Wednesday, June 19, 2019

From Ian:

The invention of Palestinians
Rumors circulate of an impending Israeli-Palestinian peace plan to be proposed by the Trump administration. It might, therefore, be appropriate to scrutinize the Palestinian claim—grounded in myth and not history—to national sovereignty.

Jewish sovereignty in their biblical homeland began with the rule of kings David and Solomon in the 10th-century BCE. The kingdom of Israel existed as an independent state until 722 BCE, while the kingdom of Judah maintained its independence until 586 BCE. There was no sign of any people identified, or self-identified, as Palestinians. Despite repeated claims, there is not a shred of evidence—historical, archeological or textual—to connect them with the ancient Canaanites, Philistines or Jebusites, who preceded the return of Jews from Egypt to the homeland of their biblical patriarchs and matriarchs.

Modern conceptions of Palestine began to emerge in mid-19th-century England. Artist David Roberts, following the trail of the ancient Israelites from Egypt to their promised land, filled The Holy Land with romantic depictions of local people, places and ancient Jewish sites. Rev. Alexander Keith authored The Land of Israel, based on his belief in fulfillment of the ancient prophecy that Jews would return to their homeland. In a memorable phrase, often repeated, he wrote that Jews were “a people without a country; even as their own land … is in a great measure … a country without a people.” Palestinians were not mentioned.

Several years later, Lord Shaftesbury, in a letter to British foreign minister Lord Palmerston following the Crimean War, wondered whether there was “such a thing” as “a nation without a country.” Answering his own question, he referred to “the ancient and rightful lords of the soil, the Jews.”

In the beginning of the 20th century and continuing throughout British Mandatory rule, Zionist land development and work prospects attracted Arabs from Middle Eastern countries (who eventually became known as “Palestinians”). There was little discernible evidence of Palestinian national consciousness. The Balfour Declaration (1917) further negates Palestinian fantasies. In his famous letter to Lord Rothschild, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The League of Nations adopted a resolution affirming the Balfour declaration. There was no mention of a Palestinian people, which did not then exist.

Noah Rothman: Iran’s Liberal Conspiracy Theorists
Conspiratorial thinking requires cognitive leaps, so it’s unsurprising that so many of the accusers have not reconciled these claims with their recent assertions that questioning the validity of American intelligence assessments was reckless in the extreme.

Like most conspiracy theories, the notion that Trump is spoiling for war in the Middle East is wholly resistant to contradictory evidence. Administration officials have told any reporter willing to listen that it is Tehran, not Washington, that sees utility in a set of limited strikes on Iranian targets—an overreaction that Iranian leaders believe will reinforce the regime’s faltering domestic position. Trump’s reaction to Iranian provocations, however, has been restrained almost to the point of negligence.

Despite Iran’s attacks, the president and his Cabinet officials have continued to set conditions for direct diplomatic engagement with Iran. Trump even went so far as to call the attacks on international shipping “very minor.” That is a heedless dismissal of America’s obligation as the guarantor of the collective right to freedom of navigation on the high seas and is indicative of a historical and legal illiteracy more common among his pacifist liberal critics.

Contrary to the tinfoil hat-clad opposition, the Trump administration is not warm to the prospect of war with Iran. The White House’s steadfast reliance on economic sanctions to bring Iran back to the negotiating table has led to a dangerously passive response to these audacious attacks on the U.S.-led global commercial order. The pattern of escalation in the Persian Gulf suggests that Iran is not done testing America’s lack of resolve. Absent the U.S.’s imposing unendurable costs on Iran’s bellicose behavior, the next attack could be one that Washington simply cannot afford to ignore.

