Monday, May 20, 2019

From Ian:

PMW: The figures show that the PA financial crisis is fake

The Palestinian Authority is currently facing a financial crisis. The crisis is self-induced and caused as a direct result of a decision by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to drag the Palestinian economy into an abyss, in order to preserve the PA's policy of encouraging terror and rewarding terrorists with generous salaries.

The sole reason for the economic crisis is the refusal of the PA to accept the tax revenues that Israel collects and transfers to the PA. These tax revenues - over 8 billion shekels in 2018 - account for, on average over the last five years, 50% of the PA's annual operating budget.

The PA is refusing to accept the taxes due to the decision of the Israeli Security Cabinet, taken in February this year after the murder of Ori Ansbacher, to deduct 502 million shekels (in twelve equal deductions each in the sum of approximately 42 million shekels) from them. The amount the government decided to deduct is the amount that the PA publicly admitted that it paid in salaries and various benefits to imprisoned terrorists and released terrorists in 2018.

The refusal of the PA to receive the remaining amount of tax money was made clear immediately after Israel's decision to deduct the funds, as explained by PA Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki:
PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad Al-Malki: "It was agreed yesterday in a meeting with His Honor the President [Abbas] to send an official message to the Israeli side, according to which we will not agree to accept any partial amount of the tax money that is to be officially transferred to the Palestinian side. This message has been conveyed to the Israeli side in a clear manner." [Official PA TV, Feb. 21, 2019]

Greenblatt: PA Can Pay for Health Care But Prefers to Pay Terrorists
Greenblatt began his attack with a tweet in which he shared a Palestinian Media Watch report showing how PA officials were receiving medical care in Israel because the Palestinian Authority was depriving its own citizens with the right to get proper health care by denying them the option of getting treatment in east Jerusalem.

“Good report for all who think the PA ended medical care for Palestinians in Israel. What about everyday Palestinians? The PA can pay hospital bills if it doesn’t give $ to terrorists for its “pay to slay” program. Dig deeper folks, not all is what it seems,” Greenblatt tweeted with to a link to a PMW report.

The tweet generated controversy, with Israeli reporter Barak Ravid asking, “Why did the U.S. stop funding Palestinian hospitals in east Jerusalem that are the only place in Palestine that can give treatment to cancer patients?”

Greenblatt replied: “The PA incurred bills @ the hospital & assumed someone else would pay. We want those patients to receive the best care, the PA could easily pay its own bills to the hospital by ending incentive payments to terrorists/their families & use the $ to care for their ppl.”

Later Greenblatt provided an exclusive statement to Israel Hayom, elaborating on why the U.S. shared no blame for the bills.

“Despite the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to pay the health care bills of its own people, members of its senior leadership — even individuals who have threatened terror attacks on Israel – continue to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals. This just goes to show the hypocrisy of the Palestinian Authority’s position. Senior Palestinian officials and terrorists are taken care of, while ordinary Palestinians are put at risk. Anyone seeking to blame the United States for this situation needs to review the facts,” Greenblatt told Israel Hayom.
NGO Monitor: Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post (Unpublished)
Re: Have the Palestinians received ‘more aid than any group in history’? (May 8, 2019)

Many assertions in “Fact Checker: Have the Palestinians received ‘more aid than any group in history’?” Glenn Kessler, May 8, are uncertain or incorrect. Although other countries such as Syria or Kiribati (a tiny Pacific island) receive bursts of aid in response to immediate crises, the scale of assistance (estimated at $1.7 billion annually) to the Palestinians and the sustained flow year after year is far beyond any other recipient. In addition, in calculating an average amount, the $79 per capita listed by the World Bank for 1993 is clearly incorrect – UNRWA (the unique agency created in 1949 to promote the Palestinian cause) alone provided double that amount. Furthermore, the USAID and the World Bank estimates are based on official Palestinian claims for the combined West Bank and Gaza population, while evidence suggesting a lower population raises per capita aid calculations by twenty percent. In addition, the comparison with Israel, a democracy and US ally, mistakenly labels grants to repay defense loans, including for relocating military bases under the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt, as general economic assistance. In summary, the evidence supports concerns regarding the high level of sustained aid provided to the Palestinians.
Ex-Fatah prince, East Jerusalem lawyer indicted for attempted terror attacks
Former Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade Commander Zakariya Zubeidi and east Jerusalem lawyer Tareq Barghut have been indicted in the IDF West Bank Courts for attempted terror attacks in which they allegedly fired on Jews in the vicinity of Ramallah in the West Bank.

