Wednesday, October 28, 2020

From Ian:

US to extend bilateral agreements with Israel into Judea and Samaria, Golan
The United States and Israel will eliminate territorial restrictions for bilateral agreements in a ceremony on Wednesday.

The move will build upon a policy shift made by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this past November, in which America no longer recognizes Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria as illegal under international law.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman are slated to participate in a signing ceremony at Ariel University in Samaria.

The agreement will immediately expand scientific and academic cooperation to include projects within Judea and Samaria, and the Golan Heights—disputed territories under Israeli control. The United States recognized Israel’s full sovereignty over the Golan Heights in March 2019.

Israel captured Judea and Samaria, in addition to the Golan, from Jordan and Syria, respectively, during the defensive Six-Day War in 1967.

Israel formally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. Judea and Samaria remain disputed territories and were divided into non-contiguous zones (“Area A,” “Area B” and “Area C”) of varying Israeli or Palestinian administrative and security control under the 1993 Oslo Accords

Friedman: US-Israel ‘righting old wrongs’ by extending W. Bank agreements
Extending agreements between the US and Israel to the West Bank, Golan and east Jerusalem bolsters the ties between the countries, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in a ceremony removing the only territorial limitations in agreements between Washington and Jerusalem on Wednesday.

“We are righting an old wrong and strengthening yet again the unbreakable bond between our two countries,” Friedman said at a signing ceremony with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ariel University in Samaria.

Netanyahu and Friedman signed new versions of three agreements on research cooperation, which erase a line that says "cooperative projects sponsored by the Foundation may not be conducted in geographic areas which came under the administration of the Government of Israel after June 5, 1967, and may not relate to subjects primarily pertinent to such areas.”

The first agreement, signed in 1972, was the Binational Science Foundation, followed in 1976 the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), and then the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) in 1977. All three had large endowments that provided grants to American and Israeli academics and companies for research and technology.

They also signed a new Science and Technology agreement, meant to increase government-to-government cooperation at the highest levels, which also does not have geographic restrictions.

Friedman said that BIRD, BARD and BSF, as originally written, “were subject to political limitations that did not serve the goals sought to be achieved.”
Trump: Up to 10 countries set for peace with Israel, ‘largely after’ elections
US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that there are up to 10 countries that he expects to soon normalize relations with Israel, but that the developments would largely happen after next week’s presidential elections.

Asked if there were more countries in the Middle East that would follow the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan who all recently opened diplomatic relations with Israel, Trump said there were more on the way, without specifying exactly how many or which countries they were.

“We have five, but really have probably nine or ten that are right in the mix, we’re going to have a lot, I think we’ll have all of them eventually,” he told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base before hitting the campaign trail.

“The beauty is there’s peace in the Middle East with no money and no blood,” he continued. “There’s no blood all over the sand. We have five definites and I think we’ll have another five pretty much definites. And all of them, the big ones, the smaller ones.”

Asked if agreements would come before or after the November 3 election, Trump said “largely after.”
Debate moderators ignored Trump’s ‘greatest achievement’: Bolt
Donald Trump came along and managed to “do the unthinkable” by brokering peace between the Israelis and the Arabs by simply bypassing the Palestinians, according to Sky News host Rowan Dean. President Donald Trump has recently brokered a third historic peace deal this time between Israel and Sudan, after previously negotiating deals between Israel and the UAE, and Bahrain. Mr Dean said bypassing Palestine to broker these deals is the “genius of Donald Trump”. "The Democrats have no solutions for the problems in the world,” he said. “You need people like Donald Trump who just cut through all the sort of red tape and get to the bottom of the nut of the problem and solve it.”

Trump is the best president for Israel’s security ever
Last week, two former Obama administration officials, Eric Lynn and Daniel Shapiro, took to the pages of The Miami Herald to claim that President Donald Trump’s policies have been harmful to Israel and indeed “endangered the Jewish State in many ways.” As Israelis and high-ranking retired military officers who have worked for decades on the nation’s security, we cannot think of a more baseless claim. Whatever one thinks of Trump, his record on Israel outshines not only that of his predecessor, but of all previous U.S. presidents.

Lynn and Shapiro’s piece relies on an extraordinarily selective history—not mentioning some of Trump’s most significant actions or former President Barack Obama’s most destructive ones. So let’s directly compare the record of the Trump administration with that of its predecessor.

Trump recognized the unified city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a historic shift whose magnitude can be appreciated from the fact that several prior presidents promised to do it, but none had the courage to follow through. Other countries are continuing to follow Trump’s lead, and thus Israel’s sovereignty over the Western Wall and Temple Mount is now more secure than ever.

Under the Obama administration, Vice President Joe Biden threw a much-publicized fit when Israel announced plans to build some apartments in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem (but across the magical “Green Line”). Our right to build anywhere in our capital must be respected.

