April 5, 2020

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02/01 Links Pt1: The Palestinians: Who Really Cares?; Melanie Phillips: Ireland’s obsessional hatred of Israel; Booker Flip Flops on BDS; Saudi columnist mocks boycott of Israel


From Ian:

The Palestinians: Who Really Cares?
Protests by the Palestinians in Lebanon are unlikely to draw any attention from the international community, including so-called pro-Palestinian groups that are active especially on university campuses in the US and Canada, among other places.

The real “pro-Palestinian” groups are those who are willing to raise their voices against the mistreatment of Palestinians at the hands of their Arab brothers. The real “pro-Palestinian” groups are those who are prepared to defend the rights of women and gays living under Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The real “pro-Palestinian” groups are those that are prepared to advocate for democracy and free speech for Palestinians living under the repressive regimes of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The real “pro-Palestinian” groups are those who are prepared to condemn Lebanon for its racist and discriminatory measures against Palestinians, living and dead.

Hiding at a university campus and spewing hatred against Israel does not make one “pro-Palestinian.” Rather, it makes one just an Israel-hater. Will the “pro-Palestinian” groups listen to the urgent messages coming from the people in Lebanon they claim to represent?

David Singer: Trump Should Reaffirm Core Bush-Congress Commitments to Israel

The upcoming Israeli elections will give Israelis the chance to vote on the future direction Israel’s new government should take in resolving the future of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza (“disputed territories”) – the last remaining 5 per cent of the territory of the Mandate for Palestine where sovereignty still remains unallocated between Arabs and Jews.

The choices offered to Israeli voters should be explicitly spelt out by the political parties contesting the elections. The newly-elected government’s stated policy should be implemented. This basic premise of democracy has been undermined in America as Trump’s election commitment to build his promised border wall remains unfulfilled because of Congress’s opposition.

Trump should not similarly attempt to thwart the mandate of Israel’s next government.

Trump should shelve his long-overdue ultimate deal indefinitely – due to the changed circumstances that have demonstrably arisen since his well-intentioned thought bubble in November 2016.

Instead – Trump should:

  • Pledge his Government’s full support for Israel’s next duly elected Government
  • Reaffirm the core commitments made by President Bush to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Bush’s letter dated 14 April 2004 – endorsed overwhelmingly by the Congress by 502 votes to 12 (“Bush/Congress Commitments”).

Those core American commitments – made to procure Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza – included:

  • Opposing any peace plan other than the 2003 Bush Roadmap
  • Being strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state.
  • Not supporting any right of return by Palestinian refugees to Israel
  • Regarding as unrealistic a full and complete withdrawal from the disputed territories.

Congress could endorse this Trump initiative – reinforcing continuing bipartisan support for Israel.
Peace will remain elusive – but Trump will have saved himself from drowning in a cesspool that has swallowed previous American presidents who believed they had the answer to ending this unresolved 100 years old conflict.

Dr. Martin Sherman: Benny Morris, an unlikely proponent of Arab emigration?

As readers will recall, I have, for years, been urging the initiation of a largescale initiative for the incentivized emigration of the Arab population in Judea-Samaria and Gaza, as the only viable policy option that can facilitate (albeit not ensure) the continued survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people—as it is, demonstrably, the only policy option that allows Israel to adequately contend with the geographic and demographic imperatives required for such survival.

This week, I encountered strident—albeit somewhat doleful, and certainly unintended—support for my thesis from a rather unexpected source—the well-known historian, Benny Morris.

Morris: Coming full circle?

Once a member of the so-called New Historians, a radical, left-wing group of academics, who challenged the traditional Zionist view of the inception of Israel—particularly the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Arabs due to the fighting during the 1948 War of Independence—Morris has come to adopt a far more understanding view of the alternatives facing the then-nascent Jewish state—and its resultant actions.

Indeed, in many respects Morris has come “full circle”—at least in terms of prevailing public perceptions of his political positions. Once denounced as an anti-Zionist, considered too radical for employment in the Israeli academe, and who was imprisoned, rather than serve as an army reservist in the “occupied territories”, he now not only defends, but endorses, the coercive displacement of Arabs—indeed, even lamenting that it was not sufficiently implemented.

In this regard, he has chided Ben Gurion for being overly reticent: In a 2004 interview with Haaretz’s Ari Shavit, he declared provocatively: “If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job…my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all.”

