Friday, August 20, 2021

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Joe Biden's catastrophic judgment
US allies are furious and alarmed as they see the collapse of US credibility and strategic rationality.

And this brings us to Bennett's meeting with Biden next Thursday.

Biden's decision to stick to his guns on Afghanistan shows that once he has made up his mind about something, Biden is unwilling to listen to counterargument. And the only other major position that Biden has held consistently over the years is his position on Iran.

Whereas for 15 years Biden was an outspoken critic of the war in Afghanistan and demanded a swift US withdrawal, since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, Biden has been among the regime's most stalwart supporters in Washington. Biden's policy towards the ayatollahs in Tehran has been appeasement for the past 42 years, even when he stood alone on the issue.

For instance, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in 2001, Biden responded to the Sept. 11 attacks on the US by calling for the Bush administration to give Iran $100 million in foreign aid.

This week it was reported that ahead of Bennett's visit with Biden next Thursday, government officials are hoping to convince him that given the failure of the nuclear talks in Vienna, the time has come for the US and Israel to jointly attack Iran's nuclear installations. If Biden weren't impermeable to reason, Israel's argument might have had a shot. After all, in 1983, Ronald Reagan responded to the Hezbollah bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut by invading Grenada.

But as Biden showed on Monday, and in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos Wednesday, he will not rethink his choices or positions, even after they failed. As Biden rejects all criticism of his personal failure in Afghanistan, there is effectively zero chance he will reconsider his policy of 42 years on Iran. Moreover, unlike his policy on Afghanistan, his Iran policy is now shared by the US intelligence community and military, the Washington establishment and the Democrat Party.

Whether Bennett would be better off postponing the trip until the smoke begins to settle remains to be seen. But what is clear enough is that with Iran sprinting towards the nuclear finish line, and US credibility in a state of unprecedented collapse, if Israel wants to prevent Iran from acquiring military nuclear capabilities, Biden is not man to see.

The Lesson from the U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan: Israel Must Recognize the Limits of Superpower Support
President Biden tried to justify his decision to withdraw by portraying the war in Afghanistan as a local civil war, as if the West does not have an interest in the outcome of this conflict. In fact, this is a war between two schools of thought inside Islam; the outcome may have a long-lasting impact not only on the kind of life the people of the Muslem world are going to have but on global security. Therefore, the West should have shown much more patience in assisting the moderate forces who, in some locations, cannot stay in power without close support. The lack of readiness to do so by the only Western superpower means that the extremists may feel that they have much less to lose in the future if they challenge the West since another attempt to build a functioning moderate government is not going to happen.

The essential lesson for Israel of the dramatic events in Kabul is that with all the importance of Israel’s strategic partnership with the United States – which is irreplaceable – Israel must recognize the limitations of a superpower’s backing, and therefore adhere more closely to the principle that Israel will defend itself on its own. This is a relevant lesson in the Iranian context when the Americans project hesitation in response to Tehran’s many provocations, and this is true in the Palestinian context. Once again, it becomes clear how critical Israeli responsibility is for security in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Disturbing is the thought that there were elements of the Israeli security establishment that in 2013 seriously considered U.S. General John Allen’s security plan – which proposed placing foreign forces in the Jordan Valley and giving Americans a key role in managing the security issue as part of the Obama administration’s proposals for a permanent settlement.

Precisely in the face of the weakness projected by the United States, Israel stands out in the regional arena as a stable pillar that moderates in the region can rely on. This is an opportunity to leverage the problematic developments in Afghanistan to strengthen and expand the Abraham Accords between Israel and moderate Arab states, which stood the test of the first year of the Accords’ signing, as well as building ties with others disillusioned with Washington’s problematic functioning. For this purpose, it is also possible to take advantage of the predicament to which Iran and its proxies throughout the Middle East are subjected at this point.‎
'It went so badly wrong due to the decision of one man' - Colonel Kemp slams President Joe Biden
Colonel Richard Kemp says 'from the moment' the President 'made that decision to withdraw without any regard for the security situation in Afghanistan... this situation was absolutely inevitable.'

Im Tirtzu: Brig. Gen. Amir Avivi, founder and CEO of Habithonistim discusses Israel's security

The Israel Guys: Can Israel Trust ANYONE Anymore?
How does the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan affect Israel? Should Israel be worried that they can’t depend on America as a strategic ally anymore? Find out on today’s news program.

