Monday, February 08, 2021

From Ian:

Only an Israel victory over Palestinian Lawfare will stop the ICC process
Israel should see this as just another front in the over-100-year war against Jewish sovereignty in its ancestral and indigenous homeland, and respond accordingly.

It should use all of its tools available to defeat the Palestinian Arabs on this and every front.

The Palestinians have taken off their gloves, if they ever even had them on. Israel should do likewise.

Bringing Israel or Israelis into the international dock is more than a declaration of war, it is an aim to defeat Israel by other means. It is an attack on those who protect us. Its chilling aim is to weaken our defenses and make every Israeli more vulnerable.

We can not sit idly by, merely condemning and talking about hypocrisy.

We must act, and act now.

We must break the Palestinian Authority leaders’ will to continue this process. They can stop it at any time, and they should be pressured intensely and ruthlessly to do so.

Only overwhelming strength will win the day on this battlefield that the Palestinians have chosen for us and achieve an Israel victory.

The ball is now in the court of Israel’s decision-makers. Harshly worded press releases and empty threats will not protect our soldiers.

Only an Israel victory will.


Eugene Kontorovich: The ICC's unique approach to Israel

US rejoins UN Human Rights Council, reversing Trump's withdrawal
The Biden administration has reestablished ties with the United Nations Human Rights Council three years after former United States president Donald Trump exited the contentious body over its anti-Israel bias.

“The United States will engage with the Council as an observer,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement he issued Monday. When the Trump administration left the UNHRC, it had been one of 47-member states with that held three years terms on the council, which gave it voting power.

It not only gave up its seat, but severed all ties and refused to publicly engage in meetings.

Blinken clarified that the US is now reestablishing those ties, but in an observer capacity, and not as a member state, a move that can happen only when annual elections are held by the UN General Assembly.

The US “will have the opportunity to speak in the Council, participate in negotiations, and partner with others to introduce resolutions,” Blinken said.

“It is our view that the best way to improve the Council is to engage with it and its members in a principled fashion,” he added.

“We strongly believe that when the US engages constructively with the Council, in concert with our allies and friends positive change is within reach,” Blinken said.

“We recognize that the Human Rights Council is a flawed body, in need of reform to its agenda, membership, and focus, including its disproportionate focus on Israel,” Blinken said.

“However, our withdrawal in June 2018 did nothing to encourage meaningful change, but instead created a vacuum of US leadership, which countries with authoritarian agendas have used to their advantage,” he added.
US pendulum swings back into the UN Human Rights Council - analysis
Ever since the United Nations Human Rights Council was established 15 years ago, the American position on it has swung back and forth like a pendulum, staying out, joining, leaving, and now rejoining.

The problems at the UNHRC run deep. UN Watch, an NGO promoting UN reforms and transparency, has a database that shows just how badly the UNHRC has failed to do its stated job.

The UNHRC’s Executive Board is currently made up mostly of non-democratic countries, including notorious human rights violators like Venezuela and Pakistan, among others. At the UNHRC dictatorships are allowed to take leading positions.

Israel remains the only country about which the UNHRC has a permanent agenda item. Since the council was established, it condemned Israel 90 times, Syria 35 times, North Korea 13 times, Iran 10 times and Venezuela twice. Among the countries that have never been condemned by the UNHRC are China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

The UNHRC has held eight special sessions on Israel, as opposed to one on Libya, two on Myanmar and five on Syria, and has had eight commissions of inquiry on Israel, as opposed to one on North Korea and two each on Libya, Myanmar and Syria.

And the number of inquiries and special sessions is not the only issue; it’s their content. The UN’s expert on “Palestine” is only supposed to investigate Israel’s supposed violations, and not the Palestinian Authority and Hamas abuses of Palestinians and Israelis.

Every US administration since the UNHRC’s establishment in 2006 has admitted that it is a deeply problematic institution. The question is, in what way should the US use its considerable influence and budget in relation to the Council.


