Tuesday, August 16, 2022

From Ian:

JPost Editorial: Palestinian response to terror on Israelis shows why peace is impossible
A nation, said John F. Kennedy in October 1963, just a month before he was assassinated, “reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

How true, not only of nations, but also different societies, and segments within those societies. Whom do they honor? Whom do they lionize? So much can be learned about people by understanding who their heroes are. Are their heroes celebrities or scientists? Athletes or teachers? Multibillionaires or social workers?

It is in this vein that The Jerusalem Post’s lead headline on Monday was so terribly troubling and so dismally depressing: “Palestinian terror groups applaud Jerusalem attack, call for more ‘heroic operations.’”

A Palestinian terrorist goes on a shooting spree in the middle of the night in Jerusalem, wounding eight innocent people – including critically wounding an American Jewish woman in her 26th week of pregnancy who is shot in the stomach – and the reaction of a segment of Palestinian society is to term the operation “heroic,” thereby coronating its perpetrator a hero. Why can't the conflict be solved?

Those well-meaning people around the world who can’t understand why the Israelis and Palestinians can’t just find a way to solve their problems and move on already, need to look no further than that headline to understand.

How is peace possible with those who view as heroic the shooting in the stomach of a woman in her 26th week of pregnancy? How is peace possible with people who put in their pantheon of heroes the person who carried out such an attack? What kind of accommodation can possibly be made with those who view an act so despicable as one that is heroic?
Abbas cheers shooting of Americans (but gets a big check from U.S. anyway)
As five Americans and three Israelis lie wounded in a Jerusalem hospital, some of them fighting for their lives, the official web site of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas is praising the terrorist who shot them.

Yes, the same Abbas who will be receiving more than $500 million in aid from the Biden administration this year. Most of the money will be channeled through third parties, but it’s all fungible—it covers bills that Abbas and the PA would have to pay if the U.S. wasn’t paying them.

Abbas is chairman of both the PA and Fatah, which is the largest faction of the PA. Abbas was a leader of Fatah for many years under Yasir Arafat, before succeeding him as chairman.

Here is what Abbas’s official Fatah website had to say about the shooting attack on the Americans and Israelis in Jerusalem:

“Praise to the one whose rifle only speaks against his enemy. Long live our people’s unity and long live the free hero. Praise to the rifle muzzles, our people will fight the occupation with all kinds of resistance.” (Translation courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch)

According to my data base, at least 146 American citizens have been murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists since the 1968. The international community has largely forgotten them.

Even more forgotten—if that’s possible—are the wounded. At least 203 American citizens have been injured in Palestinian Arab attacks. Very often, their names are not even mentioned in the media coverage until days after.

The Biden administration hosts a web site which offers monetary rewards for information leading to the arrest of terrorists who have harmed Americans overseas. Yet as far as I can tell, it has never paid a reward in connection with Palestinian Arab terrorists who have harmed Americans; there are none listed in the “Success Stories” section of the site (rewardsforjustice.net) .

The Biden administration has an Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism. It has never brought about the arrest of a single Palestinian Arab terrorist involved in attacks on Americans—even though the names of many of the terrorists are publicly known, because they serve in the Palestinian security forces or other Palestinian Authority government positions.

The Biden administration recently invited the family of the late Al Jazeera correspondent, Shireen Abu Akleh, to Washington to meet with American officials. Yet Arnold Roth, the father of Malki Roth—murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists in the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem in 2001—reports that the administration has ignored his repeated requests to meet with U.S. officials in Washington.

NGO Monitor: EU funds NGO agendas seeking to undermine European and Israeli counter-terror policies
On February 1, 2022, the highly politicized and terror-linked Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) – an umbrella organization of over 135 Palestinian organizations – hosted an EU-funded conference, titled ”Shrinking Civic Space for Palestinian Civil Society Organizations: Local and International Policies.” The gathering included a workshop “focused on the strategies and mechanisms needed to combat counter-terrorism policies, regulations, and policies (sic)” (emphasis added).

