Wednesday, June 17, 2020

From Ian:

David Collier: On the matter of Jewish sovereignty, everybody should settle down
Lies and more lies
These groups are now all sharing the same material. I have seen some people share Yachad or Na’amod posts who really should know better. Much of what is being said in this content is just lies based on illogical nonsense.

The starting point of the logical fallacy is the absolutism of the ‘negotiated two state solution’. In this paradigm, Israel cannot make unilateral moves. I hate to point out that I cannot remember these people complaining when Israel unilaterally left Sth Lebanon or Gaza. Making this an absolute simply puts Israeli peace prospects in the hands of Hamas. What if there is no partner? Are those pushing the absolutism of the negotiated settlement condemning Israelis to a perpetual conflict where they can be held hostage by whichever radical Islamic faction is holding up negotiations at the time. Sadly, unilateralism may be the only way to break the impasse, and absolutisms are a really stupid way to approach any difficult problem.

Then there are the comments in the articles and videos about ‘annexation’ being a ‘fatal blow to Israeli democracy’. Except they have no evidence that it would be. These people twist Netanyahu’s words spoken about citizenship even though they should know other statements have contradicted these declarations. They are selecting which elements to believe to suit what it is they want to say. That’s propaganda.

The articles all act as if we face doomsday. An ‘end of Israel’s democracy’ and a ‘fatal blow to British Zionism’. Unsubstantiated, illogical, non-factual poppycock.

Ugly subtext
The subtext to these Diaspora discussions is truly shameful. Israel is a highly functioning democracy. Every dinner table in Israel is a political arena. Almost every Israeli citizen can reel off the political positions of a myriad of parties across the spectrum and name the key figures in each. Israeli diplomacy is probably more convoluted and complex than that of almost any other nation. Front line Israeli politicians have spent decades trying to build ties or sustain them in hostile circumstances. Netanyahu has spent the last decade massaging new relationships into life with the gulf states.

The critical Diaspora narrative is basically suggesting Israel does not know what it is doing. It labels Israelis as incompetent voters. The state as irrational and led by extremists. This is a precise copy of the anti-Israel narrative. The fact that this government contains LESS right-wing forces than it has done for some time is ignored. We have liberal Jews sitting in their comfortable London homes trying to save Israel from the Israelis. Talk about supremacist thought. Are we really to believe that only those such as Hannah Weisfeld can save Israel from itself?

As always I suggest that if you want to engage in Israeli politics and make a difference – make Aliyah. In the meantime I suggest everyone waits to see what exactly, if anything is on the table. And for now everyone should stop wandering around the dark room looking for their black cat. Especially as it may not even be there.
Dennis Ross: Why the ICC Prosecutor Is Wrong on Oslo
Having served as the lead American negotiator on Middle East peace and a participant or mediator in Oslo talks and other Israeli-Palestinian discussions from 1993 to 2001, I know the inside history and content of the accords intimately. In response to an invitation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber, I submitted an amicus curiae brief explaining that the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has misrepresented the terms and meaning of these agreements in a number of ways.

The OTP asserts that Oslo's "object and purpose" was "to give effect to the Palestinians' right to self-determination." But that is inaccurate; the accords had several equally important goals, including Israeli security, peaceful coexistence, education for peace, and the development of effective Palestinian governance. Self-determination could not be fully advanced beyond Oslo's interim self-governance arrangements unless these other goals were fulfilled.

The agreements explicitly made any Israeli transfers of additional territory and authority contingent on Palestinian progress toward ensuring security, combating terrorism, and preventing incitement. These and numerous other obligations were never sufficiently fulfilled.

When the OTP mentions a key provision regarding Oslo's legal significance - that neither side would be "deemed, by virtue of having entered into [the accords], to have renounced or waived any of its existing rights, claims, or positions" - the Prosecutor strikingly interprets this as applying only to Palestinian positions and not to Israel's longstanding claims. Moreover, the OTP does not mention the role that Palestinian terrorism and rejection have played in preventing the emergence of a state.