Israel is preparing to quietly uproot a vineyard in Samaria that will obliterate half of a farmer’s income for the next six years. You won’t hear about this in the news, but you can head over to our social media platforms and raise an outcry. Please share the “Vineyard Segment” on our social media platforms with everyone you know. Our handle is “theisraelguys”.

Also, find out about how Israel put out the massive forest fires in Jerusalem using the coolest firefighting machine ever….a C130 Hercules.

Noah Rothman: The Biden White House Is Betting That America Is Finished
The Biden White House is hoping you won’t care about the metastasizing terrorist threats that are sure to incubate in a Taliban-run Afghanistan (an assessment that even Democrats do not question). They’re operating under the assumption that the loss of reliable intelligence from Afghanistan won’t matter, and we can continue to deter and disrupt terrorist operations from the Persian Gulf.

They’re hoping that you won’t mind the loss of American influence among ally and adversary alike. Sure, there might be slight disruptions to global commerce as China reasserts its influence in the Pacific, but you’ll absorb the higher price of consumer goods if it would mean defending our partners against subjugation.

They’re sure that the Atlantic Alliance’s deteriorating cohesion won’t have any impact on how you vote, even if that deterioration leads Moscow to test its freedom to reconquer territory in Europe or force Americans to confront the prospect of a military conflict with Russia over something so piddling as the independence of the Baltic states. They’re hoping you don’t care about global security; only your own.

In short, the Biden White House is making a big bet: It’s betting that America is finished as a global superpower and that you will welcome our decline. We’re about to learn something about this country. We’re going to learn whether the Biden administration’s gamble is correct—that you are willing to slough off the burdens associated with being a beacon of global freedom and a pillar of geopolitical stability. They’re assuming that you are so cynical and so wedded to the amenities our untested global power has provided us that you won’t tolerate any interruption to them. They think you’re beyond hope.

Let’s pray that we can still prove them wrong.

Matt Lee: Was Biden handcuffed by Trump’s Taliban deal in Doha?
The agreement provided significant legitimacy to the Taliban, whose leaders met with Pompeo, the first secretary of state to have such interactions. There were also discussions of them coming to the US to meet with Trump.

Still, Trump spoke cautiously about the deal’s prospects for success, warning of military firepower if “bad things happen.” Pompeo similarly said the US was “realistic” and “restrained,” determined to avoid endless wars.

US officials made clear at the time that the agreement was conditions-based and the failure of intra-Afghan peace talks to reach a negotiated settlement would have nullified the requirement to withdraw.

One day before the Doha deal, a top aide to chief US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said that the agreement was not irreversible, and “there is no obligation for the United States to withdraw troops if the Afghan parties are unable to reach agreement or if the Taliban show bad faith” during negotiations.

Those negotiations were intended to begin within a month of the deal being signed, but were delayed amid disputes between the Taliban and the Afghan government over prisoner releases. Amid fits and starts, the negotiations had not produced any outcome by the time Biden announced his withdrawal decision in April. Nor have they done so since.

History Lesson - Biden is Obama 3.0 on Embracing Jihadists
Biden is following in Obama's ill-fated footsteps. In fact, Biden's foreign policy is so unoriginal that you could almost describe the "Biden Doctrine" -- as more and more left-wing pundits are calling it -- as "Obama on steroids."

The Biden administration must... Refuse with absolute consistency to work with radical Islamist groups. Exceptions to this rule must be limited to cases of absolute and immediate necessity. Never trust and always verify, verify, and verify.

Send powerful messages of support to Taiwan, Ukraine, Israel and our allies in Asia such as Japan and Australia especially. These are the partners most at risk because of Biden's failure in Afghanistan, and his inadequate responses to China and Russia, our other greatest adversaries.

Make it clear, now that the U.S. is at a much greater risk than just a few weeks ago, that any attack against the U.S. will be met with the harshest response.
Afghanistan’s Fall Is a Message to US Allies
Meanwhile, the rapid fall of Afghanistan is undermining the confidence of Sunni Gulf states in the US, Rhode cautioned, adding that this could result in an even further tightening of their relationship with Israel.

Professor Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, told Radio Jerusalem on Tuesday that “the unbearable ease with which Afghanistan is collapsing and being kidnapped by the Taliban is astounding and frightening at the same time.”

