Thursday, December 19, 2019

From Ian:

Palestinian terrorist leader's arrest highlights 'extensive overlap' between BDS, terrorism
The announcement on Wednesday by Israel’s Shin Bet security agency that it has arrested some 50 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) capped off a monthslong targeting of the terror group for its role in the deadly terror attack on Aug. 23 that killed an Israeli teenager hiking with her father and brother.

Rina Shnerb, 17, died as a result of an explosion near the town of Dolev in Samaria; her brother, Dvir Shnerb, 19, was injured, along with their father, 46-year-old Rabbi Eitan Shnerb. According to Israeli reports, the explosive device included 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of explosive material, making it an "unusually powerful bomb."

The arrests coincidentally provide evidence of further links between the PFLP and the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. Among those arrested by the Shin Bet include Khalida Jarrar, 56, who the Israeli security service noted was the head of the terror group’s operations in the West Bank. Until recently, Jarrar also served as the vice chairperson, director and board member of the BDS organization Addameer.

"With regard to Jarrar, this is really the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the BDS/terror connection," said Marc Greendorfer, president of the Zachor Legal Institute and author of The New Anti-Semites: The Radicalization Mechanism of the BDS Movement and the Delegitimization Campaign Against Israel.

"Jarrar is simply one example of the extensive overlaps between terror organization leadership and BDS, going all the way to the top, where the organizing and operational leadership of BDS [the BDS National Committee, or BNC] includes a coalition of groups designated as foreign terror organizations by the United States and other countries," Greendorfer told JNS.

Last February, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry released a report titled Terrorists in Suits that found that Hamas and PFLP activists had infiltrated organizations that call for boycotts on, divestment from, and sanctions on Israel.

The report, which examined 13 international BDS organizations, discovered that senior positions were held by 30 terror activists – 20 of whom who had actually spent time in prison for their crimes, including murder.

PMW: It's official. It's a Palestinian "value" to murder Israeli men on their way to prayer. It depends on who you kill.
Two Israelis, Rabbi Nehemiah Lavi and Aharon Bennett, were stabbed to death in October 2015 by 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist Muhannad Halabi. The terrorist attacked the Bennett family on their way to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Halabi murdered the father and another man, and also stabbed and seriously wounded Bennett’s wife, Adele and their 2-year-old son.

In the eyes of senior Fatah official Abbas Zaki, murderer Muhannad Halabi was following Palestinian “values,” when he only killed the father and “spared” the mother and the son. Zaki’s claim is false on two accounts.

1. PA ideology does not limit its support for murder to Israeli/Jewish men but supports murder of women and children as well.
2. Murderer Halabi did in fact try to murder the mother and the son, however they miraculously survived with stab wounds.

Although the PA’s policy of promoting and rewarding the murder of Israeli men, women, and children has been documented thousands of times by Palestinian Media Watch, it is unusual for a senior Palestinian leader to admit in front of cameras that murdering a rabbi is a Palestinian “value” because the murderer did not also kill his wife and infant child: “We don’t kill people as we please. There are values, customs.”

Historic Palestine – An Anachronistic Term
“Historic Palestine” is a commonly-used term when discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict. The phrase suggests that a nation known as Palestine existed in the past, with the word “historic” giving the impression that this nation has deep roots in the region and thus has a natural claim to be revived in the form of a modern state called Palestine. By referring to the land thus without mentioning Jewish history, it also subtly suggests that a Jewish presence is foreign to the region.

This article discusses the origin and evolution of the usage of “Palestine” as a place name and how current notions of “Historic Palestine” are all based on a false understanding of the geographic and political history of the region.