Any analysis that gives weight to only one side's wrongdoing comes across as politically motivated rather than legally credible. Making political arguments is not the OTP's role. Doing so discredits the ICC, undermines its effectiveness, and threatens to undo the principle that international law is driven by legal standards and canons rather than political ideology and preferences.
Travesty of Justice at the International Criminal Court?
The Prosecutor's Response seems to create new international law where non-binding resolutions can change legally binding agreements in order to prosecute Israeli leaders and Israeli Jews for war crimes....

The limitations of the Palestinian Authority's jurisdiction in the Oslo Accords do not permit transferring jurisdiction to the ICC. Those limitations cannot be changed or disregarded.

There is no crime and no case for the Prosecutor to investigate those who returned to their ancestral land, who are the indigenous people. Judea and Samaria are not occupied territories.

"Palestine", according to the International Court of Justice (ICL), is not a state.

There is no occupation by Israel of the territory of another state. There was no "Palestinian" state before 1967. Israel liberated Judea Samaria from Jordan after a war of aggression, in which Jordan attacked Israel in 1967 – for the second time (the first time being in 1948). Jordan finally abandoned all claims to the territory in 1988.

The Jews were expelled or killed during Jordan's 1948 aggression. Their houses were taken by Arabs...."Palestine" is the Jewish Home as codified in international law. It is not a terra nullius ["nobody's land"]. It belongs to the Jewish people. The "Arabs" of Judea and Samaria are the settlers, colonizers, who invaded the land.

The Jews hold the right to that land from the Bible, the Qur'an, and from several international instruments: the Balfour Declaration (1917), the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), the British Mandate (1922), the San Remo Resolution (1920), and the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) created International law, recognized and re-established the historical indigenous rights of the Jews to their Land.... Moreover, the Jewish people is entitled to its land under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples....

Contrary to the Jewish people being the indigenous people, the "Palestinian people" has been invented to oppose the Jewish people.

The ICC cannot be a forum for the diversion of international law and for a travesty of justice.... The Response of the Prosecutor follows a political agenda and is based on law created by the Prosecutor to enable the prosecution of Israeli Jews/leaders for crimes they never committed. Ms. Fatou Bensouda's impartiality can reasonably be doubted and she should be disqualified pursuant to article 42-7 of the Rome Statute and Rule 34 (d) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

PMW: PA intentionally submits falsified document to the International Criminal Court
Text of Abbas speech submitted by PA to ICC was incomplete; it was missing the section in which he admitted to committing crimes against humanity

The latest submission by the Palestinian Authority to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a prime example of how the PA tailors and changes the content of the speeches of its leaders, and its positions in general, depending on the identity and perceived naïveté of the target audience.

In this instance, while speaking in Arabic to the Palestinian audience PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in his May 19, 2020 speech, declared that as of that day, the PA no longer sees itself obligated by the accords and agreements signed with Israel. In contrast, in the PA submission to the ICC, Abbas’ declaration suddenly became conditional on a future event.

These contradictory claims were, however, merely the tip of the iceberg, with the PA’s submission.

While the PA claims to have attached to its submission a translation of Abbas’ speech, Palestinian Media Watch has found that the document attached is not a transcription of the speech. Rather it is a falsified version, intentionally edited by the PA to mislead the court. The falsified document also conveniently omits Abbas’ confession to committing crimes.

The PA double-speak and submission of a falsified document to the ICC, should result in the court rejecting all the different arguments put forward by the PA, simply because it is impossible to rely on any of their statements and ascertain their true position on any given subject.

Arab-Israeli Relations Have a Glass Ceiling
However, while al-Otaiba and others sound the alarm over the future of these relations, we should also acknowledge their glass ceiling.

As long as Israel and the Palestinians don't reach a peace deal based on Palestinian demands – and very possibly even after such a deal is reached – all of the Arab countries, including the Gulf States, will have a hard time engaging with Israel openly and publicly. It stands to reason, therefore, that whether or not the Israeli government meets al-Otaiba's demands, the result will be the same: Arab countries will continue secretly bolstering security and other forms of cooperation with Israel and will continue promoting regional peace initiatives – but nothing more.

