Monday, July 13, 2020

07/13 Links Pt1: Britain Shamefully Betrays the Jewish People Again; Biden’s Foreign Policy Team Looks to Repeat a Legacy of Failure; Peter Beinart is neither a Zionist nor a Liberal

From Ian:

Amb. Alan Baker: Sovereignty in the West Bank Areas of Judea and Samaria: Historical and Legal Milestones that Make the Case
The subject of the rights of the Jewish People and the State of Israel under international law, in the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria, involves a complex and extensive web of historical, legal, military, and political issues.
The Jewish People Have Historical Claims in Judea and Samaria

Israel’s claims to sovereignty regarding the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria did not originate with Israel’s attaining control of the area following the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel’s rights are based on the indigenous and historical claims of the Jewish people in the area as a whole, virtually from time immemorial.

Israel’s international legal rights were acknowledged in 1917 by the Balfour Declaration’s promise to the Jews to reestablish their historical national home in Palestine. These rights are based on clear historical, archeological, and Biblical evidence.

The Balfour Declaration was subsequently recognized internationally and encapsulated into international law through a series of international instruments commencing with the 1920 San Remo Declaration by the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers, followed by the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine.

The continued validity of these foundational legal rights was also assured under Article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

Persistent Palestinian Refusal to Negotiate Leaves Israel No Option but to Act Unilaterally to Protect Its Rights
While Israel’s prior, well-established, and documented international, legal, political, and indigenous rights to sovereignty over the areas are clear, Israel nevertheless acknowledged in the Oslo Accords Palestinian rights in the areas, and agreed to negotiate with them the permanent status of the areas.

Persistent Palestinian refusal to return to negotiations and their rejection of peace plans to settle the dispute, cannot and should not serve to veto a settlement of the dispute.

Such ongoing refusal and rejection undermines the peace process, invalidates the Oslo Accords, and leaves Israel no option but to act unilaterally in order to protect its vital security and other interests and historical rights.
David Singer: Britain Shamefully Betrays the Jewish People Again
Britain – the architectof the San Remo Resolution and Treaty of Sevres in 1920 that led to the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1922 – has yet again shamefully betrayed the Jewish People by warning Israel not to extend its sovereignty into Judea and Samaria.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any such action would be in violation of international law – which Netanyahu disputes – despite the Mandate vesting in the Jewish People the right to “close settlement” in Judea and Samaria for the purposes of reconstituting the biblical Jewish National Home in what had been the heartland of the Jewish People 3000 years ago.

Britain had betrayed the Jewish People in 1950 after all the Jews living in Judea and Samaria had been ethnically cleansed by the invading Arab army of Transjordan in 1948. Britain – supported only by Pakistan and Iraq – recognised Transjordan’s illegal annexation of Judea and Samaria, the renaming of the newly merged entityas “Jordan”whilst “Judea and Samaria”was renamed“West Bank”.

Johnson told Netanyahu:
"I am immensely proud of the UK’s contribution to the birth of Israel with the 1917 Balfour Declaration. But it will remain unfinished business until there is a solution which provides justice and lasting peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.
The only way it can be achieved is for both sides to return to the negotiating table. That must be our goal. Annexation would only take us further away from it."

Peace for both “Israelis” and “Palestinians”?

Neither existed until 1948 and 1964.

There were only “Arabs” and “Jews” in 1917. The Arab residents of Palestine then comprised part of “the existing non-Jewish communities”.

Johnson seems apparently unaware that the “Palestinians”:
• were defined for the first time in recorded history by article 6 of the 1964 PLO Charter
• did not claim “regional sovereignty in the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”or“on the Gaza Strip” under article 24
• were Jordanian citizens between 1954 and1988.

Biden’s Foreign Policy Team Looks to Repeat a Legacy of Failure
It was under Obama’s watch that Bashar Assad burnt Syria to the ground and Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The Obama administration’s policies in Syria and Ukraine were a disaster that handed victory after victory to Putin, none more so than the total abdication of responsibility following the crossing of Obama’s own chemical-weapons “red line.”