Historic Palestine in today’s usage typically refers to the territory that now comprises Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Here are several recent prominent examples of usage of the term:
- Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, stated in an opinion piece published in the New York Times in May 2019 that the Palestinians recognized Israel on the “1967 border, equivalent to 78 percent of historic Palestine.”[i] Which “historic Palestine” was Erekat referring to and does Israel really comprise 78% of this “historic” territory?
- The Columbia Journalism Review published an article in January 2019 titled “Palestinian citizens of Israel struggle to tell their stories” in which the author claimed that “Historic Palestine under Ottoman and British control had a thriving Arabic press.”[ii] Was Palestine ever a territory under Ottoman control?
- A June 2019 article in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs about Trump’s “Deal of the Century” for Middle East peace states that the deal could leave the “New Palestine” in charge of “about 12 percent of historic Palestine.”[iii] What land area was used to arrive at this figure?
- President Abbas noted the following in his address to the United Nations in November 2012: “The two-state solution, i.e. the State of Palestine coexisting alongside the State of Israel, represents the spirit and essence of the historic compromise embodied in the Oslo Declaration of Principles, the agreement signed 19 years ago between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Government of Israel under the auspices of the United States of America on the White House Lawn, a compromise by which the Palestinian people accepted to establish their state on only 22% of the territory of historic Palestine for the sake of making peace.”[iv] Is this 22% number accurate?
The Tikvah Podcast: Walter Russell Mead on Israel and American Foreign Policy
Three years into the Trump Administration, how is America doing? What does Israel’s current political instability mean for its foreign policy? How should the rise of China affect how the U.S. thinks about projecting global power? It can be hard to penetrate the news cycle and think deeply about the many facets politics and world affairs from a strategic point of view. But that’s exactly what Walter Russell Mead does week after week in the Wall Street Journal and as a scholar at the Hudson Institute and Bard College.

This week, Walter Russell Mead joins the Tikvah Podcast to discuss Israel, American foreign policy, Christian Zionism, and much more. This conversation is both broad and deep and covers everything from Israeli-Turkish relations and Chinese cyberwarfare to what Trump means for our political culture and the story of how Theodor Herzl met the Kaiser.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble, as well as the original Broadway cast recording of Fiddler on the Roof and “Above the Ocean” by Evan MacDonald.
US denies report of 3-way deal between Israel, PA, Hamas in peace plan
The White House on Tuesday denied reports from a Lebanese television channel that its supposed peace plan will include a three-way deal between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Gaza Strip.

“Rumors about the content of the Trump Administration peace plan are false,” a senior administration official told The Times of Israel. “We are confident that the so-called source has not seen the plan.”

The report — by the pro-Hezbollah Al-Mayadeen — features details that starkly contradict the limited information that Washington has released about the proposal, and that stand at sharp odds with known US and Israeli positions.

For instance, the report, which was widely covered in Hebrew-language media Monday, said the United States would end its economic support for Israel if its government rejects the deal. It also said the plan provides for establishing a Palestinian state in Gaza and parts of the West Bank to be called “New Palestine.”

The settlement blocs in the West Bank would be annexed into Israel, along with isolated settlements, the report claimed. The Jordan Valley would remain under Israeli control. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in recent weeks said he has US agreement to annex the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu pledges US support for West Bank settlement annexation
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday pledged to secure United States support for the annexation of the Jordan Valley and other West Bank settlements.

"We didn't return here [Judea and Samaria] just to leave it," Netanyahu said during a campaign visit to the Mitzpe Yericho settlement in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.

"The first thing we will do is to apply our sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and also in settlements, and we will do so with American recognition. We are strengthening the State of Israel and ensuring its future," he said.
Likud hopeful Sa’ar says two-state solution with Palestinians is an ‘illusion’
Gideon Sa’ar, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sole challenger in the upcoming Likud party leadership race, said Sunday that a two-state solution with the Palestinians is an “illusion,” and attacked the premier for giving the notion credibility over the last decade.

“Throughout the world they say that a two-state solution remains the path to an agreement,” Sa’ar said, speaking at a conference.”I have to say to you, this is not a position that helps anyone. Two-states in an illusion.”

Sa’ar said this had been shown through decades of negotiations based around two-states that had failed to bring peace. He also blamed the Palestinians for “never being able to agree to a compromise, despite very generous offers.”

Sa’ar castigated Netanyahu for perpetuating the idea that two-states was the only solution, accusing him of making “endless concessions” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the last decade, including settlement building freezes in the West Bank.
Gideon Sa'ar: End housing freeze in Jerusalem
Likud leadership candidate Gideon Sa'ar called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to build a new Jewish neighborhood on the Givat Hamatos hilltop in the southeastern part of Jerusalem on Thursday.

Sa'ar toured the site along with MKs Michal Shir and Sharren Haskel, who support him in the Likud leadership primary next Thursday.

