Friday, May 15, 2020

From Ian:

Annexing the Jordan Valley
Declaring Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley - with its obvious strategic significance and relatively small population of Palestinians - is a demand shared across the Israeli political mainstream.

Israel can even plausibly claim that extending sovereignty to the area between the West Bank ridgeline and the Jordan River would be a coordinated move, rather than a unilateral one: The U.S. peace plan framework foresees permanent Israeli control over the area and doesn't condition a change in status on any peace agreement with the Palestinians.

A significant share of Israeli leaders, and the people who elect them, believe they now live in a region where the consequences of such a move are manageable. By their logic, the Arab states need Israel too much to scuttle relations over what amounts to less than a quarter of the West Bank, especially when such action would be consistent with an American peace plan that most regional governments have endorsed.

American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocation of its embassy there, as well as endorsement of Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, were moves that were long believed to be too provocative to ever carry out. Instead, when they happened, they were all relative nonevents.

Dore Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the UN, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and confidante to both Benjamin Netanyahu and the late Ariel Sharon, was one of a small number of Israelis outside of government who routinely consulted with Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman about the U.S. peace plan. "I was in it to try to help formulate a plan that would provide a consensus basis for Israel's future borders," Gold recalled.

The Jordan Valley was hardly a new issue for Gold. In 1997, he accompanied Netanyahu to the Map Room of the White House, where they presented President Clinton's peace process team with an "interest map" of the West Bank that highlighted areas Israel believed to be of critical importance, the Jordan Valley included.

Until the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, it was believed Saddam Hussein's army could cross the Kingdom of Jordan and reach Israeli-controlled territory in 36 hours. Even with that scenario foreclosed, Gold thought Israeli planners needed to work across a longer time scale than the life of a single leader or even a single regime. "Military planning, especially strategic planning, should never be scenario-specific," Gold said.

"I personally had the view, which got backing from the prime minister's office, that in places like the Jordan Valley where Israel had the highest security interests, it would have to seek actual sovereignty over the territory." This argument repudiated decades of peace process doctrine, which defaulted to treating the valley as territory in a future Palestinian state.
American Zionist Movement: The Path to Independence and Recognition: Why San Remo Matters
Join the American Zionist Movement and the Israel Forever Foundation to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the May 14, 1948 Declaration of the State of Israel, its immediate recognition by the United States, and to mark the important Centennial of the San Remo Conference.

Melanie Phillips: A muffled consensus serves not Israel but her enemies
The claim that the restoration of Jewish sovereignty over parts of the West Bank would destroy the possibility of a Palestinian state is untrue. Every serious Middle East peace plan has accepted the eventual incorporation into Israel of the major settlement blocs to safeguard its security.

It is the Palestinians who have destroyed the possibility of a Palestinian state. Offered it repeatedly from the 1930s onwards, they have refused it every time. Nine decades of the Palestinians rejecting the two-state solution might possibly mean that the Jews aren't the obstacle.

Opposition to the "annexation" is driven by the belief that Israel illegally occupies these territories. But this is untrue. As several legal experts have pointed out over the years, the Jews are the only people to have a legal and moral right to this land. In 1922, the international community gave them the never-abrogated right to settle what is now Israel and the disputed territories. Restoring Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria will therefore actually correct a historic act of illegality. And it will help protect Israel against its existential enemies.
Caroline Glick: Pompeo, the coronavirus and the 'risks' of sovereignty
On Sunday, Saudi journalist Abdelhameed al-Ghoban gave an interview to the BBC in Arabic. His remarks, which were translated by MEMRI, were devoid of nuance.

"Today, the public is informed. There is a deluge [of opinions] against the Palestinian cause. It is no longer just public support for normalization and building ties with Israel. [Our] public has turned against the Palestinians in general. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have lost. The Palestinians have not contributed anything. We can say that they are emotional people whose behavior is governed by their feelings."

Al-Ghoban added, "It is in our strategic interest, and in keeping with our future economic interests, to maintain real relations with Israel. Israel is an advanced country and we can benefit from it."

Al-Ghoban's remarks are not a lone voice in the wilderness. During the Ramadan Muslim holy month, Saudi television networks broadcast two series that portray Jews and Israelis in a positive light.