The indictment of each man is explosive.

Zubeidi at one point has been considered among the most powerful strongmen in the Palestinian Authority and was given amnesty for his role as one of the leader's of terror during the Second Intifada.

Barghut is a well-known lawyer for Palestinians, is certified as an Israeli lawyer and his arrest and the arrest of his wife in February led the entire legal community defending Palestinians in the IDF West Bank Courts to strike, bringing the entire system to a halt.

While not unprecedented, it is highly unusual for Israel to arrest top Fatah officials or a lawyer for Palestinians, who are generally considered off limits.

The announcement came from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agnecy) on Monday which said, “Intelligence gathered by the Shin Bet pointed to the involvement of Zakariya Zubeidi and Tareq Barghut in a series of attacks in the Beit El area.”

The two were arrested on February 27 during an operation by the agency and IDF forces at the end of the night of another attack which had been thwarted by the security forces due to earlier assessments on the ground.

Barguth has been employed as an attorney in the PA’s Ministry of Prisoner’s Affairs and there have been indications that part of what led to his arrest was internal Palestinian tensions, possibly leading to a fellow Palestinian informing on his alleged double-life as a lawyer and a terrorist.

Al Jazeera suspends journalists over Holocaust video
The Al Jazeera media network on Sunday suspended two journalists responsible for a video claiming the extent of the Holocaust was being misrepresented by Jews.

The clip, posted by Al Jazeera’s online AJ+ Arabic service, claimed “the narrative” that the Nazis killed six million Jews was “adopted by the Zionist movement.”

In a statement, Dr. Yaser Bishr, executive director of the broadcaster’s digital division, said the Arabic-language video, since removed from the website, “contravened the Network’s editorial standards.”

“Al Jazeera completely disowns the offensive content in question,” Bishr said, adding the network “would not tolerate such material on any of the Network’s platforms.”

Posted on its website and social media, the Al Jazeera video questioned Holocaust history, accused Jews of exploiting the massacres of their European communities in order to establish the State of Israel, and suggested that Zionism itself is derived from Nazi ideology.

“Israel is the biggest winner from the Holocaust and it uses the same Nazi justifications as a launching pad for the racial cleansing and annihilation of the Palestinians,” journalist Muna Hawwa said in the video.
Why is Twitter helping Al-Jazeera hide evidence of Holocaust denial video?
Over the weekend, Al Jazeera put out and then deleted a video that encouraged Holocaust denial. It later said it had “swiftly” deleted it and suspended two journalists. However, it is now difficult to find the video online or commentary about it because Twitter has censored it, claiming it infringes Al Jazeera’s copyright.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) tweeted a version of the video with subtitles on May 19. “Holocaust denial on Al Jazeera Network: Israel is biggest winner from Holocaust, it uses the same justification to annihilate the Palestinians,” MEMRI wrote, paraphrasing the video in its tweet.

But the video itself is disabled now “in response to a report by the copyright owner.”

Journalists often rely on copyrighted material to conduct their work, and the immediate decision by Twitter to censor video of the Al Jazeera video without testing it in court illustrates a new pattern of removing material.

The School of Government at American University maintains a website for the Center for Media and Social Impact with guidelines about how fair use of copyrighted material is important to journalists.

The website notes that “the use of textual, visual and other quotations of cultural material for purposes of reporting, criticism, commentary or discussion constitutes fair use.”

The use of claims of copyright to disappear embarrassing video produced by a network is a convenient way to now remove evidence of antisemitism online. Instead of confronting the antisemitism and the Holocaust denial, Al Jazeera appears to have decided to resort to making sure the content is not available anywhere.

Trump Admin Kicks Off Plan to Foster Israeli-Palestinian Peace
The Trump administration has started to implement its multi-faceted plan to foster peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a process that will begin in June when Bahrain hosts a forum to promote economic development in key Palestinian territories, according to senior administration officials.

The Trump administration's long rumored peace plan is just beginning to spill into public view, with senior officials organizing a June 25 business forum in Bahrain that will bring together a range of political and business officials in the region to develop methods to spur growth in the Palestinian economy.

The economic aspect is just one piece of the plan, officials said, explaining that a political component includes specific details on what peace would look like. Officials were mum on Sunday about specifics regarding that portion of the peace plan.