The Afghan National Army’s rapid disintegration, following 20 years of training and equipment supplies from the US, is reminiscent “of similar phenomenon in Iraq, and testif[ies] to how hollow the Western presence in these countries are, and how vacuous and pointless it is,” said Rabi.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Israel Ziv, former head of IDF Operations Branch, told Israeli radio station 103FM that the collapse of Afghanistan will have repercussions regarding the Iranian threat, too.

“This is, in actuality, a demonstration of the collapse of the American strategy in the world,” said Ziv. He noted that after recent events, Israel must also “draw conclusions regarding the Iranian issue.”

He said that “there is no doubt that American thoughts about easing sanctions on Tehran, and allowing Iran to return to the normal economic system, are advancing the next global failure.”

Should Washington proceed with “the next withdrawal that they want to conduct in the face of the Iranians, the significance of that will be not only a strengthening of Iran,” Ziv cautioned, but also a strengthening of Houthi terror activity in Yemen, attacks on Saudi Arabia, and destabilizing activity in Syria and Lebanon, “and in every place where the Iranians have branches.”
Twitter, the Taliban, and Anti-Israel Hypocrisy
In fact, when the platform has taken action to remove genocidal tweets, it has usually been in response to significant pressure from lawmakers. This was the case with ISIS-supporting accounts that were disseminating slickly produced propaganda videos featuring gruesome executions of hostages, and calls to recruit more jihadists.

In February 2016, Twitter revealed it had suspended 125,000 ISIS-related profiles over the course of the previous seven months. But this only came after the White House had urged the platform to do more to combat the proliferation of such material.

Then-director of the FBI James Comey even warned that Twitter was being used to “crowdsource terrorism” and “sell murder.”

HonestReporting has previously drawn attention to antisemitic hatred on the platform, including a BBC journalist who tweeted her belief that “#HitlerWasRight,” and a widely-published Palestinian journalist who claimed that Israel was “beating Hitler at his own game.”

While both of these people deleted the comments after a swift backlash, it seems neither was flagged by Twitter’s algorithm at the time.

The public may be astonished at Twitter’s latest inaction over the Taliban live-tweeting its Afghan takeover, but due to its past policy on Palestinian and anti-Israel terrorism, this was only to be expected.
How Russia Stands to Gain Thanks to Biden’s Afghanistan Disaster
Moscow’s current attitude towards Afghanistan remains complex but ultimately highlights anti-American priorities. Indeed, this attitude reflects a long history of simultaneously coveting Western assistance and resenting Western primacy. As late as October 2020 Putin said, “I to this day believe that the presence of Americans in Afghanistan does not contradict our national interests,” adding that an American withdrawal raises many risks for Russia. But last month, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov described the Taliban as "sane" people who said they have no plans to create problems in Central Asia and who will “uncompromisingly” fight ISIS. And Konstantin Kosachev, deputy speaker of Russia’s Federation Council (upper parliament house), saw only one piece of good news from Afghanistan—that the US has “no grounds to claim leadership” with regard to the Afghan settlement.

Lavrov also suggested that a new American presence in Central Asia outside Afghanistan will make Russian allies “hostage to American politics.” Indeed, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, warned the US about deploying American troops to Central Asia after withdrawing from Afghanistan. Putin for his part has yet to speak publicly since Biden announced the US withdrawal. Instead, he met with Central Asian leaders and the Russian Security Council and held military drills on the Afghan border.

Whether Russian officials genuinely believe that the Taliban will turn into a responsible stakeholder is a separate matter. “In their hearts, they [the Russians] know the futility of their wish, but they have their anti-American design,” Davood Moradian, founder and first director-general of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS), told me. Ultimately, however, Moscow is nothing if not cynical. Beyond savoring American defeat, Putin will focus on making sure whatever happens does not affect Kremlin interests—and makes him look good. Russia’s special envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov said last month that thanks to Russia’s multi-year dialogue with the Taliban, Moscow can now “talk with any of the forces in Afghanistan” unlike the “failed Westerners.” The Kremlin will thus likely put a renewed emphasis on diplomacy and projecting military power in the region.

