Tuesday, January 19, 2021

From Ian:

State Department Cuts Ties With Islamic Charity Over Anti-Semitism
The State Department has cut ties with Islamic Relief Worldwide, an international charity that the United States accuses of spreading anti-Semitism. The public accusations represent a wholesale shift in how the United States approaches a global charity that was, until recently, an official partner of the American government and raked in hundreds of thousands in taxpayer dollars.

The State Department is "conducting a full review of the organization and U.S. government funding" due to the "anti-Semitism exhibited repeatedly by IRW’s leadership," Ellie Cohanim, the deputy special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, told the Washington Free Beacon.

IRW boasts a budget of more than $100 million annually and has a registered nonprofit arm in the United States. The State Department’s public reproach of the charity means that it will no longer enjoy the legitimacy that comes with a close relationship with the American government or be able to cash in from this stamp of approval.

Anti-Semitism watchdogs have been sounding the alarm on IRW for years. IRW was an official State Department partner in the Obama administration and, for a time, in the Trump administration, despite evidence the group’s senior leadership engaged in persistent anti-Semitism, including social media posts from the organization's senior leaders praising Hamas leaders and calling Jews the "grandchildren of monkeys and pigs." Israel has designated IRW as a supporter of terrorism. The outgoing administration’s decision to publicly chastise the charity sets down a marker for the Biden White House as it assesses U.S. humanitarian priorities abroad. The next administration could restore ties with IRW, though it is unlikely given the current State Department’s rare elevation of anti-Semitism claims against the organization.

"Now that the State Department has issued this warning about the anti-Semitic Islamic Relief, it would be a very worrying step back if the incoming Biden administration, like Trump, rejected European concerns and started to fund this dangerous charitable franchise once more," said Sam Westrop, a Middle East researcher and director of Islamist Watch who has documented IRW’s promotion of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

Westrop described the Trump administration’s last-minute move as a severe blow for IRW, speculating the group stands to lose millions in funding from Western governments, the United Nations, and the European Union—all of which have contributed at least $100 million to the charity in the past decade.


Australian Government Probes UNRWA After Watchdog Report Reveals Antisemitic Educational Materials
The Australian Department of Foreign Trade and Affairs (DFAT) will investigate antisemitic and inflammatory educational materials used by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), after a report by an Israel-based watchdog organization, The Australian reported Monday.

“UNRWA has a fundamental obligation to remain unbiased and impartial while it delivers its humanitarian mandate,” a department spokesperson told the paper. “DFAT has reiterated to UNRWA the importance it places on non-discrimination, equality and neutrality in the education programs that UNRWA supports.”

Last week, the organization IMPACT-se, which monitors school curricula, released a report on racism, falsehoods, and incitements to violence in materials used by UNRWA.

Australia spent $8.39 million on UNWRA funding in 2020, the 19th-biggest contribution to the $921 million in total funds pledged to the organization. Last year the country reduced its aid allotted to the agency, following a similar move by the US in 2018.

“Instead of nurturing young Palestinians with the knowledge that they will need to lead satisfying and productive lives as citizens in a future Palestinian state, UNRWA is feeding their hearts and minds with the poison of racism and violent extremism,” said Peter Wertheim, CEO of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, to the Australian daily on Monday. “It is time for Australia to look for new, more constructive partners through which to channel its assistance.”


JPost Editorial: Gallant is right
The security fence and checkpoints on West Bank roads are not designed to perpetuate a regime where there is one superior and one inferior people, but rather to protect Israel from real-life terrorism. Anyone remotely acquainted with the Israeli-Arab conflict of the last century understands this.

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the human rights organization B’Tselem, doesn’t understand this – and in a dramatic announcement last week, his organization declared Israel an apartheid state.

“The territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is governed by a single regime that works to maintain Jewish supremacy,” the organization stated. “In recent years, the Israeli regime has grown increasingly explicit regarding its Jewish supremacist ideology.”

It is because of this view that Israelis largely yawn at B’Tselem’s pronouncements, believing them to be so far from the truth as to be irrelevant.