Trump did what prior presidents did not even dream of and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, thus ensuring this strategically vital territory would not fall into the hands of Iranian proxies. Obama insisted that Israel accept negotiations based on the “1967 borders,” pushing a plan that would have put Israel’s security in United Nations and Arab hands and would deny Israel a defensible border—the Jordan Valley. Obama allowed the U.N. Security Council to pass its infamous Resolution 2334—opposed by almost every Democratic senator—that encourages a boycott against any Israeli presence in these territories.
Nikki Haley Recalls Trump’s Jerusalem Decision: ‘If Not Me Then Who? If Not Now Then When?’
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in a weekend speech in Pennsylvania portrayed President Trump as a leader willing to do what he believes to be the right thing and to keep his word, even in the face of opposing advice and decades of precedent, citing as an example his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital against the counsel of most of his national security team.

As presidents of both parties had done before him, Haley said in Reading, Trump had pledged to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Unlike them, he kept his word.

Haley said she was in the room when the Jerusalem decision was made, and of the dozen or so advisors in the discussion she was one of just three who supported the embassy move.

“So the majority of the people in his National Security Council told him not to do it, just like every president before,” she said. “And [while campaigning for the White House] he had done what every president had done before: He had promised the American people he was going to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”

“And in spite of everything, when they all said ‘the sky's going to fall, war will break out, people will die,’ he said, ‘If not me, then who? If not now, then when?’”

“And he made the call,” she recalled. “And the sky is still up there.”
100 times President Trump supported Israel
1. President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel
2. President Trump moved the American Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
3. President Trump closed the Jerusalem consulate and made it an Embassy branch
4. President Trump has never publicly criticized Israel
5. President Trump pulled America out of the Iran deal
6. President Trump raised military aid to Israel by $400 million
7. President Trump raised sanctions on Iran as soon as pulled out of the deal
8. President Trump recognized the sovereignty of Israel on the Golan Heights
9. President Trump designated IRGC (Iranian special forces) a foreign terrorist group
10. President Trump banned BDS head Omar Barghouti from America
Alan M. Dershowitz: The Future of Arab Normalization with Israel
Israel is a stabilizing influence in an unstable region of the world. It is a democracy, a military and technological innovator, an economically advanced country. It can assist its new allies in each of these areas, as it has already begun to do even in the short time since normalization began.

This may be their last opportunity to achieve a reasonable two state solution. Israel's Arab neighbors have demonstrated that the Palestinian cause is not as high on their agenda as it appeared to be in the past. These nations understand that the situation the Palestinians now find themselves in have been the result of self-inflicted wounds -- most importantly an unwillingness to take yes for an answer when the Israelis have offered them statehood.

Even now, the Palestinian leadership refuses to sit down and negotiate with Israel. They must understand that they will not get a state as the result of the boycott movement, protests on university campuses or meaningless resolutions of the United Nations. Recent developments make it clear that statehood for the Palestinians will come only through negotiations with Israel.
Arabs From Gulf States Rush to Learn the Hebrew Language
Maysoon Hameed comes home from work as a vice president at First Abu Dhabi Bank, spends time with her family — and then begins a 90-minute live Hebrew class online.

“After the UAE signed [the Abraham Accords] with Israel, there are a lot of investment opportunities” for both sides, said Hameed. “To make connections and build relations, you need something in common with the other party no matter where in the world they are. You have to find a common comfort zone.”

“If I have colleagues from Israel, we don’t have to speak English all the time, even though that is the international business language,” said Hameed. “We will feel closer speaking in a mother tongue.”

Hameed is one of nine Emirati students of Tel Aviv’s Citizen Café — six from Abu Dhabi and three from Dubai — plus four from Bahrain.

“We have always had ambassadors and diplomats from around the world, so we barely noticed a few businesspeople from the UAE before,” said Tamar Pross, who founded the Citizen Café Hebrew language and Israeli culture school in 2015.

“But when the peace agreement happened, an article in Israel about Emirati diplomat Omar Saif Ghobash mentioned that he’d been studying with us. Suddenly we noticed a huge amount of people contacting us. So we started to promote Citizen Café in the UAE and in Bahrain as well.”
Dave Sharma: Israel’s normalisation agreements with the UAE and Bahrain is a game changer for the region
Building ties between some of the most economically dynamic parts of the Middle East will provide big commercial and trade opportunities. Direct flights and access between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain will link Israel's technological prowess with the financial, logistics and investment hubs of the region, a win for both sides.

There will also be a strategic windfall for the region. Open diplomatic relations and exchanges between Israel and these two Gulf states, and onwards to the rest of the Gulf, will improve communication and allow increased coordination on security issues.

These new diplomatic channels will provide a vehicle to exchange assessments, coordinate positions, and if necessary address misunderstandings and de-escalate tensions. It is a vital piece of security infrastructure in a volatile region.

The White House and President Trump personally played an important role in helping broker this agreement, and deserve credit for this.

