Wednesday, May 27, 2020

From Ian:

Ahead of ruling on war crimes probe, ICC asks PA if Oslo Accords still in force
Abbas claimed Netanyahu’s remarks the day before about the planned extension of Israeli sovereignty over settlements and the Jordan Valley meant Israel had “annulled” the Oslo Accords, which established the PA and kicked off the decades-long peace process, “and all agreements signed with it.”

On April 30, ICC prosecutor Bensouda reiterated her position that Palestine is a state for the purposes of transferring criminal jurisdiction over its territory to The Hague.

It is now up to a pretrial chamber to rule on the matter. The three judges of that chamber — Péter Kovács of Hungary, Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France and Reine Adélaïde Sophie Alapini-Gansou of Benin — have no set deadline to hand down their decision but are expected to do so within 90 days.

On Tuesday, the pretrial chamber surprisingly issued a document saying that Abbas’s comments about no longer being bound by agreements with Israel came to its attention, and it “requests Palestine to provide additional information on this statement, including on the question whether it pertains to any of the Oslo agreements between Palestine and Israel.”

The chamber also “invite[d] Israel to respond to any additional information” Ramallah may provide by June 24.

But Jerusalem, which has long argued that Palestine is not a sovereign state and therefore cannot transfer criminal jurisdiction over its territory to the Hague, is unlikely to accept the judges’ offer, lest any formal engagement with the court be seen as legitimizing it.

Netanyahu has repeatedly denounced the ICC and declared thwarting a possible war crimes probe one of the new government’s top priorities.

The Oslo Accords were signed in Washington in 1993. A follow-up agreement two years later, sometimes called Oslo II, set out the scope of Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza. The interim pact was only supposed to last five years while a permanent agreement was finalized but it has tacitly been rolled over for more than two decades.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Daphne Anson: The Legal Status of the Territories Beyond the Green Line (video)
Avi Bell is an Israeli Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law and at Bar-Ilan University's Faculty of Law, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum.

From that estimable organisation UK Lawyers for Israel comes this video, not quite one hour long, of the professor in conversation with Oxford-educated London barrister Natasha Hausdorf, who has a LLM from Tel Aviv University in the areas of international law and the law of armed conflict.

Using illustrative matter to explain his points, Professor Bell enlightens us on the topic "Israel, Territory and International Law".

UAE virus aid rejected by Palestinians still at Israel’s airport; UN rethinking
Fourteen tons of medical supplies earmarked for the Palestinians to help cope with the coronavirus pandemic were still sitting at Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday evening, a week after they arrived from the UAE, as UN officials worked to find a way to distribute the aid after the Palestinian Authority announced it would not accept it.

The aid arrived on what was the first-ever direct flight from the United Arab Emirates to Israel last Tuesday. The landing was celebrated by the Foreign Ministry, which notified reporters in advance about the historic route by which the supplies would be arriving.

However, the PA has insisted the UAE did not coordinate the matter and that it therefore could not accept the aid, which was seen as a step normalizing ties between Israel and the Gulf states.

The supplies — which include ten ventilators, PPE (personal protective equipment), lithium batteries for charging relevant hospital equipment and cleaning materials — were clearing customs at Ben Gurion and are slated to be transferred to a holding facility in Ashdod, a UN official told The Times of Israel on Tuesday evening.

The official did not tie the week-long stall to the PA’s announced rejection of the supplies. He said the UAE cargo flight was not the only one to have arrived at Ben Gurion, and that clearing customs and security checks takes time.

Under the Radar: Arab States Agree to Israeli Sovereignty (Hebrew)
Alongside their public rejection of the Israeli plan to extend sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, senior officials in Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States say their leaders have met in recent months with U.S. officials Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz and, in effect, gave them a green light to continue the work of the U.S.-Israel mapping committee to advance the sovereignty plan.

A senior Saudi diplomat close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Israel Hayom that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE have an unofficial coordinated position in favor of the sovereignty plan.

"With all due respect to the few Palestinians who live in the Jordan Valley, Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Jordan will not endanger their relations with the Trump administration for them," he said.