The Jerusalem Post, unlike the Hebrew media, was one of only a few media outlets in Israel – all of them English – that reported on B’Tselem’s outlandish declaration, believing that the public should know what this group, trumpeted abroad as Israel’s “leading human rights organization,” is saying.

We do not believe, however, that B’Tselem should be given a blank check to peddle this pernicious lie in the country’s schools. Therefore, we support Education Minister Yoav Gallant’s directive to keep groups calling Israel an apartheid state out of the schools, a decision breached Monday when El-Ad delivered a Zoom talk to Haifa’s Hebrew Reali School.

El-Ad has both a right to his viewpoint and to articulate it. The state must by no means prevent him from expressing his opinion, but it need not provide him a platform. Gallant is not saying that El-Ad can’t express his opinion, only that state-funded schools don’t need to give him a bullhorn and an audience.

While some may say this is undemocratic, we contend it is just good common sense.


Jonathan S. Tobin: Wendy Sherman and the art of failing upward
Albert Einstein didn’t say it. Neither did Benjamin Franklin. Whoever it was who was the first to observe that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity may not have been as smart as either of those two acclaimed geniuses, but they were nonetheless correct. Yet unfortunately no one seems to have informed either President-elect Joe Biden or Wendy Sherman about this.

Sherman, who was officially named as Biden’s choice to be Deputy Secretary of State over the weekend, is yet another familiar name among those slated to lead the new administration. Biden’s foreign-policy team is a veritable Obama era reunion party with virtually every leading figure having been part of the same group that led the nation from 2009 to 2017, including incoming Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sherman.

The new president has chosen people with whom he is already comfortable and who know the ropes. After four years of the circus that was the Trump administration, that sounds good to a lot of people. But while Americans will welcome calm and discretion from those in power, that is not necessarily the same thing as being smart or effective. And while experience is usually an asset in most facets of life, there are exceptions to that rule. When people continually fail at their jobs—and then not only don’t learn from their mistakes, but are so self-deluded that they believe they’ve been right all along—that’s where that line about insanity may prove relevant.

Sherman has already served at the State Department in a few different capacities. During the Clinton administration, she was an Assistant Secretary of State and then served as Counselor to Secretary Madeleine Albright. Under Obama, she was Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs, which made fourth in the pecking order at the department. Now, after spending the Trump years raking in cash working for Albright’s consulting group and enjoying a comfortable sinecure as a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, she’ll be the No. 2 at State.
Yishai Fleisher: After Trump, Israel's Claim To Truth Is Stronger
The Dream Team and the Grand Slam
All these lie-busting policies led to the Abraham Accords, the Trump administration's brokered détente between Israel and the Islamic states of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. This, in turn, debunked the myth that Israel had to cede land to the PLO before there could be any broader regional normalization with the Jewish state. Once the region understood that the U.S. was no longer playing both sides, but was instead simply standing up for what was right, there was an unprecedented regional realignment. As David Weinberg wrote in The Jerusalem Post, the Abraham Accords "will prove to be the [Trump] administration's ultimate foreign policy legacy."

Trump's commitment to a "reality-based" policy was evident in the staff he put together: from the faithful and dignified Vice President Mike Pence to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the business-minded power couple Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner—and the many more strongly pro-America and pro-Israel personnel who filled the ranks of the administration. And, of course, there was U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, hailed by Netanyahu for "correcting the diplomatic injustices that were created over the years in global diplomacy regarding Israel."

This dream team was driven to eradicate anti-Israel lies and end American support for recalcitrant forces. In the process, they set a new gold standard for American Middle East policy.

Trampling Trump to Undo His Policies
The far-reaching U.S. policy shift toward a strong Israel did not simply amount to "diplomatic gifts." Trump helped put Israel on the trajectory toward a true Middle East regional power and a global player—as opposed to an American client state—and the world began to accept this new understanding. Some countries began moving their embassies to Jerusalem, and many Arab countries moved toward peace. And it took a very unusual man, who had no allegiance to the old guard and the old lies, to break the mold.

