Thursday, June 13, 2019

From Ian:

Alan M. Dershowitz: International Law Supports Israel Retaining Some of the West Bank
I participated in the drafting of UN Security Council Resolution 242 back in 1967, when Justice Arthur Goldberg was the U.S. Representative to the UN. I had been Justice Goldberg's law clerk, and he asked me to come to New York to advise him on some of the legal issues surrounding the West Bank. The major controversy was whether Israel had to return "all" or only some of the territories captured in its defensive war against Jordan.

The end result was that the binding English version of the resolution deliberately omitted the crucial word "all," which both Justice Goldberg and British Ambassador Lord Caradon publicly stated meant that Israel was entitled to retain some of the West Bank. Moreover, under Resolution 242, Israel was not required to return a single inch of captured territory unless its enemies recognized its right to live within secure boundaries.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is right in two respects: (1) Israel has no right to retain all of the West Bank, if its enemies recognize its right to live within secure borders; (2) Israel has "the right to retain some" of these territories. The specifics are left to negotiation between the parties.

The reality is that Israel will maintain control over traditionally Jewish areas, as well as the settlement blocs close to the Green Line. I know this because Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told me this on more than one occasion when we have met.

The attack on Ambassador Friedman is mere posturing by the Palestinian leaders and their supporters. The realpolitik, recognized by all reasonable people, is that Israel does have a right to retain some, but not all, of the West Bank.

The Palestinians can end the untenable status quo by agreeing to compromise their absolutist claims, just as Israel will have to compromise on its claims. The virtue of Ambassador Friedman's statement is that it recognizes that both sides must give up their absolutist claims, and that the end result must be Israeli control over some, but not all, of the West Bank.
Ambassador Danny Danon: Israel and the US, winning together
For decades, the United Nations has served as the home turf of Arab countries who used it to batter the State of Israel and the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. In recent years, though, the rules of the game have changed, and no longer finding itself having to deal with a last-minute tie, Israel now takes the field with a significant advantage.

The strength of the alliance between the United States and Israel is a prominent layer in our policies at the UN. Our cooperation at the forefront of the diplomatic stage helps leverage the efforts of both Israel and the US.

In December, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and I submitted a motion condemning the Hamas terrorist movement to the General Assembly. For the first time in the organization’s history, 87 countries voted to condemn Hamas and admitted the terrorist group was a global problem. This helped leverage the efforts Israel is leading to have Hamas defined as a terrorist organization at the UN.

At the same time, when Washington needed our help, we were the first to stand alongside the US. Every year, a resolution is submitted demanding the US revoke its economic embargo on Cuba. Israel was the only country outside the US at the UN to oppose the resolution in last year’s vote.

A few days ago, one of Hamas’ terrorist arms in Lebanon, disguised as a human rights organization by the name of “Shahed,” tried to gain observer status at the UN. We informed our counterparts in the American delegation and together, enlisted a majority of countries within the framework of an international campaign that succeeded in preventing a Hamas delegation from penetrating the UN.

But the cooperation does not begin and end in New York; it is spread across the various branches of the UN, including the infamously anti-Israel Human Rights Council in Geneva. One year ago, the US announced that while it would continue to fight for human rights, it would no longer do so within the framework of an organization so blind with Israel hatred. The US quit the council and called on other countries to follow suit.
Nikki Haley: Trump's peace plan puts Israel's security first
Nikki Haley may no longer be the United States permanent representative to the United Nations, but her passion for defending Israel is as strong as ever.

The Jewish community in the United States and Israelis by and large treated Haley as the superstar of the Trump administration because she relentlessly took the UN to task and put a mirror in front of the international organization, revealing just how biased it was toward Israel.

Now, as a private citizen, she takes pains to assure Israelis they have nothing to fear regarding the administration’s peace efforts, just weeks before the rollout of the economic component of its peace plan. She says President Donald Trump’s peace team considers Israel’s security paramount.

Haley sat down for an interview with Israel Hayom Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth on Thursday in New York. The following are excerpts from the interview. The full version will be published on Friday.
Former US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley with Israel Hayom Editor-in-Chief Boaz Bismuth | Photo: Nir Arieli

Q: Later this month, the administration will roll out the economic component of its peace plan. Some in Israel are worried that the US would want something from Israel in return for recognizing Jerusalem as its capital and recognizing its sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Should Israel be worried about the plan?

