Monday, June 24, 2019

From Ian:

Eugene Kontorovich (WSJ): Take the Palestinians’ ‘No’ for an Answer (click via tweet)
This week’s U.S.-led Peace to Prosperity conference in Bahrain on the Palestinian economy will likely be attended by seven Arab states—a clear rebuke to foreign-policy experts who said that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the Golan Heights as Israeli territory would alienate the Arab world. Sunni Arab states are lending legitimacy to the Trump administration’s plan, making it all the more notable that the Palestinian Authority itself refuses to participate.

The conference’s only agenda is improving the Palestinian economy. It isn’t tied to any diplomatic package, and the plan’s 40-page overview contains nothing at odds with the Palestinian’s purported diplomatic goals. Some aspects are even politically uncomfortable for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Given all that, the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to discuss economic opportunities for its own people, even with the Arab states, shows how far it is from discussing the concessions necessary for a diplomatic settlement. Instead it seeks to deepen Palestinian misfortune and use it as a cudgel against Israel in the theater of international opinion.

This isn’t the first time the Palestinians have said no. At a summit brokered by President Clinton in 2000, Israel offered them full statehood on territory that included roughly 92% of the West Bank and all of Gaza, along with a capital in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority rejected that offer, leading Israel to up it to 97% of the West Bank in 2001. Again, the answer was no. An even further-reaching offer in 2008 was rejected out of hand. And when President Obama pressured Israel into a 10-month settlement freeze in 2009 to renew negotiations, the Palestinians refused to come to the table.

After so many rejections, one might conclude that the Palestinian Authority’s leaders simply aren’t interested in peace. Had they accepted any of the peace offers, they would have immediately received the rarest of all geopolitical prizes: a new country, with full international recognition. To be sure, in each proposal they found something not quite to their liking. But the Palestinians are perhaps the only national independence movement in the modern era that has ever rejected a genuine offer of internationally recognized statehood, even if it falls short of all the territory the movement had sought.

Palestinian Leaders To United States: We Don’t Need Your Stinking Money
The Palestinian Authority also attended a “counter-conference” in Bahrain last week, titled “The Holocaust of the Century in Bahrain… Its Signs, Consequences, and Ways to Deal With It,” bizarrely applying terminology that describes Nazis’ genocide against the Jews to an economic conference with a $50 billion proposed investment.

The boycott and calls for violence rehash the same unproductive methods the Palestinians have used in the past to thwart peace measures, only this time the incoherence of the boycott is made more evident by the fact Israel will not even attend. Palestinian leaders continue to promulgate the notion that the workshop is some devious machination of the West or President Trump or both, despite many Palestinian-Arab neighbors agreeing to attend and host.

If anything, their attendance shows the Palestinian-Arabs’ gradual isolation among the Gulf States, who have grown weary of the Palestinian Authority’s political gymnastics and obsession with destroying their Jewish neighbors. Bahrain will prove another missed opportunity for Palestinian leadership to engage with their neighbors in a significant way. Palestinian leadership sees the political capital to be had in human suffering, so any attempts to mitigate such suffering meet serious skepticism from Palestinian officials.

Since rejecting the suggested partitioning the 1937 Peel Commission, Arab leaders have thwarted the creation of an Arab state west of the Jordan River more than six times, depending on whether one considers refusal to talk to mean refusing the possibility of a state. Thus, if anything is to be gleaned from the Bahrain conference boycott, it is that the Palestinian leadership does not have a genuine interest in bettering the lives of their own people—and perhaps that they are quite unprepared for actual statehood.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians and the Bahrain Conference: Condemning Arabs While Asking for Arab Money
The Palestinian strategy is clear: to incite the Arab masses against their leaders and governments. The Palestinian attacks are no longer directed against US President Donald Trump... Now the targets are the Arab heads of state, particularly those who are seen by Palestinians are being in collusion with Israel and the Trump administration.

As the Palestinians were condemning Arabs for agreeing to attend the conference in Bahrain, Palestinian leaders repeated their appeal to the Arab states for financial aid. On the one hand, the Palestinians are condemning Arab countries for attending a conference aimed at boosting the Palestinian economy and improving living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Palestinian leaders have no problem begging their Arab brothers for urgent financial aid.... The Palestinians are asking the Arabs to give them $100 million each month to help them "face political and financial pressure" from Israel and the US administration.

The Palestinians realize that some of the key Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, are no longer prepared to wait for them and have decided to board the train whose final destination is prosperity and economic opportunities for both Palestinians and Arabs.