However, the current atmosphere in the U.S. seeks to impeach President Trump, both in Congress and in the court of public opinion. Sadly, the magnitude of the administration's achievements are being drowned out, and the attacks on him now are meant to prepare the ground to undo all of his administration's transformative policies. And it is likely that the incoming Biden administration will return to the old pro-Iran, pro-UN, pro-Palestine playbook.

But just imagine what it would have looked like had a Hilary Clinton presidency followed two Obama terms: Israel would have been worn down from 12 years of badgering. Instead, post-Trump, Israel is facing the Biden era from a much stronger position. Indeed, it will forever be remembered that Trump and his team ushered in the era of a "reality-based," pro-Israel American Middle East policy. Israelis in the Holy Land and Israel-lovers in America both know it. And if Israel won't have a friend in the White House for the next four years, we can be thankful that President Trump gave Israel a great send-off—to be strong in the face of her many enemies and to break bread with new allies—and to be a beacon of truth amidst a world of lies.
Seven questions for Tony Blinken
Michael Koplow, policy director of Israel Policy Forum: “The Abraham Accords are an important and welcome development, but nearly every normalization accord that has been signed has come with a large price tag that the U.S. has paid, be it arms sales or American diplomatic moves in completely unrelated spheres. What is the Biden administration’s plan to strengthen and expand Israel’s integration in the region without having to make U.S. policy concessions as incentives on issues that have nothing to do with bilateral ties between Israel and Arab states?”

David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee: “What’s the strategy for re-entering talks with Iran, mindful of Iran’s persistently malign behavior? Will [the] Biden team honor the various U.S. pledges made in the Abraham Accords? Do you support [the] IHRA working definition of antisemitism?”

William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “The JCPOA focused solely on nuclear issues. However, Iran violates norms and values on arms proliferation, ballistic missiles, the global sponsorship of terrorism, and human rights abuses. Shouldn’t any new negotiations be comprehensive in scope in order to stop the regime’s harmful activities across multiple fronts?”
Arab League chief hoping Biden will reverse Trump's Middle East policies
The head of the Arab League expressed hope Monday that the Biden administration will change US President Donald Trump's policies and launch a political process supported by regional and international parties to achieve independence for the Palestinians.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary-general of the 22-member organization, told the UN Security Council that a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict "has been marginalized by the main mediator in the peace process," a reference to the United States.

"This encouraged the Israeli government to intensify its settlement activities and to threaten to take dangerous and destructive steps such as annexing occupied land," he said.

The Arab League chief addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a wide-ranging briefing on the crises and conflicts in the Middle East.

He also referred without name to Iran, saying that "some regional powers are interfering in the affairs of the Arab region" by adversely affecting "the security of international maritime navigation routes which are a lifeline for international trade," a reference to freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf.

"It has also become apparent that this interference perpetuates existing conflicts and further complicates them," he said, without directly citing Iran's support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, for Yemen's Houthi Shiite rebels and for Hamas.
Officials from 17 European nations met with Israel over settlements
In an unusual move, representatives of 17 European nations met with Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Europe Anna Azari on Tuesday to discuss their concerns about the settlements.

According to a tweet from the EU Embassy in Tel Aviv, the officials "reiterated their grave concern about announcements by regarding new settlement units in the occupied West Bank [and] called to permanently halt the tendering procedure for Givat Hamatos."

The move followed Israel's advancement Sunday of a plan for 792 settler homes. The international community is concerned that settlement building would harm any possible attempts by US-President elect Joe Biden to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations after he takes office on Wednesday.

A number of countries and entities have condemned the advancement of settlement plans.

"The expansion of settlements in the West Bank violates international law and risks irreparably undermining the viability of a just, sustainable two-state solution," Italy's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

"We therefore urge Israel to refrain from any unilateral action that" would undermine "ongoing efforts to restore confidence between the parties and jeopardize the resumption of direct negotiations," it stated.
EU urges Israel to halt plans to build new East Jerusalem neighborhood
The European Union expressed its “grave concern” on Tuesday over newly approved plans for hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements and urged Israel to permanently scrap plans to build a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Israel approved the construction of almost 800 housing units in West Bank settlements on Sunday, three days before the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden, as promised last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The move was condemned by European states and the United Nations.

