July 21, 2019

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01/02 Links Pt1: Iranian Nuclear Weapons and ‘Palestine’: Dangers for Israel; Thank heaven we’re done with UNESCO; Bennett taps Caroline Glick for New Right’s Knesset slate


From Ian:

Iranian Nuclear Weapons and ‘Palestine’: Dangers for Israel
Israeli planners may soon have to understand that the efficacy or credibility of their country’s nuclear deterrence posture could vary inversely with enemy views of Israeli nuclear destructiveness. However ironic or counter-intuitive, enemy perceptions of a too-large or too-destructive Israeli nuclear deterrent force, or of an Israeli force that is not sufficiently invulnerable to first-strike attacks, could undermine this deterrence posture.

Also critical, of course, is that Israel’s current and prospective adversaries see the Jewish state’s nuclear retaliatory forces as “penetration capable” — meaning they are capable of penetrating any Arab or Iranian aggressor’s active defenses. Naturally, a new state of Palestine would be non-nuclear itself, but it could still present a new “nuclear danger” to Israel by its impact upon the more generally regional “correlation of forces.” Thereby, Palestine could represent an indirect but nonetheless markedly serious nuclear threat to Israel.

There is still more to be done. Israel should continue to strengthen its active defenses, but Jerusalem must also do everything possible to improve each critical and interpenetrating component of its nuanced deterrence posture. The Israeli task may also require more incrementally explicit disclosures of nuclear targeting doctrine, and, accordingly, a steadily expanding role for cyber-defense and cyber-war. And even before undertaking such delicately important refinements, Israel will need to more systematically differentiate between adversaries that are presumably rational, irrational, or “mad.”

Overall, the success of Israel’s national deterrence strategies will be contingent upon an informed prior awareness of enemy preference and of specific enemy hierarchies of preferences. Altogether new and open-minded attention will need to be focused on the seeming emergence of a “Cold War II” between Russia and the United States. This time around, the relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow could prove helpful rather than adversarial. For Jerusalem, it may even be reasonable to explore whether this once hostile relationship could turn out to be more strategically gainful for Israel than its traditionally historic ties to the United States. At this transitional moment in geostrategic time, when Donald Trump’s often incoherent alignments could multiply or escalate, virtually anything is possible.

In any event, it is essential that Israeli planners approach all prospective enemy threats as potentially interactive or even synergistic. If a formalized state of Palestine does not readily find itself in the same ideological orbit as Iran — now an increasingly plausible conclusion in view of still-accelerating Shiite-Sunni fissions in the Middle East — the net threat to Israel could become more perilous than the mere additive result of its pertinent area enemies. All things considered, in approaching the possible simultaneity of Iranian nuclear weapons and Palestinian statehood, Jerusalem must consistently bear in mind that the adversarial “whole” could prove palpably greater than the calculable sum of its belligerent “parts.”

For 2019, there could be no more important security consideration.

Thank heaven we’re done with UNESCO

Thank God, it’s over. When 2018 ended, Israel’s withdrawal from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization took effect. Don’t feel bad. Under existing conditions, there was no reason to keep our place at the table with the gang of hypocritical liars that every few months rewrote another chapter of the history of the land of Israel and the Jewish people, and coopted it for the Palestinians. Rather than thrilling at the glorious cultural, religious, historic, and archaeological legacy of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, the organization chose time and again to adopt “fake history” and give its seal of approval to more fabrications from the Palestinian pack of lies.

UNESCO questioned Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. It treated us as if we were occupiers in our own capital, even though Jerusalem in all its holiness was never a capital – in terms of either politics or conscience – for any Arab or Muslim ruling entity. Even the Jordanians, who together with the Palestinians prompted UNESCO to pass resolutions hostile to Israel – never used Jerusalem as their capital in the years in which they occupied the city. They desecrated the places that are holy to Jews, and in violation of agreements we signed with them, even denied us access to those places. Back then, the Jordanians and the Palestinians – before they invented themselves as a “people” – cited the Temple Mount as the location of Solomon’s Temple on their maps and in their writings. Today, they boldly deny ever doing so and UNESCO is helping them by partly adopting their denial.