The decision of six Arab states to attend the Bahrain conference despite the Palestinian boycott call shows that the Arabs have chosen to endorse a new direction – one that will leave the Palestinians to fend for themselves in a hell of their own making. For their choice to thumb their noses not only at the US but also at influential Arab states, the Palestinians are likely to emerge as the biggest losers.

What Iran Is Really Up To
In April 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—known more commonly as the Iran nuclear deal—was still to be formalized, but Republicans preparing to run for president in the following year were already denouncing it. At a public forum in New York City, the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius asked Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, whether he worried that one of these Republicans, if elected, might overturn the deal.

Zarif answered confidently that any successor to Barack Obama would be constrained by international law, by America’s commitments, formal and informal, to allies and partners, and by all the norms that governed relations among nations today. “I believe,” he said, “the United States will risk isolating itself in the world if there is an agreement and it decides to break it.” The result of any such action, he predicted, would be “chaos.”

Zarif’s comments prefigured the strategy that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is following today in his brinksmanship with President Trump. Playing on the fear, especially prevalent among European elites and American Democrats, that Trump is, precisely, an agent of chaos, Khamenei has taken a leaf from the book of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who in 2017 appeared at the World Economic Forum as the representative of enlightened globalism. “We should adhere to multilateralism to uphold the authority and efficacy of multilateral institutions,” Xi declared. “We should honor promises and abide by rules.”

The chords struck by Xi were still resonating in the halls of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires last December, where the assembled leaders adopted a joint communiqué affirming their commitment to “a rules-based international order.” In the Trump era, this old phrase has taken on a new meaning. In the minds of the defenders of globalism, it is shorthand for the norms and values threatened by Trump’s abrasive personal style, aggressive diplomacy, and disruptive trade wars. By pressuring the American president to join them in affirming the “rules-based order,” the G20 leaders were treating him to a passive-aggressive reprimand.

The next meeting of G20 takes place in Japan this coming Friday and Saturday, June 29-30, and fears of “chaos” have hardly abated—especially among Europeans, who will constitute fully a quarter of all attendees. The recent European elections saw a significant rise in the power of nationalists who seek to weaken the European Union (EU), leaving its leading representatives, all of whom will be present in Osaka, feeling caught between the hammer of Trump’s America First policies and the anvil of European populism.

Khamenei intends to leverage the fears that haunt these Europeans by raising the specter of war and simultaneously offering a cooperative, multilateral way to exorcise it, namely, by returning America to the JCPOA. His goal is to place Trump’s renunciation of the Iran nuclear deal on the unofficial agenda of the summit, in the hope that it will win a place on the short list of Trump’s major sins against “a rules-based international order,” right up there with the American president’s economic protectionism and his disavowal of the Paris climate accord.
Caroline Glick: Mohamed Morsi's Death Is a Reminder of Why He Was Dangerous
In January 2011, the wave of revolutionary fervor that had swept through Tunisia the previous month came to Egypt. After 29 years of authoritarian rule under President Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian people seemed to have had enough. Unrest began in Alexandria and Suez, with protests and assaults on police stations, and quickly spread to Cairo. The Obama administration, with the eager support of former Bush administration officials, viewed the unrest with satisfaction. From the Bush administration alumni’s perspective, the popular protests were proof that George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda” was resonating with the peoples of the Middle East. From the Obama administration’s perspective, the revolt against Mubarak, which wa8 led by the Muslim Brotherhood, was an indication that Islamism and democracy were complementary ideals.

Washington was unmoved by the warnings, which grew in intensity during the two weeks of protests that led to Mubarak’s abdication of power on February 8, 2011, from Egypt’s Middle Eastern allies and from Mubarak himself. The Israelis, the Saudis, and other allied governments warned the Americans that the only force in Egypt with the power to replace Mubarak was the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood, which was formed in 1928, developed the ideology for Sunni jihadists from Hamas to al Qaeda, which it spawned.

Its slogan — “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope” — left no doubt about its intentions or its planned policies.

And yet the Obama administration closed its eyes and ears to the danger. It disregarded the fact that for nearly 30 years in power, Mubarak was a steady U.S. ally. He studiously maintained Egypt’s peace with Israel and so ensured the prevention of a major regional war. He was also a consistent ally in the fight against al Qaeda. Under Mubarak’s rule, the Egyptian regime was committed to ensuring the safety of the Suez Canal.
The US Should Designate Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Organization
The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, is a pro-jihad, Islamist movement that has branches throughout the world and seeks to implement Islamic sharia under a global caliphate. Terrorism is only one of the methods the Brotherhood employs, and among its, goals, "democratization" has never been seen as one of them.

