Tuesday, June 07, 2022

From Ian:

UN blames Israel for conflict with Palestinians, to probe discrimination
Israel is largely to blame for its conflict with the Palestinians, the United Nations charged in the initial report by its highly contentious Commission of Inquiry, which plans to focus in part on issues of discrimination by the Jewish state both within and without the country's sovereign borders.

“The findings and recommendations relevant to the underlying root causes were overwhelmingly directed towards Israel, which we have taken as an indicator of the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the reality of one state occupying the other,” Navanethem Pillay, who heads the three-member panel that conducted the probe, said. Pillay is the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The UN's report
The brief 18-page report by the UN's "Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem and Israel" posted on the UN website on Tuesday marks the first of what will be an annual report to the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The report spoke of Israel's actions in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem as a situation "in perpetuity," noting that It was unlikely the situation would end without International intervention.

"The commission notes the strength of prima facie credible evidence available that convincingly indicates that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, has a clear policy of reassuring the complete control over the occupied Palestinian Territory and is acting to alter the demography through the maintenance of a repressive environment for Palestinians and a favorable environment for Israeli settlers," the report stated.

Israel has done this with impunity that "is feeding increased resentment among the Palestinian people" and "is fueling … an endless cycle of violence," the report stated.

The report gave a nod in the direction of Palestinian violence against Israelis. It spoke of the need for all parties, including armed Palestinian groups, to respect international law. It noted, in particular, the "indiscriminate" firing of rockets at Israel. But it did not speak of Hamas's violations of international law.

Unlike past UN probs, this one focuses not just on Israeli actions in the territory which the UN holds will eventually be part of the final borders of a Palestinian state, but it also plans to look at Israeli actions within its sovereign borders including with respect to issues of discrimination.

Israel has feared that the three-member Commission of Inquiry (COI) would charge Israel with crimes of apartheid, similar to reports that have already been issued by a number of non-governmental human rights groups.

Israel says UN report on Gaza conflict 'tainted with hatred'
Israel slammed the latest UN report on the May 2021 Gaza conflict on Tuesday and said it was heavily biased in favor of Palestinians after its authors blamed Israel's "perpetual occupation" of Palestinian areas for the flare-up.

The findings were in the first report by a commission of inquiry headed by a three-person team of human rights experts. It was set up last year by the UN-backed Human Rights Council following an 11-day flare-up between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The commission, headed by former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, is the first to have an "ongoing" mandate from the UN rights body. Critics allege that permanent scrutiny testifies to an anti-Israel bias in the 47-member-state council and other UN bodies.

But the report, which comprises 18 pages, contains only a few paragraphs about the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli population centers, with only passing references to the role played by terrorist groups such as Hamas in perpetrating these attacks. The rest of the report is almost entirely dedicated to bashing Israel with unsubstantiated allegations of discrimination and racism while going into lengthy detail on Israel's military action in the operation without the proper context of self-defense.

The Foreign Ministry rejected the report as "part and parcel of the witch hunt carried out by the Human Rights Council against Israel." The ministry further said that the report "a waste of money and effort," adding that "it is a biased and one-sided report tainted with hatred for the State of Israel and based on a long series of previous one-sided and biased reports."

The ministry accused commission members of ignoring Palestinian violence, incitement and antisemitism. "The commission members, who claim to be objective, were only appointed to their roles because of their public and well-known anti-Israel stances, in direct opposition to the rules set out by the United Nations," it said.

The report largely recaps efforts by UN investigators over the years to grapple with the causes of Mideast violence and the authors acknowledged it was in part a "review" of previous UN findings.

MEMRI: Saudi Political Scientist: Refusal To Compromise, Which Characterizes Arab Political Culture, Is Detrimental To Arab Interests, And Especially To Palestinian Cause
In an April 13, 2022 article in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, political scientist Tawfiq Al-Saif stated that a characteristic of Arab political culture is a refusal to negotiate and compromise on various issues, especially when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Even when the majority of people are willing to compromise, he said, they eventually succumb to the pressure of a dogmatic minority that takes an “all or nothing” approach, and this prevents finding solutions for the problems of the region.