IDF Appoints Commander to Coordinate Battle Against ICC
As a result of the decision on Friday by the International Criminal Court at The Hague that a Palestinian state exists in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem, where it has jurisdiction to investigate Israel for “war crimes,” the Israel Defense Forces has appointed an officer to coordinate all aspects of the legal battle.

The Israeli military’s “ICC czar” is Maj. Gen. Itai Veruv, who is currently in charge of the IDF’s Military Colleges and oversees all of the army’s operational investigations. He is serving as head of a team that includes an expert in international law, but the army would prefer not to be on the front line of Israel’s struggle against the ICC decision.

After the ICC announced its decision, Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the IDF began evaluating various possibilities for responses. As of Sunday evening, none of the IDF attachés abroad or other representatives of the IDF had been briefed about if and how the decision would affect them, or about what their messages should be if they were asked about the matter.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Justice Ministry is also making preparation to tackle the ICC’s decision to allow its chief prosecutor to open criminal investigations against the IDF.

The Justice Ministry said that the ICC decision pertained to the court’s authority and that the ICC prosecutors had a long way to go before they could decide to launch any specific investigation.

“As far as we are concerned, the decision is legally flawed at its foundation, oversteps the court’s mandate and is destructive to it. The decision endangers a rare opportunity in the region due to the Abraham Accords and security coordination with the Palestinians, and rather than bringing both sides closer, it polarizes them,” Israeli officials said.
Israel Rejects the ICC Decision regarding Its Jurisdiction on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Israel rejects the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on jurisdiction in the Palestinian case. Israel is not a Party to the ICC and has not consented to its jurisdiction.

Only sovereign States can delegate jurisdiction to the Court, and there is not, nor has there ever been, a Palestinian state.

The Court in The Hague was established to confront mass atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity; not to pursue democratic states with independent and effective legal systems.

By this decision, the Court has violated its mandate and allowed itself to be dragged into a political conflict, making misguided determinations on issues over which it has no authority, and which the parties themselves have agreed must be resolved by direct negotiations. With this decision, the Court has contributed to the polarization between the parties, distancing them further from the very dialogue that is so necessary to resolve the conflict between them.

This unwarranted intervention by a foreign court effectively rewards the Palestinian refusal to return to negotiations, plays into the hands of extremists, and turns the Court into a tool of anti-Israel propaganda.
Israeli Minister Michael Biton Blasts ICC Clearing Way for Israel, Hamas War Crime Probes

ICC War Crimes Probe of Israel: New Form of 'Anti-Israelism' ?

Former ICC chief prosecutor: Investigation into Israel could take 18 months
Luis Moreno Ocampo is an Argentine lawyer who served as the first chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2012. In an interview with Israel Hayom, Ocampo responds to The Hague's decision to lay the foundation for a war crimes investigation into Israel.

"This is a conflict from 2009, and I worked on it for three years," Ocampo, 68, told Israel Hayom. "In my time, Palestine wasn't given the status of a state, but now the situation is different," he noted.

"When I was prosecutor, Palestine tried to enter the International Criminal Court, and we debated the problem for three years." He said the decision was made not to address the issue "because at the time, it wasn't a state. In Oct. 2012, the [UN] General Assembly decided was an observer state and a UN member, and in 2015, the Assembly [of States Parties] agreed that Palestine was a member-state."

From that moment on, Ocampo said, "According to the ICC, Palestine is a state. It wasn't decided by judges but by the states because it's not a political issue."

Ocampo was succeeded in his role by incumbent Fatou Bensouda. It was Ocampo's assessment Bensouda "will now investigate the allegations of crimes, even of those earlier on." He said, "The investigation will continue for a year and half, so that there is a year to take advantage of this conflict and turn it into something positive.


Fatah Member & Israeli MK Debate ICC Jurisdiction, War Crimes Probe in Israel

U.S. State Department: U.S. Opposes International Criminal Court Attempts to Affirm Territorial Jurisdiction over the Palestinian Situation
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Friday: "The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision claiming jurisdiction in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza....As we made clear when the Palestinians purported to join the Rome Statute in 2015, we do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and therefore are not qualified to obtain membership as a state, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC."