The notion that Trump and company are salivating for violent conflict with Tehran is rooted not in evidence but in shared assumptions and subjective inferences. It is a conclusion in pursuit of supporting evidence. This is hardly the first conspiracy theory the Iran deal’s proponents have embraced, and it probably won’t be the last.
MEMRI: Russian Reactions To The Attacks On Tankers In The Gulf Of Oman: Once Again, We Are Witnessing Events Being 'Shaped' By Washington
On June 13, two oil tankers – the Kokuka Courageous and the Front Altair - caught fire in the Gulf of Oman in a torpedo attack.[1] The US immediately accused Iran of responsibility for the attack. The US also blamed Iran for four other attacks on tankers that occurred outside the Strait of Hormuz in May. Iran denied any involvement.

Commenting on the attack, the Russian Foreign Ministry said: "First of all, we would like to thank the Iranian authorities for assistance in rescuing eleven Russian mariners, crewmembers of one of the tankers (Front Altair). All of them were promptly evacuated from the burning vessel and taken to the port of Jask… Moscow resolutely condemns the attacks whoever might be behind them."

The Ministry then added: "We think it necessary to refrain from quick conclusions. It is inadmissible to place responsibility for the incident on anyone until a thorough and unbiased international investigation is over."

"We are worried over the tensions in the Gulf of Oman. We take note of deliberate efforts to whip up tensions, which are largely encouraged by the United States' Iranophobic policy. We call on all the parties to show restraint."[2]

Russian pro-Kremlin commentators, such as Senator Konstantin Kosachev, commenting on the attacks in the Gulf of Oman, accused the US of fabricating fake news and evidence against Iran, in order to secure a pretext for escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Below is an overview of reactions by pro-Kremlin commentators and lawmakers to the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman:[3]

The British Christian Volunteer Who Fought for Israel’s Independence
Having arrived in Palestine with the British Army in 1938, at age seventeen, Tom Derek Bowden—who died last week—served under the famed and eccentric British Zionist officer Orde Wingate. In 1941, he was dispatched to Vichy-ruled Syria, where he fought alongside Moshe Dayan. Despite being released from service due to injuries, Bowden insisted on rejoining the fight on the European front, where he was eventually captured and sent to Bergen-Belsen. He returned to the Land of Israel in 1948 to fight for the Jewish state’s independence, and then went back to England to take up farming. Stephen Daisley comments on this remarkable life and its “enduring lessons.”

Bowden’s first lesson is his simplest: always be for the Jews. When the world asks you to choose between the Jews and their enemies, or insists on your neutrality in the matter, never hesitate to choose the Jews. Your philo-Semitism will be in the minority most of the time and some Jews will regard it with suspicion, but it is a moral imperative nonetheless. The preservation of Jewish life, community, and peoplehood is a civilizational commandment. No society can be advanced whose Jews aren’t free, equal, and safe.

Another lesson from Bowden’s life is that being for the Jews often requires courage. Few are called on to show the measure of valor Bowden did and he is a useful reminder that, whatever sufferings come with philo-Semitism and Zionism, your inconveniences are minor compared to his. Bowden teaches us, too, that there is no conditional solidarity with Jews. He is no friend who is only there when it’s easy or politically palatable. Zionism and Jewish peoplehood are inextricably linked, and Bowden understood that if the modern Jewish state was strangled at birth it would indeed mean another “annihilation” of the Jews. Bowden fought for Israel for the same reason anti-Semites fight against it: Israel is the home of Jewish strength and Jewish security.
PM warns Israel's enemies against 'testing IDF's power'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday warned Israel’s enemies against testing the IDF’s military capabilities, saying, “I hear our neighbors from the north, south, and east threatening us with destruction. To our enemies I say: The IDF has great destructive power. Don’t test us.”

The statement came as Netanyahu was visiting a military exercise in the northern sector, where he was briefed by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and spoke with soldiers and commanders who participated in the drill.

Following the visit, Netanyahu told reporters, “I’m concluding a visit to a major, cross-corps IDF exercise in several sectors. I was very impressed by the improvement in [combat] readiness, by the soldiers and commanders’ fighting spirit, and mainly by the IDF’s destructive power. Our enemies shouldn’t test us.”

The Israeli Air Force concluded a four-day drill on Wednesday, simulating a multi-front war.

