Wednesday, June 15, 2022

From Ian:

Richard Goldberg: The UN continues Israel-bashing after Biden promised to stop it
When the Biden administration last year reversed its predecessor’s decision to abandon the UN Human Rights Council, Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged his team would use diplomatic engagement to stop its focus on delegitimizing Israel. That promise remains unfulfilled — and the administration stands on the verge of complicity in UN-sponsored anti-Semitism.

If US diplomats can’t put an end to the council’s anti-Semitic circus in Geneva this month, Congress should put an end to US participation in the council.

After Hamas terrorists rained down thousands of rockets on Israeli civilians last year, forcing the democratically elected Israeli government to respond militarily to defend its citizens, the Human Rights Council voted to establish a commission of inquiry into Israel. It has a mandate not just to compile alleged human-rights abuses but to concoct a body of so-called evidence to buttress broader anti-Semitic efforts to label racist the very notion of a Jewish state.

Why does the mandate rise to the level of anti-Semitism? It meets the criteria of the US State Department-adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition. The alliance cites two prime examples of modern anti-Semitism: “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

The Human Rights Council has long applied a double standard to Israel — the only country for which it has a dedicated agenda item. But its new commission’s mandate goes even further, aiming to produce a UN document that countries can cite to justify anti-Semitic claims that Zionism is racism.
Amb. Danny Danon: The investigators who should be investigated for their own crimes
The U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has just published an 18-page report on the May 2021 conflict between Hamas and Israel. From the outset, Israel knew the report’s conclusion was predetermined and rightly refused to cooperate with a biased investigation, labeling it “a moral stain on the international community and the U.N.” This assessment has proved correct.

The inquiry that led to the report—the first such inquiry to be open-ended—is led by Navi Pillay, a former UNHRC high commissioner who has spearheaded more investigations of Israel than of any other country in the world. She has a long history of anti-Israel statements. Miloon Kothari of India and Chris Sidoti, an Australian expert on international human-rights law, were also involved in the inquiry. Both of these individuals have documented records of anti-Israel bias.

No information has been provided as to how these three commissioners were appointed or who else was involved in drafting their report.

It is clear, however, thatsomehow these three individuals—none of whom set foot inside Israel over the course of their investigation—managed to draw firm conclusions about the conflict based solely on visits to Jordan and Geneva.

One wonders what the motives of these unelected officials might be. Given their history and clear hatred of Israel, it’s not hard to understand why their report is filled with lies.

The bias and absurdity of the report are made clear by a simple scan of the contents and the observation that throughout 18 pages of Israel-bashing only a handful of paragraphs are allocated to the atrocities committed by Arab terror organizations such as Hamas, which publicly declares that one of its goals is the complete destruction of the State of Israel. Given that the council has been outed time and again for its anti-Israel bias, it is unsurprising that the UNHRC report perpetuates and even intensifies this hostility towards the Jewish state.
In landmark deal signed in Cairo, Israel to export natural gas, via Egypt, to Europe
Israel, Egypt and the European Union signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday in Cairo that will see Israel export its natural gas to the bloc for the first time.

The landmark agreement will increase liquified natural gas sales to EU countries, which are aiming to reduce dependence on supply from Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

Last year, the EU imported roughly 40 percent of its gas from Russia. It has faced energy difficulties since imposing sweeping sanctions on Moscow.

The agreement will see Israel send gas via Egypt, which has facilities to liquify it for export via sea.

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said the signing of the MOU had cemented Israel’s role on the global energy stage.

“This is a tremendous moment in which little Israel is becoming a significant player in the global energy market,” Elharrar said.

Energy Minister Karine Elharrar, signs a deal to boost East Mediterranean gas exports to Europe with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Tarek El-Molla, in Cairo, Egypt, June 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) In a joint news conference alongside European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Egyptian Petroleum Minister Tarek el-Molla, Elharrar said the deal came about in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The memorandum ofunderstanding will allow Israel to export Israeli natural gas to Europe for the first time, and it is even more impressive when one looks at the string of significant agreements we have signed in the past year, positioning Israel and the Israeli energy and water economy as a key player in the world,” she said.

Caroline Glick: Time to help the Iranian people overthrow the regime
In this week’s episode of “Mideast News Hour” with Caroline Glick, she talks with Cameron Khansarinia, director of the National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI) in Washington, D.C., to discuss the latest round of national protests and the regime’s response.