"We have serious concerns about the ICC's attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel. The United States has always taken the position that the court's jurisdiction should be reserved for countries that consent to it, or that are referred by the UN Security Council."
Government of Canada: Canada Does Not Recognize a Palestinian State or Its Accession to the International Criminal Court
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau said Sunday: "The creation of a Palestinian state can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. Until such negotiations succeed, Canada's longstanding position remains that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize its accession to international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court."
Jewish Leaders Denounce ICC Ruling
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said on Saturday night: "We reject the unjustified assertion of jurisdiction by judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in cases brought by the Palestinian Authority. This politically and ideologically motivated attempt by the ICC to impose itself into matters that are well beyond its mandate violates its purpose, distorts international law, and undermines its own legitimacy as an unbiased judicial forum."

"The Palestinian Authority has further obstructed the path to peace by continuing to flout the agreed upon basis for negotiations. In appealing to the ICC, Palestinian leaders are attempting to dictate a political end through judicial means and thereby avoid negotiations."


JCPA: The Strategic Construction Plans in Jerusalem: Will the Biden Administration Weigh In?
The question of the construction of two new Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem – Givat Hamatos, in the south of the city, and Atarot, in the north – both beyond the Green Line in “east Jerusalem” – is now on the table as part of contacts with the new administration in Washington, D.C., and as part of internal Israeli political jockeying, ahead of the 24th Knesset elections.

In south Jerusalem, not far from the Talpiot industrial zone and the Beit Safafa neighborhood, the Israel Land Authority recently awarded tenders to contractors to build the first 1,200 housing units in the area of Givat Hamatos.

For many years, the land was a caravan site for Ethiopian immigrants and the homeless. On the eve of the 23rd Knesset elections in March 2020, Netanyahu announced his intention to implement construction plans there. These plans were approved in planning committees as early as 2014. Last November, despite a demonstration organized by the European Union, tenders for construction on Givat Hamatos were published. Israel had already made it clear that, unlike in the past, it did not intend to retract the publication of the tender, although it was known that the publication would take place a week before Biden’s presidential inauguration.

After the tenders’ results were published, some 12 hours before President Biden’s swearing-in, Israel started receiving diplomatic messages of disapproval from Germany and sources in the Biden administration regarding the construction on Givat Hamatos. But political officials in Jerusalem stated that “there is no going back” on the decision. The housing project, where construction had been delayed for seven years due to political pressure, will proceed.

Construction for Arabs, Too
The Israeli officials note that the publication of the tenders for construction on Givat Hamatos had been cleared with the Trump administration in the last quarter of 2020. Without that coordination, Israel would not have published them. About 2,610 housing units are planned for the Jewish population in the neighborhood. More than 700 housing units are also designed on the edge of the project for Arab residents adjacent to Beit Safafa, as part of “thickening” the existing residential area, privately owned by Arabs.
MEMRI: Bahraini Journalist: While Iran Has A Vociferous Lobby In The U.S., The Arab Voice Is Not Heard
In a column published in the Bahraini daily Akhbar Al-Khalij on January 26, 2021, several days after the inauguration of the Biden administration, and against the backdrop of speculation that this administration will resume negotiations with Iran on the nuclear issue, journalist Al-Sayyid Zahra discussed the discrepancy between the Iranian advocacy efforts in the U.S. and those of the Arabs. He noted that, while the Iranian lobby in the U.S. is busy promoting Iran's causes and demands, including the demand to lift the sanctions on Iran and resume negotiations with it without preconditions, an Arab lobby promoting the Arab's interests and opinions is conspicuously absent. Zahra called to urgently establish such a lobby that will present the Arab positions regarding the security of the region and offset the influence of the Iran lobby. In another column several days later, Zahra stressed the importance of formulating a clear and united Arab position on the Iranian issue, which can be presented to the U.S. so as to prevent it from reaching understandings with Iran at the expense of the Arabs and their interests.

