt has described Britain’s 1939 white paper capping immigration to Palestine as a “black moment” in history, in what is believed to be the first such remarks by a British foreign secretary.

The Secretary of State made the comments in his first address to Conservative Friends of Israel since succeeding Boris Johnson, before rushing back to the House of Commons for key votes on Brexit.

Hunt hailed the “on the whole very strong relationship” between Britain and Israel that started with the Balfour Declaration, but in a stark moment of candour said there had been “black moments” including the white paper, which limited the number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine to 75,000 for five years during the Jewish world’s darkest hour.

He said “there have been some black moments when we have done the wrong thing such as the 1939 White Paper which capped the number of visas issued to Jews wanting to go to the British mandate of Palestine.”

Only last week, at an event when the foreign secretary unveiled a statue of British Holocaust hero Frank Foley, Israel’s Ambassador Mark Regev had recalled how his aunt had been denied a visa as a result of the white paper. Hunt told the audience in Parliament that he would never forget honouring the wartime hero, adding “if we don’t learn lessons history will judge us very poorly indeed”.

In his speech, Hunt pledged that Israel’s right to defend itself was “absolutely unconditional”. But he made no direct reference to a call from his opposite number Emily Thornberry to halt arms sales if the Jewish state expands its operations against Iranian targets from Syria to Iraq.
JCPA Amb. Dore Gold: Israel and the Arabs Have Common Interests
Amb. Dore Gold discussed the relationship between Israel and the Gulf States at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Jan. 28:

It is clear as day that Israel and many of the Sunni Arab states have common interests. The more westward you go, in the direction of Egypt, the interests are more in the direction of countering ISIS. The more eastward you go, you find that the common thread is Iran. We and the Arabs have incredibly close common interests.

There's a desire always for public expression of that kind of identity of interest, but frankly we're doing very well working quietly. If we sometimes can have a public expression, it would be extremely useful because it would say to the Iranians, "You're not succeeding in vetoing the relationship between Israel and the Gulf states."

Anyone who studied what influences Saudi Arabia knows it is their role as protector of the holy sites of Islam in the Hijaz. Jerusalem is a subject which they don't have a lot of specialization on. It is also a subject that they'd rather stay away from. I don't think that making Jerusalem the center of their attention is reflective of how the Saudi leadership would operate in the peace process.

Their attention will still be drawn to the Iranian threat and their concern that the American defense umbrella may not be there in the future.

Netanyahu to visit India on February 11th- report
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will make a day-long visit to India on February 11th, Indian news agency the Press Trust of India reported on Wednesday.

Netanyahu made a state visit to India in January 2018.Prime Minister Netanyahu will be in India only for a day on February 11 and a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been confirmed. Other details are being worked out," PTI quoted sources as saying.

After a welcoming ceremony last January, Netanyahu said he was was “deeply moved” by the honor “shown the people of Israel and the State of Israel” in the welcoming ceremony held in the morning at the presidential residence.

The pair praised a "new era" of cooperation between the two countries during the state visit and signed bilateral agreements in the fields of energy, cinema, aviation, cyber, mutual investments, according to Netanyahu's office.
Top Venezuelan opposition figure asks Jewish expats to return
A top Venezuelan opposition figure on Monday asked Jews who left the country for Israel and other countries over the past years, to return and join the effort to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

Maria Corina Machado, the national coordinator of the center-right Vente Venezuela party, thanked Israel for recognizing National Assembly President Juan Guaido as the oil-rich nation’s president, and backed the reestablishment of ties between the countries.

“I want to reaffirm the valuable contribution the Jewish community has given to the development of Venezuela through decades. And even though many have been forced to leave our country, we want and expect that they come back to rebuild our nation,” she said in an English-language video statement given to Israeli public broadcaster Kan.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s leader on Sunday, drawing an almost instantaneous expression of gratitude from Guaido. The move followed the United States, Canada and most Latin American countries backing the upstart rival.
US Mideast envoy denounces PA support for Venezuela's Maduro
U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt on Tuesday condemned the Palestinian Authority's public show of support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, whom the United States would like to see replaced by the country's opposition leader, Juan Guaidó.