The exercise included fighter jets, attack and transport helicopters, drones and air defense systems, and also simulated a scenario in which the Israeli homefront is hit with thousands of rockets.

Last week, Netanyahu implicitly referred to foreign media reports attributing recent strikes on Iranian assets in Syria to Israel, saying, "We face constant tests and we respond with determination and force to any attack against us.”
PM: Israel maintaining overt, covert ties with Arab leaders
The growing sentiment one week ahead of the US-sponsored economic workshop in Bahrain, set to take place on June 25-26, was that the summit is expected to be a success and leave the Palestinian Authority out in the cold.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday welcomed the workshop on as an important initiative.

"A very important conference, which we welcome, will be held in Bahrain very soon – a US effort to bring about a better future and solve the region's problems," Netanyahu said. "Israelis will be present, of course."

"Whether overtly or covertly, we are maintaining ties with many leaders in the Arab world and [we have] widespread relations with most Arab countries," the prime minister added.

The Trump administration still has not revealed what the upcoming workshop in Manama will precisely entail, but according to reports, 14 finance ministers from across the globe will attend, five of them from Arab countries. Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as previously reported, will send nongovernmental representatives.
David Singer: Trump Reverses Obama-UN treachery on West Bank and East Jerusalem
Bush’s Congress-endorsed commitment was given to Israel in a letter from President Bush to then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004. Bush confirmed that America regarded it as unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would see Israel withdraw from all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

President Bush’s commitment was overwhelmingly endorsed by Congress by 502 votes to 12.

Bush’s commitment procured Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza and part of the West Bank in 2005 involving the forcible removal of 8000 Jews living there – a decision which has had disastrous consequences for both Israel’s and Gaza’s civilian populations after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from the Palestine Liberation Organization.

President Obama shredded this Bush Congress-endorsed commitment when he abstained – rather than vetoed Security Council Resolution 2334 on 23 December 2016, which declared:
“the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”

Secretary of State John Kerry offered this pathetic explanation on 28 December 2016 for Obama’s failure to veto Resolution 2234:
“the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbours. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.”

Resolution 2334 however was asserting:
- The West Bank and East Jerusalem were “Palestinian territory” and
- 600,000 Jews currently living there had no legal entitlement to do so despite the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations own Charter legally vesting that right in the Jewish people.

Amb. Alan Baker: The Palestinian Refusal to Attend the Bahrain Economic Workshop Is Irresponsible and Self-Defeating
The Palestinian leadership is engaging in a concerted propaganda campaign to undermine the U.S.-Bahrain initiative to convene the “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Manama, Bahrain, aimed at assisting the Palestinian economy.

This campaign involves attempts to misrepresent and politicize the initiative and to present it as a sinister plot of colonization that violates international law and the rights of the Palestinian people. According to a Palestinian Authority official, Palestinian leadership “will thwart all the conspiracies, workshops, and meetings.”1

Logic would assume that any initiative to improve the Palestinian economy and the welfare and prosperity of its public would be welcomed as a positive development. However, the Palestinian leadership appears to prefer engaging in a senseless and self-damaging propaganda campaign against the initiative rather than to welcome it.

In so doing, the Palestinian leadership is acting contrary to the economic interests, prosperity, and welfare of its own population. It is violating its commitments in the Oslo Accords and other peace-process documents, to further economic cooperation and support and promote joint ventures – all to improve the lives of the Palestinian public and strengthen regional cooperation.

Such violations are irresponsible, ill-advised, and self-defeating since they harm the very public that the Palestinian leadership purports to serve and represent.

