Monday, April 08, 2019

From Ian:

David Singer: Hashemite Rule in Jordan on Collision Course with Trump and Israel
The founding Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Charter in 1964 specifically excluded any PLO claim to sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.

In the 1967 Six Day War Israel captured Judea and Samaria from Jordan. The PLO – claiming Jordan and Israel to be one indivisible territorial unit – removed its non-claim to sovereignty from the revised 1968 Charter.

In September 1970 the PLO unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Jordan’s Hashemite ruler King Hussein. Israel helped save Hussein.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty 1994 (Peace Treaty) – which has withstood many events that could have seen its termination.

That Treaty is again under threat – as Jordan has:
  • indicated it is not prepared to renew an expired 25-year lease of Jordanian sovereign territory farmed by Israelis and
  • given the PLO 40% representation on the body charged with administering the Moslem Holy Sites in Jerusalem – breaching the Washington Declaration and the Peace Treaty.
Jordan’s resistance to negotiating with Israel on Trump’s plan could see Trump shelving it and abruptly ending the 2018 five years $1.275 billion America–Jordan Memorandum of Understanding underpinning Jordan’s security and stability.

The PLO – as in 1970 – is waiting in the wings as current ongoing unrest in Jordan is destabilizing continuing Hashemite rule there.

Abdullah might find that spurning Trump and Israel could see him facing the PLO on his own.

Yisrael Medad: TransJordan, 1933
Full Text:
A strong fight for the right of Jews to settle in Transjordania was put up at the last session of the League of Nation’s Mandates Commission, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today, although minutes of the session will not officially appear before September. The fight was conducted mainly by the Dutch representative, D. Van Rees, vice-chairman of the Mandates Commission, who demanded an explanation of the British Government’s opposition to Jewish settlement of Transjordania.

Van Rees emphasized that the mandate does not exclude Jewish immigration in the Transjordan area, and he indicated that the population of Transjordania is in favor of Jewish settlement there. Van Rees pointed out that Transjordania is double the size of Palestine, but has only 300,000 inhabitants at present, while Palestine has 1,000,000.

LAND SALE PROHIBITION

“Besides, why prohibit sale of land there to Jews when the Emir Abdullah of Transjordania desires it?” he asked.

He also pointed out that many Jews living in Palestine at present are not Palestinians, but are still subjects or citizens of countries belonging to the League of Nations. Considering the principle of equality for the citizens or subjects of all countries which are members of the League, it would be impossible to prevent these persons from settling in Transjordania, Van Rees stated.
Evelyn Gordon: How Israel's Electoral System Brings the Country's Fringes Into Its Center
Like Haviv Rettig Gur in “How and Why Israelis Vote,” I, too, think the advantages of Israel’s parliamentary system outweigh its disadvantages, and for essentially the same reason: because it keeps a great many people in the political system who would otherwise remain outside it.

Critics of the system’s plethora of small parties—as Gur notes, no fewer than 43 parties have been vying for Knesset seats in this year’s election—maintain that it should be streamlined and redesigned so that only big parties would be able to enter the Knesset. In that case, the critics argue, people who currently vote for small parties would simply switch their votes to large ones.

No doubt, some voters would do so—but many others would not. There are at least three groups among whom turnout would plummet if niche parties became by definition unelectable: Arabs, Ḥaredim (including some ḥaredi Zionists), and the protest voters who, in every election, propel a new “fad” party into the Knesset. (In 2015, as Gur writes, the fad party was Kulanu. This year, it’s been Moshe Feiglin’s pro-marijuana, libertarian, right-wing Zehut party, which Gur doesn’t discuss although polls have consistently showed it gaining five to seven seats.)

Together, these three groups constitute roughly a third of the country, and all three are to some extent alienated from the mainstream. If they were no longer even participating in elections, that alienation would grow.

Why does this matter? In answering that question, I’ll focus mainly on Ḥaredim and Arabs, the most significant and also the most stable of the three groups (protest voters being by nature amorphous and changeable).