The Counter Extremism Project "has recorded 44 individuals and groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, including terrorist groups, foreign fighters, extremist propagandists, and political leaders."

The Trump administration's designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization would be an effective blow to pro-sharia and jihadi groups across the globe and help to bring about less violence and more stability to both the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.
MB TV Host at Turkey Rally: Morsi's Fingerprint on Every Missile Launched by Gaza Resistance
Moataz Matar, an Egyptian TV host on the Turkey-based Muslim Brotherhood TV channel Esharq TV, said in a June 18, 2019 speech at a rally in Turkey that the fingerprints of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who had died the previous day, had been on every missile launched by the Gazan resistance factions in the past several years. The video was uploaded to a YouTube channel called Sokoon Media.

PA Intransigence Makes Peace Deal Unlikely
Virtually no one in Israel expects the deal of the century to come to fruition. Regarding Secretary of State Pompeo’s leaked comment to a group of Jewish leaders in May that "one might argue" Trump’s proposed deal is "unexecutable," columnist Ruthie Blum responded, "No kidding." But she, along with other Israeli commentators, finds the plan could nonetheless have far-reaching positive implications for Israel.

In Israel Hayom, Tel Aviv University professor Eyal Zisser outlines some of those potentially happy results. For the first time, Arab states aren’t listening to the Palestinians. In the past, Zisser observes, "the Palestinians simply had to nod in a certain direction for the Arab world to heed their desires and whims and dutifully follow the dictates of the PLO and its leaders." This time the PA pressured other Arab states in vain. "The decision by Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Gulf States to attend the US-led economic summit in Bahrain, therefore, is a resounding slap in the face of the Palestinian Authority and expresses an utter lack of faith in its path and leadership," he writes.

Kushner noted the change, too. "It is a small victory that they are all showing up to listen and partake," Kushner said. "In the old days, the Palestinian leaders would have spoken and nobody would have disobeyed."

The plan also means that the starting point of future negotiations will no longer be massive Israeli concessions that previous administrations, from Clinton to Obama, were ready to pressure Israel to give the PA. Trump’s proposal, Zisser writes, will not demand a Palestinian state or Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders and will look to settle the Arab refugees in the countries where they currently live. This gives Israel a much better bargaining position in the future, despite the almost inevitable demise of the current plan.

Finally, the Trump plan has the virtue of exposing the intransigence of the supposedly "moderate" PA leadership. Says Nikki Haley: "At this point it is hard to see an opportunity in which Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is even going to come to the table, and I think that … it shows Abbas’s true colors."
Jonathan S. Tobin: US ditches carrot-and-stick approach to Israel
There is a vast imbalance in the relative power of the two countries, and Israel needs the support of its superpower ally. But the thing that Trump has done that really bothers the Democrats is that unlike his predecessor, he has no burning desire to “save Israel from itself.” Nor is he convinced – as Obama and some of the 2020 candidates are – that he understands their security dilemmas better than they do. To the contrary, though he harbors an unrealistic ambition to broker “the ultimate deal” that would bring peace, he is not prepared to be the one to dictate the terms of that arrangement.

For all of the Democrats’ contempt for Trump, it is he who is in touch with the harsh realities of the region, and they who are spouting policy positions completely unconnected to the actual facts about the conflict and the Palestinians.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has become the object of mainstream media scorn not because he is an amateur diplomat (as are many of those appointed to such positions in administrations of both parties), but because Trump’s envoy conceives of his position as one in which he is tasked with promoting better relations between the two countries, rather than acting – as his predecessors have done – as an imperial proconsul who is there to give orders to the Israelis.

Decades of American pressure on Israel never persuaded the Palestinians to reciprocate. Trump understands that and has instead treated Israel as a friend who doesn’t need to be ordered around. That’s why he did the right thing and moved the US Embassy, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and acknowledged its right to the Golan Heights, as those before him should have done decades ago.

If they defeat Trump, the Democrats will likely revive the carrot-and-stick approach. However, anyone who thinks that this will advance the cause of peace or human rights knows nothing about the history of the conflict or how friends united by common values ought to treat each other.
Interview with David Friedman (Al Jazeera): U.S. Ambassador to Israel: Bahrain Workshop Will Create Momentum
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told Al Jazeera in an interview: "[The Bahrain workshop] is an attempt to jumpstart the Palestinian economy. That's the purpose and that's the focus. To improve the quality of life of Palestinians....I don't know that the Palestinian Authority is the last word on how to create a better life for the Palestinians. The Palestinians themselves should have a say in that."