But UNESCO has more than Jerusalem in its sights. Rachel’s Tomb, which UNESCO decided to call, as the Palestinians term it, Bilal Ibn Rabah mosque, was never traditionally called that. Ibn Rabah, of Ethiopian descent, was one of the first muezzins who served the Prophet Muhammad. He was killed in Syria and buried in Aleppo or Damascus. Only when the Palestinian Authority realized it had failed to capture the site from Israel during the Second Intifada did they link Ibn Rabah to “Kubat Rachel,” the Arabic name for the site that had been used for generations. In the case of Rachel’s Tomb, UNESCO supported an attempt to take over people’s minds in place of a physical occupation of the site which failed.

Maybe UNESCO Will ‘Learn a Lesson’ From US and Israeli Withdrawals, Ex-Envoy Says

“Maybe they will learn a lesson,” a former Israeli ambassador to UNESCO told The Algemeiner on Tuesday as the Jewish state officially left the global cultural institution.

David Kornbluth — who served as Israel’s UNESCO envoy from 2005-2009 — said the country was pulling out of the body now largely because the US had scheduled to leave by the end of 2018.

“It’s completely in coordination with the United States,” he noted. “This is part of the reason also why it’s being done. Politically, it didn’t seem that we could stay in it if the United States is going, on our behalf as it were. Part of the reason they’re going is because of Israel.”

Israel and the US stayed in UNESCO for so long, he stated, “because they believed that once you leave these organizations, it’s much more difficult for Israel to get back in than the United States to get back in,” but the worsening situation had finally forced their hand.

“It was bad then,” Kornbluth said of his tenure. “It’s really nasty being attacked all the time, but was more manageable. But things got worse and worse, it just goes on and on and on, and politically it becomes just a bit disgusting.”

Asked whether the withdrawals will force UNESCO to change its attitude toward Israel, Kornbluth responded, “Hard to tell. The Israel-bashing thing has been going on forever, but the United States is staunchly with Israel and it’s quite true for many many decades already that Israel relies on the United States in UNESCO for the air it breathes. So I can’t tell if it will have a positive effect. It will have some effect. Since the United States and Israel came out two years ago with the intention to withdraw, UNESCO has moderated itself a bit towards Israel, but not sufficiently.”

Palestinians’ New Year’s Resolutions

“The Palestinian revolution has been continuing for 54 years. The revolution will continue until the aspirations of our people are fulfilled…. We have clearly stated that all forms of resistance are legitimate.” — Mahmoud Aloul, deputy chairman of Fatah; seen by many as the successor to Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian leaders are not offering their people a better life, prosperity, security and stability. Instead, the leaders are urging Palestinians to continue hating Israel and the US. They are urging Arab countries not to make peace with Israel: they consider normalization with Israel an act of treason.

A cartoon published on Fatah’s official Facebook this week depicts “Palestine” as a single entity, the exact shape of Israel.

These messages demonstrate, with no room for doubt, that any talk about resuming a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is one thing only: a colossal fraud. Palestinian leaders will never return to the negotiating table when they are pushing their people, day after day, to ensure that more Israeli blood runs in the street. The Palestinians make it clear that their true intention is to carry a rifle and see Israel removed from the map.

Senior source: ‘Netanyahu got almost all he wanted from Pompeo’

A senior Israeli government source said Wednesday that “Israel has received almost everything it asked for,” in a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“Israel had eight requests, and seven were granted,” the source said. “The only issue that is still under discussion is the sale of aircraft to Croatia.”

“The prime minister left the meeting with the impression that Israel has great influence in certain areas, and that Israel and the US are advancing various ideas with respect to Syria that will help Israel.”

“I hope that Honduras will move its embassy to Jerusalem in the coming months, and that in parallel Israel will open an embassy in Honduras.” The issue was discussed, the source said, in the meeting between Netanyahu and the Honduran president.

The source added that Honduras asked Israel “to intervene with the US,” and for that reason a trilateral meeting was arranged between the two leaders and Pompeo. “Israel wants to help the nations of South America to solve part of their water problems, and economic and security issues, and the US also has an interest in that.”

