Monday, May 18, 2020

05/18 Links Pt1: Caroline Glick: Israeli Sovereignty, Not Appeasement, Is the Key to Lasting Peace; 20 years after Lebanon pullout, Hezbollah is itching for another battle

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israeli Sovereignty, Not Appeasement, Is the Key to Lasting Peace
In the coming months, Israel is expected to apply its civilian law and administration to the 30 percent of Judea and Samaria (or the "West Bank") that President Donald Trump's recently unveiled peace plan anticipates remaining with Israel after a final peace agreement.

One might expect that Israel's plan would be hailed for advancing peace and the equal rights of Israelis and Palestinians alike. But the more common response of many so-called experts has been to distort the facts and preemptively condemn Israel.

The distortions begin with the very words used to describe Israeli plans. Across platforms, "experts" fret over what they call "Israeli annexation."

As I explained in my 2014 book The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, Israel cannot "annex" any part of Judea and Samaria. Annexation is an act under which a state imposes its sovereignty over another state's territory.

The state of Israel has sovereign rights to Judea and Samaria by force of its declaration of independence issued 72 years ago, on May 14, 1948. With its declaration of independence, together with Britain's surrender of the Mandate it had been granted by the League of Nations to reconstitute the ancient Jewish national home, Israel became the one and only state that acquired sovereignty over all the Mandate's territory.

When Israel applies its civilian law, it will be exercising sovereign rights that it has held for decades.

The second problem with the discourse surrounding Israel's plan to apply its laws to these areas is that it ignores both why doing so is important for Israel and why President Trump included Israeli sovereignty in his peace plan in the first place.

From Israel's perspective, the plan is important because it will significantly improve the rule of law and the civil rights of residents of the areas. For the past 26 years, Israel has shared governance of the "West Bank" with an autonomous Palestinian Authority. Israel has governed its portion of the territory under military administration. Nearly half a million Israelis and more than 100,000 Palestinians reside in cities, towns and villages in Judea and Samaria governed by the Israel Defense Forces.

Israel's civilian legal code is far more liberal than the military laws that currently apply to the areas. The civil rights of area residents—Jews and Arabs alike—will be far better protected under Israeli law than they have been under Israeli military administrative law.
Baroness Deech: Why I support the Board’s decision not to comment on annexation
I support the decision that the Board of Deputies should make no statement on the proposed territorial annexation by Israel. My experience in and out of Parliament with people who hate Israel and also with anti-Semites is that they are very willing to associate all Jews in the UK with the actions of Israel. If Israel carries out an action of which they disapprove, they call on UK Jews to dissociate themselves from it. In their view, all Jews are considered "guilty" or responsible for Israel's unpopular actions.

Those who urge the Board to make a statement against annexation are playing into the hands of people who hate Israel and who hate Jews. Calling for a statement or, worse still, making one, gives credence to the notion that all Jews are responsible for Israel's unpopular actions and that all Jews can instruct the Israel government to change its policy.

By making no statement, the Board will make it clear that while Jews in the diaspora generally support Israel, they are not responsible for her actions, they are not citizens with a vote, they do not have the right or the power to change her policies, and that anti-Semitism is, as it always has been, hatred of Jews, not a reaction to the existence or the policies of Israel. We should not get involved in Israeli politics as if we were Israeli citizens.
David Singer: Jordan’s King Abdullah Tries to Torpedo Trump Peace Plan
Neither Trump nor Netanyahu has advocated a one-state solution.

The “Palestinian Authority” no longer exists – Mahmoud Abbas having changed its name to the “State of Palestine” by decree on 3 January 2013.

Maybe a massive conflict if Israel “annexed” the West Bank – but 30% – an area of 1697 km2 [square kilometres]?

The interviewer did not query Abdullah – but blithely continued:
DER SPIEGEL: You would suspend the peace treaty with Israel?
King Abdullah II: I don’t want to make threats and create a loggerheads atmosphere, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of the strongest should not apply in the Middle East.

Empty posturing.

The Hashemites have controlled Jordan since 1920.

The PLO has controlled Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria since 2004 and allowed its hapless residents only one vote in 2006.

