Friday, May 22, 2020

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Israel-bashers fail to see the Arab train leaving the station
It’s a busy time for Israel-haters. So what’s new? Well, a lot.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the Democratic congresswoman who has a lengthening record of lies about Israel, last week tweeted the boiler-plate falsehood that Israel’s foundation in 1948 had entailed the “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinian Arabs who were “indigenous” to the land.

The Jews, of course, are the only people for whom the land of Israel was ever their national home. And the Palestinian Arabs’ displacement took place in the war of extermination against the nascent State of Israel, waged by Arab states who told them to leave on the basis that they would return as conquerors.

Yet Tlaib’s ahistorical rubbish is standard discourse among western Israel-bashers. In Britain, more than 130 MPs have signed a letter drafted by the Council for Arab-British Understanding calling for sanctions against Israel if it proceeds with its proposal to extend Israeli law over parts of the disputed territories.

Their claim that this “annexation” is contrary to international law is also demonstrably untrue. It would actually belatedly enforce international law, by restoring the legal right to settle these territories that in the 1920s the international community gave to the Jews alone.

Nevertheless, the European Union (with objections from Hungary and Austria) has repeatedly condemned Israel for the plan. The British government has denounced it. Liberal American Jews fulminate against it.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he would “reverse” U.S. President Donald Trump’s Israel policies that he claims damage the chances of a peace agreement, while hedging this with enough caveats to render deniable his hostility to Israel’s best interests.

At the same time, the man they all refuse to condemn for his record of supporting terrorism, inciting mass murder and breaking his undertakings — Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas— declared that the Palestine Liberation Organization was now absolved of all its agreements with Israel and the U.S. over the proposed “annexation.”

Even his followers realized the absurdity of this latest such empty bombast. An exasperated P.A. official said: “How many times can you repeat the same threat? How can you renounce the same agreements you said you renounced five years ago?”

Ruthie Blum: Could his protests over annexation be Mahmoud Abbas’s last whimper?
WHILE ISRAELIS of all persuasions are engaged in a political and ideological debate over elements of the plan – which enables the Jewish state to extend sovereignty over its heartland but also allows for the establishment of a Palestinian state – Abbas is busy igniting another intifada.

And why wouldn’t he be when faced with a document that calls for the empowerment of Palestinians through economic progress and clean governance? Having a state that he doesn’t really want is bad enough. One that is “of the people, by the people and for the people” is his worst nightmare.

This is probably why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no trouble embracing the plan. Experience has taught him two things: One is that Palestinian signatures on peace deals are meaningless; the other is that Trump keeps his promises.

Abbas couldn’t argue there.

His only recourse under the circumstances, then, is to try to stir a commotion – or, in this case, cry wolf – in the hope that Netanyahu’s and Trump’s foes will come running to his rescue. Take Joe Biden, for example, the US Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential contender against Trump in November.

On the very day that Abbas declared all agreements with Israel and America null and void, Biden held a conference call with Jewish donors, during which he said, “Israel needs to stop the threats of annexation, stop settlement activity, because it will choke off any hope of peace.”
If his suggestion that Palestinians “end incitement in the West Bank and rocket attacks in Gaza” caused Abbas any ill ease, it was likely fleeting. A presidential hopeful who creates moral parity between Israel and the PA is a lot better than a president actually in the Oval Office whose compass can’t be manipulated by a terrorist in a tie.

It is not immediately apparent what Abbas hopes to accomplish by making threats that everyone considers empty. If anything, the 84-year-old author of The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism is setting himself up to go out, not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Jonathan S. Tobin: The Abbas comedy and ongoing Palestinian tragedy
Even more important, Abbas's vows to end security cooperation with Israel are even less credible than his other histrionics.

Although Israel benefits from being able to coordinate with the PA's various intelligence agencies, the real beneficiary of the scheme is Abbas. Without Israeli security to fend off both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the PA leader's life would be in jeopardy. He needs Israel a lot more than Israel needs him.

But there's one more good reason to treat this subject with skeptical derision.

Far from having abided by the 1993 Oslo Accords that Abbas now threatens to abrogate, the Palestinians have made a mockery of them from the moment they were signed on the White House Lawn in September 1993.