In a meeting with the Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director-General for Europe Anna Azari, representatives of 17 European nations including the UK, Germany, and France on Tuesday condemned the West Bank approvals and also called for Israel to “permanently halt the tendering procedure for Givat HaMatos” in East Jerusalem.

A Jerusalem court last week halted the auction of 1,257 new units in the Givat HaMatos neighborhood after Palestinians submitted a petition claiming that the manner in which many of the units were being sold discriminated against them.

On Tuesday, however, the court lifted the order, allowing the tender process to proceed, according to the left-wing Ir Amim organization that submitted the petition.


MEMRI: The Gulf Reconciliation: A Resounding Qatari Victory, Or A Temporary Truce In The Gulf?
The summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), held on January 5, 2021 in the Saudi city of Al-Ula, announced a reconciliation among the Gulf countries and the start of a new era in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, known as the Arab Quartet, ended their economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar that lasted more than three years. Led by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the move to lift the boycott was mediated by Kuwait and followed heavy pressure from the outgoing Trump administration, especially from Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. To date, the understandings that led to the Gulf reconciliation have not been disclosed.

During the years of boycott, the Quartet presented Qatar with a list of 13 conditions for restoring the relations, inter alia that Qatar sever its relations with Iran, cease its support of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), close the Turkish military base in its territory, close the Al-Jazeera channel and stop funding terror organizations. Over time, the 13 demands were pared down to 6 general principles, which, like the 13 demands, were rejected by Qatar.

Statements by officials indicate that the Gulf states have reached a secret agreement as part of which the Quartet gave up its demands, replacing them with general principles for managing the relations between the countries, such as non-infringement on states' sovereignty, non-interference in their internal affairs and cooperation in fighting threats and terror. It was also agreed that the points of contention between Qatar and its neighbors would be discussed in future bilateral talks between Qatar and each of the relevant countries.

So far, the reconciliation appears to be an essentially bilateral move by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While Saudi Arabia signaled its determination to end the conflict with Qatar and expressed optimism about Gulf unity, its fellow Quartet members seemed dubious about the chances of achieving a full and successful reconciliation. The withdrawal of the demands posed to Qatar, and the deferment of talks on the points of contention to a future stage, constitute a victory for Qatar and prove that the boycott of it was ineffective. Qatar reconciled with its Gulf neighbors without submitting to any dictate and while maintaining its political sovereignty and independence, and did not even hesitate to stress that there has been no change in its controversial policies, such as its relations with Iran and Turkey, the conduct of Al-Jazeera, etc.

Also, while Saudi Arabia hopes that reconciliation will help to produce a united Gulf front, so as to meet future regional challenges, it may in fact have the opposite effect: the reconciliation may divide the Gulf even further, encourage independent tendencies and distance Saudi Arabia from its natural allies, such as the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
On last full day in office, Trump decorates Bahrain king for Israel deal
US President Donald Trump bestowed a rare award on King Hamad of Bahrain on Tuesday, acknowledging the Gulf state’s normalization of ties with Israel on his last full day in office.

Trump, who sees Arab recognition of Israel as a key overseas achievement of his presidency, conferred the same award on King Mohammed VI of Morocco last week for his move to restore ties.

Announcing his bestowal of the Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, on King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Trump also paid tribute to Bahrain’s hosting of a June 2019 conference on the economic dimensions of his controversial Middle East peace plan, which broke with decades of international consensus and was boycotted by the Palestinians.

“King Hamad has shown extraordinary courage and leadership through his support of the Vision for Peace and his decision to establish full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel,” the official Bahrain News Agency quoted Trump as saying.