The law of the strongest is alive and kicking in the Middle East.
Abdullah faces Trump calling on him to fill the negotiating void left by the PLO jettisoning Trump’s plan – because:
Transjordan invaded Judea and Samaria in 1948 driving out every Jew living there
Transjordan and Judea and Samaria were merged into one territorial entity in 1950 and renamed “Jordan” whilst “Judea and Samaria” was renamed “West Bank”
“West Bank” Arab residents were granted Jordanian citizenship between 1950 and 1988
PLO made no claims to territorial sovereignty until Jordan lost Judea and Samaria to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day Wa
The one-state solution is a desperate Abdullah ploy to remain uninvolved.

The realistic two-state solution – Jordan and Israel – is coming.

Europeans Continue Unjustified Criticism of Israel but Ignore Real Middle East Threats
Even as the coronavirus pandemic rages globally and is hitting several European countries fast and hard, Europe still has time to engage in one of its favorite pastimes: criticizing and opposing Israel.

The EU and some of its member states are trying to outrace each other on warning Israel's new government against declaring sovereignty in parts of the West Bank. But while they are quick to criticize Israel, they are passive about the real threats to stability in the region.

Last week, Mohsen Rezaei of Iran's Expediency Council threatened to "raze Israeli cities to the ground" even in the event there is a U.S. response to Iranian attacks against American forces in Iraq. These threats - to destroy Israeli cities filled with civilians and wipe out "the Zionist entity" and the "Zionist cancer" - are made on a regular basis by leading Iranian officials. The response in Europe to such genocidal rhetoric is essentially a collective yawn.

If Europe wanted to be helpful it would have been pushing the Palestinians from the time of the 1993 Oslo accords to resolve their conflict with Israel by going to the negotiating table and making reasonable and reciprocal compromises with the Jewish state.

Opportunities for the Palestinians to make a deal have been presented numerous times over many years, but they have always walked away, because making peace would require their taking less than the zero-sum result they have been promising their people.

The decades-long absence of goodwill on the Palestinian side, and the continued presence of Hamas in Gaza, means Israel must have a security presence in the Jordan Valley. For the same reasons, demilitarization of whatever Palestinian entity that may result from a negotiation is now a given. And a right of return for Palestinians and their descendants who fled Israel when it was created in 1948 will not happen.

Europe seems incapable - or worse, unwilling - to persuade the Palestinians to do what they've refused to do until now, which is to finally level with their people about what is do-able and what is fantasy.
Netanyahu: Fighting ICC war crimes probe among government’s key objectives
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he deemed a possible war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court a rare “strategic threat” to Israel, declaring efforts to prevent such a probe one of the new government’s top priorities.

At the first cabinet meeting, minutes after Israel’s 35th government was sworn in in the Knesset, Netanyahu said that The Hague’s intention to launch a investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem was one of the executive’s five main agenda items in the weeks and months ahead.

On April 30, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asserted that Palestine is a state for the purposes of transferring criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague, which could pave the way for a war crimes investigation against Israel’s military and civilian leadership, but also against Palestinian terrorists. It is now up to a pre-trial chamber to rule on the matter, which it is expected to do in the coming weeks.

“This is a worrying development,” Netanyahu said. “There is a word that I almost never use. Right, I don’t use the word ‘strategic.’ But here I will use this word, strategic. This a strategic threat to the State of Israel — to IDF soldiers, to the commanders, to the ministers, to the governments, to everything,” he said. “We will discuss this in a separate forum.”

The new government’s other main concerns were the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, Iranian aggression, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including plans to annex part of the West Bank, the prime minister said.

Earlier on Sunday, during the festive swearing-in session in the Knesset plenum, Netanyahu slammed the ICC for “persecuting Israeli with exaggerated and absurd allegations.”

New FM Ashkenazi endorses Trump peace plan as ‘historic opportunity’
Incoming Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday expressed warm support for the US administration’s plan for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, calling it a “historic opportunity” to shape Israel’s borders, while stopping short of explicitly endorsing a unilateral annexation of West Bank territory.

“We’re facing significant regional opportunities, primarily President [Donald] Trump’s peace initiative. I consider this plan a significant milestone,” he said at a modest changing-of-the-guard ceremony at the Foreign Ministry conference room in Jerusalem.

“President Trump presented us with a historic opportunity to shape the future of the State of Israel and its boundaries for decades to come,” he added. The words “and its boundaries” did not appear in his prepared remarks as they were sent to reporters by the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson.

“The plan will be advanced responsibly, with full coordination with the United States and maintaining all of the State of Israel’s peace agreements and strategic interests,” Ashkenazi said, sitting next to his predecessor, incoming Finance Minister Israel Katz.