"The Palestinians weren't smart enough to take advantage of the supportive Obama government and continued their rejectionism. It is time for Abbas and his veteran leadership to wake up and understand that the interests of the region and the world have changed."

"If they miss yet another opportunity to establish an independent state alongside Israel because of Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the settlements, in another 20 years they will be left with nothing."

A senior Egyptian security official added that moderate Arab leaders headed by Egyptian President Sisi "see the struggle to block Shiite Iran's drive for hegemony over Sunni nations in the Middle East as a more important issue than that of the Palestinians."

MEMRI: Saudi Writer: Israel Is A Peace-Loving Country; Iran And Turkey Are Enemies Of The Arabs
In a pro-Israeli article in the liberal Arabic website, Saudi writer and author Khalid Turki Aal Turki wrote that Israel is a peaceful country "by any standard", which is scientifically advanced and extends assistance in the field of health to others, including the Palestinians. In this, he argued, it contrasts with Turkey and Iran, which who spread their extremist ideologies in the Arab countries and support the militias within them, and are thus the true enemies of the Arabs. He concluded by saying that logic and reality dictate that the Arabs should forge peace with Israel for a joint fight against their common enemies, whom he called the "the forces of evil and terror."

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]
"If we want to be honest with ourselves, before anything else, then let us listen to the voice of logic, rather than to sentiments, which by their very nature are affected by every shrill claim in the media, be it accurate or false. Israel is a peace-loving country by any yardstick. From the day of its establishment until today, we have never heard, read or seen Israel working to spread any ideology or belief in other countries, or to support militias [within them], as Iran and Turkey are doing. Ask anyone on the street in an Arab country who is behind all the destruction and extremism in the Middle East, and he will immediately tell you: Iran and Turkey.

"In this article I will not discuss the issue of yes or no to normalization, for the newspapers and websites are full of it. Instead I will merely shed light on Israel's achievements and immense service to science and humanity, and will then let the Arab citizen judge.

"Israel dispatches doctors to treat the sick in impoverished African countries and elsewhere without recompense. It also treats many Palestinians, even some who tried to commit terror attacks to murder innocent Israelis! Israel still strives for peace with all Arab countries; it is a state that respects human rights and the sovereignty of [other] states; in the field of science, it excels on a global level and occupies a leading position in scientific research; Israeli universities are high on the list of the world's [best] universities; Israel is considered an arms-producing country and assists other countries, such as India, in their military industry; the Israeli Watergen company has managed to create a device to produce water from air; Medicine and medical research are proceeding full thrust in Israel. In fact, it has become the preferred location for medical treatment for many, to the point that senior Palestinian officials do not find a better place than Israel for receiving good medical treatment and care.

"This is but a drop in the ocean. After all this, I believe that, by any logic and in view of reality, the interest of the Arab homeland [indeed] lies with Israel, just as Israel's interests lie with the Arab homeland – for circumstances and geography have decreed that we all to join hands in order to destroy the forces of evil and terror and delineate a path to peace that both we and the future generations will enjoy.”
Caroline Glick “Israel Must Implement Trump’s Deal to Preempt a Potential Biden Administration”

PMW: Look who's talking! PA accuses Israel of planning expansion “from the Nile to the Euphrates”
Israel - “the greedy Zionist cancer” – is scheming to expand its territory to extend “from the Nile [River] to the Euphrates [River]” according to regular columnist Bassem Barhoum at the official PA daily:
“The goal is to stop the expansion of the greedy Zionist cancer, at a time when the saying ‘From the Nile [River] to the Euphrates [River]’ is still arousing the desires of leaders in Israel.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 15, 2020]

This Palestinian accusation is projection par excellence. As Palestinian Media Watch has documented numerous times, it is the PA that tells its people that their goal is a “Palestine” that reaches “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea,” and includes – and destroys - all of the State of Israel.