The forum, dubbed "Peace to Prosperity," will bring together top business leaders with their political counterparts and include workshop sessions with Trump administration officials in which they will present a roadmap to help bolster the perpetually ailing Palestinian economy. The goal, U.S. officials say, is to reform the Palestinian economy so that it can support itself as a functioning state.

"The people who have seen the product we put together so far think it's very thoughtful," a senior administration official, speaking only on background, told reporters Sunday afternoon.

The economic portion of the administration's plan, which is being spearheaded by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been "met with very, very good feedback," the senior official said. "Everyone liked it and asked that we come present it in the region."
Henry Kissinger: Netanyahu correctly reads the situation

An extraordinary political summit took place last week in the United States with veterans of international diplomacy, following the visit of former Israeli ambassador and respected diplomat Zalman Shoval.

Shoval's visit was part of the promotion of the book Diplomat, which was translated into English in the United States.

As part of the visit, Shoval was invited to the office of former US national security adviser John Bolton, who discussed their current past and discussed the current events.

After his meeting with Bolton, Shoval continued his meeting with former Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Henry Kissinger.

During their meeting, Shoval and Kissinger talked about the 'Deal of the Century' which US President Donald Trump is expected to begin to unveil next month. Kissinger had surprising words of praise for Prime Minister Netanyahu. "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu correctly analyzes the situation." he said.
Bahrain vows support for Palestinians after economic ‘workshop’ announced
Bahrain, which is hosting the rollout of the first part of the US administration’s Middle East peace plan, on Monday reiterated its principled support for the Palestinian cause.

In a statement, the tiny Gulf state’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa “underscored the position of the Kingdom of Bahrain in support of the Palestinian cause and the aspirations of the Palestinian people.”

Khalifa, who in the past has raised eyebrows in the Arab world with his pro-Israel statements, stressed that his country “stands by all efforts that would lead to investment in infrastructure and the development of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and enable the Palestinian people to prosper.”

His statement did not mention Israel.

The Palestinian people “hold an important place in the hearts of all Bahrainis, and it is the Kingdom’s wish that Palestinians have the opportunity to live in stability and achieve their aspirations,” the statement went on.
Palestinians reject US economic peace summit in Bahrain, say they won’t attend
The Palestinian leadership on Monday pushed back against a plan for an economic conference next month in support of Washington’s Middle East peace plan, saying it was not consulted and no party was entitled to negotiate on its behalf.

The White House announced Sunday it would co-host the June 25-26 conference with Bahrain focusing on economic aspects of the long-delayed peace plan, with the declared aim of achieving Palestinian prosperity.

“We were not consulted by any party on the announced meeting to take place in Manama, Bahrain,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement. “We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf.”

A senior administration official in Washington told reporters Sunday that invitations to the conference are being sent to individuals in the United States, Europe, the Gulf, the wider Arab world and “some” Palestinian business leaders.

It was not known if Abbas’s Palestinian Authority was being invited. There also was no immediate comment from Israel.
Mubarak: ‘Deal of the Century’ Will Blow Up the Region
In an interview with Kuwaiti TV host Fajr al-Saeed, known for her appearance on Israeli TV in defiance of many death threats, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said he was not optimistic about the US-proposed peace plan for Israel and the PA, a.k.a. the Deal of the Century.

“I am an optimist by nature,” said Mubarak, who is 91 and has seen a life sentence against him be overturned by the new regime in Cairo, “but my general view on this issue is not optimistic.”

“Any solution that would be imposed on the region based on the imbalance of power will not last, and will remain a temporary solution that could explode at any moment,” Mubarak told al-Saeed, cautioning that whatever we know about the deal comes from mostly leaks to newspapers. Nevertheless, he said, “these introductions are unsatisfactory.”

Mubarak described those displeasing introductions as being “the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition by America of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, and the continued expansion of settlements in the occupied territories.”
Bernie Sanders: Would Move U.S. Embassy in Israel Out of Jerusalem to Get a Peace Deal
Sanders would not offer specifics when pressed by “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd but added his goal was to “bring people together” in the name of peace.

Partial transcript as follows:
TODD: A couple of questions. I’m curious. On the issue of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, would you move it back out of Jerusalem, if you thought it was a way to get a peace deal?