"The future of Jerusalem will be decided by actions, not words," Sa'ar said. "It is time to end the building freeze in this city, and that is what I will do."

Sa'ar's tour was part of a series of visits to strategic sites around Jerusalem in which Netanyahu has not built as Prime Minister.

Last week, Sa'ar visited the E-1 corridor between Northern Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim, and called for immediate construction on the site.
Death of Geula Cohen signifies the end of a generation says Netanyahu
If political firebrand Geula Cohen, who died on Wednesday night at age of almost 94 could have chosen her own exit, it might have been the playing of the Lehi hymn Hayelim Almonim (Anonymous Soldiers) written by Lehi founder Avraham Stern.

The hymn was heard on radio many times on Thursday possibly more often than it has ever been heard before.

Lehi was one of the fiercest resistance movements against the British Mandate authorities.

Geula Cohen, who would have celebrated her 94th birthday on December 25, was born in Tel Aviv to a family of Yemenite background, and was aptly named, in that Geula means redemption. She was among the most zealous fighters for Jewish redemption and the restoration of a Jewish state in the ancestral Jewish homeland.

It was her fervent wish to permanently lower the British flag in the land of her birth and to replace it with the blue and white flag that bears the Star of David.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft to the U.N. Security Council: When Will You Condemn Hamas Rockets?
"In this season of lights, it is important for this Council to take stock those things that we see clearly, and those things we fail to see. And what I must note, yet again, is how this Council seems either unwilling or unable to see the reality that Israelis live in constant fear of attack. In place of recognizing this reality, the Council tolerates an endless string of condemnations of Israel. But I will not stand for this. I have said, and I'm gonna say again today, that Israel has no better friend than Kelly Craft. It will not surprise anyone in this chamber to hear me say that the Trump Administration strongly opposes Resolution 2334. It is one-sided. It is unfairly critical of Israel. And had I been the Ambassador at the time of the vote on the resolution, I would have vetoed it. We would not normally dignify this resolution with further discussion of its contents. However, given the comments we have heard this morning about rocket attacks that threaten innocent people, it would be of some benefit to explore one element of this resolution.

Resolution 2334 is unambiguous in one important respect: It condemns all acts of violence – including acts of terror, provocation, and incitement. Lest we dismiss rocket fire as something other than an act of violence, we should recall that millions of Israelis live under the threat of attack each and every day. A little more than a month ago, Adele was one of many Israelis trapped in bomb shelters in her home as more than 150 rockets launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad rained down around them. During these kinds of attacks, Israelis can't leave their homes. So they don't. During these kinds of attacks, it is impossible to go about a normal life. So they don't. It hardly needs saying – and yet I feel that I must – that unguided rocket fire impacts both Israelis and Palestinians. In Gaza, Palestinian women were also forced to take shelter, as rockets – fired by terrorists from crowded civilian neighborhoods – flew overhead. This constant threat of attack is the painful reality of daily life for hundreds of thousands of people – for Israelis and Palestinians. It is the continued threat of such violence to so many that precludes the possibility of lasting peace.

Moreover, these acts of violence are clearly condemned by Resolution 2334. So I must ask: Will this Council also condemn them? Will this Council even take them seriously? While Israel's poor treatment in the UN venues is now so commonplace as to become unremarkable, what truly is remarkable is the resilience of the people of Israel. Because despite living among the echoes of rocket fire, the people of Israel promote and defend freedom. They build universities, they win Nobel prizes, and conduct innovative research. Israel is a gleaming light for the world. Is it to be condemned? No. It is to be emulated. It is this spirit of determination, of resilience in the face of threat, that keeps alive the hope for a peaceful solution – a solution that promotes and protects the security of Palestinians and Israelis alike. But this is a solution that will only be forged when the two parties can return to the negotiating table. And for that to happen, this Council, and the parties in question, must take more seriously the threat of violence from Gaza – especially from Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad..."
In First, Resident of Rocket-Stricken Southern Israel Addresses UN Security Council, Calls for Action Against Hamas
A resident of rocket-stricken southern Israel addressed the UN Security Council on Wednesday, urging it to take action against the Hamas terror group.