Though the late Yitzhak Rabin made the argument for the peace process by saying that Arafat would fight Palestinian terror, he was tragically wrong. Arafat was never against terror; quite the contrary, he was inciting, planning and funding it. His successor Abbas carries on the tradition of paying for terrorism through the pensions and salaries the PA gives those who commit violence against Jews and Israelis with higher amounts going to those who shed the most blood.

That's why Israelis are so disillusioned with the sort of mindless talk about peace and a two-state solution that passes for informed comment on the situation by people like Biden and the op-ed writers at the Times.

The tragedy of the Palestinians is that they could have had peace and an independent state if their leaders been willing to give up the illusion that Israel could one day be eliminated. Instead, they have chosen corruption, fantasies about the end of Israel and more comedic relief from Abbas. It's a poor bargain, but until Palestinians decide they want something better from their leaders, it's all they'll ever have.

The imperative to annex and the irrelevance of innocence
The conclusion then is clear.

History has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that the Palestinian-Arabs will not be swayed from their aggressive intent by any display of Israeli goodwill, generosity or concessions—however far-reaching.

If the calamitous casualties, necessary to convince the Palestinian-Arabs of final and durable defeat, are unacceptable and impracticable in the current international climate, the only “non-kinetic” policy paradigm that can effectively address Israel’s demographic and geographic imperatives, is a large-scale initiative for the incentivized emigration (evacuation-compensation) of the Palestinian-Arabs in Judea-Samaria (and eventually Gaza).

Here is not the place to discuss the political acceptability, the economic feasibility and the moral merits of the paradigm (which, however, can be shown to be distinctly more plausible than any competing alternative), but for Israel, it is essentially “Hobson’s Choice”—if it wishes to endure as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The proposed annexation measures are an essential first step—and necessary pre-condition—in this direction.

I therefore, renew my call to Pipes for cooperation between his organization and mine, and to invest his considerable acumen and energy into helping to take the notion of “Incentivized Arab Emigration” from the realm of theoretical discussion to that of practical policy.

Before it is too late!
Annexation will be a game-changer for Europe’s role in the Middle East
A full annexation by Israel of all its settlements in the West Bank will be an event of the same magnitude as 1973, perhaps even bigger, because it will mean that there will not be a true peace between Israel and her neighbors in the foreseeable future. Full annexation will be a devastating blow not just against the relations between the EU and its member states vis-à-vis Israel, but against the EU’s relations with the Palestinian Authority as well, and the security architecture of the whole region.

It most likely will not lead to any harsher punitive actions against Israel in the immediate aftermath because there is no consensus and little appetite in the EU at the moment to confront either Israel or the Trump administration. Over the long run, however, it is difficult to see Israel becoming more deeply integrated into the EU after a full annexation. The EU has never recognized the annexations of the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem, and it is inconceivable that it will recognize the annexation of the West Bank settlements.

The EU’s relations with the Palestinians are perhaps even more complicated than those with Israel. Because of its enormous financial investment in the institutions for a future Palestinian state, the EU will be reluctant to pronounce the death of the two-state solution, especially before the PA officially does so.

The EU will also be reluctant to punish the Palestinians for something Israel has done by cutting aid too much. At the same time, the EU’s former high representative, Federica Mogherini, said just before she left office last year that if the prospect of a two-state solution disappears or no longer appears achievable, the EU and other donors would need to fundamentally review their support. That moment will arrive on the day after full annexation.

A full Israeli annexation will not mean peace but that the conflict will go on, and that the whole Levant will continue to be destabilized for the foreseeable future. It will inevitably mean that Europe’s obsession with the Israeli-Arab conflict will continue.

The writer is a political scientist at Linnaeus University, Sweden, specializing in EU-Israel/Palestine relations. His new book, EU Diplomacy and the Israeli-Arab Conflict, 1967–2019, will be published by Edinburgh University Press in July.
We can't be afraid to win
A militarized Palestinian state on Israel's doorstep would be a liability
A few Israeli writers have been advising the Israeli Right not to fear Trump’s peace plan. Don’t be “purists,” they urge. Don’t worry so much about the Palestinian state component. The Palestinians will say no for us, or will fail to comply with conditions.