SANDERS: Yeah. I think it’s something that we should — I can’t give you a definitive answer, but yeah. The answer is, look, whether it is Iran and Saudi Arabia, whether it is Israel and the Palestinians, the United States needs to bring people together, needs an even-handed policy. In Saudi Arabia, for example, for decades, we have supported a murderous regime which fights democracy every single day. So I want an even-handed policy which brings people together.

TODD: Would you move the embassy, now, out of Jerusalem? Or would you keep it there for the present?

SANDERS: Look, Chuck, that is — we’ll take that one step at a time. It’s something — you know, bottom line is, we need to be a — we are the most powerful country on Earth. Let’s bring people together and try to bring peace.

Polish PM: Repaying Jewish victims of the Holocaust would be 'victory for Hitler'
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki over the weekend told supporters at a campaign rally that compensating Jews for the Holocaust “violates international law and would also be a posthumous victory for Hitler, which is why we will never allow it.”

He has said that Poles are the foremost victim of the Nazis’ crime, and they would deserve to be compensated for WWII – after the United States passed a law in 2018 to facilitate the return of lost Jewish property.

Meanwhile, as Poland and the rest of Europe prepare to enter elections, a display of anti-Semitism from Poland’s far Right on the same day during a debate over WWII restitution in the city of Kielce developed into an anti-Semitic scene that has raised eyebrows.

According to Polish reports, the far-right Confederation political alliance’s Dawid Lewicki displayed a kippah, held it in front of the ruling Law and Justice party’s Anne Krupka and said, “This is the symbol of Law and Justice. They kneel before the Jews, they sell the country for $300 billion.”
Kippah placed on Polish politician's head during political debate
Deputy Minister of Sports and Tourism Anna Krupka was presenting her party’s views when Konrad Berkowicz [Korwin] approached her from behind and placed a Jewish skullcap above her head as she was speaking, Amichai Stein from KAN reported.

Krupka is a member of the current ruling Law and Justice Party [PiS]. The incident was aired on a local television channel in Kielce.

“They [PiS] bow down to Jews,” Berkowicz reportedly said. “They will sell this country for money.”

Writing on his Facebook page, Berkowitz said he only placed the kippa on Krupka’s head when she was “foaming at the mouth and talking about kneeling in front of [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin.”

He claimed he only placed it in the air to “remind the public who is kneeling in front of whom.”

Israel’s Only Option: The Diplomacy of Violence in Gaza
Ever since the unilateral disengagement from Gaza in the summer of 2005, Israel has engaged in “bargaining by the threat of violence” with Hamas. Within that framework, the IDF has conducted three large-scale operations in Gaza, in addition to smaller rounds of hostilities. With no possibility in the offing of either serious political negotiations or a decisive war with Gaza, the only alternative is to continue the “diplomacy of violence.”

The latest round of violence in Gaza once again raised issues about the ongoing conflict between Israel and the terror organizations there. How can negotiations be held while both sides are using force and are not in direct contact with each other? Isn’t there a contradiction between the use of violence and political negotiation? Is it possible to engage in both simultaneously?

An insight from the field of strategic studies can shed light on this paradox.

In the current era, the classic distinction between war and diplomacy that characterized the interstate wars of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th has been undermined and replaced by the “diplomacy of violence,” a term coined by Thomas Schelling (who in 2005 won a Nobel Prize in economics together with Israel Aumann).

Schelling overturned Clausewitz’s famous dictum that war is “the continuation of politics by other means” by identifying situations in which violence itself constitutes a diplomatic conversation — an exchange of messages through the use of force.

Although Schelling’s studies dealt with the US’s limited wars in Korea and Vietnam, his insight can be applied to other limited and asymmetric conflicts, like the one that’s been waged since 2005 between Israel and the terror organizations in Gaza.
Scorecard on Israel's Iron Dome Missile Defense System
The main question is this – has the Iron Dome system failed this time, in view of the fact that rockets did land in inhabited areas and did inflict casualties and damage?

The increase in the amount of explosives carried by the rockets has definitely affected the scope of casualties and damage. As far as the interception percentages are concerned, the last round was particularly successful – more than 90% success opposite rockets launched in the direction of inhabited areas (the Iron Dome system can ignore rockets making their way toward uninhabited areas, and does not attempt to intercept them).

