Wednesday, October 20, 2021

From Ian:

White House Discussing Israel Normalization With Saudis
The administration of US President Joe Biden is discussing with Saudi Arabia the possibility of normalizing relations with Israel by joining the Abraham Accords, Israeli news site Walla! reports.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan raised the issue last month in Riyadh during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), according to three US and Arab sources involved in the talks.

The sources said that during the conversation, MBS did not immediately reject the proposal to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, listing the steps needed to make the move, including improving relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud was in Washington for a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The possibility of Saudi Arabia joining the Abraham Accords was not mentioned in the public statements of either side.

The Biden administration has taken a more critical stance toward the kingdom compared to his predecessor Donald Trump, focusing on human rights and raising the issue of the assassination of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The report states that any deal would need to be part of a larger package that would include Israeli measures regarding the Palestinians and a thawing of relations between Washington and Riyadh.

The Abraham Accords originally included the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with the later additions of Sudan and Morocco.
Indian PM Modi invites Bennett for first official visit
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, currently in Israel on an official visit, at his Jerusalem office on Wednesday. During the meeting, Jaishankar – speaking on behalf of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – issued a first state invitation for Bennett to visit India.

Bennett and Jaishankar discussed ways of strengthening the strategic alliance between India and Israel, expanding bilateral ties, and deepening the friendship between the two countries.

Bennett thanked Jaishankar and Modi for their commitment to the partnership between India and Israel and said, "In the name of Israel, I want to tell you: we love India. We see India as a great friend and expect to expand our relations in every sector."

Earlier Wednesday, Jaishankar met with President Isaac Herzog, who welcomed the closer ties between Israel and India in a number of fields and thanked Jaishankar for his personal commitment and that of Modi's to promoting ties with Israel.

The meeting ended with a discussion of global strategic issues.

On Monday, Israeli and Indian government representatives said that the two nations had agreed to resume talks on a free trade agreement starting in November, with hopes of inking it by mid-2022.
Here's why Comoros might be looking to normalize ties with Israel

Israel Population Surprise: FDR Said It Couldn’t Be Done
“You know there is not room in Palestine for many more people,” US President Franklin D. Roosevelt told prominent American Jewish leaders in early 1938. “Perhaps another hundred or hundred and fifty thousand.” At the time, there were about 400,000 Jews in the Holy Land. Today, according to recently-released statistics, there are nearly seven million.

The annual population tally, issued in September by the Israeli government’s Central Bureau of Statistics, found that Israel has 9,391,000 residents, of whom 6.9 million (74%) are Jews. The population has increased 146,000, or 1.6%, since the previous Rosh Hashanah.

There are an estimated 15.2 million Jews in the world, of whom more than 45% live in Israel. That’s quite a contrast with what the conventional wisdom expected in the 1930s.

The argument then that there was no more room for Jews in Palestine was the primary excuse that the British government used to restrict Jewish immigration and land purchases during the Mandate years. London insisted that the country had no more “absorptive capacity.”

President Roosevelt’s chief adviser on population settlement issues, Isaiah Bowman, agreed. Bowman, who as president of Johns Hopkins University imposed a quota on the admission of Jewish students, claimed there were no countries anywhere, including Palestine, that could absorb “a large foreign immigrant group.” He advised FDR that it would be best to “keep the European elements within the framework of the Old World.”

Of course, there were other voices at the time, even within the Roosevelt administration. Agriculture Department official Walter Clay Lowdermilk insisted that with proper cultivation, Palestine could absorb at least several million immigrants.

Caroline Glick: Hamas Is the Beneficiary of Joe Biden's Delusional Diplomacy
There might be an argument to be made for rewarding Hamas for its wanton aggression against Israel if there were any reason to believe that Hamas might consider changing its ways—if Hamas announced that it planned to abandon its war against the Jewish state and seek peace instead. But the opposite is the case. Hamas remains dead-set on its goal of not only annihilating Israel, but of carrying out a genocide of the bulk of Israel's 6.5 million Jews and then subjugating any survivors. Moreover, the outcome of Hamas' aggression against Israel last spring has convinced the terror regime that such a goal is within plausible reach.

