January 18, 2020

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02/11 Links Pt1: Tony Blair: Don’t Make the Mistake of Dismissing Iran’s Ideology; PA: If we have one dollar we will spend it on prisoners & martyrs; UNRWA Is a Total Failure as a Refugee Organization


From Ian:

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair: Don’t Make the Mistake of Dismissing Iran’s Ideology
Hopes that the 2015 nuclear deal would lead the Tehran regime to moderate its behavior have proved misplaced. The ayatollahs may have kept to the letter of the deal, but they have intensified their malign policies around the region. Where Israel is concerned, they implacably oppose not only government policy but also the country’s very existence.

This hatred of Israel is not confined to the clerics. It is also the declared position of figures that the West has misidentified as “moderate.” So it is misguided to see Iran as following the principles of realpolitik. It is ultimately defending and where possible extending ideological interests. The ideology is driven by a belief that religion should be converted into a political system of government. Such a worldview necessarily becomes totalitarian.

This politicization of religion is the bane of the Middle East. In a world where economies succeed by being open, and countries prosper by being open-minded, such a view of religion divides people, misdirects political energy and causes extremism.

Where Iran is exercising military interference, it should be strongly pushed back. Where it is seeking influence, it should be countered. Where its proxies operate, it should be held responsible. Where its networks exist, they should be disrupted. Where its leaders are saying what is unacceptable, they should be exposed. Where the Iranian people are protesting for freedom, they should be supported.

Forty years of disappointment should make us clear-eyed. The revolution has made Iran the single biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East. Ultimately the Iranian people will find a way to the future without this outdated theocracy.

Iranian commander threatens to ‘raze Tel Aviv and Haifa’ if US attacks

A senior commander in Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps threatened on Monday to destroy two of Israeli’s largest cities if the country is attacked by the United States.

“The United States does not have the courage to shoot a single bullet at us despite all its defensive and military assets. But if they attack us, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” Brig. Gen. Yadollah Javani was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA, according to Reuters.

Top political and military leaders in Iran regularly call for Israel’s annihilation, with a senior general recently claiming it would defeat the Jewish state “within three days” in the case of a war.

Javani, the deputy for the IRGC political bureau, was speaking at a rally marking the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, when the US-backed monarchy was overthrown and replaced in power by Islamic fundamentalists.

Along with the chants “Death to America” and banners bearing slogans calling for “Death to Israel,” Monday’s marches were also a backdrop to the military’s display of Iranian-made missiles, which authorities showcase every year during anniversary celebrations.

UNRWA Is a Total Failure as a Refugee Organization

Uri Akavia, a researcher at Kohelet Policy Forum, recently published a new paper titled “Is UNRWA’s hereditary refugee status for Palestinians unique?” In it, of course, he details the origins of the issue since 1948, the year Israel was established, and its ensuing state of affairs.

“People have finally realized that UNRWA [U.N. Relief and Works Agency], is a very large and important organization that is perpetuating a problem that should not have even existed after 70 years,” he told JNS.

When U.S. President Donald Trump announced last year that he would pull $300 million in funding for UNRWA, which is in charge of resolving the Palestinian refugee problem, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat realized that he now had an opportunity to kick UNRWA out of Shuafat, a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem the body considers to be a refugee camp.

“The U.S. decision has created a rare opportunity to replace UNRWA’s services with the services of the Jerusalem Municipality,” he said. “We are putting an end to the lie of the ‘Palestinian refugee problem’ and the attempts at creating a false sovereignty within a sovereignty.”

For Akavia, Barkat and those who have followed the situation closely, UNRWA, tasked with resolving the Palestinian refugee problem, has only perpetuated and not solved the refugee problem. They argue, and many Israelis agree, that it has utterly failed in its mission.

According to Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “UNRWA has so many problems,” he told JNS. “The fact is that so many of the worst Hamas terrorists were educated in UNRWA schools, and UNRWA was used as a place where Hamas could store its weaponry in violation of all kinds of U.N. resolutions that prohibit conversion of refugee camps to military facilities.”

However, Gold pointed to what he thinks is UNRWA’s worst sin: The “conversion of the Palestinian refugee problem to a challenge locked into perpetuity.”

U.S.’s peace plan complete, delayed until Israeli elections – report

The US administration has finished the final draft of the “Middle East Peace Plan,” and have briefed President Donald Trump on its contents, senior administration officials told Fox News.