These writers are quite wrong about this, whereas Israelis courageously opposing the Trump-Netanyahu wink to future “state” status for the Palestinian Authority are quite right.

A state is always entitled to be fully militarized. Always. Even if the state’s birth certificate is clearly stamped “demilitarized,” the newborn state becomes fully independent at birth. Thus even a fledgling state is entitled, even immediately, to empower and arm itself.

Afterward, Israel (or even the entire international community) is not ever entitled to dissolve this armed state. In short: You can’t “divorce” or “demote” a state. “State” status is irreversible.

But why not “count on” the Palestinians to say no? Isn’t it well known that the Palestinians don’t really want a state; that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity? Israelis beware. Pin-pointing what “the Palestinians” want is as futile as describing what “the Israelis” want.

Consider the fact that this is our homeland, not the Arabs’ and not a single nation in the world gives its homeland to its enemies unless defeated on the battlefield. Even about this very basic fact, not all Israelis agree.

So even regarding basics, not all “the Israelis” want the same thing. The same is true of our Arab neighbors. Yes, some Arab negotiators can indeed be “counted on” to save Israel’s skin by saying no to future “Palestinian statehood.” But we also know that some Arab negotiators may say yes, such as the Arabs who, in the 1920s, deigned to accept the spacious Palestinian state that already exists (in Jordan).

Yet, some Arabs (or “Palestinians”) do not really want a state. The Arabs who negotiated with Israel in 1998 were offered a “Palestinian state” on a silver platter and refused. Perhaps they, and some today, simply want to sponge off Israel, or to cheat their own brethren of foreign funding from gullible nations while lining their own pockets.
This article was written by a group of Judea and Samaria leaders: Nir Bartel, Oranit Council Chairman; Shai Rosenzweig, Alfei Menashe Council Head; Eli Shaviro, Mayor of Ariel; Assaf Mintzer, Elkana Local Council Head; Haim Mendel Shaked, Har Adar Local Council Head, Arie Cohen, Megillot Local Council Head, and Oded Revivi, Efrat Local Council Head.

We are at the precipice of a historic moment of international recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish land of Judea and Samaria.

We stand like the Zionist Congress and the leadership of the Yishuv ‘Settlement Movement’ immediately after the recommendations of the 1937 Peel Commission. We stand like the leadership of the Yishuv after the November 1947 UN vote on the Partition Plan.

The essential difference is not only in the amount of real estate under discussion for a proposed Jewish homeland, but in the approach of our leadership. Today our leaders are hemming and hawing. In the past they took to the streets - not to protest - but to dance as they rejoiced over the recognition and legitimacy offered by the international community for the formation of a Jewish State.

Now it is our turn. The leaders of the Settlement Movement in Judea and Samaria must be appreciative of the recognition and legitimacy being offered by the most powerful country on earth. We must be grateful and rejoice in The Deal of the Century.

The Deal of the Century is a defining test for the leadership of Judea and Samaria. It is the leaders who must ultimately accept or reject the existing plan. They are the ones who must stand before their constituents and present what the plan can and cannot guarantee. They are the ones who must say what is being done for the good of Judea and Samaria, and what is for the good of the State.

It is the leadership that must explain that although we will not be able to fulfill the entire dream here and now, we can certainly take steps towards its fulfillment. They must explain that though we oppose a Palestinian state, and though we want more than what is being offered, we nevertheless say yes to the Deal of the Century, as we want to ensure sovereignty and the immediate application of Israeli law wherever possible.
Window of Opportunity: Survey Shows Israelis Support Sovereignty
A majority of the Israeli public supports the planned implementation of Israeli law in the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, according to a survey conducted by the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Israel Hayom reported Friday.

According to the survey, 42% of respondents support the application of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. 27% objected, and 31% had no opinion.

Now, out of those who had an opinion on the issue, 60% support and 40% oppose sovereignty. Israel Hayom opted for “A majority of the public supports the application of Israeli law in the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria.” But a more accurate headline for this story would have been “More Israelis support sovereignty than oppose it.”