"The Palestinian leadership should be focused on providing a better future for Palestinians, but instead focuses on supporting the morally bankrupt Maduro who has stolen Venezuelans' future and destroyed the Venezuelan economy," Greenblatt said in a tweet.

Shortly after, Greenblatt tweeted again to note Hezbollah's support for the Venezuelan strongman.

"Not so strange bedfellows: #[Hezbollah] publicly supports #Venezuela's Maduro – a terrorist organization and a swindler who has harbored foreign terrorist groups and run Venezuela into the ground. Both are enemies of their people," he wrote.

On Sunday, Israel joined countries in South America and Europe and recognized Guaidó as the country's interim president.
Netanyahu holds talks with Russian officials on Syria ‘friction’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks Tuesday with Russian officials, seeking to avoid “friction” amid an Israeli campaign of air strikes aimed at keeping Iran from entrenching itself militarily in Syria.

Russian special envoy for Syrian affairs Alexander Lavrentiev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin met Netanyahu and top Israeli defense officials at the his office in Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“Among the issues discussed were Iran and the situation in Syria, and strengthening the security coordination mechanism between the militaries in order to prevent friction,” the PMO stated. “The Russian representatives reiterated Russia’s commitment to the maintenance of Israel’s national security.”

Netanyahu was joined by National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and Maj.-Gen. Aharon Haliva who heads the IDF’s Operations Directorate.

The two Russian officials arrived in Israel on Monday and first met with Foreign Ministry officials.

Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syria in the past few years against Iranian and Hezbollah targets, and the Jewish state and Russia have set up a “de-confliction” hotline aimed at avoiding accidental clashes.
‘Cancer cure’ doubted as Israeli team claims it can’t afford to publish findings
Foreign cancer specialists are criticizing claims by a team of Israeli researchers who say they have developed a concept that will pave the way to a cure for cancer, with one US expert dismissing it as likely “another in a long line of spurious, irresponsible and ultimately cruel false promises for cancer patients.”

The CEO of the company behind the research told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that it has not published its research in medical journals, as is the norm, because it “can’t afford” to do so, but that the results of its pre-clinical trials have been “very good.” Several Israeli experts contacted by The Times of Israel declined to comment on the claim, some precisely because they were not familiar with the research.

“We are working on a complete cure for cancer,” said Ilan Morad, the CEO and founder of the Nes Ziona-based startup Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), in an interview with The Times of Israel on Tuesday, echoing claims the firm made to the Jerusalem Post earlier this week. “We still have a long way to go, but in the end we believe we will have a cure for all kinds of cancer patients and with very few side effects.”

Morad added that “in a year’s time or so” the firm could start treating patients as part of clinical trials it hopes to begin if it raises the funds. The family of molecules it has developed, which are at the core of its ostensible path to a care, have been tested in Israeli pre-clinical trials on human cancer cells in a lab and on mice, Morad said, and found effective in targeting common cancers like lung cancer, colon cancer and head and neck cancers.
16-year old terrorist killed after attempting to stab guard near Jerusalem
A teenage female terrorist was killed after attempting to stab security forces at the Za’ayem checkpoint near Ma’aleh Adumim on the outskirts of Jerusalem on Wednesday morning, according to a police spokesperson.

The teenager, 16, lived in Ramallah and was in 11th grade.

The terrorist approached the checkpoint with a knife and tried to stab one of the security guards. The guards opened fire and the suspect was killed. The security guards were not injured.

The police commander of the Jerusalem district, Maj.-Gen. Yoram Halevi, assessed the situation on the ground and heightened security in the area.

“The rapid response and the operational determination of the security forces at the checkpoint undoubtedly prevented injury to the security forces and led to the rapid neutralization of the terrorist,” Halevi said. “Israel Police will continue to provide protection and security for residents of the capital and visitors.”
Third accomplice in 2016 murder of IDF soldier convicted
The last of three Palestinian minors was convicted as an accomplice to murder in the February 2016 Rami Levy supermarket stabbing spree in which Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman was killed and another victim was wounded.

The Judea Military Court, which handed down the conviction late Tuesday, will address sentencing at a later date.

Two other Palestinian minors have already been convicted of murder, but the conviction of the third minor was significant as it came despite the fact that he was prevented by the store’s staff from entering the store and taking part in the killing.