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[1]
“According to studies on political culture, some societies are highly adept at bargaining and achieving what they want through negotiations, while others are opposed in principle to bargaining and to compromise, and often regard those who advocate [compromise] as negligent or even as traitors. To illustrate this, let’s say I present ten people in an Arab country with the following question: We have a dispute [with others] regarding certain rights we demand for ourselves. We can achieve half of them through negotiations, without incurring heavy losses. Should we accept half [of our rights], or continue to demand all of them, no matter how long it takes?

“I believe that seven out of those people would accept half, because this is a certain [achievement], at no cost. Some would say: Let us take what we have already achieved, and [then] we will regain the other half. [But] three will see the compromise as cowardice and defeatism…

“Some of my dear readers will probably agree with me that one bird in the hand is better than ten in the bush, and perhaps the majority of people would take this path. However, I have noticed that Arab society takes the complete opposite approach when it comes to political positions. On national issues like Palestine, for instance, and on political issues, people demand all ten birds and flatly refuse to negotiate. In my opinion, that is one of the factors that has prevented finding solutions for the serious problems faced by the Arab countries…
UN official, activists say slain terrorist another 'Palestinian journalist killed' by IDF
Ghufran Warasneh, who had been shot by IDF troops on Wednesday when she allegedly approached them brandishing a knife, was characterized by UN Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory Francesca Albanese and Palestinian activists as being "another journalist killed" by Israel last week.

"The news of another Palestinian journalist killed, hits with deep sorrow," tweeted Albanese. She called for journalists to be respected and not harmed, and to actively ensure that they were protected. "Condemning the death of a prominent journalist while glossing over the rest, breeds impunity."

The tweet was later deleted, according to Albanese, accidentally.

"The Israeli apartheid regime just shot and killed the second Palestinian journalist in less than a month," said Benjamin Norton, editor at Multipolarista.

Pro-Israel critics asserted that Warasneh had been involved in a terrorist attack near the al-Arroub refugee camp at the time of her death, and had previously been arrested for another stabbing attack attempt. According to Channel 12, Warasneh had been involved in a previous attack.

"Of course what the UN Palestinian ‘Special Rapporteur’ conveniently omits is that the so-called ‘journalist’ Ghufran Warasneh lunged at IDF soldiers with a knife in attempt to kill them...and that was not first time she tried that," Arsen Ostrovsky, chairman and CEO of The International Legal Forum, replied to Albanese.

According to Alarraby, Warasneh had just been hired as a news presenter and was expected to begin work that day.

Guardian corrects news article claiming IDF killed Shireen Abu Akleh
The Guardian’s reporting on the killing of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh has been predictably one-sided. They’ve consistently highlighted voices claiming that Israeli soldiers shot Abu Akleh, whilst significantly downplaying evidence suggesting she may have been killed by Palestinian gunmen, and failing to note the significance of the PA’s refusal to hand over the bullet that killed her – the key piece of evidence in the case.

However, until a May 27th article by their diplomatic editor Patrick Wintour (“Shireen Abu Aqleh: killing of reporter referred to international criminal court”), Guardian coverage – presumably due to the fact that editors are cognizant of the dearth of definitive evidence pointing to Israeli guilt – avoided stating, as fact, that Israeli forces shot Abu Akleh.

Wintour’s piece included the following, in his own voice:

We complained to Guardian editors, reminding them that the Accuracy clause of the Editors’ Code of Practice is clear about the importance of distinguishing between fact and opinion – and especially given the piece was a straight news article, his claim that Abu Akleh was “shot dead by Israeli forces” is clearly in violation of the code.

Our complaint was upheld, and the sentence revised.