JPost Editorial: No hasty annexation
Netanyahu’s new declaration might work for election results, but at what cost? Some analysts say such a move would be irresponsible, and disastrous for Israel’s security, economy and diplomacy.

The Arab Balad Party issued a statement following Netanyahu’s pronouncement, saying: “The war crimes committed by Netanyahu and his government are causing irreversible damage to the entire region, and we’ll oppose and struggle against the annexation, and demand they respect the UN resolutions to dismantle all the settlements.”

Netanyahu has a history of making last-minute campaign pledges that, once elected, he retracts. Whether Netanyahu actually applies sovereignty in the next government depends on who will be his coalition partners, and how much push-back he receives from the Trump administration. It is more than likely that the right-wing parties with which he forms a coalition would demand West Bank sovereignty as a condition for joining that coalition.

Annexing territory is a major issue that has vexed Israeli citizens and governments for 52 years: What to do with all the land captured in the Six Day War? Decisions and answers to that question should not be made on the fly during an election campaign, especially three days before elections. These are serious matters that require national debate and discourse. Let’s decide together, as a country, on such an important step.


In New York Times Israel Coverage, Anything Goes
When it comes to New York Times coverage of Israel, literally anything goes. The latest case in point is yesterday’s completely bogus caption about an Israeli election billboard alongside an article meant to explain the various campaign commercials in the close and heated race.

The caption in question, on page 3 of yesterday’s International Edition, states:

In Tel Aviv, a Blue and White party billboard, left competing with a campaign ad for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing allies. Polls show the race is close.

It sits below a four-column, top of the page color photograph of a billboard depicting, on the left side, the leadership of the challenging Blue and White party, from left: Moshe “Boogie” Yaalon, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Gabi Ashkenazi. All but Lapid are former army chiefs; Lapid is a former finance minister. Their images are framed in blue and white and the slogan underneath states in white: “The nation of Israel lives Blue and White.” Immediately to the right are four more figures framed in yellow and gray. They are (from left) Itamar Ben-Gvir of the far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Betzalel Smotrich of the right-wing Jewish Home party, and Jewish Power’s Michael Ben Ari, whom the Supreme Court banned from running in the elections on the grounds of anti-Arab incitement. The slogan below these four men, in yellow, states, “Kahana Lives,” the rallying cry of the outlawed, extremist Kach party, banned from the Knesset in 1988 for inciting racism.
Democrat Beto O'Rourke Calls Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu a 'Racist'
Democrat presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “racist” on Sunday, telling an audience in Iowa that the U.S.-Israel relationship must “transcend a prime minister who is racist.”

O’Rourke’s full comments, as reported by The Hill, were as follows:
The US-Israel relationship is one of the most important relationships that we have on the planet, and that relationship, if it is successful, must transcend partisanship in the United States, and it must be able to transcend a prime minister who is racist [sic], as he warns against Arabs coming to the polls [sic], who wants to defy any prospect for peace as he threatens to annex the West Bank [sic], and who has sided with a far-right racist party in order to maintain his hold on power [sic].

O’Rourke did not offer any evidence that Netanyahu is “racist.” The evidence is arguably to the contrary. Last year, as Breitbart News reported, Netanyahu spoke to the annual memorial service in Jerusalem for Ethiopian Jews who died on their escape from famine and war in Africa to the only country that would offer them refuge, telling the gathering: “The entire nation of Israel can learn so much from you … We are as one person, with one heart.”

The remark about “warn[ing] against Arabs coming to the polls” refers to an incident in the 2015 election, when the prime minister posted a Facebook video in which he warned his supporters: “Right-wing rule is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out.”

The remark happened to be true; foreign organizations and governments — including the U.S. under President Barack Obama, who wanted to see Netanyahu defeated — were interfering in the Israeli elections, hoping to turn out the 20% Arab minority. Later, Netanyahu apologized for the remark, and has made a point of developing new relations with Arab governments.
Top Jordanian politician: We hope Israel’s elections mark the end of Netanyahu
A senior Jordanian politician has said Jordan hopes Israel’s national elections will produce a new government headed by someone other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Jordan is one of two Arab countries to maintain formal diplomatic relations with Israel.