"The Palestinians have aspirations that have to be addressed. The Israelis have issues that have to be addressed. This conflict needs to be resolved on a political level. But in order to create a momentum...we need significant improvement in the economy. That is the only way that people on both sides will have faith that there is the opportunity for real peace."

He added that focusing on the economic rather than political aspects of the peace plan first could help create an environment conducive to successful negotiations. "We've said this over and over again, it's not intended to be a replacement for a political discussion."

Friedman said the U.S. was unlikely to support political independence for the Palestinians within the current political climate. "The last thing the region needs, whether it's Israel, Jordan or Egypt, is a failed Palestinian state between Israel and the Jordan River. It could be overtaken by Hamas, ISIS or al-Qaeda. It is an existential threat to the State of Israel, possibly to Jordan as well."

"We've seen what's happened to Gaza. There's not a single Jew living in Gaza. Israel controls the entire perimeter, whether on the land or the sea. Somehow, there are still rockets and missiles being fired. Israel has to be 100% sure that the Palestinians in the West Bank don't turn it into the Gaza Strip. There's no margin of error."

Friedman said Washington still hopes to alleviate some of the economic and humanitarian hardships in Gaza. "The same beautiful beach you see in Tel Aviv that has brought so much tourism, investment and development is exactly the same beach that exists 60 miles to the south in Gaza. There's no good reason that Gaza can't have all that and more. Hamas is keeping it from happening."
Netanyahu tells Trump officials he’ll give peace plan a fair shake
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he would hear out the Trump administration’s peace plan “fairly” and with “openness,” as he stressed that Israel would never relinquish its security presence in the Jordan Valley.

Netanyahu also chided the Palestinians for preemptively rejecting the US proposal before its rollout, in his first comments since the US revealed the economic part of its plan a day earlier.

“Under any peace agreement, our position will be that Israel’s presence should continue here for Israel’s security and for the security of all,” Netanyahu said, while touring the West Bank alongside US National Security Adviser John Bolton and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. “And in general, I would say that we’ll hear the American proposition, hear it fairly, and with openness.”

His remarks came two days before the US-led economic conference in Bahrain, which Israeli business leaders, but not government representatives, were invited to attend. Palestinians have refused to attend the conference and urged other Arab countries to boycott it as well.

“I cannot understand how the Palestinians, before they even heard the plan, reject it outright,”Netanyahu said. “That’s not the way to proceed.”

“We believe that peace is coupled and dependent on security. Our presence here guarantees security and therefore guarantees peace,” he added.
Abbas: Palestinians are not Kushner’s slaves
The Palestinian people need an improved economy, but “before anything, there must be a political solution,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday, warning that the US-led economic workshop in Bahrain would fail.

In a briefing with foreign press, Abbas said that for the United States to turn the whole process from a political issue to an economic one, “we will not accept this, and we will not attend Manama – and we do not encourage anyone to go. We are confident that the conference will not be successful.”

He said that he does not feel obligated to accept anything proposed by America.

“We will not accept America to be the sole peaceful mediator for the Middle East cause... We don’t trust the Americans alone,” Abbas continued. “We want Europe, Russia, the UN, [and] China, and we need Britain and Germany, as well. We will not be slaves or servants to [US special envoys] Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt or [US Ambassador to Israel] David Friedman. They are the ones making the judgment, and we will not accept this or let them say whatever they want.”

Abbas said that the PA is open to receiving help from Bahrain or any other place, but it is against what is taking place in Manama and the “Deal of the Century.”

Reacting to leaks of the plan that will be presented in Bahrain, Abbas pushed back at Greenblatt and Kushner’s allegations that the PA is corrupt. He said that he would challenge anyone to tell him that a “person in the PA is corrupt and we have not taken him to judiciary.”

Abbas also said that he is not afraid of the result of other Arab states attending the US-led Bahrain economic conference.

“There will not be normalization between the Arab states and Israel,” he said, noting that each Arab country has its own reason for attending the conference.

“There will not be normalization of relations with Israel before there is a solution between Israel and the Palestinians.”
PMW: Fatah youth threaten intifada in response to Bahrain Conference: "[We can] make the ground burn under the feet of the tyrants"
The Bahrain Conference, which is to focus on economic investment in the PA as part of Trump's Middle East peace plan, starts today, and Abbas' Fatah Movement has already called for violence to protest against the workshop, as documented by Palestinian Media Watch.