Palestinian leaders are beside themselves at what they view as pan-Arab abandonment. In remarks to Israel Hayom this week, a senior Palestinian official bitterly referred to the mild criticisms of US President Donald Trump's peace plan and of Israel's plan to apply its sovereignty to its communities in Judea and Samaria and to the Jordan Valley as no more than "lip service."

Israeli leftist groups are hanging their hopes for torpedoing Israel's sovereignty plans on the European Union. France's plan, supported by Luxemburg, Belgium and Ireland to impose EU sanctions on Israel in the event it implements its sovereignty plan was widely reported this week.

But like the Palestinians, Israeli leftists are likely to be disappointed. EU rules require all decisions to be made by consensus. And there is no consensus on sanctioning Israel.

Josh Hammer: The Case for Israeli Annexation
Amidst that backdrop, there is nothing provocative about asserting sovereignty over contested land to which one has a superior legal claim — especially with the legal backing of the most pro-Israel administration in U.S. history. The Trump administration previously gave its imprimatur to Israel's similar sovereignty assertion over the Golan Heights, and there is no reason why any "annexation" could not conform to the contours of the administration's peace plan that it unveiled in January.

What's more, the "annexation" critics also suffer from a remarkably short memory. Many of the same fears — especially that dusty canard about the Arab streets erupting — were raised when the administration moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Those howls of protest were met by a deafening silence from the rest of the Arab world. Realpolitik dominates, these days, in Sunni Arab capitals from Cairo to Riyadh. The looming threat of the hegemonic Shiite Iranian regime hovers like a poltergeist over the entire region, resulting in unprecedented cooperation between states like Saudi Arabia and Israel. The leading Arab states have largely abandoned the Palestinian cause: Saudi Arabia's statement it released after the unveiling of Trump's peace plan was more pro-Israel than was Joe Biden's.

The blunt reality is that if the Palestinians ever wish to have their own state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, their people and kleptocratic leadership alike must first accept defeat and accept Israel's lasting legitimacy. Simply put, the Palestinians must admit defeat in their century-long civilizational jihad to destroy the Jewish state. Israel applying sovereignty to these contested areas will thus not merely bring the status of Israeli Jews living there out of legal limbo, a tangible benefit, but will further the substantive geopolitical goal of long-term peace.

The Trump administration should also enthusiastically encourage prompt "annexation" as fully consonant with its overarching foreign policy strategy. Trump has boldly staked out a "America First" realist foreign policy, much to the chagrin of the intellectually sclerotic neoliberals of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. What could be more realist than proclaiming to the world that the United States has no vested security interest in nation-building a new Islamist terrorist state any time soon — and that our national interest is instead best advanced by bolstering the legal, geographic and strategic position of an indispensable ally?

The Trump administration's recent rhetoric on "annexation" has been a mixed bag. But it is not too late to change course. Policymakers ought to not overthink this: There is a clear outcome that is both better for Israel and better for America. Now set forth and do it.
The Israeli Consensus on the Jordan Valley
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared in October 1995, "The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term." This demand mirrors the U.S. peace plan, which would allow Israel to declare sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.

Israelis of all backgrounds and ideologies long have believed the conflict never was about territory. The question that motivated Palestinian rejectionism was always about Jewish sovereignty over any territory in their indigenous and ancestral homeland, and not about where and how much.

Israelis are tired of waiting for a Palestinian leader who will free his people from rejectionism, so they want to end the deadlock by declaring sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria which are vital to Israel from a security, national, and historic vantage point. It will show the Palestinians that rejectionism has consequences. None of these steps precludes making a deal in the future if a Palestinian leader decides to do so. Until such time, Israel must take steps that it sees as being in its best interests, with broad support from the Israeli public.
State Dept: Annexation should be part of a process with Palestinians
If Israel applies its laws to West Bank settlements, it should be part of Israel and Palestinians working together towards fulfilling US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a briefing with Israeli journalists on Friday.

During Secretary of State MIke Pompeo’s visit to Israel this week, he reiterated that “annexation is up to Israel,” but that “we think these discussions should be part of the peace process, part of discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Ortagus said.