This conviction was the rationale for a triumphant conference that the Hamas regime sponsored in Gaza on September 30. The conference, held in conjunction with the Palestinian NGO Promise of the Hereafter Institute, was titled, "Promise of the Hereafter: Post-Liberation Palestine." Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar chaired the proceedings. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translated the concluding statement. The MEMRI report is worth reading in full, but a few points stand out.

The purpose of the conference was to determine how to administer "Palestine" after Israel is destroyed and disappears. Participants agreed that upon Israel's destruction, non-Muslims in "Palestine" will be ruled by the Pact of Umar. The Pact of Umar was concluded around 637, with the fall of Byzantine-held Jerusalem to Muslim conquerors. The Pact sets out the conditions under which non-Muslims are permitted to live under Islamist rule.

The Pact of Umar explains how non-Muslims, referred to as "dhimmis," are to live in a perpetual state of powerlessness and subservience to their Islamic rulers. It places severe constraints on their freedom of worship and imposes a continuous ransom for the lives of non-Muslim men, called the "jizya" tax. Under the Pact, Islamist rulers spare the lives of non-Muslims who accept their dhimmi status, but are free to kill non-Muslims who refuse to accept the constraints.

Last month's Hamas conference determined that Jews who survive Israel's destruction must be placed in three separate groups. The first group includes the Jewish "fighters." They must be killed. The second group includes the "peaceful Jews" who surrender. They can either be integrated into Palestine, as dhimmis, or "be given time to leave."

The final group is comprised of "educated Jews and experts in the areas of medicine, engineering, technology and civilian and military industry." To prevent a brain-drain with the destruction of the Jewish state, Hamas conference participants determined that these Jews "should be retained for some time and should not be allowed to leave."

Another key preoccupation of the Hamas conference participants was getting their hands on Palestinians who worked with Israel.
Israel cannot count on the United States to Help Deal with Iran

Khaled Abu Toameh: Why Palestinians Cannot Make Peace with Israel
The Palestinian Authority, which is largely funded by American and European taxpayers' money, is imprisoning Palestinians for even trying to engage in real estate deals with Jews.

The Palestinian public seems generally supportive of the death sentences and extrajudicial killings of suspected "land dealers" and informants. Even Palestinian human rights organizations appear to be extremely careful when they mention such issues.

As far as Hamas and many Palestinians are concerned, peace with Israel or any form of "collaboration" with the "Zionist enemy" is an act of treason punishable by death.

Mahmoud Abbas is already facing accusations of being a traitor because of the security coordination between the PA security forces and the Israeli authorities in the West Bank.

As long as the PA and Hamas punish Palestinians who work with Israel or are willing to sell real estate to Israeli Jews -- frequently by issuing sentences of hard labor or death -- the hope of reviving the "peace process" is, unfortunately, a pitiful waste of time and effort.

The verdicts passed against the "land dealers" in the West Bank and the suspected "collaborators" in the Gaza Strip show that Palestinians remain as far as ever from accepting Israel, let alone making peace with it.

The verdicts are yet more proof of how Palestinian leaders continue to radicalize their people against Israel -- to the point that no Palestinian who wishes to stay alive would ever claim that he or she seeks to make peace with Israel or recognize all of the land as anything other than totally Palestinian in every way.
UN Security Council must be more balanced on Israel, US envoy says
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said the tenor of the debates “only seems to perpetuate the conflict.”

He took issue, both with the speech by Palestinian envoy Riyad Mansour and with the recent UNSC practice of inviting civil society representatives connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to address the council at the start of its meeting.

On Tuesday, the council heard from Daniel Levy, president of the US Middle East Project, and former Palestinian Liberation Organization Committee member Hanan Ashwari.

“MIFTAH, the organization that Ashrawi founded and led, has published antisemitic blood libels claiming Christian blood on Passover,” Erdan said.