“Jordan hopes that after these elections, there will be a government led by someone other than Netanyahu, who knows that the only solution to the Palestinian issue is the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” Jordanian Senate Speaker Faisal al-Fayez told The Times of Israel over the weekend, on the margins of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea in Jordan.

“Netanyahu’s position on the Palestinian issue is known. He is not looking to resolve it and I worry that he may want to annex the West Bank in the future.”

The Senate is the upper house of the Jordanian parliament, which proposes and approves legislation. The king appoints its speaker and members.

Jordanian King Abdullah has not made public comments about Israel’s upcoming elections.
The EU’s Heights of Golan Hypocrisy
All of these considerations are absent — and still the UK and the EU are utterly befuddled.

Yet, when it comes to resolving the Arab conflict against Israel, where every single one of the aforementioned challenges — and more — is thrust upon Israel by her part time interlocutors, the very same band of irredeemable European prognosticators unabashedly declares that on matters of the Jewish state, they know precisely what needs to be done.

What a laughable, demonstrable double standard. In the context of Brexit’s relative simplicity, the UK and Europe plead the case of complexity, while in the context of Israel’s situational complexity, they plead the case of simplicity.

Statements by the UK and the EU about what Israel should or should not do must now be viewed for what they are — nothing more than the bleating of a shepherd-less flock utterly oblivious to it’s own lack of direction.

For too long, Europe has demanded of the state and people of Israel that we accept upon ourselves a standard that no other people would be so much as asked to consider. Now that they have been exposed as so woefully ill-equipped to deal with matters of their own future, perhaps we can be forgiven for rejecting the UK and EU’s counsel on matters pertaining to the sovereignty of the Jewish state. Their rhetoric should not be heeded. It should be ignored.
Lessons from the Failed ‘Gaza Initiative’ of 1949
Late in 1949, the Gaza Initiative was essentially abandoned by the US and the regional actors. It remains, however, the first and only attempt to seriously deal with the problem of Palestinian Arab refugees. The Israeli readiness to “resettle” more than 100,000 refugees as part of a bilateral deal with Egypt was never repeated. The Israeli official standpoint on the refugee problem remains firm: the refugees are to be denied the right to return to the sovereign territory of Israel.

The Gaza Initiative, though but a brief and unproductive episode in the history of the Israeli-Egyptian relationship, can still profitably inform American diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem. Among other aspects, attention should be drawn to these elements:
  • The selective use of financial aid to the Palestinians as leverage to achieve diplomatic goals. President Trump’s decisions to cut US aid to the PA and substantially reduce the US’s annual contribution to UNRWA are means of pressing the Palestinians with respect to the emerging “Deal of the Century.”
  • The assumption that Israel will not say “no” to an American diplomatic initiative. This position was well described by Walter Eytan vis-à-vis the Gaza proposal. As he put it, “I don’t believe the Americans would have proposed mediation, nor could they get the Egyptians to accept it, if it were not clear from the start that we should be forced to make this territorial concession.”
  • The Americans estimated that bilateral negotiations, beyond the framework of the Arab League as a collective, were feasible. That’s why Washington was fully engaged in promoting the Gaza Initiative. It predicted that the proposal would become a “basis for discussion between Egypt and Israel,” which, it believed, would “probably pave the way for an Israeli-Egyptian final settlement.”
One wonders what the demographic equation in Israel would be today had the state absorbed over 150,000 Palestinian Arabs into its tiny sovereign territory in 1949. On the other hand, had the Gaza Initiative been successful, subsequent Israeli-Egyptian rounds of war could have been avoided.
To Cure Gaza’s Ills, Restore Its Connection to Africa
Given the near-constant violence that has emanated from the Gaza Strip since Hamas’s takeover, some in Israel favor returning the area to the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). But, argues Gershon Hacohen, doing so would only replicate the problems found on the West Bank. He suggests a dramatically different approach to solving the Strip’s economic woes:

The current tendency is to see the Gaza problem as originating in the refugee population that burgeoned there after the 1948 War of Independence. It would make more sense, though, to go back a few steps further and consider the city’s . . . geographic location as an intermediate station on the ancient highway between Asia and Africa [and] between Mesopotamia and Egypt. . . . It was the establishment of the state of Israel that blocked this ancient route, severed Egypt from the Arab east (mashriq), and turned Gaza into a cul-de-sac at the edge of Egyptian territory.