The State Department Spokeswoman emphasized this point more than once, saying: “We really think annexation should be part of a peace process where Palestinians should have a say.”

The Trump administration has sent mixed messages about the conditions for Israel to go forward with annexation.

Friedman said in an interview to The Jerusalem Post last week that Israel could proceed with annexation as long as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows that he is open and committed to talks with the Palestinians. He did not say the Palestinians would have to agree, stating: “If the Palestinians refuse to show up, I’m not sure what else the prime minister can do. But I think there ought to be an unequivocal communication to the Palestinians that they are invited to negotiate in good faith on the president’s vision.”

The Trump administration’s “Vision for Peace” would allow Israel to apply its laws to all settlements and the Jordan Valley, comprising 30% of the West Bank, and for a Palestinian state to be established in the other 70% under certain conditions, such as stopping incitement and granting its citizens civil rights. If the conditions are met, the Palestinians would also receive a massive economic aid package.

Ortagus pointed out that the joint US-Israel committee to map out those borders, fled by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is ongoing.
Jordan’s king warns of ‘massive conflict’ if Israel annexes land in West Bank
Jordan’s King Abdullah has warned that should Israel move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, it would lead to a “massive conflict” with his country, and did not rule out pulling out of Amman’s peace deal with the Jewish state.

In an interview published Friday by the German daily Der Spiegel, Abdullah insisted that a two-state solution was “the only way forward” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

““What would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed? There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” he said, when asked by his interviewer about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to “take advantage of the opportunity that [US President Donald] Trump has created to seize large parts of Palestine.”

“I don’t want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East,” the king added, when asked if his country — one of only two Arab nations, along with Egypt, to have signed a peace deal with Israel — could suspend that treaty.

Jordan has a large Palestinian population and is deeply invested in promoting a two-state solution. “Leaders who advocate a one-state solution do not understand what that would mean,” he told the German daily.

The king’s comments echoed remarks he made in a September 2019 interview, warning that a West Bank annexation would have “a major impact on the Israeli-Jordanian relationship.” At the time, he stopped short of threatening to cut diplomatic ties.
Yes, there was a Nakba, but it was not about Arabs
My organization, Im Tirtzu, has become famous (some would say infamous) for our calling out the lies, misrepresentations and deliberate distortions attached to marking “Nakba Day.” Palestinian and other Arabs use May 15, the secular calendar date of Israel’s Independence, to bemoan the "Nakba" - literally, the catastrophe - the so-called heartless uprooting and displacement of Arabs.

Our book, Nakba Nonsense, has become a standard reference piece for those seeking the facts about this turbulent time. Conveniently missing from the distorted Palestinian Arab narrative is the massive evacuation of wealthy Arabs way before May 15, followed by the widespread voluntary flight of Arabs who were advised by Arab leaders to leave their homes temporarily so as to not get in the way of the massacre of the Jews.

As befits most Palestinian Arab commemorations, Nakba Day is typically marked with riots and violent protests. This in and of itself should shed some light on the claims of a "peaceful people brutally uprooted."

This year, however, is likely to be a bit different, thanks to the Coronavirus. As much as the Palestinian leadership would love to throw darts at Israel, however they can, even they might feel a sense of responsibility to mute the activities of the day in the name of public health considerations.

Of course, nature abhors a vacuum, and it would seem just downright wrong not to mark Nakba Day. In that spirit, let me propose an all weather, virus-resistant form of marking the Nakba.

The real Nakba: the Nakba of the Jews of Arab lands.

In one of the most cruel, calculated and ultimately self-destructive acts of modern history, the declaration of Israel’s Independence was universally accompanied by the mass persecution of the Jews in Arab lands.

Most egregious was the expulsion of the Jews of Iraq, the oldest Jewish community in the world outside of the Land of Israel. True, Iraqi Jews suffered a barbaric pogrom known as the Farhud during Shavuot 194, in which 180 Jews were murdered in Bagdad, but the Jews of Iraq saw themselves as integral to and integrated in their society. They played an essential economic and social role.

