Friday, October 22, 2021

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israel's post-American strategic challenge
A report this week about the discussions Israel and the US are now holding regarding the Iranian nuclear program was nothing short of an earthquake. Tuesday, Israel Hayom ran a red headline on its front page: "Iran is cozying up to moderate states, and Israel is worried." The story, by military correspondent Yoav Limor, told us two deeply alarming things about the state of American-Israeli coordination on Iran's nuclear program. First, the Americans are not working with Israel to block Iran from becoming a nuclear power. They are working against Israel.

The Americans and Israelis agree that Iran is on the verge of becoming a nuclear breakout state, which can assemble nuclear weapons at will. But whereas they agree on the status of Iran's quest for military nuclear capability, they disagree about what the response to the current state of Iran's nuclear program should be. Israel's position is that the US should take diplomatic and economic action, and at a minimum threaten military action if Iran refuses to reinstate the limitations on its nuclear activities set out in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, from 2015. The 2015 nuclear deal permitted Iran to enrich limited quantities of uranium to 3.67% enrichment. Iran is currently enriching massive quantities of uranium to 60% enrichment – just a step away from weapons-grade.

US President Joe Biden and his advisors are unwilling to consider placing additional economic sanctions on Iran. Indeed, the administration is turning a blind eye to Iran's export of massive quantities of oil and gas to China and other states, in breach of the sanctions.

Military action, the Americans told their Israeli interlocutors, isn't off the table.

The Americans say they may be willing to consider taking diplomatic action of some form or another. But in exchange, they demand Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.

In short, Limor's article reported that the US has made clear to Israel that it will take no effective action to block Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

The second stunning bit of information in Limor's article is that the Lapid-Bennett government has no idea what to do in the face of America's position. Instead of accepting reality and moving to face Iran without the US, Israel's government is opting to cling ever tighter to Washington.

Limor wrote, "The Israeli effort to reach maximal cooperation with the US is under way, among other reasons, because of the fact that Israel has very few options left."
Poll: Majority of Israelis Believe Joe Biden Worse for Israel than Donald Trump
A narrow majority (53 percent) of Israelis believe the Biden administration is worse for Israel than that of Donald Trump, a new poll found.

Only 35 percent thought the relationship between Israel and the U.S. was good, a dramatic drop from a year ago when 67 percent respondents said it was good.

Thirty-six percent said there was no significant difference between Trump and Biden and 11 percent thought Biden is better for Israel.

Forty-six percent of Israelis view the E.U. as hostile to Israel, and 24 percent view it as an ally.

Thirty-four percent believe the Abraham Accords agreements, signed a year ago between Israel and four Arab countries, are a turning point for Israel’s standing in the Middle East. Thirty-one percent believe Israel’s standing has not changed significantly.
Richard Kemp: Biden's Afghanistan Withdrawal Unleashes a Lethal Terrorist Cocktail
Despite their promises to deny terrorists safe haven, the Taliban will do the opposite. They and Al Qaida are joined at the hip, with both Osama Bin Laden and his successor Ayman Al Zawahiri having sworn unbreakable allegiance, bay'ah, to the leaders of the Taliban.

The Islamic State's Khorosan branch, with several thousand fighters in Afghanistan, will pose a similar threat. Many political leaders in the US and UK claim the Taliban are sworn enemies of the IS, with some even suggesting that we might form an alliance against IS with Taliban terrorists. But this abhorrent proposition is merely an attempt to help limit the political fall-out from their ill-judged actions that facilitated the Taliban's conquest.

Today, all these actors know there is no prospect of further large-scale US intervention in the country, no matter how great their atrocities. The US remains capable of air strikes and even special forces raids against serious threats emanating from Afghanistan, but these require high-grade intelligence which, despite the powerful technical capabilities of the agencies, is extremely difficult to gain now that we have withdrawn all forces.

