Wednesday, September 20, 2023

From Ian:

From Partner to Ally: The Case for a U.S.-Israel Defense Treaty
The United States is contractually committed to the defense of 52 allies on five continents, each of which also pledges to come to America’s aid in case of attack. As the war in Ukraine illustrates, these mutual defense pacts remain crucial to upholding stability and strengthening deterrence more than seventy years after they were first created, and no war has ever broken out that threatened the existence of any U.S. treaty ally. Yet the United States has no such treaty alliance in the Middle East, despite it being one of the world’s most volatile regions that is also home to one of America’s most capable and longstanding partners anywhere: Israel.

Now, seventy-five years after Israel’s founding, a bilateral defense treaty would advance U.S. strategic interests by upgrading and cementing a longstanding pivotal military, intelligence, and high-tech relationship. It would enhance Israeli capabilities, enshrine Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME), deter existential threats, help prevent a nuclear Iran, mitigate the severity of a major conflict that involved Israel, bolster America’s global credibility, and better align Israeli policy with the United States on China and Russia – all without requiring more U.S. boots on the ground. In tandem with potential Israel-Saudi normalization, it also would build a new U.S.-led regional security architecture that leverages America’s unmatched set of partnerships across the broader Middle East to address common threats and share burdens more effectively and equably. Here at home, it also would stabilize one of America’s top security partnerships against domestic efforts to abruptly and arbitrarily condition or downgrade it.

JINSA first proposed such a pact with Israel, including a draft treaty, in 2018-19. We are now issuing this updated paper and proposed treaty text to reflect new developments, highlight the increasing importance of a treaty, and address potential concerns in both countries. In recognition of both countries’ concerns to maintain their freedom of action and avoid overextension, and especially in light of Israel’s ingrained ethos of self-defense, JINSA’s proposed treaty – like all existing U.S. mutual defense pacts – explicitly acknowledges that each ally retains its full sovereign right of freedom of military action. Moreover, given that Israel frequently is subjected to lower-level armed attacks, our proposed treaty sets a much higher threshold and would activate only under a very limited set of exceptional circumstances. Click here to read the report (PDF).
Dermer pushes IDF, Mossad chiefs to support US-Israel 'defense alliance'
Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer recently engaged in discussions with Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and the head of the Mossad, David Barnea, to secure their support for his proposal to establish a defense alliance with the US.

This information was revealed by three Israeli and American sources who are well-versed in the matter.

Why is this significant?
Without the backing of key figures in the defense establishment, particularly the chief of staff, advancing such an initiative will prove to be extremely challenging. Over the years, the defense establishment, particularly the IDF, has opposed the idea of entering into a defense alliance with the US due to concerns that it might constrain Israel’s ability to conduct preemptive military operations in the Middle East.

The issue is expected to be on the agenda during the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden in New York on Wednesday.

Behind the scenes
During these discussions, Dermer clarified to the chief of staff and the head of the Mossad that the proposed alliance would be relatively narrow in scope, addressing only existential threats such as an Iranian nuclear threat, unconventional weapons attacks by regional actors, or highly extreme escalation scenarios.

The bigger picture
Dermer emphasized that such an agreement would meticulously define each scenario, ensuring that it does not limit Israel’s capacity for routine military operations. Dermer first introduced the proposal during talks he held with Biden’s advisers at the White House in mid-August. He suggested that this alliance could complement the broader deal the US is pursuing with Saudi Arabia and Israel, alongside the separate defense alliance that Saudi Arabia is seeking for itself.
Another Palestinian Reverie
On August 29, 2023, Sheikh Issam Amira, a prominent member of the Palestinian Hizb al-Tahrir party, argued that the "liberation" of Palestine is nothing compared to the potentially great conquests that Islam has in store for the rest of the non-Muslim world — including the United States.

What crime did these non-Muslim cities, nations, and continents commit against Muslims to deserve being targeted for violent conquest?

"The Party of Satan is America, Europe, Russia, and all Western nations, and all infidel [non-Muslim] nations everywhere.... Everyone who opposes Allah and his prophet is to be stricken with disgrace and misery. Not just that, they are to be broken in the here, and sent to the fire in the hereafter." — Sheikh Issam Amira, YouTube, August 29, 2023.

Although [Hizb al-Tahrir] means the "party of liberation," and although it pretends its sole interest is "liberating" Palestinians from Israel, when its members get together there seems to be an additional plan, not just for Jews.

Palestinian cleric Nidhal Siam made clear that, from an Islamic perspective, for Christians as well, liberation and conquest are one and the same.