Senior Fatah official Tawfiq Tirawi recently stressed this view, claiming that “our Palestinian land is from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea”:
Fatah Commissioner and Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi: “We say that Nazareth, Haifa, and Acre (i.e., Israeli cities) are Palestinian, and they will remain Palestinian! Our Palestinian land is from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea. I dare any Palestinian, any senior Palestinian official, or any Palestinian leader to reduce the Palestinian map to the West Bank and Gaza! He would not be able to walk one meter in the streets of our Palestinian cities among our people! … Arab brothers… Be with the Palestinian people, the people that lives on land that is all holy and that is all waqf land (i.e., land that is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law.)”
[Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi, Feb. 2, 2020]

Palestinian schoolbooks assure that Palestinian youth are raised envisioning a Palestinian state that erases all of Israel, as in this map defined in the schoolbook as “The geographical area of the State of Palestine”.

PLO: The agreements with Israel have ended
Palestinian officials said on Wednesday they are planning to step up their efforts to thwart Israel’s intention to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, now that the Palestinians have “successfully” prevented the spread of the coronavirus.

Some officials expressed hope massive international pressure would force Israel to backtrack on its “unilateral” move.

“There’s room for optimism,” a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post. “There’s a feeling that most of the world stands with us on the issue of annexation.”

The official was speaking as members of the PLO Executive Committee held further discussions in Ramallah to discuss ways of foiling the “annexation” plan.

Prior to the meeting, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian leadership was holding marathon discussions and intensive contacts with several countries to brief them on the “dangers” of the Israeli plan.

“There is no possibility for the American and Israeli sides to back away from the annexation plan unless there’s an international coalition that would say ‘no’ to Israel,” Erekat told the Palestinian Authority Voice of Palestine radio station. “Everyone should take matters seriously in light of [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s insistence on implementing the annexation and settlement plan.”

After the discussions in Ramallah, the PLO Executive Committee “confirmed” PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent announcement on renouncing all agreements and understandings with Israel and the US.

The committee said that the Palestinians will continue to work in the international arena to urge countries to take “punitive measures” against settlements and their products.
Try as He Might, Mahmoud Abbas Can’t Do Much to End Cooperation with Israel
Almost a week has passed since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to back out of all existing agreements with Israel if it acts on its intention to extend sovereignty over West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley.

In practice, however, relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel are structured in such a way that leaves Ramallah with no real option of severing ties with Jerusalem and continuing to function independently.

The cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians was built gradually and with great effort since 2008 and has withstood several trials and tribulations over the years. It became suffused with both sides' organizational culture.

This mutual effort does consist of security elements, but focuses mainly on routine civilian functions, such as allowing Palestinian emergency services to travel between PA- and Israeli-controlled territories and back, and even authorizing the transfer of goods.

But under the radar, commodities continued to cross from Israel to the Palestinian Authority in recent days without much fanfare.
Business seems to be going on as usual. For now.

Several hours after news of the end of security ties surfaced, the IDF arrested over 20 Palestinians in a series of raids across the West Bank. As soon as the lull came into effect, the arrests stopped.

It is safe to assume that the two things may have a connection, but the Palestinians are also just coming out of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, and
nobody in Israel was interested in interrupting the celebrations, aside from urgent cases.

But this trend happens every year and the Palestinian threat hasn't stood up to the test yet.
After 5-day lull, IDF carries out West Bank raids despite tensions with PA
Israeli security forces arrested seven Palestinian suspects in the West Bank in predawn raids on Wednesday morning, the first such operations since the Palestinian Authority said it had frozen a vital security coordination mechanism.

The overnight operation followed a five-day lull that partially coincided with the Eid al-Fitr holiday.

The Palestinian Authority said last week that it was cutting all security ties with Israel in light of the government’s proposal to annex the Jordan Valley and Israeli settlements, in a move expected to increase tensions and possibly lead to potentially dangerous conflicts between Israeli and Palestinian forces.

Despite the PA’s assertions that it was no longer abiding by its agreements with Israel, no clashes were reported between Palestinian security forces and the Israeli troops, indicating that some degree of coordination between the two was ongoing.

The Israel Defense Forces said troops arrested seven suspects in overnight raids. According to Palestinian media, five of them were from the Ramallah area and two from Tulkarem in the northern West Bank.