According to the sources, the “Deal of the Century” is complete, and the President has been briefed by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

“The plan is done… [the president] is happy with the parameters of the deal,” the senior administration official claimed.

Greenblatt denied the reports on twitter, claiming the sources gave wrong information, and that the plan “[is] not there yet.”

US has ordered banks not to send money to PA, official says

A top Fatah official said in an Arabic-language interview published Sunday that the US has asked international banks to squeeze the Palestinian Authority financially in a bid to pressure the Palestinian leaders to accept the Trump administration’s peace plan.

“Major international financial institutions and parties have begun to accede to an American request to impose a tight financial siege on the Authority,” Hussein al-Sheikh told AFP.

“Washington has asked for financial aid given to the authority to be stopped, and it has also issued a circular to banks not to receive transfers for the authority’s accounts.”

The claim came on the same day that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to begin deducting PA payments to convicted terrorists and their families from tax transfers Israel hands the PA each month, and after massive cuts in US aid to the Palestinian in recent months.

According to al-Sheikh, “the sanctions began with preventing the transfer of an Iraqi grant worth $10 million, which was handed over to the Arab League recently. The League has not been able to transfer it because all banks have refused to accept it for transfer to the Authority’s finance ministry or the national fund.”

PA says it will take legal action against US over ‘financial siege’

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Monday that the PA would take legal action to counter US moves to apply financial pressure on Ramallah.

Malki’s comments came a day after a senior Fatah official, Hussein al-Sheikh, said in an Arabic-language interview published Sunday that the US has asked international banks to squeeze the Palestinian Authority financially in a bid to pressure the Palestinian leaders to accept the Trump administration’s not-yet-announced peace plan.

“The leadership is following these new American attempts to impose a financial siege on our people, and is looking for legal steps to bring lawsuits against the United States over all these illegal steps on the one hand, while searching for suitable financial alternatives to respond to these punitive measures on the other,” Malki told the Voice of Palestine radio station.

Al-Sheikh told AFP on Sunday that major financial institutions had begun to cooperate with Washington’s bid to “impose a tight financial siege on the Authority.”

Qatar gave over $1.1 billion to Gaza Strip from 2012-18, ministers told

Qatar gave over $1.1 billion in aid to the Gaza Strip over the past six years, according to figures reportedly presented to Israeli ministers.

The money was given from 2012 to 2018, with last year’s sum totaling $200 million, the Haaretz daily reported.

Last month an “international entity” presented the figures to the security cabinet, the report said, noting that the numbers were confirmed by officials involved in the matter.

In 2018 Qatar gave Gaza $200 million for humanitarian aid, fuel, and wages for Hamas clerks. In addition it gave UNRWA, the UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees and their descendants, $50 million, all with Israel’s approval. During the same period it gave just $39 million to other Arab states and almost nothing to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the report said.

The cabinet heard that 44 percent of the cash went to building infrastructure, 40% to education and medical projects, and the rest to Hamas and other groups in the Gaza Strip.

In Addis Ababa, Abbas urges African states to maintain support for Palestinians

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged African states on Sunday to maintain their support for the Palestinians.

Abbas made the comments in a short speech at a meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, amid a recent expansion in relations between Israel and some African nations.

“The states of Africa and its venerable union were and still are supporters and partners,” he said. “We hope our partnership will continue to prosper. In our struggle for liberation and independence today, we are looking to you to continue to hold firm to your positions.”

The PA president made no explicit mention of the recent developments in ties between Israel and African states.

Over the past two years, Prime Minister Netanyahu has traveled to Africa a number of times, visiting Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Liberia and Chad.

In January, Israel and Chad, a Muslim-majority country, renewed diplomatic relations — more than 45 years after they were severed.

Bahrain said to have informed Israel two years ago it wanted to normalize ties

Bahrain informed Israel more than two years ago that it was interested in normalizing relations, an Israeli TV station claimed Sunday, amid persistent reports that Israel has been close to establishing ties with an Arab state.

According to a report on Israel’s Channel 13 news, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa held a clandestine meeting with former foreign minister Tzipi Livni on the sidelines of the 2017 Munich Security Conference.

During the meeting, Khalid reportedly told Livni that the king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, had decided to move toward normalized relations with Israel and asked her to convey the message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which she did.