“King Hamad has challenged old assumptions about the possibility for peace in the region, and in doing so, positively reshaped the landscape of the Middle East for generations,” Trump added.
Jerusalem deputy mayor dreams of int’l ’embassy district’ close to US legation
A deputy mayor of Jerusalem revealed Tuesday that she is pushing for the creation of an embassy district in the south of the city, anchored by the US Embassy, whose plans for two campuses were approved by the municipality’s planning and building committee last week.

“I’ve been talking to the mayor for two years about building an embassy district,” she told a Zoom press conference. “Its anchor would be the US Embassy on Hebron Road. This same area has a lot of space for building behind Hebron Road and for hotels that are already in the planning stages opposite the Jerusalem Promenade. It’s my intention to work toward an embassy district like any other capital city of the world [has].”

Breaking with decades of US policy, the outgoing Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moved its embassy there from Tel Aviv in 2018. It was one of a string of diplomatic gifts delivered by US President Donald Trump to Israel.

US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to take a more balanced approach toward Israel and the Palestinians, but he has said he does not plan on moving the embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Several countries, among them Honduras, Malawi, the Dominican Republic, Serbia and Kosovo, have stated their intention to open embassies in Jerusalem, but so far only two have — the US and Guatemala.

Last week, city planners greenlighted plans for a new, permanent US Embassy on the so-called Allenby compound bordered by Hebron Road in southern Jerusalem, as well as an extension to the existing 12,800 square meter (138,000 foot) temporary embassy on David Flusser Street in the Arnona neighborhood, a 20-minute walk away. Some Arnona residents are opposing the extension.


Israeli novel becomes first to be translated into Arabic in Morocco
The Israeli novel A Girl in a Blue Shirt, written by Prof. Gabriel Bensimhon, has become the first Hebrew book to be translated into Arabic in Morocco this month, and will soon be sold in Moroccan bookstores, in what can be considered as a noteworthy achievement.

The novel, published by Yediot Books in 2013, tells a love story between an immigrant boy from Morocco and an Israeli-born girl who is in love with a Holocaust survivor, against the background of the early years of the State of Israel and the big influx of immigrants from Morocco.

Born in Morocco, Bensimhon explained, "I grew up in the town of Sefrou in Morocco until I immigrated to Israel at the age of 10. As an academic, I have studied Moroccan culture extensively. There was always a warm corner in my heart for the rich and multi-faceted aspects that characterize the Moroccan culture.

"As a Moroccan Jew, I feel that I have come to realize a dream: The fact that my works are read in my hometown is a source of great personal pride."

"My play A Moroccan King, which was produced in the National Theatre Habima in Tel Aviv and won The Lieber Prize for the Jewish classical play by Tel Aviv University, is supposed to be produced by the National Theatre Mohammed V in Rabat," he said. "I hope that in the wake of the peace accords, novels and works by additional Israeli authors will be translated into Moroccan."


Israel starts vaccinating 40-year-olds, aims at 250,000 shots per day
Israelis over the age of 40 are now eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday, adding that it plans to expand the campaign to inoculate 250,000 people a day.

On Monday, the country hit a record, vaccinating 186,000 people over the course of 24 hours. Some 114,000 people were given a second dose and another 72,000 a first dose.

In total, 2.2 million Israelis have been inoculated, or 25% of the population, including 422,000 people who have had both doses, about 5%. Israel started its vaccination campaign on December 17. For the first few weeks, priority was given to medical staff, patients with preexisting conditions and people over the age of 60. But the Health Ministry has progressively expanded its criteria to include teachers and younger people. Over 76% of people over 60 and teachers have already received at least the first shot.

In the past month, the country has established itself as a vaccination powerhouse. In exchange for medical data, the government persuaded the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to drastically increase the supply of coronavirus vaccine doses from what they had originally agreed upon.

According to what was reported by Israeli media last week, Pfizer is set to provide between 400,000 and 700,000 doses every week.
Palestinian elections: Why now?
We can hardly assume Abbas has suddenly decided to trust Hamas. Nor does the Palestinian population appear overly eager or even interested in elections. Certainly, there is no ground-level pressure to hold them.