The prospect of a successful jihadist insurgency in Pakistan, with its nuclear arsenal, has been a long-standing concern for the US, which invested huge intelligence and military resources to help prevent it. Most of this capability was withdrawn with the exit from Afghanistan.

Like Pakistan, China supported the Taliban insurgency for many years. In return, the Taliban have frequently hunted down and killed many of the Uighur leaders — fellow Sunni Muslims — who took refuge in Afghanistan. Desperate for Beijing's funds and political backing, the Taliban can be relied on to do all they can to prevent any export of jihadism into China.

But we can expect no such efforts from Beijing to prevent terrorist actions against the West. On the contrary, as the new cold war intensifies, China is more than capable of using its increasing cooperation with the Taliban to enlist jihadists from Afghanistan as proxies against the US.
Palestinian NGOs declared PFLP terrorist arms by Israeli government
Several Palestinian NGOs, designated as Addameer, Al Haq, Bisan Center, DCI-P, Samidoun and UAWC, were declared by the Justice and Defense Ministries on Friday to be affiliated with the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

"The security organizations will continue to act and intensify the strikes against terrorism and the terrorist infrastructure everywhere, and by all means,” said Defense Minister Benny Gantz. “I call on the countries of the world and international organizations, to assist in this fight, and to avoid contact with companies and organizations that supply materials to terrorism."

“This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement,” Human Rights Watch, which reportedly works closely with many of the affected NGOs, said in a statement. “How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision.”

The Defense Ministry charges that the organizations serve as a network on the world stage working undercover as civil society organizations to support the PFLP and pursue its interests.

The NGOs allegedly serve as a branch of PFLP’s leadership. Members of the PFLP serve as senior officials in the groups, and they have employed field activists who have participated in acts of terrorism.

Is the US consulate in Jerusalem for Palestinians a real issue?
It seems like every day there’s another headline about the impending showdown between the Biden administration and the Bennett government over the former’s intention to open a consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

“US will force a Palestinian consulate on Israel,” a recent one read. “US will open the consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem after budget vote next month,” was another.

But the way sources in the Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry tell it, the accumulation of breathless headlines has sent them scrambling to find out where the information came from, because it is so different from what they’re hearing from Washington.

So, is everything OK between Jerusalem and Washington, or is a crisis on the way? The answer is complicated.

US President Joe Biden promised in his election campaign that he would reopen the consulate to the Palestinians in Jerusalem. The first US consul to Jerusalem was appointed in 1844, long before the State of Israel or the later Palestinian state claims, and the Agron Road location dates back to 1912. The consulate-general was not accredited to any government. It operated until 2019, after previous president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a policy Biden has said he will not reverse – and the consulate was merged into the US Embassy in Israel, newly in Jerusalem.

The structure in question, on Agron Street, is not only in Jerusalem, but on the western side of the city, which was part of Israel before 1967. Israel, under right-wing and left-wing governments, is not known to have raised objections to its operations; it was grandfathered in, existing since before the establishment of the state, and not worth a diplomatic spat with Israel’s greatest ally.

But now, in order to reopen the consulate to the Palestinians, Israel would have to give its approval – and this government does not plan to do so. Allowing consulates to a foreign entity in the middle of Israel’s capital would undermine sovereignty and the unity of Jerusalem, is the argument against it.

The answer is Jerusalem
Last week, members of the Italian parliament and heads of its most important parties convened at the Senate in Rome for an important event in honor of Jerusalem, under the banner "Jerusalem Prayer Breakfast," an event founded by former MK Robert Ilatov and Albert Veksler. The participants sought to strengthen the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called for the Italian embassy in Israel to be moved to Jerusalem. Israel's embassy in Rome, together with the Israeli Foreign Ministry, helped promote the event.

Senator Matteo Salvini, the head of the Lega Party (a senior coalition member), said at the event that "the Jewish people and Jerusalem are one, and therefore moving Italy's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is the right thing to do morally, culturally and religiously, and is a move that should be taken politically. The statements made by Salvini and other senators resonated throughout Italy and beyond.