These high percentages were maintained even when the enemy launched a massive salvo of not less than 117 rockets within one hour (mostly in the direction of the city of Ashdod). The reason for the relatively high number of rockets that landed in inhabited areas was the massive amount of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip to begin with – not less than 690 launches within the span of 36 hours (in comparison, during the peak day of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah had launched about 300 rockets).

With high numbers, statistics count. The 10% failure figure was reflected in 35 rockets that should have been intercepted, but were not. Incidentally, when IMOD's Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) had issued, years ago, the request for the development of a rocket interception system, the requirements specified a rate of success of 70% only. In those days, that figure had been conceived as fantastic, but reality has surpassed the imagination: during a brief round of fighting opposite the Gaza Strip, a few weeks ago, 100% of some 50 rockets launched into Israel's southern region were intercepted successfully. A world record.
Hamas tried to down an IDF helicopter during fighting this month – report
A Hamas cell attempted to down an Israeli military helicopter during the last round of fighting in Gaza early this month, according to a report Monday in the Jerusalem-based Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds.

The attack failed, according to the report.

Just before the Hamas operatives could launch a shoulder-mounted missile at the chopper, which was operating near Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, they were spotted by an Israeli jet and destroyed from the air, the paper said, citing unnamed officials from Gaza-based terror groups as its sources.

There was no immediate confirmation of the Palestinian report from Israeli sources.
Supreme Court Rejects BDS Appeal to Publicize Archaeological Digs in Territories
Last week, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal to disclose information on archaeological excavations in Judea and Samaria, ruling that the publication might expose the archaeologists to an academic boycott, as well as the excavations themselves and future political negotiations with the PA, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

Two anti-Israel NGOs, Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh, appealed the 2016 decision of the District Court, which rejected—in its capacity as the Court for Administrative Affairs, a freedom of information request regarding excavations conducted by the Archeology Staff Officer of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories in the Civil Administration in the liberated territories.

The 1954 Hague Convention prohibits an occupying power from extracting archaeological findings from an occupied territory, but, of course, in order for there to be an occupation under the Geneva Convention, there has to have been a legitimate sovereign in the territory in question, which there wasn’t (the Brits left in May 1948 and left the area to no one).

The petitioners, who are active in the BDS movement, asked to receive the names of the archaeologists who are carrying out the excavations in Judea and Samaria, so that they could turn around and destroy their future careers. They also demand to know the location of the excavated finds and the list of loaned artifacts going to museums, institutions, research and exhibitions – so that they can turn around and destroy those as well.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Public Aims To Keep Gov’t From Convening, Functioning, Making Things Worse (satire)
The extended deadline for reelected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to form a new governing coalition looms next week, but large swaths of Israeli society harbor the hope that the country can both avoid the hassle of another round of elections should his coalition-building efforts fail, and still prevent the parliament and government from functioning, which would only exacerbate the situation.

Netanyahu and his Likud Party earned the nod from a narrow majority of 61 legislators to form the next coalition government following the April 9 elections, and both he and his would-be coalition partners have tried to strike a difficult balance between making far-reaching demands with the knowledge that no coalition will form without them, and overplaying their hands. Israelis of many political stripes hope for a similar needle-threading phenomenon in the coming weeks and months, of not years, whereby they can avoid a replay of the grueling, unpleasant election campaign concluded last month, while also avoiding any lawmaking or policy taking shape, activities that have had a deleterious effect on the country for more than seven decades.

Legal experts differ on whether such a scenario exists in the realm of possibility. “If Bibi doesn’t form a coalition by the 29th [of May] that is supposed to automatically trigger new elections, probably in just a few months,” explained veteran radio commentator Hanan Krystal. “I don’t see an alternative – if there’s a government, it’s going to try to govern, and that’s not a good thing. I mean, just look at the last seventy-one years.”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Christian leaders: Palestinian Authority must investigate church attacks
Christian leaders in the West Bank called on the Palestinian Authority to launch an investigation into two recent attacks on churches near Ramallah and Bethlehem.

On May 16, assailants broke into the Church of God in the village of Aboud, west of Ramallah, the Holy Land Church organization said in a statement.
The perpetrators stole some of the contents of the church, it said, without providing further details.

“We pray in solidarity with this church and for the repentance of the aggressors,” the organization said in its statement. “We also call on the responsible authorities to lay their hands on the perpetrators and bring them to justice as soon as possible.”

Photos released by the organization showed damaged furniture and smashed windows inside the Church of God.

