Wednesday, March 17, 2021

From Ian:

Seth Frantzman: Analysis: Israel’s key Middle East concerns in 2021
For Israel, a continuing priority is that Jerusalem views Iran’s threats as existential and Israel will work to prevent that threat.

“No security or political leadership will ever accept an existential threat,” says the senior official. In Feb. 2021, Iran threatened to enrich uranium to 60-percent, rejected talks with the U.S. in Europe, and sought to use nuclear inspections as bargaining chips with the IAEA.

“The presence of multiple uranium particles of anthropogenic origin, including isotopically altered particles, at a location which was not declared by Iran, is a clear indication that nuclear material and/or equipment contaminated by nuclear material has been present at this location,” said IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi to the IAEA Board of Governors, on March 1.

The track record of Iran’s enrichment, including installing advanced IR-6 centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow, puts Iran back on the course it pursued in 2012 when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned about a red line on enrichment. Iran was warned in October 2012 about enrichment to 60 percent.

Second, the Israeli official noted how important U.S. commitment to the region is for stability. “There is no substitute for U.S. power and influence in the Middle East. There is never a vacuum in the Middle East, and any voids will eventually be filled.” He noted that Israel and U.S. have an unshakeable bond based on shared values and bipartisan support in the U.S., which is crucial to Israel’s security. The special relationship with U.S. is an essential part of Israel’s national security, alongside the peace with Egypt, Jordan, UAE and Bahrain.

Third, in the context of Iranian entrenchment and Iranian proxy threats, the U.S. and western allies can count on Israel. Israel and the U.S. have been in close contact since the new Biden administration came into office. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to his Israeli counterpart Gabi Asheknazi in late January and again in late February. The National Security Advisors Jake Sullivan and Meir Ben-Shabbat spoke on Jan. 23, and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in mid-February.
'Time to change anachronistic laws of war,' says Israeli counterterrorism expert
The decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to launch an investigation into Israeli actions warrants an urgent response that should include a push to reform the existing laws of war, a leading counter-terrorism expert told JNS.

Professor Boaz Ganor, founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, said, "The response to this dangerous step by the court is to urgently change the anachronistic laws of war and to adjust them to the challenges of war in the face of hybrid terror organizations."

Ganor defined hybrid terrorist organizations as those entities that control territories and populations, such as Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah and Lebanon, and until 2019, ISIS in Syria and Iraq. "They embed themselves in civilian populations and use civilians, even children, as living shields," he said.

Terror organizations are on an evolutionary path, able to adapt themselves and to cynically exploit "every opportunity they encounter," he continued. This means that "enlightened states must unite, through professional experts, jurists and others to formulate fair laws of war that will allow states to defend themselves against these terror organizations while maintaining a maximum protection of the lives of citizens."

The new laws of war should "place the blame on harm to civilians first and foremost on those who use them cynically as living shields," he argued.

Part of that adaptation involves taking advantage of the constraints placed on liberal democracies by humanitarian international law – particularly, the obligation by states to avoid harming civilians in line with the principles of discernment and proportionality, according to Ganor.

"In order to challenge these states, modern terror organizations, especially hybrid organizations, place weapons storehouses and rocket launchers in underground sites underneath residential homes and under-protected facilities like hospitals, medical clinics, schools and others," he said.

"These organizations do not see themselves as being obligated to humanitarian international law, and they use civilian hiding places to conduct random attacks on civilian areas and facilities in the territory of an enemy state. From this perspective, the states dealing with such terrorists find themselves being Gulliver, with their hands and legs bound by morality and by modern combat principles, fighting dwarfs that attack without pause and in violation of every legal or moral principle."


Israel’s Homeland Security Is Collapsing
From its establishment to the present day, Israel is a country that has invested its efforts in the security of its borders against surrounding countries. Countless efforts have been made to develop technologies and capabilities that have, at all times, preserved the military and defensive superiority of the State of Israel in the face of the non-stop threats that it faces.

At the same time, a clear outlook also developed — that military operations can be contained by on-duty forces in the short term, but that war can only be won by reservists. It is not by chance that the ratio of reservists and regular personnel is one regular person for every four reservists. Reservists are the most caring, and also the most influential, population in times of emergency, as history teaches.

But given that the State of Israel knows how to successfully defend its borders, how can we explain the failure in protecting its homeland security?