"Oh Muslims, the anniversary of the conquest [fath/فتح, literally, "opening"] of Constantinople brings tidings of things to come. It brings tidings that Rome will be conquered in the near future, Allah willing." — Nidhal Siam, Jerusalem Post, January 20, 2020.

[The Palestinians] seek sympathy from the international community, despite the fact that until 1964, there reportedly were no Palestinians.

It also might be helpful to recall that until the seventh century and the birth of Muhammad, there were no Muslims – anywhere – let alone Palestinians.

The word Islam means "submission."

JPost Editorial: As Netanyahu meets with Biden, this is what he should say
It is imperative that the ties between the US and Israel remain firmly anchored – not only in shared values and interests, but also in the trade and defense partnerships that fortify our collective strength. These collaborations extend beyond our borders, as evidenced by recent G20 meetings, which envisioned a corridor of economic power stretching from India through the Middle East to Europe.

To foster the growth of this corridor and enhance regional stability, we must be vigilant in preventing the materialization and expansion of Iran’s menacing threats. Netanyahu has tirelessly sounded the alarm about Iran’s nuclear ambitions for nearly three decades, and the Iranian regime continues its perilous path, enriching uranium and jeopardizing the entire region’s security. The US must stand firm in its opposition to any Iranian nuclear capability.

Saudi Arabia presents a promising new potential partner for peace with Israel, and it is imperative that both the US and Israel remain committed to exploring the possibilities of normalization. While there may be hidden complexities in the current discussions between the US and Saudi governments, such as Iran’s pressure and Riyadh’s expectations, we must steadfastly articulate our shared goal of achieving normalization.

Closer to home, recent reprehensible comments by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have once again exposed the deeply ingrained antisemitism within the PA. It is crucial that we continue to pursue peace while simultaneously working alongside the US to stabilize the PA and counter terrorist groups.

Finally, antisemitism is a global scourge that transcends political boundaries, and its resurgence demands our collective attention. The recent appointment of a new Israeli envoy to combat Jew-hatred, coupled with the Biden administration’s release of the first-ever national US strategy on the subject, highlight our joint responsibility to fight this age-old hatred.

It is paramount to emphasize that modern-day antisemitism, in all its forms and from both the hard Left and the far Right, is utterly unacceptable. Together, we stand as key partners in the fight against this enduring evil.
Biden tells Netanyahu at UNGA he hopes for DC meeting by ‘end of the year’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday in what was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Netanyahu was re-elected nine months ago.

The leaders said in public remarks ahead of their closed-door meeting at Manhattan’s InterContinental Hotel that they would focus on the Iranian threat, Saudi-Israeli normalization, the Palestinian issue and Israeli judicial reform.

“I hope we will see each other in Washington by the end of the year,” Biden told Netanyahu.

The U.S. president added that the two would discuss “hard issues,” such as upholding “democratic values” and “checks and balances,” which was “a seeming nod to the prime minister’s recent judicial overhaul proposal,” per the pool report. Biden added that Iran can never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.

“Israel has an absolute commitment to democracy. I believe that under your leadership, it is possible to reach an unprecedented agreement with Saudi Arabia,” Netanyahu told Biden. “I hope we can get some things settled today.”

‘The first event of the day’

According to pool reports, the White House provided no explanation for the delay, which turned out to be 30 minutes, ahead of the slated meeting. “It is the first event of the day, and yet we are, remarkably, already quite behind schedule,” per the pool.

The pool added that Biden ignored shouted questions “about whether he feared for the future of democracy in Israel and what the Palestinians would need to achieve in a normalization deal,” as he and Netanyahu left to hold their private meeting.
Netanyahu tells Biden 'We can forge historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia'
US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he would discuss democratic values with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while the two men were meeting in New York on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting.

Biden, speaking while reporters were in the room as he met with the Israeli leader, said the two men would discuss a two-state solution for Palestinians.

This is the first meeting between the two since Netanyahu returned to power in late 2022. Biden has so far refused to host the Israeli leader in the White House and has come out against the proposed judicial reform that the government was pursuing.

During the photo-op, Netanyahu said Israel's commitment to democracy was certain. He also said that the two leaders could promote a "historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia," referring to the ongoing talks aimed at normalizing ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem as part of the series of regional deals between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors, known as the Abraham Accords.

