April 13, 2021

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05/06 Links Pt1: Palestinian terrorists can legally take part in EU-funded activities; The Unsinkable Benjamin Netanyahu


From Ian:

NGO Monitor: EU Diplomats Capitulate to Palestinian Pressure on Terror Regulations
On March 30, 2020, the EU Representative Office to the West Bank and Gaza sent a “clarification letter regarding the EU-funded contracts” to Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) – an umbrella organization of 135 Palestinian NGOs. In it, the EU diplomats appear to give in to Palestinian pressure and effectively annul EU regulations that prohibit the transfer of EU funds to terror groups or individuals connected to these groups (what Palestinian NGOs label “political parties” and “resistance factions”).

At least five members of PNGO have reported ties to EU-designated terror organizations, including through employees and/or board members who are directly involved in the activities and programs – on top of the various Palestinian NGOs and humanitarian groups that are affiliated with the PFLP. In addition to ongoing funding, on April 9 the EU announced a massive assistance package to the PA of “around €71 million in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” including “€6.9 million in humanitarian aid” to unnamed “non-governmental organisations and UN agencies already present on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

In practice, this means that even if a Palestinian NGO applying for EU grants is an affiliate of terrorist groups or employs individuals from these groups, the EU will still provide them with taxpayer funding – whether designated for emergency responses to COVID-19 or for regular programs.

In 2019, the EU introduced a clause in its contracts with NGOs, under “General conditions applicable to European Union-financed grant contracts for external actions” (Annex G.2, Annex II, Article 1.5 bis). It stipulates that “Grant beneficiaries and contractors must ensure that there is no detection of subcontractors, natural persons, including participants to workshops and/or trainings and recipients of financial support to third parties, in the lists of EU restrictive measures.” In the Palestinian context, these lists EU-designated terrorist organizations(e.g. Hamas, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine).

According to media reports, during a December 20, 2019 meeting with EU officials, representatives from PNGO “refused to sign an EU grant request which stipulates among its criteria that beneficiaries must refuse to transfer any EU aid given to terrorist groups or entities….The organizations in question steadfastly decline to do so, claiming Palestinian terrorist groups are merely ‘political parties.’”

On December 30, 2019, multiple Palestinian NGOs, including PNGO members, launched a “Palestinian National Campaign to Reject Conditional Funding.” The campaign, which rejects the EC’s “conditioned funding” and “so-called anti-terrorism clauses and policies…on preventing terrorism that affect the history and struggle of our people” (emphasis added), justifies the use of violence and claims that the “Palestinian resistance factions are not terrorist organizations,”
Click Here to Read NGO Monitor’s Letter to the President of the European Commission Regarding the Anti-Terror Clause

Palestinian terrorists can legally take part in EU-funded activities

Palestinians affiliated with terrorist groups may participate in EU activities, EU Representative to West Bank and Gaza Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff wrote in an official letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The letter, dated March 30, to the Palestinian NGO Network clarified that all EU-funded projects, including by Palestinian organizations, must follow EU law, such as a ban on funding terrorist groups. However, the letter points out that there are no Palestinian individuals on the EU’s “restrictive measures list” barring funds to terrorists, such that the NGOs would not be penalized if members of terrorist groups benefit from EU funding.

“While the entities and groups included in the EU restrictive lists cannot benefit from EU-funded activities, it is understood that a natural person affiliated to, sympathizing with or supporting any of the groups or entities mentioned in the EU restrictive lists is not excluded from benefiting from EU-funded activities, unless his/her exact name and surname…corresponds to any of the natural persons on the EU restrictive list,” the letter reads.

The letter also states that “the EU does not ask any civil society organization to change its political position towards any Palestinian faction or to discriminate against any natural person based on his/her political affiliation.”

Von Burgsdorff’s message came after months of protests by Palestinian NGOs demanding that the EU erase a stipulation that aid only be sent to organizations with no ties to EU-designated terrorist groups.

PA hiding terrorist salaries from donor countries in financial reports

Monthly budget documents prepared by the Palestinian Authorities for 2020 show that the administration is attempting to hide the salaries it pays terrorists from international donors, making a sham of its commitment to financial transparency.