The state of violence prevailing in almost every aspect of our life has become an existential issue.

It is now routine that thousands of businesses have to pay “protection money” to criminals; frequent murders are happening in Arab society, and women are frequent victims; illegal construction now amounts to an incalculable number of buildings; an unimaginable amount of illegal weapons are found in our society; there is terrorism and agricultural theft in huge quantities; and, in practice, there is almost no police presence or enforcement of any kind in many areas, especially in the Negev.


Israel: Serious Cases of COVID-19 Drop Below 600 for First Time in Months
For the first time in months, the number of seriously ill Israelis suffering from COVID-19 dropped below 600, Israel’s Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The latest statistics show that 586 members of the public are considered to be in serious condition.

Current coronavirus cases stand at 26,324, also the lowest number since late December, the ministry said.

At least 6,047 fatalities have been recorded since the start of the pandemic last March.

Israel’s progress in battling the coronavirus pandemic has led to a dramatic rollback in health restrictions across the country, with most commercial businesses being open to the public.

But only holders of so-called “green passports” are allowed to enjoy leisure activities such as cultural and sports events, as well as gyms, hotels, and travel to certain countries.

Green passport holders include members of the public who have received two injections of the Pfizer vaccine or individuals who have recovered from the disease.

At least 5.2 million Israelis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while nearly 4.3 million have received both jabs.
Coronavirus: Knesset okays electronic bracelet for returnees from abroad
All returnees from abroad can be required to wear an electronic bracelet to ensure that they isolate at home or to quarantine in a hotel, a bill approved by the Knesset on Wednesday stated, while the number of serious patients and the COVID-19 reproduction rate dropped to their lowest level in months.

The legislation passed authorized the government to decide that those who enter the country from abroad or from specific countries will need to choose between the two options, except for children under the age of 14 and other special humanitarian cases.

At the moment, all people entering the country are required to isolate, unless they present a vaccination or a recovery certificate issued by the Health Ministry. Those who got inoculated or recovered abroad can be released from the quarantine if they undergo a serological test to prove their level of antibodies.

Electronic devices have already been used for the purpose of ensuring that people do not break the quarantine for several weeks on a voluntary basis.

According to the bill, the operation is carried out by private companies on behalf of the ministry. The information collected is stored in servers owned by the government but maintained by the companies and will be deleted at the end of the period if there is no report of infraction, or in no more than in 30 days.


Sabena hijacking survivor has a special request for Netanyahu
Israel's COVID vaccination campaign continues to astonish he world, and many people stuck abroad in countries where vaccines are in short supply are trying to get vaccinated in Israel.

One of these people is Patricia Stern, who survived the Sabena airline hijacking in 1972. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took part in the operation to rescue the hostages as the commander of a Sayeret Matkal team.

Now Stern, who holds Israeli citizenship, is asking that Netanyahu allow here to come to Israel to receive the COVID vaccine. Patricia Stern

Stern, 55, was six years old when she was on board Sabena Flight 571 from Brussels to Tel Aviv, with a stopover in Vienna. In the 1970s, Palestinian terrorism was beginning to make its mark, having carried out a few attacks against Jordanian and Israeli targets, such as the Black September massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.

When the plane touched down in the Austrian capital, two terrorists in civilian dress boarded the aircraft, joining two who were already on board. They went into the bathroom and took out their weapons, which included pistols and bombs.
UAE calls off Netanyahu trip, says won’t get involved in 'Israeli electioneering’
The United Arab Emirates rejected attempts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to squeeze in his first trip to the Gulf state before Tuesday’s election.

Netanyahu had been working on visiting Abu Dhabi on Thursday – including a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan – a week after a planned trip was postponed for the first time.

“From the UAE’s perspective, the purpose of the Abrahamic Accords is to provide a robust strategic foundation to foster peace and prosperity with the State of Israel and in the wider region,” former UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted on Wednesday. “The UAE will not be a part in any internal electioneering in Israel, now or ever.”

The statement by Gargash, who left his position last month, was unusually candid for someone close to the decision-making in Abu Dhabi. Netanyahu denied that a trip had been planned for this week, telling Radio Galey Israel: “I’m not going to Abu Dhabi before the election. It’s spin. I don’t know who spread it.”