Now Fatah's youth movement, Shabiba, has threatened to start a wave of terror attacks in response to Bahrain. Referring to how Fatah "ignited the first Intifada and the Al-Aqsa Intifada" - the two major waves of Palestinian violence and terror against Israelis - Shabiba's secretary-general threatened that Fatah's youth movement is "still capable of making the ground burn under the feet of the tyrants," and that it is in "a state of high alert":
"Fatah Revolutionary Council member and Shabiba Secretary-General in the West Bank Hassan Faraj noted that Shabiba - the backbone of the [Fatah] Movement and the spearhead of the resistance and defense of our people's rights - has already declared a state of high alert among the ranks of its members. He also emphasized that Shabiba is prepared for every eventuality, and that its members who ignited the first Intifada (i.e., Palestinian wave of violence and terror against Israel, approximately 200 Israelis murdered, 1987-1993) and the Al-Aqsa Intifada (i.e., PA terror campaign 2000-2005) are still capable of making the ground burn under the feet of the tyrants." [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 21, 2019]
Abbas: We are ready to return to the negotiating table (not satire)
Palestinians are ready to return to the negotiating table with Israel, but with two preconditions: the recognition of Israeli occupation of east Jerusalem and the “vision” of a two-state solution, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told foreign reporters in Ramallah on Sunday.

The Palestinian president said that he would not ask for anything outside of what is already prescribed by the international community as legitimate, including the most recent United Nations Resolution 2334.

“I will go to the White House and continue what I started with [US President] Donald Trump,” Abbas said.

The Palestinian president explained that in his first meeting with Trump, the US president spoke about a vision for a two-state solution, telling Abbas that, “I will not accept a one-state solution because one state will be an apartheid state.”

A few weeks later, Abbas continued, Trump surprised him when he notified the PA that Washington would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Soon after, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman made statements that “there is no occupied territory and Israel has the right to build settlements all over Palestinian land,” in Abbas’s words.

“I then understood that Trump diverted,” Abbas said, adding that “there is no potential for a political solution” with Trump. He said that the Trump administration talks of a “Deal of the Century,” but that “we will not deal with this administration on this basis.”
Palestinians launch three-day protests against Bahrain workshop
Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated on Monday in protest of the US-led economic conference scheduled to begin in Bahrain on Tuesday.

The protests, organized by the ruling Fatah faction, are expected to last for three days. Palestinians gathered in the center of Ramallah chanting slogans against Israel and the US. They carried placards saying “No to the occupation,” “No to the Deal of the Century,” “No to the Bahrain workshop,” “The Bahrain workshop is a conspiracy to steal the rights of our people,” and “Jerusalem is not for sale.”

The “Deal of the Century” refers to US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East. Protesters claim participation in the conference is a form of “collusion” with Israel. Some carried black coffins marked with the words “Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation resolutions” – implying that the Bahrain conference contradicts decisions by the two bodies in support of the Palestinians.

Jamal Muheissen, a senior Fatah official, spoke at the rally saying that Palestinians must be united in their effort to thwart the “deal of shame.”

He claimed that the Bahraini people were opposed to the economic conference and were planning to protest against it. “The US administration is humiliating the Arab leaders,” Muheissen said. “The time has come for the Arabs to rise in order to restore their dignity.
US Plan Will Not Lure Lebanon Into Settling Palestinians: Parliament Speaker
Lebanon will not be lured by a US plan to invest billions in the country in return for settling Palestinian refugees, its parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, said on Sunday.

US President Donald Trump’s blueprint for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, set to be presented by his son-in-law Jared Kushner at a Bahrain conference, envisions a $50 billion investment plan to lift the Palestinian and neighboring Arab state economies. But it has met broad rejection in the Arab world, even as some in the Gulf called for giving it a chance.

Lebanese parties have long held that Palestinian refugees cannot be permanently settled in the country, which is widely believed in Lebanon to be a goal of the Kushner plan.

“Those who think that waving billions of dollars can lure Lebanon, which is under the weight of a suffocating economic crisis, into succumbing or bartering over its principles are mistaken,” Berri said in a statement from his office.

The rejection of settling Palestinian refugees who must have the right of return stands at the forefront of these principles, he said.