“Does the Security Council really want to legitimize someone responsible for spreading gross antisemitism,” he asked.

“What’s next?” Erdan asked. “Will you invite [former Iranian President] Hassan Rouhani and [Iranian Foreign Minister] Javad Zarif as representatives of Iranian civil society?”

He charged that Ashrawi should not be considered a spokesperson for the Palestinian political leadership but as an “opponent of peace.” “If this council wishes to invite members of civil society, why not invite courageous Palestinian entrepreneurs who are working together to create coexistence?” he asked.

Bennett ‘Surprised’ by US Pressure on Settlements; Biden to Reopen Jerusalem’s ‘Palestinian’ Consulate
Israel’s Army Radio reported Wednesday morning that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was surprised by US pressure on him regarding the construction of settlements in Judea and Samaria. According to the report, Bennett informed his cabinet ministers of the American hard stance on settlement construction, saying, “They consider this to be very important to them.”

Back in August, ahead of his first meeting in Washington with President Joe Biden, Bennett told the New York Times that he “opposed US efforts to restore a nuclear deal with Iran and ruled out peace talks with the Palestinians.” Bennett said he wanted to expand the Judea and Samaria Jewish settlements, did not want a “consulate for Palestinians” in Jerusalem and vowed there won’t be a Palestinian State on his watch.

Bennett’s office declined to comment on the Army Radio report, saying they don’t comment on what’s being said behind closed doors in the cabinet.

Sources close to the White House told the Arab newspaper Al-Quds on Tuesday that the Biden government had decided to reopen the US consulate in eastern Jerusalem despite pressure from the Israeli government and congressional lawmakers.

According to sources quoted in the Al-Quds report, the consulate is expected to reopen “shortly” after the passing of the state budget by the Knesset in November, meaning that the consulate would open in early December.

Happy holidays.

The same sources claimed that the United States is angry at Israel’s expanding settlement in Judea and Samaria, as well as the clashes between Jewish settlers and local Arabs on the slopes of Mount Hebron.

Jewish immigration to Palestine was “a colonialist Zionist plan”
Official PA TV narrator: “The illegal (sic.) immigration of the Jews to Palestine: The beginning of the illegal immigration to Palestine was in 1837... This proves the extent of the historical plot against Palestine many decades before the Nakba (i.e., “the catastrophe,” the establishment of Israel) in 1948… The Jewish immigration to the land of Palestine continued as part of a colonialist Zionist plan led by the world powers at the time… They immigrated to Palestine over many decades while dreaming of establishing a Jewish entity on Palestinian Islamic-Christian Arab land… But history has never let the colonialist remain, and the occupiers have always left in the end. One day they [the Jews] too will return to where they came from.”

Jewish immigration in 1837 was legal. Moreover, even though most of the population was exiled by Rome after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE and the Bar Kochva Rebellion in 135 CE some Jews have always remained in the land of Israel.

Top PA religious official: US Ambassador “spreads poison,” “claims this land is sacred to the Jews”
Supreme Shari’ah Judge and Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari'ah Justice Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “Those who are not from among us, and not of this nation, and not of those who bear the flag that Allah's Messenger [Muhammad] left – their greatest wish is that we will be in distress, damaged, defeated… Listen to how Allah describes them: “Hatred has already appeared from their mouths” [Quran, 3:118]. When they speak, it is as if they are exhaling a deadly poison, even when they are smiling… Let‘s look around and see some of them: How they spread poison from their mouths. For example the so-called American Ambassador to the occupation state [Israel] who is called [David] Friedman. Take what he said [a few] days ago, while lying and saying foolish and misleading things, and claiming that we have no right to this land. [That] we are just passing through... A state that is less than 300 years old, which is America, comes to determine the fate of a land, a people, and a civilization that is more than 6,000 years old. How do you reach your verdict? On what do you rely? What idiocy has taken root in your heads that you would distort history and falsify Allah's words? This land – even before Abraham came – is the land of the Arab Palestinian Canaanites, who created its civilization even before it knew the Children of Israel… The grudge, hate, and enmity toward [our] nation that they are hiding are greater than what they are saying. This Friedman claims that this land is sacred to the Jews. Of course, all of this is based on fables and arbitrary narratives... The foreigners will leave, today or tomorrow. This land spits out its scum. It spits out everything that is foreign to it, and it will not be anything but ours.”