Morris speculates: “If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion –the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion – rather than a partial one – he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations.”

Melanie Phillips: Ireland’s obsessional hatred of Israel

There’s a particularly sweet spot in the enormous technology deal Israel has just pulled off.

Over the next five years, the tech giant Intel will invest a whopping $11 billion in a new semiconductor fabrication plant in Israel. The investment will be worth around 0.7% of Israel’s gross domestic product and is expected to produce thousands of jobs.

The sweet spot is that in securing this deal, Israel beat off competition from Ireland. For Ireland has become the most extreme Israel-bashing country in the West.

Its Dáil, or parliament, recently gave a first reading to a bill which would make it a serious criminal offense to supply goods or services provided by Israelis in east Jerusalem or the disputed territories of Judea or Samaria.

Claims by the bill’s sponsor, the Irish senator Frances Black, that it doesn’t target any particular country are disingenuous. Its terms have been drawn up in such a way that they apply only to the disputed territories and east Jerusalem.

It is also uniquely vicious. For it wouldn’t just target Israeli “settlers.” It would also mean, for example, that an Irish tourist on a visit to the Western Wall for which he is paying an Israeli tour guide might be arrested when back in Ireland for an offense carrying a potential jail term.

The bill is promoted by a coalition of NGOs, including several Christian groups, and is seen as a Trojan horse for a wider onslaught against Israel, with many of its supporters actively campaigning to boycott this year’s Tel Aviv Eurovision Song Contest.

Clifford D. May: Ireland’s surprise attack

There is a chance that the legislation passed by the Irish parliament will fail to become law — though probably not because the arguments I’ve made above have resonated. Ireland has attracted some of America’s largest companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook. They pay lots of taxes and provide lots of jobs.

Obeying the Irish law would likely mean violating existing U.S. federal law that prohibits American firms from participating in foreign boycotts not endorsed by Washington. More than two dozen state laws also penalize firms that engage in such boycotts.

The United States in 2017 accounted for two-thirds of all foreign direct investment in Ireland. So, in the end, this law could have more impact on Ireland’s economy than on anything happening in the Middle East.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said the legislation also may run counter to European Union trade regulations. Ireland’s attorney general has called the bill “legally unsound.”

Based on such considerations, the executive branch of the Irish government may find a way to shelve the legislation — again, based on what it will cost Ireland, not because it’s perceived as unfair and discriminatory, or apt to fuel more and bloodier conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis.

Final point: There are disputed territories around the world yet Irish parliamentarians have had little to say about Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Morocco’s claim to the Western Sahara or China’s stranglehold on Tibet.

In only one Middle Eastern country do Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Druze and others hold citizenship, vote on a regular basis and enjoy freedoms. Only one country in the world has given up land for peace and is willing to do so again. Irish politicians now want to single out that country for punishment. It’s their special way of commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day. Like I said, the virus morphs.

Booker Flip Flops on BDS

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) voted against pro-Israel legislation to combat the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, a departure from his previous condemnation of those who boycott Israel.

Last year, Booker was seen as standing “alone,” being the sole 2020 Democratic hopeful in the Senate to vocally oppose BDS. On Tuesday, however, he voted against the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019, which provides aid to Israel and allows states to refuse to do business with companies that boycott Israel.

The legislation passed a procedural vote by a margin of 76 to 22. Votes against the bill came exclusively from Democrats, including Booker and prospective 2020 candidates Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.).

The legislation gives state and local governments power to require contractors to disclose their position on boycotts of Israel before doing business with the state.

Booker’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment on why the senator voted against the bill.

In 2016 Booker called BDS an “anti-Jewish movement” and last fall cosponsored legislation that would ban American companies from joining international boycotts of Israel.

Saudi columnist Siham al-Qahtani mocks boycott of Israel

A Saudi columnist has mocked supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) and called for Arabs to normalise relations with Israel.

“Emotional slogans like ‘normalisation with Israel is a scandal, disgrace or a crime’ are now obsolete,” Siham al-Qahtani, a columnist with Saudi daily newspaper Al-Jazirah, tweeted from her account on Sunday, not to be confused with the Doha-based broadcaster.