The conference was attended by Head of the EU Delegation to the West Bank and Gaza Strip Sven Kühn Von Burgsdoff (see below). The event marked the launch of a €588,299 EU-funded project (2021-2024), “Shoraka: Enabling the Environment of CSOs [civil society organizations] in Palestine and Participation of Grassroots Organisations in Decisions Making Process and Constituency Building,” with the primary official objective of seeking “to mitigate and reverse the shrinking space trends, to amplify the Palestinian narrative and the effectiveness of Palestinian advocacy efforts in the EU/EUMS [EU member states]”.

During the conference, Von Burgsdoff referred to Israel’s October 2021 designation of six Palestinian NGOs – including PNGO member organizations – as terrorist entities. He declared, “with concern we have followed alarming incidents recently where human rights defenders, activists, and civil society organizations were subject to unprecedented violations whether in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, or Gaza. In this context, our position remains principled and unchanged: civil society is and will remain our partner as we promote together the human values and principles that we share.”

As such, Von Burgsdoff appears to be promoting noncompliance with the EU’s own anti-terror policies, which require grantees to ensure that no aid reaches terror groups or entities.

Israel’s October 2021 decision, as well as the other “incidents” (security-related actions) referred to by Von Burgsdoff, are wholly consistent with EU policy and broader efforts to address the problem of terror-linked NGOs.

The multiple links between a number of Palestinian NGOs funded primarily by the EU and other European government frameworks have been documented in detail in NGO research publications.

David Singer: Interviewing 'Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine' plan initiator, author Ali Shihabi
A plan proposed by Ali Shihabi - a Saudi author and commentator on Middle Eastern Politics - proposing the merger of Jordan, Gaza and part of the 'West Bank' into one single territorial entity to be called “The Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine” - has received little attention in the Israeli media or been commented on by Israeli politicians since its release on 8 June.

Yet the plan contains the following features which should excite Israel’s reluctant media to be seeking responses from its political leaders:

It would supersede two previous Saudi peace proposals in 1981 and 2002 calling for Israel to withdraw completely from the 'West Bank'
- The two-state solution – the creation of a separate Palestinian Arab State between Jordan and Israel - promoted unsuccessfully by the United Nations for the last 29 years – is consigned to the diplomatic graveyard
- Amman – not Jerusalem - will be the capital of The Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine
- The right of return to Israel is abandoned.
- Palestinians in the 'West Bank', Gaza and stateless refugees get full citizenship in the merged Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine with all the elements of sovereignty applicable to those Territories that belonging to a fully recognized state in the UN entail.

I reached out to the author Ali Shihabi – who kindly gave me the following interview:

What was your idea behind this paper?
I see a failure of Israeli imagination in looking for a solution to the Palestine tragedy. This combined with a lack of realism dominating Palestinian Arab thinking has provided multiple opportunities for political entrepreneurs like the Iranians to use and misuse the cause. Israelis want to perpetuate this inertia by kicking the can continuously down the road while looking for every excuse to do nothing substantive to solve this problem.

Israel sees time to be on its side (and so far it has been proven right) but fundamentals like 7 million Arabs living between the river and the sea are a time bomb that eventually will blow up in their face one way or another

PodCast: Walter Russell Mead: ‘Clearly an element of realism’ in U.S.-Israel relationship
On this week’s episode of Jewish Insider’s “Limited Liability Podcast,” co-hosts Rich Goldberg and Jarrod Bernstein are joined by Wall Street Journal columnist and scholar Walter Russell Mead, for a wide-ranging discussion touching on U.S.-Israel relations and his latest book, The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People.

Goldberg: What is the real reason, historically, [the] U.S. has supported Israel? Why is it in the national interest? A lot of times we rely on, I don’t want to call them platitudes…we say, “well, we have shared values.”…Shared values doesn’t seem like enough, as an excuse, as a justification for, in difficult situations, why that is the national interest. Where do you see values and national interests converging or diverging, in particular for the U.S.-Israel relationship?

