Friday, February 12, 2021

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The ICC's European puppet masters
More than 60% of the ICC's budget is funded by European governments. Germany is generally the ICC's largest or second largest funder. A German government representative quoted in a Reuters' report of Israel's request said that Germany "couldn't imagine" scaling back, much less defunding of the political court.

So without the actions of European governments like Germany, Holland, Switzerland, France, Norway, Britain and Sweden, and without the EU as a whole – the ICC would never have opened its bigoted proceedings against Israel, the purpose of which is to reject Israel's right to exist. At every point, the Europeans had the power to prevent or end the ICC's bigoted treatment of the Jewish state. And at every point, the Europeans took active steps to ensure that the targeting would continue. Indeed, by funding and directing the efforts of the likes of NGOs Breaking the Silence and Al-Dameer, (which is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group), the Europeans were the puppet masters directing the passion play.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas criticized the ICC's ruling move in a statement he put out shortly after it was announced. Maas didn't condemn the immorality of pursuing fake war crimes allegations against an innocent nation. Rather, Maas's criticism focused on the fact that despite the efforts of the ICC and the UN, the fact remains that "Palestine" is not a state. "The court has no jurisdiction," he tweeted, "because of the absence of the element of Palestinian statehood required by international law."

This is, to be sure, the key legal problem with the ICC's ruling. But the much larger problem with the judges' decision is that the investigation is a politically motivated effort to cause material harm to Israel, as the Jewish state. Israel abides scrupulously by the rules of war, and everyone knows that. The reason German politicians like Maas should oppose the ruling is because the court's behavior is part of a larger effort to undermine international acceptance of the Jewish people's right to their state. But then, as a major funder of both the ICC and the NGOs behind the fictitious, libelous allegations, and as a state that failed to oppose the Palestinians' legally groundless bids for the status of state at the ICC and the UN, Maas clearly doesn't have a problem with the immorality of the enterprise. To the contrary, he is playing a key role in moving it forward.

In a way, the ICC's efforts to harm the Jewish state is a modern-day version of the Dreyfus trial. The Dreyfus trial was an anti-Semitic reaction against France's decision to grant the full rights of citizenship to French Jews in the framework of the Emancipation. Anti-Semitic officers in the French General Staff needed a scapegoat to blame for acts of treason they had committed. By choosing Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian Jew, for the role, the officers enjoyed the cover and support of powerful anti-Semitic clerics, anti-Semitic intellectuals and newspaper publishers, and anti-Semitic politicians. All of the figures involved realized that by framing Dreyfus "the Jew," they advanced their efforts to discredit the idea that Jews could be full partners in French public life.

The big difference between the people that produced and directed the blood libel against Dreyfus 125 years ago and the people that are producing and directing the blood libel against Israel today is that in France at the turn of the 20th century, people were proud to attack Jews openly. Today, their contemporary successors prefer a passive aggressive approach. They pretend to oppose the efforts to delegitimize and criminalize the Jewish state while they pay for and direct them.
Melanie Phillips: The absurd malevolence of the International Criminal Court
Yet western liberals maintain that the Palestinian cause is a worthy one. That’s why the US Secretary of State Tony Blinken says the Palestinians are “entitled” to a state.

It is in fact hard to envisage any group that’s less entitled than the Palestinians, who are not only bent upon colonial occupation of Israel but support the murder of Israelis and preach deranged hatred against Jews.

Meanwhile, the British government continues to peddle the legal fiction that Israel is in illegal occupation of the “Palestinian” territories.

The west’s support of such falsehoods and injustice has incentivised the Palestinians’ rejectionism, terrorism and war against Israel. It has further encouraged them to try to bring about Israel’s destruction through “lawfare,” the strategy of deploying international law as a weapon of destruction and of which their case before the ICC is a major offensive front.

But there’s a deeper issue still which will make both the British and the Biden administration reluctant to admit the fundamental nature of the ICC’s flaws.