Abbas will celebrate his 86th birthday this year—not the age at which one embarks on a new political career or goes to elections. And generally speaking, in the Palestinian Authority as in other parts of the Arab world, leaders aren’t chosen in elections in any case, but are rather decided upon behind the scenes—and sometimes after violent, bloody power struggles. Elections are just for appearances, to lend legitimacy to leaders who have in fact already won power.

It’s possible the election announcement was intended for the ears of the new tenant in the White House, with the aim of ushering in a new era of relations between the Palestinians and Washington. Indeed, Biden’s administration will likely be more receptive than its predecessor to a well-rehearsed pretense of democracy.

Either way, these declared elections in the Palestinian Authority pose a dilemma for Israel. In 2006, under pressure from the friendly U.S. administration of President George W. Bush, Israel allowed Hamas to run, despite the terrorist organization’s refusal to recognize the Oslo Accords. The results are history, and Israel cannot afford to fall into the same trap or succumb to similar pressure.

At any rate, it’s doubtful they will be held. But even if the Palestinians do head to voting stations, at the very most these elections might change some of the faces we have grown accustomed to, though they certainly won’t bring about any real change on the ground.
Reign of Terror: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The PFLP’s Links with ‘Human Rights’ Organizations
In his 1967 founding statement, George Habash called for a “total boycott of all economic, civil and political institutions of the enemy [Israel] and a rejection of all ties.” Indeed, Habash viewed isolating Israel by means of an international propaganda campaign as a parallel strategy to terrorism that could ultimately contribute to the country’s demise.

The PFLP is therefore closely involved in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. PFLP operatives are employed as staff by or serve as board members at several NGOs that promote BDS. In other cases, the NGOs themselves were founded by the PFLP.

The Rina Shnerb killing highlights the connection between the PFLP and various so-called human rights organizations. Two employees of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), purportedly an organization that supports Palestinian farmers, admitted to plotting and executing the attack.

Although a 1993 USAID-authorized audit already described the UAWC as the “PFLP’s agricultural organization,” several European countries have continued supporting the group. The Dutch government, one of UAWC’s primary donors, in 2020 admitted to paying part of the salaries of the terrorists that murdered Shnerb. The Netherlands subsequently suspended funding to UAWC pending an investigation.

NGO Monitor has published reports detailing many more NGOs with ties to the PFLP, most of them supported by European governments.
PMW: PA to children: Israel's entire coast is really “Palestine,” “under occupation since 1948”
The Palestinian Authority instructs Palestinian children never to acknowledge Israel's ‎right to exist. In a recent TV program, children were taught that Israel's entire coast is ‎part of “Palestine” and its “gateway to the world.” Israeli ports Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, ‎Ashdod, and Ashkelon were listed as part of the “Palestinian coastal plain” that has ‎been “under Israeli occupation since 1948”: ‎

Official PA TV host: “The Palestinian coastal plain (i.e., Israeli coastal plain) is ‎Palestine’s face towards the Mediterranean Sea and the Arab world, and a ‎cultural junction between the East and West. It constitutes Palestine’s gateway ‎to the world. The Palestinian coast stretches from Mount Carmel in the north ‎‎(i.e., in Israel) to Rafah that is on the border with Egypt in the south. It is between ‎the Palestinian mountain ranges in the east and the Mediterranean Sea in the ‎west. There are many ports on it such as the ports of Haifa, Acre, Jaffa, Ashdod, ‎Ashkelon (i.e., all in Israel), and Gaza… Many nations have arrived there ‎throughout the generations out of a desire to exploit its location. The Palestinian ‎coastal plain has been under Israeli occupation since 1948.”‎
[Official PA TV, Farhan and Friends, Jan. 10, 2021]‎


This has always been the PA’s message to its people. Palestinian Media Watch ‎exposed a similar broadcast focusing on Israel's coast, which official PA TV ran ‎numerous times over five years:


PreOccupiedTerritory: Hamas Commander Not Sure About Wife’s ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ Kitchen Décor (Satire)
The leader of an Islamist militant unit focused on confronting the Zionist menace by means of attack tunnels and hidden booby traps expressed misgivings today about his spouse’s choice of wall art to festoon the space between their refrigerator and cooktop, a three-word admonition that she considers inspirational and he deems insipid.