Establishing peaceful relations and opening Israeli embassies in Arab capitals is an important and worthy objective. However, it is imperative to recognize that this is a purely symbolic measure bereft of any practical value. After all, any future embassy will likely become an empty building that no one visits, without any real ability to make headway against the Arab opposition to the normalization of ties with Israel. This enhances the importance of clandestine security relations, which serve the interests of both sides and make a real difference.

Moreover, raising the bar of expectations too high tends to produce violence once the less forgiving reality sets in. This happened in October 2000, when the hopes for peace were dashed and the Second Intifada erupted.

Given the regional geopolitical map, Israel must consider its steps carefully and move forward with caution. However, without any realistic chance for peace in the Middle East, it would be a mistake to assume that one particular Israeli initiative will fundamentally alter reality – either positively, toward a diplomatic breakthrough with the Arab world, or negatively, toward a military escalation and ultimately war.
Despite annexation plan, top UAE official urges greater cooperation with Israel
A senior official from the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday called for increased cooperation with Israel and explained his country’s ongoing rapprochement with Jerusalem, saying it wanted to separate disagreements over the Palestinian issue from the mutual benefits of cooperation in other fields.

Addressing a major US-Jewish online conference, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash reiterated his view that the decades-long Arab boycott of Israel has not yielded the desired results and advocated for “open lines of communications” and increased liaison with Jerusalem in various areas, such as technology and health.

His statements appeared to mark a significant turnaround from just days earlier, when a senior Emirati diplomat warned in an Israeli newspaper that annexation would spell the end of any rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf.

Gargash reiterated Abu Dhabi’s opposition to Israel’s planned unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank, but underlined his country’s policy of “decoupling the political from the non-political.”

“Can I have a political disagreement with Israel but at the same time try and bridge other areas of the relationship? I think I can. I think that is fundamentally where we are,” Gargash said during an interview for the American Jewish Committee Virtual Global Forum.

Egypt, Jordan and Turkey already have formal relations with Israel, and Qatar and other Gulf states “led the way on having more normal relations with Israel,” he went on.
United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister in Historic Speech with American Jewish Committee

Pro-Israel Saudi journalist accused of espionage, asks for protection
Pro-Israel Saudi journalist Hamid Al-Ghabin claims that he has been stripped of his citizenship, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
Ghabin warned in a tweet on Tuesday that his "life is in danger" after he was accused of espionage and smuggling large amounts of money out of the Kingdom, among other claims in a letter to the interior minister.

"I hope that soon I will be able to send a message to my master Mohammed bin Salman and His Excellency the Attorney General to provide protection for me," tweeted Ghabin. "My record is very clean in State Security and General Intelligence, and they know me completely, whether in Saudi Arabia or when I was in Kuwait or London. I do not need to answer to any security apparatus."

Ghabin has accused Saudi officials of "conspiring" against him. The journalist's citizenship was withdrawn in December with no reason given.
The Saudi journalist has vocally supported Israel in both Saudi and Israeli media.
JCPA: Whistleblower Exposes Palestinian Authority Corruption
Palestinian Authority corruption currently occupies the attention of Palestinians in the Palestinian Territories. Until a few days ago, the “scandal of the day” was the suspected corruption of the government fund established by the PA to assist victims of the coronavirus. Palestinian residents claimed that only Fatah activists were able to benefit from this fund because of their connections to senior PA officials. The PA denies such claims.

However, today’s topic of conversation revolves around the new corruption case of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ office.

On June 11, 2020, “The Palestinian Center for Communications” news agency and the Hamas-affiliated Shehab News Agency released a video of Yasser Jadallah, former director of President Mahmoud Abbas’ Political Department of the PA, in which he revealed major corruption related to the theft of funds given to the PA from international organizations. He described how these funds were transferred to personal accounts.1

He claimed in the video that the funds in the Palestinian Ministry of Finance listed under the heading “EU assistance and Arab states” were mostly transferred to the Palestinian presidency and from there to secret accounts known to only three people: Chairman of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas; his Private Secretary Mrs. Intesar Abu Amara; and Mahmoud Salameh, Deputy Chief of Staff in the PA Chairman’s Office.