Nides advances to post of US envoy to Israel, Leaf nomination delayed
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the appointment of Thomas R. Nides to the post of United States ambassador to Israel, a move that brings him one step closer to final confirmation.

Nides was one of 33 nominees to various positions the committee approved in a bloc vote. That list now moves over to the full Senate for confirmation.

According to the news website Politico, Republic Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was behind the delay in Leaf’s nomination because he was unsatisfied with her responses to his request that she clarify her position on a range of Middle East policy issues, including on Iran and Israel.

Cruz, according to Politico, has also threatened to delay a Senate vote on the nomination process for the 33 candidates confirmed Tuesday by the committee.

At Tuesday’s committee meeting, Cruz expressed his opposition to the Nides appointment but did not block its advancement, as he did with Leaf.
Biden nominated Nides to be envoy to Israel in June

Uniform English spelling for signs bill passed in Jerusalem/Yerushalayim
The Knesset plenum voted 33-0 on Wednesday to advance the preliminary reading of a bill that would require uniform, correct spellings in English for street signs.

The bill is sponsored by Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg, a former mayor of Ra’anana, which has a large English-speaking population.

“This bill is simply intended to bring about order and bring about a uniform database of names, respect the languages and take a small step forward on the path to being an organized country,” Ginzburg told the plenum before the vote.

The bill would entrust the Academy of the Hebrew Language with setting the spelling and keeping the database of names of cities and streets in Hebrew, English and Arabic, and publishing the list online regularly.

It would give local authorities five years to update and correct their signs, once the bill is passed into law.

Ginzburg complained that spellings of streets and towns in English are inconsistent in signs across the country, sometimes in signs close to each other in the same place.
Palestinian financial crisis at 'breaking point,' UN envoy warns
The Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis is at a “breaking point,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland told the Security Council, as he called on Israel to stop penalizing the PA for its terror payments.

“Donor support, including direct budget support, continues its multi-year decline,” Wennesland told the 15-member body at its monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Estimates suggest that the PA will have a 2021 budget deficit of around $800 million. This would nearly double the 2020 gap,” Wennesland said, adding that the “borrowing capacity of the PA with the banks has been exhausted.”

He took specific issue with Israel’s policy of penalizing the PA for providing monthly stipends to terrorists responsible for killing Israelis as well as to their family members in what Israel has dubbed as “pay-for-slay.” Israel withholds the sum spent on terror payments from the tax fees it collects on the PA’s behalf and transfers to Ramallah.

“Along with other longstanding fiscal leakages that are contributing to the financial crisis, Israel continues to deduct millions of US dollars per month from clearance revenue transfers, in response to Palestinian payments to security prisoners, their families and the families of those killed in the context of attacks,” Wennesland said.
Senate Proposes $225 Million in Assistance to Palestinians, Echoing Bill Passed by House
The Senate Appropriations Committee released its 2022 fiscal year bill this week, which includes $225 million in funding for the Palestinians, mirroring funding passed in the House earlier this year.

According to the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs bill, the Senate committee is providing $225 million in “development assistance, including for water, sanitation, and other municipal infrastructure projects in the West Bank and Gaza, and $40 million for the Palestinian security assistance program.”

“The funds in the bill support a foreign policy underpinned by vigorous diplomatic engagement, strong alliances and partnerships, a commitment to democratic principles, and humanitarian and development assistance that reflect America’s core values,” said Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.), chair of the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee.

The proposed funding is part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to resume assistance to the Palestinians after funding was largely severed during the Trump administration.

“The bill includes authority for US contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] and $50 million to support the second-year implementation of the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act, which focuses on strengthening engagement between Palestinians and Israelis through support to civil society projects that build economic cooperation and people-to-people engagement,” it said.

