Tuesday, May 24, 2022

05/24 Links Pt1: Israel's refusal to Jewish claims on Temple Mount encourages Islamists; Intra-Arab Apartheid, Palestinian Authority style; Palestinians: A Vote to Destroy Israel

From Ian:

Yisrael Medad: Israel's refusal to Jewish claims on Temple Mount encourages Islamists
An unstatic status quo
The irony, however, is that the “status quo” is anything but static. The Wakf Islamic religious trust has altered times of entry and prohibited Shabbat visits. Since 2013, Ramadan closure was artificially extended. The Wakf created new holiday periods, planted tree orchards, paved over new pathways, built outdoor prayer platforms and constructed three new mosques. The police permit youths to stay overnight, knowing they are gathering stones and fireworks to attack Jews in the morning or attempt to throw stones over the wall to the Western Wall Plaza below.

Israel yielded and, despite security concerns, does not have surveillance cameras or metal detectors in place, even though police and Jews have been shot dead and stabbed to death there or just outside the gates. Most importantly, no archaeological digs are permitted, and, on the other hand, in 1996 many tons of earth were removed and dumped outside the compound.

And while Jews have succeeded in having a High Court of Justice ruling of decades ago applied, that is, allowing non-demonstrative silent prayer, Jews looking like Jews are subjected to special profiling procedures and must walk in a small groups along a separate route surrounded by police and Wakf guards because Jews are viewed by the Wakf as “storming” and being “provocative.”

Moreover, there has been a name change. The term “al-Haram al-Sharif” has all but disappeared, while “al-Aqsa Mosque” has become dominant. The Palestinian Authority’s denial that Jews have any connection to the Temple Mount or Jerusalem increases. Tayseer al-Tamimi, former chief justice of the PA Religious Court, said recently “the blessed Aqsa Mosque is Islamic and belongs to Muslims alone... and the Jews have no right to it... or the right to pray in any part of it.” And he added, “al-Aqsa Mosque includes all its courtyards... and specifically its western wall.”

PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habbash also asserted that “al-Aqsa Mosque... will not be shared with anyone, and no one besides Muslims will pray in it.” In December last year, Habbash stated that the Western Wall is “an authentic part of al-Aqsa Mosque only.”

If al-Aqsa is supposedly in danger, it is due to Islamist extremism and the increased violence of Muslims championing exclusivism, as well as a government standoffish approach, as if the matter will just go away. It won’t. Israel’s descent from identifying with the Jewishness of the Temple Mount, as if dismounting, will not placate Islamists but only encourage them.
David Singer: Intra-Arab Apartheid, Palestinian Authority style
The appointment of a new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Authority territories 'occupied' since 1967 – Francesca Albanese – serves to highlight the anti-Israel bias that dominates the United Nations (UN), to its eternal shame.

Albanese was appointed Special Rapporteur by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2022 - taking up her role on 1 May 2022.

Albanese’s mandate as Special Rapporteur derives from Resolution 1993/2 passed by the UN Committee of Human Rights on 19 February 1993:

“To investigate Israel's violations of the principles and bases of international law, international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967;

Albanese is limited to only investigating Israel – not Hamas or the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

Albanese is not a neutral appointment as her announcement makes clear:
“She has widely published on the legal situation in Israel and the State of Palestine and regularly teaches and lectures on international law and forced displacement at universities in Europe and the Arab region.”

Albanese will therefore not be examining or reporting on apartheid policies being implemented by the PLO and Hamas in Gaza and the 'West Bank'
– where both the PLO and Hamas:are in charge and
- Keep 27 refugee camps open which house 800000 Palestinian Arabs: 600000 in 8 camps in Gaza administered and policed by Hamas and 200000 in 19 camps in the 'West Bank' administered and policed by the PLO - and
- Take no steps to close and resettle their camp populations within the villages and towns the PLO has controlled in the 'West Bank' since 1995 and Hamas has controlled in Gaza since 2007.