He claimed that as soon as these funds enter the accounts of the PA chairman’s office, they suddenly disappear and are then transferred to accounts with fictitious names, including accounts with the names of Mahmoud Abbas’s grandchildren.

“We have passed this information onto European MPs,” Jadallah claimed.

He added that Mahmoud Abbas listens to the opinions of his Private Secretary Mrs. Intesar Abu Amara and Deputy Chief of Staff Mahmoud Salameh so that when security chiefs Majid Faraj and Ziyad Hab al-Rih want funds, they must first flatter them.

Jadallah said the PA chairman ordered his office accounts to be destroyed every six months, but in reality, they are destroyed every day for “security reasons.” He accused Mahmoud Abbas of stealing money because he knows “the Palestinian people are exhausted and weak.”
EU pulls funding for Palestinian NGO refusing to disavow terror
The European Union has pulled funding from a Palestinian NGO after the organization refused to sign an anti-terror clause in the funding contract.

On Friday, the EU wrote to the BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights to inform them that €1.7 million in funding for a three-year project, titled 'Mobilizing for Justice in Jerusalem' had been cancelled. According to a statement on BADIL's website, the project aimed at "enhancing the resilience of Palestinians and highlighting Israeli human rights violations and international crimes in Jerusalem."

"Based on your reply we conclude that BADIL cannot abide by the General Conditions as they stand, and we are therefore obliged to consider your application no longer valid," the letter read, according to BADIL.

BADIL have said that the project's dismissal followed a series of correspondence between the organization and EU officials over the anti-terror clause. ANNEX II of the general conditions attached to EU grants includes a stipulation, Article 1, 1.5bis, which states: "Grant beneficiaries and contractors must ensure that there is no detection of subcontractors, natural persons, including participants to workshops and/or trainings and recipients of financial support to third parties, in the lists of EU restrictive measures."

Several Palestinian terror groups appear on these lists, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (FPLP), and Hamas, among others. Additionally, in December 2019, several NGO officials were arrested in connection with the murder of 17 year old Israeli Rina Schnerb.

130 Palestinian NGOs have refused to sign the clause, however, insisting that the stipulation amounts to illegal interference in Palestine's political process by outside bodies, as the terror groups in question are "political parties." In late December 2019 they launched a “Palestinian National Campaign to Reject Conditional Funding,” of which BADIL was a part.

In their statement, BADIL said: "BADIL’s objection to Article 1.5bis is based on the fact that signing the contract criminalizes the Palestinian struggle against oppression and requires the recipient organization to perform “screening” procedures which amounts to policing its own people. The inclusion of this article to contracts with Palestinian organizations contradicts the national role of Palestinian civil society institutions in the struggle for freedom from Israeli colonialism and apartheid."

They said that the clause amounted to the "acceptance and adoption of the allegations of the Zionist lobby and Israeli campaigns," with the aim of "criminalizing the Palestinians struggle."
The story of Germany's capitulation to Palestinian terrorism
Germany's capitulation paved the way for formal relations between West Germany and the PLO, which demanded a mission in the West German capital, to be housed in the offices of the Arab League.

The Palestinians also asked the Germans to help fund the PLO. A telegram sent on Feb. 28, 1973 by Helmut Radius, head of the Middle East Department in the German Foreign Ministry, ordered the transfer of 50,000 marks to support the Wafa news agency, which disseminated Palestinian propaganda. Radius also issued instructions that the purpose of the funds be hidden to avoid diplomatic complications, although there is no confirmation that the money was actually transferred.

None of the German diplomatic correspondence made any mention of the Holocaust. According to Leemhuis, "historical responsibility did play any role in the German Foreign Ministry's position toward Israel. After the compensation agreement of 1952, the German diplomats said, 'That's it, the matter of the Holocaust is closed. We paid, and from this moment on, history will not play any part.'"