The remark was a clear reference to Jordan, whose King Abdullah last week warned that an Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank 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.

Jerusalem’s peace agreements with the Hashemite Kingdom and with Cairo “are strategic assets that we have to preserve,” Ashkenazi said. “I see great importance in strengthening our strategic ties with the countries of peace, Egypt and Jordan. They are our most important allies in tackling regional challenges.”
The Jordanian King that roared
Someone has to remind this guy that his nation was part of the area then known as Palestine that was taken from the Ottoman Empire, a German ally in WWI, when they lost that war. Under the Balfour Declaration of 1917, and supported by the League of Nations, the entirety of Palestine was to be given to the Jewish people as their homeland. However, the duplicitous British and the League in 1921, gave 80% of the promised Jewish nation to the current king's grandfather and that nation was born. Stolen from Jews.

After the 1967 war when Israel tossed out the Jordanians from illegally occupying Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria, the then king, Hussein was thrilled that the Israelis didn't continue to reclaim the entirety of Jordan as it had every right to do. To this day, the IDF protects Jordan from threats emanating from Syria, Iraq and Iran. Israel is Jordan's bodyguard. And this is how they're treated by the wimp, Abdullah?

President Trump's Middle East peace plan backs Israel's right to apply Israeli law to these Jewish communities. The Palestinian Authority ruled by President-for-life, Mahmoud Abbas, rejected this U.S. peace plan, disregarding the promise of 50 billion $ in economic assistance and the promise to work toward a Palestinian Arab state.

Even understanding the sheer stupidity of run-of -the-mill Arabs living in a multitude of Middle East nations, in dealing with their poverty, lack of opportunities and accepting the rule of their despotic leaders, we have to wonder, how much longer will they tolerate their children growing up, from birth to death in such dire and bleak circumstances? Is hating Israel worth it? But who gives Israel a pat on the back for surviving and even lending a helping hand to these enemy nations who would turn on them in a flash?

Leaders such as King Abdullah II, surely know the truth. He is a sad and woeful ruler.
Jordan To Extradite Terrorist If US Also Takes Rest Of Palestinian Population (satire)
Hashemite Kingdom officials announced today they will consider a longtime US request to detain and hand over the perpetrator of a 2001 bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 and wounded 130, including US citizens, if the Trump administration agrees that along with her, they can send millions of other troublesome residents of the same group.

Aides to a high-ranking member of the Jordanian royal family disclosed today that King Abdullah II is weighing a decision on whether to extradite Ahlam Tamimi, who scouted and selected the target for the 2002 attack on a Sbarro’s restaurant, then dropped off the suicide bomber. The aides indicated that while His Highness has hesitated to comply with an existing extradition treaty with the US, he has come to appreciate the potential benefits of leveraging its application to further the country’s shifting interests, in this case getting rid of a population that has threatened the kingdom’s stability for decades.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the aides revealed that a change in thinking has occurred in the king’s mind over the last several years. “Palestinian unrest has long served as a safety valve for various social and political pressures,” explained one. “It follows more or less the same model as in other Arab and Muslim countries: exploit Palestinian suffering to deflect or distract from your own problems, and thus maintain regime stability. But His Highness has always been aware that could work to his disadvantage; many Arabs came here in 1948 and gained citizenship, but their focus has remained vengeance. We even fought a war in the late sixties and early seventies against Palestinian terrorists we had thought it would be a good idea to harbor. Palestinians are effectively a majority here, which complicates things. If we can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, this could be a real achievement.”
20 years after Lebanon pullout, Hezbollah is itching for another battle
HEZBOLLAH HAS gained immeasurable battlefield experience from its time in Syria, learning not only from its Iranian patrons but from Russian forces in the war-torn country as well.

Despite the civil war winding down, Hezbollah has been investing significant amounts of manpower and time in Syria and has been reported to be embedding itself into the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) as well as villages and towns countrywide in order to guarantee its survival in the country.

Military success in Syria has also allowed Hezbollah to redeploy senior operatives and troops to the area as well as back to southern Lebanon. The group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah has said as much himself.

Last year, the IDF’s Northern Command cleared for release that the group has been active in the Syrian Golan Heights in a clandestine file known as the “Golan Project,” where operatives involved have weaponry available to attack Israeli troops when given the order.