But the agreement itself speaks to a growing recognition amongst the Middle East’s major actors that they can no longer rely on Washington alone to keep the peace in the region.

Aware that the United States will no longer always be prepared to underwrite security in the Middle East, as the conflict in Syria has shown, the agreement demonstrates a greater degree of self reliance and strategic maturity.

Most significantly, these new agreements with Israel speak to a shift of mindset underway in the Middle East.

Rather than seeing Israel as a problem to be wished away, the UAE and Bahrain have recognised that Israel is here to stay, and have decided to make the most of this opportunity.

If the Palestinians could bring themselves to take a similarly enlightened and pragmatic approach, and drop the zero-sum attitudes, they might find that a similar peace with Israel is within their grasp.

Dave Sharma is the Federal Member for Wentworth and a former ambassador to Israel.

Shalom and welcome to Bahrain
As the excitement following the signing of the Abraham Accords continues to reverberate around the world, we are already seeing the underpinning of not just peace, but a warm peace between our two nations. One byproduct of this is the surge in interest from Israelis and the broader global Jewish community in coming to visit Bahrain, and we are looking forward to welcoming you.

Bahrain is known for its warmth and hospitality, our centers of art and culture and education institutions. One thing you will encounter throughout your stay is our commitment to interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence, a core principle that is important to His Majesty, King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.

For decades, His Majesty has personally backed a policy of interfaith engagement. Notably, Bahrain has been the only Gulf Arab state with a small, yet vibrant, Jewish community, which plays an integral role in the country’s social, economic, and political scenes. His Majesty has provided our community with a seat on the Shura Council so that our voice can be heard. He is proud of Manama’s synagogue — the first in a Gulf country — and his grandfather provided the land for the Jewish cemetery, currently the only one in the Gulf. For decades, our Jewish community has enjoyed a climate of religious freedom in Bahrain, where various religions and sects have coexisted for centuries, and where one can find a synagogue a few meters away from mosques and matams, the Hindu temple, and churches.

What some may not know is that the Jewish community of Bahrain dates back about 140 years to the late 1800s, when a group of Iraqi Jews arrived in search of economic opportunities and made their way to Bahrain. At its height in the 1920s and 1930s, the community had about 1,500 members. Today, we still have an active community, but it is considerably smaller. Our synagogue is under renovation, and is slated to open next year as both a synagogue for prayers and as a Jewish museum — the first of its kind in the Arabian Gulf.

Likud MK on Chance that Biden Is Elected: ‘We Survived Pharaoh, We’ll Survive This, Too’
Here’s a surefire way to start a good relationship with the new administration should Democratic candidate Joe Biden is elected next Tuesday: Likud MK Shlomo Karhi told Reshet Bet radio Wednesday morning about the possibility that the majority of US polls are proven right this time: “If Biden wins, we will know how to cooperate with the administration. Netanyahu and the State of Israel have cooperated with a democratic administration in the United States, we will know how to get along with this one as well. We survived the Pharaoh, we’ll survive this, too.”


Shortly afterward, when his unfortunate quip was picking up speed and popularity across the social networks, MK Karhi became busy trying to lock the barn doors with the horses galloping all over the hills out there, claiming he was misunderstood.

“The misinterpretation they give to ‘we survived Pharaoh we will also survive this’ is that the ‘this’ is a particularly problematic event reminiscent of Pharaoh … But it’s not. And I made that clear in the interview as well. Quite the opposite. It was an emphasis that ‘this’ is such a minor event that if we have passed Pharaoh we will pass it as well.”

Karhi was placed twenty-fifth on the Likud list for the April 2019 elections, the slot reserved for candidates from the Negev region. He was subsequently elected to the Knesset after Likud had won 36 seats. He serves as chairman of the Knesset subcommittee on Negev Affairs.
MEMRI: Concern In Saudi Arabia: A Biden Win Will Mean A Return Of Obama's Destructive Policy
'As the U.S. presidential election approaches, and in light of the polls indicating a lead for Democratic candidate Vice President Joe Biden, the Saudi press is publishing numerous articles about the election and each candidate's chance of winning. Most Saudi journalists hope for the reelection of the incumbent President Donald Trump, inter alia because of his aggressive position vis-à-vis Iran. Many of the writers expressed negative views regarding the era of President Obama, when Biden was vice president; they condemn that administration's policies, including the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran that Obama promoted and what they said was the Democrats' support for the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and warned that these policies could be revived under a Biden presidency.

In this spirit, on October 15, 2020, Saudi journalist Badr bin Sa'ud warned, in the Saudi Al-Riyadh daily, that a Biden victory would mean a replay of what he called Obama's highly flawed presidency. Harshly criticizing the latter, bin Saud stated that the Obama administration had made a pact with Qatar and with the MB, and had supported the "so-called Arab Spring," thus wreaking havoc and destruction in Arab countries. He also argued that Obama had allowed MB members to attain senior positions in his administration and to take part in setting U.S. policy against the Arab countries and in favor of their enemies Iran, Turkey, and Qatar. The MB's Machiavellianism, he added, and the Democratic Party's phony idealism join together in an alliance that serves both their interests.