From the protests and domestic repression, Glick and Khansarinia move to the IAEA’s announcement that the regime has crossed the nuclear threshold, mastered the nuclear enrichment cycle and has the independent capacity to build nuclear weapons without foreign assistance.

They also discuss what governments and private citizens can do to help the Iranian people free themselves and the world from this evil regime.

WaPo Editorial: Truth is emerging in a journalist’s death. Palestinians could reveal more.
The Post investigation is also noteworthy for what it did not uncover: proof that a soldier targeted Ms. Abu Akleh because she was a journalist, which Israel has always denied. Still less did the Post report show that she was “assassinated in cold blood,” as the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera declared within hours of her death. Israel within a day of May 11 walked back its initial denials and now acknowledges its troops’ possible fault. It has even identified — though not publicly — a potentially responsible soldier and a weapon. None of those steps in the right direction gains Israel credit with the chorus of critics that rushed to condemn it. The whole incident could have been avoided but for a wave of West Bank-based Palestinian attacks that killed 19 Israelis, most of them civilians, in the six weeks before Ms. Abu Akleh’s death and to which Israel was responding. Wherever this event fits on the spectrum between error and offense, however, Israel must review it and take appropriate remedial action.

Many are calling for an “independent” investigation of Ms. Abu Akleh’s death; we’re skeptical such an impartial inquiry is possible given the high emotions, and low trust, that permeate global discussion of the Middle East. It might help, however, if the Palestinian Authority let Israel have the bullet extracted from Ms. Abu Akleh at autopsy for ballistics testing, to see if it matches one of Israel’s guns, as it very well might.

Israel proposed such a test — with Palestinian Authority participation and under U.S. observation. The Palestinian Authority has unfortunately refused to release even imagery of the bullet, seeing an opportunity not to call Israel’s bluff but “to deprive them of a new lie, a new narrative,” as the Palestinian Authority attorney general put it. We do not see how Israel could manipulate the process if U.S. experts were indeed involved at every step. It’s the best realistic alternative — and the Biden administration should engage with both parties to make it happen.

Report: Demolition of Terrorists’ Homes Postponed through Biden’s Visit
Biden’s last visit to Israel was in 2010 when he served as vice president under Barack Obama. Biden came to Israel several times in the 1970s and 1980s while serving as senator. The White House noted that his current visit will mark 50 years since Biden’s first visit to Israel.

Regarding that first visit, Biden has recalled on many occasions his 1973 meeting with then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, which in 2015 he said was “one of the most consequential meetings I’ve ever had in my life.” But in December of 2021, the president altered the story enough to suggest he may have lost count of the passage of time just a tad. He recounted: “And during the Six-Day War, I had an opportunity to — she invited me to come over because I was going to be the liaison between she and the Egyptians about the Suez, and so on and so forth.” Later, now-President Biden said Meir had referred to him during the meeting as “Mr. Ambassador.”

Here’s the thing: in our reality, the meeting took place about five weeks before the Yom Kippur War of 1973, not the Six-Day War of 1967. Also, no one on the Israeli side recalls Golda Meir having any intention of using him this junior senator as a “liaison” between Israel and Egypt.

Also, for the record, at the time of the Six-Day War in 1967, Biden was in law school and Meir was battling cancer, which is why in 1966 she had been replaced as foreign minister by Abba Eban.

In Biden Aid Nominee, Repressive Gulf Monarchy Found Enthusiastic Ally
President Joe Biden’s nominee for a top role at the U.S. Agency for International Development has a long history of praising Qatar, the oppressive Gulf state with a shoddy human rights record that includes restrictions on free expression and the criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct.

Tamara Cofman Wittes is slated to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, where the panel will consider her nomination to be an assistant administrator of USAID. If confirmed, she would be responsible for distributing billions of American aid dollars throughout the Middle East.

As a Middle East policy fellow at the Brookings Institution, where she worked first from 2003 to 2009 and then from 2012 until earlier this month, Wittes lavished praise on Qatar, a repressive nation that discriminates against gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. Wittes described Qatar's capital city Doha as a "global gathering place for dialogue" and amplified Qatari leaders' claims that they support human rights and oppose "extremists who exploit religion to incite violence."