Israel’s attempts to close these camps and resettle their occupants had been denied under UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/39/99 (A-K) passed on 14 December 1984 in which the General Assembly:
- Under article E 1: “Reiterates its demand that Israel desist from the removal and resettlement of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip and from the destruction of their shelters”;
- Under article J 1: “Calls upon Israel to abandon its plans and to refrain from the removal, and from any action that may lead to the removal and resettlement, of Palestine refugees in the West Bank and from the destruction of their camps;”

Palestinians: A Vote to Destroy Israel
These Palestinians are evidently fed up with the rampant corruption and bad governance of the Palestinian Authority leadership. Moreover, these Palestinians who no longer support Abbas are stating that they have no interest in any peace process with Israel.

As the last poll showed, 70% of the Palestinians are opposed to an unconditional return to peace negotiations with Israel. Another 58% expressed opposition to the two-state solution.

The truth is that Abbas called off the elections [in 2021] because he was afraid that Hamas would defeat his Fatah faction in the parliamentary election, as took place in 2006.

The results of the Birzeit University elections prove that Abbas's fears were not unfounded. Had he insisted on proceeding with the presidential and parliamentary elections, it is most likely.... that Hamas would have taken control of the Palestinian presidency and parliament.

Hamas, for its part, said that it sees the results of the university election as a vote of confidence in its policy of pursuing deadly terrorist attacks against Israel.

The students who voted in support of Hamas fully identify with the terrorist group's covenant, which states that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."

Palestinians have been radicalized by their leaders and media to a point where they do not want to hear anything about a peace process with Israel. In fact, they want to see Israel vanish from the map, as the results of the student council elections and the polls clearly illustrate.

The results of the Birzeit University elections and the polls stand in sharp contrast to the views expressed by the Biden administration concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Over the past year, Biden administration officials have repeatedly stated their commitment to the "two-state solution" while totally ignoring the widespread support among the Palestinians for the elimination of Israel.

The Hamas victory at the university's student council should sound alarm bells in the Biden administration, especially the State Department, regarding the true intentions of the Palestinians – that their sole commitment is to have a state that would replace Israel, not one that would exist peacefully alongside Israel. That is why it is nonsensical to pressure Israel to make any territorial (or non-territorial) concessions to the Palestinians, who are openly proclaiming that they want to establish a Palestinian state on the ruins of Israel and the bodies of dead Jews.

European Parliament President in Jerusalem: ‘Europe Will Always Back Israel’s Right to Exist’
The president of the European Parliament on Monday slammed resurgent antisemitism as an “anti-European” scourge and called for strengthening links between Israel and the continent.

In her first presidential visit outside Europe, Roberta Metsola addressed a special plenary session of the Knesset in Jerusalem, where she called Israel’s story “one of hope, of perseverance, of faith, and of overcoming adversity.”

“I’m here to talk about improving ties in culture, in science, in trade, in education, in arts, in research and in technology,” she told her audience, which included Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “About peace. About facing the future together.”

Metsola, a member of the center-right European People’s Party group, early on acknowledged “the threats — some existential — that you face; of the difficulties in supporting a vibrant democracy.”

She took aim at the continued questioning of “Israel’s right to existence” — a notion often rejected by anti-Zionist governments and organizations, who frame the Jewish state’s founding and continued survival as illegitimate.

“Let me be clear: Europe will always back Israel’s right to exist,” she said to applause.
To be antisemitic is to be anti-European, parliament head tells Knesset
Europe backs Israel's right to exist and stands strong with it against rising antisemitism, head of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola told the Knesset during a special address on Monday.

"It is, to many outside of Israel, inconceivable that Israel’s right to exist is still put into question," Metsola said to applause from the plenum.

Her three-day trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories that began on Sunday, is the first one the Maltese politician has made outside of Europe since taking office in January.

"This is my first visit – it will not be my last – and I wanted to come early in my mandate to send a signal of our willingness to engage," Metsola said.