Although many analysts expected Russia to get stuck in a quagmire in Syria when Putin intervened militarily in September 2015, Putin aimed to keep it limited—indeed to precisely avoid the Afghanistan experience of the Soviet Union. Certainly, Afghanistan is not Syria, but Moscow is now in a better position to play peacemaker here too, and as desperate Afghans cling to sides of American airplanes leaving Kabul while Biden told the American public he does not regret his decision, Moscow’s (like Beijing’s) clout can simply grow by default. What a world that will be.
Little Enthusiasm in the Middle East for the Taliban Victory
Most of the answer can be found in the visual material provided by the major media sites, notably Al Jazeera, depicting the total lack of enthusiasm to the Taliban takeover of Kabul by the “man in the street” in the capital city itself — with an emphasis on the man in the almost total absence of women in the streets during these unsettling, fearful times. Much as the Hamas leadership is happy to see the like-minded Taliban triumphant, it finds it difficult to “sell” what looks more of a warlords’ takeover than the triumph of an Islamic revolutionary movement.

While the western media focuses on two aspects of this lack of enthusiasm — the fear of Taliban retribution against former incumbents and the fear that women’s rights will be curtailed if not abolished — these effect a relatively small percentage of the population.

For most of the six million residents of greater Kabul, the Taliban takeover — marked by a mass exodus of Western diplomats, army personnel, and foreign non-governmental agencies and their personnel, coupled with the flight of most well-to-do Afghanis — will mean an immediate descent into poverty, not only amongst the many shop and service providers to such a clientele and the thousands who worked directly with them, but amongst the far wider circles of Afghanis who serviced those who serviced the foreigners.

Ironically, those who realize this lack of enthusiasm most are the Taliban leaders themselves. One of this leadership’s first moves was to provide assurances that the diplomatic and business community that backed the deposed regime will not be harmed.

No doubt, the Taliban government will find alternative sources of income. Extorting the Chinese will be one such channel as Kabul will demand payoffs from Beijing in return to putting a brake on the promotion of Islamist terrorism in northwestern China. Similar deals will probably be ironed out with neighboring gold- and gas-rich Uzbekistan and gas-rich Turkmenistan.

Alas, these payoffs will most likely go exclusively to the new/old political class rather than to their suffering subjects.

It might be little comfort to the “infidel” or “imperialist” West, but at least their largesse improved the lives of Afghanis for twenty years. Hopefully, the faint memory of such prosperity might serve in the more distant future as the harbinger of change towards a democratic Afghanistan that lives at peace with itself, its neighbors, and the world at large.
Afghanistan is much worse than the fall of Saigon. Biden needs to act like it
This is a humanitarian and policy crisis
Bizarrely, the White House is treating the unfolding debacle as a mere political messaging crisis instead of the military, humanitarian and foreign policy crisis it is. That’s why Biden didn’t mention Afghanistan in his Wednesday COVID-19 speech where he again refused to take questions.

If they change the subject, the administration assumes, the press will simply move on. But the Taliban won’t move on. The Kabul nightmare is likely in its early stages.

An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Americans remain in the country. The U.S. government isn’t sure where they are. They have told those in Kabul to come to the airport, but they’ll have to move through numerous Taliban checkpoints.

Who knows how many of our Afghan allies are in hiding despite wasting months begging for Biden to save them? Their requests are lost in our dysfunctional bureaucracy.

What happens if we get out all but 1,000 Americans? That would be 20 times the embassy staff seized during the Iranian hostage crisis. What if a few jumpy enemy fighters surrounding Kabul’s airport decide to open fire or mortar the runway? How will the Taliban commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks?

Shouldn't Biden be planning for the worst?
The fact that this White House isn’t contemplating possible developments even a few weeks out beggars belief. And few have mentioned how an emboldened China or Russia might handle Taiwan and Ukraine over the next few months.

Many compare the fall of Kabul to the fall of Saigon. But the situation in Afghanistan looks far worse. We rescued all the Americans from Vietnam. President Gerald Ford immediately gave a long speech taking responsibility, answered more than 20 questions from journalists and welcomed 130,000 refugees into the country.

President Biden likes to think of himself as another FDR. At this point, he isn’t even a President Ford.

N.R. Editors: Milley and Austin Should Resign
Is anyone in the U.S. government accountable anymore?
As the debacle in Afghanistan continues to unspool, there is no serious talk of anyone getting fired or resigning for his responsibility in a fiasco that has humiliated the United States and left our countrymen and Afghan allies stranded behind enemy lines.