The Brookings Institution was at the time raking in millions from Qatar—its "Doha Center," renamed after the organization came under scrutiny for the partnership, had a controversial 14-year run. Wittes’s confirmation hearing comes as the Brookings Institution faces renewed scrutiny over its foreign financial ties. The think tank’s president, retired general John Allen, resigned on Sunday amid news that he is under federal investigation for his alleged role in illegally lobbying for Qatar.

While the Brookings Institution took money from several foreign governments over the past decade, Qatar appears to be its most significant foreign donor, pouring at least $22 million into the think tank between 2013 and 2021, according to congressional financial disclosures and the organization’s annual donor reports.
Israel to allow overflights to and from Qatar during soccer World Cup
Israel will open its airspace for international flights to pass through on the way to and from Qatar during this year’s soccer World Cup, after a deal was reached Wednesday with Jordanian and European aviation authorities that is expected to shorten flight durations.

The development, announced by the Israel Airports Authority, came a week after the Israeli government feted a deal with world soccer body FIFA to allow Israeli soccer fans to travel to Qatar for the World Cup in November and December, despite the two nations having no formal diplomatic relations.

According to Wednesday’s announcement, European and American fans traveling to Qatar will be able to fly over Israel when traveling eastward from Cyprus to Jordan on the way to the Gulf, as well as on the way back.

A source familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel that the arrangement will continue even after the World Cup for eastbound flights to Qatar.

The Israel Aviation Authority (IAA), the Israeli Air Force and the Civil Aviation Authority reached the agreement with Jordan’s aviation authorities and with the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, known as Eurocontrol.

The IAA said that the deal will see many more flights — beyond just those to and from Qatar — pass over Israel, resulting in the number of overflights more than doubling.

“Israel is showing sportsmanship and opening its aerial borders for the benefits of the passengers,” Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli said. “I welcome the collaboration and I’m happy to strengthen additional regional collaborations.”
Israel signs statement against China's treatment of Uyghurs at UNHRC
Israel was part of a 47-country bloc that denounced China's forced imprisonment of Uyghur Muslims at the United Nation's Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

"We continue to be gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region."
Dutch Ambassador Paul Bekkers

"We continue to be gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," said Dutch Ambassador Paul Bekkers as he read out the statement during the second day of the UNHRC's 50th session in Geneva.

This is the second year in a row that Israeli has signed onto such a statement. Last year, the initiative to highlight China's human rights abuses was led by Canada, with the support of the United States and many European countries. This year it was spearheaded by the Netherlands. Israel, however, declined to sign a similar statement read out in the fall at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Bekkers said at the council on Tuesday that "numerous extensively researched and credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained."

The ambassador's statement spoke of the abusive treatment of the Uyghur Muslims but did not mention the word genocide.

EU votes to fund Palestinians despite antisemitic incitement in texts
The EU on Tuesday failed to pass a proposal to withhold about 5% of its support for the Palestinian Authority in light of antisemitic incitement from its textbooks, after 14 months of freezing funding.

Instead, the European Commission – whose president, Ursula von der Leyen was in Israel on Tuesday – decided to pay the PA without new conditions, despite the findings of an EU-commissioned study by the Georg-Eckert Institute confirming in June 2021 that Palestinian textbooks feature antisemitism, glorification of terrorism and erase Israel.

The European Commission approved a €224.8 million aid package for the Palestinians on Tuesday, in addition to previous contributions of €92m. to UNRWA and €25m. specifically for humanitarian aid. The EU projected €1.152 billion in financial support for the Palestinians for the years 2021-2024.

Last September, Prof. Dr. Eckhardt Fuchs, director of the Georg-Eckert Institute, told the European Parliament 2021 while some books follow UNESCO standards, “in other subjects they do not. Here you find incitement to hatred, antisemitic parts, and this we have said very clearly and differentiated.”

Thirty-two members of the European Parliament from several parliamentary groups called on von der Leyen in a letter this past March to set conditions for funding the Palestinian education sector.

Russia expresses ‘deep concern’ over Jerusalem church land ruling
Russia said Wednesday it was “deeply concerned” after Israel’s top court ruled earlier this month that a Jewish settler group’s purchase of an East Jerusalem property from the Greek Orthodox Church was legal.

The Ateret Cohanim organization, which promotes Jewish residency in East Jerusalem, bought three buildings from the church in a controversial deal struck in secret in 2004. The church then submitted a petition against Ateret Cohanim, claiming the properties were acquired illegally and without its permission, but the High Court ruled in favor of the group.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation regarding the Christian presence in Jerusalem,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

“Such a decision is predictably detrimental to interfaith peace and raises legitimate concerns about the position of the Christian community in the Holy Land,” she added.