“Israel should not be worried. Because through the Middle East plan, one of the main goals that [Senior Adviser to the President] Jared Kushner and [US Special Representative for International Negotiations] Jason Greenblatt focused on was to not hurt the national security interests of Israel. They understand the importance of security, they understand the importance of keeping Israel safe. I think everybody needs to go into it with an open mind, everybody should want a peace plan. Everybody should want to make way for a better situation in Israel and I think it can happen. So rather than pushing back against what we don’t know, I hope everybody would lean in on what the possibilities of what the peace plan could look like and think of a better life for everyone.”

Colonel Kemp: Corbyn as PM would terminate Israel-UK intelligence sharing
The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, has warned how Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister would stop Britain’s intelligence sharing relationship with Israel.

The comments by Colonel Kemp, who is also a national security expert, came in light of revelations this week that it was the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, that helped the UK discover a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate in London in 2015 for use in an Iran-backed, Hezbollah terror plot in the UK.

“Mossad tipped off UK on Hezbollah bomb plot in London in 2015. One of many intelligence warnings provided to the UK by Israel,” Kemp tweeted, “This would be stopped if Corbyn came to power, not by Israel but by Corbyn — he would terminate our intelligence relationship.”

Speaking on Tuesday during a briefing of MPs in Parliament and attended by CUFI, Colonel Kemp said the disruption of the Hezbollah plot was just one example of the vast amount of valuable Israeli intelligence Israel provides which saves the lives of British citizens here in the UK and around the world.

Another, Kemp explained, is Israel’s battlefield medical technology that saves the lives of British troops that are wounded.

Referring to Israel’s seizing last year of secret files about Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, Kemp explained how the “act of valour” by Israeli agents provided information “that was vitally important for Britain to understand the real threat [from Iran].”
PMW: Palestinian hypocrisy: Jibril Rajoub forbids Palestinian-Israeli sports, yet in Paris says sports is “a bridge of love and connection with the international community”

It's ironic to hear senior PA leader Jibril Rajoub say at a football exhibition in Paris that sports is "a bridge of love and connection with the international community," considering that he has forbidden Palestinian players, coaches, and teams to ever engage in sports with Israelis.

Fatah Central Committee Secretary and Chairman of the Palestinian Football Association Jibril Rajoub:

"For us, the sport [football] is a means of presenting the hardships and suffering of our people from this fascist and racist occupation. The presentation of the Palestinian as he participates in sports spreads the human idea, the values, and the ethical code of sports as an internal message to Palestinian society, and as a bridge of love and connection with the international community."
[Official PA TV News, June 6, 2019]

In contrast, Rajoub both prohibits Palestinians from participating in sporting events with Israelis, and has even said that such sporting events are no less than a "crime against humanity".
Ironic - Rajoub: Sports is “a bridge of love and connection with the international community

PA official Rajoub calls Israelis "bullies" and "you Nazis"
PA official Jibril Rajoub: "This state [Israel] is a state of bullies. Fascists can learn a lesson from this state. This government -- there is none more brazen in human history... Anyone who joins any joint [sports] activity with the Israelis -- I'll take him off the [Palestinian Football] Association's lists, whether he is a player, coach, referee or, God forbid, a team... Did we act correctly and convince [FIFA's] General Assembly? Yes. Yes, we'll suspend their [Israel's] membership [in FIFA] and this way we'll screw them... I won't allow and won't agree to any joint game between Arabs and Israel... If a photo is published of [football star] Messi next to the [separation] fence - the new Berlin Wall - and the new Nazis [Israelis] will be seen the way they treat Palestinians, the Palestinian players -- well, this by itself will be the highest achievement." [Official PA TV, July 1, 2013]

Gulf of Oman incident and Iran’s dangerous game - analysis
Just after 8 AM on Thursday morning, the sound of explosions and a distress call were reported in both Oman and Pakistan. Earlier in the morning, the US Navy says it had received distress calls at 6:12 and 7:00am. The reports were picked up soon after by Al-Alam, which said two explosions had been heard and that two “giant” oil tankers had come under “attack.” The two calls could be linked to two different explosions that were heard.