Biden reiterated his pledge that Iran will never have a nuclear bomb and said that his administration's commitment to Israel's security was "ironclad." The two went on to have a one-on-one meeting behind closed doors.
Full text: Biden and Netanyahu’s remarks at New York press conference

‘Devil is always in the details,’ Blinken says of Israel-Saudi deal
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed Saudi-Israeli relations with George Stephanopoulos in New York on Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“When it comes to possible normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel, this would be a transformative event,” Blinken said. “We’ve had decades of turmoil, decades of conflict in the Middle East. To bring these two countries together in particular would have a powerful effect in stabilizing the region, in integrating the region, in bringing people together, not having them at each other’s throats.”

That won’t be easy, the secretary allowed.

“There are things that Saudis are looking for, things the Israelis are looking for, things we’d be looking for that make getting to ‘yes’ a challenge,” Blinken said. “But we see the reward, if we can get there, as well being worth the effort.”

Stephanopoulos noted that U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were slated to meet later on Wednesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly—“not at the White House, here in New York City.”

“Do you believe that the prime minister is willing to do what it takes to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia?” he asked Blinken.

The secretary said his sense is that all parties involved realize the benefits and “transformative nature of what this would be.”

“But the devil is always in the details, and making sure that in terms of what the Saudis are looking for, the Israelis are looking for, what—as I said, what we’d be looking for—can we line all that up? Can we make it work? That remains to be seen,” he said.

“It’s challenging,” he added. “I come back to this proposition that if we can get there, it would be one of the biggest changes for the good that we’ve seen in that part of the world. And beyond that, I think you’d see positive repercussions well beyond the Middle East.”
Israel’s UN envoy to JNS: Palestinian issue won’t be resolved anytime soon
As the United Nations General Assembly kicked off its annual general debate in New York on Wednesday, Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan sat down with JNS to discuss wide-ranging issues, from the Palestinians to Iran to Hezbollah.

JNS: Ambassador, when you look back at the past year, do you think Israel has won more votes at the U.N.?
Gilad Erdan: It depends on the vote. We have managed to erode the automatic anti-Israel majority. The most prominent example was the vote on transferring the Palestinian conflict to the International Court of Justice. Only 87 countries voted in favor. That is less than half the U.N.

It is true that the other half did not vote against it, but some abstained. In the past, such moves used to get 140 votes.

Another example was a Palestinian event to mark the 75th year of Israel as a “nakba” [“catastrophe”]. We ran a campaign and the 50 most significant countries boycotted the meeting. Many countries know the truth. Not only about Palestinian corruption, but also about Palestinian reluctance to reach an agreement.

We heard the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas claim that Israel is responsible for the Holocaust. So, the world feels that he has completely lost it. I’m trying to show and explain that the P.A. pays terrorists and is engaged in incitement. When you add in the Abraham Accords, there is an understanding that the Palestinians are an obstacle [to peace].

JNS: How alive is the Palestinian issue at the U.N.?
Erdan: In the private conversations I conduct, there is an understanding that this should not be an issue and that it’s not going to be resolved anytime soon.

On the other hand, the U.N. has a distorted structure. After Israel survived its War of Independence against all odds, the number of countries in the U.N. increased, and many Muslim countries and countries that had nothing to do with democracy were born. These countries were allies of the Palestinians and created bodies that were distorted not only morally but also financially, such as UNRWA.
The Commentary Magazine Podcast: United Nations General Nonsense
Today’s podcast takes up three speeches at the UN this week: there’s the one by President Biden, there’s the one by Iranian thug Ebrahim Raisi, and the one by Wolodymr Zelensky of Ukraine.

Israel’s UN Ambassador Detained by Police After Protesting Iranian President’s General Assembly Speech
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan was detained by UN police on Tuesday after protesting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s address to the international body’s General Assembly in New York.

Video provided to The Algemeiner by Israel’s mission in New York showed one uniformed and one plain-clothed security officer from the UN’s Department for Safety and Security gripping Erdan by the elbow and leading him out of the General Assembly hall after Erdan had protested Raisi’s speech by holding a sign saying, “Iranian women deserve freedom now!”

“It is a disgrace that member states stay to listen to a mass murderer,” Erdan said in a statement. “It should not be possible for a murderer with blood on his hands to receive a platform here at the UN. I left the speech to make it clear that the State of Israel stands by the Iranian people. I call on the international community to stop the madness and prevent murderers and antisemites from coming and speaking here at the UN.”

Speaking on the first day of speeches to open the new session of the annual UN General Assembly gathering, Raisi’s at times rambling 35-minute speech began with a discourse about the sanctity of the Quran in an apparent reference to recent Quran burnings in Sweden. He went on to claim that Iran is a defender of women’s rights and that the mass anti-government protests across Iran over the past year were the product of the United States “fabricating lies and fake reports” and that “realities from Iran were censored throughout the world in order to negate the truth.”