Mead: As I say in the book, Israel didn’t become strong because it had an American alliance, it gained an American alliance because it had grown strong. So there is clearly an element of realism in the relationship. And in some ways, the book could operate as a kind of defense of the power of realist calculations in American foreign policy. But at the same time, it is also true that there has been tremendous popular support, often stronger among non-Jews in America than among Jews, for the idea of a Jewish state in the lands of the Bible as signifying a kind of, you know, a hope for humanity as a whole, and also as a vindication of American principles.
Walter Russell Mead & Michael Doran: Counterbalance | Ep. 45: The Arc of a Covenant
This week’s episode features audio from a public event hosted at Hudson Institute where Hudson Institute Distinguished Fellow Walter Russell Mead and Senior Fellow Michael Doran discussed Mead’s new book on the history of U.S.-Israel relations, The Arc of a Covenant. Mead and Doran discussed, among other things, the themes of the book, the current trajectory of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and the future of U.S. grand strategy globally.
Abraham Accords Rippling Across Middle East: Free Trade, Technology Projects & Security Cooperation
In the two years since the announcement of the Abraham Accords, Israel and its regional partners have also strengthened their ties through diplomatic means as well as through coordination on security matters, particularly in the face of belligerent Iranian threats.

As part of the normalization process, both the UAE and Bahrain have opened embassies in Tel Aviv while Israel has reciprocally opened embassies in both of these Gulf countries. As well, both Israel and Morocco have concrete plans to open embassies on each other’s territory in the near future.

Another positive development stemming from the adoption of the Accords was that both the UAE and Sudan repealed their official state boycotts of Israel, opening the door for regional cooperation on shared interests.

In response to the threat of Iranian belligerence in both the Persian Gulf and the wider region, Israel has entered into a number of security arrangements with the Gulf states. These include the exportation of $3 billion in arms in 2021, the deployment of Israeli radars in the UAE as a means of detecting Iranian missiles, the selling of both drones and anti-drone technology to Bahrain as well as the active cooperation between members of Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad, and their Bahraini counterparts.

As well, Israel and Bahrain have agreed to collaborate on ensuring the safe passage of vessels in the Persian Gulf in light of recent attacks by Iran on Israeli ships in the region.

When it comes to bolstering Israel’s security relationship with Morocco over the past two years, there have been a number of positive developments in this arena as well.

In November 2021, Jerusalem and Rabat signed a security agreement that would allow for much greater cooperation (including intelligence sharing). The fruits of this deal have included the visit of the IDF’s Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, to the west African nation and Israel’s participation in an international military exercise hosted by Morocco.

In addition to military collaboration, Israel’s strategic partnership with Morocco also includes cooperation in the fights against terrorism, organized crime and human trafficking as well as an agreement to extradite Israeli criminals who flee the country.
INSS: Saudi Arabia and Israel: Normalization at a Snail’s Pace
It seems that Saudi Arabia will continue to gradually prepare the ground for greater openness in relations with Israel, even if under a different model than that of the Abraham Accords, both in the depth of the openness and in the pace of change. In accordance with Saudi policy, during President Biden's visit to the Middle East, the Saudi aviation authority announced that subject to the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation of 1944, it will now also allow Israeli aircraft to fly through its airspace. The announcement was phrased in an obscure manner and presented as a national-economic need for improving the kingdom's air connectivity as a hub, and in effect it expanded the existing permit for Israeli aircraft to fly through Saudi airspace to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. However, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Mohammed al-Ateeq, emphasized in a Security Council discussion on the Palestinian issue that enabling Israeli aircraft to fly through the kingdom's airspace is not a step in the direction of normalization. Another step that some see as connected to normalization is the Saudi-American agreement on the departure of the Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai (MFO) from the islands of Tiran and Sanafir (which Egypt returned to Saudi sovereignty in 2017) and the stationing of a surveillance system that will replace the force and continue to ensure freedom of navigation in the Straits of Tiran.