They also undermine a serious attempt to advance the very peace process that was sponsored and endorsed by the major powers and elements of the international community.
PMW: Fatah calls for violence against Israel during Bahrain Conference
* Fatah calls for violence:
"On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, June 24, 25, and 26, 2019
An escalation of the confrontations with the Israeli occupation in all districts of the homeland as a sign of opposition to the Deal of the Century and the workshop in Manama [in Bahrain]"

* Fatah official threatens violence:
"The great plot... will push our Palestinian people to protect its rights by all means available to it"

* Fatah official:
"The Fatah members and the vital forces on the Palestinian lands [should dedicate] the 24th, 25th, and 26th [of June] to Palestine and Jerusalem, in order to express their rejection of the Bahrain Conference"

* Director of anti-Bahrain Conference event:
"The Zionist-American 'Holocaust of the century' has come to eliminate the Palestinian cause, and in order to pass this, it was necessary to convene the Bahrain conference for Arab normalization with the Israeli racism, under the cover of 'the illusion of economic prosperity'"
EU ‘ready to work’ with US on peace plan, as long as it aims at two states
The European Union on Wednesday signaled willingness to cooperate with the US administration’s effort to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, as long as it includes a clear commitment to the two-state solution and other internationally endorsed parameters.

Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy czar, during a meeting in Washington Tuesday with Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, “underlined the fundamental interest of the European Union for lasting and sustainable peace and stability in the region,” according to a readout of the meeting provided by Brussels.

“In this context, the EU is ready to work with the US administration on the basis of its longstanding position, including the commitment to a negotiated two-state solution and agreed international parameters.”

The EU’s position calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem a capital of both Israel and Palestine.
A battle royal
Two videos the Jordanian royal family posted on its YouTube channel in recent weeks do much to dispel the ambiguity around one of the dramatic sections of US President Donald Trump's "deal of the century." The US is seeking to give Saudi Arabia a major role in the guardianship of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, namely the Temple Mount.

The current guardians – Jordan and its king, Abdullah II – have more than 100 years of history on the Mount, as well as a long line of agreements and understandings with Israel. They are hurt and disappointed. The king is angry. He is unwilling to step down in favor of the Saudis and their seventh king – Salman Bin Abdel-Aziz al-Saudi – or share the guardianship. Jordan is doing almost anything it can to make that point clear.

On March 20, a week before Abdullah met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior Trump advisors in Washington, he met with dignitaries from the Az-Zarqa district, one of the strongholds of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. Approximately half the residents of Az-Zarqa are Palestinians. Abdullah declared that he would "never" change his stance on Jerusalem, saying, "We have a historic obligation to Jerusalem and its holy sites."

For the first time, the king acknowledged he was under pressure: "That is a red line for me, and I know that the people are by my side … as the Hashemite state, we have an obligation to defend sites that are holy to Islam and Christianity. True, we are being pressured, but in the end, our response will be 'no,'" he said.

A few days later, in a meeting with top Jordanian army officials, the king (now in uniform) repeated: "Jerusalem and the future Palestinian state are a red line for Jordan. I don't know how I can make it any clearer … how can I, as a Hashemite, give up Jerusalem? It's impossible. It's a red line. I say 'no' to any concession on Jerusalem … that is our word, and that is our stance."
Honest Reporting: The Golan Heights – The History, Present, and Future Explained
Ancient Jewish History in the Golan

Jewish history in the Golan dates back to Biblical times, with the existence of Jewish life in the area recorded in various texts, including the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua. Back then, the region was known as the Bashan. The name Golan itself derives from the city of Bashan, which the Bible documents as one of 60-something fortified cities in the area. Golan functioned as a ‘city of refuge,’ a place where suspected murderers were allowed to flee to avoid reprisal.

Although the Jewish people were exiled from the Land of Israel on numerous occasions, Jewish exiles returned from Assyria, Babylonia and the region during numerous periods, even defying the great Roman army. The area is brimming with historic artifacts testifying to Jewish communal life in the land, and the repeated turnovers of control as the region was repeatedly taken, wrested back, and seized again. One particularly shocking episode at the clifftop town of Gamla closely resembled a famous final act of Jewish resistance at Masada when the besieged Jewish communities there committed mass suicide rather than surrender. When the Gamla fortifications were breached in 67 C.E., the entire Jewish community is said to have died; around half of them killed by the Romans, and the other half by jumping off the steep climbs to certain death.