The report quoted unnamed senior Israeli officials. Livni refused to comment, Channel 13 said. The report did not specify why the breakthrough had not occurred.

The report comes as Israel pushes to expand its ties with Arab and Muslim nations. Last month Netanyahu traveled to the Muslim African nation of Chad to announce the restoration of relations.

Israel pushes for UN to declare Hezbollah as a terror organization

In a bid to persuade the members of the United Nations Security Council to dub Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, senior officers from Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate are expected to brief the members of the international body on the Iran-backed group’s activity in Lebanon. They will voice their concerns over its further strengthening in the country and the establishment of extensive terror infrastructures, and also raise the need to prevent further Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

Although Hezbollah is already considered a terrorist organization by multiple countries, including Israel, the US and members of the Arab League, its members serve in the Lebanese government. Over the past few months, the Israeli mission to the UN headed by Ambassador Danny Danon has been waging a campaign to get the UN Security Council to declare the Shiite organization as a terrorist group.

As a result, the Security Council held a meeting in December to discuss the Hezbollah attack tunnels dug from Lebanon into Israel, which were uncovered by the IDF during Operation Northern Shield in December. The tunnels, of which Israel uncovered six, are believed to have been dug by Hezbollah fighters in order to carry out attacks on civilians in the Galilee.

The meeting, called by the US at Israel’s request, also dealt with Hezbollah’s alleged violations of UN Resolution 1701. The resolution, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, calls for the disarmament of the Iranian-backed organization and its activities in southern Lebanon.

Israel’s Outreach to Europe’s Populist Right Is Prudent and Justified

Next Monday, Jerusalem will host the annual summit of the Visegrad group, consisting of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic; its decision to do so has brought criticism from those who feel that the Jewish state should not be associating itself with the right-wing leaders of Hungary and Poland, whose positions have sometimes put them at odds with local Jewish communities. Similar concerns are bound to recur as right-wing populist parties gain influence in Europe, even as these very parties are making efforts to rid their ranks of anti-Semites and show their support for Israel. To Gol Kalev, the Netanyahu government has acted wisely by responding in kind to offers of friendship from these groups and their leaders:

As anti-Israel activism becomes entrenched on Europe’s political left, the rise of European far-right parties could present an opportunity for Israel, since those parties are explicitly nationalistic themselves and unashamedly defend the idea of the nation-state. . . . Faced with this dichotomy—EU leaders expressing concern about Israel reaffirming itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people, while right-wing populist parties strongly embrace this model—there is a growing view that rather than lean against a splintered reed, Israel needs to recognize the shift in the European electorate and align itself with the emerging political movements that will defend rather than denigrate the country.

Even so, there remains a built-in tension between Israel’s rapprochement with the far-right and the interests of world Jewry. [For instance], French Jews feel imperiled by the expansion of the yellow-vest protests, which are reportedly being encouraged by Marine Le Pen’s far-right party, National Rally, [until recently, the National Front]. The protesters broadly refer to Emmanuel Macron as “President Rothschild,” and some banners have displayed overt anti-Semitic slurs. Indeed, the Chabad house in Paris temporarily closed due to the perceived danger from protesters.

This sort of tension between the interests of Israel and diaspora Jews is not new. In fact, it has existed since the inception of Zionism. But just as Theodor Herzl recognized that preventing the democratic election of [the anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna in 1896] would only further inflame the anger of far-right voters, it is clear today that Israel boycotting right-wing parties will not reduce the danger to Jews from right-wing populism, just as boycotting left-wing parties will not reduce the danger from European left-wing populism.

Dutch Government Paid for B’Tselem Report Attacking Israel’s High Court

Last week, the anti-Israeli NGO B’Tselem issued a report accusing Israel’s High Court of Justice of supporting “deportation of Palestinian communities from their land,” attacking the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Israeli construction planning system in Judea and Samaria. On Monday, Israel Hayom exposed documents B’Tselem reportedly signed with the Dutch government, which commissioned and financed said report, while determining its goals.

According to the agreement, B’Tselem received about $200,000 directly from the Dutch government, to compose a report that would include criticism of Supreme Court decisions on the settlements.

According to NGO Monitor, the agreement between the Dutch government and B’Tselem was signed in May and published at the end of October 2018, but according to the contract, it was already available as of January 1, 2018.