The conclusion drawn from the process so far that led to the Abraham Accords is that given suitable incentive and pressure, the Gulf countries could take steps that deviate from the Arab consensus and from their positions on the Palestinian issue. Therefore, it is possible that Riyadh will advance its relations with Israel regardless of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian channel but rather in relation to compensation that it will receive from the United States. And indeed, relations between Washington and Riyadh, and even more so American attention and American leadership of normalization in the Middle East, are of decisive importance. If the Saudi leadership estimates that rapprochement with Israel will help it strengthen its relations with the United States, improve the extreme image that has adhered to it, and earn economic and political dividends, it could take another step toward Israel.

The continuation and expansion of the existing normalization agreements are important to the connection between Jerusalem and Saudi Arabia, in part because they are meant to grant legitimacy to their subsequent expansion. However, staying backstage while helping to improve Israel's relations with Arab and Muslim countries is actually preferable to Riyadh at this stage. A push to advance and highlight the relations and certainly making them an internal Israeli political issue, as occurred surrounding President Biden's visit to the Middle East, will create unrealistic expectations, increase pressure on the Saudis, and undermine the process. Even though Saudi Arabia has been going through not insignificant social-cultural changes in recent years, the question of its relations with Israel remains connected to its standing and even its stability. Therefore, at the present time, a full normalization agreement is seen in the kingdom as a step too far too soon.
The UN’s “Independent,” “Impartial,” and “Objective” Inquisitors Against Israel
“First verdict is pronounced; then the jury weighs the evidence and finally the parties are supposed to present their respective cases.” That is how renowned law professor Yoram Dinstein described the backwards process by which the United Nations (UN) created its “investigatory” bodies against Israel all the way back in June 1972. It’s a process not designed to learn the facts, but a process by which a political entity can deem the Jewish state guilty and come up with the reason why later.

The consequence is that when media personalities or news agencies rely on the UN for factual or legal claims, consumers must treat these claims with a great deal of skepticism.

Open hostility to impartiality and objectivity seems to be a feature, not a flaw, when it comes to the UN. Such is the case with the UN Commission of Inquiry (“COI”), created after the May 2021 conflict with an unprecedented mandate. As elaborated below, the histories of all three members are antithetical to the ideas of impartiality and objectivity.

But those three commissioners are not the only examples.

Just recently, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (“OCHA”), which has a reputation for lacking transparency, removed a senior official from her post simply for stating: “Such indiscriminate rocket fire of Islamic Jihad provoking Israeli retaliation is condemned.”

Similarly, just last year, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (“UNRWA”) Gaza Director, Matthias Schmale, was removed from his post after saying “he would not dispute” that the Israeli strikes during Operation Guardians of the Wall were “precise” in aiming for terrorist targets and mostly avoiding civilian targets. Schmale was promptly replaced by an individual who called his remarks “indefensible” during a meeting with Yahya Sinwar, leader of the internationally-designated terrorist organization Hamas.

Meanwhile, individuals like the COI members, with lengthy histories of hostility toward Jews and the Jewish state, remain in their positions. Consider just these two incidents in recent weeks:
Canadian Human Rights Group Calls for Dissolving UN Commission on Israel-Hamas Conflict
The CEO of a leading Canadian human rights group has called for dissolving the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory (COI).

Michael Mostyn, who leads B’nai Brith Canada, said in a statement issued Friday that “the sole outcome of this UN Commission is to exacerbate tensions, promote further destabilization and protract hostilities.”

“It goes without saying, Kothari needs to step down, but realistically, this biased commission must also be immediately disbanded,” Mostyn said.

Mostyn’s comments come in the wake of COI commissioner Miloon Kothari’s saying in a recent interview that Jews control social media and non-governmental organizations.

David Matas, B’nai Brith Canada’s senior attorney, seconded the message.

“We call on human rights-respecting states to walk out of presentation of reports to the UN Human Rights Council by this commission, as well as the interactive dialogues which follow,” Matas said at a scholarly conference on antisemitism this month hosted at the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, England. “Rights-respecting states already do this in response to the anti-Israel Council agenda item.”