Even after Jewish autonomy came to an end, Jewish life in the Golan continued. The remains of over 30 ancient synagogues have been discovered, ritual bathing facilities have been found, and beautiful mosaic floors with Jewish symbols have been found, all pointing to a sustained Jewish presence. Only in the 7th century were the Jewish communities of the Golan wiped out when Islamic invaders conquered the land from the Assyrians for the burgeoning Rashidun Caliphate. Only centuries later were Jews able to return to the land.
BBC misquotes US Ambassador in Golan Heights report
As was explained here when the BBC’s Tim Franks visited the Golan Heights last month, that “new settlement” is in fact intended to be an extension of a small community that has existed since 1991.
“…the community, which will be a mixed secular-religious settlement that in its first stage will number some 120 families, will be set up in the northern Golan at Beruchim…”

That information was not provided to readers of this report, who were however told that:
“US Ambassador David Friedman, who attended the ceremony, called the settlement “well deserved, but much appreciated”.”

In fact, Ambassador Friedman said:
“I want to thank you for the extraordinary gesture that you and the State of Israel are making to the president of the United States,” Friedman said. “It is well deserved, but it is much appreciated, and we look forward to work[ing] with you and with the government of Israel to continue to strengthen the unbreakable alliance between the United States and Israel.”

Clearly this report does not inform BBC audiences either adequately or accurately.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Neighbor Trying To Oust Family From Home Says Just Critical Of Their Policies (satire)
Controversy continues to swirl around an apartment building in this middle-class Tel Aviv suburb, where one resident of the fifth floor has called for shunning, boycotting, dehumanizing, and expelling the inhabitants of the flat next door because he disapproves of the way the couple there raises their three children. The man maintains he harbors no animosity toward those neighbors per se, and merely seeks to criticize the couple’s decisions.

Ari Bleeg, 50, began his Wednesday with his normal routine, which involves holding a placard outside the door to the Harari home across the hallway from his apartment. The placard calls the Harai family interlopers, occupiers, and myriad other terms challenging their legitimacy as leaseholders of Apartment 5C, and Mr. Bleeg wields a megaphone through which he exhorts other neighbors and passers-by to refrain from conducting normal neighborly relations with the Harari family, including their four-year-old, seven-year-old, and nine-year-old children.

“They don’t belong here,” insists Bleeg. “I have nothing against them, but they have to leave. I don’t care that they have a deed and everything, and all their association dues are paid – I don’t accept the legitimacy of any of that. From 5A to 5C, floor five will be free!”

“Now, don’t get the wrong idea,” continued Bleeg. “I’m not objecting to their existence, just their policies.” Witnesses noted that Bleeg has decried the injustice of every Harari policy that does not involve leaving, regardless of the benefit or disadvantage to other building tenants.
EU Ministers Urge Action over Turkey's Drilling Off Cyprus
EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday expressed "grave concern over the ongoing illegal drilling" for gas by Turkey in waters where EU member Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. They called on the bloc's executive arm to submit possible sanctions, including cuts to financial aid that Turkey currently receives. The ministers "stress the immediate and serious consequences Turkey's illegal actions are having on the entire fabric of Turkish-EU relations." Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus and says it is acting to protect its own rights and those of breakaway Turkish Cypriots.
MEMRI: Saudi Twitter Poll Finds 33% In Favor Of Relations With Israel, Versus 47% Against
The issue of normalizing relations with Israel is occasionally debated in the Saudi media, especially in light of the threat posed to both countries by Iran. Recently, this debate resurfaced on Twitter, after Saudi journalist Sukina Al-Meshekhis set up a poll on her page asking her followers whether they supported the Gulf states maintaining good relations with Israel.[1] The poll was answered by thousands, with 33% answering "yes", 47% answering "no", and 20% choosing a third, noncommittal, option. Many users, especially in Saudi Arabia, also commented on the question posed by the poll, expressing positions for and against rapprochement with Israel. Those in favor argued that Israel's existence is a fact, that it is interested in peace, that the Palestinian themselves coexist with it and that Saudis should visit it. Some also stated that Israel, unlike Arab countries, actually fights Iran. Those against maintaining good relations with Israel wrote that its crime of occupying Palestinian lands and its expansionist aspirations cannot be tolerated.