All of this is ultimately Joe Biden’s responsibility, even though, as he demonstrated again in his callous and confused interview with George Stephanopoulos, he refuses to admit error. But we elect presidents for four-year terms.

If it is Biden who made the call to pull out and to bless a shockingly inept withdrawal, that doesn’t absolve the Pentagon of responsibility for its role in planning and executing an operation worthy of Jimmy Carter’s ill-fated Desert One, only on a far larger scale.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin should resign immediately.

Melanie Phillips: Sleepless nights for the mangy British lion
The grim fact is that the United Kingdom no longer has the military personnel or hardware that it needs to defend itself adequately without US cover, and it would take a huge switch in priorities and increased funding for the UK to be able to do so.

This has been the case for years; but now the country’s priorities have veered from reckless indifference into lunacy.

For while spending on defence has been progressively degraded, Britain’s Conservative (!) government has undertaken to spend trillions of pounds on fighting “climate change” — a hypothetical threat for which no evidence exists that stands serious scrutiny for five seconds and which in its own terms can’t be stopped anyway.

I wrote here for my premium subscribers that western conservatives have forgotten what they need to conserve in order to defend the west. What they need to conserve above all is the practical means of conducting that defence.

Yet with some very honourable exceptions, Britain’s Conservatives appear to be quite oblivious of this crucial necessity. Despite Brexit and the restoration of the UK as an independent nation, they no longer seem to grasp what independence means. They too have drunk the Kool-Aid of western defeatism.

The Biden administration’s abandonment of Afghanistan has now ripped away the veils of illusion. America and Britain, intently engaged for years upon the all-consuming activity of scrutinising their own navels, are now revealed as sitting ducks for those enemies of civilisation who have the scent of blood in their nostrils.

America may or may not be lost. But Britain’s Conservatives need to snap out of their self-indulgent trance right now, ditch the apocalyptic millenarian man-made global warming myth along with the narcissistic idiocies of “victim culture”, and start doing what they used to know it takes to defend their country against threats that are all too real.
Reports: Taliban Beating Americans, Hunting Down Journalists, Murdering Collaborators
Ahead of President Biden's speech today -- it's unclear if he will field any questions from the press corps, having snubbed them repeatedly throughout this crisis -- the situation on the ground in Afghanistan is chaotic and dire. The US is evacuating thousands of people (the State Department has reportedly stopped forcing people to sign a note promising to submit $2,000 repatriation reimbursement payments to the government), while tens of thousands of Americans and our Afghan allies remain stranded. The Biden administration has admitted it does not know how many Americans remain in Afghanistan, they've asked Americans to get themselves to Kabul's airport (explicitly not vouching for their safety), and they've refused to conduct rescue missions like the ones being carried out by other Western nations. For example:

Let me take a stab at answering my own question: Team Biden has cut some sort of temporary, desperate deal with the Taliban. They're paralyzed by the fear that doing anything aggressive could destroy the tenuous agreement, and things could get even worse. They were so utterly unprepared to do what was necessary to secure safe passage out of the country for our people and friends that they're stuck relying on the Taliban's precarious and mercurial good graces. They're accepting a national humiliation as their makeshift strategy, in order to avoid a national catastrophe, involving American deaths. That's my best informed guess at this point, and it would help explain why the Pentagon's spokesman won't even affirm that the Taliban is our enemy. How are things going? There are reports emerging that Americans, unprotected by their government, are being beaten in the streets. If these are confirmed, and if more violence against Americans occurs, the White House's already-embarrassing hands-off "strategy" will be rendered totally inoperative:

Elsewhere, this is what the Taliban is up to. Recall that they've been telling the international media that they've declared an "amnesty" and they won't be engaging in vengeful acts. They've been lying, obviously:

AOC Goes To Afghanistan To Warn Refugees Not To Come To Oppressive Racist America (satire)
According to sources, AOC was alarmed after seeing thousands of people desperately trying to escape Afghanistan and come to America.

"Oh no! Like, what are they doing?" shrieked AOC at her TV screen. "Don't they know America is full of systemic oppression? I need to go save them right now!"

AOC then picked up her top-secret squad phone. "Get the squad together," she said. "We have brown people to save."