The March 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty considerably exacerbated the Gaza problem. In a shrewd move, President Anwar Sadat shifted the Gaza problem exclusively to Israel’s purview. After the Israeli town of Yamit and neighboring villages had been razed and the Sinai in its entirety had been restored to Egyptian sovereignty all the way to the 1906 international border, Gaza could no longer develop westward into the potential open space between [the border city of] Rafah and [the nearest Egyptian city], el-Arish. . . .

Is it desirable for Israel to conquer Gaza and reimpose its rule, as in pre-Oslo days? If it is not, then Hamas’s military defeat requires an answer to the question of who should be given control of the Strip. Should Israel sacrifice its sons to serve Gaza on a silver platter to [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas? It was, after all, Yasir Arafat, Abbas’s predecessor as PLO leader, who transformed Gaza into an ineradicable terrorist hotbed in flagrant violation of the Oslo Accords that he had signed. . . .
JCPA: How Russia Views the Return of Israeli MIA Zachariah Baumel’s Body
The Importance of Missing-in-Action Soldiers

Armies around the world have a sacred bond with their soldiers. A soldier who gives his life for his homeland must be buried on his land. In Russia, the notion of a “hero who died for his homeland” is sacred. Every year in Russia, thousands of volunteers search for soldiers who fell defending their homeland from the Nazis during the Great Patriotic War (the Russian name for World War II). Thus, the aspirations of the Israelis to return the bodies of their soldiers found a positive response in Russia. Russians are equally grateful for the honor paid to Soviet soldiers killed by the Nazis at Israel’s Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center. Israel plans to open a memorial in Jerusalem for the defenders of Leningrad during World War II, and Russia’s Putin plans to attend.

Netanyahu is one of the most frequent visitors among the heads of state who traveled to Russia in recent history. This visit was his sixteenth.2 Despite the difficult background between the two countries, relations between the countries are friendly. Since the beginning of the Russian search operation in Syria, there has been close contact between the Russian army and the IDF. Even the fatal September incident with the IL-20M plane in which 15 Russians were killed was quickly smoothed out. Now, with the revelation of continuing Russian searches for IDF MIA soldiers in Syria, it is clear that the partnership is maintained.

Sergeant Baumel died during the First Lebanon War in 1982. The USSR, which existed in those years, condemned the activities of Israel in the struggle against the “Palestinian people’s liberation fighting.” Years later, even as Israel attacks Iranian targets in Syria, Russia declares, “The security of Israel is one of the main priorities of our policy in the Middle East”3 and “Israel’s right to protect its national security is unquestionable.”4

In both countries, there is similar criticism about the UN’s double standard and interpretation of international law.5, 6 While anti-Semitism and the BDS movement grow in the United States and Europe, in Russia the level of anti-Semitism is decreasing.7 The April 4, 2019, events confirmed that Russia has moved quite far from its anti-Israel and anti-Semitic past.
Israel jails French consulate worker for Gaza gun smuggling
The Beersheba District Court on Monday sentenced a former French consulate worker to seven years in prison for smuggling guns from the Gaza Strip after a plea bargain.

Romain Franck, who worked as a driver for the consulate, went on trial after being accused of exploiting reduced security checks for diplomats to smuggle 70 pistols and two automatic rifles from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

He was also given a fine of NIS 30,000 ($8,400).

Franck’s lawyer Kenneth Mann said he intended to request that his client serve the sentence in France.