The agreement spelled out that (translated from Hebrew – DI) “As a test case, B’Tselem will publish a report on the role of the Supreme Court in the expulsion of the Palestinian communities, mainly in the Jordan Valley, the southern Hebron hills and the Ma’aleh Adumim area. B’Tselem will routinely refer to the High Court as one of the main mechanisms that enable the continued occupation and human rights violations by granting judicial legitimacy to Israeli policy.”

B’Tselem’s report, entitled “Justice Ostensibly – The High Court of Justice’s Responsibility for the Destruction of Palestinian Homes and their Expulsion,” notes that “in thousands of judgments and decisions handed down over the years in cases involving the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, the judges referred to the Israeli planning policy as legal and proper, and almost always focused solely on the technical question – did the petitioners have building permits?”

NGO asks High Court to strike down immunity law for IDF harming Gazans

An NGO has asked the High Court of Justice to strike down a law which grants immunity to IDF personnel if they negligently harm Gazans, on the grounds that the area is a war zone.

The non-governmental organization, Adalah, asked the High Court on Sunday to reverse a lower court ruling which said that because Attiya Nabheen, who was 15 years old when he was shot in November 2014, lived in Gaza, he could not seek damages from the IDF, even if there was negligence.

Even before the relevant 2012 immunity law was passed, Israel already applied a rule of international law called the “combat activities exception.”

According to the combat activities exception, armed forces cannot be sued for damages if they negligently harm a citizen of an enemy, provided that the harm occurred during military operations and was unintentional.

In February 2015, a three-justice panel of the High Court, including then-president Miriam Naor, Zvi Zilberthal and incoming president Esther Hayot, upheld the combat activities exception in the famous case involving US citizen Rachel Corrie. Corrie had been accidentally run over by a bulldozer.

But Adalah and the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights claimed that the High Court should still strike down the 2012 immunity law for going even beyond the combat activities exception, and therefore, breaking international law.

Poland’s envoy recognizes individual Holocaust crimes, firmly rejects complicity

Some Poles “committed abominable crimes” against Jews, Poland’s ambassador to Israel acknowledged this week, saying he had no problem admitting that Polish nationals were involved in anti-Semitic atrocities before, during and after World War II.

But in a far-ranging interview dealing with the whole breadth of bilateral relations between Poland and Israel — historical and political — Marek Magierowski also said that in addition to the need to remember the painful past, there was a “moral obligation to tell the whole truth.” For instance, he strongly rejected the term “Polish complicity,” arguing that it implies the country deliberately aided the Nazi regime in carrying out the Holocaust.

“It insinuates that Poland was consciously and willingly collaborating with Germany in the extermination of the European Jewry. No, it was not,” he insisted.

During the war, six million Polish citizens died — half of them Jews, the ambassador noted — and the country’s cities and villages were destroyed. “Poland was devastated. This is the not-so-unimportant context that is too frequently missing from the spectacular headlines about the alleged ‘Polish complicity,’” Magierowski, 48, said.

“And yes, some of my fellow countrymen committed abominable crimes against their Jewish brethren — before, during and after the war. I have no reservations in saying that they were Poles. Not ‘bandits,’ not ‘criminals,’ not ‘non-Jewish neighbors.’ No need to conceal their nationality. They were Polish, they spoke Polish, they were born in Poland.”
Poland’s President Andrzej Duda speaks during commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of a massacre of Jews in Kielce, Poland, Monday, July 4, 2016. (AP Photo/ Czarek Sokolowski)

And they “excluded themselves from Polish society,” he added, citing a speech Polish President Andrzej Duda delivered two years ago at an event commemorating the 1946 Kielce pogrom, during which Poles killed 42 Jewish Holocaust survivors.

Historians estimate that between 1,000 and 2,000 Jews were killed by Poles in the aftermath of World War II.

Aussie Zionist leader: Likely election of Labor gov’t will pose challenges

While Australian Labor party head Bill Shorten is “very supportive of Israel,” there will be “challenges” if the Labor Party defeats the Liberals in the upcoming elections in May, Jeremy Leibler, the president of the Zionist Federation of Australia, said this week.

The Labor party is leading the Liberal-led coalition in most of the major polls, though in recent surveys the numbers of Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison have risen. The Liberal-led coalition has been in power since 2013, and charted a strongly pro-Israel course.

Leibler said that the challenges facing Israel under a Labor government will center around three major issues.