“Israel is reality, and our (Saudis) failure to recognise it… will not change reality… there are always new beginnings for history,” she added.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official relations – like much of the Arab world – However, unofficial relations between them are burgeoning behind close doors.

Saudi officials are known to secretly meet with Israeli counterparts, Riyadh-affiliated media have interviewed Israeli leaders, while Saudis have made friendly gestures towards Tel Aviv.

Riyadh is also known to have collaborated indirectly with Israel during the Cold War, when communism and Arab nationalism were seen as a common threat.

Today, both countries see Iran as their biggest outside threat and Donald Trump’s administration as a key ally.

Three German organizations finance Palestinian group employing terrorists

German humanitarian organizations and a powerful Green Party think tank provide funds to a Palestinian NGO that employs a convicted PFLP terrorist and advocates a boycott of the Jewish state.

The startling revelations were disclosed in an Israeli government report last week titled: “The Money Trail: European Union Financing of Organizations.Promoting Boycotts against the State of Israel.” The 22-page study was released by the Strategic Affairs Ministry.

The Palestinian human rights NGO Al-Haq in Ramallah “is led by a former senior official of the EU-designated terror organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Shawan Jabarin, Director-General of Al-Haq, served three years in prison for terrorist activities, and currently employs former PFLP activists, who were also incarcerated due to involvement in terror, ” the report stated. The United States also considers the PFLP a terrorist organization.

The German organizations Bread for the World, World Peace Service ,and the Green Party’s Heinrich Boll Foundation supply funds to Al-Haq, according to the donor section of Al-Haq’s website. World Peace Service is a German government agency.

Olga Deutsch, the vice president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor organization, told the Jerusalem Post that the “German government should immediately stop funding the group [Al-Haq]. More importantly, Germany should work towards developing funding guidelines and selection criteria.”

Foreign sponsors of terror should be held accountable

Much attention has focused on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, and on foreign manipulation in social media targeting American voters. However, not as much attention is being paid to foreign cyberterrorism that is affecting the lives of individual citizens, or to foreign sponsors of terrorism.

In 2014, for example, North Korea was believed to have been behind a major hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment and its executives. Last year, we learned that Qatar’s news outlet, Al Jazeera, ran a months-long spy operation aimed at US Jews and pro-Israel groups. And the Gulf nation had hacked prominent private citizens in the United States, including Rabbi Shmuley Boteach – known as “America’s Rabbi” – among many others.

That Qatar is involved in cyberattacks shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s also long been a sponsor of terrorism and continues to fund Hamas, a designated terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States and numerous other countries. Hamas regularly praises as “martyrs” those killed while carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel and gives money – often provided by Qatar – to their families. It has fired rockets into Israel, infiltrated the Jewish state to kidnap soldiers and dug underground tunnels so it could smuggle arms into Gaza – all in its effort to destroy Israel, and all with financial backing from Qatar.

Qatar also has supported other terrorist groups, including the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban and al-Qaeda affiliates. The BBC reported that in April 2017, Qatar allegedly paid a ransom of as much as $1 billion to “a former al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria and to Iranian security officials as part of a deal that resulted in the release of 26 royal family members reportedly kidnapped by Iranian-backed Iraqi Shia militiamen and of dozens of Shia fighters captured by jihadists in Syria.”

Chris Williamson’s Maduro-Supporting ‘UN Rapporteur’ is Antisemitic Castro-Loving Historical Revisionist

Chris Williamson has been attempting to justify his continuing support for the murderous Maduro regime in Venezuela by quoting comments supposedly made by a UN rapporteur criticising US sanctions on Venezuela, including during his shameful speech in Parliament on Monday:
“The UN rapporteur, the first to visit Venezuela in 21 years, clearly said that the US sanctions were illegal and could amount to crimes against humanity”.

But who exactly is this mysterious UN rapporteur Williamson is so keen to promote?