Adele Raemer — who lives in Kibbutz Nirim, adjacent to the border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip — was invited to speak at the Security Council’s monthly meeting on the Middle East by US Ambassador Kelly Craft. This marked the first time someone from southern Israel had appeared before the council.

“Have you ever had to run for your life?” Raemer, whose bedroom was destroyed by a rocket during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 — asked the council. “When I hear the Red Alert early warning system for incoming rockets, I know that I have between 5-10 seconds to get to someplace safe — regardless of where I am in my little kibbutz house. If I am out, I either throw myself down next to a wall — or just lie down wherever I am, cover my head and hope that whatever falls doesn’t fall too close.”

“During the 11 rounds of escalated rocket fire that we have had in the past year and a half, there were numerous alerts every single day,” she recalled. “1,800 rockets were launched at our communities during this period. What would any of you do if this number of projectiles was launched over your border?”

Raemer called Hamas’ underground cross-border tunnel network “sinister and frightening, built with a complex infrastructure for communications and electricity that was developed solely for purposes of death.”
Canada stands with Palestinians, refusing to change UNGA vote
Canada stuck to its decision to stand with the Palestinians at the United Nations General Assembly, casting a “yes” vote on an annual resolution in support of Palestinian self-determination.

The vote, which passed 167-5 with 11 abstentions, is one of at least 18 pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli texts that the UNGA is scheduled to approve this month.

Canada is traditionally one of the countries that stands with Israel by either rejecting or abstaining from such resolutions.

But last month, during a preliminary vote at the Third Committee, Canada reversed one of its traditional voting patterns by voting “yes” instead of “no” after the United States clarified that it no longer views West Bank settlements as illegal. It has made no other change to its voting pattern.

After the vote, a representative of Canada explained his country’s change of vote, stating that it was a signal in support of a two-state solution.

UN Watch: Fighting Anti-Israel Bias in 2019
How UN Watch fought anti-Israeli bigotry in 2019. Support UN Watch today:

‘Jew coup’: The anti-Semitic conspiracy theories surrounding Trump’s impeachment
On December 18, 2019, Donald Trump became the third president in American history to be impeached when the House of Representatives charged him with committing high crimes and misdemeanors.

The impetus for the impeachment was twofold: the revelation that Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate one of Trump’s possible political opponents, former US vice president Joe Biden; and Trump’s refusal to cooperate with a Congressional inquiry — and his order to his subordinates not to cooperate as well.

Following a lengthy series of hearings with dozens of witnesses, on Wednesday the House passed two articles of impeachment, one on abuse of power (passed 230 to 197), and the other on obstruction of Congress (passed 229 to 198).

But to far-right anti-Semitic extremists, there’s been something else entirely driving the president’s woes: a cabal of powerful Jews determined to oust him from office.

Last month, the founder of TruNews, a fundamentalist Christian platform that regularly publishes anti-Semitic and racist videos, raged against a “Jew coup” to impeach Trump.

Dozens of UN envoys tour Samaria for first time
Twenty-three UN ambassadors who visited Israel last week toured Judea and Samaria, Israel Hayom has learned. It was the first time a delegation of this magnitude staged an official visit to the area.

The tour took place as part of the Samaria Regional Council's foreign relations and public diplomacy efforts. It was led by Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon.

UN ambassadors from Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Guatemala, and Haiti, among others, participated in the tour.

The ambassadors met with Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, visited the Barkan ‎Industrial Park and met with Palestinians and Israelis working there.

Located just north of the cross-Samaria highway, ‎the Barkan Industrial Park is home to 164 businesses that ‎employ some 4,200 Palestinians and 3,000 Israelis. ‎The waiting list to set up facilities in the park, ‎one of the most sought-after industrial zones in ‎Israel, currently includes 60 companies.‎
US VP Pence expected to visit Israel for Auschwitz ceremony
US Vice President Mike Pence is expected to visit Israel in January for a ceremony marking 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, local media reported on Wednesday.

The event could even draw other world leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron.

There are ongoing talks between American and Israeli officials about Pence being the senior American representative since President Donald Trump will be in Europe for the World Economic Forum.

The ceremony is scheduled to be held on Jan. 27, organized by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial organization.