The UN reported last year that the Iranian regime “violates and undermines women’s dignity and fundamental human rights, including the right to equality and non-discrimination.”

In his speech, Raisi only briefly addressed Israel, saying that “the occupying regime in Jerusalem is seen as the perpetrator of much of the violence in the region” and calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu tells Erdoğan ‘ties improving’ in first face-to-face meeting
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday met for the first time in person on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly general debate in New York.

Netanyahu told Erdoğan that “our ties are improving,” and the two leaders agreed to continue advancing bilateral relations in trade, economic matters and energy, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

During the discussion held at Turkish House, a 36-floor skyscraper located across from U.N. headquarters, the two men also talked about the U.S.-led effort to forge an agreement to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, among other regional and international issues.

Erdoğan on Monday said that he supports Israeli-Saudi normalization, sources told the London-based Middle East Eye news site.

“Turkey views the normalization attempts between the two countries positively,” the Turkish president said, according to two sources who attended a closed-door briefing with analysts and journalists in New York.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Netanyahu thanked Erdoğan for the cooperation between Israeli and Turkish security services to thwart a plot by an Iranian-led terrorist cell in May of last year to target Israelis visiting Istanbul.

The pair extended invitations to visit Israel and Turkey, respectively, and it was agreed to coordinate the visits that will take place soon.

Netanyahu also met on Tuesday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Paraguayan President Santiago Peña. Netanyahu is expected to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday ahead of the premier’s address to the General Assembly on Friday.
Paraguay, Israel to elevate relations to ‘new heights’
In a meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Paraguayan President Santiago Peña reiterated the commitment that his country’s embassy will move to Jerusalem by the end of the year.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Israeli embassy will return to Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital. The agreement will lift Israeli-Paraguayan relations to “new heights,” per a readout from the prime minister’s office.

“I’m very happy to say that President Santiago Peña and I had a very productive discussion about upgrading the relations of Paraguay and Israel,” Netanyahu stated.

Peña stated that he was “very proud” to make the announcement.

“Prime minister, almost three years ago I visited Jerusalem. I was just a politician dreaming about a different Paraguay,” he stated. “I said to you in that meeting that Paraguay will reopen and will put the embassy where it belongs, in the city of Jerusalem.”

“Our history brought us together,” he added. “The present brings us together. But the future will have us more closer that we’ve been ever before.”

GPS interference leads to change in landing route for Tel Aviv-bound planes
Passenger planes headed to Ben-Gurion International Airport have recently had to take alternative routes due to a severe attack on Israel that prevents it from navigating aircraft using GPS, Israel Hayom has learned.

The alternate route – over Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria – is longer than the one that allows for landing over Tel Aviv directly at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

In recent months, Israel has been the target of incessant attacks by unknown elements, apparently from abroad, that interfere with GPS signals, almost completely preventing it from carrying out processes that allow planes to land along the standard routes.

For this reason, most of the landings are conducted through the alternative route, where landing is possible through an alternative source of approach guidance for aircraft called ILS, or instrument landing system.

Residents of the settlements, such as Modi'in Illit, Hashmonaim, Lapid, and Kfar Oranim, have issued complaints over the "unbearable" noise caused by passenger planes passing overhead at all times of the day.

It is in response to the complaints that the authorities revealed that the reason for the change in the route stemmed from an attack on Israel.
Two men in their 40s arrested for stealing IDF tank
An obsolete and disarmed tank was returned to Israel's defense establishment after it was stolen from an IDF training base overnight Tuesday, the army said.

The Military Police in cooperation with the IDF and the Israel Police opened an investigation into the incident, with two suspects in custody.

The tank was stolen from an IDF training base near the Elyakim Interchange in northern Israel.

A Defense Ministry representative reported the theft to the police and Coastal District Police officers located the tank in a junkyard in Nesher, near Haifa.

According to the IDF and the Defense Ministry, the armored vehicle is the shell of a Merkava Mark II tank that went out of service many years ago. It is disarmed and its weapons systems are inoperable.

The tank was stationed in a firing range that was open to travelers and was used as a stationary tool for military exercises.

Last February, anti-judicial reform protesters stole a Yom Kippur War-era tank from a memorial site on the Golan Heights for use in a demonstration.
Gazan with butcher’s knife arrested at Tel Aviv train station
A Palestinian from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was arrested on Wednesday at the Tel Aviv Savidor Central railway station while in possession of a 30-centimeter-long (11.8-inch) butcher’s knife.