The following is my speech before the Senate:
At night, we went to sleep with Jerusalem on our tongues, and during the days we blessed our bread and asked of the Lord in the heavens not to forget to build Jerusalem. When lovers took their vows and married, they broke a glass under their canopy, as a sign that their love was not whole as long as Jerusalem has yet to be rebuilt. And on the eve of the Sabbath as the holy day began, we encouraged her from every place on earth where we had stopped for a generation or two: "Oh sanctuary of the King, royal city. Arise and depart from amid the upheaval. Too long have you dwelled in the valley of weeping. He will shower compassion upon you."

And when our captors asked us for words of song in our various exiles, we repeated the eternal oath that the first exiles of Zion swore by the rivers of Babylon in the sixth century BCE: "If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not, if I set not Jerusalem above my highest joy."
The Israel Guys: Why Palestinians Want to Divide Jerusalem
A multi-billionaire Palestinian businessman stated that his top priority is developing Jerusalem to ensure that Palestinians have a future there. The project he’s working on however, shows that he doesn’t really care about providing housing for his people.

Netflix is releasing a series of 32 films about Palestinians. Since most of the film directors are anti-semites, and one of them blatantly so, there’s no doubt this series is anti-Israel. This is the first time that Netflix has unfairly targeted one specific country in a series like this.

The world wants you to believe that reopening the US consulate in Jerusalem is for the benefit of the Palestinian people. A recent statement from the Palestinian Authority prime minister however, tells quite a different story.

Google Maps removes 'Apartheid Wall' from J'lem security barrier label
Google Maps has announced that it has removed the label "Apartheid Wall" from a road adjacent to the security barrier on the outskirts of eastern Jerusalem.

While it is unclear how it came about, the company called it "inappropriate" and removed the label after being alerted by Jewish News Syndicate.

"We have taken swift action to update this inappropriate error," a Google spokesperson told JNS.

The unnamed road appears to be a military route that runs alongside the security barrier not far from the Bethphage church on the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives and the Tomb of Lazarus east of Jerusalem.

Erected after the wave of Palestinian suicide bombings during the years of the Second Intifada from 2000 to 2005, the security barrier has been seen as an effective tool in order to prevent infiltrations from the West Bank by terror groups, with the number of such bombings dropping dramatically following its construction.

Still, it has drawn criticism from the international community, which sees the barrier as evidence of Israel's intent to annex land and undermine the Mideast peace process.

As a result, critics have accused Israel of being an "apartheid state" to describe its policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, also applying the term to the barrier.
Bennett extends Russia trip over Shabbat after ‘warm’ Putin talks run long
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s first meeting as premier with Russian President Vladimir Putin went on for some five hours Friday, forcing the Israeli leader to extend his visit to Sochi until after Shabbat, his office said.

“The meeting was warm and positive and dealt with a series of issues of importance to the two nations,” said a statement from Bennett’s office after the two leaders met at the Black Sea resort town for their first face-to-face talks since Bennett took office earlier this year.

The statement said the official meeting at Putin’s residence lasted some five hours after which the two leaders “went outside to speak on the balcony of the residence and then walked through the paths of the grounds toward the sea.”

There was no immediate comment on the talks from the Russian side.

Bennett had initially planned to be in the air back to Israel three hours after the 10 a.m. meeting, but with talks running long, Bennett and his entourage were forced to remain in Sochi until Saturday night to avoid traveling on Shabbat.

The statement appeared to try and emphasize that the two were developing a personal bond. Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had long argued that only his close personal ties with Putin kept the Israel-Russia relationship close, and a Russian official had earlier indicated that it would take time for the Russian leader to build the same rapport with Bennett.
Biden pledges to defend Taiwan, White House says no change in policy
President Joe Biden talked tough when asked about keeping up militarily with China and defending Taiwan during a CNN town hall event on Thursday night.