Ties between Moscow and Jerusalem have been under particular stress in recent months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Israel tried to walk a fine line between Moscow and Kyiv but has become progressively more critical of Russia as evidence emerged of Russian atrocities and in light of growing antisemitic rhetoric from Russian leaders.

In early May, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that “Hitler also had Jewish blood” and that “some of the worst antisemites are Jews.” Russia’s foreign ministry doubled down on the remarks days later, saying Jews cooperated with Nazis and that Israel supports the “neo-Nazi regime” in Ukraine.
Israel cancels Poland youth trips, Lapid cites manipulations
Israel decided to ban Israeli youth trips to Poland, claiming that Poles have attempted to manipulate the educative content presented to youth delegations coming on their school trip to Poland.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that “they (the Poles) can’t tell us what to teach Israeli children” at a briefing with journalists about the decision on Wednesday.

"The relations between Israel and Poland were harmed because of Polish laws about the Holocaust," Lapid said. "The first [law] is from 2018 that prohibits discussing what Poles did in the Holocaust – not all of them – and the second is against restitution."

Lapid continued by saying that "The Poles wanted to mess with the content of the trips and what can or can’t be said to Israeli children visiting."

He stated that Israel "will not allow this. It won’t happen. They can’t tell us what to teach Israeli children. That endangered the trips this summer."

"They can’t tell us what to teach Israeli children. That endangered the trips this summer."
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid

Lapid added that even though the "education minister made the decision," it has "diplomatic ramifications."
PMW: Fatah applauds Arab hitting religious Jew: “May your hands be blessed, hero
Abbas’ Fatah party posted a video on Facebook of an Arab hitting a religious Jew in Jerusalem. Text on the video, which was produced by the digital media department of the Fatah-run Awdah TV station, said:
”May your hands be blessed.”

But this was not enough for Fatah. In its post on Facebook, Fatah expressed its admiration of the attacker, addressing him as “hero”:
Posted text: “May your hands be blessed, hero.”

[Facebook page of the Fatah Commission of Information and Culture, June 14, 2022]

Palestinian Media Watch has exposed the extensive PA/Fatah support of violence, terror, and terrorist murderers, as well as Fatah’s use of Facebook to disseminate its terror supporting ideology.

Abbas’s Fatah: Hamas trying to take over West Bank
Hamas members planned to seize control of a Palestinian Authority security installation near Ramallah, Palestinian sources said Tuesday.

The claim coincided with the 15th anniversary of Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the collapse of the PA and its security forces there.

According to the sources, PA security forces recently discovered a weapons cache and tunnel near the headquarters of a PA security installation in the town of Beitunya, west of Ramallah.

At least 19 Hamas members were arrested in connection with the weapons and the tunnel.

The Hamas men are suspected of planning to infiltrate and seize control of the security installation, which belongs to the PA’s Preventive Security Service, the sources said.

The weapons were discovered following an explosion in a carpentry workshop in the town.

Previous conflicts
During the coup in the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas militiamen used a tunnel to detonate explosive devices underneath the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service in Khan Yunis. Several security officers were killed in the massive explosion.

More than 700 Palestinians were killed during the clashes that erupted in the Gaza Strip between Hamas and Fatah militants and activists.
Mysterious Blast Leads PA to ‘Hamas Bomb Plot’ Against Its HQ
Palestinian Authority security forces have uncovered what they believe is a Hamas bomb lab in Beitunia, near Ramallah, following a mysterious blast in the town, Israeli media reported on Monday.

After being drawn to the site by the explosion, Palestinian forces found a 17-pound explosive device there, Channel 12 reported.

The PA has claimed that the lab was part of a plot to attack the Mukataa, as the PA headquarters in Ramallah is known, as well as the PA’s television station and senior PA officials, according to the report.

The PA arrested five Hamas operatives following the incident, including a relative of Hamas’ Political Bureau Deputy Chairman Saleh al-Arouri, who is based in Lebanon and heads efforts by Hamas to orchestrate terrorist cells in Judea and Samaria, said Channel 12.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Wednesday that it and the Israel Police had completed a series of counter-terrorism operations throughout Judea and Samaria, the military said in a statement.