Report: Liberman told PA details of statehood in Trump’s peace plan

Avigdor Liberman, during his tenure as Israel’s defense minister, told Palestinian Authority officials that US President Donald Trump’s peace plan would include a Palestinian state in Gaza, Area A, and parts of Areas B and C in the West Bank, according to a report in the London-based Al Hayat newspaper.

The plan reportedly also would give Israel control over a large parts of east Jerusalem. Liberman told PA officials that money would be transferred to them from several countries to establish various infrastructures, such as an airport, seaport and various border crossings.

The issues of borders, security arrangements, water and the Jordan Valley were also discussed according to the report.

According to the sources Liberman met with PA officials two weeks before his resignation.

Liberman resigned as defense minister in November, protesting a ceasefire with Hamas.

Christian Zionists welcome Australia’s support for Israel …with reservations…

It is a great pity that the government has recommitted itself to the “Two State Solution” as the “only viable way to solve the dispute”. The reality is that the Palestinian claims are irreconcilable with the legitimate rights of the State of Israel. Negotiation about Palestinian statehood is a dead-end street. The Oslo agreements do not require the creation of a Palestinian state, but leave open the question whether Palestinian self-determination can be satisfied by alternative means. This would have been an ideal opportunity for the Australian government to have played a leading role in helping the parties to explore alternative solutions that will guarantee both Israel’s security and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for autonomy.

Further, the “acknowledgement” of Palestinian claims to “East Jerusalem” also prejudices Israel’s position in its negotiations concerning the territorial status of Jerusalem, which is a final status issue under the Oslo agreements. Israel’s position is that the whole of the city of Jerusalem belongs to the sovereign territory of the State of Israel on its establishment in May 1948. It is only because of Arab aggression that the city was divided between 1949 and 1967. The UN Security Council demanded in 1980 (UNSC Resolution 476) that foreign embassies in Israel be moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, following Israel’s reunification of the city after the 1967 Six Day War. In Israel’s view, UN Security Council Resolution 476 is based on an erroneous belief that “West” Jerusalem does not belong to the State of Israel.

Israel’s claim to sovereignty over the unified city of Jerusalem is based on the San Remo resolution (1920) and the Mandate for Palestine (1922), pursuant to which the whole city of Jerusalem became part of the State of Israel on its establishment in 1948. Further, it is important to emphasise that UN Security Council resolutions on this issue are not binding. It is also significant that Resolution 476 conflicts with the earlier Security Council Resolution 242 (November 1967), which (amongst other things) implicitly acknowledged that Israel has legitimate territorial claims to at least part of the territories captured in 1967, and its right to secure borders. The PLO and Israel have agreed (in the Oslo Accords) that the principles laid down in Resolution 242 form the basis for their negotiations. It is entitled to assert its claims to territorial integrity in its negotiations with the PLO.

While we commend the government’s commitment to the international “rules-based order”, in our view it gives too much weight to Security Council resolutions. While Security Council resolutions are important and should be treated with respect, Security Council resolutions under Chapter VI of the UN Charter are not binding, and the Council has in any event no jurisdiction to limit or compromise the territorial integrity of individual states.

Honduras considers Jerusalem embassy move, but wants benefits in return

Honduras is interested in moving its embassy to Jerusalem, but wants to gain from both Israel and the US in return.

This was apparent in the trilateral meeting held on Tuesday night in Brasilia between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Following the meeting, the State Department issued a statement saying that “it agreed to strengthen political relations and coordinate cooperation on development in Honduras. They also agreed to pursue a plan of action, which includes meetings in their three respective capitals, to advance the process of the decision to open embassies in both Tegucigalpa and Jerusalem.”

Honduras has long been considered a likely candidate to be the next country to move its embassy to Jerusalem, something both Israel and the US are interested in happening – Washington because it wants to see other countries follow its lead from last May.

Honduras, whose neighbor Guatemala is the only country who has followed the US move, has expressed interest in doing so, but wants benefits in return: namely, for Israel to open an embassy in its capital, and for better ties with Washington.