The question came amid renewed questions about the island’s status with an assertive communist regime on the Chinese mainland.

A Republican college student asked Biden about a Chinese hypersonic missile test, which Beijing has denied, and whether he would vow to protect Taiwan. “Yes and yes,” the president responded.

“Military, China, Russia, and the rest of the world know that we have the most powerful military in the history of the world,” Biden said after pausing to collect his thoughts. “Don’t worry about whether they’re gonna be more powerful. What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that will put them in a position where they make a serious mistake.”

Biden repeated his claim to have spoken with Chinese President Xi Jinping “more than any other world leader has. ... You hear people sayin’ ‘Biden wants to start a new Cold War with China.' I don’t want a Cold War with China. I just want to make China understand that we are not going to step back, we are not going to change any of our views.”CNN’s Anderson Cooper cut in to ask Biden to clarify whether that would mean the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense if China attacked.

“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden replied.

The actual U.S. position on Taiwan has been less clear since Washington recognized the communist government in Beijing in the 1970s.
Mark Regev: Abraham Accords: Is the Israel-Arab circle of peace expansion over? - opinion
The Bennett-Lapid government has also been successful in building upon the Abraham Accords relationships established on Netanyahu’s watch. Lapid conducted fruitful visits to the UAE, and more recently, to Bahrain. He met with senior leadership in both, signed multiple bilateral agreements, and officially marked the new normalized relations by formally opening Israel’s new embassies. During his visit to Morocco in mid-August, Lapid inaugurated Israel’s diplomatic mission in Rabat, and reached understandings on the reciprocal opening of embassies. Especially in the Gulf, Israel’s new ties go from strength to strength, with Bennett soon expected to be the first Israeli prime minister to visit the UAE.

But even with this important progress, the glass remains only half full. It will be remembered that as 2021 dawned, the conversation among those “in the know” focused upon which country would be next to join the Abraham Accords bandwagon, and how quickly. Would it be Oman, Qatar, or maybe even the big prize – Saudi Arabia? Could there be a shift toward Israel among the Arab states of North Africa? And what of the Muslim giants of Asia and Africa? Today, there is no such upbeat discussion; hopes now seemingly dashed for any expeditious expansion of the circle of peace.

Here the finger should be pointed at Washington. Despite last week’s public reiteration by the secretary of state of American support for the Abraham Accords, the Biden team has so far done little to prioritize additional Arab-Israeli normalization. This may be about the new administration’s reallocation of America’s foreign policy preferences, but could also stem, at least in part, from ideological considerations. Officials who believe in the centrality of the Palestinian issue could perhaps think that normalization needs to be put on hold as a reward for Israel to incentivize a future two-state solution.

Such an approach can only empower Palestinian intransigence by returning the PA’s veto on all new regional peacemaking. This will be detrimental to Israeli-Arab normalization and ultimately also to Israeli-Palestinian peace, making them both more difficult to achieve. The end result is the indefinite postponement of any significant expansion of the Abraham Accords to include additional Arab and Muslim countries. Does Joe Biden really want such stagnation as his legacy?
What is the state of Israel-UAE cooperation a year after normalization?
The Israeli pavilion itself is immense, and the technological know-how that Jerusalem is getting to show off to the UAE and the world is spellbinding.

Some Israeli ministers have even expressed hope that the pavilions can be used for making quiet progress with other Muslim countries that are considering joining the Abraham Accords.

At the same time, not far from Israel’s expo is an expo for “the State of Palestine” with long lines, “Jerusalem” written proudly on the roof and an exhibit highlighting Palestinians holding on to keys to “return” to their former homes in Israel.

Despite the conflicting messages, at a major business opening event on Tuesday night, a large number of Emirates were in attendance. They were very enthusiastic about future ties and deals with Israel, and relegated the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to being a minor issue which they hoped would gradually improve due to increased Israeli-Arab cooperation.