She then assembled the squad in their secret squad jet and flew behind enemy lines to warn the Afghans to stay out of America before it was too late.

"Salam Alaikum my fellow austere religious BIPOCs!" she cried through a bullhorn. "Don't come to America! It is a trap! There are microaggressions and racisms everywhere, and white people appropriating your culture! Please stay here where you'll be safe and your human rights will be respected!"

She then ran over to the nearest aircraft and tried to slash the tires but failed, due to her being small and weak with no upper-body strength.
JPost Editorial: Naftali Bennett should speak with Mahmoud Abbas - editorial
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett should speak with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

There have been important signs and gestures recently that point to a real opportunity to improve relations between the Palestinians and Israel. The acrimony of the past could be melted by important steps from this government, especially in light of the Palestinians sending firefighting equipment and personnel to help Israel put out the fires near Jerusalem this week.

That was a symbolic act that brought some teeth to the far-off idea that we must share the land and protect it together.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz conveyed a message of appreciation to the Palestinian Authority through COGAT, following the PA’s offer to assist in the firefighting efforts. “I would like to thank PA Chairman Abbas for his initiative to send the firefighters who came to assist Israel today,” he said. “Mutual care and saving human lives are common interests to us all.”

That ray of light comes as important diplomatic moves are taking place in the region. Reports say that British MI6 chief Richard Moore was recently scheduled to meet with Abbas. US CIA Chief William Burns was also in Israel and Ramallah this month. Together it illustrates the importance of Israel to Western allies, and also the importance that can be placed on regional stability and security.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett with Egyptian Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Abbas Kamel (credit: KOBY GIDEON/GPO)
Biden and Israeli PM Set to Discuss Iran Strategy at Meeting Next Week
Stalled nuclear talks with Iran will be at the top of the agenda when US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meet next week.

“The President and Prime Minister Bennett will discuss critical issues related to regional and global security, including Iran,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement announcing the leaders’ first in-person meeting at the White House on Aug. 26.

Talks between Tehran and six world powers to revive the nuclear pact ditched three years ago by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump have stalled since they began in April.

The Israeli leader, a nationalist atop a cross-partisan coalition who took office in June, opposes the deal being revived. It views a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat.

Tehran denies seeking the bomb, though a UN atomic watchdog report on Tuesday seen by Reuters showed the country accelerating its enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade.

Regional tensions rose over a July 29 attack on an Israeli-managed tanker off the coast of Oman that Israel, the United States and Britain blamed on Tehran. Iran denied any involvement in the suspected drone strike in which two crew members were killed.
53 Dem lawmakers say US must ensure Israel, Egypt let aid into ‘occupied Gaza’
Fifty-three Democratic lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives penned a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the Biden administration to ensure that Israel and Egypt allow humanitarian aid into the “occupied Gaza Strip.”

“The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza is untenable. Ensuring that Palestinians residing in Gaza receive humanitarian aid is vital to securing the well-being of Gaza’s 2.1 million residents,” the letter, spearheaded by Representatives Mark Pocan and Debbie Dingell, read.

“Securing these changes is vital to addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has been exacerbated by the recent hostilities between Hamas and Israel that left an estimated 1.3 million Palestinians in need of humanitarian assistance,” it added.

Israel left Gaza in 2005, but the United Nations still considers the territory occupied as Jerusalem controls most of its borders, and its air and maritime space.

Israel and Egypt have, for many years, imposed a blockade on the Strip due to the Hamas takeover of the territory in 2007. Israel says that the restrictions are necessary to prevent massive amounts of weapons from reaching the terror group that rules the coastal enclave and is avowed to the Jewish state’s destruction.

Critics say that the blockade is excessive and has brought the Gazan economy to its knees. Around 57 percent of Gazans are under the poverty line, the UN reported in 2017.

The US lawmakers urged a “full reopening” of the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings, controlled by Israel, along with the Rafah crossing, controlled by Egypt.
Deal reached for Qatari cash to Gaza ahead of Bennett-Biden parley
The United Nations and Qatar signed an agreement for the resumption of Qatari cash payments to needy families in Gaza in a move that reduces the possibilities of another all-out war between Israel and Hamas.

“Financial aid will be transferred to hundreds of thousands of Gazan people by the UN directly to their bank accounts, with Israel overseeing the recipients,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.