Other articles in the Saudi press sought to allay concerns and downplay what they called the danger of a possible Biden win. For example, Saudi journalist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh wrote in his column in the Al-Jazirah daily that while a Trump victory is definitely in Saudi Arabia's interest, a Biden win would not necessarily be a catastrophe, because some think that Biden is more of a moderate than Obama was. A President Biden would not be able to disregard either the regional terrorist activity of Iran and its proxies such as Hizbullah or the consolidation of the European view opposing Erdogan's conduct, he said. Stressing that a President Biden would also not be able to ignore the fact that Saudi Arabia is an important and influential country with a strategic relationship with the U.S., he downplayed the significance of the current criticism of it and of other Arab countries in the U.S. media. He noted that this criticism was aimed more at President Trump than at the countries themselves, and stressed that such criticism is part and parcel of a populism that will dissipate after the election.
Caroline Glick: Why the uproar about selling F-35s to the UAE?
Netanyahu has long championed "peace from strength," whereas Israel's leftist military establishment signs onto the Left's "land for peace" motto. For a generation, the generals have insisted that Peace Now and the EU are right. The only way to achieve peace is by giving the PLO whatever it demands.

Retired generals Amos Gilad and Matan Vilnai are a case in point. The two men are among Netanyahu's most vocal critics. They argue that Israel would have been better off rejecting peace with the UAE to prevent the F-35 sale. Vilnai, a former Labor Minister who now heads the left-wing Commanders for Israel's Security, which supports an Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley, and Gilad, who was an aide to Netanyahu's most outspoken political enemy former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, insist their positions have nothing to do with politics.

The "apolitical" criticism of the F-35 deal emanating from the security establishment is strongly resonant of the same retired generals' violent opposition to Israel's recent purchase of upgraded submarines from Germany. For years the generals have insisted that a stench of corruption exudes from the sale and from Netanyahu's support for the deal specifically. But repeated criminal probes of the submarine deal have come up empty. And this makes sense.

The generals' opposition to the submarine sale isn't rooted in concern over corruption. It is rooted in the IDF's longstanding opposition to Netanyahu's strategic vision which seeks the upgrade of the navy to the level of a strategic force comparable to the air force. For the generals, the battlefields of the future will be little different from those of the past: They will be dominated by air and ground forces, while naval forces will play a mere supporting role. For decades they have fought Netanyahu's moves to upgrade the navy because they don't want to upgrade the navy. They oppose it not because it's a bad idea, per se. They oppose it because it isn't their idea.

From the time news broke of the peace deal with the UAE, the media and the generals have used the F-35 sales to oppose it. Every news broadcast includes some new "exclusive interview" with yet another retired general insisting that the F-35 deal is the greatest calamity to befall Israel, perhaps ever.

The F-35 deal may or may not be a blow to Israel's strategic capabilities. We'll have to wait to see what the US intends to do to offset the damage it does to Israel's strategic position. But what is absolutely clear is that to maintain its qualitative edge, Israel needs to keep its politicized, and strategically blind security establishment away from decision-making circles now and into the future.
Israel Craves Becoming Only Foreign Power Flying the F-22 in Exchange for US Arms Sale to UAE
According to senior Israeli officials, if the defense establishment had known that the US was in talks with Israel and the United Arab Emirates on normalization, they would have seized the opportunity and negotiated for the F-22 as an amendment of the old aid package which is due to end in 2028, or a new and improved deal.

Senior Israeli defense establishment believes that the purchase of the most advanced fighter jet in the world would be key to maintaining the IDF’s technological superiority in the region (it’s also the shiniest toy on the shelf, don’t knock the psychological effect of such a purchase – DI).

“Our qualitative advantage is diminishing in aircraft, mortars, armaments and air defense systems,” a senior security official said in a recent closed hearing, according to Haaretz. He added: “The rate of change in the Middle East is high, it is a different Middle East than it was in the previous decade, and many countries that are not in direct conflict with Israel are investing huge sums to build the most advanced air forces and air defense systems in the world.”

Can’t have that.

Like every state-of-the-art warplane, the F-22 has been plagued by accidents, starting in 2004, at least one of which ended with the pilot getting killed. The most recent one took place on May 15, when an F-22 from Eglin Air Force Base crashed during a routine training mission. The pilot ejected safely, and the aircraft crashed in a remote part of Eglin Air Force Base reservation.

The IAF has a reputation for taking over sensitive US warplanes and ridding them of the kinks.
Palestinians Press for International Peace Conference to Renew Talks With Israel
Top Palestinian diplomat Riad Malki on Monday called for an international peace conference as the only way to renew talks with Israel, AP reported.