The survey, conducted by the Maagar Mochot Institute (the name means brain storage, but sounds better in Hebrew), also examined the attitude of Israelis to applying sovereignty to all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Here, 43% of respondents said yes, 32% were opposed, and 25% had no opinion. So out of those with an opinion, 57% support sovereignty versus 43% who oppose it.

Needless to say, the percentage of approval for sovereignty was higher among Jewish Israelis than among Arabs.

The data show that opposition to applying sovereignty comes entirely from the left side of the political map. Respondents who identified themselves as having voted for Yamina, Shas, and Otzma Yehudit were 100% in favor of sovereignty. Among Likud voters, only 10% objected.
Israel Confirms that Palestinian Authority Is Ending Security Coordination
Israeli sources confirmed Thursday that the Palestinian Authority is making good on its threat to end security coordination with Israel over the new Israeli government’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

In addition to security cooperation between the Israeli military and Palestinian security forces, civil ties between Israel and the PA were also set to cease.

Defense officials warned that the halting of cooperation between Israel and the PA could lead to rising violence, with more clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians.

The severing of the agreements came after PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced Tuesday the Palestinians were no longer bound by agreements with Israel and the US, citing the new government’s plan to move forward with annexation of West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley as early as July 1.

For years, Abbas has made similar threats on numerous occasions to end security ties with Israel and dissolve the PA, but never followed through.
Palestinians Shun CIA After Declaring End to Security Coordination With US and Israel
The Palestinians have suspended contacts with the CIA after announcing an end to security coordination with Israel and the United States in protest at Israeli proposals to annex territory in the West Bank, a Palestinian official said on Thursday.

Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Washington had been told of the move after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday his administration was no longer committed to agreements with Israel and the United States, including on security coordination.

On cooperation with the US Central Intelligence Agency, Erekat told reporters in a video call: “It stopped as of the end of the (Palestinian) president’s speech.”

Intelligence cooperation with the CIA continued even after the Palestinians began boycotting US peace efforts led by President Donald Trump in 2017, with the sides working together on heading off violence in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is based.

Abbas has threatened before to end security ties, without following through. Israeli officials say he needs Israel‘s support in the face of domestic challenges from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

But Erekat said: “Things change and we have decided it is time now to change.”

“Security cooperation with the United States is no more. Security coordination with Israel is no more,” said Erekat. “We are going to maintain public order and the rule of law, alone.”
Cutting Security Ties, Abbas Risks Everything
What will happen the next time a soldier makes a wrong turn and there is no such coordination? And what will happen if Israeli forces need to enter PA areas to carry out an arrest raid and are met with resistance from the preventative security forces?

Confusion of this type has occurred in the past, but it’s only in the last 24 hours that Palestinian police have suddenly been surprised with actual orders to stop certain Israeli activities in Area A.

A video shared by the PA-ruling Fatah movement on social media Thursday claimed to show Palestinian security forces preventing Israeli soldiers from entering a part of Hebron.

Under the new conditions, an armed showdown between Palestinian forces and Israeli troops could be just around the corner, and could easily turn into a pitched battle with casualties.

So why did Abbas put his money where his mouth is this time? It seems that, faced with unprecedented steps by Washington and Jerusalem to cement Israeli rule in the West Bank, the Palestinian leadership has finally had enough.

Ignored and humiliated repeatedly in recent years by both Israel and the US, PA leaders are now flexing their muscles, wishing to demonstrate they are willing to gamble everything, even to cause real harm to themselves, to prove they will not capitulate to American and Israeli pressure.

Encouraged by the words of Jordans’s King Abdullah, who last week warned of “massive conflict” and a possible end to peace should annexation move forward, Palestinian officials are now openly speaking of further desperate measures: even a willingness to collapse and disintegrate their very structures of power in the West Bank if annexation moves forward.
18 Democratic senators warn annexation will damage, erode US-Israel relations
In a letter to Israel’s leaders, a group of 18 Democratic senators have warned of the detrimental consequences of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank to the Jewish state’s “bilateral and bipartisan relationship” with the United States.