A senior officer stationed along the border with Syria took the author to the IDF’s military posts along the Hermon mountain.

Pointing out various villages along the border, the officer said that the military has identified several locations where they know the Lebanese terror groups collects intelligence on Israel.

The IDF is on a higher level of alertness because of the Golan Project, he said.

In addition, according to foreign reports, Israel provided light weaponry to rebel groups over the years of Operation Good Neighbor, which has led to concerns that they may one day be turned over to Israel’s enemies.

But the next war in the North will not be limited to one border, but will include Syria as well.

“What happens in Syria happens in Lebanon and vice versa,” said the senior IDF officer stationed along Israel’s border with Syria, explaining that like in Lebanon, Hezbollah operatives in civilian clothes have been seen with SAA troops.

And with the SAA rebuilding its army after close to a decade of a civil war which almost decimated its force, who is to say that it wouldn’t take part in the next war with Israel?

Twenty years after Israel closed the gates with Lebanon, the reality on the ground is that the wars in Israel’s picture-perfect North are far from over. The defense establishment knows that Israel will not be able to escape another war with Hezbollah: It’s just a matter of when.
And when that happens, Zehavi said, “it will be a whole new war, in a whole new world.”
JCPA: Nasrallah: Iran Is Not Pulling Back from Syria
In a speech marking the fourth anniversary of the death of Mustafa Badreddine, who was commander of the Hizbullah forces in Syria, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah devoted a large part of his talk to the Syrian arena. Nasrallah asserted that Israel’s outgoing defense minister, Naftali Bennett, whom he called an “idiot,” was lying to the Israeli public and portraying a false picture in which Israel is scoring military victories in Syria – victories that, Bennett promised, would lead to the withdrawal of Iran’s military forces from Syria by the end of the year. Nasrallah repeated the claim that Iran does not have military forces in Syria, but only military advisers and trainers who assist the Syrian army and the forces that have come to help the Assad regime, while coordinating between them, and he emphasized that these advisers and trainers are not leaving Syria.

Nasrallah also stated that a reduction in Hizbullah’s military presence in Syria had come after the achievement of Hizbullah’s goals in Aleppo and the removal of the threat to Damascus, in coordination with the Syrian army, and not because of the casualties the organization had absorbed, as Israel claims.

Nasrallah noted that Israel is operating in Syria against facilities involved in missile production and warned that if it continues its attacks, Israel could commit an error in Syria that would lead to a regional eruption. It is worth mentioning in this context that on April 17, 2020, in response to an Israeli airstrike on a Hizbullah vehicle in Syria, special Hizbullah forces simultaneously damaged three sites along Lebanon’s border fence with Israel. That was intended to make clear that Hizbullah will respond from Lebanon to an Israeli strike on it in Syria.

Nasrallah hinted about disagreements between Iran and Russia in Syria but denied that there is a conflict between them. He described the claims about a conflict as part of a psychological war being waged against Iran in Syria.
Israeli President Rivlin Pays Condolence Call to Family of Soldier Killed in Stone-Throwing Attack
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin paid a condolence call on Sunday to the family of an IDF soldier killed in a stone-throwing attack last week, saying that “he has become a symbol” and “you have all taken a place in our hearts.”

Staff Sgt. Amit Ben-Yigal, 21, was killed on Tuesday while participating in an anti-terror operation in the town of Yabed in the West Bank with his unit of the elite Golani Brigade.

Ben-Yigal was struck by a large stone thrown from the roof of a building and later died of his wounds. Although he was wearing a helmet, he reportedly heard a sound and looked up, exposing his unprotected face to the impact.

At a meeting held at the family home with Ben-Yigal’s father Baruch and mother Nava, Rivlin said, “I know that this is something that no-one wishes is said about their son, that he has become a symbol, but you should know that you have all taken a place in our hearts, and Amit will remain a symbol for us. A symbol of someone who gave his all for our country.”

“How I wish I could have come to your celebrations, to his wedding,” the president said, “but I am here today and I can only tell you that I feel the enormity of your loss, the strength of your pride and the depth of your pain. In our country, unfortunately, they often go together.”

“There is no consolation, I know,” Rivlin said. “I have seen pictures and videos of Amit, as have so many Israelis, and I immediately understood the enormity of the loss of our heroic soldier. I saw his ability and his conduct, I heard what his friends said about him and my heart was broken.”