According to the report, this comes on the heels of a similar call last month by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

During his speech, Abbas called for such an international conference to take place in early 2021, and for UN Secretary-General António Guterres to prepare for the event with the Quartet of Middle East mediators, made up of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft did not rule out the idea, but expressed doubt that it would be successful.

“We have no objection to meeting with international partners to discuss the issue. But I have to ask: How is this different than every other meeting convened on this issue over the past 60 years?” she reportedly posed.

Israel and Lebanon hold ‘heated’ 2nd round of maritime border talks
Israel and Lebanon concluded the first day of a second round of US- and UN-mediated maritime border talks on offshore energy exploration on Wednesday, which included discussions described by one Lebanese television station as “very heated.”

The talks were held at the headquarters of UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL in the Lebanese border town of Naqoura, guarded by army roadblocks and with UN helicopters circling above.

The Israeli delegation updated Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz on the details of the discussions and he instructed them to continue with the talks on Thursday, the Energy Ministry said in a statement.

Lebanese media described the talks as “serious” as the two sides got down to technicalities and the Lebanese delegation pushed for an additional 1430 square kilometers (550 square miles) to be included in Lebanese territory.

The Lebanese English-language Daily Star reported that the Lebanese side was adopting a “maximalist stance.”

It said Lebanon was pushing for the additional square kilometers to be included in Lebanese territory on top of the already disputed 860 square kilometer- (330 square mile-) area of the Mediterranean Sea which each side claims as being within their own exclusive economic zones.

The Al-Jadeed station called the talks serious and “very heated,” adding that the Lebanese delegation’s ceiling is the highest it has been and that there are “fundamental disputes on the starting point.”
Netanyahu to Hezbollah: 'Those who attack us will meet a steel fist'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the IDF "Lethal Arrow" exercise site in northern Israel on Wednesday and expressed his confidence in the military and its offensive capabilities, in light of recent tensions between the IDF and Hezbollah.

During his visit, Netanyahu received various briefings about the latest efforts being carried out by the IDF on Israel's northern fronts.

His visit was accommodated by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, head of the IDF Intelligence Directorate Maj.-Gen. Tamir Heyman and other IDF senior officers.

"Even during coronavirus, our enemies will not cease acting – and neither shall we," Netanyahu said during his visit.

"I'm impressed by this exercise and see great improvement in the IDF's offensive capabilities. Hezbollah and the State of Lebanon should take that into consideration," Netanyahu added. "Those who attack us will meet fire and a steel fist that will destroy any enemy."
Czech Republic classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization
The Czech parliament called on the government to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist group, in a resolution passed on Wednesday.

The Czech Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the parliament in Prague, voted 63-7 to adopt the motion calling the Lebanese Shi’ite group “an indivisible whole and a terrorist organization that significantly destabilizes the Middle East region and, through its global network, also threatens all democracies.”

The Czech Republic does not currently have its own list of terrorist organizations, and the legislature called to establish one and put Hezbollah on it.

The resolution added that the parliament “rejects the misleading division of this organization into military and political parts, as this organization acts as an internally interlinked structure.”

The Joint List's growing rift with the Arab street
Arab society in Israel, mostly its Muslims, is up in arms amid the growing protest waves washing over the Arab-Muslim world against France and French President Emmanuel Macron. "We will fight Islamic extremism," and "won't give up our right" to satire, Macron said in commemoration of French teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by an Islamist extremist earlier this month after showing his students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics class on freedom of expression.

The situation is particularly combustible because this week over one billion Muslims mark the birth of the symbol of Islam, the Prophet Mohammad. Across the Arab world, people are voicing their outrage, threatening to boycott French goods, and are demanding an apology for offending their religious sensibilities.

This outcry has spread to Israel in recent days. Arab municipalities declared public protests against the French president, whose photograph was pasted onto dumpsters, and published a list of French goods to boycott – although despite the heated tones, there's been little response to the boycott initiatives.

Clear and loud voices against the horrific murder – which does not and never will be a reflection of Islam – weren't prominent, regretfully, at the local demonstrations. More prevalent, instead, were conspiracy theories that the West is at war with Islam and the Palestinian people. On social media, it's easy to find baseless accusations against Macron, who is portrayed as the operative arm of global Zionism. Arab-Christian Israelis are also being targeted for failing to show solidarity with the Muslims and for not condemning the French president or his purported support for disrespecting Islam and religious sensibilities.

Underneath the top layer of these protests, however, which supposedly are an expression of anger and frustration over religious offenses, lies another layer: The Joint Arab List is also the focus of harsh criticism. Yes, some members of the faction have issued their own personal messages of condemnation, but the Joint List itself, as a political party, hasn't adopted any clear-cut stance against France or the debasement of religious symbols. (h/t Zvi)
Ex-IDF top doctor Nachman Ash named new coronavirus czar to replace Gamzu
A new coronavirus commissioner was appointed to replace Prof. Ronni Gamzu on Tuesday, the Health Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office announced. The selection of Prof. Nachman Ash comes ahead of an expected vote on Thursday about whether to open street shops, and as the infection rate declines.