The following are translated excerpts from his columns:
In his January 26 column Zahra wrote: "In times of change in the U.S., various lobby groups generally act to defend their interests and persuade the U.S. administration to adopt their positions - and that is what is happening in the U.S. today. [The country] has a new administration, whose positions and policies on various issues, especially international ones, is not yet fully formed. In this transitional period every pressure group is seeking to persuade the Biden administration to adopt the political positions and policies it favors.

"As part of this, the Iranian lobby has been acting for weeks, on every political and media level, to forcefully present its positions, opinions and proposals to the Biden administration… Its main objective is to defend Iran and its regime, and pressure the U.S. administration to adopt positions and policies that suit Iran's interests. Therefore, the current campaign of the Iranian lobby, [launched] upon the advent of the new administration, involves a number of proposals that were known in advance and can be summed up… as follows:
"1. The Biden administration must immediately renew the old nuclear agreement with Iran.
"2. It must lift all the sanctions imposed by Trump on Iran.
"3. It must negotiate with Iran without preconditions.
"4. The lobby is [also] presenting its perception of the future security of the region, and its expectations from the U.S. in this context, all of which obviously correspond to Iran's interests and plans.

"In presenting these positions to the Biden administration, the Iranian lobby is describing them as the way to actualize the U.S. interests in the region. This is accompanied by an attack on Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf countries, [in a bid] to incite the U.S. administration against them.

"Clearly, nothing compels the Biden administration to accept the opinion of the Iranian lobby or to adopt the positions it preaches, for [this administration] takes many considerations into account in formulating its position on Iran. But whoever thinks that this lobby has no impact on U.S. policy is mistaken. On the contrary, it has considerable impact, which may increase even further now that the Biden administration is in office, and this for two main reasons: The first [reason is] Biden's stated position on the Iranian issue. It is a known fact that he generally wants to adopt a different policy from that of Trump. Generally speaking, he tends to be more lenient towards Iran and to [seek] mutual understanding and accord with it. Second, many members of his administration were formerly part of the Obama administration. In other words, this is the same team that was involved in drafting the policy of conspiring with Iran, [the team] that publicly undertook to market the Iranian regime [to the world] and to cast it in a positive light.
Formal Relations Between Israel and Saudi Arabia: A Question of ‘When,’ Not ‘If’
The clues are all around. Israeli airliners fly over Saudi Arabia en route to the UAE. Google is connecting Israel and Saudi Arabia to a single network of fiberoptics that runs all the way to India. Israel could also play a significant role in the Saudi plan to build a brand-new city on the Red Sea coastline. Neom, with a planned budget of 500 billion dollars, will be a zero-emissions city powered by renewable energy, and will feature flying drone taxis. Israeli hi-tech companies could receive contracts to help build it.

Another initiative being promoted by MBS, is a network of trains from Haifa to the Persian Gulf, via the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. MBS has much to gain from normalization with Israel fully, since this is also a strong path to reaching a good status with the Biden administration, which has deep doubts over Saudi Arabia due to concerns over human rights.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia could play a significant role in restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — and by doing so, earn credit in Washington. The Palestinians are hoping the Biden administration will resume all economic aid, reopen a consulate in Jerusalem, and reopen the PLO’s embassy in Washington, and it expects the Saudis to assist in these efforts.

On the other hand, there is Saudi anger at the Palestinians, who have been described in Riyadh as ungrateful for all the Saudi assistance they have received. But officially, the Saudi government places the Palestinians as a central issue, and the regime is keen to contribute towards a solution to the conflict.

During visits to Saudi Arabia in December 2019 and February 2020, it became clear to me that Riyadh is the large silent partner behind the dramatic decisions by the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco to normalize relations with Israel.

In parallel, MBS has good reason to wait before following suit himself. One major reason is that MBS, who could become king in the coming years, needs time to prepare public opinion in his country.

For decades, the Saudi people were nourished by incitement against Israel, including by the ultra-conservative Wahabi Islamic elements in the state. Suddenly, the messaging on Israel has seen a 180-degree turn. But the public requires time to process the change.