The identities of the three convicts remain under gag order because they are minors.

In the attacks at the Rami Levy supermarket in Sha’ar Binyamin in the eastern Binyamin region industrial area, two of the three minors followed through on a conspiracy to murder Weissman and also wounded a second man.
US Security Aid to Palestinians to End Thursday, Envoys Seek Workaround
American security aid for the Palestinian Authority was set to dry up on Thursday after it declined the money over concerns it could increase its exposure to US anti-terrorism lawsuits.

The loss of the some $60 million in annual funding would marks another tear in ties between the Trump administration and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and potentially undermines his security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank.

Diplomatic sources said Palestinian, US and Israeli officials were seeking a way to keep the money flowing despite Abbas’s decision to turn it down as of a Jan. 31 deadline set by Congress’ Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) of 2018.

The ATCA empowers Americans to sue foreign aid recipients in US courts over alleged complicity in “acts of war.”

Abbas’s administration, long accused by Israel of stoking Palestinian terrorist attacks, worries about such legal exposure. It denies encouraging any such acts.

“We do not want to receive financial aid, including aid provided to the security forces, so as not to be subject to the anti-terrorism law approved by Congress,” one Palestinian official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“The US administration was surprised by the Palestinian decision, and said it wanted to find a solution in order to continue aid to the Palestinian security services.”

Such a solution may include finding alternative funds within the CIA budget or amending US legislation, he said.
UN Palestinian refugee agency seeks $1.2 billion budget despite US cuts
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Tuesday appealed to nations to help it maintain a $1.2-billion budget in 2019 after it was hit last year by the withdrawal of US funding.

The organisation, known as UNRWA, was able to fully fund a budget of the same amount in 2018, despite a dramatic initial shortfall when the administration of US President Donald Trump announced it was withdrawing nearly all support.

“The campaign last year was successful,” agency chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl told reporters in Geneva.

“We closed the entirety of the shortfall, which was an almost existential shortfall of $446 million, … thanks to the remarkable and generous mobilization of member states” and others, he said.

The US, which was previously UNRWA’s largest contributor, last year cut a full $300 million in funding to UNRWA, and has said it will not repeat the $60 million it did provide.
Abbas accepts Hamdallah’s resignation, asks government to stay on for transition
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the resignation of his prime minister Tuesday, but asked the government to stay on until a new one is formed.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his government tendered their resignations earlier Tuesday, marking the end of a failed unity bid with rival Hamas.

Abbas accepted the resignations but assigned Hamdallah and his fellow ministers the task of maintaining the PA government’s operations until the formation of a new one, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

The government’s decision to resign 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, leaving out Hamas, a terror group that is the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the government’s resignation on Tuesday, 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.
Abbas freezes social security law after months of protests
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered a freeze on the implementation of a new social security law after months of protests against it.

Abbas announced the move late Monday, responding to demonstrators who had taken to the streets for months amid mass anger over the law, saying they did not trust Palestinian bureaucrats to manage their money.

The PA began implementing the law on January 15, requiring some business owners and their employees to pay part of their monthly salaries to the Palestinian Social Security Institution, which the legislation created.

The Ramallah-based government had planned to mandate the rest of the Palestinian private sector to make payments to the body at later dates.

In return for making at least 180 payments, the now-frozen version of the law said the Social Security Institution would deliver pensions to Palestinians in the private sector who have reached the age of 60.

It also said the institution would provide workplace injury insurance and maternity benefits to Palestinians in the private sector.
Khaled Abu Toameh: PLO factions: We won't participate in a new PA government
Two PLO groups announced on Tuesday that they will not participate in a new Palestinian Authority government because it will deepen divisions among the Palestinians and consolidate the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The announcement came shortly after Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah submitted the resignation of his government to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas later accepted the resignation and said he will begin consultations to form a new government consisting of PLO factions whose goal would be to prepare for new parliamentary elections.

"President Abbas has accepted the resignation and entrusted the government to serve as a caretaker government until the formation of a new one," said a statement issued by the PA president's office on Tuesday evening.