However, Emirati sources told The Jerusalem Post otherwise on Tuesday, and Netanyahu’s schedule had been cleared of political events on Thursday. The Prime Minister’s Office and the Likud campaign did not deny reports the prime minister was planning such a trip, though neither did they confirm it.


Iranian Dissidents Claim Biden State Dept Hire is Pro-Regime Advocate
Iranian dissidents are organizing against a Biden State Department hire they claim is an Iranian regime sympathizer and whose father allegedly has close ties to the hardline government—ties that they say raise questions about the senior official's qualifications to hold office.

The Biden administration recently hired Ariane Tabatabai to serve as a senior adviser in the Office of the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, a high-level posting that requires security clearance. News of the hire sent shockwaves through the Iranian dissident community, which launched an online offensive targeted at the State Department calling for Tabatabai's removal over what they say are her and her family's close ties to Iran's anti-American government.

Critics point to multiple public appearances in which Tabatabai echoed Iranian regime talking points, including downplaying the significance of a growing protest movement in Iran that seeks to dismantle the hardline regime. She most recently argued in a December 2020 piece for Foreign Affairs that the United States must acknowledge Iran's presence in Syria and treat its support for militants there as legitimate. "Iran's victory in Syria," Tabatabai wrote in a 2018 post at the Lawfare blog, gave its military and militia forces "significant battlefield experience" and has allowed it to "redirect these trained and experienced fighters to other significant theaters, including Afghanistan and Yemen." Iran "has affirmed its place as a significant regional force," she wrote.

In addition to her writings, Tabatabai's father, Dr. Javad Tabatabai, is a senior faculty member at the state-controlled University of Tehran and is allegedly part of President Hassan Rouhani's inner circle, according to Iranian dissident groups. They point to Javad Tabatabai's public association with Rouhani and pictures of him with the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic's founder and leader of the 1979 revolution that ushered in the regime.
Syria claims Israeli airstrikes target weapon shipments near Damascus
Syrian air defenses responded to an alleged Israeli airstrike near Damascus on Tuesday night, after a number of cargo flights between Iran and Syria were reported earlier in the day, according to Syrian media.

A Syrian military source claimed that the alleged Israeli strike targeted sites near Damascus and that most of the incoming missiles were intercepted and only material damage was caused, according to SANA.

The Syrian Capital Voice site reported that the strikes targeted a weapons shipment that arrived at the Damascus International Airport earlier in the day. Explosions were reported after the strikes as well, according to the news source, which stated that they were likely caused by stored ammunition exploding.

The news source added that the 1st Division of the Syrian military in Al-Kiswah also went on alert after the airstrikes.
The Israeli-Sri Lankan Relationship Was Manipulated by the Palestinians
Ties between Israel and Sri Lanka were restored under Sri Lanka’s first executive president, Junius Richard Jayewardene, when the country began to suffer from terrorism committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1977. Cabinet minister Lalith Athulathmudali, who had worked as a law lecturer at Hebrew University in Jerusalem; as well as Jayewardene’s son, Ravi Jayewardene, were determined that Sri Lanka should turn to Israel for assistance in combating LTTE. President Jayewardene turned desperately to Israel after the West refused to sell the country weapons. Security ties soon led to the establishment of diplomatic relations, and in April 1984, an Israeli mission was opened in Colombo for the second time.

A vivid account by Victor Ostrovky and Claire Hoy in their bestselling work “By Way of Deception: A Devastating Insider’s Portrait of the Mossad” describes how the Sri Lankan government was aided by the Mossad in the early 1980s. The book reveals that it was a Mossad operative, Amy Yar, who advised Jayewardene’s government to accelerate the country’s ambitious Mahaweli development project as a quick remedy for the energy crisis and, more importantly, as the best strategy to settle Sinhalese farmers in the island’s dry zones. Two Israeli academics provided a broad analysis of the project that crucially helped the Sri Lankan government convince the World Bank to invest $250 million. A large portion of the Mahaweli contract was given to Israeli construction company Solel Bonah and Israeli architect Ulrik Plesner, who planned six new towns for the Mahaweli settlements.

The revived Israeli presence in Sri Lanka in the early 1980s and the opening of the Israeli embassy in Colombo in 1984 alarmed the country’s Muslim ethnic minority, who spread a conspiracy theory about Jews in Sri Lanka. Muslim organizations in Sri Lanka portrayed Israel as a ruthlessly violent state, in keeping with the image of Israel advanced by the PLO.