This is their commitment to the ideology behind its foundation — the belief that crystallised after the Holocaust that there had to be a way of bringing to justice human rights abusers who were immune from redress in their own countries. This impulse fuelled the post-war development of international law and trans-national legal tribunals.

But laws draw their legitimacy from being passed by nations rooted in specific institutions, history and culture. Without the anchor of national jurisdiction, laws can turn into instruments of capricious political power.

The ICC has no such national jurisdiction but is made up of many nations. That’s why, from its inception, it was in essence a political court.

That’s why it’s an existential foe of Israel — the principal target of some of the world’s many human rights abusers who have grasped that international law provides them with a potent weapon.

And these make common cause with American Democrats and the western political establishment through their belief in liberal universalism, the doctrine that trans-national institutions trump the authority of national ones.

The legal and moral illiteracy of the ICC’s ruling is not a temporary blip. It follows from the campaign that lies at the very core of liberal universalist beliefs: to negate the authority of the sovereign nation.

As early opponents of international law realised, however, only a sovereign nation can properly defend itself. That’s why Israel knows it must always rely only on itself. It’s a lesson that many liberal western politicians have yet to realise.
David Singer: The “State of Palestine” remains a United Nations mirage
The International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber 1 decision that the ICC has jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes committed in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem has infuriated Israel – but should bring no joy to Hamas, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) or the United Nations which continues to support the PLO’s claim for the creation of a second Arab State in former Palestine – in addition to Jordan.

The ICC Prosecutor believes:
‘there is a reasonable basis to believe that members of Hamas and Palestinian armed groups […] committed the war crimes of: intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects (articles 8(2)(b)(i)-(ii), or 8(2)(e)(i)); using protected persons as shields (article 8(2)(b)(xxiii)); wilfully depriving protected persons of the rights of fair and regular trial (articles 8(2)(a)(vi) or 8(2)(c)(iv)) and wilful killing (articles 8(2)(a)(i), or 8(2)(c)(i)); and torture or inhuman treatment (article 8(2)(a)(ii), or 8(2)(c)(i)) and/or outrages upon personal dignity (articles 8(2)(b)(xxi), or 8(2)(c)(ii))’ (para 94)

The Prosecutor further concluded in para 94 that these potential cases would be currently admissible for prosecution once jurisdiction was established.

The Court noted:
“The identification of potential cases by the Prosecutor and her evolving investigation, which is likely to be protracted and resource-intensive, entails that the question of jurisdiction under consideration has concrete ramifications for the further conduct of the proceedings. The initiation of an investigation by the Prosecutor also means that States Parties are under the obligation to cooperate with the Court pursuant to part 9 of the Statute. It is, therefore, all the more necessary to place the present proceedings on a sound jurisdictional footing as early as possible.”(para 86)

The PLO and Hamas will be kept very busy answering the ICC Prosecutor’s enquiries regarding those Palestinian war crimes identified in para 94.

The Court further emphasised that:
“the present decision is strictly limited to the question of jurisdiction set forth in the Prosecutor’s Request and does not entail any determination on the border disputes between Palestine and Israel. The present decision shall thus not be construed as determining, prejudicing, impacting on, or otherwise affecting any other legal matter arising from the events in the Situation in Palestine either under the Statute or any other field of international law.”(para 60)

Any expectation Israel will return to the negotiating table after the PLO’s flirtation with the ICC is hard to visualise.


Stephen Daisley: The ICC is playing politics by targeting Israel
The United States seems to recognise what is afoot. A spokesman for the State Department said: ‘The United States objects to today’s International Criminal Court decision regarding the Palestinian situation. Israel is not a state party to the Rome Statute. We will continue to uphold president Biden’s strong commitment to Israel and its security, including opposing actions that seek to target Israel unfairly.’

Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne has expressed ‘deep concerns’. Noting that ‘Australia does not recognise a 'State of Palestine’', something Canberra made clear to the pre-trial chamber during its deliberations. Payne says ‘Australia does not therefore recognise the right of any so-called 'State of Palestine' to accede to the Rome Statute’.

The court’s decision not only undermines the sovereignty of Israel but could also affect the sovereignty of countries like Australia, which has ratified the treaty but now finds the court redefining that instrument without Canberra’s consent.

One voice of protest is noticeably absent: ours. UK governments, Labour and Tory alike, typically bend the knee to any global body that comes bearing the phrase ‘international law’. No one wants to be seen to be against something so obviously virtuous, but claiming to be upholding international law and actually doing so are not the same thing.

There is the ideal of international humanitarian law, much of it codified in the wake of the Holocaust and not a matter that the Jewish state needs to be lectured on by anyone; and then there is the instrumentalisation of international law by activist jurists, prosecutors, academics and NGOs, who interpret and apply global rules and norms in a fashion that suits their political preferences. In the latter instance, international law is, by Clausewitz's definition, a ‘political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means’.

This is judicial activism on a global scale and the UK should oppose it — and loudly — for two reasons. For one, there is the principle that a body created by a treaty should not claim powers which that treaty does not grant it. The Rome Statute does not empower the ICC to prosecute non-party states, except where such states ‘accept the exercise of jurisdiction by the court’.

Instead the Rome Statute gives the court jurisdiction where ‘the state on the territory of which the conduct in question occurred’ is a ‘part[y] to this statute’, but Israel has not ratified the statute and the Palestinian Authority, which acceded in 2015, is not a state. If the UK is for international law, it should be against this lawless behaviour. I have asked the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for its view but have yet to hear back.

The second reason is one of self-interest. The ICC has previously probed the UK over the Iraq war. And while it decided not to open a prosecutorial investigation, it said it made this decision ‘without prejudice to a reconsideration based on new facts or evidence’.
What signals is Biden sending about his Middle East policy?
Gold said that Netanyahu was not getting into politics or a confrontation with the new administration, merely stating Israeli policy.

In the beginning of the new administration, Gold said, it is incumbent upon Israel – both privately and in public – to “articulate its most vital national security positions. It is important that Israel reassert the idea that it has the right, at the end of day, to have defensible borders.”

The most worrisome step the new administration has taken in relation to the Mideast, according to Lerman, was the decision to reverse Mike Pompeo’s decision on the final day of Trump’s term to designate the Houthis in Yemen as a terrorist organization.

“The Houthis are a bunch of murderous Iranian proxies with the most overtly antisemitic ideology,” he said. “We have reasons to be worried about this decision and the sense of abandonment the Saudis may be feeling.”

Two days after this policy reversal, the Houthis took responsibility for a drone attack on a Saudi airport.

Even with that misstep, Lerman said, the first days of the administration do not represent “darkness descending upon us. It is not a straight repeat of the Obama administration, and Biden would do well not to throw away the baby with the bathwater in terms of abandoning aspects of Trump’s legacy that are positive,” foremost among those being the Abraham Accords.

Lerman said that regarding the Palestinian issue, the administration’s initial decisions – staying away from comments about any specific peace plan, not talking about putting together negotiations or demanding a settlement freeze – show a positive understanding that “at this stage, against the background of Israeli and Palestinian dynamics, we are looking at conflict management, maybe improved conflict management, but there is not much else to be done in the immediate and intermediate future.”
Republican Leaders Slam Biden for Not Calling Israeli PM Netanyahu
American and Israeli leaders are concerned about President Joe Biden’s refusal since taking office to call Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden has already held calls with at least 10 world leaders during his first month in office, including Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese president Xi Jinping, but has yet to hold one with America’s top Middle East ally.

Israeli leaders have noticed the snub, with Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, tweeting to Biden on Wednesday, "Might it now be time to call the leader of Israel, the closest ally of the U.S.?" A chorus of GOP foreign policy leaders who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday also harshly criticized Biden, worrying it could be a sign of chilly relations between the United States and Israel.