The 35-year-old man is a resident of Jabaliya and had a permit to work in Israel, according to police.

Authorities said the suspect tried to hide the knife in a bag he was carrying but security guards spotted him at the entrance to the station.

Also on Wednesday, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) said that Hamas was behind the attempt earlier this month to smuggle explosives from Gaza into Israel in a shipment of clothing.

The smuggling attempt was made at the Kerem Shalom crossing at the southeastern corner of the Gaza Strip, near the Egyptian border.

Two Hamas operatives stand accused of the smuggling attempt—Arafat Natash and Muhammad Abu Awwad. The two men are from Judea and Samaria but were deported to Gaza as part of a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas.
FDD: IDF Conducts Raid at House of Al-Aqsa Brigades Commander in Jenin
Latest Developments
Israeli forces conducted a counterterrorism operation at the house of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Muhammad Abu al-Baha on September 19 in the West Bank city of Jenin. Soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) surrounded al-Baha’s house and clashed with members of Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

The IDF said in a statement that an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded under an IDF vehicle while Israeli forces were leaving the raid site. Palestinian gunmen fired at Israeli troops as they tried to rescue the stricken vehicle. The IDF reported no injuries among its soldiers while Palestinian Authority (PA) health officials claimed that three Palestinians were killed and at least 30 others wounded. A local branch of Islamic Jihad claimed credit for the IED attack. The IDF also reported an arrest of a wanted suspect in a parallel operation near the city of Tulkarm.

Expert Analysis
“Despite Israel’s, and recently the Palestinian Authority’s, efforts to crack down on West Bank terrorist groups, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and other organizations backed by Iran persist in using Jenin as a hub to plan attacks against Israeli targets.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“In July, the Israeli military launched an operation aimed at destroying the terrorist infrastructure in Jenin; however, these terrorist organizations are recouping their losses and continue to strengthen their position, including in West Bank cities such as Nablus, Tulkarm, Tubas, and Jericho.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal
Israeli forces use suicide drone amid clashes in Jenin refugee camp
At least four Palestinians were killed and at least 20 others were wounded amid armed clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp on Tuesday evening, according to Palestinian reports.

Amid the clashes, an Israeli "Maoz" suicide drone was used against terrorists who were attacking Israeli forces in the camp, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit confirmed.

The home surrounded by Israeli forces reportedly belonged to Muhammad Abu al-Baha, a leader in the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin. Palestinian media reported that shoulder-fired missiles were launched by Israeli forces toward the house, sparking a fire.

Two suspects, including Baha's father, were reportedly detained by Israeli forces during the raid, but were later released. Baha himself was not arrested during the raid.

According to the IDF, the Duvdevan Unit, the reconnaissance company of the Golani Brigade (Sayeret Golani), and Border Police officers took part in the raid.

The local branches of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades stated that they were taking part in the clashes. The al-Quds Brigades claimed that it detonated an explosive device near Israeli forces amid the raid. No Israeli forces were injured in the raid.

While withdrawing from Jenin, an Israeli military vehicle was hit by an explosive device, with Israeli forces rescuing the vehicle amid further armed clashes.
Israel fighting in three arenas as tensions rise in West Bank and Gaza Strip
The Palestinian side of the Erez border crossing with Israel remained closed this week, though it was meant to open on Monday morning, following the end of the Jewish New Year holiday, and the effects are starting to be felt

Amid tensions, Fatah offshoot accuses Islamist rivals of turning West Bank into Syria
In a video circulating on social media since Tuesday, a dozen militants of the pro-Fatah Tanzim militia accused a rival Islamist armed group of turning the West Bank into “Syria, Yemen and Iraq” — three Middle East countries wracked by civil wars over the past decade, with the involvement of Tehran.

In their video statement, the Tanzim members accused the Jenin Battalion — a local wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group — of conspiring with “Persian Shi’ite Iran” against Fatah, the “only Sunni weapon in the Arab homeland,” in a bid to sow strife and chaos among the Palestinian people.

The Tanzim militia is an armed offshoot of Fatah founded in 1995 by Yasser Arafat to counter rival Palestinian Islamist groups. The militia, officially headed by Marwan Barghouti who is imprisoned in Israel for deadly terror attacks, has sought to siphon support from Islamist groups towards the PA leadership.

The Tanzim message introduced an atypical anti-Shiite element in Fatah’s rhetoric against opposing factions, evoking common anti-Shiite canards such as their “insulting the Companions of the Prophet [Muhammad]” — a reference to a theological dispute between Sunnis and Shiites on the legitimate successors to the Prophet.