President Jayewardene’s successor, Ranasinghe Premadasa, reversed course once again regarding Israel. He confounded the West by voting against UN General Assembly Resolution 46/86 in 1991, which was adopted to revoke Resolution 3379 — the notorious resolution that called Zionism a form of racism. The following year, Premadasa terminated diplomatic relations with Israel. The delegitimizing of Israel and thwarting of Israel-Sri Lanka relations were the result of astute image manipulation by the PLO and its supporters in the local Muslim community.
I remember shedding tears that day: Four years later
The article below is cross-posted from Frimet Roth's The Good, The Bad, The Ugly blog and was authored by Frimet.

It was published there on March 15, 2021 under the heading A call to President Biden. Please check out the video clip at the bottom; we produced this - with the help of talented friends - to mark the anniversary about which Frimet writes.

--- Exactly four years ago, during the evening hours of March 14, 2017, Department of Justice and FBI officials invited my husband and me to a meeting in a Jerusalem hotel.

There they shared with us news that we believed would herald the arrest and trial of our child's murderer. Ahlam Tamimi had by then been enjoying freedom and security in Amman for five and a half years. In October 2011, she had been released in the lop-sided Shalit Deal with the terror organization Hamas.

The moment she landed in her native country Jordan, she began boasting of the terror bombing attack she had masterminded on Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria in August 2001. The eatery had been packed with families that hot summer afternoon. The number of victims reached 15, including 8 children, among them our Malki.


INTERPOL - The victims of the Sbarro 2001 terror attack deserve justice!

Cost of Hitting Jews: Arab Who Attacked Yehuda Glick to Serve 5 Months, Pay $18,000
Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Miriam Kelsey ruled that Arin Za’anini should compensate former MK Yehuda Glick for attacking him when Glick was comforting members of the Al-Halak family whose son Iyad had been shot by police. The attacker was also sentenced to five months in prison.

Za’anini’s indictment said that when Glick had arrived at the mourning family’s home, Za’anini caught him and took him outside. He then “threw the plaintiff and rolled him down about twenty-five stairs near the mourners’ house. The plaintiff, who was lying on the ground, tried to get up, but the defendant and a group of people beat and kicked him in his body and head.”

As Glick got up and continued walking in the street, the assailant and his gang followed him, and “near the local fire station, they continued to hit the plaintiff in the head and body, kicked and knocked him to the ground again. Again, while the plaintiff was lying on the ground, they continued to kick him hard in the head and body.”

The indictment also stated that during the incident, the assailant encouraged others to hit him, and the gang was beating him and yelling out that the complainant was a Jew who broke into the Al-Aqsa mosque, beats up women, and snitches on young people to the police.

Glick advocates opening the Temple Mount on an equal footing to prayer by Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others. He has been called “a symbol of the struggle for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.” Glick has spoken about his vision of a utopian Temple Mount that would include a “House of prayer for all Nations” with the Dome of the Rock standing alongside a rebuilt Jewish sacrificial altar.

Za’anini Za’anini was convicted and ordered to pay Glick compensation in the amount of NIS 50,000, NIS 8,000 in legal fees, and more than NIS 4,000 in court costs, a total payment of more than NIS 60,000 ($18,000). And he will spend five months in prison.
Israel Urges Farmers near Gaza to Harvest Wheat Before the Arson Terrorism Season Begins
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Finance have formulated a joint decision to support Israeli farmers along the Gaza Strip with up to NIS 8 million to encourage early harvest of their crops before they dry and become a target to arson terrorism coming from Gaza.

The Ministry of Agriculture stated Wednesday that farmers whose land is in the vicinity of the Strip will receive support to harvest the grain for hay while the field is still green, before the usual harvest time when the wheat and barley is collected for its produce.

The purpose of the support is to minimize the potential for fires that may be caused by incendiary balloons launched by Gazan terrorists. Allocating the budget should result in most of the Israeli wheat and barley being cut green or semi-green before they dry out and can serve as targets for arson.

Eligible farmers include those in the “fire line” of kite terrorism, who cultivate their fields within 7 km of the perimeter fence around the Gaza Strip.

These areas include 118,366 dunams of wheat and barley fields. The government will provide the support by paying NIS 100 NIS per dunam if the field is cut before it becomes flammable.