Hamdallah said that his government will continue to carry out its duties and responsibilities until the establishment of a new one. He also expressed hope that consultations with Palestinian groups about the formation of a new government would be successful and end quickly.

However, the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said they will not be part of a government that “solidifies divisions among” the Palestinians.
BBC News ignores PA government resignation
One might have thought that the resignation of a prime minister and his entire government would have merited at least a few words on the BBC News website, regardless of the location.

However, when the Palestinian Authority prime minister handed in his resignation on January 29th, BBC audiences saw no coverage whatsoever of that story.

Meanwhile, The BBC’s ‘Palestinian territories’ profile (last updated in December 2017) and timeline still tell audiences that in October 2017 “a government of national unity assumed control of Gaza public institutions” and “Hamas lets the Ramallah-based unity government take over public institutions in Gaza as part of a reconciliation process between the two rival administrations”, despite the fact that those statements are patently inaccurate.

Hizbullah Declares Its Support For Venezuelan President Maduro, Condemns U.S. Intervention In Venezuela's Affairs
Following U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as that country's legitimate president, not President Nicolas Maduro, Hizbullah declared its support for Maduro, condemned the "attempted overthrow" that it said was orchestrated by the U.S., and sent an official delegation to the Venezuelan Embassy in Beirut to express its support for Maduro.

This is not the first time Hizbullah has declared its backing for Maduro. In August 2018, it denounced an assassination attempt against Maduro and claimed that the U.S. was responsible for it.[1] Further, according to various reports, Maduro and his former vice president Tareck Zaidan El Aissami[2] have strong ties to Hizbullah and Iran.[3] According to an anti-Maduro Venezuelan member of parliament, Hizbullah owns two goldmines in the country that it uses to finance its terror activity.[4] Also, according to various reports, Hizbullah had links to the government in Venezuela even before Maduro was elected. In 2008 the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on two Venezuelan nationals, one of them a diplomat, for their Hizbullah connections.[5] There were also reports of Hizbullah involvement in drug trafficking under the patronage of senior members of the Venezuelan government.[6]

This report reviews Hizbullah's reactions to recent political events in Venezuela:

Hizbullah Announcement: The U.S. Is Behind The Attempt To Overthrow The Legitimate Government Of Venezuela
On January 24, 2019, following U.S. President Trump's recognition of Guaido as Venezuela's president instead of Maduro, Hizbullah declared its official support for Maduro. It stated in its declaration that it "condemns the flagrant American intervention, aimed at undermining the stability of Venezuela, and harshly condemns the attempt to overthrow the country's legitimate government – an attempt orchestrated and supported by the U.S. Hizbullah affirms its support for President Nicolas Maduro and his elected government... The entire world knows that the purpose of the intervention is not to protect democracy and freedom, as Washington claims, but rather to take control of the country's natural resources and to punish the patriotic countries for their political choices against America's American hegemony in the world."[7]

Hizbullah Parliamentary Faction Chairman: The U.S. Intervention Is A Disgrace That Should Be Obliterated From Human History
The following day, on January 25, 2019, a senior Hizbullah political delegation visited the Venezuelan Embassy in Beirut to express support for Maduro. The delegation included Hizbullah faction leader MP Mohammad Raad, Hizbullah foreign affairs chief MP Ammar Al Moussawi, and Hizbullah political council member Mahmoud Qamati. At the conclusion of the visit Raad said: "All the brothers in Hizbullah and Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah support the Venezuelan people and its free leadership... The American intervention harms the interests of the people and is a disgrace that should be obliterated from human history... The stand of the Venezuelan people against the American intervention is a powerful stand and it is unthinkable that we wouldn't support it."[8]
Economic Warfare Is Taking a Toll on Hizballah but Stricter Measures Are Necessary
Since January 2017, the Trump administration has taken a variety of steps not only to tighten sanctions on Iran, but also to sanction directly its Lebanese proxy Hizballah. Ali Bakeer argues that these measures, if strengthened further and aimed against both the terrorist group’s own financial empire and the financial pipeline from Tehran, can significantly weaken it:

[The] organizational structure and stretched regional agenda of Hizballah require huge financial capabilities. . . . Indeed, since 2006, Hizballah established itself as the second-largest employer in Lebanon after the Lebanese state. Although ideological [and] religious factors are important in securing the support of [Lebanese Shiites], it is mostly through money that Hizballah is able to carry out its agenda and sustain the loyalty and support of a large segment of Lebanese society. . . .