Israelis will also get help from a powerful group of officials from India who held events during the visit to build trilateral cooperation between the countries and the UAE.

With Space Week at the Expo taking place during the Post’s visit, Shelli Brunswick, Space Foundation COO, issued a statement saying that “Expo 2020 is amazing. When I explored some of the pavilions, it was just inspirational. Expo 2020 is providing a vision of what we can all accomplish together. The event is about all of us coming together, not only to create a wonderful world on the Moon or Mars, but it shows what we can accomplish here on Earth.”

With a flourish, she added a space reference: “The sky is not the limit. There are no limits. Aim higher.”

Perhaps the best balance for Israelis regarding the UAE at this juncture is to be thankful for what has been achieved, to aim for the sky and beyond, but to also keep their expectations realistic and firmly rooted on the ground.
Couple ties knot in largest-ever Jewish wedding in Dubai
A Jewish couple got married in Dubai on Wednesday in what is considered the largest Jewish wedding ever to take place in the United Arab Emirates.

More than 600 young men and women from Russia and the former Soviet Union attended the celebrations that took place in the heart of the Dubai desert.

The attendees were flown to the Gulf state by the Yachad outreach organization that runs Torah-learning groups throughout the former FSU and is led by Moscow-based Chabad Rabbi Mendy Wilansky. Yachad aims to strengthen Jewish communities abroad and prevent assimilation by teaching youngsters about Jewish values.

The Dubai trip was the culmination of a year-long weekly Torah-learning program that all 600 youngsters attended. Yachad organizes such trips annually.

"The first generation to grow up after the collapse of the Iron Curtain came to visit Dubai, to see how it's possible to walk around with a kippah and tzitzit [ritual fringes], as proud Jews, even in an Arab country," said Russian Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar, who officiated the wedding.
Israel’s Diamond Industry to Make First Appearance at Bahrain Jewelry Expo
One of the Gulf region’s most prestigious diamond and jewelry shows, Jewellery Arabia, is being held this year from Nov. 16-20 in Bahrain, and for the first time, Israel’s diamond industry will be represented.

Israel Diamond Center (IDC) founder Avi Tavisal, who is also a founder of the Israel Diamond Exchange, designed and created the AlSakhra Collection. It was created in the spirit of Islamic faith and culture, and of the Abraham Accords.

Its name comes from Sakharat Al-Maraj—the Rock of Ascension from which Muhammad ascended to the heavens for his “Night Journey,” and the beautiful gilded Dome of the Rock above it.

Featuring Jerusalem stone, gold and diamonds, the pieces in the collection will be unveiled at the expo and on sale at the company’s booth.

When invited by the Israel Diamond Exchange to be one of the first diamond and fine jewelry dealers to represent Israel at the Jewellery Arabia exhibition, Tavisal—a seventh-generation Jerusalemite and second-generation jeweler—agreed immediately and began working with a team of craftsmen and advisers to produce the AlSakhra line.

“We are making history. This is a very exciting and important development. Dealing with diamonds connects me to a very special place. Diamonds saved my father’s life during World War II and gave me a rare opportunity to become one of the founders of the Israeli Diamond Exchange and industry. It is a privilege to use my skills, creativity and faith to honor Islam and our partners in the historic Abraham Accords,” Tavisal said.

Kosher food made available at British parliament
More than three years after a similar push was denied, kosher and halal food has been made available regularly at the headquarters of the British parliament, where about 11,000 people work, hundreds of them Jewish or Muslim.

The launch on Tuesday follows a push that two Labour lawmakers — Charlotte Nichols, who is Jewish, and Zarah Sultana, who is Muslim — began in 2019, the Jewish News of London reported.

The move was approved in 2020 but implementation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down parts of the British parliament in London, according to the Jewish News.