The UAE prepared its public thoroughly for normalization, with consistent new messaging on Israel across all media and social media. MBS is only now getting a similar initiative going, and is pushing it into a high gear.

In the meanwhile, Israel and Saudi Arabia continue to enjoy their deep, quiet alliance.


Israel Approves $9 Billion Purchase of Advanced Aircraft, Weapons From US
Israel’s Security Cabinet on Sunday approved the allocation of a $9 billion arms deal with the United States.

The deal, first reported by Israel’s Channel 12, includes the purchase of F-35 and F-16 fighter jets, SH53K helicopters, refueling planes, advanced weaponry and the Eitan, a new-generation armored personnel carrier developed jointly by Israel and the United States.

According to the report, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Defense Ministry Director General Amir Eshel and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi supported the deal, which was approved after seven hours of deliberation. Israel’s Finance Ministry opposed it, on the grounds that it would require Israel’s taking out $220 million in loans from US banks — a condition that the ministry considers too risky.

The decision to purchase the equipment had been put off for three years, the report noted, but was made on Sunday as a result of pressure from Washington to do so within two weeks, or Israel would lose its place in US production lines, which could result in a two-year delivery delay.
Gantz: We will not hesitate to stop Iran's entrenchment near Israel
In a signal to Tehran and its proxies in the region, Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday said Israel is constantly acting to prevent Iranian entrenchment near Israel.

In a warning to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shi’ite terrorist group that is also active in Syria, he said Israel would do everything in its ability to prevent Lebanon from becoming a terrorist state.

“Three and a half years after the disaster we left Lebanon, while [the victims'] blood is soaked in the soil,” Gantz said at a memorial ceremony for the 1997 helicopter disaster, when two IAF helicopters taking soldiers to the security zone in southern Lebanon collided in midair, killing all 73 on board.

“Since then, we made it clear that we will not allow Lebanon to become a terrorist state,” he said. “And today, the IDF is operating and will keep operating on the border and beyond.”

“We will not hesitate to uproot the Iranian entrenchment near our borders, and [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah knows well that his decision to build bunkers of ammunition and rockets and to strengthen Hezbollah’s capabilities is putting him in danger and putting the lives of Lebanese citizens in danger,” he added.

Gantz called on the Lebanese government to assume responsibility for what takes place in the country.
PMW: Top PA official Rajoub: "Armed resistance" always on the back burner Asked if Fatah will continue “armed resistance,” Fatah Central Committee Secretary Rajoub says it’s “conditional on the developments on the ground”
Although he recently denied this, Fatah Central Committee ‎Secretary Jibril Rajoub continues to be mentioned as one of PA Chairman ‎Abbas’ possible successors – even in the upcoming elections.‎

Should Rajoub take over, Palestinian Media Watch has an extensive archive ‎of his statements that expose his hate speech and terror support.‎

In a recent interview, Rajoub made no secret of the fact that "armed resistance" - ‎the PA euphemism for terror against Israel - is an option always ‎kept on the back burner. Asked directly by the Kuwaiti interviewer if “Fatah’s ‎armed resistance is continuing,” Rajoub explained that Fatah and Hamas in ‎their ongoing talks have determined that this is “conditional on the ‎developments on the ground” – in other words: Rajoub didn’t denounce ‎violence, didn’t advocate peace, but instead stressed that “armed resistance” ‎remains an option whenever the PA finds it useful: ‎
Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub: “We are heading ‎towards establishing the independent Palestinian state… and no one ‎will have peace, security, or stability without us having a state… We ‎are 7 million Palestinians between the [Jordan] River and the ‎‎[Mediterranean] Sea... and we will not wave a white flag.”‎
Kuwaiti satellite channel Al-Shahed host: “Is the Fatah Movement’s ‎resistance continuing?”‎
Jibril Rajoub: “The clash with the occupation has been continuing for ‎‎100 years already, and the clash is [our] connection [with the ‎occupation] and the strategic choice. At this stage, we are saying ‎popular resistance (i.e., term used by Palestinians, which also refers to ‎the use of violence and terror)-”‎
Host: “Is Fatah’s armed resistance continuing or are the talks with the ‎Israeli side putting an end to this matter?”‎
Jibril Rajoub: “Popular resistance is our choice at this stage. In our ‎national dialogue [with Hamas it was determined that] a general ‎change of the clash with the occupation is conditional on the ‎developments on the ground.”‎
[Facebook page of Fatah Central Committee Secretary Jibril Rajoub, ‎Jan. 20, 2021]‎