It should be noted that, in the recent years, the Saudi media has published no few expressions of support for Israel and calls to establish relations with it, alongside articles that opposed this and harshly attacked Israel and its policies.[2]

US to sell Israel aerial refueling planes – report
The United States will reportedly sell Israel aerial refueling planes, marking the first time it has agreed to do so.

According to a Channel 12 news report Tuesday, Israel is looking to purchase eight Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aircraft, which the US Air Force first received earlier this year.

The planes would replace the Israeli Air Force’s current fleet of aging refueling planes, which includes KC-130 Hercules and converted Boeing 707s.

The report said Israel would buy the planes using the $3.8 billion in US defense aid it receives annually, with the total cost of the aircraft topping $1 billion.

The IAF is expected to begin receiving the planes in another two years, the network reported.

“Just like for the US Air Force, for the Israeli Air Force [the KC-46] gives it the ability to reach out and do whatever they need to do at any time, be it humanitarian or combat operations,” a US Air Force lieutenant colonel told Channel 12.
Ukrainian mobile carrier welcomes users to 'Palestine' upon landing in Israel
One of the largest mobile carriers in Ukraine has been sending users a message welcoming them to "Palestine" when they land at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Anna Pozinsky, who lives in Israel, arrived in Ukraine for a visit and purchased a local SIM card for her device. Upon turning it on when her flight landed in Tel Aviv, Pozinsky was shocked to find a message in Ukrainian reading "Welcome to Palestine." The message made no reference to Israel.

Pozinsky told Israel Hayom that the company responsible for the message, Kyivstar, is large and "well-known."

"When I boarded the plane, I turned off my device and didn't switch out the [Ukrainian] SIM card for an Israeli one. The next day, I turned on the device and saw the message," she said.

"First, I was surprised, and then I was furious. That's exactly like telling Ukrainians 'Welcome to Russia.' 200 people received that message. That is what is being drilled into their heads," Pozinsky said.

When asked if she thought the message was motivated by anti-Semitism, Posinsky said she believed it reflected "politics in general" in Ukraine.

"This is the first time I've seen something like this. They still don't know that this isn't Palestine? A year ago, the company was sold and that might have had some influence," she added.
International Atomic Energy Agency recognizes Palestine as a state
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed an agreement to recognize Palestine, as a state as it joined the international body as a observer on Tuesday. While it is not a member, it can attend meetings as an observer, an IAEA spokesperson said.

The agreement, which was signed by the agency's director general Yukiya Amano and the Palestinian Ambassador in Vienna Salah Abdul Shafi, gives the IAEA inspectors the ability to check the safety of radioactive materials and fissile nuclear materials, such as uranium.

While the PA has no nuclear reactors, it does have physics departments in hospitals and universities, which have medical equipment containing components of nuclear materials.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the agreement was a "violation of international conventions."

This act is seen by Israel as a push by the PA for international recognition, similar to when the PA joined UNESCO in 2011.

The agreement puts Israel, the IAEA and the PA in a challenging situation, as it is not yet clear how the IAEA will define the territory and borders of a Palestinian state.
Gaza banks to dole out Qatari cash, but 40,000 cut from recipient list
Postal banks in the Gaza Strip will start to distribute small Qatari grants to 60,000 impoverished Palestinian families on Thursday, an official from the Gulf emirate said Wednesday.

Families in the Strip have been waiting since Sunday for the money to be distributed, after Mohammed al-Emadi, a Qatari envoy who heads the Gaza Reconstruction Committee, entered the impoverished enclave with at least $10 million.

Emadi said Sunday that 100,000 needy families would receive the payouts, but on Wednesday he stated that the postal banks will only hand out $100 bills to 60,000 poor families.