Similar support was given by the state in recent years.


Searching for New Ways to Fund a Terrorist Regime
Question: How do you get the American government to finance a terrorist regime when US law prevents it from doing so?

Answer: Twist the meaning of words, claim that the law doesn’t say what it obviously says and pretend the regime doesn’t sponsor terror. In other words, play the usual games.

Those games are in full swing now in the campaign to put American taxpayers’ dollars into the pockets of the Palestinian Authority.

Last week, The New York Times published a gigantic feature story about a Palestinian Arab school located in the village of Jaba near Bethlehem that supposedly will be in dire straits unless it starts receiving large amounts of American aid, and fast.

The article, by Times correspondent Adam Rasgon, never considers the question of why the PA chooses to fund terrorists rather than its own schools. Last year, the PA distributed $15 million monthly —monthly!—on salaries for terrorists who are imprisoned in Israel. Just one month of those funds could have built quite a few schools.

Instead, Rasgon’s entire article was based on the premise that America has some kind of obligation to pay for the PA’s schools.

The United States does send humanitarian assistance to various impoverished countries, but not to anti-American, terror-sponsoring regimes. The United States doesn’t finance schools in Iran or North Korea. So why should it pay for schools under the PA, which not only sponsors terrorists but spreads some of the most vicious anti-American propaganda in the world?


PMW: PMW initiative creates havoc for the PA Pay-for-Slay policy
According to the Director of the Palestinian Authority-funded PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, Qadri Abu Bakr, the PA leadership is working closely with the US administration, the EU, and Israeli authorities to ensure that the PA will be able to pay the monthly salaries it pays to terrorist prisoners and released terrorists, via the banks in April. Abu Bakr added that dozens of employees in the commission are working - “even on vacation days” - to guarantee a solution is found to give the terrorists their rewards.

“The Palestinian leadership is holding contacts at the highest levels with the American administration, with the Europeans, and with the Israeli authorities in order to find a solution that will allow the renewal of paying the salaries of the prisoners in the occupation’s prison and the released prisoners... We hope that the payment of the salaries via the banks will be renewed in April [2021]... A team of 64 employees in the commission and in other institutions is working even on vacation days to arrange this matter, which is sacred from our perspective... The commission is insisting that the prisoners’ salaries be paid via the banks and not in any other way.” [alquds.com, website of the paper Al-Quds, March 11, 2021]

The PA’s crisis in paying salaries all started on April 20, 2020, when Palestinian Media Watch wrote to the banks operating in the PA and warned them that new Israeli anti-terror legislation was about to come into effect and that if they continued allowing to the PA to pay salaries to the terrorist prisoners and released prisoners through their institutions they would potentially face both criminal and civil liability.

The new law that PMW referred to came into full force on Dec. 30, 2020.

Instead of abolishing its terror reward policy, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh reiterated the PA commitment to paying the salaries of the terrorist prisoners. When asked on Al-Araby TV whether the PA has “abandoned the prisoners, and what are the alternative solutions for them?” Shtayyeh pledged that the PA’ will continue to reward terrorists:
“You know and all the people watching your show know for certain that we are fully committed. We have not abandoned the prisoners, and we will not abandon the prisoners. The prisoners’ cause is a sacred cause. They have rights, and we must protect this… On the other hand, Israel and the US imposed sanctions on us due to our commitment to the prisoners. In any case we will protect the sanctity of this cause… But the most important thing is that there are financial rights for the prisoners. We will remain committed to them in every way.”

[Facebook page of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, Jan. 22, 2021]


This statement reflected the efforts of the PA to try to invent ways to circumvent the new Israeli anti-terror funding law.


Libel: Israel is flooding the Israeli Arab society with illegal weapons, crime, and drugs

Palestinian TV broadcasts 1964 PLO Charter calling for Israel's destruction
Palestinian Authority television allegedly repeatedly broadcasted an educational series in early March highlighting the outdated 1964 Palestine Liberation Organization Charter that explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel, as reported by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) on Wednesday.

The broadcast did not make any mention of important amendments made in 1993 and 1995 that recognized Jewish connections to the land, in addition to forming the basis of acceptance of a two-state solution.

Rather, the television broadcast included a slide referring to Clause 16 of the charter, which calls for “the liberation of Palestine, from an international perspective, [as] a defensive operation necessitated by self-defense, as determined by the UN Charter.”