It remains unclear whether or not the funding for the Palestinians can pass in the Senate.
Hamas is an international crime syndicate, and its official foreign policy is extortion - opinion
‘Hamas issues ultimatum to Israel: Give us $8 million by Tuesday,” screams a 17 October 2021 headline from the Arabic al-Ain newspaper. The money, Hamas says, is to pay its members’ salaries. And this is only one of several demands issued.

Before and during the May 2021 conflict, Hamas repeatedly violated international law (firing missiles into civilian areas, firing missiles from civilian areas, and using civilians as human shields). As reported by the BBC (August 12, 2021), this time, even the left-wing anti-Israel NGO Human Rights Watch had to admit Hamas’s war crimes, thus confirming Hamas’s position as a terrorist organization.

The US, the EU (representing 27 countries), the Organization of American States (a coalition of 35 countries), and other countries worldwide have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

However, there is another angle to this story. And if it sounds familiar, perhaps because it has been the plot of many gangster (“gangsta”) or super-villain movies. How about adding “international criminal syndicate” to Hamas’s résumé?

Here are three more recent “criminal” examples:
• “Hamas leader to Israel: Transfer $30m. from Qatar or head to escalation” reads a headline from The Jerusalem Post (June 22, 2021). The article explains that “Hamas plans to escalate tensions with Israel unless it allows Qatar to transfer $30 million to the Gaza Strip to help pay salaries.”
• The Times of Israel (July 29, 2021) ran a headline that said “Hamas warns terror groups may resume rocket fire unless Qatari funds enter Gaza.” This in addition to other threats of fire balloons and violent demonstrations at the border unless monetary demands of Hamas are met.
• Under the headline “Hamas demands more money from Qatar,” an Israel Hayom article of August 21, 2020 stated: Hamas is demanding that Qatar increase the amount of money it sends to the Gaza Strip each month to $40 million, to allow it to move ahead with a number of civilian projects in Gaza.
NGO Monitor: Summary of the PFLP’s NGO Network
NGO Monitor has identified a network of 13 NGOs linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror organization and funded by European, and in some cases, other governmental frameworks. As of September 1 2021, we have also identified over 70 staff and board members, as well as other officials who hold positions in both the NGOs and the PFLP. This document contains information about 36 of those individuals. The information below is based on open sources, including social media posts.

1. Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC)
- Identified by Fatah as an official “affiliate” and by USAID as the “agricultural arm” of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
- Staff:
Abdul Razeq Farraj was UAWC’s Finance and Administration Director at the time of his arrest in 2019 for aiding an attempt to cause death and recruiting new members of the PFLP.
Samer Arbid, UAWC’s accountant from 2016-2019 at the time of his arrest in 2019. Israel indicted him on 21 counts, including commanding a PFLP terror cell that carried out a bombing, murdering an Israeli civilian, and injuring her father and brother.
Ubai Aboudi – “M&E [Monitoring and Evaluation] Officer” — was sentenced by Israel in June 2020 to 12-months for recruiting PFLP activists.
- Funding: France, Netherlands, Spain (AECID), Norwegian People’s Aid, Medico, Grassroots International, Oxfam Solidarité, UN OCHA.

2. Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P)
- Staff/Board Members:
Hashem Abu Maria was “coordinator of DCI-Palestine’s community mobilization unit,” and hailed by the PFLP as a “leader.” In July 2014, he was killed during a clash with the IDF.
Nassar Ibrahim, former President of DCI-P’s General Assembly and former editor of El Hadaf – the PFLP’s weekly publication. Mary Rock was a DCI-P board member from 2014-2018, PFLP candidate for the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 elections. - Funding: EU, Italy, Netherlands, Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Save the Children, UNICEF
PMW: On anniversary of its murder of Israeli minister, PFLP vows to continue terror
Praising its assassination of Israeli Minister of Tourism Rehavam Ze’evi 20 years ago as a “quality operation,” the terror organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) - which is a member of the PLO – celebrated its “blow” to Israel:
“Regarding the 20th anniversary of the quality operation to assassinate Israeli Minister [of Tourism] Rehavam Ze’evi, which the PFLP carried out… PFLP Political Bureau member Jamil Mazhar said: ‘The October 17 operation – the killing of Ze’evi – was a blow to the occupation system.”