The senators, who included Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Dick Durbin and Tim Kaine, expressed “grave concern” at the prospect of Israel annexing its settlements and the Jordan Valley, saying it “would have a clear impact on both Israel’s future and our vital bilateral and bipartisan relationship.”

The letter was addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and new Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz.

They warned it would “betray our shared democratic values by denying Palestinians’ right to self-determination in a viable, sovereign, independent and contiguous state,” and said it would likely “erode” the special relationship between the nations.

“As friends and supporters of Israel, we caution you against taking unilateral steps that would fray our unique bonds, imperil Israel’s future and place out of reach the prospect of a lasting peace.”

Other signatories were senators Chris Murphy, Chris Van Hollen, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Duckworth, Brian Schatz, Tammy Baldwin, Patrick Leahy, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Sheldon Whitehouse, Ed Markey, Martin Heinrich, Jeanne Shaheen and Tom Carper.

Democrats and liberal pro-Israel advocates are largely united in their opposition to annexation but splintered over what the US policy response should be if Israel implements Netanyahu’s plan — and Democrats take back power in 2021.

Rivlin, Greek president give joint statement marking 30 years of relations
President Reuven Rivlin delivered a joint statement alongside his Greek counterpart Katerina Sakellaropoulou to mark the 30th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between the Jewish state and the Hellenic republic.

"Today, May 21, 2020, as the Hellenic Republic and the State of Israel, mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between our two countries and the strengthening of the bonds between our two peoples, President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou and President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin come together to celebrate our relationship – past, present and future," the statement read.

Israel and Greece are strong regional allies, and both have worked through diplomatic channels and through their respective diaspora communities to strengthen this existing friendship.

Beyond political ties, the two heads of state praised the growing ties in the science, culture, defense and economic sectors, the most notable of which are tourism and the East Mediterranean Pipleline Project.

"The East Med Pipeline Project advances energy security in the EU and brings our neighbors in the Eastern Mediterranean closer. Tourism brings our societies even closer together, despite the painful disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic," the statement said.
The Dynamic of Greek-Israeli Ties
During 2019, in the good old pre-coronavirus times, more than 700,000 Israelis visited Greece. They were dining in tavernas in the Peloponnese, walking in Vikos, singing along in one of Athens’ bouzouki clubs, buying summer homes on Crete and Lefkada, or visiting Greek industrial partners. Greek and Israeli military forces were holding joint exercises. All that in the friendliest atmosphere. Neither the Israelis nor their Greek hosts realized that this phenomenon of real brotherhood was something that could not always be taken for granted.

On May 21, 1990, Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis recognized the State of Israel de jure, finally establishing full diplomatic relations between Israel and Greece. In fact, it was during his election campaign that Mitsotakis declared that his first act as prime minister would be the signing of the recognition of the State of Israel, which he later did. Through this act, he symbolically put an end to almost four decades of “lost time” in ties between the two old nations.

“As obvious as that decision [to recognize Israel] seems to us now, that was a far cry from the case 28 years ago, because Greek public opinion at the time was staunchly pro-Arab and anti-Israel,” said his son, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the current prime minister of Greece, in a speech to the American Jewish Committee Global Forum in 2018.

Indeed, Greek policy toward Israel until that historic decision was mainly dictated by a zero-sum game perception: the need for the Arab world to support Greece on the Cyprus issue and to assure the supply of oil meant cold, low-level relations with Israel. (h/t Zvi)
Israel Defense Forces: Avivim School Bus Terror Attack 50 Years Later
50 years ago today, Palestinian terrorists in Lebanon attacked an Israeli school bus packed with children and teachers. 8 out of the 12 victims were young children.

Today, we remember the lives of the victims and reaffirm our commitment to fight terror in all its forms.

StandWithUs: The Story of Ammunition Hill
"Maybe we were lions but if you wanted to live you should not have been on Givat Hatachmoshet."
As Jerusalem Day begins, Yoni Zierler - Tours in Israel guides us through the trenches of Ammunition Hill. This is the site of the legendary battle during the Six-Day War, which paved the way for Jerusalem to be reunited once more as Israel's eternal capital.
It is thanks to the bravery of these IDF soldiers, who faced the impossible, that we can now celebrate a united Jerusalem.