Senate approves bill to sanction China over Uyghur rights
The Senate this week passed legislation urging President Trump to issue sanctions against those responsible for China’s actions against its Uighur Muslim minority as the president and his GOP allies have ramped up pressure on China over its handling of the coronavirus.

The bill introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) calls for the Trump administration to issue sanctions over the “gross human rights violations” against Uighurs and other Muslim groups in the country. It would condemn the internment of Uighurs and other Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang region and call for the country to close the camps. The U.S. would also revoke the visas of any officials found to have taken part in the internment of the groups, among other measures.

“The Chinese Government and Communist Party’s systematic, ongoing efforts to wipe out the ethnic and cultural identities of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang is horrific and will be a stain on humanity should we refuse to act,” Rubio said in a statement after the Senate passage.

The bill was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate without a roll-call vote. It now must be passed by the House before being sent to the White House for approval.

The bill was previously passed in the Senate in September, Bloomberg News reported. However, the House amended the legislation to block the export of devices that could be used for spying or restricting communications or movement of members of the groups. The Senate removed that language from the version of the bill passed Thursday.

China has worked to detain an unknown number of members of the minority population in what it says are “reeducation camps.” Top administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have condemned the detainment, with Pompeo previously calling the effort an “attempt to erase its own citizens.”

Australian mourns slain soldier whose dad saved his life at ’97 Maccabiah Games
Nearly 25 years ago, Tom Goldman and Baruch Ben-Ygal forged a relationship that became stronger as the years passed.

Ben-Ygal saved Goldman from drowning at the 1997 Maccabiah Games in Israel when the bridge across the Yarkon River collapsed as the Australian team headed to the opening ceremony. The disaster killed four and injured more than 60 Australian athletes and other team delegates.

This week, Ben-Ygal suffered a tragedy: His only child, Amit, a 21-year-old Israeli soldier, was killed during a raid on a Palestinian village in the West Bank when an assailant hurled a large rock at his head.

“Baruch has been an honorary member of the Australian team in every Maccabiah since 1997,” Goldman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “In 2013, Amit helped out with the juniors also in an unofficial capacity. I am devastated.”

Goldman had flown to Israel from Sydney eight years ago to attend Amit’s bar mitzvah. Amit called Goldman his “grandfather.”
Grave of killed IDF soldier sabotaged, guards placed to protect it
The grave of St.-Sgt. Amit Ben Yigal who was killed in a West Bank operation on Monday night was sabotaged on Thursday, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit reported.

Digging marks were found on the grave, which is in Be'er Ya'acov, and the late soldier’s father was called to the scene with a member of the IDF Rabbinical Corps and other IDF officials to ensure Ben Yigal's remains was not disturbed.

The IDF and Israel Police launched an investigation into the matter. The Defense Ministry placed Golani combatants at the scene to guard Ben Yigal's grave while the tomb is being sealed with concrete.

The initial investigation reportedly concluded the grave sabotage was not politically-motivated and was seemingly done by a mentally ill suspect. The suspect is still searched for by law enforcement.

St.-Sgt. Ben Yigal was killed by a concrete block thrown at him during an overnight raid in the village of Yabad located in the Palestinian Authority's Jenin Governorate, bordering the settlement of Mevo Dotan in the northwestern West Bank.

The 21-year-old sergeant was the only IDF soldier to have been killed since the beginning of the year. Yigal's killer is being searched for by Shin Bet and the IDF, as the military on high alert amid further attempted attacks on soldiers.

Why Hamas Loves Human Rights Watch
The HRW report focuses on only three Arab towns in Israel – Jisr al-Zarqa, Qalansawa and Ein Mahel, with a total population of 50,000. It deliberately ignores the other two million or so Arab Israelis. Moreover, the report fails to mention that the housing crisis affects not only Arabs, but also Jews.

In 2015, the Israeli government decided to implement the Economic Development Plan, a multi-year plan of about $12.3 billion, targeting issues such as planning, employment, transportation and education in the Arab sector. This groundbreaking plan is the largest and most comprehensive ever advanced to close gaps for Israel's Arab society.... Hamas, meanwhile, has done virtually nothing to solve the debilitating housing crisis of the two million Palestinians living under its rule in the Gaza Strip.