Both the PIJ and Hamas, Fatah’s most prominent Islamist rivals, have made no secret of their close collaboration with Tehran, which supplies them with money and weaponry. Leaders of the two groups met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Damascus in May and again with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in early September in Beirut. Last year, PIJ chief Ziad Nakhaleh said his organization took “direct orders” from the Quds Force’s late commander Qassem Soleimani and that rockets it used to attack Israel were provided by Iran.
Qatar Refuses to Renew Aid as Tensions Rise in Gaza
Qatar has delivered a significant blow to Hamas, informing the Palestinian organization that it will not be renewing its monthly aid package of $30 million.

Palestinian sources in Gaza and Egypt told the Tazpit Press Service that the decision, reportedly driven by anger at Hamas’ recent overtures to Syria and its increasing involvement in violent escalations in the Gaza Strip, threatens to exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in the region.

But another Palestinian source said there are signs that Qatar will ultimately renew, and perhaps even increase its support.

Qatar’s frustration with Hamas deepened last October, when Syrian leader Bashar Assad hosted a Hamas delegation in Damascus for the first time in a decade. This move ran contrary to Qatar’s interests in promoting Hamas’s engagement in “moderate political Islam” and the formation of a Muslim Brotherhood-led state in Gaza.

“In recent years, Qatar has demonstrated its contempt for the leadership of Hamas and especially for [Saleh] Arouri, who is received with the honor of kings by Hezbollah,” a Palestinian source told TPS.

Based in Lebanon, Arouri is Hamas’s overall commander in Judea and Samaria. His intentions to destabilize the Palestinian Authority contrasts with Qatar’s commitment to the Arab initiative, which advocates for a two-state solution.

The Palestinian Authority source said that as a result, the Qatari media has been smearing Hamas at every opportunity.

“And all this despite the fact that since 2014, Qatar has invested over a billion dollars in the leadership of Hamas and in the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip,” the source added.
Israeli cities Acre, Be’er Sheva, and Ramle are in “Palestine” in PA TV song
Images of cities are shown while a song is played at the end of the program.

Lyrics: “Acre, Gaza, and Be’er Sheva, cities full of blessing
Nablus, its antiquities pulsate, its glory is mentioned in history
These are the famous districts of Palestine…
Ramallah, Ramle, and El-Bireh,
Their lands are abundant with blessing”
[Official PA TV, From Palestine, Sept. 12, 2023]

The song misrepresents the following Israeli cities as in “Palestine”: Acre, Be’er Sheva, and Ramle.
Teen terrorist’s haunting song and chat: “I will achieve Martyrdom and anger the enemies”
Terrorist Milad Al-Ra’i sent a video to a friend showing his own picture while a song about achieving “Martyrdom” is playing. In the chat between the two, Al-Ra’i disclosed his plan to die as a “Martyr”

Teen terrorist Milad Al-Ra’i sent song to friend in chat:
Lyrics: “Be well, my mother,
I will achieve Martyrdom and I will anger the enemies
I will be an advocate [in Heaven] on the day of the meeting
To the pool of [heavenly] waters of true Prophet [Muhammad]”

Text messages with his friend follow the song:

Milad Al-Ra’i: “When I will have just died as a Martyr publish this.”

Friend: “Allah willing, my brother.”

Friend: “You want to leave me?”

Milad Al-Ra’i: “Just come to my grave and tell me whatever you want, think of me as listening to you, and I will be your advocate [on Judgement Day]. What do you want that is better than that?”
[Screenshot of Milad Al-Ra’i chat posted on Milad Al-Ra’i Telegram channel, Sept. 10, 2023]

The Milad Al-Ra’i Telegram channel was created in his memory after his death.
PMW was unable to verify if Milad Al-Ra’i recorded himself singing the song in the video or if it is sung by someone else.

Milad Mundhir Al-Ra’i - 16-year-old Palestinian terrorist and member of the Islamic Jihad terror organization who participated in violent confrontations in which Palestinian terrorists threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers at a military post near the Al-Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, on Sept. 9, 2023. The forces returned fire, killing Al-Ra'i.

PMW: LGBT+ community is a “culture of perversion,” say Palestinian UNRWA workers
All UNRWA wanted was to declare the obvious - that the LGBT+ community be treated equally in UNRWA settings. Yet that simple request has triggered an all out culture war of Palestinians against UNRWA.