Guido can reveal that Williamson’s source is in fact Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, a hugely controversial Cuban-born lawyer and prolific author of historically revisionist accounts of Nazi Germany, who has also made numerous anti-Semitic remarks. You couldn’t make it up…

De Zayas is also a big fan of Fidel Castro, saying after he died that he “would go down in history as a figure of the calibre of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.” Perhaps that helps to explain why de Zayas was installed in 2012 to the UN post of ‘Expert on Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order’. The post was created by the Cuban regime…

De Zayas is a hero to holocaust deniers for his writings accusing Churchill and Roosevelt of “genocide” against Nazi Germany during World War Two – in 2001 he was awarded a prize by the Zeitgeschichtliche Forschungsstelle Inglostadt, an openly historical-revisionist outfit which skirts the bounds of outright holocaust denial. De Zayas has also made a range of anti-Semitic comments himself including:
“Nuremberg was an exercise in hypocrisy. A continuation of hate and war… a corruption of legal norms and procedures, a pollution of philosophy, a truly Pharisee tribunal”

“Moses had a difficult time when he had the Jewish people cross through the Red Sea, because half of them were busy collecting beautiful shells.”

Hundreds of Iranian bots working to influence Israeli voters – report

Hundreds of Iranian bots are working to increase social and political divisions among Israelis and drive a radicalization of political discourse online ahead of the country’s April 9 elections, according to a report by the US-based technology firm Vocativ.

Released Thursday to the Ynet news site, the report said it found at least 350 accounts on major social media sites that appeared to be automated, coordinated and carrying messages with links to the Countdown 2040 website, an English-language Iranian site that “counts down” to Israel’s predicted destruction in the year 2040 by Iran’s supreme leader.

The posts may have been seen by as many as half a million Israelis, Vocativ said.

“The discourse the bots are trying to create tries to magnify the fractures in Israeli society and weaken unity,” said Vocativ’s founder, Mati Kochavi. “It looks like they know that our strength lies in our unity. In the US and Europe, bots that emphasized the divisions [in society] were very influential in the political campaigns.”

The company specializes in algorithms that are deployed to the web and are able to identify unique trends and trending videos. In the case of the purported Iranian bots, the company’s algorithms searched for social media accounts that posted at precisely regular intervals, compared language used in posts to build a map of connected accounts, and worked to identify the origins of the messages.

IDF delegation in Brazil: Situation unlike anything we’ve seen before

Maj. Tamir Hazan tells ‘Post’ that IDF equipment and rescue dogs have helped uncover 35 bodies at disaster site

The aftermath of a burst dam disaster in Brumadinho, Brazil, is unlike any situation the IDF has assisted with before, a member of the search-and-rescue team told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Maj. Tamir Hazan – an officer in the Ram Battalion of the IDF’s Search and Rescue Brigade, who is currently in Brazil – said IDF forces are working in conjunction with local teams to locate bodies buried under the mud.

“It’s not a classic search and rescue operation. It’s not something we’ve trained for,” Hazan told the Post from Brazil. “We train for building collapses, and other things, but this kind of work – extracting people from underneath mud – we have yet to encounter.”
The IDF confirmed late on Thursday night that its search and rescue mission in Brazil was completed, tweeting: “Our aid mission to Brazil has come to an end, and our soldiers will soon be heading home to Israel. Brazil, we are proud to have been by your side.”
On Sunday, a delegation from the IDF Home Front Command set out for Brazil, headed by Col. (res.) Golan Vach, and made up of about 130 soldiers and officers, including engineering experts, doctors, search and rescue personnel, firefighters and troops from the Navy’s underwater missions unit.

Israel has often aided countries struck by natural disasters, sending teams from the IDF Medical Corps and Home Front Command to provide search and rescue and medical aid in field hospitals in countries such Mexico, Haiti, the Philippines, Japan, Turkey, and Nepal.

Brazil’s President Thanks Israel for Post-Dam Disaster Aid, Hails Collaboration in Science and Technology

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro thanked Israel on Thursday for providing emergency relief to the victims of a recent dam collapse.

“The brave Israeli troops sent by prime minister Netanyahu finish today their mission here in Brazil,” he tweeted. “On behalf of the Brazilian people, I thank the state of Israel for the services provided in Brumadinho MG in partnership with the Brazilian Armed Forces and Firefighters.”

A team of 100 Israeli military personnel arrived in Brazil on Sunday to assist in search operations after a dam collapsed in Brumadinho in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. The Israeli delegation included medics, rescue specialists and a scuba unit.

Israel was the only country to send a team of this kind to Brazil.

“Following a situational assessment and discussions with local officials, it emerged that search and rescue is the main need at the Brazilian disaster site,” the IDF said at the time.