A senior Israeli diplomatic officials said that he “hoped” Honduras would move its embassy within two months, and that in parallel Israel would open an embassy in Tegucigalpa. The official said that Honduras also asked for Israel’s help in creating an “opening” with the US.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump threatened to cut US aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for “doing nothing” to stop caravans of immigrants from heading to the US. “Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money,” he tweeted. “Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries – taking advantage of US for years!”

Philippine Airlines Seeks Saudi Overfly Permit for Direct Route to Israel

The Philippines has requested permission for its flag carrier to overfly Saudi Arabia en route to Israel, the company president said, seeking to become the second airline to win such rights after a decades-long ban by Riyadh.

Should Philippine Airlines get an overflight permit, which would save on flight time and costs, it could launch direct service to Tel Aviv within six months, airline president Jaime Bautista said on Wednesday.

“The Civil Aeronautics Board wrote to Saudi authorities asking for overflight (rights),” Bautista told Reuters. “A letter was sent in October.”

Last March, Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for the first time to a commercial flight to Israel for an Air India route between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.

Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel and the move ended a 70-year-old ban, marking a diplomatic shift as Israel attempts to reach out to Gulf Arab states that share its concern over Iran’s regional activities.

There is no indication any Israeli airline will be granted similar rights.

Bennett taps journalist Caroline Glick for New Right’s Knesset slate

The newly formed New Right party announced Wednesday that US-born journalist Caroline Glick will be joining the right-wing faction and running on the party slate for the April elections.

Glick, a senior staffer and columnist of The Jerusalem Post, a writer for US far-right outlet Breitbart News and a senior fellow of the US-based Center for Security Policy, is the first fresh candidate to join the New Right’s slate after leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked announced its formation Saturday night.

Announcing her candidacy for the Knesset, Bennett said Glick “brings with her experience and understanding of Israeli society from her many years as a journalist and a commentator.”

Glick clearly identifies with the Israeli right in her writings, and has been critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, notably over the 2011 deal to release more than 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners to secure the release of Gilad Shalit from Hamas in Gaza, which she called immoral and irresponsible.

Glick’s uncompromising views have occasionally stirred controversy. Earlier this year she was criticized for sharing an image created by the right-wing NGO Im Tirtzu, depicting various Israeli leaders labeled by the sins Jews ask God for atonement for on Yom Kippur. The words “We have betrayed you” were written above a photo of Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat shaking hands at the White House in 1993.

Former defense chief Ya’alon launches new political party, Telem

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon officially registered his new political party on Wednesday, revealing that it will be called Telem and promising it will be “a political force that will put the country back on the right track.”

While Ya’alon, who entered politics after serving as IDF chief of staff, has long promised to lead a new political party to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, registering Telem was his first formal step toward running in the April elections.

Telem takes its name from a past party helmed by another former chief of staff, Moshe Dayan. The original Telem was an acronym for “Tnua LeHithadshut Mamlachtit,” meaning the Movement for National Renewal.

Ya’alon’s version is an acronym for “Tnua Leumit Mamlachtit,” which literally translates as “National Statesmanlike Movement,” and connotes national responsibility.

But while Ya’alon may be seeking to invoke the memory of Dayan, a celebrated war hero-turned politician, he said Wednesday that the new party will become a major and long-term force within Israeli politics, unlike Dayan’s, which lasted only two years, from 1981 to 1983.

Sole Jewish lawmaker on Arab list to retire from Knesset

Dov Khenin, one of the most prolific and progressive of Israel’s lawmakers, announced his retirement from the Knesset ahead of the April 9 elections.

A member of the once-communist Hadash list, Khenin was the sole Jewish lawmaker on the Joint List slate.

“I’m not abandoning political life,” he said in a Knesset press conference on Tuesday morning announcing his decision. “But I want to help bring change. The ship is sailing at top speed in the wrong direction, and the direction can’t be changed from the bow, from the Knesset.”

He added: “I want to join the grassroots and try to change the [country’s] direction from the bottom up.”

He vowed to work to help Hadash and the Joint List in the coming elections, and to “support any move toward cooperation” among left-wing factions “against the right.”