When pressed on Thursday to explain why Biden has not called Netanyahu, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden "looks forward" to speaking with the Israeli prime minister, but there is no specific "date or time" for that call.

The diplomatic slight comes at a sensitive time for Israel as it grapples with Iran’s growing nuclear program and concerns the Biden administration will make it a top priority to rejoin the 2015 nuclear agreement that provided Tehran with billions of dollars in cash windfalls. Compounding these concerns is the Biden administration’s hiring of several individuals with a background in anti-Israel activism, including Maher Bitar, a top White House National Security Council official who spent his youth organizing boycotts of the Jewish state. The State Department’s Iran envoy, Robert Malley, also has been a vocal critic of Israel.

Congressional Republicans are piling on the White House for not speaking with Netanyahu, with multiple members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee telling the Free Beacon it is a slight that endangers the close U.S.-Israel alliance at a time when the world’s only Jewish state is facing down multiple terrorist threats.
Biden’s Concerning Foreign Policy
In his determination to undo the Trump presidency, Biden privileges words over deeds. It’s true that President Trump rarely had anything bad to say about Vladimir Putin. Nevertheless, he did provide lethal aid to Ukraine, threaten the Russian energy market by exporting liquid natural gas, sanction Russian officials, force NATO to spend more on defense, and oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Biden, by contrast, has rightly and forcefully condemned Putin’s assaults on human rights and global security. But his first move in the great game—a clean extension of the New START arms control agreement—was a gift to Russia. Biden had the leverage to bargain for a shorter extension. He might have linked the future of New START to Russia’s treatment of its people. He didn’t. Putin got what he wanted. Now Biden has to regain the upper hand.

The most absurd of Biden’s unilateral concessions is Yemen. On February 5 the administration said it wouldn’t designate as a foreign terrorist organization the Houthi rebels backed by Iran. The Houthis didn’t thank him. On the contrary: Within days, State Department spokesman Ned Price admitted the United States "is deeply troubled by continued Houthi attacks," including on "civilian areas inside Saudi Arabia." His verbiage fell flat. When Biden’s envoy for peace negotiations arrived in Saudi Arabia, the Houthis attacked an airport and struck a civilian plane. It was a slap in the face—and a reminder that magnanimity does not go far in the Middle East.

Biden may recognize that his foreign policy needs to be more assertive. On February 10 he announced sanctions against the Burmese generals who recently ended their country’s half-hearted democratic transition. And the pace of Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea, including a transit of the Taiwan Strait, has increased as China grows more nationalistic and territorial. This willingness to exercise American power in defense of national interests and values is welcome. More of it is needed.

Diplo-speak isn’t enough. Nor is a reliance on unreliable allies. To date, Biden’s foreign policy has been more interested in resuscitating the legacy of Barack Obama than in maintaining America’s position of strength. To use the language of the State Department: I am very concerned.
Germany, Denmark say alleged terrorist bomb plot Islamist in nature
Danish and German authorities said Friday they had foiled a possible Islamist terror attack after a series of arrests in the two countries, adding however the danger did not seem imminent.

The plot appeared to target Denmark or Germany, investigators told reporters at Danish intelligence agency PET’s headquarters near Copenhagen.

Components and chemicals to make explosives, as well as firearms, were seized in raids but they had not been assembled, suggesting the attack was still some way off, PET operations chief Flemming Dryer said.

“We found the ingredients needed to make a bomb,” he said. A hunting rifle with a scope was also seized, as well as an IS (Islamic State) flag. A picture taken on February 6, 2021 shows a Danish police officer in Apotekerhaven in Holbaek. (STRINGER / various sources / AFP)

“We believe there was no immediate threat, nothing was assembled or mixed. But we’re not naive, and we’re not excluding anything,” he said.