The PA receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually from donor countries around the world and is therefore obliged to produce fully transparent financial records with all expenses listed for the benefit of its donors. However, its ‘pay to slay’ scheme, which pays terrorists a monthly stipend, likely falls foul of international law, leaving the PA unable to openly declare the payments within its budget.

Consequently, the NGO Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) has found that the PA is diverting the payments through the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), a trick it has used in the past.

“Ever since PMW notified the donor countries that the PA’s is paying salaries to terrorist prisoners with their money, the PA has been doing everything it can to confuse the donors,” Itamar Marcus, director of PMW said.

“In 2014, the PA closed the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, and in 2015 it created the PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs. In 2018, it reopened the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs and in 2019 it changed its name to the Commission for Detainees’ Affairs. Now in 2020, it is trying to hide its payments by moving them once again from the PA to the PLO.”

Detailed analysis of the PA’s Budget Performance Reports show that in 2018, the PA spent 736 million shekels financing the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs. The following year the Authority spent a further 619 million shekels financing the Commission for Detainees’ Affairs, of which 517 million was spent on terrorists salaries. In the 2020 reports, however, neither organization is listed, but the monies paid to the PLO has increased significantly, from just over 400 million shekels to in excess of 700 million shekels.

The Unsinkable Benjamin Netanyahu

Meanwhile, on Sunday and Monday, the Israeli Supreme Court heard from a slate of petitioners arguing that Bibi cannot sit as PM while indicted and that any coalition agreement between Likud and Blue and White offends the basic constitutional law of Israel.

It is deliciously ironic that, based on comments from the full panel of nine judges during the last two days, it is achingly clear that they believe they are being asked to interfere in political matters, and they will not be so tempted. This, following an unrelenting attack on the judiciary for years–by Bibi and his allies–for being overly-activist to the point of undermining the democratic will of the people as expressed by the Knesset.

But by allying with Netanyahu, Gantz is now reviled by all aside from a close and shrinking coterie of loyalists. He crossed every red line and standard of decency that matters in public life and has made one heck of an enemy in many of his former political pals–chief among them, Lapid.

At the moment, Israel is poised to support the most bloated government in the history of the state: 26 cabinet ministers and 16 deputy ministers at last count. And the prize-granting spree is not finished yet. A master at managing the impossible, Netanyahu seems to be calibrating the competing interests and personal vendettas “just so,” while also freezing out his arch-nemesis, current Minister of Defence, Naftali Bennett.

Pre-Coronavirus, the burning issues in Israel were Haredi participation in the IDF, national service, and economy, as well as the status of key democratic institutions and principles. Currently, it seems that the priorities have shifted to containing the virus and restarting the economy. Other issues are in abeyance.

Bibi’s in. And, at the end of the day, that is really all that mattered to Bibi. Yet again, he seems to be on the verge of cobbling together an improbable yet masterful “coalition,” in which the various constituents will be preoccupied with settling scores and protecting their turf, leaving little time to focus on toppling King Bibi.

US ambassador says Washington ‘ready to recognize annexation’ within weeks

In the latest show of American support for Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank, US Ambassador David Friedman said in an interview that Washington is ready to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the disputed areas should it be declared in the coming weeks.

In an interview with the pro-ruling party Israel Hayom daily published Wednesday, Friedman said that it is up to Israel to decide whether it wants to move forward with annexing settlements but that if it does, Washington will recognize the move.

“We are not declaring sovereignty, but rather Israel, and then we are ready to recognize it,” he said.

“When the mapping process is over, when the Israeli government agrees to freeze building in the same parts of Area C that aren’t designated for the application of sovereignty and when the prime minister agrees to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan — and he already agreed to this on the first day — we’ll recognize Israel’s sovereignty in areas that according to the plan will be a part of it,” he said in comments published in Hebrew.

Last week, amid reports intimating that the White House was conditioning its support for Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank on negotiations over a Palestinian state, the Trump administration stressed that it continued to back Israel’s annexation plans, as long as they’re carried out in the framework of the peace plan US President Donald Trump presented on January 28.