The idea of permanently settling mainly Sunni Muslim refugees is highly sensitive in Lebanon, sparking fears of rocking its sectarian balance.
Honest Reporting: Foreign Editor Invents Trump Peace Plan as ‘Worse Than Apartheid’
The details of US President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” economic plan to jump start the Palestinian and regional economies has been publicly released ahead of a Bahrain Conference. Anyone can read on the White House website where $50 billion of investment is supposed to go.

Much of the criticism of the plan, including from the Palestinians, surrounds the fact that the plan only deals with economics and not the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The details of a political plan apparently in the works for later in the year have not yet been released.

But the Foreign Editor of South Africa’s Independent Media, Shannon Ebrahim knows better. While most other mainstream media outlets were commenting on the actual contents of the Trump economic plan and the forthcoming Bahrain Conference, Ebrahim was making it up as she went along based on a clear hatred towards Israel.
India should recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
India and Israel have many shared values and face common threats. Both are democratic nations. Both are ancient nations with histories going back thousands of years. Both consider radical Islam to be an existential threat to their nations’ existence. Both have fought a number of bloody wars since their countries were partitioned. And the two countries declared independence around the same time. This reality has influenced how Indians feel about the Jewish state. According to a recent poll, 58% of Indians had a favorable opinion of Israel while only 56% of Americans felt likewise.

Given the strong friendship between Israel and India, it is only natural for India to recognize the seat of Israel's government – where its parliament, Supreme Court, and government ministries are located – as its capital. As former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently stressed: “Failing to put the embassy in the capital would be like foreign countries establishing their embassy to the United States in New York instead of Washington, D.C. While New York is an important city and arguably the financial center of the world, it is not our nation’s capital. Countries that recognize America have their embassies in our nation’s capital.” Similarly, locating one's embassy to Israel in Tel Aviv is like establishing an embassy to India in Mumbai rather than New Delhi.

It is very important for the Jewish people that India recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Jerusalem plays a central role in the Jewish faith. King David established Jerusalem as the eternal capital 3,000 years ago. Jewish history in the city goes back 4,000 years to the day Abraham sacrificed a ram instead of his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, where the Temple was later built. The ruins of two ancient Jewish Temples remain there to this day. The Jewish people have constituted the largest ethnic group in Jerusalem since 1840 and have comprised a majority of the city's population since 1860, long before the rise of the Zionist movement. Furthermore, a Palestinian Center for Public Opinion poll showed that 52% of east Jerusalemite Palestinians preferred to live under Israeli rather than Palestinian rule. It is only natural that a strong ally like India recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.

Hezbollah is now giving orders to Syria’s army – and using it to spy on Israel
Earlier this month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based watchdog group, reported that Israeli fighter jets struck Hezbollah positions on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. There was no Israeli comment on the claim.

The report said one of the targets was a post on Tel al-Harra, a mountain that is considered a strategic point that overlooks the Golan Heights, while the other was in Quneitra, near the UN-monitored border crossing with Israel, where Arab media reports a Syrian air-defense position and a Hezbollah intelligence center are located.

The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group had been trying to set up a front on the Syrian Golan for years, but had previously been unable to gain a sufficient foothold in the area. However, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s conquest of the border area last summer provided the regime-allied organization with an opportunity to once again attempt to establish the necessary infrastructure with which it could threaten Israel near the border.
Tourists banned from bringing 'Jewish items' into Jordan from Israel
Tourists crossing the Israeli border into Jordan are not being allowing to bring Jewish ritual items, such as prayer shawls or phylacteries, or souvenirs bearing Jewish symbols with them, a tourism official claimed last week.

The Globes business website reports that on June 19, head of the Incoming Tour Operators Association Yossi Fattal contacted the directors general at the foreign and tourism ministries and reported a "grave phenomenon" in which tourists who travel from Israel to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge crossing are reportedly being told by Jordanian border patrol personnel to relinquish items featuring Jewish symbols and Jewish religious objects.

Fattal said that Jordan was arguing that the decision not to allow "Jewish items" into the country stemmed from security concerns, and blasted the decision as "unreasonable" and "counter to common sense."