'If Syria continues to let Iranian weapon planes land, it risks losing airport'
The Syrian regime led by President Bashar Assad risks losing its Damascus International Airport if Iran continues to use the site to smuggle advanced weapons to Hezbollah, the head of research at an Israeli defense research center has warned.

Speaking just days after international media reports said Israel struck its latest blow against Damascus International, Maj. (res.) Tal Beeri, head of the research department at the Alma Center, said, "The message is clear. So long as Iran's air corridor for smuggling weapons from Iran to Syria and Lebanon continues, the Syrian state will be seen as responsible by the attacking party. So long as Syria won't act, the airport will continue to be a target."

Future attacks could include a "roof knock" – dropping empty munitions to serve as a warning – on the airport's control tower and destroying it after it is evacuated, assessed Beeri, or strikes on the airport's radars.

"If the message isn't received, attacks could escalate further, to the point that serious damage is caused to the airport, and it will take more than a few days to repair," he said. "The messaging is not aimed at Iran – that is a lost cause. It is determined to continue trafficking arms to Hezbollah. It is aimed at Syria."

Argentina police raid hotel hosting IRGC-linked crew of stranded plane
Police officers on Tuesday searched the hotel where the Venezuelan and Iranian crew of a mysterious plane that remains stuck at Buenos Aires’ main international airport have been staying as authorities blocked its exit amid suspicions about its crew and US sanctions against Iran.

Federal Judge Federico Villena ordered the raid at Hotel Plaza Canning, outside Buenos Aires, which has housed the crew of the Venezuelan-owned Boeing 747 cargo plane loaded with automotive parts.

The plane has been stuck at Argentina’s largest airport since June 6 as Argentine authorities have seized the passports of the five Iranians who are among the at least 17 crew members who arrived in Argentina aboard the plane.

Argentina’s Security Minister, Aníbal Fernández, said that the government received information from foreign intelligence agencies that at least some of the Iranian crew were part of “companies related to the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard of Iran,” which has been officially listed as a terrorist organization by the US government since 2007.

There do not appear to be any warrants out for the arrest of any of the crew members.

There are numerous suspicions surrounding the plane, including the way in which its operators reported a lower number of crew members than were actually aboard, an unusually large contingent for a cargo plane.
Iranian Oil Tanker Arrives in Venezuela as Rogue Regimes Boost Relations
An Iranian tanker carrying illicit crude oil docked in Venezuela during the weekend, just as the country’s socialist president Nicolás Maduro arrived in Tehran for high-level meetings aimed at boosting relations between the countries.

The tanker ship was carrying one million barrels of oil for the embattled South American regime that has faced energy shortfalls as a result of U.S. sanctions.

"The cargo is the third of Iranian crude supplied by Iran's Naftiran Intertrade Co (NICO) to Venezuela's state-run oil firm PDVSA following a supply contract providing the South American nation with lighter crude," Iran’s state-controlled media reported on Tuesday. "Venezuela has been processing Iranian oil in its refineries." Two other deliveries were conducted last month.

Iran’s presence in American waters is about more than just supplying an anti-U.S. regime with resources. Making the trek from Iran to Venezuela demonstrates that Iran is capable of long-haul operations into America’s backyard. The latest oil shipment arrived just as Maduro arrived in Tehran to ink a 20-year economic partnership with the country.

Maduro met with his counterpart, hardline president Ebrahim Raisi, to discuss an increase in bilateral ties and also toured Iranian historical sites, such as the Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini.

US says Iran raising tensions as satellite images show prep for space rocket launch
Iran appeared to be readying for a space launch Tuesday as satellite images showed a rocket on a rural desert launch pad, just as tensions remain high over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The images from Maxar Technologies showed a launch pad at Imam Khomeini Spaceport in Iran’s rural Semnan province, the site of frequent recent failed attempts to put a satellite into orbit.

One set of images showed a rocket on a transporter, preparing to be lifted and put on a launch tower. A later image Tuesday afternoon showed the rocket apparently on the tower.

Iran did not acknowledge a forthcoming launch at the spaceport and its mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, its state-run IRNA news agency in May said that Iran likely would have seven homemade satellites ready for launch by the end of the Persian calendar year in March 2023. A Defense Ministry official also recently suggested Iran soon could test its new solid-fueled, satellite-carrying rocket called the Zuljanah.

It wasn’t clear when the launch would take place, though erecting a rocket typically means a launch is imminent. NASA fire satellites, which detect flashes of light from space, did not immediately see any activity over the site late Tuesday night.

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