It is important that Iranian media picked this up because it indicates that they sought to push this story rather than throw cold water on it. Press TV put up a “breaking” story and so did Tasnim News. Shortly after Al-Mayadeen which is pro-Syria regime also had several tweets about it.

The incident took longer to percolate into other media. Associated Press received comment from a UK navy group that appeared to confirm there was need for “caution” in the area of the incident. The US navy also eventually said they had received a distress call. This was about two hours after the incident. The US navy has a carrier strike group in the area. This is also a sensitive area, off the coast of Iran and near the Straits of Hormuz. A fifth of the world’s oil transits here.

Already tensions were high. Four tankers off the UAE port of Fujairah had been struck on May 12, a month before the incident on June 13. The US has accused Iran of “almost certainly” being behind that attack. In that attack what appeared to be small mines were attached to the hull of ships but did not sink them. No one was harmed. Two Saudi Arabia, one UAE and one Norwegian oil tanker were harmed.

The incident on Thursday is much more serious. The US navy has been sent to assist. Two tankers which were going from the UAE and Saudi ports respectively to Taiwan and Singapore appear to have been affected. Crews were evacuated from the ships.
Gulf tanker attack puts Trump in a bind on Iran - analysis
Burning oil tankers off the coast of Iran, allegedly attacked in the early hours of Thursday morning, have put the Trump administration in a bind over what to do about rising tensions with Tehran.

Oil priced jumped as news emerged that more than forty sailors had to be rescued and images showed a tanker ablaze.

Last month, the US ordered a carrier strike group to the waters off Iran and warned that although Washington was not seeking war that it was prepared to respond to any attack by Iran and its proxies.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Iraq where he reportedly showed the Iraqis intelligence on the threats. These might be threats from pro-Iranian militias, the US indicated.

It didn’t take long for the threats to emerge. Days later four tankers were sabotaged off the UAE port of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman. Then, eleven days after Pompeo flew to Iraq, a rocket fell near the US embassy.

Now the US was in a bind. It had threatened to act, but Washington didn’t want a major conflict with Iran. Although US officials spoke privately about Iran behind behind the May 12th tanker sabotage, the US waited until May 29 to say that Iran was “almost certainly” the culprit.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton said that the US carrier strike group and warning had deterred Iran. But the threat persists, he said on May 30.
UN to send deputy envoy to US Mideast peace conference
After weeks of hesitation, the United Nations announced Wednesday that it is sending its deputy Middle East coordinator to attend the unveiling of the economic component of a new US peace plan.

Jamie McGoldrick, who is also the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in the West Bank and Gaza, will travel to Bahrain for the June 25-26 conference, said UN spokesman Farhan Haq.

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been drafting the long-awaited peace plan that has already been rejected by the Palestinians, who expect the proposals to heavily favor Israel.

The plan is aimed at providing economic opportunities for the Palestinians, but Kushner has hinted that it will not endorse international calls for the creation of a Palestinian state.

Several UN resolutions have enshrined the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the path to a peace settlement.
More than half of House Democrats slam any Mideast plan without 2 states
More than half of the Democrats in the US House of Representatives say a peace plan that does not expressly have as its outcome two states would endanger the prospects of peace.

The resolution, a dig at the Trump administration’s peace policies, was backed by J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group. It says not mentioning two states in a deal would “put a peaceful end to the conflict further out of reach.”

The non-binding resolution, which so far has garnered 123 co-sponsors out of 235 in the Democratic caucus, alludes to the as-yet- unveiled peace plan drafted by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Kushner has not counted out Palestinian statehood as an outcome, but he also says that the phrase is not a useful one.

The resolution, introduced last month by Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., who is Jewish, calls for “a two-state solution that is consistent with the broadly held consensus positions for resolving the conflict’s final status issues as reflected in previous United States proposals.”
16 House Republicans Demand Twitter Ban Hamas
Sixteen GOP members of Congress on Wednesday wrote Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey demanding that he remove “all content promoting terrorist activity,” and ban “senior Hamas officials and associates from Twitter who radicalize individuals to incite violence against Israelis.”