Pastor Abdallah Khoury said he was in touch with the PA authorities concerning the break-in and sabotage. He called on the PA to take the necessary measures to bring the criminals to court. “The attack on the church and the stealing of its contents is very dangerous,” he said. “This matter needs to be taken seriously.”

The bulk of the village is located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under Israeli military and civilian control.
Israel Denies Separating Gazan Girl From Her Parents for Cancer Treatment in J’lem
Following the recent spread of accusations that Israel prevented the parents of a young cancer patient from the Gaza Strip from accompanying her to treatments in Jerusalem, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) has denied the story, and said her parents had refused to accompany her.

Hadash-Tal Knesset member Ahmad Tibi took to Twitter over the weekend to accuse Israel of forcing 5-year-old Aisha a-Lulu to leave Gaza and receive cancer treatment in Jerusalem by herself, without her parents.

A-Lulu’s treatment was not effective, and she is reported to have died.

“Those who were around her said she died crying, unable to speak, and alone,” reported the Days of Palestine website.

However, COGAT said in a statement that “Israel approved the entry into Israel of the child Aisha a-Lulu for medical treatment in a hospital in East Jerusalem after her parents signed a waiver, according to which they did not wish to leave the Gaza Strip with her.”

“We stress that Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA) in Gaza policy requires parents to escort their minor children for medical treatments, based on the understanding that children need their parents in moments such as these.

“However, in this case, Aisha’s parents did not wish to accompany her and, therefore, in accordance with CLA policy, they were requested to sign a declaration that they choose not to escort their daughter during the course of her treatment, due to their own choice, and request that another party on their behalf escort her,” said the statement.

MEMRI: Editor Of Pro-Hizbullah Daily: Iran Has An Arsenal That Threatens Western Europe And Can Topple Countries
In an article titled "Talk of War against Iran – Our Country Is Not Outside the Campaign" in the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, the daily's editor, Ibrahim Al-Amin, discussed the possibility of an attack on Iran and the implications for Lebanon. He wrote that the U.S. position on Iran is not entirely clear and its moves do not necessarily herald an attack on Iran; nevertheless, America's allies – Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and some European countries – urge it to take military action against Iran, seeing this as the only way to get it to change its policies, and the U.S. is certainly preparing the ground for this option. Al-Amin compared the current tension between the U.S. and Iran to the tension between Israel and Hizbullah: just as Israel wants to attack Hizbullah, but experts within it warn that an attack will be costly and will not necessarily produce a decisive result, the U.S. wants to weaken Iran and its allies, but knows that war against it will come at a price. The proponents of war on Iran, he says, do not realize that Iran is very powerful on the economic, political and military levels, and has a large arsenal that can threaten even Europe, as well as fighting capabilities that can topple states. Moreover, its many allies in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and elsewhere will come to its aid if it is attacked. He declared that, if a war breaks out, Hizbullah, as part of the resistance axis, will be a major part of it, and that the flames will reach Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries.

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]
America's Moves Are Preparing The Ground For A Large-Scale Confrontation In Several Arenas

"The current U.S. administration seems to be uncertain in its conduct vis-ร -vis Iran. Donald Trump's policy, like those of his predecessors, is based on subjugating the world, although each [president] had his own style. Trump, a lover of deals, knows that they require lining up all of one's powerful cards ahead of negotiations, and during [negotiations] he considers things according to the direct interest of the U.S., as he perceives it. That's what he is doing in the case of Iran.

"But the variable here has to do with the nature of his team and the interests of the U.S. and its allies in the world and the region. This coalition – which takes a different position on Iran [than Trump] – includes [U.S.] State Department teams, the [U.S.] National Security Council and [other] influential forces in the U.S., [as well as] Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and European players. This coalition believes it is impossible to reach an understanding with Iran that will cause it to comply with U.S. policy, and that it is therefore time to hit it hard, so as to precipitate a domestic crisis that will lead to its internal collapse and weaken the entire axis it heads in the region. The proponents of this view believe that all the wars that have taken place in the region since 2001, in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon, did not achieve their objective of delivering a blow to the Iranian strategy that is hostile to the interests of the West and Israel, and therefore it is time to stop targeting [Iran's] arms and start aiming directly at the head [i.e., at Iran itself]…
Former Uggs salesman found guilty of being Hezbollah ‘sleeper’ agent
A former Uggs salesman with a rocky marriage has been found guilty of working as a “sleeper” agent for an arm of Hezbollah while living in the Bronx — helping the terror group prepare for attacks on New York City.