In some cases, rocks and other objects were thrown at the Israeli troops’ vehicles by residents of the area.
Palestinian envoy: Biden isn’t taking strong enough stance against annexation
Palestinian Authority official Husam Zomlot decried Democratic candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday for not taking a strong enough stance against Israel’s proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Zomlot, the PLO’s ambassador to the United Kingdom and a former envoy in Washington, argued that Biden’s unwillingness to threaten harsh consequences for Israel should Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extend sovereignty to the West Bank settlements will enable the Israeli premier to move forward with his plan.

“We are not seeing any new sort of policy lever on the part of the Biden campaign that would actually help in the changing of the calculus,” Zomlot said on a Zoom call organized by the US-based Israel Policy Forum, a nonprofit that supports a two-state solution. “So far, it’s nothing that would actually dissuade Netanyahu from going ahead with annexation.”

Biden has stated on multiple occasions that he opposes annexation. “It would choke off any hope for peace,” he told the AIPAC Policy Conference in March. But he has not delineated what the US policy response should be.

The former vice president has said he would not reduce US aid to Israel, if he is elected. “I’m not going to place conditions on security assistance, given the serious threats that Israelis face,” Biden said last week. “This would be, I think, irresponsible.”

On the Tuesday Zoom call, Zomlot insisted that this posturing effectively sends a message that Netanyahu could unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank without any material ramifications from the United States, no matter who wins the November election.
Israel’s ‘Destructive Policies’ Being ‘Rubber Stamped’ by Trump Administration, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Charges
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) — known for her long history of anti-Israel statements — appeared to draw a moral equivalence between the Jewish state and Saudi Arabia.

Commenting on the Trump administration’s warm relations with both countries, Omar said, “We know the amount of money and influence and connection that the Saudis have with the administration is really the reason that everything destructive they do is nullified. And that really is no different to what’s happening with Israel.”

“There’s an alarming connection to the really destructive policies Israel is proposing and how much of it is being rubber stamped by this administration,” she added. “And how much of it is being urged by Americans who have connection and influence with this administration.”

Omar also noted she had “moved past” the controversy that erupted last year over comments she made about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that were widely condemned as antisemitic.

“My expression of those things was hurtful to people, that has really broken my heart,” she stated. “I talk about Saudi blood money and them being bloodsuckers and no one says ‘This is Islamophobic,’ but I know if I use those terms for another country, that could be [a problem]. And so you learn what history is tied to words. As someone who didn’t have an understanding, I now do.”
Settler leaders put out map they claim shows Trump plan for Palestinian state
Settler leaders have been meeting with right-wing lawmakers over the past week and presenting them with what they claim is a map of the Palestinian state envisioned by the Trump plan, which would encircle 15 Israeli communities in a manner they say is unacceptable.

The Yesha umbrella council of West Bank mayors passed a resolution earlier this month declaring that it would not accept the Trump plan’s green-lighting of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank if it meant agreeing to the other key part of the proposal — the establishment of a Palestinian state.

In the weeks since, Yesha officials, including chairman David Elhayani, director Yigal Dilmoni and various West Bank mayors, have been sitting down with lawmakers from the Likud, Jewish Home and Yamina parties in an effort to convince them to oppose the Trump plan, for which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced his support.

To their meetings with right-wing lawmakers in the Knesset, the Yesha officials have been coming equipped with a blown-up map showing what they claim is the Palestinian state envisioned by the Trump plan in red. The map highlights the 15 settlements that would become isolated enclaves encircled by the Palestinian state and also shows that many of the key highways running into and through the West Bank, such as routes 5 and 60, would no longer be accessible to Israeli drivers.

Elhayani, however, admitted to The Times of Israel that the map is based on the conceptual version that was presented by US President Donald Trump at the plan’s unveiling in January. The administration has warned both sides against taking that map as final, noting that a joint US-Israeli mapping committee has been tasked with outlining the exact contours of the areas Israel would be allowed to annex and those set aside for a future Palestinian state.
Israel, the EU, and International Law
It is hard to take Europe's insistence on the 1967 lines as sacrosanct too seriously. EU members collectively still refuse to move their embassies to the western parts of Jerusalem, which have been part of Israel since 1948. It is a very strange formulation when land on the western side of the 1967 line - that is, land indisputably belonging to Israel for 72 years - is considered negotiable, but every inch on the other side is off the table. It is a double standard, applied to Jews but not to Palestinians.