Matas slammed COI commissioner Miloon Kothari’s remarks that Jews control social media and non-governmental organizations, and claimed that COI’s commissioners are biased and predetermined to blame Israel for ongoing hostilities with Hamas.

17 years later: Did Israel’s Gaza withdrawal aid peace?
Conversely, detractors correctly assert that Israel’s post-withdrawal experience has greatly dampened prospects for this. Israel simply cannot allow the 'West Bank' to become another rocket launching pad, and widespread public recognition of this has greatly undermined support for further progress with the Palestinian Authority. Whether truly effective security arrangements can be devised is debatable—and without them, no one in Israel, Left or Right, will withdraw.

If Israel cannot ignore withdrawal’s disappointing consequences, it also cannot allow them to dictate future policy. For all of the greater near-term certainty in the current situation, it, too, poses grave risks. The absence of a political horizon feeds into Palestinian Arab anger, increases the likelihood of a further armed uprising in the 'West Bank'—or at least a surge in terrorism—and ultimately endangers Israel’s national character.

For decades, various overly optimistic analysts have predicted Hamas’s eventual moderation and pursuit of a more diplomatic course, as some terrorist organizations have done in the past. In practice, Hamas’ fundamental enmity toward Israel remains unchanged. However, this fact does not preclude Israeli from pursuing peace negotiations with the PA or taking measures to improve the quality of life in Gaza. Hamas, however, has proven to be an only partial partner even for such limited measures, repeatedly launching rockets at Israel just as it was opening the border. This seemingly self-defeating behavior only appears inexplicable if one refuses to accept Hamas for what it is, a jihadi organization bent on Israel’s destruction.

The situation in Gaza deteriorated so severely in recent years, however, that even Hamas was forced to support some economic reconstruction and growth measures. As the de facto government, Hamas seeks to ensure that the public does not become so disaffected that it rises up against it, but also not so satisfied with the new status quo that it ceases to support ongoing operations against Israel. In practice, the periods of calm between the rounds have grown shorter, not longer, despite Israel’s repeated attempts to promote economic growth.

Palestinian Arab rejectionism has, unfortunately, not been limited to Hamas. PA presidents, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, both rejected dramatic proposals for peace, which would have given the Palestinian Arabs a state on essentially 100 percent of the territory, a capital in East Jerusalem, and a limited return of refugees, years ago. One cannot ignore the truly wrenching question, whether the Palestinian Arabs are prepared to accept any deal that requires that they live in peace alongside Israel.

Israel heads to the polls again in November and a new centrist government is not unimaginable. The battle to succeed Abbas is also underway and, though not really likely, a more moderate Palestinian leadership, too, may emerge. Such are the faint glimmers of hope in the Mideast.
FDD: Israel Is Learning a Better Way to Deal with Gaza
Israel’s actions, meanwhile, show just how valuable self-criticism and self-correction can be. On every dimension, the performance of Israeli actors was at least slightly improved from previous rounds. The Iron Dome anti-missile system not only keeps up with new developments in Palestinian weapons, but its interception ratio keeps steadily rising, reaching 96 percent in this past week’s fighting. Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties, already far in excess of what any other Western army does in similar operations, has also dramatically improved, especially since the first major Gaza war in 2008-9. Israel’s information campaign was proactive this time too, immediately providing dispositive evidence that PIJ rockets were responsible for the civilian deaths in Jabaliya before the festival of gory photos and phony investigations familiar from previous incidents could get underway.

Most importantly, Israel’s political leadership showed a kind of restraint and humility in its objectives and its management of domestic public opinion and expectations that previous governments had not. This has been a particularly acute problem for prime ministers from the center and left, who are wary of having any tactical restraint used against them politically by right-wing domestic opposition, especially in an election period. Shimon Peres in 1996 and Ehud Olmert in 2009, for instance, both made the same mistake of not knowing how to wrap up an operation quickly, got dragged deeper into unachievable goals, and saw their more moderate coalitions go down to defeat weeks later.