He also said that the funds Qatar initially allocated for the remaining 40,000 families, $4 million, will instead go to “executing other sustainable projects which will be announced in the future.”

A spokesman for the Gaza Reconstruction Committee did not respond to phone calls.

Emadi said that the decision to reallocate some of the funds to “sustainable projects” was made following consultations with “the ministries and relevant parties” and as a part of an effort “to achieve the maximum benefit from the Qatari grant,” without elaborating.

He said in a statement on Monday that “technical issues” delayed the start of distribution of the small grants.
Turkish leader says Egypt’s Morsi was ‘killed,’ vows justice
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said his close ally Mohammed Morsi was “killed” and accused Egyptian authorities of failing to intervene to save the ex-president.

“Morsi was struggling on the floor in the courtroom for 20 minutes. Authorities unfortunately did not intervene to save him,” Erdogan said during a televised speech in Istanbul.

“Morsi was killed, he did not die of natural causes.”

Erdogan forged close ties with Morsi, Egypt’s first civilian president and a prominent Muslim Brotherhood member.

But Ankara’s relations with Cairo ties deteriorated after the Egyptian military, then led by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, ousted Morsi in 2013. Sissi then became president.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil: Displaced Syrians Take Jobs of Lebanese, Don't Pay Taxes

WSJ EDitorial: Tehran's Threat of a Nuclear Breakout Shows Its Real Intentions
Iran said Monday that by the end of June it will exceed the limits it had agreed to on its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Exceeding the cap would violate the 2015 nuclear deal and force European leaders to decide if they want to acquiesce to Iran or join the U.S. in an effort to pressure Tehran to renegotiate the failed nuclear deal.

It turns out the U.S. has enough economic power that European companies are abiding by the new sanctions rather than risk losing access to the U.S. market. Iran is feeling the financial squeeze and is now acting up.

Critics are blaming the U.S. for "backing Iran into a corner," but Iran is the bad actor here.

Iran could have used the nuclear deal as an invitation to rejoin the world economy as a normal trading state. But it used the financial windfall to finance its missile program at home and spread terror abroad.

The best way to reduce the danger of a shooting war in the region is for Europe to join the U.S. in a united campaign to persuade Iran that its only path out of sanctions is to renegotiate the nuclear deal and cease its export of revolution.
Eli Lake: Don’t Blame Trump for Iran’s Aggression
As President Donald Trump mulls a comprehensive response to what he says was an Iranian attack on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf last week, his smarter critics are not questioning Iran’s likely culpability. Instead, they are asking, “What did you expect?”

So Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, agreed that evidence of Iran’s responsibility for the attacks is “very strong and compelling.” But he also lamented that Trump had isolated the U.S. from its allies, and how those allies and U.S. intelligence analysts warned “that this kind of Iranian reaction was likely — a result of a policy of withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement.”

Schiff is right about those warnings. He is wrong, though, if he means to suggest that the U.S. is somehow responsible for Iran’s latest predation, a point made by other Trump critics. This kind of analysis is leading to some bizarre policy recommendations. Already, European diplomats are urging Trump to drop his campaign of maximum pressure and adopt one of “maximum restraint.”

This is asking to be blackmailed. And now that Iran is threatening to exceed the limits to uranium enrichment it agreed to in the 2015 nuclear deal, it’s more important than ever to understand that restraint and dialogue will not bring Iran to heel.
U.S. State Department: U.S. Calls to Unite Against Iranian Threat to Freedom of Navigation
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told CBS Face the Nation on Friday: "We don't want Iran to get a nuclear weapon. The previous administration put them on a pathway that virtually guaranteed that they could get there, so we withdrew from the ridiculous JCPOA and are moving ourselves towards a set of policies which will convince Iran to behave simply like a normal nation."

Q: CENTCOM released this video - purporting to show an IRGC Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulling up alongside these vessels and removing a mine from the hull of the ship. How certain are you that this is the IRGC?