Since its establishment in the early 1980s, Hizballah relied heavily on money from Iran. However, during the last two decades, it has worked hard to diversify its sources of income. . . . To that end, the Shiite party built its own parallel economy inside Lebanon and [engaged] in economic and financial activities across several continents—from Africa to Latin America to Asia. Its activities as “a transnational criminal organization” [to use the U.S. Justice Department’s term] mainly include money laundering, construction, and contracting. . . .

Aware of its financial vulnerability, Hizballah recently slashed its expenditures and is encouraging many of its members and supporters to find jobs working for the Lebanese government. . .
Rouhani: Iran facing ‘greatest pressure and economic sanctions’ in 40 years
Iran currently is confronting “the greatest pressure and economic sanctions of the past 40 years,” the Islamic Republic’s President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, addressing crippling sanctions renewed by Washington last year.

In comments published on his official website, Rouhani stressed that “our problems are mainly due to pressure by the US and its followers, and the government and the Islamic system should not be blamed.”

He vowed that the nation would “endure” outside strong-arming efforts. “The US administration will definitely fail in its latest move against the Iranian nation,” he said. “Nobody can harm us as long as we follow the Supreme Leader.”

Rouhani spoke at a ceremony honoring the Islamic Republic’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as the country prepares to mark 40 years since the February 1979 Islamic revolution.

In May of last year US President Donald Trump decided to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. The move touched off a record drop in Iran’s currency, prompted an exodus of foreign firms, plunged the nation into a recession and renewed its economic isolation.

Trump called the accord “the worst deal ever” and said it had given the US nothing. The administration bashed the agreement for its sunset clauses that allow certain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to expire, its failure to prevent Iranian ballistic missile testing and its continued support of regional terror groups.

Rouhani on Wednesday said “Iran’s highest political pride in [recent] decades and centuries was Iran’s powerful talks with the six major powers, and the victories that were handed over to Iran in various areas in the talks. It will never be lost.”

He asserted that the international community was on Tehran’s side, saying “the entire world is condemning the US conspiracies against the Iranian nation and support Iran in this regard.”
Adviser to Macron: France can ‘be proud’ of track record on Iran
With the European Union set in a number of days to roll out a mechanism developed to enable companies to bypass US sanctions and do business with Iran, a senior adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron said that Europe has a track record on Iran that “we can be proud of.”

Etienne de Gonneville, the Strategic Affairs Adviser to Macron, said on Tuesday at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) annual conference in Tel Aviv that France is worried that by withdrawing from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal – which the Europeans are trying to salvage with an instrument called the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – the US may be sacrificing short term security gains of keeping Iran in the nuclear deal and preventing it from continuing to develop a military nuclear program, “for longer term goals that are respectable but for the moment vague and not clearly attainable.”

“The current maximize-pressure strategy proposed by our ally the United States is based on the assumption that Iran will continue to respect its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and that you can apply more and more pressure on the country without running the risk of the military program being resumed,” he said of the Iranian nuclear deal. “Our position is that we do not know that, and we do not want to take any risks.”

De Gonneville said that the French and European strategy towards Iran rests on four pillars: the continued implementation of the JCPOA; negotiating a long term framework for the Iranians’ nuclear program, discussions that began with the US before it withdrew from the JCPOA in May; a curb on Iran’s missile program; and a limitation of Iran’s destabilizing regional influence.

“On all those fronts, Europe has been active in the past months, we have a track record we can be proud of,” he said. “Unfortunately we are spending a lot of our time, a lot of our energy in trying to maintain Iran in the JCPOA and make sure it will respect its obligations.”

One of the ways Europe hopes to do this is through the SPV that will facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran in a bid to circumvent US sanctions and give Iran benefits from remaining inside the JCPOA.

The US has warned the EU that it will face penalties and fines if they try to bypass the US sanctions.

De Gonneville listed the Iranian nuclear file as third on France’s list of priorities for the Mideast in 2019.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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


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