Poll: Most Israelis Think Legal System Biased in Favor of Left

Much of the Israeli public believes that the legal system is biased, shows a poll commissioned by the Movement for Governability and Democracy, an organization that advocates for a strong separation of powers and against judicial intervention.

According to the poll, 61 percent of Israelis think that Chief Justice Esther Hayut holds a worldview that identifies with the “center-left leaning left.” Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72 percent) think that Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber holds leftist views, and 55 percent think that State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan holds leftist views.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit was seen as “right-wing leaning right” by 65 percent of respondents. Opinions were divided when it came to State Comptroller Yosef Shapira, with 37 percent characterizing him a right-wing, 36 percent characterizing him as a centrist, and 27 percent calling him left-wing.

When asked about whether these officials’ political views influenced their work, 57 percent of respondents said that Hayut’s opinions did influence her work and 58 percent said Zilber’s opinions did. Nearly half, 49 percent, said that Nitzan was influenced by his political worldview. Only 34 percent said that Mendelblit was steered by his political opinions.

Where are Palestinian politics headed?

The Fatah succession race is playing out alongside the more than decadelong struggle between Fatah and Hamas for control of the Palestinian Authority’s political system. As head of the unity government, Hamdallah is now having to pay a high political price for the decision by Abbas and the top Fatah echelon to put a cork in efforts to reconcile the two rival Palestinian factions. The main reason Abbas dismissed the government – which will nevertheless still exist and hold ministerial responsibility for forming a new government – is his need to prepare the groundwork for legislative and presidential elections. These elections are slated to be held in the West Bank only, and not in Gaza, and will effectively make the division between Fatah and Hamas into a permanent fact.

Shoving a serving prime minister aside is another signal from Abbas that he is still powerful. Abbas wants to lay down the outline for Palestinian policy in the future and ensure that Fatah stays in power after Gaza was lost on his watch. Despite the concentrated political power he has demonstrated in recent years, which sometimes took the form of limiting free speech, Abbas has decided – along with dismissing the Hamdallah government – to freeze a bill that would establish a Palestinian social security institution. That bill sparked an outcry in many sectors of Palestinian society, as people feared that money would be deducted from their salaries and put into the PA’s accounts.

Until a new PA government is appointed, Abbas and the rest of the Fatah leadership have some time to get a sense of how the public is responding to their political moves. The next PA prime minister will need to deal with less public backing for the Fatah government. The new Palestinian government will also face challenges in building a Palestinian state, given the lack of faith between the PA and the U.S. administration; the lack of a peace plan; and a total freeze in negotiations between the PA and Israel.

U.S. Funding for Palestinian Security Services Ends

The US funding and training program for the PA’s security services ended Thursday at midnight, as diplomats and politicians scrambled to find a way to mitigate the impact on West Bank stability.

The 14-year-old US Security Coordinator (USSC) mission, and the $61 million the US provides annually, is perceived to be the cornerstone to an effective Palestinian Authority security service.

Coordinated PA and IDF security activity, which has withstood diplomatic crisis and terrorism waves, is touted as a stabilizing factor in the often volatile West Bank.

It is feared that the loss of the program could harm both that coordination and the effectiveness of the Palestinian security forces in general.

A US official clarified that the US training program had stopped, but that “the US Security Coordinator and his team continue to conduct a security cooperation-only mission.”

That mission, whose office is located in Jerusalem, would not involve funding support to the PA, but would help with IDF-PA coordination and provide an advisory role.

Israeli-Palestinian security ties likely to continue despite US aid freeze

Israeli and Palestinian officials on Thursday signaled that security coordination between them will continue, despite a midnight deadline that cuts off all US assistance to the Palestinians.

Security cooperation in the West Bank is one of the few remaining areas of contact between Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority after years of otherwise rocky ties, with both sides joined in a common struggle against Hamas.

This coordination has been thrown into doubt by a law that requires the US to cut off its financial assistance to the Palestinians, including millions of dollars in security aid, as of midnight Friday. While all sides agree the coordination is beneficial, it was doubtful the issue would be resolved before the deadline. Still, there were no signs that the behind-the-scenes cooperation would end.