Pompeo: "We don't just purport. That's what that video is. This was taken from an American camera, and this is the real data....I will concede there are countries that just wish this would go away, and they want to act in a way that is counterfactual. No one disputes that this is the Islamic Republic of Iran taking these actions to deny this international waterway and the freedom of navigation that is a fundamental right of every country to travel through that....The world needs to unite against this threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran."

"I'll remind you too, China gets over 80% of its crude oil transiting through the Strait of Hormuz. South Korea, Japan - these nations are incredibly dependent on these resources. We're prepared to do our part. We always defend freedom of navigation. We are going to work to build out a set of countries that have a deep, vested interest in keeping that strait open to help us do that."
Iran: New Terrorist Activity in Europe
One of the more disturbing discoveries regarding Iran's ever-expanding terrorism horizons has emerged in London where it was revealed by the Daily Telegraph earlier this month that a terrorist cell with links to Iran had been caught stockpiling tonnes of explosive materials on the outskirts of London at a secret bomb factory.

British intelligence officials have now concluded the stockpile was part of an international Hizbollah plot to lay the foundations for future terror attacks in Europe.

One positive outcome from Iran's increased terrorist activity has been to persuade the British government finally to designate the entire Hizbollah organisation as a terrorist organisation.

Now, with Iran being held responsible for the latest escalation in tensions in the Gulf, Britain and other European powers should demonstrate their resolve to oppose Iran's well-documented sponsorship of terrorism by backing the Trump administration in its latest confrontation with the ayatollahs.
Are Senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard Figures Defecting? Were Others Arrested?
Since Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was designated a terror organization, several reports have circulated, mainly outside of Iran, on the flight of IRGC’s senior commanders to other countries and the arrest of others. Meanwhile, several structural and personal changes made in the IRGC could be connected to internal problems it is undergoing. Israel’s name crops up regarding some cases. IRGC spokesman Ramazan Sharif has denied the reports.

Farsi-language reports by opposition elements in the social networks claim that Mohammad Tawallaii, deputy commander of the IRGC’s Strategic Affairs and Surveillance Department, was “arrested” in Iran after a yearlong investigation revealed that he had helped the Israeli Mossad smuggle the nuclear archive out of Iran and bring it to Israel.

Ali Javanmardi, who founded the site, lives in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq and is a senior Farsi-language reporter for the Voice of America. Based on “exclusive” information that apparently reached him from senior figures in Iraqi Kurdistan, he reported that frantic investigations in Iran since the smuggling of the archive to Israel had led Iran’s intelligence chiefs to conclude that Tawallaii is the senior Iranian figure who cooperated with Israel. Javanmardi added that, after being under surveillance, Tawallaii was recently arrested. Iranian exiles say that Tawallaii felt himself to be in danger and was arrested while preparing to leave Iran.
Ted Cruz Proposes Important Amendment To Finally End Iran’s Civil-Nuclear Waivers
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), arguably the single most authentically pro-Israel elected politician in America, has long been hard-nosed and hawkish on the uniquely evil threat posed by the radical terror mullocracy governing the Islamic Republic of Iran. As I noted back in February, here is how Cruz recently put it in an important foreign policy address delivered to the American Enterprise Institute:

If we ever discover the Ayatollah is on the verge of getting nuclear weapons, and I believe his ambitions will continue to be doing just that, we should be prepared to use crushing military force to make sure that doesn't happen. Military force to destroy their nuclear capacity — that should be our objective. Why? Because that is what our national interest is. To prevent an Ayatollah who chants "death to America" and "death to Israel" from ever having weapons capable of murdering in a flash of light millions of American souls.

Cruz's "non-interventionist hawk" foreign policy profile prioritizes the blistering aggression of counter-jihadism when need be — while also prudently resisting American resources getting sucked into sharia tribal warfare in third-world backwaters, so that our military and social capital may be conserved for truly necessary military exercises.
Iranian TV Promotes Establishment of National Intranet As More Secure against U.S. Cyber Attacks

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