The first, he said, is whether a Labor government would act on a non-binding resolution passed by the party’s conference in December – just three days after Morrison recognized west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – to recognize “Palestine.”

“If they would act on this resolution, it would be extremely counterproductive,” Leibler said. “While there is a productive role for Australia to play in the conflict, that is not going to be the way to do it.”

The motion, which passed on a voice vote, stated that the conference “supports the recognition and right of Israel and Palestine to exist as two states within secure and recognized borders,” and “calls on the next Labor Government to recognize Palestine as a state.”

The resolution added that it expects that “this issue will be an important priority for the next Labor government.”

Pittsburgh synagogue shooter pleads not guilty to upgraded charges

The suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre pleaded not guilty Monday to a new indictment that added 19 additional counts, but his lawyer expressed hope the case will be resolved without a trial.

Robert Bowers, a truck driver who US authorities say gunned down 11 people at Tree of Life Synagogue, appeared in federal court with his new lawyer, prominent death penalty litigator Judy Clarke, who signaled that Bowers might be open to some sort of plea. Clarke’s past clients have included one of the Boston Marathon bombers, a 9/11 conspirator and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Bowers, who was shackled, said little, giving yes or no answers.

A grand jury on January 29 added 19 counts to the 44 that Bowers was already facing. The additional charges include hate crimes violations, obstruction of religious belief and the use of a firearm during crimes of violence.

Bowers, 46, of Baldwin, Pennsylvania, is accused of targeting worshipers from three Jewish congregations when he attacked on Saturday, October 27, while Sabbath services were being held.

Seven people were wounded, including five police officers.

Israeli Authorities Confirm Brutal Murder of Teenage Girl Was Terror Attack

Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency confirmed on Sunday that the rape and murder of an Israeli teenager late last week is being officially treated as an act of terror.

According to Israel’s Channel 2, the brutal killing of Ori Ansbacher, 19, was committed for nationalistic reasons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Ansbacher family at their home in the West Bank village of Tekoa on Sunday and told them personally about the official findings.

“It isn’t surprising,” Netanyahu said, “but I wanted you to know.”

According to an official statement, Netanyahu and his wife also heard from Ori’s parents about her personality and said that “the entire public embraces them in their terrible grief.”

Ansbacher’s body was found on Thursday in a wooded area near Jerusalem. Signs of extreme violence were reportedly found on the body, though details have been withheld. It was not officially revealed until Sunday that she was also raped.

Forensic evidence quickly led authorities to a suspect. Arafat Irfayia, 29, a resident of Hebron, was arrested on Friday night in a joint operation between Israeli domestic intelligence and special forces personnel.

PMW: Striking similarities between stabbings of 2 young Israeli women

There are striking similarities between the murder of the 19-year-old Israeli woman Ori Ansbacher a few days ago and the murder of the 25-year-old Israeli woman Moran Amit in 2002. Both were attacked by Palestinian terrorists while walking peacefully in a Jerusalem forest. Both were stabbed to death.

In 2002, Moran was taking a walk with a friend in the Shalom Forest in Jerusalem when five teenage terrorists hunted them, attacked them, and stabbed Moran to death. Last week, Ori was walking through the Ein Yael forest in Jerusalem on the way from the youth center where she volunteered when a Palestinian terrorist brutally attacked her and then stabbed her to death.

And there are also similarities between the PA’s reaction to the two murders. In both cases, the PA did not condemn the terror. And more than that, in response to both terror attacks, the PA this week chose to present Palestinians as the victims.

When Israeli soldiers searched a mosque for 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher’s suspected murderer three days ago, the PA minister of religion complained it was an “attack” and lack of “consideration for its sanctity and its religious and spiritual value.” He completely ignored the brutal murder of the young Israeli woman, as Palestinian Media Watch reported.

Similarly, the official PA daily chose yesterday – less than a week after the murder of young Ori Ansbacher in a forest – to publish an article lamenting the fate of 4 of the Palestinian terrorists who murdered young Moran Amit in a forest 17 years ago. The PA daily turned those murderers into victims because they have been in prison since they were arrested in their teens and “the occupation stole their childhood from them.” The official PA daily did not mention the fact that Moran had her entire life stolen by these murderers:

Ori Ansbacher – A victim of Palestinian Hatred

Last Thursday, 19 year-old Ori Ansbacher was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist. The terrorist will be awarded a monthly salary by the Palestinian Authority, which is thus encouraging more horrific attacks against Israelis. Palestinian funding of terror MUST STOP!