Egyptian general visits Israeli youth village to apologize for stray fire

An Egyptian general who commands the country’s military forces along the border arrived in Israel on Sunday on a previously unpublicized visit to inspect damage from stray bullets fired by his troops toward an Israeli youth village.

Investigations of the incident by both the IDF and the Egyptian army concluded that the fire was accidental, resulting from incorrect aiming of large 0.5-inch rounds during the live-fire exercise, Hadashot TV news reported.

The bullets were discovered on December 20 inside a trailer at the educational youth village in Nitzana, in the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council near the border with Egypt, by the leader of one of the local youth groups. They caused minor damage to the structure, but no casualties as nobody was in the room at the time.

At the time, the Israeli army said it “takes this sort of incident seriously, and the incident will be investigated.”

On Sunday, the Egyptian commander, who was not named in the Hadashot report, visited the site, saw the damage and the bullets themselves, and apologized to the residents of the village.

The regional council head, Eran Doron, said after the shooting it was the second such incident that month, adding that he was “closely following” the developments and was in contact with army officials.

Hebrew U students protest lecturer who reprimanded student for IDF uniform

Hebrew University students protested on Wednesday against a lecturer’s reprimand of a student, who was an active duty soldier, for wearing her IDF uniform to class.

The protest’s organizers called the incident an embarrassment to the university, and called on students not to accept such treatment of soldiers. They waved Israeli flags and chanted “We love the IDF.”

Dr. Carola Hilfrich, a lecturer at the university, criticized the student earlier on Wednesday after an argument broke out between the soldier and an Arab student, according to a report by Ynet.

“You cannot be naïve and ask to be treated as a civilian when you are in uniform,” Hilfrich told the soldier after class, according to the report. “You are a soldier in the Israeli army, and they will treat you accordingly.”

“Does it bother you that I wear my uniform to class?” the student asked, telling Hilfrich that she must be tolerant and respectful of others.

The student union protested, which led Hilfrich to later apologize.

Israeli Arab indicted for contact with enemy agent

An Israeli Arab was indicted Tuesday in Haifa District Court on charges of contact with an enemy agent, incitement to terrorism, and identification with a terrorist organization.

According to the indictment served against Ali Abdullah Sarhan, 64, from the village of Nahf, in May 2018 Sarhan joined a WhatsApp messaging group that including 51 people from different countries and was managed by a person calling himself “Assad.” The group traded messages containing content praising Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

During the period covered by the indictment, Sarhan allegedly read content from the Lebanese TV network Al-Manar, which is identified with Hezbollah, some of which he allegedly copied and shared on his own Facebook page. Sarhan allegedly published items expressing support for Hezbollah and calling on readers to carry out terrorist acts.

Sarhan also allegedly posted a picture to his Facebook account showing IDF soldiers near the Lebanese border in which targets were superimposed on the soldiers’ heads.

Hamas prisoner gives interview to Hezbollah media from Israeli jail

Senior Hamas terrorist Nail Barghouti, the longest-serving Palestinian security prisoner behind bars in Israel, recently gave an interview from prison to the Lebanon-based Al-Akhbar newspaper, which named him “man of the year for 2018.”

Middle East expert Yoni Ben-Menachem, a research fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, published a report on the interview on Monday on the center’s official website.

According to Ben-Menachem, Barghouti told Al-Akhbar via telephone from the prison: “We will never recognize Israel. The occupation only wants to expel us from Palestine. We will not accept any proposal other than the return of our families to all of occupied Palestine.”

Al-Akhbar is affiliated with the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah.

A statement by the Israel Prison Service said it was unaware that Barghouti had given the interview and that prisoners were not allowed to meet or speak with reporters. He was subsequently moved to moved to solitary confinement.

It should be noted that Barghouti was released in the Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange in 2011, after being sentenced to life in prison for murdering bus driver Mordechai Yekuel in 1978.