According to the proposed plan, the US will recognize an Israeli application of sovereignty over parts of the West Bank following the completion of a survey conducted by a joint US-Israel mapping committee and Israel’s acceptance of both a four-year freeze of the areas earmarked for a future Palestinian state and a commitment to negotiate with the Palestinians based on the terms of Trump’s peace deal.

Despite the stipulation that Israel impose a partial settlement freeze, Friedman told Israel Hayom that the communities in question will be able to expand within their municipal boundaries even if they are prohibited from growing their footprints on the ground.

Friedman to ‘Post’: To annex, Netanyahu must tell Abbas he’ll negotiate state

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must offer Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate, based on the establishment of a Palestinian State in 70% of the West Bank, for the US to support Israel moving forward with annexing the other 30%, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told The Jerusalem Post.

An interview with Friedman in honor of the second anniversary of the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem will be featured in Friday’s Post.

The first condition for the US to back Israel applying sovereignty to all settlements, Biblical sites and the Jordan Valley is the completion of a map by the joint US-Israeli committee, which began working in February. Friedman said that the committee met in recent weeks. It is on track to finish the mapping, pending “judgment calls in Israel’s court,” by July 1, the date Netanyahu set for annexation in his coalition agreement with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz.

The second condition, about which there had been some confusion, is simply that Netanyahu show he is committed to US President Donald Trump’s peace plan and all it entails, including freezing settlement activity outside the 30% of Judea and Samaria delineated by the mapping committee, and express a willingness to negotiate with the Palestinians to form a state in the rest of the West Bank.

“Netanyahu needs to communicate that to Abu Mazen,” Friedman told the Post on Tuesday, referring to the PA president. “The expectation is that the prime minister will agree to negotiate – and if the Palestinians show up, he will negotiate in good faith based on this plan.”

“I don’t see this as anything more than a commitment by the prime minister,” the ambassador added.

PA slams US envoy over annexation remarks

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday accused US Ambassador to Israel David Freidman of making “false” statements about Israel’s plan to apply Israeli law to parts of the West Bank.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, spokesman for the PA presidency, said the Palestinians rejected Friedman’s claim that it was up to Israel to decide on the plan.

“These statements are rejected and false,” Abu Rudaineh said. “The annexation decision is based on the Deal of the Century and American maps.”

More Israelis care about peace with Jordan than annexation – CIS poll

More Israelis care about maintaining peace with neighboring Jordan than they do about annexing West Bank territory, a newly released poll by Commanders for Israel’s Security found.

The group of former Israeli security officials opposes Israeli plans to annex West Bank settlements, but the poll of Israeli Jews, according to one of its three authors Prof. Gilad Hirschberger, was done on the well known internet platform of the Mitgam Institute. The other authors were Prof. Camile Fuchs and Sivan Hirsch-Hoefler.

“Annexation is not very popular,” said Hirschberger.

The group’s poll conducted on April 21-22, found that only a quarter of Israelis favored annexation, while 96% thought peace with Jordan is important. But the survey for the most part did not distinguish between partial and full annexation of all of the West Bank.

Participants were also asked “should Israel annex territories in the West Bank, if annexation will harm relations with Jordan. Only a little more than a quarter [28%] think ‘yes’ and the rest are divided between saying ‘no’ [36%] and not being very sure [35],” Hirschberger said, when he presented the result at an Israel Policy Forum webinar on Tuesday.

“I think here many Israelis lack the information to understand how annexation may harm relations with Jordan,” he said.

When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the survey founds that only 40% of Israelis favor a two-state solution.

Some 25% wanted annexation, 22% favored some form of separation and 13% preferred the status quo, according to the survey.

Mixed Reactions in Judea and Samaria to Amb. Friedman’s Sovereignty Promises

Settler leaders in Judea and Samaria offered mixed reactions to US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s announcement that a declaration of Israeli sovereignty in the region was weeks away. Some even warned of “modern ghettos.”

Friedman told Israel Hayom in interview to be published this weekend that the US was preparing for the recognition of Israeli sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria in the coming weeks, as stipulated by President Trump’s “Deal of the Century.” (See: Trump’s New Disengagement: Restricted Sovereignty, Settlement Freeze, Mandatory Palestinian State Negotiations).