The European Parliament's past
The 705-member European Parliament has in the past been criticized for taking anti-Israeli stands.

Metsola said that the parliament was committed to strengthening its ties with Israel, including in culture, science, trade, education, arts, research and technology. It does so at a time of rising antisemitism, she said.
Turkey’s FM lands in Israel for first visit in 15 years, in sign of thawing ties
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Cavusoglu’s landmark visit to Israel, the first such trip in around 15 years, came as Turkey’s relationship with Israel continues to thaw after a lengthy period of hostility.

Cavusoglu traveled directly to Ramallah after touching down to chair a joint committee on bilateral relations and meet with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki. He is expected to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas later in the day.

Abbas will ask Cavusoglu to pressure Israel to stop “escalation” against the Palestinians, said senior PA diplomat Ahmad al-Deek.

“The message to the Israeli side will be: Cease all forms of escalation in the conflict, whether it’s the army’s incursions or shooting incidents, attacks by settlers, or raids at Al-Aqsa and the Flag March,” said al-Deek, a political adviser to al-Maliki.

Cavusoglu said in Ramallah that Turkey’s improved ties with Israel will not come at the expense of its commitment to the Palestinians.

“Our support for the Palestinian cause is completely independent of the course of our relations with Israel,” he said during a joint press conference with his counterpart al-Malki.
IDF wants next war to be 'fast and lethal' - top Israeli officer
IDF assessments state that while it is unlikely that a war with Hezbollah will break out in the near future, the northern border remains the most explosive and both sides have warned that the next conflict between the two would be devastating.

Hezbollah has an estimated arsenal of between 130,000-150,000 missiles and rockets – the majority of them facing Israel’s civilian home front and strategic infrastructure.

A war with the terror group would see intensive rocket fire on the home front coming not only from Lebanon, but from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip as well as countries further from its borders.

According to the senior officer, in addition to the thousands of rockets expected to be launched towards Israel, “we will have to deal with challenges that we never saw before” including increased use of attack drones that continue to be an evolving threat that poses challenges to the Jewish state.

In addition to rocket fire and drones, Hezbollah is expected to try to infiltrate Israeli communities with their Radwan forces.

Though Israel destroyed the group’s cross-border attack tunnels, “Hezbollah continues to threaten to infiltrate into Israel. They have their plans and we have ours,” the senior officer said.

“And as a Golani, I can tell you that we are ready to meet them and their plans. While I prefer it not to happen, if they try, they know very well what they will encounter here.

"We love our country and we will fight for it,” he said. “That is the strength of the IDF. We are ready.”
Israel Busts Hamas Cell Planning Attacks on Jerusalem Rail, Knesset’s Ben Gvir
Israeli security forces last month busted a Hamas terror cell in eastern Jerusalem with plans to carry out a series of attacks in Israel, including against Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir and Jerusalem’s light rail service.

In a joint operation, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency and Israel Police arrested five Palestinian Hamas operatives from the Old City of Jerusalem and the city’s eastern neighborhoods. The group was planning to kidnap Israeli soldiers; murder public figures, including the far-right lawmaker Ben Gvir, in shooting attacks; and produce explosive devices. They are also accused of planning an attack on the Jerusalem light rail using a drone armed with explosives.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was updated on the status of the operation to thwart the cell, and directed the Shin Bet and other authorities to take all necessary steps to catch those threatening Israeli citizens.

The security forces found that the cell was led by Rashid Rashak, who was described as a “prominent Hamas operative” and a resident of the Old City. The investigation uncovered that members of the group planned to hide in the cities of Hebron or Jenin in the West Bank after the attacks.

Rashak was also allegedly planning a shooting or suicide attack in Jerusalem with Mansour Safadi, another Hamas operative from eastern Jerusalem.

Israeli authorities said they seized a drone planned for use in an attack on Jerusalem’s light rail, a camera designed to photograph hostages, money, and equipment provided by the Hamas terror group.