Leemhuis also points out anti-Semitic accusations made at the time that Israelis and Jews wanted to profit from the Holocaust, after Israeli diplomats made repeated references to Germany's history with the Jews.

"It shows the coldness that characterized German foreign policy, as well as the ignorance about the suffering of the survivors and about historical responsibility. It's chilling to see how soon after the Holocaust the German diplomats moved on, while stressing the historic trauma that the establishment of the state of Israel caused to the Arabs. In other words, history played a role as it met their needs," he says.

When Israel Hayom asks Leemhuis whether the fact that many West German diplomats lived Nazi Germany influenced this approach, he says that while he has not looked into the personal background of the diplomats, "when you read their anti-Semitic comments, it's obvious that the influence of the Nazi period played a role."

"The open anti-Semitism in the documents surprised me. The functionaries felt they could write these things, knowing that it wouldn't bother anyone. And who knows what they said about Jews and Israel in conversation … I was amazed that there was no objection to these positions. The Six-Day War, the attacks in Munich, the Yom Kippur War … none of these changed their thinking," he says.
Did Putin save Israel from Obama at UN, and why are we hearing this now?
What is indisputable is that two days after Resolution 2334 passed, then secretary of state John Kerry gave a long speech on how the Obama administration envisions a two-state solution. The plan described in the speech is consistent with the Israeli source’s description of the second resolution that never came to pass. It’s plausible that the Israeli delegation at the UN was at the end of a game of broken telephone that began with Kerry planning to give a speech about parameters for peace and ended with Israel thinking another resolution was on the way.

Regardless of whether one believes Netanyahu’s side or Obama administration alums, there is still the question of why this story is coming out now, three-and-a-half years after Trump came into office.

The answer is likely that it is politically beneficial to both Netanyahu and Trump, and fact that the story came out in Israel Hayom, owned by Sheldon Adelson who supports them both, supports that theory.

The Trump reelection campaign can use the story as a cudgel to attack Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who was vice president under Obama, by associating him with yet another anti-Israel move.

Netanyahu can send a similar message to Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz or to opponents on his Right that if Trump is voted out of office, they can expect a return to Obama-era relations with the US.

In fact, the timing could not be more convenient for Netanyahu, who is currently trying to push for Israel to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank in July, in accordance with Trump’s peace plan.
He can make the argument that not annexing doesn’t mean staying with the status quo and saving Israel from international censure, it means missing an opportunity and still opening Israel up to punitive measures from the world.
Israel’s Netanyahu Mulls Two-Phase West Bank Annexation, Newspaper Says
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing a limited initial annexation in the West Bank, hoping to quell international opposition to his pledge of wide territorial moves, an Israeli newspaper said on Wednesday.

Netanyahu has said a US peace plan, which envisages Israel retaining its settlements in the West Bank, provides an “historic opportunity” to extend Israeli sovereignty to them and to the Jordan Valley area.

Israel Hayom, a pro-Netanyahu daily widely seen as reflecting his views, said the right-wing leader was now looking at the possibility of annexation in two phases.

It said Netanyahu, who has set July 1 for the start of a cabinet debate on the issue, was considering annexing only small settlements in phase one and, after renewing calls to Palestinians for peace talks, then annexing the remaining ones.

Netanyahu’s annexation pledges have raised stiff opposition from the Palestinians, Arab countries and European nations, and Israeli officials say Washington has yet to agree to the move.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said potential phasing of annexation made no difference. “Netanyahu is trying to confuse the international position which rejects annexation and the world will not be fooled by such a proposition,” he said.

The newspaper said Netanyahu does not anticipate a strong punitive response from Europe for annexation, despite vocal opposition, nor does he see it as substantially damaging Israel‘s ties with the Arab world.
Trump peace plan puts hundreds of biblical sites under Palestinian rule
A large number of archaeological sites in the West Bank, including many that are part of Jewish history and tradition, will be placed or remain under Palestinian control according to US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, Yediot Aharonot reported Tuesday.