According to German officials, three Syrian brothers were among those arrested, two in Denmark and one in the German state of Hesse.

“Our security services once again prevented an Islamist terror attack,” Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said, adding that the trio were “probably preparing an attack in Europe.”
KKL-JNF may buy Palestinian land to accelerate settler building
Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s (KKL-JNF) board is scheduled Sunday to debate a new plan to purchase private Palestinian land in Area C of the West Bank to help accelerate settler building there.

The focus, according to a memo to the board, will be on land that is within the boundaries of existing settlements and or adjacent to those communities and which can be developed for construction.

KKL-JNF has purchased property on behalf of Jews since 1901, prior to the creation of the state of Israel, including land that is now part of the West Bank.

But should the plan pass the board, it would be the first decision to specifically focus on a wide-ranging strategy to strengthen Jewish building in Judea and Samaria.

The Jerusalem Post has seen a copy of the memo, which was first reported on by Walla. It clarifies that land will not be purchased within an IDF firing zone or within a nature reserve.
Rivlin urges army to protect West Bank shrine damaged by PA construction
President Reuven Rivlin on Friday urged Defense Minister Benny Gantz to investigate damage to an archeological site on Mount Ebal (Har Eival in Hebrew) in the West Bank that many believe to contain the biblical Joshua’s altar.

“The reports of damage to the altar site at Har Eival concern me deeply,” Rivlin wrote to Gantz after Channel 12 broadcast footage it said was of Palestinian Authority workers grinding stones from the site to use as gravel in a road being built between a nearby village and the city of Nablus.

Local settlement council officials reported that the damage at the site was caused to 35 meters (114 feet) of an external retaining wall of the complex and not the actual altar compound.

“Our land has a bounty of holy sites of immense religious, historic and archeological value. These sites, including the altar of Joshua at Har Eival, are heritage sites of incalculable national and universal value,” Rivlin wrote, according to his office.

Many archeologists believe that the complex on Mount Ebal contains the altar built by Joshua after the Israelites entered the Land of Israel and won a victory at Ai.

According to the Bible, the site and nearby Mount Gerizim are where God offered the Israelites the blessings and the curses of the Land of Israel.

Others, including the Samaritans, who have their holiest place on Mount Gerizim, believe the altar is there.
In Clandestine Operation Samaria Settlers Rebuild Joshua’s Altar Destroyed by Palestinian Authority
In a clandestine operation, on Thursday afternoon the Samaria Regional Council restored the ancient wall surrounding the ancient Joshua Ben-Nun altar, Kipa reported. The ancient site is located in Area B, which is in the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction.

The restoration was carried out by more than 30 employees of the Ayish earthworks contractor and construction professionals and was closely monitored by archaeologists of the Samaria Regional Council, as well as the former security director of the council, Shuki Levin.

Levin guarded Prof. Adam Zertel when he discovered the altar about 35 years ago.

In recent months, the Palestinian Authority intentionally destroyed the Biblical-era site, grinding into gravel the stones that made up the altar as part of a plan to pave a new road near the city of Shechem.

Some 100 ft. of the western wall of the altar compound was restored using local stones, however, it was not possible to restore the northern wall, which is about 60 ft. long and was also damaged by the Palestinian Authority. This restoration would require a more thorough archeological work.
JPost Editorial: Mistrust greatest obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace
According to a new report by the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation assessing alternative solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that average Israelis and Palestinians would support, “mistrust, broadly defined, is likely the greatest impediment to peace.”

What’s thus needed now – perhaps under the auspices of the new Biden administration and ahead of scheduled Israeli and Palestinian elections – is a new path to build trust between the two sides.

The RAND report is based on a series of innovative, structured discussions in 33 focus groups as well as interviews of 273 individuals – West Bank Palestinians, Gazan Palestinians, Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs – in 2018 and 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report focuses on five plausible alternatives: a two-state solution, a one-state solution, a confederation approach, Israeli annexation of the West Bank’s Area C, and the perpetuation of today’s status quo.