Fatah: Israel's end is “inevitable” because Zionists failed to annihilate the Palestinians
Official Fatah Facebook page, June 18, 2019 Narrator: "The question of the existential threat and Israel's ability to continue to exist is deeply rooted in the Zionist experience... All of this stems from them knowing the truth about the false state they established, whose end is historically inevitable… Why does existential fear haunt Israelis more than others? The Zionist settlers understood that there are laws that historically apply to the settlement enclaves: The fate of the enclaves that succeeded in annihilating the native residents was to continue to exist, while those that failed – their fate was to pass from the world."
Hamas and Fatah Hold Egyptian-Brokered Reconciliation Talks in Cairo
Leaders of rival Palestinian factions began Egyptian-brokered reconciliation talks in Cairo on Monday to try to heal long-standing internal divisions, ahead of planned Palestinian elections later this year.

Egypt has tried in vain for 14 years to reconcile Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s nationalist Fatah faction and its bitter rival Hamas, the armed Islamist movement that opposes any negotiations with Israel.

No Palestinian elections have been held in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem for 15 years.

As well as Hamas and Fatah there are thought to be around a dozen other factions represented in the Cairo talks. Among those invited was Islamic Jihad, a militant group which boycotted the 1996 and 2006 elections and which, Palestinian sources said, is now considering whether to take part this year.

But such is the mistrust between the rivals that issues on the agenda include electoral basics such as how ballot stations will be guarded and how courts will adjudicate election disputes.

There is widespread skepticism that the elections will even happen.
Palestinian elections: Hamas will promise Islamic law, change and reform
Hamas says it is confident it will score another victory in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary election, according to sources close to the Islamist movement.

The Islamist movement says it also has no intention of accepting the conditions of the Middle East Quartet (US, UN, Russia and EU) for the recognition of any Palestinian government, the renunciation of violence, the recognition of Israel’s right to exist and a commitment to abide by all agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel.

Hamas’s election program will be similar to the one it used to win the hearts and minds of Palestinians during the 2006 parliamentary election.

Then, Hamas candidates ran as part of a list named the “Change and Reform Bloc” under the slogan: “Islam is the solution. One hand builds, another resists. Yes to reform, yes to change.”
Report highlights Iran's worldwide terrorist modus operandi
Amid rising regional tensions, Iran continues to seek ways to target Israel and the United States abroad.

Iran deployed several agents to collect intelligence on the diplomatic missions of Israel, the U.S., and United Arab Emirates (UAE) in an undisclosed East African country ahead of a potential attack, Israel's Kan News reported on Monday, based on insight from Western intelligence sources. The attack was foiled last month.

The report claimed that Iran sought to target the embassies in response to the January 2020 U.S. strike that killed Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani and November's targeted assassination of senior nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, which was widely attributed to Israel.

Iran has previously threatened the UAE directly and condemned the Gulf state for normalizing diplomatic relations with Israel last summer.

Several agents involved in the alleged Iranian plot were dual European and Iranian citizens. While some of the agents were arrested in the East African country, others were detained elsewhere.

On Wednesday, Ethiopia announced that 15 people were arrested for planning to target the UAE embassy in Addis Ababa. Weapons and explosives were also seized when Ethiopian authorities foiled the plot. Another group of suspects plotting attacks against the UAE embassy in Sudan were also detained in that country, according to Ethiopia's state news agency. It is not clear whether these arrests are connected to recent reports of Iranian-led terrorist plots in East Africa.