[Ma’an, independent Palestinian news agency, Oct. 17, 2021]
PFLP official Mazhar also took pride in the PFLP’s murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb two years ago when she and her family were hiking by the Danny Spring near the town of Dolev north of Ramallah.

Having stated that the “resistance is a strategic choice from the PFLP’s perspective,” and that “the PFLP will continue this regardless of how great the sacrifices may be, because this is the only path to liberation and return,” Mazhar mentioned the murder of Shnerb as an example of this “resistance” – a well-known PA euphemism for terror:
“[Mazhar] emphasized: ‘We will continue the resistance, and will not be dissuaded by the incessant pursuit that the occupation is carrying out in the West Bank because it is aware of the influence and presence that the PFLP has there publicly and militarily. The best example of this was the Ein Bubin operation (i.e., the murder of Rina Shnerb; see note below).’” Mazhar vowed that the PFLP will continue on the path of terror until Israel is destroyed:
“Despite the pursuit and the great sacrifices, the PFLP will remain firm and strong and will not withdraw from resistance until the expulsion [of the occupation] from the entire homeland, from Rafah to Rosh HaNikra (i.e., an Israeli town on the northern border with Lebanon).”

Palestinian Islamist Jihad Terrorists Aligning with Hamas’ Interests in Gaza — For Now
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organization is often in the business of “jihad now, not later,” an approach that has led to multiple deadly escalations between it and Israel in the Gaza Strip — even when this did not suit the immediate interests of Gaza’s Islamist rulers, Hamas.

However, PIJ has recently been making a concerted effort not to undermine Hamas’ rule, and has cooperated with Hamas’ decision to seek a tactical, unofficial period of calm. What remains unclear is just how long PIJ will continue to play along before reverting back to its traditional role of arsonist.

Col. (res.) David Hacham, a former Arab-affairs adviser to seven Israeli defense ministers, and a senior research associate at the MirYam Institute, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism that relations between PIJ and Hamas are more complex than meets the eye. On the one hand, he said, they are united by the common Islamist cause of seeking Israel’s destruction, and both are backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On the other hand, Hamas “has a government role, and has to deal with a 2-million-strong population in Gaza. It has considerations to take into account that PIJ does not have to think about. PIJ is almost purely about jihad and terror,” he said.

This has led to multiple clashes and misunderstandings between the two organizations due to contrasting interests and tactical objectives. While PIJ often acts on its ideology without second thought, Hamas is the one that has to consider Israel’s retaliation against its regime and Gaza’s population.
Hezbollah's saber-rattling not aimed at Israel
Hezbollah’s Shi'ite constituency, like other Lebanese communities, has been thrown into poverty by the country’s severe financial crisis. More Lebanese regard the group, which once had popular support across religious sects for its resistance to Israel, as being part of a corrupt ruling class that drove the country to bankruptcy.

The group’s recent campaign against Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the port blast investigation, is further pitting the group against many Lebanese who support him and seek justice and accountability.

Civil strife pitting Hezbollah fighters against rival Lebanese groups would be disastrous for the group, which already lost popularity for its involvement in Syria’s civil war. Hezbollah officials have repeatedly said the group will not be pulled into an internal war — a weak point its opponents like the Lebanese Forces might be looking to exploit as a way to gain popularity ahead of general elections expected next spring. Hisham Jaber, a retired Lebanese general who heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Political Research, said Hezbollah will avoid civil war at all costs.

Hezbollah could easily take control of most of Lebanon militarily within a week, but this would hurt the group in the long term, Jaber said. “Whenever they storm and control areas it will be the countdown for its (Hezbollah’s) existence, because their presence in Lebanon is a resistance movement and not a force to fight in a civil war,” he said.