Palestinians: Eating with a Jew is a Crime
Economic cooperation does not serve the agenda of the terrorists. Terrorists want Palestinians to continue living in abject poverty so that they can go on blaming Israel for Palestinian misery. Unemployed Palestinians are much easier to target for recruitment as terrorists than Palestinians who are able to feed their families.

Many Saudis who are furious with the Palestinian threats and smear campaign against their country for its alleged rapprochement with Israel have responded through social media platforms by strongly condemning the Palestinians. Saudi pundits are now believed to be behind a trending hashtag on Twitter, entitled, "#The_Palestinian_cause_is_not_my_cause."

The Palestinian smear campaign is taking place amid silence from the international community and media. They seem indifferent to a rather crucial question: if a Palestinian or Muslim cannot share a meal with an Israeli or watch a TV drama about the life of Jews in Arab countries without being labelled a criminal, how would any Palestinian leader dare to sign a peace agreement with Israel?
Israeli loan to PA questioned as documents show increase in PA revenue
Questions are being raised over a decision by the Israeli government to grant the Palestinian Authority a substantial loan to deal with the financial fallout of the coronavirus epidemic, after it emerged that the PA budget increased in the first quarter of 2020, against the same quarter over the previous two years.

Senior PA officials have been warning that the PA faced a severe financial crisis since the outbreak of the pandemic, citing a reduction in aid as nations tightened their own budgets and reduced taxation income as the economy slowed.

In late March, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said “the [PA] government’s revenues will drop by more than 50%, and the international aid will decrease,” according to WAFA, the official PA news agency.

Those claims prompted donor entities to allocate significant aid budgets to the PA to help with the financial impact of coronavirus. Among others, the European Union pledged €71 million, while Israel approved a loan of $227 million.

Hamas, Hezbollah Share ‘Quds Day’ Pledge to Seize ‘Entire Land of Palestine’
The leaders of the Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist movements marked the Iranian regime’s annual “Quds Day” event on Friday with angry speeches advocating the elimination of the State of Israel.

Addressing a virtual rally that featured speakers from Tehran, Baghdad, Jerusalem, Beirut and Sanaa, Ismail Haniyeh — head of the political bureau of the Palestinian Hamas organization — urged the “Muslim nation” to adopt a common plan to confront the “Zionist danger.”

Denouncing the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan as a “conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” Haniyeh pledged that “Palestinians will fight by all possible means and in every possible way to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

Reiterating Hamas’ virulent opposition to the recognition of Israel’s legitimacy, Haniyeh threatened that the Palestinians would eventually seize “not just Jerusalem but the entire land of Palestine.”

In a separate address to the rally, Hassan Nasrallah — head of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon — welcomed the prospect of the conflict with Israel continuing for several more decades.

“Liberation cannot be achieved in one, two or three years — it could take generations,” Nasrallah declared. “The lengthy battle should not be a reason for despair.”

Turkey vs. Egypt, UAE and Russia in Libya, who is winning?
Turkey’s goal is to checkmate the UAE and Egypt and Russia and then to squeeze Moscow for more for its S-400 deal while portraying itself as “fighting Russia” to US Cold War era policymakers such as Syria envoy James Jeffrey. Turkey also wants to break a Greek pipeline deal with Israel and pressure Israel into some kind of arrangement. Turkey sets clear, obtainable goals. Russia plays both sides, just as it does in Syria. They US policy on Libya, like Syria, is chaotic and unclear, probably with members of one part of the US government working against members of another part of the government and both listening to friends outside the administration who are paid by foreign lobbies. That’s who US policy works more often these days: Foreign governments plow money into Washington-based firms or think tanks and then try to create an echo chamber that can feed information to friends in the administration to advance policies that are either pro-Qatar, pro-Ankara, pro-Riyadh or even amenable to Iran and Russia.