The narrator of the broadcast further added that the “The Charter… is based on the right to self-defense and to the return of the stolen homeland in its entirety; and it is a right that the international conventions and norms confirm.”

In addition, the segment discussing the charter did not note the two-state solution and the peace process, and claimed that return is a reference to “the return of the stolen homeland in it entirely,” later depicting a map replacing Israel with Palestine.
PA TV presents the PLO Charter as currently calling for Israel's destruction

PA Intelligence Conducts Two Successful Ops Abroad
The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) intelligence service has recently conducted two successful operations, in Syria and in Greece, with the assistance of the Turks.

Over the weekend, PA intelligence operatives returned four sisters, from the Makhlouf family, from Syria to their home in Shechem (Nablus). In 2014, the father of the family, the cleric Majdi Makhlouf, went to Turkey for treatment for his wife’s kidney disease. But then, Makhlouf moved from Turkey to Syria taking along his wife. He joined the Islamic State (ISIS) terror organization, and also married another Syrian woman.

Shortly afterward, his (Palestinian Authority) wife began her journey back from Syria to Turkey while his four daughters remained in Syria. Makhlouf, who decided to leave ISIS a few months later, was arrested in the town of Azzaz by the Free Syrian Army and as far as his family knows, he is still in a Syrian prison. Recently, Makhlouf managed to contact his family in Shechem.

Meanwhile, the four daughters and their stepmother moved between the towns of Raqqa, Tabaka and Abu Kamal, and in the past year have settled in Azzaz, close to their father.

When word of the father’s arrest became known to the family members in Shechem, the PA’s “foreign security mechanism” began to operate to locate the girls. At the end of a complicated operation, with the help of Turkey, with whom the head of PA intelligence Colonel Majed Faraj, maintains good relations, the PA intelligence agents managed to transfer the girls to Turkey and then to the PA.

The second operation, which also took place with Turkish assistance, began following the abduction and murder of a Palestinian Authority woman from the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria.
Israel, US asked Abbas to delay or cancel Palestinian elections - report
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected a request from Israel and the US to postpone or cancel the Palestinian general elections, the Palestinian Khabar news agency reported Tuesday.

The request came in light of the growing schism in Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction and fears that Hamas would win the parliamentary election, set to take place on May 22, Palestinian sources told Khabar.

The election for the PA presidency is scheduled to take place on July 31. The last presidential election was held in 2005, when Abbas was elected to a four-year term. The last parliamentary election, held in 2006, resulted in a Hamas victory.

The elections were needed to unite the Palestinians and end the dispute between Fatah and Hamas, Abbas told Israel and the US, according to the sources.

Abbas has no plans to delay or call off the elections, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post. The official refused to comment on the report about an Israeli and US request to postpone or cancel the elections.
Seth Frantzman: Jordan on edge of crisis as COVID cases rapidly grow
The Kingdom of Jordan has entered a crisis as COVID cases grow, and the public expresses discontent with the health infrastructure. King Abdullah II visited a hospital in Salt this week after patients died due to a shortage of oxygen supplies. The unusual visit was a reminder of other times when the king has appeared in public to show his leadership, such as in January 2015 after ISIS murdered Jordanian pilot Muath Safi Yousef al-Kasasbeh.

The king’s visit was intended to show the public that he would personally demand answers from the hospital director. This could be an attempt to postpone the growing crisis, because it is highly unusual for a leader to visit a hospital amid angry crowds to sort things out himself. However, monarchies survive partly on symbolic gestures, and the kingdom has survived crises in the past through such methods.

The problems facing Jordan are growing, according to numerous accounts at Al-Ghad media in Jordan.

A report on Wednesday quoted citizens as complaining that they feel safer at home than in hospitals.
The Collapse of the Lebanese State and Hizbullah’s Takeover of the Government in Beirut
Hizbullah refrains from formally taking over the governing structure, and Hassan Nasrallah understands the far-reaching significance of seizing power at Lebanon’s presidential palace in Baabda. At this stage, Iran has geostrategic objectives that prevent it from realizing the vision of turning Lebanon into an Islamic republic as Ayatollah Khomeini commanded. Iran’s immediate goal is to take advantage of the window of opportunity opened by the Biden government and return to the nuclear agreement on Tehran’s terms.