“Security cooperation is important for Israel and for the Palestinians,” Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Under the law, known as the Anti-Terrorism Cooperation Act, the Palestinian Authority would be disqualified from receiving any US aid unless it agrees to pay court judgments of up to hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of American victims of Palestinian attacks. The deadline for accepting that condition is January 31.

To Its Detriment, the PA Spurns U.S. Financial Assistance

The Palestinian Authority announced last week that it will renounce all financial assistance from the United States in protest of a new anti-terror law. The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which President Donald Trump signed into law in October and is set to take effect at the end of January, exposes the P.A. to costly law suits for its involvement in terrorist activities.

The act specifies that if the P.A. accepts funding from the U.S. government, American courts will have the jurisdiction to hold it accountable for acts of terror against U.S. citizens and pursue the P.A. for any monetary judgments.
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It’s important to understand the context of this development for the P.A. can be expected to blame everyone but itself for the dire consequences of the decision, which not least could affect the delicate coordination between Israeli security forces and the P.A. in the West Bank.

In a nutshell, the decision to reject all U.S. aid money means that the P.A. has chosen terror over the well-being of its own civilian population. The slash in financial assistance will inevitably affect social services, the education and health sectors, and security in P.A.-controlled areas.

All it would take for it to avert the crisis is to do what should be expected of any political enterprise with a serious aspiration to build its own nation: renounce terror.

Erekat meets UN envoy to protest Israeli ejection of Hebron observer group

A top Palestinian official met Thursday with the UN’s Middle East ambassador to discuss Israel’s decision to eject an observer group in Hebron, in the first such public meeting since the Palestinian Authority declared the envoy persona non grata last year.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday he would not extend the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, or TIPH, following a number of incidents over the past year between its members and Jewish settlers in the West Bank city.

TIPH, which is staffed by civilian European observers, began operating in Hebron in 1994 and monitors compliance with a 1997 agreement dividing the city between Israeli and Palestinian control.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations envoy, wrote on Twitter following his meeting with the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, that TIPH “has contributed to maintaining calm in a highly sensitive area.”

It was the first meeting between a senior Palestinian Authority figure and Mladenov since the West Bank-based government declared in October he was “no longer acceptable” because of his efforts to broker a truce deal between Israel and the Gaza-based terror group Hamas.

10,000 Palestinians protest on Gaza border, 24 said injured

Some 10,000 Palestinians took part in violent protests along the Gaza border on Friday, burning tires and hurling rocks and explosive devices at IDF soldiers.

Troops were responding to the demonstrators with tear gas and occasional live fire.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 23 protesters were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli security forces along the border and a female paramedic was hit in the face with a tear gas canister.

The weekly protest comes with an Egyptian security delegation reportedly in the Gaza Strip to meet Hamas leaders and discuss efforts to maintain calm in and around the coastal enclave. The delegation is being led by Ahmed Abdelkhaliq, the official in the Egyptian General Intelligence Services responsible for Palestinian affairs, reports said.

US judge rules Syrian regime must pay $300m to family of slain journalist Colvin

A Washington judge has hit the Syrian government with a $302 million judgment over the 2012 death of journalist Marie Colvin, a longtime foreign correspondent for The Sunday Times.

In a verdict unsealed late Wednesday night, US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson concluded the Syrian military had deliberately targeted the makeshift media center in the city of Homs where Colvin and other journalists were working. Sustained artillery barrages against the apartment building housing the media center killed Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik on February 22, 2012.

Colvin, who had covered conflicts around the world for the British newspaper, wore a signature black patch over her left eye after being blinded by a grenade in Sri Lanka in 2001. The 2018 film “A Private War” was based on her life.

Lawyers for Colvin’s family argued that her death was no accident. They hope to recover the $302 million verdict by targeting frozen Syrian government assets overseas. The Syrian government has never responded to the suit.

“The challenge now is going to be enforcing the judgment,” said Scott Gilmore, lead counsel for the Colvin family. “The precedents show that it is possible to recover assets.”

Report: Hezbollah Terror Group in Midst of Deep Economic Crisis

Are US sanctions beginning to have an impact on Hezbollah? Sky News Arabia has reported that the Shi’ite terrorist organization has postponed a number of payments, including to Hezbollah members, as a result of financial difficulties.

According to the report, which appeared on Sky News Arabia’s website on Wednesday, employees of Hezbollah’s media, education, medical and even military systems have complained of deep pay cuts of late, with some reportedly receiving only 60 percent of their salaries last month.