This is the same Hamas that is now using the HRW report to shed crocodile tears over the alleged housing crisis in the Arab sector in Israel.... A terrorist group that has failed its own people on an epic level is pretending that it is worried about where Arabs in Israel will live.

The HRW report, which ignores Hamas's atrocities against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, is now being used by the terrorist group as "evidence" of why Israel should be destroyed and replaced with an Islamic state.

"[The Middle East is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than any other country in the region." – Robert L. Bernstein, The New York Times, October 19, 2009.
Hamas Threatens More Kidnappings If Prisoner Deal Not Reached With Israel
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh threatened to kidnap more Israelis on Wednesday if a prisoner deal is not reached.

“A prisoner-exchange deal has a known price. Israel knows that. Either we will come to a respectable deal, or we will go to the other option, which is increasing our loot. Our arm is long,” Haniyeh said according to a Ynet report.

Despite recent reports about the possibility of such an arrangement between Israel and Hamas, the reality is that there is no single, strong Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip who is free to make such decisions, wrote Pinhas Inbari, a veteran Arab-affairs correspondent and analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Reports about a pending prisoner-exchange deal between Israel and Hamas are gaining momentum.

According to Palestinian sources in Ramallah, however, major obstacles remain in the way, particularly within Hamas, said Inbari.
Iranian Support Revives Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The terrorist network maintained by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in the West Bank has shown increased capacities and activity in recent months.

Growing financial and logistical support from Tehran to the PFLP has been reported since 2013.

The specific reason for Iran's renewed support for the PFLP relates to the Syrian civil war. Hamas strongly supported the Syrian rebellion, leading to a rupture in Tehran's support to it which has not been entirely repaired.

This led Tehran to look further afield in order to build armed networks in the West Bank. The PFLP strongly supported Assad throughout the war.

The PFLP is a small organization with a somewhat eccentric secular and leftist ideology possessing little appeal among the broad masses of the conservative, religious Palestinian population.

It possesses, nevertheless, a tight organizational structure, a cadre of fiercely loyal operatives, and a willingness to engage in violence.

Lebanese environmental group helping Hezbollah’s military wing – US think tank
Kornet anti-tank missiles fired by Hezbollah at an Israeli military vehicle and position near the Lebanese border last September were launched from within territory in southern Lebanon controlled by an environmental organization, according to a report released Thursday that argues that the group is in fact a front for Hezbollah.

The group, Green Without Borders, has been accused of being a front for the Iran-backed terror organization several times in the past, by both the Israel Defense Forces and Israel’s delegation to the United Nations.

The paper, published by Matthew Levitt and Samantha Stern of the US-based Washington Institute, takes these allegations further, identifying eight new locations along the border that belong to the group and further demonstrating the non-government organization’s ties to Hezbollah.

Green Without Borders bills itself as being primarily dedicated to planting trees, fighting forest fires and environmentalism in general. At the same time, it also freely acknowledges its ties to the “resistance,” or Hezbollah. The trees it plants in southern Lebanon are expressly meant to block Israeli surveillance cameras, to act as “a veil on the eyes of the enemy in addition to a wall behind which the resistance fighters protect themselves,” the head of the organization, Hajj Zuhair Nahle, told Lebanon’s Daily Star news outlet in 2017.

Such was the case last month when the group planted a number of trees on the Israeli side of the internationally recognized Blue Line — but on the Lebanese side of the border fence — prompting the IDF to take the unusual step of crossing into the buffer zone to remove them. This led to a tense standoff near the Israeli town of Metulla between the IDF and Lebanese Armed Forces on April 14, which was mediated by UN peacekeepers who eventually trimmed back the trees themselves.

Levitt and Stern’s report does not include any newly discovered evidence unequivocally proving that Green Without Borders is a Hezbollah front in the form of admissions or documentation, instead making the case based on existing information from the organization, UN reports and conversations with Israeli military officials.
Seth Frantzman: UN, WHO work with Assad to starve eastern Syria of aid during pandemic
International organizations partnering with the Syrian regime are cutting off aid to the poorest and most vulnerable people in Syria during the global pandemic.