Mann said the judge was willing to issue a more lenient sentence than might otherwise have been given because Franck, 24, had shown remorse and was motivated by money, not by solidarity with Palestinian terror groups.
Employee of the French consulate in Jerusalem, Romain Franck, accused by Israel of running guns from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. (Shin Bet)

Franck, relying on a court interpreter from Hebrew to French, showed no visible reaction when the sentence was announced.
Israeli woman nabbed smuggling Palestinian man out of West Bank
Border Police officers on Monday arrested an Israeli woman who was caught trying to smuggle a Palestinian man and an unlicensed pistol out of the West Bank in her car, officials said.

While attempting to drive through the Reihan Crossing in the northern West Bank, the woman was stopped by security officials, who were acting on a tip, police said.

She was asked to open the trunk of her car for inspection, but initially refused, claiming the latch was broken. A security officer opened the trunk despite her objections, finding inside the 37-year-old Palestinian man from the town of Zabada, near Jenin, according to the Defense Ministry, which runs the crossing.

A further search of the woman’s car uncovered a loaded pistol, which the woman had without the proper permit, police said.

According to police, the gun appeared to have been stolen from a security guard for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

The woman, a resident of Gan Hashomron in central Israel, and the Palestinian man were arrested.
New Palestinian government to be formed within days, officials say
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister-designate Mohammad Shtayyeh will announce the makeup of his new government in the coming days, Palestinian officials said Monday.

Shtayyeh has until April 14 to form a new government that is expected to exclude all supporters of Hamas, longtime rival to the Fatah movement of both Shtayyeh and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Analysts say real decision-making power remains with 84-year-old Abbas, in power since 2005.

Abbas on March 10 charged Shtayyeh with forming the new government, replacing Rami Hamdallah’s technocratic administration which had the nominal backing of Hamas.

Five smaller factions will also join Fatah in the new government, officials said.

Others, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, refused to take part.


Animal welfare group evacuates 40 animals from Gaza zoo
An international welfare group is evacuating dozens of animals languishing in a ramshackle Gaza zoo to sanctuaries abroad.

Vets and volunteers from Four Paws International loaded some 40 animals and birds Sunday and headed to the Israeli border in the northern Gaza Strip en route to resettlement in Jordan and Africa.

The rescued animals include lions, foxes, monkeys and pelicans.

It marks the fourth and largest Gaza rescue mission by the Vienna-based organization since Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the Palestinian enclave in 2007. Israeli officials have long held that the Jewish state’s limitations on movement aim to prevent Hamas and other terror groups from transferring weapons into Gaza.

In 2016, the last animals were evacuated from what had been dubbed at the time “the world’s worst” zoo in Khan Younis, also in southern Gaza.

Some animals have died of cold and hunger in makeshift zoos as keepers failed to provide adequate care.


Turkey: Erdogan Pledges to Convert Byzantine Cathedral Hagia Sophia into a Mosque
"When Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, virtually all of the city's surviving cathedrals and churches were — after being desecrated and thoroughly plundered — forcibly seized and turned over to the Turks' religious establishment to be converted to mosques and used as Muslim properties." — Dr. Alexandros K. Kyrou, professor of history, Salem State University.

Nine other former Hagia Sophia churches are either being used as mosques already or are in the process of being renovated for this purpose. The youngest of these, in Trabzon, was converted into a mosque in 2013. — Ersoy Soydan, assistant professor of communications at Kastamonu University and author of Churches and Monasteries in Turkey

Sadly, Turkey's Greek community as a whole, let alone that of Istanbul by itself, is not sizeable enough to oppose or protest infringements on their historic cathedral. The 1914-1923 genocide of Greek Christians in Anatolia, and subsequent atrocities against the survivors -- such as the 1955 anti-Greek pogroms in Istanbul -- have almost completely wiped out the region's Greek populace.
When Will Iran's Regime Finally Cave In?
"Yes, the accused fled from a country where virtual bullies push against science, knowledge and expertise and resort to conspiracy theories to find a scapegoat for all the problems because they know well that finding an enemy, spy or someone to blame is much easier than accepting responsibility and complicity in a problem". — Kaveh Madani, one of Iran's leading environmentalists, who recently fled to London.