However, the internal processes in Lebanon seem to be advancing at a faster rate than Iran and Hizbullah would like. In this situation, an extreme scenario may arise in which the Lebanese state will fall like a ripe fruit into the hands of Hizbullah, and Iran will realize its vision of taking over Lebanon. The scenarios present the following strategic options:

- Iran will bring warships into the port of Beirut and take it over. Take advantage of Hizbullah’s control of Beirut International Airport and use it as a military airfield for its own purposes. At the same time, it will establish a military airfield in Baalbek.
- Iran will send the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards from Iran and Syria to Lebanon’s Baalbek and Baqaa regions, which will serve as an umbrella for Afghani, Pakistani, Iraqi, and Yemeni Shi’ite militias, which will enter from Syria. These forces were previously invited by Nasrallah to participate in the next war against Israel.
- Hizbullah will threaten that any attacks on Iranian and Shiite forces in Lebanon will result in a response deep inside Israel by its missile arm.
- Hizbullah, with Iran’s support, will increase the production of precision warheads for long and medium-range missiles.

The scenario is extreme. However, given the continued deterioration of the situation in Lebanon, it can be realized, change the regional balance of power, and directly threaten Israel.


Hezbollah worries Russia is pushing regime change in Syria
Hezbollah might be concerned that Russia is changing its policy on Syria: On Tuesday, the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that a Hezbollah delegation that arrived in Moscow for a rare visit met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and asked him a number of questions about Russia's position on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

According to the report, the Shiite terrorist organization is worried about reports that Moscow, seeking to end the Syrian war, intends to set up a "military council" in Syria that would include opposition officials.

Hezbollah is also worried that Iran could pull up stakes in Syria. This concern apparently stems from recent rumors in Arab media about a meeting between senior Russian officials and Syrian opposition figure Manaf Tlass, considered an ally of Turkey, as well as Russia's reservations about Iran's continued presence in Syria, which has made the country into an Iranian satellite.

Various media outlets even mentioned the possibility that Russia is using the plan to set up a "military council" as leverage on Assad to reduce Iran's influence and presence in Syria, as well as establish a Syrian government that would be friendly to Moscow without Russia having to vie for favor with Iran.

Hezbollah denied reports that it asked Russian officials about the fate of the Assad regime, the Russian news agency RT reported. Head of the Hezbollah delegation, Mohammed Raad, said that the conversation with Lavrov was "honest," and had focused on domestic issues in Lebanon.


Iran Enriching Uranium With New Advanced Machine Type at Underground Plant: IAEA
Iran has started enriching uranium at its underground Natanz plant with a second type of advanced centrifuge, the IR-4, the UN nuclear watchdog said in a report obtained by Reuters on Tuesday, in a further breach of Tehran’s deal with major powers.

Last year Iran started moving three cascades, or clusters, of different advanced models from an above-ground plant at Natanz to the below-ground Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP). It is already enriching underground with IR-2m centrifuges. The deal only lets it enrich there with first-generation IR-1 machines.

“On 15 March 2021, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding the cascade of 174 IR-4 centrifuges already installed at FEP with natural UF6,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to member states dated Monday, referring to uranium hexafluoride, the form in which uranium is fed into centrifuges for enrichment.
After ‘Post’ report about 'crimes,' Columbia scrubs ex-Iran envoy off site
The New York City-based Columbia University Middle East Institute in early March deleted an entry listing former Iranian regime UN ambassador Mohammad Jafar Mahallati as a visiting fellow.

After The Jerusalem Post reported that Amnesty International implicated Mahallati in crimes against humanity for the massacre of at least 5,000 political prisoners in 1988 and that Mahallati repeatedly called to eliminate the Jewish state at the UN, a source said a New York Post reporter contacted Columbia University.

The source told the Post that Jon Levine, a prominent reporter for the New York Post, the fourth largest paper in the US, contacted Columbia’s management, prompting the university to remove Mahallati’s webpage entry on March 8. Levine declined to comment.

A Columbia University spokesperson told the Post that "Professor Mahallati is on the faculty of Oberlin College. He is not employed or paid by Columbia, and there are no arrangements in place for him to come to the university as an instructor or visiting research fellow."

The university spokesperson said that “Mahallati was an adjunct at Columbia 24 years ago.”







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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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