The government is discussing annexation of parts of the West Bank in connection with the plan. The move, which would extend Israeli law and sovereignty over parts of Israeli-controlled Area C, is supposed to begin as early as July 1.

Military sources place the number of archaeological sites in Area C at 3,000.

According to data provided by Preserving the Eternal, which describes itself as a network of entities devoted to “protect antiquities in Israel and Judea and Samaria,” there are about 6,000 sites of historical and archaeological importance in the area. They include some 2,300 that are officially cataloged as protected archaeological sites, it said.

On the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories English website, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria Archaeology Unit describes the sites in Judea and Samaria as “among the most significant sites within the history and culture of the region and the world at large” and as the “cornerstones of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic history.”

Their list includes some of the most renowned archaeological treasures in the region, such as the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were uncovered, and Herodion.
US House Democrats Warn Against Netanyahu Plan of Annexation
Four Democrats in the US House of Representatives have sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz to express opposition to Israel possibly applying sovereignty to the West Bank.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), David Price (D-NC) and Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) signed the letter.

“We have consistently endorsed the pursuit of a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians resulting in two states for two peoples and a brighter future for the Israeli people and the Palestinian people,” they wrote. “In that vein, we write today to express our deep concern that the push for unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank after July 1st will make these goals harder to achieve.”

The members of Congress also said that annexation “risks insecurity in Jordan, with serious ancillary risks to Israel.”

They added that “finally, unilateral annexation could create serious problems for Israel with its European friends and other partners around the world. We do not see how any of these acute risks serve the long-term interest of a strong, secure Israel.”

Abdullah getting some rare heat from DC
King Abdullah’s Jordan seems to have a weakness for terrorists who kill Israelis, so much so that it appears to be on a collision course with its greatest ally, the United States, over the extradition of Ahlam Tamimi.

Tamimi, one of the organizers of the bombing at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001 that killed 15 people, including two with American citizenship, is living freely in Jordan. So too is Ahmed Daqamseh, the terrorist who murdered seven Israeli school girls at the “Island of Peace’’ in Naharayim in 1997. He was released from a Jordanian jail in 2017 after serving a 20 year sentence.

None of Daqamseh’s victims had American citizenship, so this never turned into a contentious issue between Amman and Washington.
Not so Tamimi.

AP reported on Tuesday that the Trump Administration is considering withholding aid from Jordan to pressure it into extraditing Tamimi. The report came ahead of Abdullah’s scheduled video appearance before the Senate and House foreign relations committees on Wednesday where he is expected to voice opposition to any Israeli plan to extend its sovereignty to any parts of the West Bank.
UK's Johnson: Israeli annexation breaches international law
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex settlements and the Jordan Valley, a move that could scuttle any hopes of a viable Palestinian state.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War and has built dozens of settlements that are home to over 400,000 Israelis in the decades since. The Palestinians seek the territory as the heartland of a future independent state. Most of the international community considers Israel’s West Bank settlements illegal under international law.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan that was rolled out earlier this year, which overwhelmingly favors Israel and was rejected by the Palestinians, has given Israel a go-ahead for annexing Jewish settlements.

Most of the international community opposes such a move.
Israel thwarts weapons smuggling into Gaza Strip
The Israeli Navy and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) thwarted an attempt to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip from the northern area of the Sinai Peninsula, according to a release the military cleared on Wednesday.

“The intelligence and operational activity was conducted following joint operational and intelligence efforts of the Israeli Navy and the [Shin Bet] along with the IDF Intelligence Directorate,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

The joint operation took place several weeks ago after Shin Bet officers identified suspects involved in the smuggling ring and cooperation between the military and Shin Bet enabled the detection of the vessel being used to smuggle weapons into the blockaded coastal enclave.

The maritime intelligence operators of the Israeli Navy then located the suspected vessel and dispatched Navy troops to pursue and intercept it.

Following the interception of the vessel, the ship and two terrorist operatives on board were arrested and detained for interrogation by the Shin Bet. One of the detainees was identified as Mahmoud Bakir, a senior smuggler who has worked with terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

“His arrest is a significant operational achievement,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement, adding that he was indicted in the Beersheba District Court on June 4.