Sarit Zahavi, a former Israeli military intelligence officer who runs the Alma research institute in northern Israel, said Nasrallah greatly exaggerated his group’s military capabilities with the aim of intimidating his domestic rivals.

“His message is ‘I’m the strongest player in Lebanon’,” Zahavi said.

She said it could backfire against Nasrallah and draw further criticism in Lebanon. “What he’s actually saying is ‘I’ve built up great power not only to fight Israel but to fight Lebanese’,” she said.
Seth Frantzman: Hezbollah backers claims US-Zionist-Geagea conspiracy in Lebanon
In fact, Hezbollah murdered Hariri. But Hezbollah now claims a new “US coup” is at hand.

“The success of Geagea in this matter depends, first of all, on whether Hezbollah and the Amal movement will fall into the trap of planned sedition in response to the crime,” the report said. The trap is if Hezbollah seeks revenge and “tarnishes” its weapons.

“But this did not happen, because the leaders of Hezbollah and Amal were aware of the plot and the trap,” the report said. So Hezbollah has shown “restraint,” the author claimed.

“The evils of the sedition that Washington and Tel Aviv raised in Lebanon with their allies to weaken the resistance and its weapons persevered,” the report said. “The resistance that liberated the land of Lebanon imposed its deterrent equations on the occupying army and paralyzed the Zionist ability to coerce, invade Lebanon and steal its assets at sea and on land.”

Those captured in the wake of the sniper attack were handed over to the army for interrogation, the report said, adding that “we must wait for them to confess or give evidence.”

“It depends on the attitude of Hezbollah and the Amal movement, which after this crime are increasingly calling for the removal of Judge Tariq al-Bitar, rejecting any compromise in this regard, and at the same time calling for the murderers and perpetrators of al-Tayouneh [the sniper attack] to be tried,” the report said.

This illustrates Hezbollah’s next plan in Lebanon. It wants to undermine the Lebanese Forces and use the “martyrs” from last week in its election campaign and use them to unseat the judge.

Damascus bus bombing doesn't feel like the work of terrorists
It appears that the explosion on a Syrian bus near the Haffez Assad Bridge in Damascus Wednesday morning, that let 14 people dead, is another terrorist act perpetrated by the Islamic State or some other Islamist, jihadist group, the Syrian military said in an announcement released on the SANA news agency.

The attack was an attempt to hurt the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and prevent him from rebuilding the country and its military, which have been debilitated by the country's 10-year war.

However, the deaths of the bus passengers is sparking questions about whether the blast was a routine terrorist act targeting Syrian soldiers, or was an attempt to take out Iranian officials or pro-Iranian Syrian officials who are operating under coverage of the Syrian regime's defense establishment.

None of the official announcements stated that the passengers on the bus were Syrian soldiers, although reports of the attack from Lebanon and Syrian media outlets stated that they were Iranian officers.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no jihadist or rebel organization in Syria, particularly ISIS, had claimed responsibility for the bombing, which is atypical of ISIS and the other Islamist groups active in Syria. These organizations tend to boast about the attacks they carry out, especially when they target the "defense forces of the infidel regime."

MEMRI: At Gathering At Kabul's Five-Star Inter-Continental Hotel, Afghan Taliban Interior Minister And Terrorist On FBI's Most Wanted List Sirajuddin Haqqani Honors Families Of Suicide Bombers, Calls Them 'Heroes Of Islam,' Promises Plot Of Land For The Family Of Each Bomber, Praises 'Jihad And Sacrifices Of Mujahideen And Martyrs'
Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is interior minister for the Afghan Taliban and listed on the website of the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists, has met with the families of the suicide bombers who attacked Kabul and praised their martyrdom missions, according to a series of tweets by the Taliban government spokesman. Sirajuddin Haqqani is chief of the Haqqani Network, militarily the most influential unit within the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Afghan Taliban jihadi organization), which seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021.