The 16 lawmakers Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Randy Weber (R-TX), Liz Cheney (R-WY), Ted Budd (R-NC), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA, Scott Perry (R-PA), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Francis Rooney (R-FL), Davis Kustoff (R-TN), and John Ratcliffe (R-TX), reminded Dorsey his company had already banned ISIS and Hezbollah, and argued that, like those two, Hamas also advocates the indiscriminate murder of Jews.
Yair Netanyahu: Israel is faithful US ally, but Palestinians celebrated on 9/11
The prime minister’s son, Yair Netanyahu, told an American television station Tuesday that while Israel is the most reliable ally of the United States, Palestinians danced in the streets and handed out candies to celebrate news of the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

Netanyahu appeared on the conservative Blaze TV channel in what was billed as his first ever interview and during which he lauded US President Donald Trump as having “rock star” popularity in Israel.

“When 9/11 happened, Israel was in mourning. It was like it happened to us, exactly the same. And the Palestinians were celebrating in the streets and handing out candies,” Netanyahu said. “Israel is the most reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East.”

“Unlike other countries in the Middle East, not only do we have the same interest as the US, the Israeli people adores America and is friendly with America,” the 27-year-old son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued.

“Trump is the best friend Israel and the Jewish people ever had in the White House,” Netanyahu said, and described the US president as “a real rock star in Israel.”

“Trump will be remembered in Jewish history forever for moving the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights [as under Israeli sovereignty],” added Netanyahu, who is an outspoken advocate of his father’s policies. “The Jewish people still remember king Cyrus the great from Persia recognized Jerusalem 2,500 years ago. So we have a long-term memory.”
Palestinians rip Moldova for Jerusalem embassy move announcement
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday issued sharp criticism of Moldova after its government said it would move its embassy to Jerusalem.

In a statement carried by the official Wafa news agency, the PA’s foreign ministry accused Pavel Filip, one of two Moldovan politicians claiming to be prime minister, of having “implicated his country in a violation of international law and the UN Charter to keep rule in his hand or to win American and Israeli support.”

Filip said Tuesday that Moldova would become the first European country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, following the US and Guatemala. The promise came as the embattled politician has struggled to hold onto power amid a blistering leadership battle.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, said the embassy move announcement was “an act of unreserved hostility against the Palestinian people” by Moldova.

She also called on the European Union to take action against Moldova, which is not a member of the bloc, for breaking with its stance on Jerusalem.
Report: Hizbullah Planned Game-Changing Attacks on Israeli Targets Globally
For three and a half years, Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency played a cat-and-mouse game with the Hezbollah terror group to stymie its efforts to establish explosives storehouses from Thailand to New York, an Israeli intelligence official confirmed this week.

The largest cache, containing some three tons of ammonium nitrate, a key ingredient for some types of explosives, was found at four locations in north London, sites raided by the Metropolitan Police in September 2015. Other caches planted by Hezbollah cells were discovered in Cyprus, Thailand and as-yet unnamed European countries, according to reports.

The Hezbollah plot to establish infrastructure in London in preparation for future attacks was revealed Sunday in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

That report, based on sources in Britain, the US and Cyprus, noted that a foreign intelligence agency, unnamed, had tipped off Britain’s MI5 and the Metropolitan Police about the explosives.

On Monday, an unnamed senior Israeli official told Israel’s Kan public broadcaster the warning had come from the Mossad.

On Wednesday, a report in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily expanded on the revelation, citing unnamed Israeli intelligence officials offering new details about the Israeli effort to stymie Hezbollah’s activities — which police in London, Cyprus and Thailand have concluded were ultimately directed at Israeli assets in those countries.
US, Argentina hold workshop on countering Hezbollah terror
The United States and Argentina held a workshop this week on countering Hezbollah’s terror activities in the Western Hemisphere, a month before the 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombings.

The workshop, held in Buenos Aires on Tuesday and Wednesday, included law enforcement personnel and financial practitioners from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, as well as representatives from Ameripol.

Officials from the US Departments of State, Justice and the Treasury, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Counterterrorism Center, and Drug Enforcement Administration, also participated in the meeting.