During the investigation, the two revealed that the weapons were intended to be used by Hamas and also shared details of the terrorist group’s use of the sea for smuggling as well as details about other smugglers and equipment used for force built-up by Hamas.

Hamas condemns international award to ‘war criminal’ Tzipi Livni
Hamas on Wednesday condemned a decision by a German group to present an award to former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and accused her of “committing war crimes against Palestinians.”

The Society for the Presentation of the International Bridge Prize of the European City Görlitz/Zgorzelec gives the €2,500 prize each year to personalities who have made a contribution to international understanding in Europe with their life’s work.

The society said it decided to grant Livni the award “for standing for freedom of thought, democracy, openness and humanity.” Livni “has made a name for herself, particularly through her freedom-oriented peace policy and as a mediator,” the group said in a statement.

With her “extraordinary personality, the [Israeli] politician also stood up to vehement opposition from parts of society for dissenters and minorities, and generated international attention with her efforts,” it said.

Livni is the 25th recipient of the award, which has been handed out since 1993. Livni served in the cabinets of prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert from 2001-2009. As foreign minister, she led multiple rounds of peace talks with the Palestinians.

Hamas reacted to the decision by accusing Livni of “war crimes” against the Palestinians.

“It is unfortunate to grant an international award to the war criminal Tzipi Livni, who committed war crimes against our people and killed more than 1,400 martyrs, most of them civilians, especially children, women and the elderly in the 2009 war,” Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said in a statement.

The war, also known as Operation Cast Lead, began on December 27, 2008, and ended on January 18, 2009. The Israeli government’s stated goal was to stop indiscriminate Palestinian fire rocket into Israel and weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

“This step encourages the criminal leaders of the occupation to commit more crimes,” the Hamas spokesman said, adding that granting Livni the award was a “desperate attempt to beautify her black face and clear her hand that is stained with the blood of our people.”

MEMRI: Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah: We Will Kill Those Who Make Us Choose Between Surrendering Our Weapons And Starvation; Chinese Companies Ready To Invest In Lebanon's Infrastructure
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech posted on the Newsgate YouTube Channel (Lebanon) on June 16, 2020 that Chinese companies are prepared to "bring money to Lebanon" through investment in various infrastructure projects such as a high-speed rail and electric plants. Nasrallah stated that anyone who tries to pit Hizbullah's base against the organization is destined to fail. He elaborated that Hizbullah will not be starved into surrendering its weapons and remarked: "I say to anyone who makes us choose between being killed by guns or by starvation, that we will keep our weapons, we will not starve, and we will kill you. We will kill you. We will kill you." He added that Syria's "allies, who stood by it" will not abandon Syria, despite the "economic war" they are experiencing.

To view the clip of Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on MEMRI TV, click here or below.

"Chinese Companies Are Ready To Bring Money [Into Lebanon]... One Project Is The High-Speed Rail From Tripoli To Naqoura... [Another Project Is] The Building Of Power Plants"

Hassan Nasrallah: "I have definitive information - if I am not certain of something I never say it - that Chinese companies are ready to bring money [into Lebanon], without all the complications we experience in Lebanon. It won't be us bringing money.

"They will bring money to this country. One project is the high-speed rail from Tripoli to Naqoura - not just from Tripoli to Beirut but all the way to Naqoura. If this happens [sic], it will infuse the country with money and investments, it will create jobs, and will give a boost to the economy, to society, to the living conditions, and so on. Imagine a high-speed train from Tripoli to Naqoura. I am telling you and this is official, that the Chinese companies are ready for this. So go ahead. [Another project is] the building of power plants. The Chinese - we have their specific names and addresses - are ready to come and power electric plants. They will do it in the B.O.T. format. You won't be asked to pay a single penny. There will be understanding with the Lebanese government how this money will be paid back. Furthermore, a few days ago, I enquired about the tunnel that there has been a decision to dig between Beirut to Chtoura in the Beqaa. This project will have a great impact on Lebanon and its economy and society, and it will help people transport from area to area. There are theories about the importance of this tunnel. [I asked:] 'Are you ready?' The Chinese companies are ready to carry out this project, also B.O.T. So go ahead.
"I Say To Anyone Who Makes Us Choose Between Being Killed By Guns Or By Starvation That We Will Keep Our Weapons, We Will Not Starve, And We Will Kill You"