MEMRI: PA Daily On Christmas 2018: Jesus Was ‘The First Martyr And Fidai,’ ‘The Loyal Son Of Palestine,’ Symbol Of The Palestinian National Struggle Against The Distorters Of Judaism, Who Was Persecuted And Crucified By Them

On Christmas, December 25, 2018, the Palestinian Authority (PA) daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published two articles linking Jesus to the Palestinian national struggle against Israel. One of the articles described Jesus as a Palestinian hero who was crucified for defending his rights in the face of “fanatic Jews” who distorted Judaism, just s the Zionists have “hijacked” Judaism with the support of “the capitalist West.” The second article described Jesus as a martyr and as the first fidai (fighter who sacrifices his soul), who gave his life for the homeland.

It should be noted that this is not the first time that senior Palestinian officials have linked Jesus to the Palestinian national struggle. For example, during a visit he made to the Deheishe refugee camp in 1999, Michel Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch in Jerusalem until 2008, stated that Jesus was a refugee who opposed exploitation and the violation of rights, and therefore the Palestinian refugees must demand their rights and not neglect them. On the same occasion, As’ad ‘Abd Al-Rahman, then a member of the PLO Executive Committee and PA minister of refugee affairs, who delivered a speech on behalf of then PA president Yasser Arafat, called Jesus “the first Palestinian refugee, the first prince of peace, and the first Palestinian Fidai, who was redeemed through pain and suffering…”[1]

The following are translated excerpts from the two articles published in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on December 25, 2018.

Columnist Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul: Jesus Was The First Symbol Of The Struggle For National Liberation

The daily’s columnist ‘Omar Hilmi Al-Ghoul wrote: “There is a special fragrance to Christmas, because of its unique place in the Palestinian [historic] consciousness itself, with its prophets, and specifically our Lord the Messiah [Jesus], may he rest in peace, the loyal and respected son of Palestine, who more than 2,000 years ago defended his religious, political, and legal choice against the fanatic Jews who despised him and persecuted him until they [eventually] crucified him.

“Jesus, may he rest in peace, was the first symbol of the struggle for national liberation from the clutches of those who pretend to represent the Jewish religion [but] who [in fact] distorted the Old Testament and fabricated its intent, fought their prophets and oppressed the Jews, the Christians, and others during the time of our Lord the Messiah. They have not ceased their crimes to this very day, [for now] Judaism has been hijacked by the Zionist movement, which turned it into a vehicle for the colonialist project with the unconditional support and consent of the capitalist West, in order to realize [the Zionists’] colonialist aims. They continue, on a daily basis, to push [matters] towards the option of a religious war, so as to cover up the crimes of the colonial Zionists and their allies in the White House, the Pentagon, the corridors of both houses [of Congress] and the dubious lobbies, and among the pro-Zionists within the Anglican church [sic, the writer is likely referring to the Evangelicals]…”[2]

PA tries to prevent construction of security fence

Dozens of residents of the illegal Arab village of Dahar al-Malek in Samaria tried Wednesday to prevent the construction of a security fence around the community of Shaked.

The construction began after the High Court of Justice rejected a petition filed by the residents of the village with the assistance of the Palestinian Authority. According to the judges, it will be possible to build the fence in agricultural areas that have not been cultivated, whereas the cultivated areas “will be evacuated in accordance with the procedure set forth in the Order Concerning Government Property.”

A few hours after the verdict was handed down, Arabs entered the area of Shaked with a tractor in an attempt to plow additional land.

Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, came to supervise the construction work and make sure that it is carried out. There were clashes when the Arabs tried to stop the construction of the fence.

Dagan made it clear to the participants that no work would be stopped. “The time has come to stop the Palestinian Authority from taking control of state land in Judea and Samaria, which is part of the PA’s broad plan to take over Area C and establish facts on the ground.”

Fatah-Hamas resentment flares after alleged Gaza torch-lighting slight

Hussein al-Sheikh, a top Ramallah-based Palestinian official, lashed out at Hamas late Tuesday and declared Fatah leaders will not meet their counterparts in the terror group after Fatah members were allegedly prevented from lighting a torch in the Gaza Strip to mark the 54th anniversary of their party’s founding.

While the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza has not commented on the allegation, Husam Badran, a senior leader in the terror group, has suggested Fatah did not ask the Hamas-run security forces for permission to light a torch on Monday.