He announced details of the $40-million deal on Thursday evening, as did Qatar and the United Nations.

The announcement comes just one week before Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is scheduled to fly to Washington for his first White House visit with US President Joe Biden.
Germany’s Merkel to Visit Israel at End of Month
German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to travel to Israel at the end of the month for a three-day visit before stepping down in September after 16 years in power.

The German leader is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on August 29, deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said on Friday.

The talks will be the first since Bennett took office in June and likely the last as Germans head to the polls on September 26 to elect a new Bundestag (German federal parliament), including Merkel’s successor as chancellor.

Bennett had invited Merkel to visit Israel in June during a congratulatory call on his taking office and the swearing in of the new government. “Germany and Israel are linked by a unique friendship that we want to deepen further. With this in mind, I look forward to working closely with you,” Merkel said to Bennett during the call.

Merkel will also meet with President Isaac Herzog, Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid and other senior officials while visiting the Jewish state.

Merkel will also lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem before returning to Germany on August 30.
Moroccan king says he hopes ties with Israel will encourage regional peace
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has sent a letter to President Isaac Herzog, in which he expressed hope that renewed ties between the countries will encourage regional peace, the president’s office said on Friday.

In the letter, the king thanked Herzog for his letter, delivered by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid when the latter visited the country last week.

Notably, the king did not give any direct response to Herzog’s invitation to come visit Israel.

“I am pleased with the steps taken for the resumption of contacts between our two countries. I am convinced that we shall make this momentum sustainable in order to promote the prospects of peace for all peoples in the region,” Mohammed wrote, according to Herzog’s office.

Lapid said last Thursday that Israel and Morocco would upgrade their relations to full diplomatic ties and open embassies in each others’ countries within two months.

Speaking at a press conference in Casablanca on the first visit by an Israeli minister since the countries agreed to normalize relations last year, Lapid said that Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita is expected to be aboard the first Royal Air Maroc flight from Morocco to Israel in either October or early November, in order to open the Moroccan Embassy in Tel Aviv.
South African Government Spearheads Regional Group’s Objection to Israeli Rejoining African Union
The South African government’s diplomatic campaign to exclude Israel from the international community escalated on Wednesday, as a regional grouping of southern African states roundly condemned the decision last month to admit the Jewish state to the African Union (AU) as an observer member.

In a formal statement, the 16 member states composing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said that it “objected to the unilateral decision taken by the African Union Commission to grant the State of Israel Observer Status to the African Union.”

Clayson Monyela, a spokesperson for South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said that the Pretoria government had played a “central role” in lobbying for the SADC’s statement.

“It is significant when you have a regional body of the African Union speaking in one voice on such a matter. It carries weight,” Monyela told local news outlet News 24.

Monyela claimed that the AU’s decision to admit Israel had been taken without the usual “collective debate,” pointing to what the SADC described as “a unilateral decision by the African Union Commissioner.”

AU Commissioner Moussa Faki Mahamat said that the objections to Israel voiced by the SADC, as well as an Algerian-led bloc of AU member states, would be discussed at an October meeting of the pan-African grouping.
Report: Israeli Airstrike Kills Four Hezbollah Militants in Syria
An Israeli airstrike took out four Hezbollah militants in Syria, according to Syrian state media and a human-rights watchdog.

Israel Defense Forces reportedly launched missiles near the Syrian city of Homs early Friday morning, targeting Syrian and Lebanese nationals that a British human-rights group identified as members of a pro-Iran Hezbollah militia. The attack also wounded several others.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, but Syrian state media reported that the country’s military identified Israel as the source of the strike and deployed its air defenses in an attempt to stop it.

"The Israeli enemy launched an aerial attack … targeting positions near Damascus and around the city of Homs," a Syrian military source told state media. "Our air defense responded to the missiles and shot most of them down."

Syria and neighboring Lebanon are hubs for pro-Iran militias. Syria accused Israel of carrying out strikes against Iran-backed militias operating in Syria in July. Israel Defense Forces shelled Lebanon in July in response to rocket fire from the country that targeted northern Israel.

Report: IDF Gears Up for Palestinian ‘Day of Rage’ Along Gaza Border
Israel has begun reinforcing its military presence along the southern border, ahead of the “Day of Rage” planned for Saturday by Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, Kan news reported on Thursday.