The summit was held ahead of Western Hemisphere Ministerial that the Government of Argentina will host commemorating the 25th anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in the Argentine capital on July 18, 1994 which killed 85 people and injured over 300 others.

According to a statement released by the US State Department, the workshop focused on Hezbollah’s global modus operandi and its terrorist and criminal infrastructure and activities in the Americas.

“Participants discussed various techniques to constrain and counter the group’s illicit activities, including the financial and law enforcement tools available to identify, investigate, and prosecute Hezbollah’s global support and facilitation networks. Participants also discussed Hezbollah attempts to continue and expand its fundraising in the Western hemisphere, especially in light of the current financial pressure on Hezbollah,” the statement said.
With Netanyahu vulnerable ahead of elections, Hamas ups the pressure
Like a recurring nightmare, the next round of the war between Israel and the Gaza-based Hamas terror group is almost upon us. With no distinct reason, no unusual actions by either side — but simply part of the ordinary run of chronic escalations that seem to be the sad fate of the two adversaries.

It may be rooted in the delays in sending Qatari money to the Strip, intended to pay stipends to tens of thousands of poor families. It may also be caused by an attempt on the part of Hamas to divert attention from the economic summit the US is planning in Bahrain later this month.

On Tuesday, the White House announced that Jordan and Egypt will participate in the summit together with the Gulf countries, and thereby showed the powerlessness of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his inability to influence regional events after he tried repeatedly to convince the leaders in Cairo and Amman not to take part.

But for all that, how effective can the summit be if it takes place in the shadow of yet another escalation in Gaza under the expert orchestration of Hamas?

This escalation began with a spike in incendiary balloons launched from Gaza in recent days. Wednesday alone saw 12 balloon-sparked brush fires near Israeli communities close to the Gaza border.
IAF strikes underground Hamas target after Palestinians fire rocket into Israel
Israeli aircraft hit a Hamas underground facility in the Gaza Strip early Thursday after a rocket fired at southern Israel was shot down in the first such attack since Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave fought a vicious two-day battle last month.

The Israel Defense Forces said its fighter jets bombed “underground terror infrastructure on a base belonging to the Hamas terror group in the southern Gaza Strip.”

The army said the strikes came in response to the rocket that was fired at Israel earlier in the night, noting that Israel holds the Gaza-ruling Hamas responsible for all violence emanating from the Strip.

Earlier in the night the Israeli military said it shot down a rocket from Gaza heading toward southern Israel shortly after midnight Wednesday.

The incoming projectile triggered sirens in the community of Nirim in the Eshkol region, east of Gaza, at approximately 12:15 a.m. on Thursday. Residents of the area reported hearing sounds of explosions.

“One launch was detected from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory. It was intercepted by Iron Dome soldiers,” the army said in a statement, referring to the air defense system.

Residents said the rocket caused no injuries or damage.
An Israeli Attack on a Strategic Outpost in Syria Suggests Russia Isn’t Keeping Its Word
On Tuesday night, Israel appears to have struck a military base on Tel al-Hara, a mountain overlooking the Golan Heights that is the highest point in the area. Ron Ben-Yishai explains:

For decades, Tel al-Hara has served as an intelligence base for the Syrian army, as well as for Iran and Russia, whose forces operate there with Syria’s permission. . . . In late 2018, the Syrian army—with Russian assistance—took control of the area [from al-Qaeda-linked rebels], including Tel al-Hara. According to an Israeli agreement with the Russians, only the Syrian army is allowed to remain in the region, while Hizballah, Iran, and the other Shiite militias operating on its behalf were to be pushed back at least 80 kilometers east of the Damascus-Daraa road, which runs close to Tel al-Hara.

The agreement was honored initially, and only the Syrian army used the mountain. . . . It is however fair to assume that [now] Hizballah, the Iranians, and their proxies in Tel al-Hara intend to use it to gather intelligence for a variety of purposes: to facilitate future infiltrations into Israeli territory and attacks on civilian and military targets; to aim missiles, rockets, and artillery; to monitor IDF and IAF activity as well as deployments that could indicate whether Israel is planning an operation that may disrupt Iranian and Hizballah plans. . . .