“Generation after generation we send the very best we have to serve the state,” he added. “Every time, we say what will happen to the next generation? And every time, we find that the next generation of young people is even better. Such devotion. Such desire to be part of the success of our country.”
Gantz pledges release of Israelis in Gaza in first defense minister call
Defense Minister Benny Gantz pledged to secure the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza when he spoke by phone with their relatives, in what his first external call in his new position.

“During the conversation, Gantz expressed his commitment to return them [the hostages] home,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Gantz spoke with the families of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oren Shaul. Both young men were presumed killed during the 2014 Gaza war and their remains have been held by Hamas. He also talked with the families of two Israelis civilians held captive in Gaza, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.

Leah and Simha Goldin said they were moved by the call from Gantz, who is also the alternate prime minister.

“We told Gantz he shouldn’t miss the opportunity to return soldiers and civilians. The new government should act here and now and to fulfill its duty to the families,” Leah and Simha tweeted.
Israeli Man Found Guilty of Murder in 2015 Duma Arson Attack
The Lod District Court in central Israel on Monday convicted the main defendant in the 2015 Duma arson case, Amiram Ben-Uliel, on three counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson. Ben-Uliel was acquitted of membership in a terrorist organization.

The 2015 attack, in which assailants firebombed the Dawabshe family’s home in the West Bank village of Duma while they were sleeping, killing 18-month-old Ali Dawabshe, his mother Riham and his father Saad, shocked the nation, drawing condemnation from across the political spectrum.

The only survivor of the attack was 4-year-old Ahmed Dawabshe, who was seriously wounded and hospitalized for close to a year after the attack.

At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that the perpetrators would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

During the trial, the defense had argued that the suspects’ confessions had been obtained under duress and were therefore inadmissible. While the Central District Court had originally granted the defense’s motion, the Lod court ruled on Monday that the specific details included in the confessions indicated they were not false and could, therefore, be entered into evidence.

Baby girl from Gaza saved by concert of Israeli, Palestinian doctors
The life of a six-month-old Palestinian baby girl was rescued by the collaborative efforts of Israeli and Palestinian medical staff at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, Israel this past week.

Lama, a six-month-old baby girl from Gaza born with a heart defect, had been receiving treatment in Gaza since her diagnosis under the care of Palestinian pediatric cardiologist Dr. Fayez Shakalia.

Shakalia received training in these types of medical procedures by the Save a Child's Heart foundation, which brings doctors from the Palestinian territories and developing countries to come to Israel and train with Israeli medical experts. Save a Child's Heart brings children to Israel from all across the world for lifesaving heart surgeries and has treated more than 5,000 children from 62 countries to date.

Lama herself, was diagnosed with a heart defect that results in abnormal blood flow between two of the major arteries connected to the heart, a condition which requires medical intervention.

Her treatments were progressing smoothly at the local Gaza hospital until a catheterization procedure went awry, requiring Lama's immediate transfer to an Israeli hospital to receive open-heart surgery.

Urgent requests were then sent to Israeli authorities allow Lama into Israel, while separate requests were then sent to the Palestinian authorities requesting she be able to leave, accompanied by her mother, to the Wolfson Medical Center for her lifesaving treatment. After an agreement on both sides, Lama was transferred via ambulance through the Erez Crossing and from there driven to the hospital in Holon.
Police said seeking to expel Palestinian who faces death sentence in West Bank
The Israel Police are seeking to expel from the country a Palestinian man who was sentenced to death by the Palestinian Authority, despite Israeli courts ruling that he cannot be removed due to the danger he faces, according to a report Monday.

The case led the Justice Ministry’s legal adviser to file a complaint against the head of police’s Prosecution Division, Dado Zamir, who had ordered the man deported in defiance of the court rulings, the Haaretz newspaper reported.

During the legal wrangling police claimed that the courts were sometimes not privy to information that they hold, and that they did not have the authority to rule on the matter, the report said.

The Palestinian man, identified in the report only by the name Awad, was said to have been given a death sentence by the PA for privately cooperating with Israeli security authorities. For 17 years he was permitted to stay in Israel because of the threat to his life. But last year a Defense Ministry committee assessed that there was no longer any threat to him and gave him six months to leave the country. According to the report, the decision was made in part because Awad was involved in criminal activity and on the basis of intelligence assessments.