Ash, 59, was the former chief of the IDF Medical Corps from 2007 to 2011, and was the head doctor for the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit. He is expected to start Wednesday and transition into his new role though November 13, when Gamzu will officially step down and return to his position as director-general of Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center.

Gamzu took the role in August and had committed to work for the country through November 1.

Ash is becoming commissioner at a time when the infection rate is on the decline, but is also expected to face challenges from the government and society, who will want to open up fast and risk an increase in morbidity.

During a briefing he gave from Ziv Medical Center in Safed on Tuesday, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein thanked Ash for “agreeing to take on this challenging role” and wished him success. He shared that Gamzu had agreed to stay on for a few days “to transfer the role in an orderly manner.”
Coronavirus: Only 2.1% test positive as schools prepare to resume
The number of new daily cases continues to decline, hitting the lowest percentage of positive test results since June on Tuesday.

There were 780 people diagnosed with coronavirus on Monday, the Health Ministry reported Tuesday - just 2.1% of the 36,605 people screened.

Of the sick, only 467 are in serious condition - also the lowest number in months. The death toll stands at 2,452.

The news of the decline comes against the backdrop of several decisions made Monday night by the coronavirus cabinet, including allowing first through fourth graders to return to school on Sunday. They will learn in small groups and wear masks.

The cabinet agreed to allow after-school programs to operate with students from up to three classes.
Iran vows to liberate Golan Heights from Israel
Iran’s judiciary chief, Ebrahim Raisi, told Syria’s ambassador to Iran that it supports the “resistance” to retake the Golan Heights from Israel.

The Syrian regime views the Golan as part of Syria, but the US recognized it as part of Israel. In the past week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Iran and its ally Hezbollah against entrenching near the Golan.

The meeting comes as Iran claims it has put its top air defenders on notice in northwest Iran that Iran will not allow any type of aggression. A visit by a major general to Tabriz showed that Iran was closely watching the developments in Azerbaijan, which is fighting Armenian forces in a disputed area.

Raisi, a key figure and former presidential candidate, was quoted in Tasnim News in Iran about his comments about Israel. He was meeting Ambassador Adnan Mahmoud. He praised Syria and said that Iran and Syria must work together to accelerate the “demise of the fake Israeli regime” using what is called a “resistance strategy.” This usually refers to using Hezbollah or other proxies. But Iran says it wants to see “active resistance” against Israel, perhaps setting the stage or hinting at new operations. Iran says all the “occupied” areas must be “liberated.”

The “resistance” is how Iran refers to its efforts against the US, Israel and “takfiri” militias, which means terrorist groups like al-Qaeda. Iran is also pushing new policies to threaten Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.
Palestinians slam US funding of science projects in 'illegal' settlements
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday denounced the decision to expand US funding of Israeli scientific cooperation to include research projects in the settlements as “a serious precedent that is condemned, rejected and could not be tolerated.”

The PA was reacting to a decision by the US administration to lift a ban that had prohibited US taxpayer funding for Israeli scientific research conducted in the settlements.

“This step indicates an active US complicity in the occupation of the Palestinian territories and a consolidation of [US President Donald] Trump’s administration of violating the international law and the United Nations resolutions which have condemned settlement activities in all their forms, most recently of which was [UN] Resolution 2334,” said Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the Palestinian presidency. “All settlements in the occupied territories are illegal, and any US action in this respect is illegal and constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Abu Rudaineh accused the Trump administration of attempting to “help Israel cement its occupation of the Palestinian territories” and said that “such policies would never give legitimacy to anyone as Israeli settlements are doomed.”
What The Forward Should Acknowledge About Saeb Erekat
Throughout his career, Erekat has denied the presence of the Jewish nation in the ancient land of Israel and has attempted to minimize the historic connection of the Jewish people to that land. His efforts to negate the connection are so warped that he even goes so far as to claim that a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount is a fabrication, and that the first-century rabbi known as Jesus was not Jewish, but Palestinian. Throughout his career, he has sought to deny reality precisely because he knows the past validates something he cannot accept — Israel’s claim to the land.

Erekat has been one of the loudest voices in the Palestinian leadership to express support for terrorists and payments to their families, and to justify terrorist attacks against Israelis as legitimate acts of resistance. He turned to the United Nations and other international agencies and forums not out of frustration, or to pursue peace or sovereignty, but because he found there a willing platform and receptive audience where he could voice Palestinian prevarications and denunciations of the State of Israel.

It would be informative to read not just what Rudoren learned from Erekat about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but what his seeking treatment in an Israeli hospital — and Israel’s willingness to treat him — teaches us about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We would learn about hypocrisy in the Palestinian leadership, the difference between what is said in Arabic and to Western reporters in English, and about the true nature of Israel.