The kosher meal provider is 1070 Kitchen, a catering service based in London under the supervision of that city’s rabbinical court. Its name refers to the year in which the first written record of Jewish settlement in England was authored.

UN Watch: Belgium called out for antisemitism in UN review
In a review of Belgium’s record at the United Nations Human Rights Council, UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer called out the antisemitism of Rajae Maouane, co-president of Ecolo, one of the parties in Belgium’s ruling coalition. (Belgium, UPR Report Consideration, 29th Meeting, 48th Regular Session, Human Rights Council, 30 September 2021)

Israel Advocacy Movement: Mohammed el-Kurd lies about shooting in Jerusalem

Members of thwarted terror cell are linked to PA security forces — report
Two members of a terrorist cell linked to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, arrested in Jericho recently on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, are affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, according to a Channel 12 news report which aired Thursday night.

The report, which did not cite a source, said one of the two is a senior PA security official.

The pair were named as Majed Abu-Shakar, a captain in the PA’s National Security Forces, and Jasser Dwikat, a Fatah member whose father is a major general in the PA security forces. A third suspect was arrested inside Israel, the report said.

The members of the cell had purchased weapons and were planning an attack against Israelis in the West Bank or inside Israel, according to the report. They were recruited and being instructed by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative, named by the TV network as Izzat Al-Aktash.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad has a stronger foothold in the Gaza Strip, where it is often responsible for firing rockets and missiles into Israel. Israeli security forces fear that the terrorist group could be making further inroads into the West Bank and recruiting operatives there.
Israel Police Remove Spray-Painted Arab Nationalist Graffiti from the Temple Mount
On August 30, a team of the organization Beyadenu (In Our Hands – a reference to the immortal announcement made by Paratroopers’ commander Col. Mota Gur on June 7, 1967: The Temple Mount is in our hands) ascended to the Temple Mount, led by Executive Director Tom Nissani only to discover new graffiti in Arabic in the northern part of the compound, some of it inciting and nationalistic.

In addition to disfiguring the holy site, the graffiti included the inciting slogan “Today and tomorrow is our Jerusalem,” the name “Al-Aqsa,” and several names in Arabic.

The next day, Nissani filed a complaint with the police and sent an urgent letter to the Jerusalem Municipality, calling on it to prosecute the offenders for violating the Preservation of Holy Places Act.

The letter stated that “as long as the authority to manage the Temple Mount is formally in the hands of the municipality and the police, you have the responsibility to deal with any violation, harm, contempt, and spray-painting of graffiti, certainly when it is the holiest place to the Jewish people.”

This week, Nissani received a reply from the Jerusalem District Attorney, stating: “We have been informed that the graffiti has been removed, the police on the Temple Mount are dealing with the issue regularly.”

An examination showed that the offensive graffiti had indeed been erased, except for a few scraps that were not nationalist or inciting.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad prisoners suspend hunger strike, claim 'victory'
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) prisoners have suspended their hunger strike after reaching an agreement with Israeli authorities, PIJ officials said on Friday.

“The prisoners decided to suspend the hunger strike after they scored victory against the administration of the occupation prison authorities,” said PIJ official Tareq Ezaddin.

The details of the agreement between the prisoners and the Israel Prison Service will be announced in the coming hours, Ezaddin said. “The victory is a turning point in the confrontation with the [Israeli] jailer,” he added.

A statement issued by the leadership of the PIJ prisoners held in Israeli prisons confirmed that the hunger strike, which began nine days ago, has ended.

Sheikh Khader Adnan, a senior PIJ official in the northern West Bank, “congratulated” the families of the prisoners of PIJ for ending the hunger strike. He did not provide details about the alleged agreement with the Israeli authorities.

Some 250 PIJ inmates went on hunger strike nine days ago in protest of restrictions imposed on them following the escape of six prisoners from Gilboa Prison last month.