Fattal explained that many of the tourists had purchased souvenirs during their sojourn in Israel and were angry and disappointed at being told they were not allowed to bring them into Jordan. Fattal said the issue was creating a PR problem for Israeli tourism operators, who were being blamed for not warning the visitors that they would not be allowed to bring their items into Jordan, and for vendors, who could potentially see souvenir sales drop off as a result of the Jordanian ban.
Hamas Rocket Attacks Are the Cause, Not the Effect, of Israel’s Blockade of Gaza
Reading reports in American newspapers, one could quickly form the impression that the Jewish state’s selective blockade of the Gaza Strip has caused the sporadic rounds of rocket fire and other violent attacks on Jewish civilians over the past decade. The facts, writes David May, tell a different story:

From 2001 until 2005, when Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza, Palestinian militants fired thousands of rockets and mortars at Israeli population centers. The threat was clear, but when Israeli forces departed, there was no blockade. . . . In June 2007, Hamas violently ejected the Palestinian Authority’s forces from Gaza. . . . At this point, . . . Israel decided to restrict the entry of vessels into Gaza’s territorial waters, yet the blockade only began in January 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, the first major Hamas-Israel conflict.

After years of coping with Hamas’s persistent provocations, including ongoing rocket and mortar fire, Israel determined that it was too dangerous to allow the terrorist group to rule over Gaza with unrestricted access to the sea. Through its blockade and other preventive measures, Israel has prevented numerous attempts by Hamas and its allies to smuggle weapons and other illicit materials into Gaza. Notably, in March 2014, Israel intercepted the merchant ship Klos-C laden with dozens of advanced missiles with a range of up to 200 kilometers en route from Iran. . . .

While it imposes a blockade in Gaza, Israel facilitates the entry of tens of thousands of tons of goods into Gaza weekly. Israel also supplies Gaza with fuel and electricity.

Istanbul: 'Everything Is Coming Up Roses'
The invincible Erdoğan took a great risk: a second loss for the man who thinks "who wins Istanbul wins Turkey" would mean just more than just an embarrassing mayoral loss. Comparatively speaking, the difference in votes between Imamoğlu and Erdoğan's candidate, Yıldırım, widened within less than two months from 13,000 to nearly 800,000.

""It appears that losing Istanbul entails too many risks for the AKP for the matter to be left to its own resources. Many are convinced that if the AKP were to lose Istanbul to the opposition, after having held it – with its precursor – for 25 years, a hornet's nest of vested interests, corruption, and abuse of power would be revealed" — Semih Idiz, a columnist for Sigma Turkey, an Ankara-based think tank.

The more the public feels the economic pressure, the more Erdoğan's popularity will sink.
Netanyahu: Removing Sanctions on Iran Led to an Explosion of Iranian Terror and Aggression
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton on Sunday in Jerusalem: The supporters of the Iran deal argued that the infusion of massive cash into Iran's economy would moderate Iran. In fact, the very opposite has happened. Iran used those hundreds of billions of dollars to fund empire-building, devouring one state after another in the Middle East. Those who argue that Iran's aggression began after the recent actions are not living on the same planet.

We in Israel saw Iran's aggression in their increased efforts to establish Iranian military bases in Syria, in their increased efforts to provide sophisticated weapons to Hizbullah, in their increased financial support for terror proxies like Hizbullah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This increased right after the deal. With the removal of sanctions, we in Israel could see an explosion of terror and aggression. Likewise, our Arab neighbors saw exactly the same thing.

Well before Iran's acts of aggression of recent weeks, such as the attacks on oil tankers and the downing of an American drone, Iranian forces fired dozens of rockets into Israeli territory and flew drones into Israeli airspace. Iran also fired rockets deep into Saudi Arabia, and through their proxies, endangered international shipping lanes.

The one thing that has changed for those of us who live in the Middle East is not that Iran is attacking its neighbors or brazenly perpetrating wanton aggression. What's new is that now, thanks to crippling American sanctions, Iran is facing unprecedented economic pressure as a result of its aggression.
JPost Editorial: Message to Iran
In the wake of Iran shooting down a sophisticated and valuable American drone the US almost carried out air strikes against Iran last week.

Instead, President Donald Trump erred on the side of caution and chose to ramp up sanctions. This has fed Iran’s perceptions that Washington is wary of war and could lead Tehran to escalate its threats to the region, including arming terrorist groups that threaten the US and Israel.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton arrived in Israel on Saturday evening and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday.

Bolton assured Israel that Washington has no closer ally than Jerusalem. The US and Israel have strong relations that underpin shared interests and views of the region.

Netanyahu reminded people that Iran’s aggression in the region has a long pedigree and that it has been arming Hezbollah and threatening Israel from Syria. Bolton said that “Iran can never have nuclear weapons.”

Bolton is in Israel to meet with his Russian and Israeli counterparts. It comes in the context of important strategic discussions with Russia.

Russia plays a key role in Syria, supporting President Bashar Assad, and has also helped the Syrian regime defeat rebels and terrorist groups in Syria.