Rudoren somewhat wistfully and almost romantically notes that the peace process has been Erekat’s life’s work. But had he not opposed and rejected all of Israel’s offers and proposals to resolve the conflict, he would have something to show for his life’s work.

Senior Hamas official: PLO won’t change, reconciliation ‘nearly impossible’
Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar expressed sharp skepticism that his group would reconcile with the rival Fatah movement in the near future in an interview Tuesday, in a public break with the friendly rhetoric that has dominated recent statements by both parties.

The firebrand deputy Gaza chief for the Hamas terror group told the Iranian Al-Alam TV that the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Liberation Organization had “tied their fate and their existence to the occupation.”

“If you’re asking whether the PLO will change its orientation, the answer is no. They’ve embarked upon this project, or it came upon them, and they won’t change. They can’t change. If they change, the Israeli occupation will finish them off,” al-Zahar said.

“Can this organization, which is dependent on Israel and external actors for financial support — can this organization do without such support?” al-Zahar asked rhetorically.

Senior officials in both Hamas and Fatah claimed in late September to have made major strides toward bridging the gaps between them. The two main Palestinian political parties have been at odds since a bloody struggle for control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, which led to Hamas expelling Fatah from the coastal enclave.
An Iran Lobby in America?
Political divisions in the United States may be widening on a broad range of political and policy concerns, but the country is still relatively united on at least one issue. Since the Islamic Republic of Iran’s revolutionary ascent in 1979, Americans of nearly all political stripes have viewed it as a hostile and threatening actor — and sometimes even an evil one. Of course, this sentiment has not always been expressed in policy; Obama White House Deputy national-security adviser Ben Rhodes famously bragged about the way he and his team manipulated the mainstream media and other “outside groups” who then “validated what [they] had given them to say” about the controversial Iran nuclear agreement.

Yet there is still an American consensus on what the Iranian regime was and is. A Gallup poll released March 3 found that no country is held in as much contempt by Americans as Iran. Among those polled, an astonishing 88 percent have a “very” or “mostly” unfavorable view of the country, a negative impression exceeding even that of Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian North Korea. A 2019 poll also reflected this consensus: 93 percent of Americans designated the Iranian regime’s development of nuclear weapons as a “critical” or “important” threat, and 90 percent placed Iran’s military power as a threat rising to those same categories of urgency. It is true that Americans have reasonable differences on what to do about the Iranian regime’s threatening militancy and sponsorship of terror. But it matters that they do not disagree on the present nature of the regime itself.

Thus one might think that the possibility of the Iranian regime’s having companionable spokesmen in American politics — or, even more outrageously, having a whole Washington, D.C.-based organization with a history of echoing the regime’s positions on the most crucial components of U.S.-Iranian relations — would rightfully concern most Americans. Yet that appears to be precisely what is taking place.

The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) was founded in 2002 by Trita Parsi, an Iranian-born dual citizen of Iran and Sweden, former employee at the Swedish mission to the United Nations, and a vocal champion of President Obama’s controversial Iran nuclear agreement. Parsi has consistently diminished the magnitude of the threat of the Iranian regime while simultaneously blaming most of the Middle East’s troubles on U.S. policies in the region.
See No Evil: Europe Supports Genocidal Regime in Iran
Swiss and German economic deals might be aiding Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program.... The Swiss firm Ceresola TLS reached an agreement [in 2010] with the Rahab Engineering Establishment in Iran to deliver tunneling technology as part of a subway project. This is precisely the type of heavy earth-moving equipment Iran's rulers need to burrow away nuclear facilities underground, as the regime did with the Qom and Natanz nuclear enrichment plants.

The German company Krempel delivered to two Iranian companies insulating pressboards that were incorporated into Iranian missiles armed with chemical warheads, which were used by the Syrian regime in a chlorine gas attack in January 2018. The attack resulted in 21 injuries, including six children.

The Association of Iranian Banks in Europe wrote in July: "45 percent of the EU exports to Iran came from Germany, which delivered goods worth 555 million Euro, with an increase of 31 percent compared to last year."

Europe's most powerful economic engine, Germany, and the rest of the EU have sadly opted to align themselves with the Islamic Republic of Iran on the pressing issues of Iran's nuclear program, and its stomach-turning human rights record.
Satellite photos show construction at Iran's Natanz nuclear site
Iran has begun construction at its Natanz nuclear facility, satellite images released Wednesday show, just as the UN's nuclear agency acknowledged Tehran is building an underground advanced centrifuge assembly plant after its last one exploded in a reported sabotage attack last summer.

The construction comes as the US nears Election Day in a campaign pitting US President Donald Trump, whose maximum pressure campaign against Iran has led Tehran to abandon all limits on its atomic program, and Joe Biden, who has expressed a willingness to return to the accord. The outcome of the vote likely will decide which approach America takes. Heightened tensions between Iran and the US nearly ignited a war at the start of the year.