Even the much-vaunted Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Obama’s defining foreign policy legacy, while seeking to use diplomacy to prevent a future war with Iran over its imagined potential ability to build a nuclear weapon, was signed by largely ignoring its very real ability to cause untold human suffering through conventional slaughter, further fueling the fires burning in Syria and Iraq.

Speaking last week on whether Biden’s team had learned anything from the Iran deal and its impact on the region, former U.S. special envoy to Syria, Ambassador Frederic Hof said, “the Obama administration and in particular with the president, there was faith in the proposition that by signing the nuclear agreement, Iran would begin to modify its other regional policies. Many of us believed from the beginning that this was false, that it was not going to happen. And I think it’s a lesson learned.”

One of the principal architects of the Iran deal, Colin Kahl, has taken on the Iran file for Biden’s foreign policy team. Kahl’s appointment likely signals a reversal of Trump’s maximum pressure policy and, at least in policy terms, an attempt to return to the JCPOA, but is there any real evidence that lessons have been learned? While it’s important not to read too much into social media reactions, Kahl’s smug social media post following the assassination of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, stating, “In death, Soleimani accomplished one of his ultimate objectives: getting the US kicked out of Iraq,” displays a worrying naivete, not just of internal Iraqi politics, but also of his own brief. Just what did he think his own administration’s policy was towards Iraq?

A thread posted by Kahl in January laid bare the moral bankruptcy of the previous administration’s failed Middle Eastern pivot, as Kahl concedes “there is no question that Iran’s military spending went up by a few billion after the JCPOA,” before concluding that the best strategy should be “playing the long game to counter their influence in places like Iraq and Lebanon through engagement and institution building.”

Ben Dror Yemini: Peter Beinart is neither a Zionist nor a Liberal
A clear majority of Israelis and Palestinians reject the notion of a one-state solution that will end the conflict. But Beinart pays no attention to that fact because he believes his idea would invigorate the Palestinian cause. But to what end?
He is not motivated by a respect for the rights of both sides, he is fighting against the rights of one nation, out of all the nations in the world.

His words carry weight in some quarters in the West but there is nothing new in his message. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) campaign for the same thing and has been rejected as anti-Semitic by the European Union, the German parliament, the British Labour Party and elsewhere.

Denying the right of Jews to a national homeland is anti-Semitism.

Beinart is not Anti-Semitic. His intentions are different, but his position assists the anti-Semitic campaign.

A one-state solution works when it is made up of two nations that share the same roots, religion, language, and culture. Even the same family. Jordan's population that includes a Palestinian majority is a case in point. You would be hard-pressed to find the differences among Jordanians. Not that Beinart has considered that option.

He is not motivated by concern for the Palestinians or their rights. He is following the herd of anti-Zionists that has overtaken progressive thinking and is based on an industry of lies.

Beinart's column is another small win for the Israeli far-right and some Palestinians, who oppose to a two-state solution. He is not promoting peace and reconciliation.

The far-right deals in action as they work to achieve this nightmarish vision of one great state now supported by Beinart's words and ideas as part of their own propaganda.
Proposed China-Iran deal is bad news for Israel
With Iran and China working on a multibillion-dollar 25-year economic and security deal, Israel has many reasons to be concerned and even alarmed.

The proposed agreement, leaked to The New York Times, which reported on it on Saturday, would lead to a closer military relationship between Tehran and Beijing, including joint military exercises, research and weapons development and intelligence sharing. It would also increase Chinese investments in Iranian banking, telecommunications and transportation, such as airports and railways. China would reportedly get a discounted supply of Iranian oil in return.

The document describes the countries as “two ancient Asian countries... with a similar outlook” that “will consider one another strategic partners.”