They also added an editor’s note at the bottom of the article, noting the correction:
Alleged Israeli airstrike hits weapons factory near Damascus - report
An alleged Israeli airstrike targeted sites south of Damascus on Monday night, according to Syrian state news agency SANA.

A Syrian military source told SANA that Israeli aircraft carried out the strike from over the Golan Heights, targeting some points south of Damascus. The source claimed that only material damage was caused, with no casualties reported.

The Syrian Capital Voice site reported on Tuesday morning that the strike had targeted a factory for developing Iranian weapons in the town of Aqraba, south of Damascus.

According to the report, the strike was carried out in a single wave, resulting in the complete destruction of the factory, without any other sites targeted. Five members of pro-Iranian militias who were protecting the factory, as well as a number of Iranian engineers working on developing weapons, were killed in the strike, according to the Capital Voice.

Photos were shared on social media by loyalists to the Syrian government showing a residential building reportedly damaged by the strike. According to the Capital Voice, the photos showed a building near the factory and that the factory itself had been cordoned off by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
PMW: Who is fanning the flames for religious war? Abbas’ advisor!
At the International Conference for Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque (organized by the Directorate of Religious Affairs in Ankara, Turkey), PA Chairman Abbas’ Advisor on Religious Affairs and Islamic Relations and PA Supreme Shari’ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash repeated the libel that Israel seeks to harm all Muslims by destroying Islam’s 3rd holiest place, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as the Dome of the Rock. He also made clear that for the PA, the conflict with Israel is not one over land and territory but is religious.

Al-Habbash described the duty of the Palestinian people, which is to “defend” not only itself, Jerusalem, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque but nothing less than “Islam, the Quran, and the entire Islamic nation” from Israeli dangers:
“Jerusalem is in the most complicated and difficult situation in its history, as the occupation (i.e., Israel) wants to change its identity and character so that it will be a city without the Al-Aqsa Mosque and without the Dome of the Rock… Our people is not defending only its existence in Jerusalem and only the Al-Aqsa Mosque, but also Islam, the Quran, and the entire Islamic nation.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 22, 2022]

Stating that for the defense of these things, Palestinians are prepared to die, Al-Habbash implicitly encouraged violence and terror, and further stressed that religion is at stake, envisioning that “Allah’s victory is approaching” and that “Jerusalem will again be free”:
“Al-Habbash noted that our people is continuing to defend Palestine, including the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, and that we will defend Jerusalem with our property and our lives. He added that Jerusalem will only be the capital of Palestine and emphasized that Jerusalem will again be free, and that Allah’s victory is approaching.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 22, 2022]

While Al-Habbash often has accused Israel of wanting to cause a “religious war,” in fact it is Al-Habbash himself who is fanning the flames with language as documented above. Palestinian Media Watch exposed that he encouraged Palestinians to go on Jihad – religious war – during Ramadan:

Sister of murderer of 3: “I’m proud of you for what you did”
Mother of terrorist murderer As’ad Al-Rifai: “When the [Israeli] army came to us, of course they came quickly. In other words, we didn’t know anything… They spent a long time with us, perhaps two hours… They told me: We will demolish this home… To me, it’s fine. I don’t care about homes or anything. To me, the most important thing is that my son As’ad is healthy and whole, but also that he will continue to hold onto life… Four days that we don’t eat or drink, because we don’t know what his fate is, if he is alive or dead. But Allah be praised, when I learned that my son is alive (i.e., captured by Israel), I held onto life more.”

Sister of terrorist As’ad Al-Rifai: “I’m the sister of As’ad, Hanin Yusuf Al-Rifai. I’m proud of you As’ad for what you did. You [said with your actions:] For your sake, O land.”

[Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, May 10, 2022]

As'ad Al-Rifai and Subhi Abu Shuqeir - Palestinian terrorists aged 19 and 20 respectively who used axes and knives to murder 3 Israeli civilians - Oren Ben Yiftah, Yonatan Habakuk, and Boaz Gol - at a park in Elad east of Tel Aviv on Israeli Independence Day, May 5, 2022. Al-Rifai and Shuqeir worked in the town without work permits and therefore knew the area well. The two escaped after the attack and were arrested on May 8, 2022.