Fifty years of propagandistic debate over Israel must not be allowed to obscure the facts. The legal disposition of all the territories defined by the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine of 1921 is still grounded in that Mandate. The preamble to the Mandate "recognizes" that the Jewish people have an inherent right to the territory defined by the Mandate, as opposed to being "granted" that right by the international body. It essentially says that the international community cannot therefore grant to a people that which is already theirs.

That makes Israel one of only a very few nations anchored in an inherited right (which can be revoked by no one), rather than a granted right (which the giver of the right can take back).

Article 5 of the Mandate asserts the principle that the Jewish people, as the deed-holders of the land, possess the sole legal right to make any modifications to the territorial definitions (including borders) of that land.

The 1949 Rhodes Agreement, which delineated the 1967 lines, said: "The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary." Thus, under international law, the 1967 lines cannot be considered a border and for the EU to regard the 1967 lines as some sort of legal absolute in fact has no legal foundation. The writer, a former senior intelligence officer and adviser to the U.S. National Security Council, is a fellow at the Center for Security Policy.
European leaders said to implore Netanyahu not to advance annexation
Several European leaders reportedly sent personal letters to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent days asking him not to push ahead with plans to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank.

“I ask you, in a spirit of friendship, that your new government not take unilateral action [in the West Bank]. Such a move would destabilize the Middle East,” French President Emmanuel Macron told Netanyahu, according to a report aired Tuesday on Channel 13. “Only dialogue with the Palestinians and a just and balanced solution will provide Israel with peace, security and stability.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and their Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte reportedly sent Netanyahu letters expressing similar sentiments.

Several European nations are currently considering ways to deter Israel from moving forward with its declared intention to apply sovereignty to the entire Jordan Valley and all settlements across the West Bank — territory much of the international community wants to see become a Palestinian state — and how to punish it if it ignores their warnings and carries out the annexation, according to the report.

According to the coalition agreement on which Israel’s new government was founded, Netanyahu can bring the annexation plan to a vote in the government and the Knesset as soon as July 1, as long as it’s done in full coordination with the US. The administration of US President Donald Trump has vowed to recognize Israel’s annexation as long as Jerusalem does it on the basis of the peace plan issued by Washington earlier this year.

According to the network, Palestinian leaders are concerned that leading Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Gulf states, have reacted with seeming indifference about the prospect of annexation.

While Jordan has threatened to review its ties with Israel over the annexation plans, most other Arab states have made little fuss.
Hezbollah's Nasrallah warns of 'great war' on all fronts with Israel
Marking 20 years since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel of "the great war that will open all fronts at once," saying that it would be "the end of Israel." The Hezbollah leader stressed, however, that there are "no indications that Israel intends to launch a war against Lebanon."

The statements were made during an interview with the Al-Nour Radio Station on Tuesday night, which was broadcast by the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV Channel.

Nasrallah warned that any Israeli air strike on Lebanon would "not pass without a response," adding that the terror group has "military capabilities that did not exist before 2006" and would respond if any Hezbollah terrorist was killed anywhere.

In reference to an airstrike on a Hezbollah vehicle along the Lebanon-Syria border a few weeks ago, Nasrallah stressed that Israel did not make a mistake in the strike and was not trying to kill the terrorists in the vehicle, because they knew that Hezbollah would respond if the terrorists were killed.

In possible reference to a series of airstrikes in recent years on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria which were blamed on Israel, Nasrallah stated that while the Syrian leadership believes that it is not in the country's interest to be drawn into a war with Israel, the "patience and endurance of the Syrian leadership with Israeli aggression has limits."
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: The Home Demolitions No One Talks About
While international human rights groups and the European Union have also been condemning Israel, they are ignoring home demolitions carried out by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In February, Hamas notified 50 families... that their homes would be destroyed on the pretext that they were built without a license. The families were instructed to evacuate their homes within two weeks.... Last year, Hamas demolished another house in Khan Yunis belonging to Bassam Duhan, also on the pretext that it was built without a license. Duhan, a father of eight, set up a tent in front of the demolished house. He complained that relatives of senior Hamas officials had also built homes in the same area, but no one destroyed their homes.