A recent report at Foreign Policy noted that the “United Nations informed its relief agencies several weeks ago that they were permitted to fund private charities operating in northeastern Syria only if they were registered in Damascus and authorized to work there by the Syrian government, which has proved unwilling, or unable, to meet the region’s health needs.”

This gives the Syrian regime a veto over aid to eastern Syria and a way to use it as a weapon. Turkey and Russia collaborated in the effort, as Turkey turns off water to 460,000 people in eastern Syria, and Russia supports the Syrian regime. The report indicates how dictatorships and regimes that abuse human rights come first at controlling UN and international aid, enabling them to use it only for charities linked to them and using it to empower loyalists and sideline others.

The World Health Organization has also stopped supporting eastern Syria, an area of millions of people who are recovering from ISIS atrocities, as the WHO also works through the Syrian regime rather than providing equal access to people on the ground in a Syria divided by conflict. It now turns out that people of eastern Syria are being increasingly isolated by great powers who want them to stop working with the US and either be controlled by Turkey or by the Russian-backed Assad regime.

The report notes that the UN Security Council, “acting under pressure from Russia, shut down a UN-sanctioned humanitarian aid hub on January 10 at the Yaroubia crossing on the Iraqi-Syrian border. That deprived the UN of an explicit legal mandate to serve in the region.” The crossing was used by the WHO and private groups, “delivering medical assistance into northeastern Syria.”
Obama Officials Support U.S. Unilateral Snapback of Iran Sanctions
When Iran and world powers concluded the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), President Barack Obama and senior officials in his administration repeatedly touted its key enforcement mechanism. If Iran violated the agreement, they said, the United States could unilaterally reimpose all sanctions enacted by the UN Security Council, even without the support of other countries such as Russia and China. Such a step would be known as a “snapback” mechanism.

The United States retains the right to initiate a snapback even though the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018. UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA, defines the term “participant state” to include the United States. A State Department legal opinion released in December 2019 maintains that the resolution does not envision a change in this definition even if Washington abandons the JCPOA.1 On the contrary, the JCPOA was specifically designed to facilitate a snapback if one of its parties believes, at any time, that Iran is engaging in significant nonperformance of the accord’s provisions.

The conduct of the regime in Iran clearly amounts to significant non-performance of its JCPOA obligations. In 2018, the world learned that Iran had misled the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and breached its JCPOA nuclear disclosure commitments by concealing a secret nuclear weapons archive. Over the past year, Tehran has repeatedly and overtly violated the JCPOA, including by dramatically expanding its uranium enrichment activities and stockpiles of enriched uranium. According to the Institute for Science and International Security, these actions have brought Iran’s breakout time – that is, the amount of time needed to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear weapon – to an estimated 3.8 months.2

The regime has also denied the IAEA’s multiple requests for information and access to suspected nuclear sites, constituting both a breach of Iran’s most fundamental obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in addition to significant non-performance of its JCPOA commitments.

This research memo compiles key statements by members of the Obama administration and by several Republican lawmakers in support of the snapback mechanism. The quotations indicate that the authors of the JCPOA specifically intended the use of the snapback mechanism for serious violations of the accord – precisely the type of violations that Iran is committing now. With this fact in mind, the Trump administration should invoke the snapback mechanism in order to hold Iran accountable for its nuclear misconduct.
MEMRI: Iranian Regime: The Entire Persian Gulf Is Our Sea – 'Mare Nostrum' – And Has Belonged To Iran For Centuries; U.S. Forces Must Leave It
In advance of Iran's National Persian Gulf day, which this year fell on April 29,[1] the Iranian regime stepped up its provocations against U.S. vessels in international waters in the Gulf, in an attempt to establish in the international community the perception that these waters are Iranian. On April 15, 11 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) speedboats harassed a formation of six U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships, getting within a few meters of them, refusing to heed warnings to move away, and "repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches," according to the U.S. Navy.[2]

On April 19, Iran stated that the presence of foreign forces, particularly U.S. forces, in the Gulf endangers security and stability in it, and issued a warning stating that there would be "a decisive response to any mistake" by the Americans. It added that it the U.S. vessels had been interfering with Iranian maneuvers that were underway and that they had disregarded instructions by Iran to leave the area.