IAEA poised to condemn Iran after US-led draft submitted to Board of Governors
The United States, Britain, Germany and France have submitted to the international nuclear watchdog's board a draft resolution criticizing Iran for not fully answering the body's questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites, a move that is likely to anger Iran.

Submitting the text, seen by Reuters and little changed from a draft circulated last week, means it will be debated and voted on at this week's quarterly meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors.

Several diplomats said the resolution was likely to pass easily despite warnings by Iran of retaliation and consequences that could further undermine already stalled talks on rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Iran's ally Russia opposes such a resolution.

The draft resolution text that was submitted said the board "expresses profound concern that the safeguards issues related to these three undeclared locations remain outstanding due to insufficient substantive cooperation by Iran, despite numerous interactions with the agency."

The text, seen by Reuters, also said the board "calls upon Iran to act on an urgent basis to fulfil its legal obligations and, without delay, take up the (IAEA) director general's offer of further engagement to clarify and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues."

Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the 2015 deal have not been held since March. Their aim is to bring both countries back into full compliance with the deal after a US withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions in 2018 prompted Iran to breach many of the deal's limits on its nuclear activities.

"Those who push for anti-Iran resolution at IAEA will be responsible for all the consequences," Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Twitter on Sunday in a message about the talks.
Iranian general threatens to ‘raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground’
Iran on Tuesday threatened to “raze” the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.

“For any mistake made by the enemy, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground by the order of the Supreme Leader,” the Islamic Republic’s ground forces commander, Kiumars Heydari, told the semi-official Iranian Tasnim news agency.

The threat came less than a day after a report on Monday said Thai security forces had thwarted several recent Iranian attempts to harm Western and Israeli targets in the Southeast Asian country — a popular tourist destination for Israelis.

Iran has reportedly been trying to retaliate for several high-profile assassinations and mysterious deaths in the Islamic Republic in recent months, including of an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps colonel and a top scientist.

While the attempts in Thailand seem to have failed, Tehran is still believed to be planning attacks against Israelis there and elsewhere. Most notably, Israel has issued a rare direct warning to Israelis traveling or planning to travel to Turkey.

Also on Tuesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett noted “strategic” successes on the Iranian front during his year-long tenure as prime minister.

“This past year has marked a turning point in Israel’s strategy against Iran. We see the brave Iranian people take to the streets and protest against the oppression and tyranny of the regime, against hunger, against the corruption that is harming them. We’ve stepped it up,” he said during a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Thai security forces said to have foiled Iranian attempts to attack Israelis
Thai security forces have thwarted several recent Iranian attempts to harm Western and Israeli targets in the southeast Asian country, according to a Monday report.

The news comes as Iran has reportedly been trying to retaliate for several high-profile assassinations and mysterious deaths in the Islamic Republic in recent months, including of a senior IRGC official and a top scientist.

According to Channel 12, security forces in Thailand were successful in preventing an Iranian agent from establishing a terror cell in the country and potentially carrying out attacks against Israelis.

The suspect, the report said, was eventually arrested last year in Indonesia while carrying a fake Bulgarian passport. Nonetheless, Thai security forces remain on high alert.

While that attempt failed, Iran is still believed to be planning attacks against Israelis in Thailand and elsewhere. Earlier Monday, local media reported that the Royal Thai Police had issued a “secret order” to police officers nationwide to be on the lookout for “Iranian spies.”

Thai reports cited a police source as saying that Thai security agencies were closely monitoring the movement of Iranian nationals who are believed to be operating as spies in the country. Thailand is a popular tourist destination for Israelis, in particular among fresh veterans of the Israel Defense Forces who often take off for several months.

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