Libya is at this crossroads. It is a failed state being exploited in a proxy war, hollowed out and used by others. In December, Haftar gave the Turkish-backed militias three days to leave Tripoli. They are still there. Turkey is exporting the same chaos, Muslim Brotherhood-aligned groups and extremist rabble to Libya that it exported to Afrin to harass Kurds to leave a once peaceful part of Syria. France and other countries that appear sympathetic to Haftar may want to enforce an arms embargo on Libya to reduce the Turkish arms flow. Russian media is so embarrassed by the Watiya defeat that it doesn’t even mention it.
Now Haftar is pulling his forces back several kilometers, and UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has tweeted about a political process in Libya. The problem is that if you just lost a strategic base it’s hard to then ask for a diplomatic solution. You have to be winning to present enemies with a fait accompli. For now, Ankara smells victory in the air and will continue to try to humiliate Egypt, Abu Dhabi and even Moscow.

This is a war for the hearts and minds of the Middle East. The UAE sent aid to the Palestinians via Israel on May 19. The unique flight was about several different things. UAE media said that it shows the UAE is impartial and helps others while Turkey and Qatar only send aid to get things. It does seem Turkey and Qatar are using aid for influence peddling and they seem to be successful. The point is that Libya is part of the conflict to see who will win in the great struggle for the Middle East. Turkey and Qatar, Iran, Russia or Egypt-Saudi Arabia and the UAE?

Did Turkey turn the tide in Libya. Media is portraying it that way and that’s what matter to Ankara. It wants to show its model works. That is what it did in Syria by embarrassing the US and fighting the Syrian regime. It also bombs Iraq to show it can control Iraq’s airspace. Can Haftar’s backers change the narrative or at least prod him to stay in the game? They couldn’t carry him to the goal line and it looks like Turkey was able to shore up Tripoli for now.
MEMRI: Lebanese Writer: French Ambassador To Lebanon Serves Iran, Hizbullah – Undermining The Interests Of Lebanon, France
Writing in the Lebanese daily Al-Liwa under the headline “France’s Ambassador in Beirut – The Diplomat Marketing Iran’s Hegemony Over Lebanon,” political analyst Ahmad Fahed Al-Ayoubi attacked the outgoing French Ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher, and accused him of serving Iran and Hizbullah. Al-Ayoubi wrote that Foucher’s previous diplomatic post, as an advisor at the French embassy in Iran (2011-2016), apparently colored his perception of Hizbullah: while most of the countries in the world define Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, Foucher behaves as though he is “in charge of marketing the Hizbullah government” and “misses no opportunity to clear the name” of this organization, which seeks to turn Lebanon into a smaller replica of Iran.

Al-Ayoubi also warned that Foucher belongs to circles of the French elite that advocate a pro-Iran position, and that he seeks to cut Lebanon off from the Arab world and the West and push it towards the Iranian axis. Stressing that Foucher’s moves contravene France’s foreign policy, Al-Ayoubi urged France and its foreign ministry to end his “troubling” activity and recall him from Beirut.

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]
"It appears that the four years Bruno Foucher spent as second advisor at the French Embassy in Tehran continue to influence his diplomatic activity to this day, when he is about to complete his tour of duty as French ambassador to Lebanon. He has developed his unique 'cooperative' approach vis-à-vis Iran such that he is now serving as a 'servant' in charge of marketing the Hizbullah government headed by Hassan Diab.

"According to French diplomatic tradition, two advisors – first and second – in each embassy belong to French external security, which is the realm in which Iranians excel at setting traps to recruit those showing signs of bias towards joining the array of Iranian interests. Foucher absorbed the ideas of protecting the Iranian plan in the region, and during his service in Tehran acted to become one of the French elite advocating a pro-Iran position. As is well known, there is in the French decision-making echelon, especially in the French foreign ministry, a struggle over the approach to the [France-]Iran relationship. There are those who want to deepen [this relationship] so as to obtain privileges from the ayatollahs' regime [in Iran], while another group wants 'Paris [to] take its place alongside the capitals of the free world in order to come out against the Iranian destruction and terrorism in the region.' This [latter] group completely understands Iran's ability to manipulate facts and play the cards of the extremist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS that shocked Paris with their terror attacks.