Neither side has publicly confirmed that the document is genuine, that they have signed it or that there is any such agreement. When asked about a deal with Iran last week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “China and Iran enjoy traditional friendship, and the two sides have been in communication on the development of bilateral relations. We stand ready to work with Iran to steadily advance practical cooperation.”

Meanwhile, there is public debate in Iran about whether the agreement could be a debt trap, with former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking out against it. The agreement has been in the works for a long time – Chinese leader Xi Jinping first proposed it on a visit to Tehran in 2016 – and the timing for the recent progress likely has to do with Iran being especially economically weak these days.

According to Carice Witte, executive director of SIGNAL, a think tank focused on China-Israel relations: “This is indicative of the Chinese approach, [to] identify where there is a vulnerability and then patiently look for ways to capitalize on it.”
Mideast experts, officials debate Israel’s sovereignty move and the need to ‘finally define borders’
Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, said the Trump Mideast peace plan distances itself from what he likes to call the “Everybody Knows Paradigm,” or “EKP.”

As Lerman explained, the EKP is focused “mainly on the territorial dimension: a full return to the 1967 armistice lines with minor swaps and a partition of Jerusalem, alongside some (symbolic?) concessions on the right of return.”

The EKP, however, does not reflect facts on the ground, and the paradigm has changed, according to Lerman. In addition, concerning attitudes towards Israel and sovereignty, he accused some Western European countries of assuming that “they represent the entire international community,” which, he pointed out, they do not, noting there are countries that do support the move.

The Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy at the IDC Herzliya hosted on July 7 an online symposium—“Annexation: Yes or No?”—featuring a number of panelists representing both sides of the argument.

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Fleur Hassan-Nahoum argued strongly in favor of Israel applying sovereignty, saying Israel must now “finally define its borders” and “tell its own narrative.”

She said that Israel must continue to expose Palestinian rejectionism and must no longer be “beholden” to whether the Palestinians do or do not feel like negotiating or accepting an agreement.

The Jewish state, she affirmed, “cannot have Palestinian rejectionism rule our fate.”

“Enough is enough,” she said. “We’ve waited enough. This is a historic window of opportunity to define our own borders, and we should move forward.”

Israeli research center finds 28 new Hezbollah missile launch sites
There are at least 28 missile launching sites belonging to Hezbollah in civilian areas in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, a report by ALMA Research and Education Center has found.

The report found that the never-before-published sites concentrated mainly in Hezbollah-dominated areas of Beirut are related to the launch, storage and production of the group’s Fateh 110/M600 medium-range missiles and are “the same as those subject to the Hezbollah missile precision-guided missile project (PGM’s).”

“The world must understand and know that these launch sites are located at the heart of residential and urban civil infrastructure,” Tal Beeri, Head of the Research department at ALMA Center, told The Jerusalem Post.

Israeli research center finds locations of 28 new Hezbollah missile launch sites in Beirut, Lebanon (Credit: ALMA RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER)Israeli research center finds locations of 28 new Hezbollah missile launch sites in Beirut, Lebanon (Credit: ALMA RESEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER)

Hezbollah, he said, is using the population of Beirut as human shields by “not hesitating to place their launch sites near public buildings, educational institutions, factories and more.”

According to the report, Hezbollah has an estimated 600 Fateh 110/M600 missiles which has a range of up to 300 km., while improved models called “D’ Al-Ficar” have a range of up to 700 km.

Though the sites shared by the report were in Beirut, the report also stated that many missile launch sites are concentrated in south Lebanon as well as the Bekaa Valley, both Hezbollah strongholds.

Number of active corona cases exceeds recovery rate
For the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit Israel, the number of active cases has surpassed the number of people who have recovered from it, the Health Ministry said Monday.

According to the National Coronavirus Information and Knowledge Center, 1,135 new patients were diagnosed over the past 24 hours, bringing the number of active cases to 19,600, compared to 19,267 recorded recoveries.