It found that almost all parties are extremely pessimistic about the chances of peace. About 60% of Israelis said the status quo could feasibly continue, while many others believe it is manageable and preferable to the risk of any alternatives. Peace is considered a “romantic notion” that is simply not attainable at this time.

The report suggests that the Biden administration’s recent reaffirmation of US policy to support a “mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state,” faces a difficult road ahead.
Palestinians: More Corruption as Biden Resumes Financial Aid
The assumption that renewed financial aid would lead the Palestinian leadership to make "concessions" has proven, over the past three decades, to be completely baseless. Anyone in the Biden administration who thinks that the Palestinian leadership would make real "concessions" to Israel in return for hundreds of millions of dollars is living under an illusion.

Last year, the Palestinians rejected Trump's $50 billion Middle East economic plan that would create a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and Arab state economies. The Palestinians dubbed it an "attempted bribe."

The "innocent Palestinians" the Biden administration is talking about would undoubtedly be happy to receive financial aid from the US or the European Union. These Palestinians, however, are concerned that their leaders will continue to deprive them of the financial aid, and that the money, ever-fungible, would, as usual, just end up in the pockets of Palestinian leaders as well as to incentivizing murder for "pay-for-slay" terrorists.

A recent public opinion poll showed that a majority of Palestinians are still worried about the corruption of their leaders, especially the Palestinian Authority.

The majority of Palestinians believe that corruption is concentrated among senior public sector employees, particularly in the executive public institutions (the ministries, the presidency and the security services). The Palestinians continue to believe that senior employees are the most corrupt individuals among the Palestinians.

All this means that, if and when the general elections take place, Hamas is well on its way to score another easy victory.

The message that the findings send to the Biden administration and other Western donors: The funds you are sending to Palestinian leaders are being stolen. If you want to send money, you must ensure that the money does not end up in the private bank accounts of Palestinian leaders.

If, as the poll shows, a majority of Palestinians continue to see their leaders as corrupt, this means that Abbas's rivals in Hamas are again likely to win the vote.
How was Iran nuke chief Fakhrizadeh really killed? - analysis
Ever since Iran’s military nuclear program chief Mohsen Fakhrizadeh met his end in a daring assassination and hail of bullets on November 27, the world has been wondering how, exactly, it happened.

Although a report in the Jewish Chronicle (JC) late Wednesday claims to have the definitive account, the world may need to wait a bit longer. As interesting as it is exploring the pros and cons of the account given by the JC, there is another question: who had an interest in providing these details, what was that interest, and why now?

While some of this review involves deconstructing and raising doubts about aspects of the JC report, there is no doubt that the reporter, Jake Wallis Simons, did some serious journalism and research, and genuinely believes what his source(s) told him.

That said, multiple Israeli sources shed significant doubt on various aspects of the report.

There has been an ongoing battle of narratives on whether an Israeli team on the ground assassinated Fakhrizadeh up close, or whether a next-generation satellite remote-controlled gun took him down from long range with no Israelis in sight.

According to the JC, the answer is splitting the difference: there were many Israelis on the ground, but they also used a remote-controlled gun, though not one operated by satellite.
France, Germany, UK Condemn Iran’s Production of Uranium Metal
The ‘E3’ group of leading European powers — France, Germany and the United Kingdom — on Friday condemned Iran‘s decision to produce uranium metal, which they said was in breach of commitments made by Iran to the international community.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog had said earlier this week that Iran had followed through on its plan to make uranium metal, after Tehran had alarmed Western nations with its intent to produce the material with which the core of nuclear weapons can be made.

“We strongly urge Iran to halt these activities without delay and not to take any new non-compliant steps on its nuclear program. In escalating its non-compliance, Iran is undermining the opportunity for renewed diplomacy to fully realize the objectives of the JCPoA,” said the E3 in a statement.







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