“After what happened yesterday in the Gaza Strip, we in Fatah will not meet the Hamas leadership at all,” Sheikh, a Fatah Central Committee member, told Palestine TV, the official PA channel, adding that Hamas authorities had acted in “an anti-nationalist” manner.

Asked if Fatah leaders would meet Hamas officials if the terror group issues an apology for the alleged incident, Sheikh responded: “What apology?! [What they did] is a sin.”

Rouhani: Palestinians must resist the Israeli regime

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with the Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad al-Nakhala in Tehran on Tuesday, according to a report by the Iranian network PressTV.

“The Zionist regime, thanks to support from the new rulers of the White House, is seeking to assert control over the entire region; and Palestine is a part of such a complex plot,” the Iranian leader said.

He added that resistance against the Israeli regime is the only way for Palestinians to gain their rights.

Rouhani also reiterated his support for the Palestinians and said that Iran has done so since the 1979 Revolution under the founding leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“Undoubtedly, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s support and principled policies have played a major role in thwarting attempts aimed at stripping the Palestinian nation of their rights,” al-Nakhala said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassem urged Muslims to unite against the the United States and Israel and their plot to cut off Palestinians from the Muslim world.

Lebanese boy praised for refusing to play Israelis in chess tournament

An eight-year-old Lebanese chess player has been hailed as a hero in his country — including by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah — for refusing to play against Israeli opponents at a tournament in Spain.

The boy, Mark Abou Deeb, said during an interview last week with the Lebanese OTV channel that he had refused to play against Israelis “because Israel is the enemy,” according to footage documented and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“Many Lebanese people consider you to be a hero, right?” host Rosanna Rammal asked him during the December 25 interview, asking him why he had refused to compete against Israelis.

After he answered, “Because Israel is an enemy,” the two hosts repeatedly asked him to speak louder. Eventually they replied, “Bravo.”

Iran’s Zarif mockingly calls on Israel, U.S. to withdraw from planet earth

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif mockingly suggested that Israel and the United States should leave planet earth in a tweet after the two countries withdrew from the UN’s cultural agency on Monday.

Washington has withdrawn from several agreements under President Trump, including the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal as well as the Paris climate accord, Zarif explained.

He joked that the US and Israel have no other international agreement to withdraw from, other than leaving the earth.

“After #JCPOA, #NAFTA, #TPP, Climate Convention & …, the Trump regime—along with the Israeli regime—today officially withdrew from #UNESCO. Is anything left for the Trump Administration and its client regime to withdraw from? Perhaps from planet Earth altogether?”

JCPA: The “Princes” of Iran Speak Out as Regime Fears Collapse

Hassan Khomeini, grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the architect of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, has warned that the political system used in Iran is about to collapse. Khomeini’s words join other statements heard among the religious establishment, according to which there has been considerable erosion of legitimacy of the Islamic regime as it approaches its fortieth year.

Hassan Khomeini stated that there is no guarantee that the Islamic regime will continue to exist if it does not take into account several basic problems that require urgent attention. Khomeini specifically pointed to the issues of tolerance, meritocracy, easing repression, and hypocrisy as matters that the regime must take care of and repair its ways before it is too late.

He added, “Anyone who does not adhere to human rights has no guarantee that he can remain in government, and in the end he will lose the confidence of the people.” Some of Iran’s newspapers published his statements under prominent headlines such as, “No Guarantee that We Will Remain.”

Several days earlier, Faezeh Hashemi, a former member of parliament and daughter of former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, told Mostaghel that the ideology of the Islamic Republic has totally collapsed. Even though the regime is still strong, the only reason it remains in power is the lack of a suitable alternative that could gain the support of the nation.

“Wherever we look, there is a definite lack of efficiency and a lack of leadership and logic. Everything is neglected, and no attempt has been made to find a solution to the problems. Worst of all – the situation is only getting worse and there is no sign of any improvement.”

The severity of the criticism of the regime and the Islamic system of government is unusual, and it is increasing as the economic crisis in Iran deepens. The criticism from the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini and the daughter of Rafsanjani indicates that some of the impediments that existed in the past to anything related to criticism of the Islamic system of government have been removed.

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