"The advent of the Islamic system is the result of the blood of our martyrs," Sirajuddin Haqqani told the families of the suicide bombers at the gathering on October 18, 2021, according to a tweet by Qari Saeed Khosty, the terrorist-turned press director and spokesman of the Afghan interior ministry.[1] As per Khosty's tweet, "H.E. Interior Minister Alhaj Mullah Khalifa Sirajuddin Haqqani met the family members of martyred fidayeen [i.e., suicide bombers] at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul."[2]

According to another tweet by Qari Saeed Khosty, "in his speech, the Interior Minister [Sirajuddin Haqqani] praised the jihad and sacrifices of the mujahideen and martyrs. He called them the heroes of Islam and the country. H.E. [His Excellency] told everyone about the memories of the martyred (Fidayeen) their piety & deeds. He called them heroes of the believing nation."[3]

At the end of the meeting at the five-star Inter-Continental Hotel, Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to the interior ministry spokesman's tweet, "distributed 10,000 AFN [roughly ten U.S. dollars] & clothes to the families of the martyred Fidayeen & promised a plot [of land] for each (martyr's) family."[4]

The Afghan interior minister, whose government is yet to be recognized by the international community, told the families of the suicide bombers: "Now you and I must refrain from betraying the aspirations of our martyrs."[5] In the images of the gathering at the Inter-Continental Hotel, Sirajuddin Haqqani's face is blurred so that he cannot be identified. He is perhaps the only minister of a so-called Taliban government whose face is hidden from the world.
MEMRI: Emboldened By Taliban Takeover Of Afghanistan, Pro-Islamist Activists Demand Release Of Pakistani Neuroscientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Jailed In Texas Over Al-Qaeda Links, Attempted Murder Of U.S. Military Officials
After the Afghan Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August 2021, a new movement is being led by Islamist and pro-Taliban figures in Pakistan as well as in the U.S. and other Western countries for the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist imprisoned in the United States for helping Al-Qaeda and, according to an FBI report, "for the attempted murder and assault of U.S. nationals and U.S. officers and employees in Afghanistan."[1]

A charity organization tax-exempt under 501(c)(3), Aafia Foundation Inc., has been established in the United States to free Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, ostensibly in the name of human rights.[2] In 2004, Aafia Siddiqui was described by Robert S. Mueller III, then director of the FBI, as "an Al-Qaeda operative and facilitator."[3] The Justice Department noted that Aafia Siddiqui was "an Al-Qaeda fixer who helped terrorism suspects with travel documents and plots."[4]

When she was imprisoned to begin a sentence of 86 years in 2010, the judge, Richard M. Berman, observed that "significant incarceration" was needed.[5] Siddiqui was arrested in 2008 with "a number of items in her possession, including handwritten notes that referred to a mass casualty attack and that listed various locations in the U.S., including Plum Island, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, and the Brooklyn Bridge," and instructions for making "dirty bombs" and "ways to attack enemies, including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs..."[6] She is currently serving her 86-year term in a Texas prison.

Aafia Siddiqui, who was born in Karachi, studied at prestigious U.S. institutions such as MIT and Brandeis University and became religious after falling under Islamist influence. In a video circulating on social media, she says: "It is my challenge not only to every single person on the face of this planet Earth, but also, if there is any civilization on any other planet, it's my challenge to them as well – that Islam is the best savior and protector for women."[7]

In August 2021, a prominent Al-Qaeda supporter claimed in a message on Telegram that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui had been severely beaten in prison.[8] In September 2021, UK-based pro-Islamic State (ISIS) preacher Anjem Choudary published a post on Telegram in which he announced the launch of a Twitter campaign for Aafia Siddiqui's release. Choudary encouraged supporters to go to the U.S. and free Aafia Siddiqui from prison, stating: "Islamic history is replete with examples of Muslim armies being sent to liberate individual men and women held by non-Islamic regimes and the Messenger Muhammad... has informed us that it is obligatory to free the prisoners."[9]

Last Jew out in Afghanistan is set to arrive in Israel


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