Muhammad Bakri, 34, who holds a rank more or less equivalent to major in the Izzadin Al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas, voiced his displeasure Tuesday morning at his wife Basma’s decision to put up a “Live, Love, Laugh” sign in the kitchen of their apartment in the Suja’iyyah neighborhood of this Mediterranean city. Bakri stated that he cannot fathom the superficiality behind such an interior decoration move, especially in the face of compelling alternatives such as Koran verses or Hadith teachings extolling martyrdom, portraits of leaders and fighters slain by Israel, or images of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

“It’s the inanity that gets to me,” lamented the father of six and munitions expert. “Woman, I know the kitchen is your space and all, but what in Allah’s name are you thinking? You’re not some Karen in the American suburbs who wants to speak to the manager; you’re the wife of a warrior for Islam, of a man whose noble pursuits will someday see him march in triumph over the corpses of the Jews on his way to liberate Al-Aqsa, or become a glorious shaheed in the attempt. Embody that.”
Nuclear Extortion: Mullahs Want More Concessions from Biden
Iran... rejoined the global financial system with full legitimacy -- plus billions of dollars flowing into the treasury of the IRGC and its expanding militias across the Middle East. You would think, then, that the regime would be delighted to return to the same nuclear deal, right? Wrong. The mullahs want an even sweeter deal.

Biden already showed his cards by stating that he wants the deal. The regime now knows that Biden seems desperate for a deal, and doubtless sees this as a delectable weakness.

The ruling mullahs also most likely assume that they can extort even more concessions from a Democrat administration, particularly Biden's, because they successfully did so in the past....

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif... told a forum... that he wants a new deal. "A sign of good faith is not to try to renegotiate what has already been negotiated," he said, adding in the same speech that the US must "Compensate us for our losses." Iran's top judicial body had already demanded that the US pay $130 billion in "damages."

The regime, in addition, is playing another dangerous game, as it did with the Obama administration, to program to extort greater concessions from the Biden administration: It is ratcheting up nuclear threats.
HR CEO on i24News: Fate of Iran Nuclear Deal Under Incoming US Administration
HonestReporting CEO Daniel Pomerantz was invited to discuss on i24News the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal forged between Iran and world powers, amid reports that the incoming Biden administration has already started holding talks with Tehran on the United States’ possible return to the accord from which President Donald Trump withdrew Washington some 18 months ago. It comes on the backdrop of an apparent effort by Israel to induce US officials to negotiate fresh limitations on the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program, as well as to address the mullahs' support for terrorism around the world. Late last week, it was reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was preparing for a first round of formal talks on the matter with members of President-elect Joe Biden's team.


Violating the nuke deal, Iran shows it wants to talk to Biden
Regardless of the intended use of the uranium metal project, there is no question that Tehran is violating the JCPOA. The timing has to do with the change of administration in the United States, according to Rosenberg.

“They want to put Biden under pressure, and to give him as many excuses as possible to go back into the agreement quickly,” said Rosenberg. “The more they push away from the treaty, the more it will make sense for the French and the Russians and the Germans to push Biden to go back before it’s too late.”

Calling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018, reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran.

Since the Trump administration left the deal, Iran has been slowly breaching its terms. Tehran has since exceeded limits on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles, enriched uranium beyond the permitted 3.67%, and conducted prohibited R&D activities.

US President-elect Joe Biden has promised to re-enter the JCPOA. “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal,” wrote then-candidate Biden in September, “the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.”

On Saturday, Biden announced that the lead US negotiator for the 2015 nuclear deal, Wendy Sherman, would serve as his deputy secretary of state.

Raz Zimmt, Iran specialist at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, also sees the Iranian moves as an attempt to pressure the Biden administration to move forward quickly in talks with Iran on ending sanctions and re-entering the JCPOA.