Remand of Palestinian suspected of murdering Israeli teen extended

The Palestinian man suspected of murdering 19 year-old Ori Ansbacher in the Ein Yael forest in Jerusalem last week had his detention extended by 10 days on Monday.

Arafat Irfaiya,from Hebron, was brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s court on Monday and was remanded on the charges of the murder and rape of Ansbacher whose body was found with multiple stab wounds in the forest on Thursday.

According to reports in Israeli press, the judge decided to hold the hearing behind closed doors but in photos released from the courtroom Irfaiya was seen wearing a brown prison uniform and with bruises and scabs on his forehead, nose and below his right eye. He also seemed to smirk and roll his eyes before the cameras.

Israel’s Channel 2 News quoted a relative as saying that it is important to understand that there is a much bigger issue than just Ansbacher’s murder.

“It is important to leave our private story aside and understand that there is bigger business here than Ori and her criminal murderer,” Ansbacher’s uncle Boaz Bar Yuda said.

“It is important to understand that we are dealing with the war between the sons of light and the sons of darkness – we are good people, Ori was full of goodness, light and kindness. There are people here who are looking to do evil and the gap between her joy and her light compared to what this criminal murderer symbolizes that.

Khaled Abu Toameh: PA: If we have one dollar we will spend it on prisoners & martyrs

Israel’s decision to deduct money from tax and tariff revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority will lead to anarchy in the West Bank, Palestinian officials in Ramallah warned on Sunday.

The warning came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting earlier in the day that Israel will deduct money from the taxes and tariffs it collects monthly on behalf of the PA, which it then uses to pay security prisoners and families of Palestinians who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis. Last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas informed Israel that the Palestinians will reject any money transfer if Israel deducts “one penny” from it, the PA minister for civilian affairs, Hussein al-Sheikh, told the international French news agency AFP.

He said that international financial parties and institutions have begun complying with a US request to impose a strict financial embargo on the PA. As a result of the request, the Arab League was not able to transfer a $10 million grant from Iraq to the PA, al-Sheikh revealed.

Al-Sheikh later said that the PA will “not allow any act of piracy against our money under the pretext of implementing Israeli law. We affirm that if we have one dollar, we will spend it on the families of our martyrs and prisoners.”

“We are a people under occupation, which is the ugliest form of terrorism,” he later added. “We have the right to liberty and independence.”

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinian civilian monitors replace TIPH in Hebron

A group of volunteer Palestinian civilian monitors have replaced the international observers who left Hebron last week.

On their first day on the Hebron streets the volunteers walked down Shuhada Street wearing blue vests with the word “observer” written on them in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

They paused by the Israeli apartment complex, Beit Hadassah, to guard Palestinian pupils whose walking route passes straight by Beit Hadassah, and gave the children pens and notebooks.

A number of Hebron Jewish residents immediately began to shout at the Palestinian observers, and one of them took out a video camera to monitor their movements.

“Get out of here! Go to hell,” yelled a Jewish man, whose movements were caught on camera and posted on Youtube.

A religious Jewish woman, with her head covered, physically lashed out at the observers.

Israeli police and IDF soldiers at the scene tried to separate the two groups.

Navy catches unarmed Palestinian trying to swim to Israel from Gaza

The Israeli Navy arrested a Palestinian man who attempted to swim into Israel from the Gaza Strip on Sunday night, the military said.

The man was spotted as he approached the Strip’s northern maritime border and was captured shortly after he crossed into Israeli waters, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

He was unarmed and was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for further questioning.

The man will likely be returned to the Gaza Strip in the coming day, as are most Palestinians who attempt to flee the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile, Palestinians launched at least one mortar shell toward Israel from east of the city of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, according to local media. The projectiles apparently fell short and landed inside the Strip.

The Israeli military said no projectiles landed in Israel.

The Eshkol regional council said residents of Kibbutz Kissufim, across from Deir al-Balah, reported hearing explosions.

“We are in contact with the army, and the reports are being checked,” an Eshkol spokesperson said in a statement.