Israeli Seizure Takes Aim at Hezbollah’s ‘Preferred Supplier’ for Making Precision-Guided Munitions
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz has signed a seizure order against a Lebanon-based company that allegedly supplies the Hezbollah terror group with equipment for the production of precision-guided missiles.

“The ministry’s seizure order will enable the introduction of the company into international financial ‘black lists’ and will greatly hinder its activity,” the country’s defense ministry stated Thursday.

The directive is part of a wide range of activities to step up economic pressures against Hezbollah’s precision-guided missile project, the defense ministry said. According to the IDF, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is involved in Hezbollah’s attempt to develop and acquire precision guided missiles in Lebanon. In recent years, Hezbollah has continually threatened to fire rockets at Israel from Lebanon.

Following joint work of the IDF’s Intelligence Directorate and the National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing in the Ministry of Defense, Gantz signed the seizure order against Shreif Sanitary Co. and its owner, Haytham Ahmad Muhammad Shreif.

According to Israel, Shreif Sanitary is registered in Lebanon and conducts commercial business activities on a regular basis with Hezbollah.
Christian Lebanese leader: Hezbollah is an illegal entity
The leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces party on Thursday refuted claims by rival Shiite Hezbollah of seeking to start a civil war.

In an interview with Lebanese broadcaster MTV, Samir Geagea said the confrontation with Hezbollah was purely political and must remain so.

The Lebanese Forces is a registered political party with official members, he said, contrary to Hezbollah which "legally does not exist as it is not registered with the Interior Ministry and its members are accused of various crimes."

"We do not have fighters," Geagea said.

Nobody should think about confronting Hezbollah militarily, Geagea added, saying that doing so would be a big mistake.
GOP Lawmakers Concerned Biden Removed Sanctions To Appease Iran
A group of 33 Republican lawmakers launched an investigation on Thursday into the Biden administration’s decision to remove sanctions earlier this month on entities tied to Iran’s illicit ballistic missile program.

Congressional Republicans suspect the Biden Treasury Department’s decision is part of a package of concessions meant to entice Iran into resuming negotiations aimed at securing a return to the nuclear deal—though senior U.S. officials dispute this claim, saying that the sanctions were removed following an internal legal review. Diplomatic talks with Iran have stalled since the regime inaugurated a new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, who demanded America drop all sanctions on the regime before discussions continue. The Biden administration’s Iran envoy, Robert Malley, said last week that the United States is "prepared to remove all of the sanctions that were imposed by the Trump administration."

The Treasury Department on Oct. 8 removed sanctions on Mammut Industrial Group and affiliated entities that were designated by the Trump administration as "key producers and suppliers of military-grade, dual-use goods for Iran’s missile programs." Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is the largest in the Middle East and capable of carrying a nuclear payload, has long been a source of international concern. It was heavily sanctioned prior to the 2015 nuclear agreement and again after former president Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.

The Republican lawmakers—led by Reps. Bryan Steil (R., Wis.), Jim Banks (R., Ind.), and Joe Wilson (R., S.C.)—are demanding the Treasury and State Departments prove that Mammut and its affiliated networks are no longer engaged in sanctionable activity that could aid Iran’s missile development.
Will the Arab gas pipeline bring energy to Lebanon, bypass Iran? - opinion
The exacerbating crisis in Lebanon is deeply troubling to the regional as well as the international arena, and is producing creative attempts designed to help Lebanon, while at the same time, is preventing the strengthening of Iranian influence in the country.

On September 8, a rare meeting was held in Amman, between the energy ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. As part of the meeting, an ambitious road map was agreed to, with the purpose of supplying Lebanon with gas to produce 450 megawatts of electricity. The gas is supposed to come from Egypt, through the Arab gas pipeline, and the financing would probably be through the World Bank.

The rationale behind the move in question focuses on the clear interest in preventing the supply of Iranian oil, using tankers that will reach the shores of Syria, thereby projecting achievements to Iran and Hezbollah, in the intra-Lebanese and regional arenas. The move was initiated and supported by Washington, with the involvement of Saad Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, who failed in his attempt to form a government in Beirut in recent months.