Awad failed to leave and police filed an indictment against him for staying in the country without a permit, also asking that he be held until the end of proceedings. However, in January the Jaffa Magistrate’s Court ordered him released to house arrest and the Tel Aviv District Court later rejected a police appeal against that decision. Both courts found that Awad still faced a significant risk if he is expelled.

In response, police’s Zamir ordered that the indictment be withdrawn and that Awad be immediately expelled, prompting the Judicial Authority’s legal adviser to file a complaint with the Justice Ministry’s oversight commissioner Justice David Rozen.
PMW: PA daily: US Ambassador to Israel is a war criminal who the Palestinians will bring before the ICC
According to Bassem Barhoum, a regular columnist for the official PA daily, the Palestinians are going to work to bring the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Calling Ambassador Friedman a “war criminal”, “insolent” and the descendent of “racist fascism”, Barhoum continued saying that the first thing the Palestinians must do is to bring him to trial.

“The Palestinian people has experienced a long list of extremist, racist, and hate-filled Zionists, Jews and non-Jews alike, because the Zionist project is a project of global colonialism. But Ambassador David Friedman is the most insolent, most extreme, and most racist. He is a war criminal, and we will work to bring him before the International Criminal Court (ICC)…
He is the descendent of racist fascism and hatred of the ugliest kind. Therefore, the first step is to bring this fascist before the ICC as a war criminal”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 7, 2020]

Barhoum finished by adding that “Palestine is from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. It is the Palestinian people’s historical homeland, and the status of Acre (i.e., an Israeli city) is the status of Nablus, and the status of Jaffa (i.e., an Israeli city) is the status of Hebron.”

Barhoum’s rant came in response to statements made by Ambassador Friedman in an interview with the Israeli paper Israel Hayom, in which he said that the US is ready to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and Israeli towns in the West Bank in the coming weeks if Israel declares its sovereignty there. Discussing the historical importance of places like Beit El and Hebron in the West Bank, Friedman said: "The administration knows that, just as Americans would never relinquish the area on which the Statue of Liberty stands, even though it's a very small area, Israel would never agree to give up these places." [May 6, 2020]
PLO official calls for nixing agreements with Israel
Palestinian officials on Monday condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks about applying Israeli law over parts of the West Bank, and said the Palestinian leadership would meet on Tuesday to discuss its response to the Israeli plan.

The officials denounced the new Israeli government, which was sworn in on Sunday, as a “government of annexation and war,” and called on the international community to pressure Israel to refrain from taking unilateral steps “that would jeopardize security and stability in the region.”

Speaking before the swearing-in of his new government in the Knesset, Netanyahu said that “the time has come to apply Israeli law [over West Bank settlements] and to write a new, glorious chapter in the annals of Zionism.” He argued that annexation “will not make peace more distant; it will bring it closer. Peace can only be based on truth, and everyone knows it.”

A PLO official told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian leadership will hold a meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the “dangers” of the annexation plan and its impact on Palestinian-Israeli relations.

“It seems Netanyahu is determined to proceed with his annexation plan, notwithstanding opposition from the international community and in violation of international law,” the official said. “The time has come for our leadership to take decisive and historic decisions to confront Israeli-American conspiracies against our people.”

Fatah leaders who met in Ramallah on Monday warned of the Israeli government’s “destructive policies” and called on Palestinians to prepare for “defending their rights and dignity.”

MEMRI: Why Authoritarianism Has Failed Russia During The Coronavirus Crisis
Boris Vishnevsky, a columnist for Novaya Gazeta and a St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly deputy for the liberal Yabloko party wrote a column explaining why authoritarianism in Russia has failed the test of the coronavirus crisis, despite its pretensions to be ideally equipped to handle such crises. Vishnevsky explains that the system is severely handicapped by its rapacity, its promotion of personnel. whose major talent is loyalty to the leader, and its isolation from the corrective mechanism of public feedback. As a result, Russian officialdom from Putin on down is concerned with its own agenda and not with the people's plight. It needs to exude the image that "everything is under control" and buttresses that image with false data transmitted upwards, as in Soviet times. Vishnevsky's article follows below:[1]"The citizens' irritation with the Russian authorities' actions is easily explained: The citizens, sitting at home without work and money, see only increasing new prohibitions, threats and punishments.

"What they do not see is the necessary assistance from the state, which would help them endure the restrictions imposed by the authorities.