According to the investigation, the plotters were also involved in recruiting and setting up a network of Hamas activists in Jerusalem, tasked with inciting violent clashes during Ramadan last month around Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and the city’s eastern neighborhoods. The suspects are accused of purchasing and taking fireworks and other Hamas materials, including flags and ribbons, to the Al-Aqsa compound for use during the riots.
Israel Committed to Investigating Death of Al Jazeera Journalist Despite Challenges of Joint Probe, Says Top IDF Lawyer
Israel is obligated to fully examine the circumstances that led to the death of Shireen Abu Akleh in the city of Jenin in the West Bank earlier this month, despite the army’s inability thus far to inspect the bullet that killed the Palestinian-American journalist, the IDF’s advocate general said Monday.

“Abu Akleh’s death is an unfortunate event, and the IDF is taking every possible effort to examine the incident and determine how Abu Akleh was killed,” said IDF Advocate General Brig.-Gen. Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi. “The duty of the military prosecution, like all prosecution bodies in the State of Israel, is not ‘striving for convictions’ but rather to first and foremost investigate to find the truth.”

During a speech at the annual conference of the Israel Bar Association in Eilat, Tomer-Yerushalmi commented on the current investigation into the death of the Al Jazeera reporter Abu Akleh, who was killed during an gunfight in Jenin, where IDF soldiers were conducting counterterrorism operations on May 11, following a string of deadly terror attacks in Israel.

“From the information that we currently have, dozens of Palestinian gunmen fired hundreds of bullets from a number of directions. An intense exchange of fire began between the Palestinian gunmen and IDF soldiers,” she said. “At this stage, it is not clear which side fired the bullet that hit and killed Abu Akleh.”

The military’s advocate general emphasized that without an examination of the bullet, doubt remains around culpability.

“In these specific circumstances, the most accurate way to find the cause of death is to conduct a professional ballistics examination of the bullet that was found in Abu Akleh’s body,” Tomer-Yerushalmi explained. “This bullet is currently in the possession of the Palestinian Authority, which has refused to cooperate.”
Distortions and Israel’s Dilemma
Tragically, a female reporter for Al Jazeera was killed in a crossfire skirmish between Israeli troops and Palestinian terrorists in one of the most dangerous regions of the West Bank. Almost instantly, Israel was blamed for the continuing spread of COVID-19 and gasoline price-gouging.

Responsibility for the dead broadcast journalist was a given.

In any instance in which a Palestinian life is taken, a guilty verdict against Israel is swift even though the charge may be patently false and libelous. With the damage already done and public attention directed elsewhere, the accusation sometimes gets walked back. A full retraction is a rarity.

Meanwhile, millions of Arabs have been killed in wars by their co-religionists (over 500,000 in Syria, another 500,000 in Iraq and Iran, 15,000 in Yemen, and counting), but “bloody murder” is scarcely heard. Resolutions condemning Muslim countries for such massive death tolls do not multiply in the United Nations (hardly any are ever drafted).

The lives of Arabs are, apparently, more valuable if Israel is the cause of ending them. And any Israeli reprisal or preemptive strike in self-defense, regardless of the circumstance, is routinely prejudged a war crime.

Because the demise of the Al Jazeera reporter, Shireen Abu Akleh, took place in Jenin where the Palestinian Authority is responsible for security, the bullet that killed her was removed from her head and remains in the custody of Palestinian police.

The crime scene was immediately contaminated with bias. Israel called for a joint forensic investigation. The Palestinians refused, and won’t show investigators the caliber and condition of the bullet.

For its part, Israel has already identified the IDF soldier and weapon that may have caused the death. No surprise there. Israel has a long history of accepting responsibility for actions that violate IDF protocols.
How many names of journalists killed in war zones do you know?
Did you know that 12 Al Jazeera journalists have been killed in recent years - seven of those in Syria? How many of their names or the names of the other journalists who’ve been killed in war zones do you know?

According to the International Federation of Journalists, (IFJ), in the first such report, from 1990-2020, 2,658 journalists were killed while covering wars and conflicts.