Lapid and Gantz outperformed them, and outperformed the right-wing leaders facing similar challenges in the past decade too. They set realistic goals for the operation rather than monopolizing the airwaves with grandiloquent pronouncements that would come back to haunt them. They took no steps to alienate Western allies or moderate Arab regimes that stood on the sidelines. And they knew when to stop.

Not all mistakes are doomed to be repeated in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Well, at least not all Israeli mistakes.
Were five Gazan kids killed by IDF or Islamic Jihad during Breaking Dawn? - report
Five Palestinian children from Jabalya were killed by an IDF airstrike during Operation Breaking Dawn – and not by a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket as initially assessed by the military, Haaretz reported on Tuesday, citing sources in the Israeli defense establishment.

The children were killed on August 7 – the last day of the three-day conflict between Israel and Islamic Jihad – near the al-Fallujah cemetery near Jabalya, Shehab News reported at the time.

Haaretz reported that a military investigation showed that no Islamic Jihad rockets were fired at the time of the incident, but that Israel Air Force data allegedly showed the IDF struck targets in the area at the time of the incident.

“They were shot by an occupation missile while they were visiting the grave of their grandfather,” MK Ahmad Tibi commented on the report. “This is how ‘self-defense’ looks sometimes.”
IDF soldier killed by friendly fire identified as St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi
St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi, who was killed by friendly fire near the West Bank Palestinian city of Tulkarm late Monday night, was laid to rest at the Netanya Military Cemetery on Tuesday evening.

Fitoussi, 20, had lived in Netanya after immigrating to Israel from France. He was serving in the Kfir Brigade as a sergeant when he was killed and promoted to staff sergeant posthumously.

According to IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ran Kochav, Fitoussi had left his guard post, and when he came back, one of his fellow soldiers did not recognize him and carried out the procedure for engaging suspicious individuals, ultimately shooting him.

A few hours later, Kochav said it was not definitively determined if the procedure was followed and that the incident was still under investigation.

The incident was initially reported as a Palestinian shooting attack carried out from a passing vehicle. The IDF quickly updated that report to say the shooting was a case of friendly fire.

Fitoussi was taken to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where he was pronounced dead. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi is expected to visit the site of the incident as part of the military’s investigation.
Not just another terror attack
Sunday's terror attack in Jerusalem is not "just another terror attack" with civilians wounded and families grieving.

An attack near the Western Wall is a strategic attack that endangers not only the lives of Jewish citizens and worshippers but the very Jewish presence in the Old City.

Every year, about 10 million Jews visit the holy site, which can be accessed through three points: David Street (through the market), Hagai Street (through the Musrara neighborhood and Damascus gate), and public transport that passes through Dung Gate, which is where the shooting occurred.

A terror attack near the Western Wall was intended to undermine the Jewish presence in the Old City. As such, the response must be strategic.

Take these ten million people out of the Old City, and you will get a completely different place, or as Naomi Shemer put it, a world without Jews is lifeless, and Israel without Jews is desolate. All the more so when it comes to Jerusalem and its holy sites.

Just two weeks before the Jewish month of Elul, when tens of thousands of Jews are expected to visit the Western Wall in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, this attack is a warning sign.
The Israel Guys: 8 Jews Shot in a TERROR Attack at the Western Wall
Eight people were injured Saturday night near the Western Wall when a terrorist opened fire on a bus sitting at the station. Four of the injured were Americans who were visiting Israel. An off duty EMT who witnessed a deadly traffic accident used unorthodox means to save the life of one of the victims. Just like his predecessor Benny Gantz, former IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot is joining politics. The New York Times also decided to cut ties with one of their freelance journalist after his anti-semitic posts were called out by an NGO who reports on media bias against Israel.

Two Israeli Arabs arrested over plan to join Islamic State in Africa
Israeli security forces on Monday announced the arrest of two Arab residents of Umm el-Fahm on suspicion of plotting to join Islamic State, according to Ynet.

Would-be terrorists Mohamad Agrabia and Abd al-Mahdi Jabarin, both 21 years old, admitted to planning to travel to Africa to become members of ISIS and carry out attacks, said the report, citing Israeli security officials.