Last year, a youth group in the Gaza Strip called on the Arab League and other Arab and Islamic parties to launch an investigation into Hamas's crimes against Palestinians. Needless to say, the group has never received a reply from the Arab League or any other organization in the Arab and Islamic countries. The appeal came after Hamas militiamen used excessive force to prevent Palestinians from protesting economic hardship and Hamas corruption.

In the absence of an international response, Hamas continues to demolish homes in the Gaza Strip -- and other crimes against its own people -- with impunity, leaving hundreds of families without shelter.
Palestinian Soccer Star Barred From Palestinian Team After Joining Israeli Team
A Palestinian soccer star has been banned from rejoining the Palestine national team in the West Bank after he signed with an Israeli team on May 24.

The Israellycool blog first reported the player, Abdallah Jaber, had joined the Hapoel Haderas, telling Israeli radio that because he’s an Arab-Israeli, he had been unable to sign with other teams from Arab countries, such as Egypt.

“If the national team calls me again and if my current club allows me, I will go back to playing with Palestine,” he said. “At the moment, however, the respective football associations do not communicate with each other.”

The Times of Israel reported on May 25 that the Palestine team barred Jaber from rejoining the squad, as the team has rules against players joining an Israeli team. Jaber also was subjected to voluminous amounts of hateful social-media comments lambasting him for his decision to sign with the Haderas.

“It’s the political background; it is a sensitive issue,” he told Israel’s Channel 13.

Jaber added that Arab-Israelis like himself often are between a rock and a hard place on how Israelis and Palestinians view them.

“Over there [West Bank], they say we aren’t really Palestinians and here [Israel], they say we aren’t really Israelis,” Jaber said.

He had been on the Palestinian team since 2013; prior to that, Jaber had been playing for various Israeli teams.

StandWithUs Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson tweeted that the Palestinian team’s decision to bar Jaber from the team “seems more like racism than sportsmanship.”

Palestinians welcome ease of restrictions with hope and anxiety
The Palestinian Authority announced on Tuesday that no new cases of coronavirus have been detected among Palestinians in the past 24 hours. This comes amid signs of a slow return to normalcy after the PA eased restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

PA Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said that eight patients have recovered from the disease. She said that 602 Palestinians had been diagnosed with the disease since the beginning of March – 319 in east Jerusalem and its suburbs, 228 in the West Bank and 55 in the Gaza Strip. Some 80% of those diagnosed with the disease have recovered, al-Kaila said, adding that the areas of Jericho, Toubas, Salfit, Jenin, Kalkilya, Ramallah, al-Bireh, Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Nablus were now free of the disease.

On Monday, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced a series of measures to ease the lockdown imposed in the West Bank since the first cases of coronavirus were discovered in Bethlehem. Shtayyeh said that courts, ministries and official bodies will return to work regularly after the three-day Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which ends on Tuesday. Nurseries will also reopen according to the safety procedures, he said, adding that public transportation would operate normally.

In addition, Shtayyeh announced that all businesses would be permitted to operate as of Tuesday morning. Mosques and churches were also reopened on Tuesday morning, including the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.

JCPA: Iran Presents the “Final Solution” – to the Question of Palestine
Iran has been celebrating International Quds (Jerusalem) Day on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan since Ayatollah Khomeini began the observance in 1979, to express Muslim yearning for the "liberation of Jerusalem" and the "restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians."

Khomeini's doctrine - "The destruction of Zionism and the 'Zionist entity' (Israel) is the basic condition for solving the contemporary problems of Islam" and liberating Palestine - continues to resonate and to guide even the second and third generations of the Islamic revolution, a sort of eternal precept that brooks no deviation, questioning, or disagreement and that one must strive constantly and actively to fulfill.

According to this doctrine, the ongoing struggle against Israel and the United States is not a separate phenomenon but part of the centuries-old battle against Western arrogance, domineering, and imperialism, which implanted the "Zionist entity" in the heart of the Muslim domain.