The PA has harshly criticized UNRWA over a new employee “code of conduct” that defined gender equality as including homosexuals and transexuals. The PA has made it crystal clear that there is no such thing as LGBT+ rights in the PA or even acceptance of the mere existence of an LGBT+ community. The PA demanded that UNRWA “cancel” the directive, in a showdown that comes despite the fact that the PA is heavily supported by UNRWA’s services.

In its condemnation of the UNRWA stance - as expressed by the PLO Department of Refugee Affairs in a statement – the PA communicated that the LGBT+ “orientations and identities”:
​​​​​​“contradict the principles of the Islamic religion and its rituals and the moral principles of the Palestinian society”
“contradict the human and religious norms and values in general and also the Islamic morals of the Palestinians”
“contradict our Palestinian people’s social values and the instructions of our religion”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 16, 2023]

Moreover, the PA took great offense at the mere thought that there are LGBT+ people among UNRWA employees or Palestinian refugees. In the eyes of the PA, this insinuation “constitutes slander and a false libel against the employees and refugees alike.”

In addition to the PA/PLO, the code of conduct also “aroused the rage of the employee associations, the [PA] Parliament (Legislative Council) in the Gaza Strip, and a number of non-governmental organizations.” [Palestinian Refugees Portal, Palestinian website, Sept. 16, 2023]

According to the Joint Committee of UNRWA Employee Associations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip the code of conduct is:
"[Part of] UNRWA’s attempts to spread ‘the culture of perversion’ in Palestinian society as one of the principles of equality.”

[Palestinian Refugees Portal, Palestinian website, Sept. 16, 2023]

Seth Frantzman: Syria’s Assad seeks China support in historic trip
Syrian President Bashar Assad is set to travel to China this week, a momentous and important trip for the Syrian regime leader. While the regime has been able to come in from the cold in the Middle East in the last year, with key meetings in the Gulf, it has not been able to expand its international relations contacts much beyond Russia and Iran, which already backed Assad in Syria’s civil war.

China has its own interests in Syria, but has been wary of the country’s instability. It is generally looking to increase its influence in the Middle East, particularly the Gulf, and has already expanded its investments in Africa and its ties with Iran and Russia.

So, hosting Assad will be a major step for Beijing, while it could mean a major transformation for Syria which lacks investment and resources and is under heavy sanctions from the West.

Visit to include an economic delegation
France24 reported that “the visit includes a number of meetings and events,” citing the Syrian Presidency, and it will include a political and economic delegation.

“Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said Assad was expected to attend the opening of the Asian Games in Hangzhou on September 23,” the report added.

Pro-Iran media outlet Al-Mayadeen noted that “Assad stressed that Syria does not forget that China stood by its side during the war in order to defend Syrian sovereignty in accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter, and it also appreciates all the assistance provided by Beijing during the earthquake period.”

Seth Frantzman: Gulf states and US seek MidEast stability, Iran 'de-escalation'
Several Gulf states from the Gulf Cooperation Council held important meetings in Washington this week with their US counterparts.

“Gulf states and the US said they welcomed the diplomatic engagement with Iran and are seeking to stop any escalation in the region, a joint statement issued by the minister said,” Saudi Arabia-based newspaper Arab News reported.

The organizers of the meeting said in a statement: “Ministers welcomed diplomatic engagement by Saudi Arabia and other GCC states with Iran to pursue regional de-escalation and emphasized the importance of adherence to international law, including the UN Charter, by states of the region.”

The meeting underlined several issues of common concern, such as freedom of navigation at sea, and called on “Iran to cease its proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles and other dangerous weapons that pose a grave security threat to the region.”
Iranian President Demands US Prove ‘Goodwill’ To Revive Nuclear Deal
Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi said on Tuesday that the United States should prove its "goodwill and determination" to revive Tehran's 2015 nuclear pact as months of indirect talks between the long-time foes have led nowhere.

"By exiting the JCPOA, the United States violated the agreement and the principle of good faith. America should demonstrate its goodwill and determination," Raisi said in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Tehran and six world powers.

Former president Donald Trump reneged on that deal in 2018, arguing it was too generous to Tehran, and restored harsh U.S. sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to gradually violate the agreement's nuclear limits.

After taking office in January 2021, President Joe Biden tried to negotiate a revival of the nuclear pact under which Iran had restricted its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union, and U.N. sanctions.

But months of nuclear talks have stalled since last September, with both sides accusing each other of demanding excessive concessions.

"America must build trust to demonstrate its good intentions and genuine willingness to fulfill its commitments and conclude the path," Raisi said.