Earlier this year, Pence visited in Auschwitz and was deeply affected by that experience.
Cyprus Becomes 17th Country to Adopt International Antisemitism Definition
The Republic of Cyprus announced on Wednesday that it had decided to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

The Cypriot government’s Press and Information Office announced that it was adopting the definition “as a useful guidance tool in education and training.”

“The Decision reaffirms the commitment of the Republic of Cyprus to promoting and fostering respect and diversity and to combating all forms of discrimination, racism and xenophobia, including antisemitism,” the statement added.

“With its adoption, Cyprus has become the 17th country in the world to adopt this definition joining the core of States fighting antisemitism and implementing educational and other policies that promote respect for diversity and combat all forms of racism,” said the statement.

The statement also noted that Cyprus has applied for observer status at the IHRA.

In response to the news, CEO of the American Jewish Committee David Harris tweeted, “When we visited Nicosia last month, our friend, Foreign Min. @Christodulides, told us that adopting the #IHRA Working Definition of #Antisemitism was high on the govt’s agenda. Now it’s been done.”
Naama Issachar 7-year prison sentence stands after appeal rejected
A Russian court rejected Israeli-American Naama Issachar’s appeal of her seven-year sentence on charges of smuggling drugs on Thursday.

At the same time in Israel, high-level Russian and Israeli diplomats held a meeting in Jerusalem to discuss the matter of Issachar, as well as a recent increase in Israelis being detained at airports or not being allowed to enter Russia.

Issachar was sentenced to over seven years in prison for allegedly trying to smuggle less than 10 grams of cannabis, though she was only in Russia on a stopover on the way from India to Israel and did not have access to the luggage in which the drugs were found. Her lawyers have said the sentence is much harsher than the usual charges for such a small amount of narcotics.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Issachar's mother, Yaffa Issachar and said that "despite the disappointment in the court's decision, I am not giving up. I will continue acting in every way to bring Naama home."

“I didn’t know that I signed a confession,” Issachar said, explaining that when she was asked to sign the confession, there was no translator present and she didn't understand it. “I didn’t buy hashish and I didn’t put it in my bag. I said several times that it is not mine…No one asked if the drugs are mine during the investigation or after.”

“I didn't go through passport control and I didn't have access to my luggage. I was stopped when I was on my way home to Tel Aviv...All the evidence shows that I am innocent,” she added.
Israel – Russia Feud Continues as 2nd El Al Plane Delayed in Moscow Airport
A second Israeli plane was delayed in Moscow on Thursday, after 46 Israeli passengers who were on their way from Israel to Moscow were detained Wednesday night, on the grounds that they did not have a valid visa.

The passengers who were detained on Thursday complained that Russian airport officials took fingerprints from some Israelis. 15 Israeli passengers have been reported detained Thursday. The Russian officials rummaged through the Israeli travelers’ belongings and took their passports. No explanation was given for the Russians’ conduct.

According to passengers’ testimonies, airport officials contacted Israeli passengers who had made aliyah from Russia at age five and asked: “Why did you all leave Russia? Aren’t you afraid that no one real has remained here?”

A statement issued by the Russian Embassy in Israel did not directly address the delays of Israelis at Russian airports, but it did refer to the treatment Russian tourists receive when they land at Ben Gurion Airport. According to the Russian embassy, thousands of them are deported back to Moscow and other Russian cities.
German parliament passes motion urging total ban on Hezbollah
The German parliament on Thursday approved a motion urging Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to ban all activities by the Iran-backed Hezbollah group on German soil, citing its "terrorist activities" especially in Syria.

The motion was backed by Merkel's conservatives, their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners and the opposition Free Democrats. It is not binding but will increase pressure on the government to act.

The motion said Germany should ditch its current policy of distinguishing between Hezbollah's political arm and military units, which have fought alongside President Bashar al-Assad's army in Syria.

"The lower house calls on the government to ban Hezbollah and not tolerate any activity by its representatives in Germany," the motion said.

The motion praised government efforts to take action against Hezbollah supporters suspected of raising funds for the Lebanese Shiite group in Germany, mainly by giving prosecutors more investigative powers. But it said those measures were not enough.
Rocket fired from Gaza toward Israel; air force bombs Hamas arms factory
The air force bombed a Hamas weapons factory in the Gaza Strip before dawn Thursday after Palestinian terrorists fired a rocket at southern Israel, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system, the army said.