Each year the repeated call for the destruction of Israel offers Iran an opportunity to project an ongoing activist approach to the Palestinian problem. Tehran contrasts this stance with the current impotence and incompetence of the Sunni Arab leaders who, in its view, are gradually normalizing their relations with Israel and thereby betraying the Palestinians and the Muslim Ummah.

Iran is arming Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza and helping them with rockets and missiles to balance forces in the armed struggle with Israel.

The Iranian regime is not likely to change its ideological conception of Israel as a foreign implantation and it will continue to market that concept in the region and in the international arena.

The meaning of the "Iranian peace plan" - or as the Supreme leader wrote in a propaganda poster ahead of Quds Day: "Palestine will be free. The final solution: Resistance until referendum" - is Israel's eradication as a Jewish state.
Iran: US Chance for a Knockout Punch
There are five actions the Trump administration must take: (1) extending the UN arms embargo on Iran; (2) snapping back economic sanctions on Iran (they were originally loosened as part of the JCPOA); (3) shutting down the smuggling and trafficking networks of Hezbollah in the Americas; (4) stopping the Chinese-Iranian oil and gas pipeline developments through Pakistan; and (5) interdicting if possible Iranian tankers filled with gasoline and headed for Venezuela.

The embargo on Iran selling or importing high-technology military equipment, especially ballistic missile technology, must also be one of the administration's highest priorities. Particularly worrisome is that Russia and China want to sell equipment to Iran that, when combined with Iran's indigenous missile capability, would greatly accelerate Tehran's ICBM development program.

The US administration has let it be known that it could still sanction any entity selling Iran advanced weapons, especially ballistic missile technology.

Iranian tankers laden with gasoline are now traveling to Venezuela. The US Navy could easily capture those tankers still at sea. There is ample precedent. Both the US and Great Britain have legally seized Iranian ships bringing missiles to terrorists in Yemen. With a similar action, the US could both deny funds for Iran's terrorist and nuclear activities and energy desperately needed by the oppressive Maduro regime in Venezuela.
Iran’s interests in the ambush targeting Gen. Michael Flynn
Gen. Flynn had a very good understanding of Iran’s threat and he was hated by Tehran apologists/lobbyists in the West; most specifically, members of Iran’s main lobby group, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) founded by Trita Parsi. They were quick to push Tehran’s narrative against Flynn following the General’s position against the mullahs’ regime.

Considering his strong position vis-à-vis Iran, Gen. Flynn would have certainly not tolerated Iran’s influence in U.S. government, especially those figures who had reached high places during the Obama administration.

Gen. Flynn would have not tolerated the likes of Sahar Nowrouzzadeh of Iran’s lobby NIAC in the White House. Nowrouzzadeh worked directly on Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. While she may deny it, this card proves her previous membership in NIAC.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a former member of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), in the Obama White House and also seen with former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry

“NIAC’s most accomplished alum is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who is now National Security Council director for Iran in the Obama admin & the top US official for Iran policy, bringing together various departments working on US strategy toward [Iran],” reads a Daily Beast article form back in September 2015.

Nowrouzzadeh was probably effective in having NIAC founder/then president Trita Parsi & a former Iranian regime ambassador to Germany invited to the White House more than 30 times. Their objective: pave the path for the 2015 Iran nuclear and Obama providing the utmost concessions to Tehran.

“Two high-level Iranian government backers, including a former Islamic Republic official and another accused of lobbying on Tehran’s behalf, were hosted at the Obama White House for more than 30 meetings with top officials at key junctures in the former administration’s contested diplomacy with Iran, according to White House visitor logs that provide a window into the former administration’s outreach to leading pro-Iran advocates,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Honest Reporting: Twitter: Kick Out Khamenei
Why are media giants helping brutal dictators, people who are responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity?

The media has fundamentally changed over the last decade. More than ever, people are getting their news via social media. And social media giants like Twitter are directly responsible for the spread of poisonous hate, conspiracy theories, and calls to violence. By giving Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei a platform, Twitter shoulders responsibility for the violence he incites against millions of Israelis.

HonestReporting has filed a legal complaint with the US Department of Justice and sent a copy to Elan Carr, the US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating anti-Semitism, as well as to Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, demanding the immediate suspension of Khamenei’s account. The letter can be found here (PDF)

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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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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