U.S. and European officials have been searching for ways to curb Tehran’s nuclear activities since the breakdown of indirect American-Iranian talks a year ago.
Seth Frantzman: Why is Iran’s regime so afraid of Kurdish dissidents?
Iran knows that protests from minorities can spill over
The regime appears to understand that protests by minority groups may spill over to other areas. For instance, Iran is also seeking to crack down on any opposition in the Azeri region, which is in northwestern Iran. The regime has tended to believe it can oppress these groups in specific ways, and that the groups will not unite in protest at the same time.

In addition, Iran has usually prevented protests from the periphery from spilling over to the center. Last year’s protests were an exception, and the regime now seems to realize that harming female members of any of the minority groups in the country will also affect Tehran.

For that reason, the regime has increased its crackdown and threats. Articles devoted to allegations that a Kurdish woman sought to obtain a PhD while also wearing the “uniform” of a “separatist group” are one way that the media seeks to target minorities and women.

In another example, Iran continues to pressure Iraq to remove Iranian Kurdish dissident groups. There are thousands of Kurds from Iran who live in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Iran has increased attacks on them over the past year.
Iraq ‘On the Verge of Being Lost to Iran,’ GOP Leaders Warn
Iraq is "on the verge of being lost to Iran" as Tehran-aligned elements in Baghdad’s government strangle the country’s pro-U.S. Kurdish population, according to Republican foreign policy leaders.

Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) "has served as one of the United States’ most reliable partners in the Middle East, yet is being economically strangled, politically and legally pressured ... and militarily threatened by Iran and Iran-backed elements in Baghdad," Republican leaders on the House Foreign Affairs Committee wrote in a letter sent Monday to the White House and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Iran, which has exerted increasing influence with Baghdad’s ruling regime, is using its power to systematically dismantle the Kurdish government and eradicate a key source of support for the United States within the country. The KRG runs a semi-autonomous region in Northern Iraq where the majority of American forces are stationed. The Biden administration has been hesitant to confront Iranian meddling in Iraq, leading Tehran to amp up its influence operations and use the country as a means to increase its multibillion-dollar illicit oil trade

"Iraq is on the verge of being lost to Iran," Rep. Michael Waltz (R., Fla.)—who authored the letter along with Reps. Michael McCaul (R., Texas), the foreign affairs committee’s chairman, and Joe Wilson (R., S.C.)—told the Free Beacon.

In March, Turkey—a key trading partner with Tehran—shuttered an oil pipeline that was used by the Kurds, restraining the KRG’s financial channels and hamstringing the global supply of crude. This has also enabled Iran to boost its own heavily sanctioned oil exports, which the Biden administration has turned a blind eye to as it seeks to cajole Tehran into inking a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear accord, known as the JCPOA.
Ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists meet with Iranian President Raisi at United Nations
Members of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta haredi group met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, according to Iranian media.

"I have heard that there are anti-Zionist Jews here and this is a great thing," said Raisi. "We always reiterate the fact that we have no issue whatsoever with the Jewish faith, with the Torah, and in Iran, the Jews have freedom of religion. Our only issue is with the Zionists."

Raisi stressed that he is against "oppression," regardless of whether it comes from Jews, Christians, or Muslims. "That's why we never recognized the members of ISIS as Muslims."

"Today the Zionists wish to discredit the Jewish faith but we draw a clear distinction between Zionism and the Jewish faith and your work in which you announce that 'we are Jewish, yet we are against Zionists' that is something to be commended," added the Iranian president.

'Iran respects, protects Jewish community'
The members of Neturei Karta who met with Raisi stated during the meeting said: "We found that throughout the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, they respected and protected the Jewish community till today and you're only distinguishing that Zionism has nothing to do with the religion and the occupation is unacceptable."

Raisi is often referred to as the "butcher of Tehran" in light of his involvement in the mass execution of thousands of Iranian political prisoners in the 1980s.

Iranian Terror on the Red Sea & How a Little-Known Country in Africa can stop them | Our Middle East
Why are so many Eritrean refugees making their way to Israel? Is there a stronger connection between the Jewish State and the Eritrean people than we realize? Does Eritrea have more strategic and political importance to Israel than we know?

On today’s episode of “Our Middle East” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs president Dan Diker talks with his guest, Eritrean refugee to Israel Habtom Mehari, a doctoral candidate at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and part of the Agaiazian movement for a democratic Eritrea.

They discuss
- the deep connection between some of the Eritrean refugees and Judaism
- Eritrea's strategic and political significance in fighting Iran
- Israel's critical role in filling the void that America has left in the Middle East and Africa and helping stabilize Africa.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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