Since March, 38,670 COVID-19 cases and 362 deaths have been recorded. Some 1,120,592 tests for the virus have taken place, 19,189 of them on Sunday alone.

As the outbreak tightens its grip on Israel, nurses nationwide threatened to go on strike Monday, citing gross manpower shortages during pandemic.

Over 750 nurses have been quarantined over suspected exposure to the virus, while hospitals across the country are reopening coronavirus wards without adding nursing staff.

National Association of Nurses Chairwoman Ilana Cohen warned Monday that "the nurses are collapsing. It is simply no longer possible for us to continue [working]. What we need at the moment is manpower."

The organization declared a labor dispute last month, stating that heavy workload damaged nurses' ability to properly care for patients.

The nurses' step came against the backdrop of a warning by health officials that the mass protest held in Tel Aviv on Saturday against the government's economic policies amid the pandemic, could result in a spike in new COVID-19.
Eilat could become 'corona-free bubble' to attract tourists
Health Ministry Deputy Director General Professor Itamar Grotto visited Eilat over the weekend to look into how the city, a major destination for both incoming and domestic tourism, was faring and hear suggested from local tourism officials, Eilat city officials, and Tourism Ministry experts about possible suggestions for the city going ahead.

Proposals included testing tourists for coronavirus prior to their arrival; developing a smartphone app that would alert the city of unlawful gatherings and help contain the possibility of infection; and distributing hygiene kits to every tourist who arrives.

Another intriguing proposal put before Grotto entails turning Eilat into an "international tourism bubble." This would allow the city to open to international flights, unlike the rest of the country.

Deputy Director General of the Tourism Ministry Amir Halevy presented the idea to Grotto. The idea is to allow the mayor of Eilat to choose which countries' flights would be allowed to land in the city. At this stage, it seems as if arriving foreign tourists would have to provide proof of negative corona tests.

The Eilat Municipality called the proposal "interesting" and are calling on the authorities to set up a framework that would allow it to be implemented.

Eilat has one of the lowest tallies of coronavirus in Israel, although that could be attributed in part to the relatively low number of tests conducted in the city. Since the city's hotels reopened for business after the general closure, a few new cases were identified, but the city is almost corona-free, and wants to stay that way. This past weekend, 40,000 Israeli tourists arrived in the city, and according to estimates in the tourism sector, 250,000 Israelis have visited the city since the end of the closure.
Israeli-Palestinian Trade Remains Resilient Despite COVID-19

Report: Commander of Elite Hamas Navy Unit Defects to Israel With Documents From Gaza Terror Group
A senior Hamas official defected to Israel over the weekend, a leading Saudi media outlet reported on Sunday.

According to the report, Mohammed Omar Abu Ajwa, who commanded an elite unit of naval commandos, escaped by boat accompanied by his brother on Saturday.

The official had apparently been exposed as an Israeli spy and was helped by the Israelis to cross into Israel. He was said to have been carrying important Hamas documents with him. He had reportedly been cooperating with Israel since 2009.

Alternatively citing the Hamas Interior Ministry and Palestinian media sources, Al Arabiya said Hamas also arrested 16 of its own members accused of espionage on behalf of Israel.

Most of the arrested were from the group’s Al Qassam Brigades, which has committed numerous terror attacks against the Jewish state.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem vigorously rejected the report, claiming that it only served Israel’s interests.

“The Al-Arabiya channel is promoting rumors that serve the aims of the occupation in destabilizing the home front in Gaza,” Qassem said.

In 2016, another senior Hamas member, Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, allegedly defected to Israel. At the time he was said to have possessed a large amount of information about the terror group’s extensive tunnel network in the coastal enclave.
Palestinians appalled by assassination of ‘collaborator’ murderer
A former Palestinian activist from the Gaza Strip who hacked a man to death on suspicion of collaboration with Israel more than 30 years ago was assassinated on Sunday night, sparking public outcry and calls for the execution of the perpetrators.