"And although the obligatory one and a half month of 'weekends' is over, there were no direct payments to all citizens (which were demanded by the Yabloko party, by opposition regional and municipal deputies, by politicians Gudkov and Navalny and by economists [Vladislav] Inozemtsev and [Sergey] Guriev). The promised one-time payments of 10 thousand rubles to families with children for each child from 3 to 15 years old (the total amount of assistance is about 400 billion rubles) leave the Russian National Wealth Fund almost untouched.

Citizens are puzzled: whatever happened to the 'vertical of power' and the 'strong hand', which were nurtured for decades exactly for the purpose of effectively responding to any challenges.

However, [events] that are happening now fit into a coherent and logical picture, one only needs to choose the initial hypothesis correctly: the 'vertical of power' was not designed and built in order to solve the problems of citizens. It was created for a completely different task!

Actually, all this was perfectly and accurately described half a century ago in the novel "Inhabited Island" [Prisoners of Power] by the Strugatsky brothers [Arkady and Boris Strugatsky].

";They have two goals, one of which is the main [goal], the other is the fundamental [goal]. The main goal is to retain power. The fundamental goal is to derive maximum satisfaction from this power. There are also gentle people among them, they get satisfaction from the knowledge that they are the people's benefactors. But most of them are thieves, voluptuaries, sadists, and they all are power-hungry.'"
Mullahs' Missiles Kill Iranians but Can't Defend Iran
That leaves the third angle, missiles, to thrive. Missiles are the weapon of the poor, especially when copied from foreign models courtesy of North Korea, China and, to a lesser extent, Russia.

One more problem is Iran's continued dependence on North Korean and Chinese partners for spare parts, technology, maintenance and training-for-use of virtually all its missiles. There is no guarantee that either Beijing or Pyongyang would want to be dragged into a war that the Islamic Republic might trigger to prolong its existence as an exporter of revolution.

More importantly, perhaps, there is no evidence that as many Iranians today would be "volunteers for martyrdom" as the time the ayatollah developed his nightmarish dream.
Iran MPs ban work with Israel, including using its software, as acts against God
Iran’s parliament on Monday approved legislation barring any cooperation with Israel, including the use of any Israeli computer hardware or software, and branding any such cooperation an act against God.

“Based on the first article of the bill, all Iranian bodies are required to use the country’s regional and international capacities to confront the Zionist regime’s measures,” an Iranian parliamentary spokesman, Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, said. According to the Fars news site, any cooperation or spying for “the Zionist regime” is to be considered “equal to enmity towards God and corruption on earth,” and “activities of the Israeli software platforms in Iran and using its hardware and software products is forbidden.”

The law was adopted unanimously by all legislators present, Fars reported. There was no clarification as to how its provisions would be implemented.

The law passed ahead of Friday’s annual al-Quds day, which is usually marked by regime-orchestrated demonstrations across Iran against Israel and expressing support for Palestinians. It is held on the last Friday of Ramadan, which this year is May 22.

On Saturday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Iranians living in areas considered to be at low risk of a further coronavirus outbreak will be allowed to attend Friday prayers including Quds Day commemorations.

“Two decisions have been made for the Quds Day; first is that Quds Day will be held in 218 cities which are white cities [considered to be at low risk of an outbreak] not in the form of rallies but by presence at Friday prayers, respecting all hygiene protocols,” Rouhani told a meeting of the national coronavirus taskforce, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

In Tehran, which is deemed high-risk, a “symbolic ceremony” will be performed with a motorcade supervised by the Revolutionary Guards.

“It was decided that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) be tasked with holding the rallies,” the president said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Dons PMU Uniform, Says The PMU Plays Fundamental Role in Iraq’s Security, Unity
On May 16, 2020, a video of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s address to members of the PMU was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office. He praised the PMU and its martyrs, saying that they are the “apple of Iraq’s eye,” and said that they have played a fundamental role in Iraq’s security, particularly in fighting ISIS. He said that the PMU’s presence across all sectors of Iraqi society, are evidence of the unity of the Iraqi people, and he promised to protect the PMU and to fight alongside it to ensure that ISIS does not return to Iraq. Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi elaborated that Iraq and the PMU will soon launch wide-scale military operations against ISIS. At the end of this speech, he was given a PMU uniform and he put the shirt on, saying: “I’ll wear it right now for you and ISIS to see and know that we are ready, brothers!”

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