Since August, Iran has built a new or regraded road to the south of Natanz toward what analysts believe is a former firing range for security forces at the enrichment facility, images from San Francisco-based Planet Labs show. A satellite image Monday shows the site cleared away with what appears to be construction equipment there.

Analysts from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies say they believe that site is undergoing excavation.

"That road also goes into the mountains so it may be the fact that they're digging some kind of structure that's going to be out in front and that there's going to be a tunnel in the mountains," said Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the institute who studies Iran's nuclear program. "Or maybe that they're just going to bury it there.'
Iran Begins Construction on Nuclear Enrichment Plant Underground

Beware of Iran's underground nuclear facility - analysis
Only in 2020 has Iran finally mastered IR-4 and IR-6 centrifuges, which can enrich uranium at much higher rates than the IR-1 and IR-2Ms, which have made up nearly all of its around 20,000 centrifuges for more than a decade.

Until July 2, there was concern that Iran could sneak out to a nuclear program by using advanced centrifuges, even in smaller numbers, to weaponize uranium so fast that the US, Israel and others would not be able to prevent it either diplomatically or militarily.

Even without the advanced centrifuges, the ayatollahs currently have enough low-enriched uranium for between two and three nuclear bombs, and they may be only three to four months away from a weapon, if they decided to try to start weaponizing that uranium with their older and slower centrifuges.

Iran advertised months ago that it would rebuild the destroyed Natanz facility.

Now those theoretical plans are moving forward and getting noticed.

While building the new facility will take time, especially underground, Israel, the US and others must already start to adjust to the possibility that in a year or a few years, the Islamic Republic may regain the ability to sneak out to a nuclear weapon – and that hitting the facility will have become much harder.

As with every aspect of the rivalry with Tehran, they adapt with the best, and they know how to modify tactics to reach long-term goals.

All eyes will need to be on this facility going forward.

JPost Editorial: Confront Erdogan
The US must confront Turkey’s increasing extremism under Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime. As the US election nears, it is essential that whoever wins the White House on November 3 will not appease the continual threats from Ankara, and instead, condemn its hosting of Hamas terrorists, its continued attempt to destabilize the Middle East, and its repeated threats against European allies.

On Sunday, Turkey’s regime launched another tirade against Europe, claiming that Muslims in Europe were being treated like Jews prior to the Second World War. Turkey’s president did not use the term “Holocaust” because Ankara has used the example of Jewish suffering throughout history in trying to portray Israel as a “Nazi” country while depicting Muslims as Jewish victims.

This ideology pushed by Ankara is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ingrained antisemitism that can be found in the Hamas covenant, which blends antisemitic conspiracies with modern-day terrorism. Invoking the Holocaust to condemn Israel and Europe, rather than commemorating Jewish victims, is part of the propaganda that Ankara pushes to whip up tensions.

Turkey has become increasingly hostile to Israel in recent months and Erdogan has vowed to “liberate al-Aqsa” and has issued statements saying “Jerusalem is ours.”
Erdogan: Countries attacking Islam want to relaunch Crusades
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Western countries attacking Islam want to "relaunch the Crusades" as a row flared between Turkey and France about cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. Erdogan said in a speech to lawmakers from his AK Party in parliament that standing against attacks on the Prophet Mohammad was "an issue of honor for us."

Earlier today, Turkey's Communications Directorate said that Turkey will take all legal and diplomatic steps needed in response to a caricature of Erdogan in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

Top Turkish officials condemned the caricature, calling it a "disgusting effort" to "spread its cultural racism and hatred." State media later reported that Turkish prosecutors had launched an investigation into Charlie Hebdo's executives.

"Our people should have no doubt that all necessary legal and diplomatic steps will be taken against the caricature in question. Our battle against these rude, ill-intentioned and insulting steps will continue until the end with reason but determination," the directorate said.
France is cracking down on radical Islam, with blessing of Jewish minority
As the French government rolls out a controversial plan that amounts to its most robust crackdown on religious activity in decades, it is enjoying broad support from at least one of the country’s faith communities: French Jews.

Jewish community leaders have applauded President Emmanuel Macron’s effort to counter what he calls “Islamist separatism” with a plan that would require children to attend state-recognized schools from the age of three, effectively barring the practice of Muslim home-schooling, and mandate an oath of allegiance to the state from religious associations.

The new plan would also increase oversight of foreign funding for mosques and end a program that allows the children of immigrants to receive subsidized lessons in their parents’ native language. While the new measures do not explicitly target French Muslims, which would be barred by the French constitution, Macron has made clear that they are aimed at “isolating radical Islam.”

“We need to reconquer all that the republic has ceded, and which has led part of our youth and citizens to be attracted to this radical Islam,” Macron said in an Oct. 2 speech near Paris.

“We will act starting today, with a lot of force and determination on the ground. It’s underway,” he said.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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