Rocket warning sirens wailed in the town of Sderot and other communities near the Gaza border just after 2:30 a.m. Thursday, sending residents rushing to bomb shelters.

The IDF said a single projectile was fired from Gaza and it was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. There were no reports of injury or damage.

Several hours later, the Israeli aircraft struck a Hamas weapons production facility in northern Gaza, the army said, noting it holds the terror group, which rules Gaza, responsible for all violence emanating from it.

Israel later announced it had restricted the permitted fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip to 10 nautical miles in response to the rocket fire.

Shin Bet tried to recruit Hamas members to sabotage long-range rockets
The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, tried to recruit Hamas members to disrupt the organization’s long-range missile capabilities, according to a report from Ynet news.

The report also detailed that the Hamas member eventually became a double agent upon being contacted by the Shin Bet, who then relayed the instructions he was receiving to Hamas.

It also notes that according to Hamas, the Hamas member’s Israeli operators sough to have him sabotage the organization’s long-range missiles, in which they would detonate upon being launched, potentially killing the terrorists that would shoot them. The Shin Bet maintained contact with the Hamas member for over a year, until it was realized that he became a double agent.

The report was originally picked up by Al-Mayadeen news service, a known pro-Hezbollah and pro-Syrian government outlet.
US seeks to denaturalize citizen convicted for supporting Hamas in Israel
The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit seeking to revoke the naturalized citizenship of Abdul Jabbar Naji Shalabi, who is accused of falsely obtaining citizenship by concealing a conviction in Israel for supporting Hamas' activities.

Shalabi, 39, a native of Jordan currently residing in Ypsilanti, Michigan, first moved to the United States in 1997. A few years later he left the States to study at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank.

According to the complaint brought against him, in late 2002 Shalabi was arrested by the Israeli authorities on suspicion of concealing acetone, a material used for bomb-making, on behalf of Hamas bomb maker Ahmad Abu-Taha, a charge to which he pled guilty in an Israeli court in 2003, and for which he was incarcerated.

Upon his release he returned to the United States, becoming a naturalized citizen in 2005 having concealed his arrest, conviction, imprisonment, and material support given to Hamas.

The complaint against him have been filed in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan.
Hezbollah-backed professor likely candidate for Lebanese premiership
A university professor and former minister received the backing of the Hezbollah terror group and its allies Thursday, making him the likely candidate to be appointed Lebanon’s new prime minister.

The emergence of Hassan Diab as a possible candidate comes amid the country’s worst economic crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

The backing by the Iran-backed Hezbollah guarantees a thorny path for any candidate who also faces a mammoth task amid mass protests that have recently taken a violent turn. Hezbollah, which controls a powerful military force, has fought two major conflicts with Israel.

Diab, who served as education minister in 2011, received attention after caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri withdrew his name from consideration amid deep divisions between the various factions about naming him again.

Hariri resigned on October 29 in response to unprecedented mass protests against his government amid a rapidly worsening economic crisis.
JCPA: Another Economic Depression in Iran
On December 8, 2019, President Hassan Rouhani presented the proposal for the Iranian state budget for 2020 to the Majlis (parliament) – one of the most meager budgets seen since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The total budget is $38.8 billion, which demonstrates that the budget has been severely cut in comparison to recent years. The rest of the economic data indicates an even more challenging situation for Iran than during the Iran-Iraq war.

Rouhani referred to the budget as a “budget of resistance and perseverance against sanctions.”

The budget proposal was submitted at a time when Iran’s economy is already suffering from inflation of at least 41 percent. The World Bank has recently estimated that Iran’s economic growth will plummet by 9.5 percent during 2020.1

Mahmoud Vaezi, Chief of Staff of President Rouhani’s office, said the U.S. sanctions did not allow the government to submit a more robust budget. In fact, the budget only promised to pay the salaries of civil servants and pensioners, as well as a small subsidy to a fraction of citizens, and allocated only meager sums for projects already in their final stages of completion. The new budget proposal did not allocate any money for new projects. According to Vaezi, only returning Iran to a pre-sanctions level of oil sales of 2.8 million to 3 million barrels per day (b/d) can improve the current economic situation.2
EU Parliament condemns Iran for slaughtering protesters
The European Parliament condemned Iran for its violent crackdown on protesters, with six of its seven factions cosponsoring the resolution on Thursday.