After less than a day of deliberations, a Manhattan federal jury found Bronx resident Ali Kourani, 34, guilty on eight counts that included providing support to Hezbollah, which carries up to life in prison.

Kourani, looking business casual in a rumpled white dress shirt and dark pants, sat motionless as the jury of eight women and four men rendered its verdict following a weeklong trial. He was hauled in on the charges in 2017 after he spilled his guts to the feds with hopes of becoming an informant — rather than a convicted felon facing a potential life sentence.

Kourani was born in Lebanon and immigrated to the United States legally in 2003, traveling back to Lebanon frequently in the years that followed. He was recruited into the Islamic Jihad Organization, an arm of Hezbollah, in 2008, and soon thereafter began working as a sleeper agent for the group, conducting surveillance on New York City airports and military facilities.
Iranian aggression is all about the economy
The recent escalation with Iran coincided with the anniversary of the U.S. decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal with the Islamic republic.

Iran, it appears, is trying to create a crisis in reaction to its worsening economy and its unsuccessful effort to overcome U.S. sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton recently revealed that the administration was sending an aircraft carrier to the region, as well as strategic bombers, because of “troubling and escalatory indications” suggesting that Iran was planning to attack U.S. interests or its allies in the region.

Hours after Bolton made that statement, the Iranian media reported that the regime would announce its pullout from the nuclear deal. President Hassan Rouhani did exactly that several days later with a televised speech to the nation.

In his speech, he warned that the Islamic republic would resume high-level enrichment of uranium unless its European trade partners found a way to bypass U.S. sanctions.

This latest behavior underscores the changing Iranian strategy for coping with the debilitating sanctions, which have dealt a crushing blow to Iran’s economy.
Rocket Fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone Reportedly Launched from Area Controlled by Iran-backed Shiite Militias
Iraq’s military confirmed Sunday that a rocket was fired into Baghdad’s Green Zone in the first such attack since September 2018, when three mortar shells landed in an abandoned lot inside the heavily fortified government district.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul told The Associated Press that the rocket was believed to have been fired from east Baghdad – an area controlled by Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia forces.

The Katyusha rocket exploded near the statue of the Unknown Soldier, less than one mile from the U.S. Embassy. No casualties were reported. Last week, the United States ordered all non-essential staff out of its diplomatic posts in Iraq.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, weapons of the same type were seized by Yemeni authorities on an Iranian ship in 2013 and are of a design trafficked by Iran to its proxies across the Middle East. With a range of up to 25 miles, the Katyusha is a weapon of choice for Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups, including Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump reaffirmed that the United States did not want war with Iran. “I’m not somebody that wants to go into war, because war hurts economies, war kills people most importantly – by far most importantly,” he told Fox News.
Houthis refute Saudi claims they fired ballistic missiles at Mecca
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement denied Saudi media reports on Monday that it had fired a ballistic missile towards Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, at a time of heightened tensions between Tehran and Gulf Arab states allied to Washington.

“The Saudi regime is trying, through these allegations, to rally support for its brutal aggression against our great Yemeni people,” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Sarea said on Facebook.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power in Sanaa by the Houthis in late 2014.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV, citing eyewitnesses, reported that Saudi air defense forces intercepted two ballistic missiles above the western cities of Taif and Jeddah. The first one had been directed towards Mecca, it said, without giving evidence.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Iran calls on Trump to address Iranians with respect, not threat of war (not satire)
Iran called on Monday on the United States to address the Islamic Republic with respect, not threat of war, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Tehran in a tweet, raising concerns about a potential US-Iran conflict.

Tensions between Washington and its Gulf Arab allies on one side and Tehran and its proxies in the region on the other, have been flaring for weeks.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted: "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!"

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif replied on his twitter account "NeverThreatenAnIranian. Try respect—it works!"

Zarif, who was educated in the United States, actually praised Trump for earlier remarks seen as pushing back against hawks in his administration who were encouraging conflict. The president "rightly deplores 'military-industrial complex' pushing US #ForeverWars," Zarif wrote on Twitter.

But he said Trump had allowed a "B-team" of aides led by National Security Advisor John Bolton to "trash diplomacy." He accused them of "milking despotic butchers via massive arms sales," an apparent reference to Iran's main regional foe, Saudi Arabia, Washington's biggest arms buyer.

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