Majlis National Security Committee chairman Mojtaba Zolnour set out, on May 5, Iran's version of events: "The Americans are looking for provocations in the region, and are saying that Iranian [speed] boats surrounded the American ship... [But what really happened was] the American ship blocked the path of an Iranian ship everywhere it wanted to go. We have noticed that if we do not respond to [the Americans] at the right time, they become even more impudent, and begin to carry out other operations. Therefore, the Iranian [speed]boats' blocking of the American vessels was in fact a response to the Americans' interference."[3]

A week after the incident, on April 22, President Trump tweeted: "I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea."

This explicit U.S. threat led the Iranian regime to stop harassing U.S. vessels in the Gulf and to direct its efforts into online media activity, and statements by regime officials, to establish the notion of "our sea" – "mare nostrum" – regarding the Persian Gulf, much as the ancient Romans considered the Mediterranean "mare nostrum." To this end, regime officials, headed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and Iran's diplomatic corps, under the leadership of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as top military commanders, mobilized to instill the notion that the Persian Gulf – not the Arabian Gulf, as the Arab countries surrounding it consider it – is Iranian territory, that Iran is in charge of the Strait of Hormuz, and that the IRGC carries out legitimate and legal policing operations in it in order to keep traffic in it secure and safeguard Iran's borders. Based on this, they reiterated their demand that the U.S. immediately withdraw its forces from the region, claiming that they were causing the tension.

The Iranian Armed Forces general staff even warned the U.S. on April 28, as the Iranian regime prepared to mark National Persian Gulf Day, that "Iran will always defend its territorial integrity with readiness and clear strength, and any adventure, harassment, or provocative action will lead to a decisive response by the armed forces of the Islamic Republic – the results of which will be felt by the enemy forces, including America."[4]

Qasem Soleimani’s Right Hand Killed in Syria After Seeing Boss in a Dream
Colonel Abolfazl Sarlak was one of the Iranian military commanders in Syria who was “martyred” last Sunday night in eastern Aleppo, Fars News reported Thirsday.

According to the Iranian news agency, Colonel Sarlak had fought from the beginning of the Syrian civil war alongside General Qasem Soleimani against the “infidels,” and also spent many years fighting with Soleimani in Iraq as well.
Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei And Qasem Soleimani

Qasem Soleimani was a hero of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and served from 1998 until his assassination by the US in 2020 as commander of its Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations. At the time of his death, Soleimani was considered the second most powerful man in Iran, after Ayatollah Khamenei. The ayatollah reportedly was grooming Soleimani to take his place.

According to Sarlak’s comrades, “two days before his martyrdom, he told one of his friends that he had a dream in which Hajj Qasem himself had followed him in a car and was telling him to get ready to come meet him.”

His wife, who lives with the couple’s two young children in Aleppo, responded to the news of Sarlak’s demise saying, “I was not at all surprised to hear about the martyrdom because I was collecting his things!” Apparently, she, too, saw General Qasem in a dream two days before her husband was taken to meet his 72 virgins.

So, from now on, if you see Qasem Soleimani in a dream – stay indoors.
Parliament Moves To Ban Iranian Athletes From Competing With Israelis
A parliamentary motion to officially ban Iranian athletes from competing with their Israeli counterparts has pushed the country to the verge of becoming an outcast at international sports events.

Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 , the country does not recognize Israel and, based on an unwritten law, has prohibited Iranian athletes to compete with their Israeli counterparts.

The "double-urgency" motion was approved on Tuesday, May 12, with 43 votes in favor and no “nay” votes, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, mid-ranking cleric Mojtaba Zolnouri, announced Tuesday.

If passed into law, the motion will "legally" ban Iranian athletes to compete with Israelis, forcing the country's sports to face a possible international boycott.

The motion is a response to what Zolnouri described as Israel's "hostile actions against regional and international peace and security."

Article 11 of the motion emphasizes that "any competition or sporting event, whether formal or preparatory," between Iranian athletes and sports teams with Israeli opponents is prohibited.

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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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