Fifty percent (50%) of these journalists (and their camera people, and other support staff), were killed in ten of the most dangerous countries: “Iraq (399 killed); Mexico (175); Philippines (159); Pakistan (138); India (116); Russian Federation (110); Algeria (106); Syria (96); Somalia (93); and Afghanistan (93).

These journalists do not step on landmines and are not caught in a cross-fire. The IFJ conclude that “most journalists are murdered in reprisal for what they write, as opposed to being killed by the hazards of combat reporting.”

Canadian Media Headlines Say Palestinian Teen Killed In Israeli Raid; Ignore That He Was a Terrorist
Five of Canada’s largest news outlets recently covered, in various formats, the story of how 17-year-old Palestinian, Amjad al-Fayyed, was killed recently near the town of Jenin.

All five news organizations ignored or downplayed crucial facts of the story, such as how the teen was a member of the Islamic Jihad terror group and was likely engaged in hostilities against IDF forces and, by omission, portrayed the Palestinian teen as an innocent civilian killed by Israeli forces, except that nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is that Amjad al-Fayyed was a terrorist who likely opened fire and threw explosive devices and Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers during an operation near Kafr Dan. As you can see below, Amjad al-Fayyed, is seen wearing clothing connected to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terror groups, as well as the military wing of Fatah.

There was also no condemnation from any of the media outlets on the Palestinian’s use of child soldiers, which, according to UN Human rights law, declares 18 as the minimum legal age for recruitment.

By glossing over the facts of children being used as soldiers by the Palestinians and leaving out crucial information about the 17-year-old terrorist, Amjad al-Fayyed, and portraying him as an innocent civilian, CTV News, CBC News Montreal, CP24, The Toronto Star, and The Globe and Mail, have all done a disservice to their readers and viewers by not reporting the full unvarnished truth about this Palestinian teen.

PMW: PA religious council emphasizes ban on selling land to Jews
Apartheid in South Africa started already in 1913, when the South African government passed the Natives Land Act. According to this law, black South Africans were prohibited from buying or renting land in 93% of South Africa. This law was one of the foundation stones of the later adopted official policy.

When compared to the PA approach to selling land to Jews, the Natives Land Act, seems almost positive.

At a recent meeting of PA Supreme Fatwa Council, led by PA Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories and Supreme Fatwa Council Chairman Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the PA reiterated that Palestinians selling land to Jews is not only a criminal offence but also forbidden according to Shari’ah law:
“Palestine is kharaj land (i.e., land belonging to Muslims) and a waqf (i.e., an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law; see note below) which, according to Shari’ah law, it is forbidden to sell its lands and its properties or facilitate its transfer to enemies. This is because in terms of Shari’ah law it is considered a public Islamic property and not private property…”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 25, 2022]

After reiterating the Fatwa (i.e., religious ruling), the Head of the Supreme Muslim Council and head preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque Ikrima Sabri, added what exactly would happen to those who broke the law:
“Sabri emphasized the Fatwa according to which one who sells or mediates [the sale of property to Jews] will not be buried, will not be purified, and will not be prayed for, and that whoever interacts with them is a traitor…”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 9, 2022]
MEMRI: Palestinian Political Commentator: For Hamas And Fatah, Elections Are A Means To Power – Not Part Of A Democratic Process
In the May 18, 2022 Student Union elections at Birzeit University in Ramallah, Hamas scored an overwhelming victory, for the first time in years. The faction affiliated with it, Al-Wafa' Al-Islamiyya, took 28 seats out of 51, with 18 going to the Fatah Yasser Arafat faction. The Hamas win prompted rejoicing among Hamas senior members and supporters, who view it as evidence of the movement's increasing popularity among the Palestinian public.

Fatah members expressed disappointment and frustration, arguing that their movement pays the price for the mistakes made by the Palestinian Authority leadership; however, they consoled themselves with Fatah's win in the Palestinian Bar Association elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip several days previously.