These developments come as Iran increasingly violates the 2015 nuclear deal by further enriching uranium and reportedly expands its advanced centrifuges required to develop nuclear weapons. Beyond seeking revenge for previous assassinations, Iran could be seeking to target U.S. and Israeli embassies abroad in an effort to gain some leverage in future negotiations on its nuclear program and regional activities – including state sponsorship of Shi'a militant organizations.
Australian academic: Iran tried to use me while jailed to lure Israeli husband
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard used a jailed British-Australian academic in an attempt to lure her Israeli husband to Tehran, the Australian Herald Sun reported Sunday.

The discovery that Kylie Moore-Gilbert had an Israeli husband led to Iranian authorities stopping her at Tehran’s airport as she prepared to leave the country in 2018 after attending an academic conference. Authorities sentenced her to 10 years in prison for espionage.

In a letter from Moore-Gilbert to the Australian prime minister, smuggled out of Evin prison in Iran in late 2019, the imprisoned academic revealed how Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps then attempted to set a trap for her Russian-Israeli husband Ruslan Hodorov, the Australian Herald Sun reported.

“The Revolutionary Guard have imprisoned me in these terrible conditions for over nine months in order to extort me both personally and my government,” Moore-Gilbert wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“They have also attempted to use me as a hostage in a diabolical plot to lure my husband, an Australian permanent resident into joining me in an Iranian prison,” she wrote.
Judge Korman Sets Feb. 10 Hearing in Criminal Case of New York Times Writer on Iranian Payroll
The criminal case of the frequent New York Times contributor charged by prosecutors with being an unregistered foreign agent of Iran has been assigned to Judge Edward Korman in Brooklyn, who has scheduled a February 10 hearing on the Iranian-American’s desire to forgo a lawyer and instead represent himself.

Korman, nominated to the federal bench by President Reagan, is a son of Jewish immigrants and has described himself as a “compassionate conservative.” In a January 31 memorandum and order, Korman wrote that “it is often said that he who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The judge wrote, “I do not intend to permit the defendant to represent himself until I hold a hearing to determine whether he knowingly and voluntarily waives his right to counsel guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.”

The judge also asked Deirdre von Dornum of the Federal Defenders to act as “standby counsel” for the defendant, Kaveh Afrasiabi. Von Dornum is the attorney in charge of the Federal Defenders for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. A graduate of Columbia Law School, where she was an editor of the law review, she has clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Afrasiabi, who has had about a dozen articles and letters published in the New York Times, was arrested last month at his home in Massachusetts. A criminal complaint unsealed in the case said he had been paid about $265,000 by the Iranian UN mission since 2007 and had been covered by its health insurance plan. Afrasiabi acknowledged to the Algemeiner that he had received the checks from Iran’s UN mission but insisted he had done nothing illegal.

Korman said he would not act on any pro se motions filed by Afrasiabi until the February 10 video hearing.

Afrasiabi has filed a flurry of such motions and has also been vigorously advocating for himself outside of court.


Iran cleric: People who are vaccinated for COVID have ‘become homosexuals’
An Iranian regime cleric in the holy city of Qom on Tuesday issued a homophobic rant against people vaccinated for COVID-19, claiming that they become gay after receiving the vaccine.

Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian wrote on his Telegram social-media platform: “Don’t go near those who have had the COVID vaccine. They have become homosexuals.”

The radical Islamist has nearly 210,000 followers on his Telegram account.

Tabrizian has a history of derogatory opinions about Western medicine. Last year, a video showed him burning Harrison’s Manual of Medicine and saying that “Islamic medicine” had made such books “irrelevant,” according to an article on the website of Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast service.

“Like other clerics in the regime, also Tabrizian relates all the shortages [shortcomings] to sexuality,” Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian dissident who fled the Islamic Republic of Iran due to repression, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “The clerics in Iran are suffering from lack of knowledge and humanity.”

“Actually, his goal of spreading nonsense is to try to scare people [out] of getting vaccinated, while the leader of the regime and other officials got Pfizer, and they don’t provide it for the people with the excuse that they don’t trust the West,” she said.







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