“The Iranians are trying to gain as much leverage as possible in advance of what appears to be a return to negotiations,” said Zimmt.
Biden ‘long way’ from rejoining Iran nuke deal, incoming intel chief says
Nominee for US director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines said that the US is “a long ways” from rejoining the Iran nuclear deal during her confirmation hearing before the US Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

Haines was responding to a question from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) about President-elect Joe Biden’s commitment to rejoin the 2015 agreement if the Islamic Republic returns to compliance with its nuclear limitations.

“The president-elect has indicated if Iran comes back into compliance,” he would rejoin the deal, but that things are “a long ways from that.” She added that, “the president-elect has also indicated in doing so,” he would “have to look at the ballistic missiles you’ve identified and destabilizing activities Iran engages in.”

Haines said she would provide the committee with a full review of Iran’s nuclear activities, even those that might conflict with the incoming Biden administration’s stated goal of rejoining the nuclear deal.
Trouble at home may change Biden’s hand in Iran nuke talks
Sanctions by Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the accord in 2018, mean that Iran’s leaders are under heavier economic and political pressure at home, just as Biden is. The United States’ European allies will be eager to help Biden wrack up a win on the new Iran talks if possible, Nasr said. Even among many non-U.S. allies, “they don’t want the return of Trump or Trumpism.”

Biden served as Obama’s main promoter of the 2015 accord with lawmakers once the deal was brokered. He talked for hours to skeptics in Congress and at a Jewish community center in Florida. Then, Biden hammered home Obama’s pledge that America ultimately would do everything in its power to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons, if diplomacy failed.

Besides tapping Sherman for his administration, Biden has called back William Burns, who led secret early talks with Iran in Oman, as his CIA director. He’s selected Iran negotiators Anthony Blinken and Jake Sullivan as his intended secretary of state and national security adviser respectively, among other 2015 Iran players.

It’s not yet clear if Biden will employ Sherman as his principal diplomatic manager with Iran, or someone else, or whether he will designate a main Iran envoy. Sherman has also been instrumental in U.S. negotiations with North Korea.

The Obama’s administration’s implicit threat of military action against Iran if it kept moving toward a weapons-capable nuclear program could look less convincing than it did five years ago, given the U.S. domestic crises.

A new Middle East conflict would only make it harder for Biden to find the time and money to deal with pressing problems, including his planned $2 trillion effort to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions.

“If war with Iran became inevitable it would upend everything else he’s trying to do with his presidency,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an expert on Iran and U.S. Middle East policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Biden and his team are very mindful of this. Their priorities are domestic.”


Iran, Turkey block rivals from joining UN disarmament talks
Talks aimed at overcoming a years-long deadlock over disarmament at the United Nations began in acrimony on Tuesday with two countries blocking rivals from taking part in widely criticized maneuvers that sparked concern about the forum’s future.

Iran blocked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from joining as observers, lashing out at the former’s military record, while Turkey blocked Cyprus in a trend that marks a significant departure from normal UN protocol and might set a precedent for other bodies that operate on a consensus basis.

Iran‘s delegate said that Saudi Arabia had used the forum as a platform for a “distraction and disinformation campaign” and called Riyadh “the largest military offender in the region”.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a close ally, intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 to fight the Iran-backed Houthi movement, while Turkey and Cyprus have long been at odds over the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the island’s north.

Saudi Arabia’s mission in Geneva did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cyprus expressed “deep regret” at Turkey’s decision.
Citing debt, UN strips Iran of voting rights
Seven countries including Iran have lost their right to vote in the UN General Assembly because of upaid dues, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement on Monday.

Along with the Islamic republic, the UN stripped Niger, Libya, the Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe of their voting rights.

Guterres had informed Turkish Ambassador Volkan Bozkir, the current president of the General Assembly, of the decision.

The UN Charter calls for such a voting rights suspension for countries whose arrears equal or surpass the amount of the contributions due from them to UN coffers in the previous two years.

According to information released by Guterres' office, Iran needs to pay $16.2 million to regain its voting rights at the UN.







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