Egypt pumps toxic gas into smuggling tunnel, killing two Palestinians

Two Palestinians died Monday and several others injured after Egyptian troops pumped toxic fumes into a smuggling tunnel stretching into the Sinai Peninsula from the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas-run Gaza Interior Ministry was quoted by Wafa news as identifying the two as 39-year-old Hamas officer Abdul Hamid al-Aker, who was killed during a “security mission to inspect the tunnel,” and 28-year-old Sobhi Abu Qarshin. Abu Qarshin was said to have died during a rescue attempt.

Several other security personnel were rescued by civil defense teams from inside the tunnel and were rushed to hospital, where they were described as being in moderate condition.

The ministry did not say what gas was used by the Egyptians.

Egypt has in the past flooded Hamas tunnels along the Gaza Strip with seawater or sewage, and has destroyed hundreds of homes on the Egyptian side of Rafah to remove the smuggling tunnels used by Gazans.

When Will Iran Be Sanctioned for its Continuing Relationship with al-Qaeda?

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body that identifies countries assisting terrorist groups, will convene in Paris next week; among the items on its agenda are Tehran’s previous noncompliance with its directives. Toby Dershowitz and Serena Frechter urge FATF to initiate countermeasures against the Islamic Republic over its support for al-Qaeda, which has gone on for decades:

Last week, a little-noticed map published in the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community identified Iran as a place where al-Qaeda “affiliates, elements, or networks” operate. . . . Iran’s relationship with al-Qaeda began in the early 1990s, when their [respective] leaders, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, met in Sudan and reached an “informal agreement to cooperate.” Iran then provided al-Qaeda with the training, material, and inspiration for attacks, including the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000. Together, these attacks killed 224 people, including twelve Americans.

Senior al-Qaeda operatives have also coordinated attacks from inside Iran, where leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) . . . have provided them with travel documents and safe haven. In Iran, Osama bin Laden’s son, Sa’ad bin Laden, allegedly planned attacks in Tunisia and Saudi Arabia in 2002-2003 that together killed more than 50 people, including twenty Europeans.

Israel spying on Iran from Afghanistan – reports

Israel has sent troops to Afghanistan to collect intelligence on Iranian military movement, Iranian media has reported.

According to Iran’s Tasnim news agency, Israeli troops are operating out of a United States Air Force base in Shindand in the western Afghanistan province of Herat some 75 kilometers from the Iranian border and were collecting intelligence on Iranian movement around the Persian Gulf region.

Russia’s Sputnik News stated that the Israelis were operating “under the flags of the United States and the United Arab Emirates.”

Sputnik quoted an expert on Israel as saying that the Israeli troops were operating under the framework of American forces stationed there and that the activity was carried out with the knowledge and approval of the Afghan government.

“Of course the proximity to an enemy state is the principle reason for carrying out such an operation and also provides legitimacy,” Semyon Tsipis was quoted by the Sputnik’s Urdu language site. “But beyond that, another objective of the mission is to acquire experience in combat in the local ground conditions and activity against the local population.”

“The second objective of the military presence is to gain combat experience in rugged terrain. The military presence in these areas, where military operations are ongoing, is a great opportunity to gain new experience in a rugged environment,” Tsipis continued, adding that the troops deployed to Afghanistan were Israeli special forces.

40 years since the Iranian Revolution

It’s been 40 years since the Iranian Revolution in which the Iranian hardliners overthrew the Shah. Since then, what has the regime accomplished?

The Iranian Regime

Colonialism is alive and well…but this time it’s the Iranian regime’s terrorism that’s expanding.

Apple and Google Accept Saudi Smartphone App Which Tracks Women’s Movements

Apple and Google are facing criticism for hosting a Saudi Arabian smartphone app on their platforms which allows men to track women’s movements and “stop them leaving the country.”

According to Insider, the app, named Absher — which is available on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store — is “a government web service which allows men to specify when and how women can cross Saudi borders, and to get close to real-time SMS updates when they travel.”

The SMS feature reportedly notifies men “when a woman uses her passport at a border crossing or airport check-in.”

“Absher also has benign functions — like paying parking fines — but its travel features have been identified by activists and refugees as a major factor in the continued difficulty women have leaving Saudi Arabia,” Insider explained, adding that the app has been “downloaded on Android devices” alone “more than 1 million times.”

Insider further explained that Absher lets male users “decide how many journeys a woman can take,” “how long” a “woman can travel for,” and even provide a list of permissions for the women, which can be canceled at any time.

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