The path that emerges: Natural gas will flow from Egypt to Lebanon (to Tripoli) through the Arab gas pipeline. The gas pipeline in question is a land pipeline (the small part of which is underwater), with a total length of 1,200 km., intended for the export of natural gas from Egypt to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Laying the pipeline to Aqaba in Jordan began in 1998 and was completed in 2003. The section goes from El Arish to Taba, and from there in a submarine pipeline, 15 km. long, to Aqaba. The second section, from Aqaba to al-Rahab, south of the Syrian border, was completed in 2005. The third section connected the pipeline to a power station near Homs in Syria, and the last part connected to Tripoli in northern Lebanon.
Warhol in Tehran: Iranians flock to American pop art exhibit
Warhol’s works are among a permanent art collection worth billions of dollars kept in the Tehran museum vault. As oil boomed during the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the country acquired thousands of pieces, including Monets, Picassos and Jackson Pollocks, before the 1979 Islamic Revolution ousted the pro-Western monarchy and vaulted Shiite clerics to power.

Iran’s new theocracy first banned modern art and packed away the famous paintings. But in recent decades as cultural restrictions eased, some 1,500 Western art pieces from the dynastic era have gone back on display — with much fanfare. In 2015, Tehran’s municipal council even plastered the city’s billboards with hundreds of works by great American painters, from Rothko to Hopper, transforming the sprawling city into a giant, open-air exhibit.

Still, a visitor won’t find Warhol’s grittier fare, like his notorious experimental films, on display in Tehran. In 2005, when the museum showcased its entire collection of 20th-century American and European masterworks, choice pieces — including a Renoir nude — were hidden to avoid offending conservative Islamic sensibilities.

The audience in Tehran on Wednesday nonetheless appeared satisfied with Warhol’s silk-screen printings that tested orthodoxies by portraying consumerist themes in the early 1960s.
Florida ‘Hezbollah Imam’ Clicks ‘Like’ to Destroy the Jewish State
Mohamad Al-Ali Al-Halabi is the imam of the American Islamic Center of Florida (AICF), located in Pompano Beach. Since immigrating to the United States in 1999, Al-Halabi has become an important figure in the American Shiite community. However, it is what he did before coming to the US that is of the most interest. This month, Al-Halabi took to social media to reminisce about the past, dredging up old grievances as they relate to Israel, a nation he despises and was once recruited to fight against. He went as far as to embrace his friend’s words erasing Israel from existence. With his violent history and vengeful designs, why does Al-Halabi remain in the US?

On October 6th, Syrian-born Al-Halabi, in a lamentation about the status of Israel, remembered the Yom Kippur War, when a coalition of Arab nations, exactly 48 years earlier, in October 1973, jointly launched a surprise attack against Israel on the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. By the end of the war, Israel had humiliated those she was fighting with a lopsided victory.

Al-Halabi began by posting on his Facebook page the following in Arabic: “October is an event that remains in memory. But today, Israel is the victor, and its slogan, which was from the Euphrates to the Nile, is today, from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf.”

“From the Euphrates to the Nile” is a factually unfounded and mostly Arab conspiracy theory that alleges that it is the goal of the government of Israel to obtain wide-ranging borders that are derived from the Jewish Bible, which would span all of Lebanon and Jordan and significant parts of Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. “From the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf,” on the other hand, indicates the intention of a takeover of more than half the world.

Al-Halabi said that, as a result of the 1973 war, “Israel took revenge and succeeded in returning the lands that were liberated in the days of war and worked to put Arab regimes under its armpits.” The reference, of course, was the giving back of the Sinai to Egypt in return for peace. Today, Al-Halabi is concerned that recent alliances Israel has had with different Muslim countries will allow Israel to further grow in strength and prominence.


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