Following the Birzeit Student Union elections and the reactions to their outcome, Palestinian political commentator Akram Attallah criticized how democracy and elections are perceived in the Palestinian political arena, stating that both Hamas and Fatah are hypocritical about them. In his article, published in the Palestinian Al-Ayyam daily, he asserted that both movements consider democracy and elections a means to power, without cultivating any democratic culture under their governance and while not allowing other elections to take place in their territory, citing as examples Hamas's prevention of municipal elections in Gaza and Fatah's cancellation of Legislative Council elections in the Palestinian Authority.

The following are translated excerpts from Akram Attallah's article:
"The dust of the Birzeit elections has settled, giving us a clearer view and allowing a calmer discussion far from the emotional views published immediately after the results became known. These views were, as usual, divided into two camps. One of them [i.e. Hamas, the victor], attempted to depict the outcome as best representing [the will of] the homeland, while the other [i.e. Fatah] tried to console itself and find excuses. This phenomenon recurs in every contest between Fatah and Hamas. Depending on the outcomes, analyses published [afterwards] usually seek to establish a discourse that fits the interests [of the particular camp] and the outcome of the elections, by either exaggerating [a victory] or downplaying [a defeat].

"There is no doubt that the Birzeit elections have for decades been considered the most important student union elections, due to the university's uniqueness. This was true even before the schism between the two big movements [Fatah and Hamas] began and before they began competing for [dominance in] the Palestinian public sphere. The reason for the uproar [over various elections] is that they all are held amid intense tension and division, and in the absence of national achievements. This turns any local victory into a kind of compensation for the lack of answers to the large questions, which the factions prefer to forget.

"Elections are a democratic act, and the aspiration of all Palestinians. But there is a moment of irony that obliges us to wonder about such a joyous [celebration of victory] amid a pile of rubble. This is true of both Fatah and Hamas, who welcome elections not as a social and political action but only as [an end to] an outcome, and celebrate [or not] according to the outcome.
US sanctions Hamas official and financial network - Treasury Dept
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on a Hamas finance official and a network of financial facilitators and companies that have generated revenue for the Palestinian militant group, the Treasury Department said.

The sanctions target Hamas' Investment Office, which holds assets estimated to be worth more than $500 million, including companies operating in Sudan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates, the department said in a statement.

"Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions," said Elizabeth Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes.

There was no immediate comment from Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is deemed a terrorist group in the West.

The Hamas official sanctioned is Abdallah Yusuf Faisal Sabri, a Kuwait-based Jordanian national and accountant who has worked in Hamas' finance ministry for several years, the Treasury Department said.

ISIS Plotting To Assassinate George W. Bush In Dallas
An alleged ISIS-linked operative in the U.S. was plotting to kill George W. Bush, going so far as to travel to Dallas in November to take video around the former president’s home and recruiting help from a team of compatriots he hoped to smuggle into the country over the Mexican border, according to an FBI search-warrant application filed March 23 and unsealed this week in the Southern District of Ohio.

The FBI said it uncovered the scheme through the work of two confidential informants and surveillance of the alleged plotter’s account on the Meta-owned WhatsApp messaging platform. The suspect, based in Columbus, Ohio, said he wanted to assassinate Bush because he felt the former president was responsible for killing many Iraqis and breaking apart the country after the 2003 U.S. military invasion, according to the warrant.

The case shows how federal investigators continue to monitor threats from ISIS even as the group has been severely weakened by American intelligence and military operations in recent years. It also shows how the FBI, despite its claims of being prevented from investigating major crimes because of Meta and other tech providers’ use of encryption, has been able to work around WhatsApp security by using old-school policing with sourcing of informants and tracking the metadata they can get from the messaging company.