Jaber al-Qeeq, a former member of the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), belonged to a cell that brutally murdered Subhi al-Sufi, a resident of the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, during the First Intifada, which erupted in late 1987.

The assassination came amid unconfirmed reports that Hamas has arrested a number of its members on suspicion of collaboration with Israel.

Qeeq was arrested by Israeli authorities and sentenced to a lengthy prison term for his role in the murder. He was released shortly after the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993. Although he belonged to the PFLP, Qeeq was recruited to the PA security forces in the Gaza Strip and was promoted to the rank of colonel.

Pope, UNESCO reject Turkey’s transformation of Hagia Sophia into mosque
Pope Francis and UNESCO are concerned by Turkey’s decision to restore Hagia Sophia’s status as a mosque after it had served for 76 years as a landmark museum that bore testament to Istanbul’s dual Christian and Islamic history.

“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I think of Santa Sophia. and I am very pained,” Pope Francis said during his weekly blessing Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) warned over the weekend that Turkey’s decision could impact the site’s status as a World Heritage Site.

The ancient structure was first built as a Byzantine church around 537 AD. It was converted to a mosque in 1453. The Ottomans built minarets alongside the vast domed structure, while inside they added panels bearing the Arabic names of God, the Prophet Mohammad and Muslim caliphs.

In an attempt to recognize the structure’s dual heritage and to make a statement about Turkey’s secular nature, former Turkish president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk turned it into a museum in 1934. The golden mosaics and Christian icons, obscured by the Ottomans, were uncovered again when Hagia Sophia became a museum.

The site was inscribed onto UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1985 under Historic Areas of Istanbul, along with other points of significance in the city.

“Hagia Sophia is an architectural masterpiece and a unique testimony to interactions between Europe and Asia over the centuries. Its status as a museum reflects the universal nature of its heritage, and makes it a powerful symbol for dialogue,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said over the weekend as she issued a rare political statement.

She spoke with Turkey’s ambassador to UNESCO about the matter on Friday night. Several letters on the matter have also been exchanged between UNESCO and Turkey.

UNESCO said it had not been informed about Ankara’s decision to close the museum and reopen the site as a mosque.
Iran will 'react decisively' if foreign gov. involved in Natanz explosion
A spokesperson for Iran's Foreign Ministry warned on Monday that Iran would "react decisively" if it is found that a regime or government was involved in the explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar news.

"If a regime or a government is involved in the Natanz incident, Iran will react decisively," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi.

The spokesman explained that experts from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and the Secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council had presented explanations on the incident.

“After summarizing, a full report will be presented in this regard and then, we will take the necessary actions in accordance with the findings that will be made after the investigation,” said Mousavi.

The spokesman additionally stressed that Iran would continue to cooperate with the IAEA.

A number of explosions have impacted Iran's infrastructure, industry and nuclear sites in recent weeks. It is unclear if there is any connection between the various incidents and Iran has referred to most of the incidents as accidents.
Honest Reporting: Guardian: “Bullying” By Israel and US Is Forcing Iran to Pursue Nuclear Weapon
Portraying Americans and Israelis as ‘Hardline’…

“A political clean sweep beckons for those in Iran who, like their hardline American and Israeli counterparts, prefer confrontation to common sense.”

This ties in with a common media misrepresentation of Benjamin Netanyahu as a warmonger. In reality, even staunch critics in Israel recognize the truth that, far from seeking “confrontation,” Netanyahu is a risk-averse leader who has repeatedly declined to go to war.

The extent of Tisdall’s willingness to attack the West is laid clear in the juxtaposition of two sentences: In one, he euphemistically refers to Iran’s funding and arming of militias across the Middle East as mere “harmful meddling in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.” In the next, he thunders that it “It is Trump, not the mullahs, who almost started a war by assassinating Revolutionary Guards general Qassem Suleimani in January – an extrajudicial killing the UN says was unlawful.”