Agrabia and Jabarin reportedly received new passports from another Umm el-Fahm resident who had recently returned from Africa after fighting with ISIS. One of the two also reportedly spoke with a Nigerian contact to receive details about how to get to the front lines.

The men had accumulated ISIS materials, including specifications for creating weapons as well as images of beheadings carried out by the terrorist group.

Security officials said they had honed their shooting skills in preparation for their departure.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Occupation Forces Palestinian Official To Divert Precious Water To His 4 Pools (satire)
A high-ranking functionary of Mahmoud Abbas’s government blamed Israel for exacerbating the shortage of natural and agricultural resources, observing that to keep his spa, garden, and swimming facilities functioning, he has no choice but to deplete those public resources, all thanks to Israeli policies that fail to maintain sufficient supply for both his needs and those who must drink, bathe, wash, and cook.

Palestinian Authority Deputy Assistance Minister for Prisoner Affairs Fashla Sharmuta lamented the desperate state of water resources available to Palestinians, with the situation so dire that by the time he fills the Olympic-size pool at his home, plus his four jacuzzis, his wading pool, his wave pool for surfing practice, his backup lap pool, his decorative fountains and ponds around his property, and irrigation for his expansive lawn, not enough remains for ordinary Palestinians to access what they need for agriculture, food, and basic hygiene.

“It’s the Occupation’s exploitative water policies,” he explained in an interview. “They take all the water from the aquifer and divert streams for their illegal settlements.” Israel’s water sources come in the main from desalination, the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret Lake), rain reservoirs, recycled wastewater, rivers from melted mountain snow, and the like. Palestinian government bodies charged with coordinating the maintenance and repair of water supply infrastructure have long refused to engage with their Israeli counterparts, leaving that infrastructure’s decay to worsen, increasing wastage and decreasing supply.

“It’s a longtime problem,” agreed Abbig Hattub, assistant manager of a Jericho-area water park that has never cut back on its water use. “We go through millions of liters a day during the summer, and that puts a dent what’s available for regular homes and businesses. It’s a brutal thing the Occupation forces us to do, prioritizing commercial leisure activities over basic necessities.”

US State Department set to grant visa to Iranian president for UN speech amid assassination plots
Under pressure to deny an entry visa to Iran’s president, the U.S. State Department says it must uphold its commitments to the United Nations under its arrangement as the host country.

Seven Republican senators sent a letter on Aug. 2 to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to deny visas for Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation to attend the U.N. General Assembly in September. Raisi is scheduled to speak at the event.

A State Department spokesperson told JNS that it is “generally obligated under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement to facilitate travel” by U.N. member representatives. The spokesperson added: “We take our obligations under the U.N. Headquarters Agreement seriously. At the same time, the Biden administration has not and will not waver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism.”

The spokesperson said that visa records are confidential under U.S. law and couldn’t be discussed.

The senators wrote that “Raisi’s involvement in mass murder and the Iranian regime’s campaign to assassinate U.S. officials on American soil make allowing Raisi and his henchmen to enter our country an inexcusable threat to national security.”
EU says it’s studying Iran’s response to ‘final text’ of nuclear agreement
The European Union said Tuesday it was studying Iran’s response to a “final” draft agreement on reviving a 2015 nuclear accord with major powers it presented at talks in Vienna.

The United States had already said Monday that it was informing EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell of its response to the text he submitted on August 8.

The possibility of a deal that might lead to the lifting of US sanctions on Iran’s oil output of 2.5 million barrels per day has already helped trigger a fall in prices on world markets, with US oil futures dropping nearly three percent to finish below $90 a barrel.

A spokesperson for Borrell — who coordinated talks to bring Iran and the US back into the deal — said the Iranian response was received late Monday.

“We are studying it and are consulting with the other JCPOA participants and the US on the way ahead,” the spokesperson said, referring to the formal title of the nuclear pact.

Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported earlier Tuesday that “an agreement will be concluded if the United States reacts with realism and flexibility” to Iran’s response.

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