Despite their increasing frustration at the situation, Lebanese media outlets and workers whose salaries have been cut have refrained from publicly criticizing Hezbollah out of concern doing so would damage the organization’s standing.

According to Sky News Arabia’s sources, Hezbollah is concerned by increasing US sanctions, as well as growing efforts by the European Union against the organization.

Sanctions imposed on Iran have also put a dent in Hezbollah’s cash flow.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said that Iran provides Hezbollah with an annual budget of $1 billion. With Iran in the midst of a financial crisis, Hezbollah may not be able to count on Tehran investing all of that money in the organization in the future.

US warns Hezbollah not to funnel Lebanese ministry’s money to terror

A senior US official warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah not to exploit its newly gained clout in the new Lebanese cabinet and channel funds from a ministry it controls to institutions affiliated with the Shiite militant group.

The remarks by Marshall Billingslea, the US Treasury’s assistant secretary on terror financing, came as Lebanese political factions agreed late Thursday to form a new government, breaking a nine-month deadlock that had deepened Lebanon’s economic woes.

The warning underscores the delicate balance that Prime Minister Saad Hariri must strike in a national unity government in which the Iran-backed group has three seats, including the health ministry, which has one of the country’s largest budgets.

Hariri, who hails from the country’s leading Sunni political party, reportedly had cautioned against Hezbollah holding the health ministry amid concerns his new government could face Western sanctions. Hezbollah made significant gains at the expense of Hariri’s party in Parliament elections in May, further contributing to the delay in forming a government as the powerful group lobbied for a bigger share in the cabinet.

Crowds chant ‘death to Israel’ as Iran marks 40 years since Islamic Revolution

Iran on Friday started celebrating the 40th anniversary of the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed shah, overturned 2,500 years of monarchical rule and brought hard-line Shiite clerics to power.

The climactic events that year in Iran — where footage of revolutionaries in the streets gave way to black-and-white images of blindfolded American hostages in the US Embassy hostage crisis months later — not only changed Iran’s history but also helped shape today’s Middle East.

The anniversary starts every year on February 1 — the day Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned home from France, after 14 years in exile, to become the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Across Iran, sirens rang out from trains and boats and church bells chimed at 9:33 a.m. Friday — the exact time Khomeini’s chartered Air France Boeing 747 touched down 40 years ago at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence: Tehran Continues to Sponsor Terrorism, Threaten U.S. Forces and Allies

At the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats presented the Worldwide Threat Assessment of global threats to U.S. national security. He said, “The Iranian regime will continue pursuing regional ambitions and improved military capabilities, even while its own economy is weakening by the day.”

“Tehran continues to sponsor terrorism as the recent European arrests of Iranian operatives plotting attacks in Europe demonstrate. We expect Iran will continue supporting the Huthis in Yemen and Shia militants in Iraq, while developing indigenous military capabilities that threaten U.S. forces and allies in the region.”

“Iran maintains the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East. And while we do not believe Iran is currently undertaking the key activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device, Iranian officials have publicly threatened to push the boundaries of JCPOA restrictions if Iran does not gain the tangible financial benefits it expected from the deal.”

How the EU Supports the Islamic Republic

The EU’s spokesperson for foreign policy, Federica Mogherini, has devoted most of her immense energies operating as a lobbyist for the Islamic Republic of Iran. She has visited more than 30 countries to present the Islamic Republic as the poor little lamb facing the American big bad wolf.

When, just weeks after leaving office, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel heads a delegation of European businessmen to Tehran and praises the Islamic Republic as a rock of stability in the Mideast, some in the Khomeinist leadership will see that as an endorsement of Tehran’s reckless adventurism.

For almost two years the EU has fostered the illusion in the Islamic Republic that it can continue doing as it pleases without risking any bad consequence. The EU’s special favorable treatment of the Islamic Republic includes keeping mum about over 20 EU citizens currently held as hostages in Tehran. It is also indicated by a mere rap-on-the-wrist response to the Islamic Republic’s latest terrorist operations in four European countries.

In Britain, the Islamic Republic controls at least a dozen tax-exempt “charities,” often used for financing violent groups across the globe or simply for money laundering

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