US imposes new sanctions on Syrian govt, including Assad and his wife
The United States on Wednesday imposed its toughest sanctions ever targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to choke off revenue for his government in a bid to force it back to United Nations-led negotiations and broker an end to the country's nearly decade-long war.

The fresh round of penalties on Syria, which designate Assad and his wife Asma personally, come at a time when Assad is grappling with a deepening economic crisis after a decade of war and amid a rare outbreak of protests in government-held areas.

In a statement announcing the designations imposed under the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act - signed by President Donald Trump in December - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said 'many more' sanctions should be expected in the coming weeks and months.

"We will not stop until Assad and his regime stop their needless, brutal war against the Syrian people and the Syrian government agrees to a political solution to the conflict," Pompeo said.

He said the 39 designated individuals and companies have played a key role in obstructing a peaceful political solution to the conflict, and singled out Asma al-Assad.

"I will make special note of the designation for the first time of Asma al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, who with the support of her husband and members of her Akhras family has become one of Syria’s most notorious war profiteers," he said.
MEMRI: Syrian Media Threatens Escalation Of Resistance Against U.S. Forces In Country: America’s Policy "Will Not Cause People To Take To The Streets; It Will Cause The Missiles To Emerge From The Depots"
Tensions in Syria surrounding the presence of U.S. forces in the northeast of the country are mounting, and there are increasing reports about popular resistance, both peaceful and violent, to this presence.[1]Most of the reports speak of Syrian villagers pelting U.S. military vehicles with stones or barring them from passing through their villages, while some also claim that the Syrian army and local militias are encouraging or assisting the residents in this action. Photos of non-violent opposition against the U.S. forces have appeared in the Syrian state press and on social media. The Syrian state media has also reported on armed clashes resulting in American casualties, but the Americans themselves, the Syrian opposition websites and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)[2] reject this as fake news deliberately spread by the Syrian regime. These reports may be aimed at stoking the Syrians' pride and encouraging popular resistance against the U.S. military presence in the country.

At the same time, the Syrian state media is also explicitly inciting against the U.S. and its forces in Syria. Many articles published in the state press encourage popular and even armed action against these forces, while threatening that their remaining in Syria will lead to bloodshed and will be "suicide" and "playing with fire" on their part. Some of the articles also referred to the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, a U.S. legislation imposing further sanctions on the Syrian regime and on anyone assisting it or conducting business with it.[3] The articles described the Caesar Act, which came into force today (June 17, 2020), as "economic terror," and warned that it will encounter firm Syrian resistance and may even lead to a regionwide war.

It should be mentioned that the Syrian state media has also accused the U.S. forces of torching wheat fields in northeastern Syria in order to cause famine among the populace, as a complementary measure to the Caesar Act. These reports, too, were denied by the U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and by websites identified with the Syrian opposition, and are apparently part of the Syrian regime's efforts to blacken the image of the U.S. forces in the country.[4]
Iran's Oil Revenues Fell from $100 Billion to $8 Billion in 2019
Iran’s oil revenues fell from $100 billion to $8 billion last year, first Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said on Saturday, accusing the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel of plotting against Tehran.

“We were a country with $100 billion in oil revenue in a single year, but the total oil revenue in 2019 was about $8 billion,” state media quoted Jahangiri as saying.

Jahangiri did not say what year Iran had $100 billion in oil revenues. The country’s oil revenues in 2018 were about $60.2 billion, according to OPEC figures.

Jahangiri accused the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel of conspiring against Iran.

Iranian officials and military commanders regularly accuse the three countries of plotting against the Islamic Republic.

“The main symbol of these conspiracies is the imposition of sanctions,” said Jahangiri.

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