However from Israel’s point of view this has also enabled Iran to step into the vacuum created in Syria by the weakened power of the regime.
Iran attempted attack in Paris, half a ton of explosives found - report
Half a ton of explosives was brought to Paris in a diplomatic suitcases in order to carry out a terror attack, before being foiled by French authorities, it was reported in the British media.

The British newspaper "Independent in Arabic" quoted an intelligence source as saying that in 2018 Iran had delivered half a ton of TATP explosives in diplomatic packages to a civilian plane that was supposed to be transferred to Paris to carry out an attack in the city.

According to the report, the plane arrived from Tehran to Geneva in June 2018, following an Iranian plan to carry out a terrorist attack during a meeting of the Iranian opposition. According to a report based on intelligence sources, the attack was supposed to be carried out by an Iranian intelligence official who worked at the Iranian embassy in Austria since 2014, but French intelligence thwarted the attack after the authorities arrested a Belgian couple of Iranian origin who had the explosives in their car on their way to Paris.

A Western intelligence source said the intelligence official visited Tehran on July 20, 2018, where he received TATP explosives. On June 22, he transferred explosives in a civilian plane from Tehran to Austria on flight OS872, when the material was delivered in a diplomatic suitcase aboard the Airbus A320. The plane had 240 passengers.

The source added that the transfer of the explosives into a civilian plane constitutes a clear and blatant blow to all international treaties related to security in international aviation, for if it enters into strong pockets of air, the plane would explode in the air. The source referred to the Russian plane that exploded shortly after taking off from the Sharm el-Sheikh airport in Egypt three years ago, and all 244 passengers aboard were killed by an explosive charge weighing half a kilogram of TNT.

Joe Lieberman: Trump must strike Iran targets that are visible and public
Former democratic US senator Joe Lieberman criticized US President Donald Trump's pulling out of the Iran strike last Friday, in an interview he gave Army Radio on the sidelines of Israel Cyber Week Monday.

Lieberman said he was “troubled” by Trump’s decision to back down from the military strike against Iran, after the operation was already in motion on Friday and that he hoped that Trump will “resume to be what he was, strong on Iran.”

He further expressed his conviction that the US must “strike targets that are visible and public” and not restrain itself to cyber attacks against the Islamic Republic.

Lieberman defended the social media habits of Trump, who is famous for tweeting his views even when they are not conventional, and said that Trump “does more than just tweeting” when it comes to Iran.

He didn't agree with Trump's reasoning for his last-minute decision to halt the strike, namely the risk of killing up to 150 people, as he was informed by his advisors shortly before the strike. Trump voiced on Friday that, in his view, it isn't proportional to risk killing people on the ground in response to an unmanned drone being shot down.
Yemen’s Houthis Hit Saudi Airport, Killing One, Wounding 21
Yemen’s Houthi movement launched an attack on Abha civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia on Sunday that killed one person and wounded 21 others, the Saudi-led coalition battling the group in Yemen said.

Houthi-run Al-Masirah TV earlier said that the Iran-aligned movement had targeted Abha and Jizan airports in the south of the kingdom with drones attacks.

“A terrorist attack by the Iran-backed Houthi militia targeted Abha airport, killing a Syrian resident and wounding 21 civilians,” the coalition said in a statement carried on Saudi state television.

It did not confirm an attack on Jizan airport.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV said a suspected drone hit the parking lot in Abha airport, which is about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the Yemen border and serves domestic and regional routes.

Saudi state TV said flights had resumed at the airport, where operations were now running normally.

Earlier this month, a Houthi missile hit Abha airport in a strike that wounded 26 people.
Khamenei Advisor: If War Breaks Out, We'll Erase Israel, Send U.S. to Garbage Bin of History
Former Iranian Minister of Defense Gen. Hossein Dehghan, currently an advisor for defense affairs to Supreme Leader Khamenei, said in a June 20, 2019 interview on Al-Nujaba TV (Iraq) that the Americans are fully aware that their assets in the Middle East can be "obliterated" by Iran's missiles and that they know that a war in the region would not be a "walk in the park." He said that the behavior of Trump and the U.S. is an indication that they fear the break out of war because they cannot gain global legal legitimacy or assemble an international coalition for such a war. General Dehghan also said that in the event of a war in the region, Iran would uproot Israel and totally erase it from the face of the Earth, and that America would find itself in the "garbage bin of history." He expressed the opinion that such a war will not take place because of how powerful Iran is.

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