… While Describing Iranian Leaders as ‘Moderate’
If Tisdall regards Israeli and American leaders as “hardliners,” then how should the leaders of repressive Iran, a theocratic country which regularly brutalizes its own population, be described? Surely something more extreme?

Not according to Tisdall.

As far as he’s concerned, President Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Javad Zarif are simply “pro-western reformists and moderates.” This is the same Rouhani who appointed Moustafa Pour-Mohammadi as Justice Minister. Pour-Mohammadi was dubbed “minister of murder” by Human Rights Watch, because he was responsible for Iran’s mass execution of political prisoners in the 1980s. This is the same Javad Sarif who in 2006 refused to acknowledge that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.

“Reformists” and “moderates” are, it seems, very relative terms. While the two may not be as extreme as others, they are far from truly pro-Western, and merely more diplomatic in promoting the Iranian drive to dominate the Middle East.
Quds Force spy captured in Germany, says intel agency
German federal police caught a suspected spy for Iran’s terrorist Quds Force in the State of Hesse, according to a review of the new Federal Intelligence Service report released by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s interior minister on Friday.

“In February 2019, the Federal Criminal Police Office carried out an executive measure against a person in Hesse who was suspected of deploying intelligence activities in the Federal Republic of Germany on behalf of the Quds Force. The investigation is ongoing,” the report said.

Germany has long been a hotbed of Iranian regime espionage activities, including dozens of attempts to procure illicit nuclear goods and technology for weapons of mass destruction since the Iran deal was reached in 2015.

Investigations initiated in 2017 by the attorney general against 10 suspected Quds Force agents affected by executive measures in January 2018 were ongoing, the Federal Intelligence Service report said.

The Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Turkey are the “key players in espionage and influence directed against Germany,” federal intelligence officers wrote.

“Spying and fighting opposition movements and actors at home and abroad continue to be the focus of the work of the Iranian intelligence services,” the report said. “In addition, the services in Western countries collect information from the areas of politics and the military as well as business and science.”

Houthis fire ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia said it intercepted ballistic missiles fired from Yemen overnight between Sunday and Monday. Four missiles and seven drones were launched by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, it said.

Riyadh had stopped the missiles, said the Saudi Arabian military spokesman for the Riyadh-led coalition that is fighting in Yemen.

Fars News in Iran, which receives information from the Houthi movement in Yemen, also reported the rocket firing. There had been sounds of explosions in Abha in Saudi Arabia, it said, adding that some of the drones or missiles made it to their target.

Saudi Arabia intercepted three drones over the city of Khamis Mushait that had targeted King Khalid Air Base, the Fars report said. These areas are about 100 km. from the border with Yemen.

The military of Yemen’s Houthi group said it attacked and hit a large oil facility in an industrial zone in the southern Saudi city of Jizan.

The Houthi rebels have been firing long-range ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabia for the last several years, increasing their range to hundreds of kilometers. They also use armed drones with Iranian technology to attack Saudi Arabia.
Hundreds of Saudi Writers Sign Letter Decrying ‘Behead Culture’ (satire)
In an effort to push back against an increasing intolerance towards political dissent in their country, more than 150 Saudi writers and intellectuals have signed an open letter denouncing “behead culture.”

The letter comes amidst a growing number of cases in which Saudis were beheaded for seemingly mundane offenses, such as mildly criticizing Sharia Law or citing evidence that mass executions are ineffective in winning support for a regime.

“The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength and have powerful allies in Donald Trump and other Western infidels,” the letter states. “But resistance to the West cannot harden into its own dogma, in which anyone who speaks out has their head lobbed off immediately without any chance to defend themselves.”

The letter has been met with a hostile backlash from Saudi activists.

“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BEHEAD CULTURE!” Kalil al-Blow, a columnist for The Mecca Times, said in a Tweet. “The racists who signed this letter are just upset that their words have consequences. They must all be held accountable for their actions. Specifically on Fridays. In public. After prayer. Behind the mosque.”

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