The alleged plot organizer had been in the U.S. since 2020 and had an asylum application pending, according to the FBI’s search-warrant application. Federal agents used two different confidential sources to investigate the plot, one who claimed to offer assistance obtaining false immigration and identification documents, the second a purported customer of the alleged people smuggler, who was willing to pay thousands of dollars to bring his family into the country.
The Islamic Republic Is Far From Popular
These attitudes should matter a great deal to the West—and most of all, to the United States. Since taking office last year, the Biden administration has made revival of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers (the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) the centerpiece of its Middle East policy. It has done so over the objections of regional allies like Israel, Bahrain the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—all of whom are threatened by an increasingly aggressive and adventurist Iran. And it has proceeded despite numerous other demerits baked into the current agreement, including the fact that it would significantly weaken Western sanctions on Russia by providing that country's nuclear agency, ROSATOM, with a $10 billion carveout for civilian nuclear work with its Iranian counterpart.

Moreover, the push for some sort of new deal with Iran has proven to be remarkably resilient, despite significant opposition at home. Even now, with negotiations stalled over Iran's controversial demand that the U.S. remove its clerical army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, from the government's Foreign Terrorist Organizations list, more than a few supporters of renewed engagement with Tehran are holding out hope that some sort of deal might still materialize.

If it does, though, the results would run counter to the desires of most Iranians, as the GAMAAN findings amply show. That's because a new agreement would have the effect of strengthening Iran's clerical regime—and doing so at the expense of the Iranian people and their political choices. Moreover, it would take effect at precisely the time that Iran's current government is arguably at its weakest point in four decades as a result of multiple domestic crises, from a deepening water deficit to intensifying protests over rising food prices to declining religiosity among ordinary Iranians.

It's no wonder, then, that Iran's rulers have latched on to the idea of a new nuclear agreement as a lifeline for their ailing and increasingly unpopular regime. Team Biden, many of whose principals were stakeholders in the original 2015 nuclear deal, seems wedded to the notion as well. But the most likely outcome of such an arrangement, a reinvigorated Islamic Republic, is not what the vast majority of Iranians themselves want.

Surely, that is relevant.

What are Iran's options after the IRGC assassination?
Following the killing in broad daylight of key IRGC operative Col. Hassan Sayad Khodayari, Iran has gone very public, blasting out photos of the scene and vowing retaliation. But how will Iran actually retaliate? Iran's problem

The problem for the regime is that the more of these high-profile assassinations of atomic scientists and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officers it endures, and the more it admits it is losing, the harder it becomes to ever properly respond and, in its view, “even the playing field.”

The assassination reports depict a key individual from the field who may have been behind threats to Israelis and Jews abroad and evoke reports in foreign media in recent months about threats to Israelis in Turkey and Cyprus.

The drone war
Khodayari may even have been linked to increasing threats from Iran’s drone program.

Since 2018, Iran has expanded its drone threat against Israel and other countries in the region. Iran launched drones in February 2022, in March and May 2021, in February 2018 and other times.

Tehran has vowed to uncover who was responsible for Khodayari’s death. The IRGC has vowed to “take revenge.” This means Iran will find some way to operate its ongoing shadow war against Israel.

It knows it must at least pretend to retaliate in some fashion if it is not to appear completely vulnerable.

Thousands at Tehran funeral for assassinated IRGC colonel, chant ‘Death to Israel’
Thousands of mourners poured into the streets of Tehran on Tuesday to pay their respects to a senior Revolutionary Guard member fatally shot by two gunmen earlier this week, punching the air with their fists and chanting “Death to Israel.”

The killing on Sunday of Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei bore the hallmarks of previous deadly shooting attacks in Iran blamed on Israel, such as those targeting the country’s nuclear scientists.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack. Iranian officials have blamed “global arrogance,” which is code for the United States and Israel.

The funeral procession snaked through the main Tehran cemetery as mourners shouted anti-US and anti-Israel slogans. A prominent poster hailed Khodaei as a martyr along with Gen. Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian general killed in a US drone strike in 2020 in Iraq, and featured tattered Israeli, American and British flags.

“Iran is a victim of terrorism,” the banner declared, overlaid with the logos of Mossad and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami as well as Gen. Esmail Ghaani, leader of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force, attended the funeral.

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