The resolution states “the Iranian security forces used disproportionate means and force against protesters [and] according to civil society reports, Iranian security forces opened fire on unarmed protesters who did not pose any imminent risk, and allegedly shot to kill.”

It cited an Amnesty International report that at least 304 protesters have been killed and many more injured, though other human-rights groups have estimated as many as 1,500 were murdered. The resolution also condemned the Iranian regime for shutting down Internet across the country, “a disproportionate limitation to freedom of expression.”

In addition, the lawmakers criticized Iran’s harassment and prosecution of journalists, lawyers and activists, as well as lack of fair trial and denial of access to legal counsel. They demanded anyone being held for “exercising their legitimate rights to freedom of expression and assembly are freed unconditionally,” specifically naming British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been detained since 2016, and Iranian human-rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, punished earlier this year with a 33-year jail sentence and 148 lashes.
Turkey's East-West Carpet Trading
In addition, Turkey is in talks with Russia to purchase a second batch of the S-400 system, including coproduction and technology transfer options. If the S-400 system is operated in Turkey, Moscow could find a built-in cyber backdoor to spy on NATO assets.

Turkey's Islamist strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in September that it was unacceptable for Turkey not to have its own nuclear weapons – although Turkey is a signatory to both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

In 2016, Erdogan said that Turkey did not need to join the European Union "at all costs" and could instead become part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, a security bloc dominated by China, Russia and Central Asian nations

Erdogan thinks that he can forever benefit from the East-West divide by officially belonging to West but more-than-courting the East. He seems to love playing the Russia card to Americans and the America card to Russians. He should be led to understand that he cannot play this carpet trading game forever.

MEMRI: Media Of Egypt And Its Allies: Memoranda Of Understanding (MOUs) Between Turkey And Libya's Government Of National Accord (GNA) Reflect Turkey's Hegemonic Ambitions, Warmongering
Libya's Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, is supported by the UN and by Turkey and Qatar, and is described by Saudi and UAE sources as receiving backing from Islamist circles in Libya such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The GNA has recently signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with Turkey concerning maritime and security matters; under these MOUs Turkey and the GNA have claimed large parts of the Mediterranean, in disregard of the rights of other Mediterranean countries such as Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, and Israel. Furthermore, the maritime MOUs threaten potential projects of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, comprising these four countries and others. One such project is the laying of a gas pipeline from them to Italy.

The MOUs enraged Al-Sarraj's rivals in Libya, headed by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who controls the eastern part of the country and who has declared a decisive campaign to liberate Tripoli. Haftar's Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces, Maj.-Gen. Faraj Al-Mahdawi, told Greece's Alpha TV that he intends to sink any Turkish ship approaching Libyan shores.[1]

Criticism of the MOUs was also voiced by Libya's neighbor Egypt, which supports Khalifa Haftar, as does the UAE, Egypt's ally in the Gulf. Egypt, which has a bitter conflict with Turkey over the latter's support of the Muslim Brotherhood, regards the MOUs as illegitimate Turkish intervention in the region aimed at destabilizing Egypt and harming its economic interests, and at preventing the implementation of natural gas agreements between Egypt and its Mediterranean neighbors, among them Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.

At a Cairo meeting between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri and his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias, the two announced that the Turkey-GNA agreement is illegitimate.[2] Similarly, Egyptian parliamentary speaker Ali Abd Al-'Aal said: "Egypt will not stand by with arms folded against any threat to its maritime interests... We will not allow any unreasonable step to be taken on Egyptian territory or near its air, land, or maritime borders."[3] Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi referred indirectly to the tension surrounding the Turkey-GNA MOUs, saying at the World Youth Forum in Egypt: "Libya is connected to Egypt's national security, and it would have been appropriate for Egypt to intervene directly in Libya, and [Egypt] is capable of doing so. But it did not take this step, with the aim of preserving fraternal relations with the Libyan people, because they would not forget such direct intervention in their security."[4]

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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