Despite its economic crisis, Iran continues to provide hundreds of millions of dollars every year to terrorists. " When you throw in the money provided to other terrorists, the total comes close to one billion dollars. Let's pause to consider that, because it bears repeating:The Iranian regime spends nearly a billion dollars a year just to support terrorism". — Nathan A. Sales, U.S. State Department Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism.

This impressive decline of the Iranian regime is being accompanied by petty and repressive laws. Iran recently handed down a sentence of 33 years in prison and 148 lashes to a prominent Iranian lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who dared to defend girls who were protesting Iran's forced veiling laws. In another recent incident, an Iranian couple were arrested after their public marriage proposal went viral on social media.
Don't Rejoin the Iran Deal, Fix It
Reentering the Iran nuclear deal and dropping U.S. sanctions, as some have recommended, will only increase the risks of Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Should the United States rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and rescind reimposed U.S. sanctions? This course of action is being recommended by deal supporters, who want to reverse the Trump administration’s decision last year to unilaterally leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and ramp up U.S. sanctions against Iran. Despite the U.S. decision, other parties have so far kept the deal intact. Deal supporters have expressed fears that Iran would walk away from the deal, but Iran has so far not done so and would suffer even worse economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation if it were to leave the deal.

Notwithstanding good intentions, rejoining the deal without the necessary fixes to it would in essence bless Iran to enlarge its conventional, missile, and nuclear programs without receiving any commensurate concessions from Iran. All these increases will occur during the next administration, whoever wins the presidential election. Whatever one’s views of the Trump administration’s decision to no longer participate in the nuclear agreement, this approach will not address its flaws and the threat of Iran being able to build nuclear weapons. Rather than making this a partisan issue, a better option is to use the new leverage created by the reimposition of sanctions to build domestic and international consensus to fix the flaws in the deal during the next few years.

The Democratic National Committee adopted a resolution that lauded the deal’s achievements and advocated for reentry. It did not urge any preconditions for a U.S. return. The statements urging rejoining typically contain notable mischaracterizations, such as asserting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated Iranian “compliance” with the deal, something the IAEA has never certified in its quarterly safeguards reports. Moreover, each quarter since the deal has been implemented in January 2016, the IAEA has reported that it still has not been able to determine that Iran has no undeclared nuclear facilities and materials and thus cannot conclude that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. While Iran has been pressed successfully to stop its multiple technical violations of specific nuclear limitations, the basic proposition of whether Iran seeks nuclear weapons has not been answered in the three plus years since the deal commenced.
New Research Names Many Current Iranian Officials As Rights Violators
On the fortieth anniversary of a referendum that led to the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, a human rights organization has published the first volume of a series of books, titled "The Face of Crime."

The first volume of the series exclusively covers the cases of 100 human rights violators in Iran, says Justice for Iran, JFI.

Established in July 2010, Justice for Iran is a non-governmental, not-for-profit human rights organization, JFI according to its website. "The mission of JFI is to address and eradicate the practice of impunity that empowers officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran to perpetuate widespread human right violations against their citizens, and to hold them accountable for their actions."

The next volumes of the series will list 400 more human rights violators in Iran to set the scene for their legal accountability.

Out of the 100 human rights violators listed in the first volume, 25 are serving in entities under the direct supervision of the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. fifty more serve in judicial capacities, 36 in governmental positions, and one as a member of Majles (Iranian parliament).