Israel had announced several times that it would not allow the consolidation of an Iranian-led radical Shiite front in Syria. The attack may also have served to remind the Russians to ensure that the mediated understandings it has reached with Israel, the U.S., and Jordan are to be honored. If not, Israel would have to take care of the problem itself. Russian military police units are stationed on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, who could easily ascertain the facts on the ground at Tel al-Hara.
Newly-Elected Dutch Senator Apologizes for ‘Meek Lambs’ Description of Holocaust Victims
Beukering is a representative of the right-wing nationalist FvD party, which scored a major political victory in provincial elections last March when it became the largest party in the Senate.

Beukering told the newspaper that as “a young child, I read a whole cabinet of books about the Holocaust.”

He continued: “I was always interested in finding out how it was at all possible. That the Jews — such a brave people — were driven to the gas chambers just like meek lambs. It has always fascinated me.”

Pressed on what he meant by “meek lambs,” Beukering replied: “Well, there has been very little resistance. Resistance by the Jews. Escape. That kind of thing. There are all kinds of reasons for that, but it is a sad story that should never happen again.”

But speaking to De Telegraaf again on Tuesday, the new senator apologized for his observation, characterizing it as an “awkward comment.”

“I now regret it and take it back,” Beukering said.

Some Holocaust educators reacted angrily. “There was resistance everywhere. Holocaust education is failing,” said Maria van Beurden Cahn of the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam on Twitter.

Beukering was robustly defended by his parliamentary colleague, Paul Cliteur — the FvD party chairman in the Senate.

“Given the context, I understood what he meant by that [comment],” Cliteur said. “I have not been able to read any malicious comments against Jews into it. I also think it is a shame that people take the most malicious interpretations of such an interview as a starting point. As far as I’m concerned, he shouldn’t have taken back that statement.”

Two Meretz members launch joint ‘Arab-Jewish leadership’ bid
Two members of Meretz launched a joint bid Wednesday to head the left-wing party, saying they were looking to bring it a “shared Arab-Jewish leadership.”

MK Issawi Frej and former lawmaker Mossi Raz announced the move after meeting with a group of Meretz activists.

“The Israel left needs hope in the form of true Jewish-Arab partnership. The Arab public gave its trust to Meretz in the last election and now we must strengthen the partnership by building a strong and influential Jewish-Arab left,” Frej wrote in a Facebook post.

Raz tweeted that the aim of the joint leadership run was meant to provide “hope against [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s policy of incitement.”

Syria Refuses Access to Chemical Weapons Investigators
Syrian officials have refused access to a newly-created chemical weapons investigation team formed to identify culprits behind attacks with banned munitions, the organisation’s top official said in remarks published on Wednesday.

Member countries of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) voted last year to create the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), a decision that was opposed by Damascus and its ally Russia.

“Syria refuses to recognise the decision and to deal with any of its subsequent implications and effects,” OPCW head Fernando Arias told member states.

He said Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Faysal Mekdad, had informed the OPCW in writing of the decision not to issue travel visas to members of the investigation team.

“Additionally, I received two letters dated 9 May and 14 May from the vice-minister, informing of Syria’s objection to grant the newly appointed members of the IIT access to any confidential information concerning the Syrian chemical dossier” Arias said.
US blacklists Iraqi firm accused of gunrunning for Iranian Guards
The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on an Iraq-based affiliate of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, one more in a series of steps intended to pressure Tehran following President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from the landmark nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.

The Treasury Department said the penalties target the South Wealth Resources Company in Baghdad and two of its registered agents. It said the company and the two men are linked to the IRGC’s foreign wing, or Quds Force, and have trafficked hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq.

South Wealth Resources has also helped move millions of dollars to Iraq “for illicit financial activity benefiting” the IRGC and Iraqi militias it supports.

The company and the two Iraqis, Makki Kazim Abd Al Hamid Al Asadi and Muhammed Husayn Salih al-Hasani, were also placed on the US State Department’s list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.

“The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defenses against the continued deceptive tactics emanating from Tehran in order to avoid complicity” in the IRGC’s “ongoing sanctions evasion schemes and other malign activities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

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