Hamas has threatened to renew violence against Israel, including border riots, unless it is granted access to Qatari funds in cash. Israel, backed by the Palestinian Authority, is demanding that the funds be sent via wire transfer, as a means to ensure that the funds are spent on rebuilding civilian infrastructure in Gaza rather than Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure.

Representatives of the various factions in Gaza told Qatar’s Arabi21 that the “Day of Rage” will be modeled after the “March of Return” protests that were staged weekly by Palestinians along the Gaza border from 2018 to 2020, and will include various activities aimed at exerting pressure on Israel, according to Kan.

Abu Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees, said that the time allotted to the [Egyptian] “mediators” to work out a deal between Israel and the factions in Gaza had ended, and that a new phase of “response to Israeli conduct” had begun, Kan reported.

Terrorists launched a rocket into Israel on Monday morning, triggering sirens in Sderot and other Western Negev communities. Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepted the projectile, and no casualties or damage were reported. It was the first rocket fired from Gaza since the end of Israel’s “Operation Guardian of the Walls” in May.

The escalation is part of a wider pressure campaign by Hamas to force Israel to agree to its terms of a long-term arrangement designed to increase investment programs and reconstruction in Gaza, following a May armed conflict.
Palestinian Arrested for Threatening to Kill French Immigration Officials
French police arrested a 29-year-old Palestinian after he allegedly threatened officials at the Bordeaux branch of the Office for Immigration and Integration.

The 29-year-old is suspected of repeatedly threatening to kill immigration officials and was arrested on Monday. He reportedly had been angered that his residency requests were rejected.

According to a report from the French newspaper Sud Ouest, the Palestinian has a history of making death threats towards officials at immigration and integration staff, reportedly also having threatened officials in Lyon and Pau several months before.

The newspaper also claims that the 29-year-old was subject to a search warrant for alleged crimes committed in Lyon.

UNRWA: ‘Palestine Refugees’ Most Vulnerable Community in Lebanon
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Thursday issued a warning that it is “extremely alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the situation in Lebanon and its effects on Palestine refugees.”

For the sake of clarity, the “Palestine refugees” the agency is referring to have never set foot in “Palestine,” unless they are 73 or older. This is because, unlike any other effort to help war or natural disaster refugees that focuses on integrating the victims in new countries where they can recover and thrive, UNRWA is in charge of preserving the miserable conditions of its “5.7 million registered Palestine refugees,” as second-and third-class citizens in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and even the Palestinian Authority. UNRWA’s purpose is to keep alive the challenge to the legitimacy of the Jewish State of Israel by keeping alive the dream of someday flooding it with millions of Arab claimants.

This combination of cynicism and nastiness has been driving those poor people—the offspring of the half-million or so Arabs who fled Israel in 1948—deeper and deeper into poverty, sickness, violence, and malaise. After a ten-year civil war has annihilated thousands of them in their refugee camps in Syria, now it’s time for their brethren in the refugee camps in Lebanon to sink to a new level of suffering.
Europe Says Iran Creating ‘Facts On The Ground’ Amid Paused Nuclear Talks
France, Germany and the United Kingdom reiterated Thursday calls for Iran to end aspects of its nuclear program that contravene its 2015 agreement with world powers, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Talks in Vienna to revive the JCPOA, which the United States left in 2018, are awaiting new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi (Raeesi) appointing a foreign-policy team.

The tone of the E3 statement, released in Germany, was sharp. The E3 said Iran’s atomic activities were “all the more troubling” given the Vienna talks had been “interrupted upon Tehran’s request for two months now and that Iran has not yet committed to a date for their resumption.”

The Europeans, who are JCPOA signatories alongside China and Russia, urged Iran “to return to the negotiations…as soon as possible with a view to bringing them to a swift, successful conclusion.” They accused Tehran of refusing to negotiate while “instead establishing facts on the ground which make a return to the JCPOA more complicated.”

Recent reporting by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to member states has focused on two aspects of the Iranian nuclear program that violate JCPOA limits, enrichment to 60 percent and the production of uranium metal.

After a series of steps exceeding the JCPOA since 2019, the year after the US left the agreement and imposed ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions, Tehran began enriching to 20 percent after November’s killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and to 60 percent after the April attack on its Natanz enrichment facility. Both actions were widely attributed to Israel, which has opposed the JCPOA.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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