The list includes the names of Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, the head of the judiciary, mid-ranking cleric Ebrahim Raeisi (Raeesi) and his predecessor, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani, as well as the former Prime Minister, Mir Hossein Mousavi (1981-1989).
Lebanese Journalist Nadim Koteich: I Support Trump and Netanyahu's Anti-Iranian Policy
Lebanese journalist Nadim Koteich said in an April 6, 2019 interview on Al-Jadeed/New TV (Lebanon) that he supports U.S. President Trump's foreign policies and that since he is not American or Israeli, he does not care about U.S. President Trump's domestic policies or if he is anti-woman or anti-gay, nor does he care that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's domestic policies are oppressive towards Palestinians. He said that as a Lebanese citizen, he cares most about Israel's policies vis-à-vis Iran. Koteich said that Iran is playing a destructive role in Lebanon and in the region. He added that Beirut and Lebanon are his top priorities and that for him, Beirut is more important than Jerusalem or the Golan Heights. He said: "Under no circumstances am I willing to pay the price for the Golan Heights." Koteich is a veteran journalist at Future TV (Lebanon).


US designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terror organization
US President Donald Trump officially designated the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization on Monday, in a move that Israel has long pushed for and that will ramp up the administration’s pressure campaign against Tehran. It is the first time that an extension of a foreign government has been designated as a terrorist entity.

“This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” the president said in a statement.”The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”

The Trump administration’s decision is expected to ramp up tensions between the United States and Iran, whose leaders have warned that, if the US were to make such a designation, they would respond by labeling the US military a terrorist group.

Monday’s policy decision will mean that anyone who deals with the IRGC could face criminal charges, including aiding or supporting a terrorist group, the White House said.

“This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime,” Trump said. “It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.”
Iran threatens U.S. troops in Mideast if IRGC designated as terror group
Iranian Major General Mohammed Ali Jafari warned that US troops could be targets in response to reports that the US would list the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a designated terrorist organization. Jafari is the head of the IRGC.

Jafari made the threat on Sunday, stating that the US forces in “West Asia” by which he meant parts of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran’s near abroad. “If the Americans take such a stubborn measure and endanger our national security we will put in place counter-measures in line with the police of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. Under those circumstances, US forces would no longer be safe in the region, he said, using the word “no longer enjoy calm,” as a veiled threat.

The comments were widely reported in Iranian media, one of the few foreign policy articles amid the flooding crises that has caused a massive national emergency in Iran. The IRGC and military of Iran have been deployed amid the flooding. Yet Iran also hosted Iraq’s Prime Minister over the weekend and sought to cement an alliance with Iraq while Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei said the US should leave Iraq.
Zarif: U.S. is dragging Iran into a quagmire on behalf of Netanyahu
Iran will take reciprocal action against the United States if Washington designates the elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as terrorists, a majority of Iranian parliamentarians said on Sunday, according to state news agency IRNA.

The United States is expected to designate the Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization, three US officials told Reuters, marking the first time Washington has formally labeled another country’s military a terrorist group.

"We will answer any action taken against this force with a reciprocal action," a statement issued by 255 out of the 290 Iranian lawmakers said, according to IRNA.

"So the leaders of America, who themselves are the creators and supporters of terrorists in the (Middle East) region, will regret this inappropriate and idiotic action."


Germany to end funding of extreme pro-Iran-regime group after media exposés
Germany’s government will pull the plug at the end of 2019 on public funding for a radical pro-Iranian-regime organization- the Islamic Community of Shi'ite Communities of Germany - that is packed with antisemitic representatives who urge the destruction of Israel.

After a series of exposés in Germany’s top selling paper Bild, the newspaper reported on Thursday that the interior ministry announced in a letter the stoppage of funds for the Shi'ite umbrella organization. Institutions in Hamburg that are controlled by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei fall under the rubric of the organization.

The Free Democratic Party blasted the government for failing to earlier stop the funding of the Shi'ite association and for being “clueless about Islamism” in connection with the Iranian clerical regime.

Germany’s intelligence agency classifies the Islamic Center in Hamburg - a member of the Shiite organization - as an “instrument” of Khamenei in the federal republic. The association is funded by Germany’s family ministry and the European Union.

The German federal government declared the Shi'ite umbrella organization to be “influenced by extremists.”

The Bild wrote that Germany's decision “comes around $426,037 too late” in 2019. In 2017, the newspaper reported that

the government provided $317,454 to the organization to allegedly “counter extremism.”

Substantial funds continued to flow in 2018 to the pro-Iranian-regime association.




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Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

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