On Quds Day, Iran’s leader says Zionism ‘a virus that must be eliminated’
Marking Iran’s anti-Israel Quds Day on Friday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel’s establishment was an unequaled “crime against humanity,” repeated his characterization of the Jewish state as “a cancerous tumor” and said it was the creation of “Westerners and Jewish corporation owners.”

Citing the coronavirus pandemic, he likened Zionism to “a virus” that “must be eliminated as soon as possible.”

In a speech, excerpts of which were posted to Twitter, Khamenei said he wished to highlight “the tragedy of the occupation of #Palestine and the formation of the Zionist cancerous tumor in that country. Among crimes against humanity in recent times, there is no crime that equals this crime in terms of scope and gravity.”

He said the Jewish state was created by the West, which conspired with Jewish plutocrats to establish the Jewish nation.

“Westerners & Jewish corporation owners’ main goal by fabricating the Zionist regime & this cancerous tumor was to build a stronghold to influence & dominate West Asia. So, they equipped the bogus, occupying regime with all kinds of military & non-military tools, even nukes.”

He said the Iran-led “resistance” had created many problems for Israel and, “God willing, the Zionist regime will encounter even more problems in the future.”
Iran FM: ‘Disgusting’ for Israel to object to ‘final solution’ poster
Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday defended an anti-Israel poster shared by the country’s leader that invoked the term “final solution,” after Israeli and US leaders accused him of advocating genocide.

Citing the Nazi murder of Jews in the Holocaust, Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was “disgusting” for Israel to object to the poster, which he claimed advocated for a referendum on what type of government Palestinians want.

The term “final solution” is usually associated with Nazi Germany’s efforts to eliminate all Jews.

“Disgusting that those whose civilization found a ‘Final Solution” in gas chambers attack those who seek a real solution at the ballot box, through a REFERENDUM,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

“Why are US and West so afraid of democracy?” he added. “Palestinians should not have to pay for your crimes, or for your guilt.”

Zarif’s defense of the poster came after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denied he supported the annihilation of Jews, saying he only wants Israel’s destruction.

“Eliminating the Zionist regime doesn’t mean eliminating Jews. We aren’t against Jews. It means abolishing the imposed regime & Muslim, Christian & Jewish Palestinians choose their own govt & expel thugs like [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” Khamenei tweeted Wednesday.

He also said Iran would back anyone opposed to Israel.
Iran's Zarif says Israel 'greatest threat to international security'
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday morning that the State of Israel was the greatest threat to international peace and security.

"Jerusalem Day is the day to revive Palestinian rights and for the occupation and settlers to disappear," Zarif said on Twitter. "Israel is the largest human rights violator and the only holder of nuclear weapons in the region.

The official continued, saying Israel is "the most serious chronic threat to international peace and security," adding that US President Donald Trump's "racist" Deal of the Century "proved Washington to be a hopeless partner of the aggressor."

Zarif added that "the referendum is the solution," referring to a Quds Day poster shared by the Islamic Republic, saying "Palestine will be free," adding, "The final solution: Resistance until referendum."

The poster that showed assassinated Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani was broadly condemned by the international community, particularly Germany, due to its wording reminiscent of the Nazis' "Final Solution," being the Holocaust.
EU condemns Iran’s ‘totally unacceptable’ threats against Israel
The European Union on Thursday evening condemned the Iranian leader’s threats against Israel, after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeatedly called for the “elimination” of the “Zionist entity.”

As opposed to recent warnings from Brussels against Israel’s plans to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank — which were issued only in the name of the bloc’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, as some member states objected to them — Thursday’s statement on Iran had union-wide consensus.

However, at least one Israeli diplomat said Friday that the statement did not accurately reflect the nature of Khamenei’s threats.

The brief statement, issued by Borrell “on behalf of the European Union,” started by condemning the elderly Iranian leader’s “threatening remarks” for questioning Israel’s legitimacy.

“Such statements are totally unacceptable and represent a deep source of concern. They are also incompatible with the objective of a stable and peaceful Middle East region pursued by the EU,” the statement read. “The European Union reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel.”

Israel’s Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff — who in previous positions at the Foreign Ministry focused on the Iranian threat — said Friday that the union’s statement did not go far enough.

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