“When the mapping process ends, when the Israeli government agrees to freeze construction in area C that is not designated for sovereignty, and when the prime minister agrees to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan – and he has already agreed to that from day one – we will recognize Israeli sovereignty in areas that according to the plan will become part of it (Israel),” the Ambassador stated.

Shlomo Ne’eman, head of the Gush Etzion Council, was hesitant to fully endorse the American plan. He congratulated Friedman, “a Zionist and principled ​​person” who is working with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “realize the immediate process of applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.”

“Hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to fulfill the dream of the ages and erase the notorious green line from the state’s map,” Ne’eman said. However, “just as powerfully as we are fighting for the fulfillment of the dream of sovereignty, we will fight against every attempt to create modern ghettos for our remote communities,” he said.

Biden: We must press Israel not to make the two-state solution impossible

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said it is critical to Israel-Palestinian peace to press Israel not to take unilateral actions, a reference to reports that Israel may try to annex part of the West Bank.

Biden, in a statement Tuesday to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, also said that as president he would resume US assistance to the Palestinians, reopen the US consulate in eastern Jerusalem that administers primarily to the Palestinians and would seek to reopen the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington.

“A priority now for the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace should be resuming our dialogue with the Palestinians and pressing Israel not to take actions that make a two-state solution impossible,” Biden said. “I will reopen the US consulate in East Jerusalem, find a way to re-open the PLO’s diplomatic mission in Washington, and resume the decades-long economic and security assistance efforts to the Palestinians that the Trump Administration stopped.”

The statement, part of a series of replies to JTA on Biden’s Middle East policy, departed from the usual Democratic plea to both sides not to take unilateral steps to inhibit peace; Biden has said in the past it is also incumbent on the Palestinians to preserve two-state options. It is Biden’s most robust criticism of the recent policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to date.Netanyahu campaigned in the most recent elections on a pledge to move toward annexation.

Bennett Approves 7,000 New Housing Units in Efrat, Council Head Thanks Netanyahu

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday approved the expansion of the Efrat local council in Judea by about 275 acres, when he approved the construction plan for some 7,000 new housing units in the 11,000-resident municipality.

Bennett announced on his Facebook page Wednesday morning: “This morning I approved the construction of thousands of new housing units in Efrat in Gush Etzion. I instructed the defense establishment to continue to strengthen the settlement resolutely. The construction momentum in our land must not be stopped for even a moment.”

According to Kipa, citing housing policy experts, the move will facilitate the arrival of new residents to the local council and the continued expansion of the community as a significant reinforcement to Gush Etzion. The approval was obtained after the legal process had been completed, and the Defense Minister directed the Commissioner of Governmental and Abandoned Property in Judea and Samaria to grant permission to the new plan.

The Minister’s decision in effect authorizes the Housing Ministry to start planning in the Givat Eitam plots east of Efrat, which was in danger of being severed from the town because it is on the “wrong” side of the Sharon separation wall.
Efrat Mayor Oded Ravivi

In response to Bennett’s announcement, Efrat Local Council Head Oded Ravivi issued a statement saying: “We Mark today an important moment in the 20-year journey during which we have gone through a host of political and legal entities to receive the appropriate credentials for Givat Eitam. This included a procedure that lasted about a decade in the High Court of Justice. Over the years, Efrat has become the beating heart of Gush Etzion and it is delighted by the trust it is receiving from the Israeli government under the leadership of prime Minister Netanyahu, for the ability to expand, build, and continue to absorb olim, young couples and families who seek a quality community near Jerusalem.”

Rule or Ruse of Law in the UN International Criminal Court?

Fundamental to the rule of law is equal treatment and non-arbitrary, fair application of law. Instead, the International Criminal Court (ICC) exemplifies UN politicisation of international law principles and bureaucratic corruption of the rule of law, at extravagant cost.

On 30 April 2020, the prosecutor of the ICC filed a response to the submissions of amici curiae, victims, and States participating in Court processes in the “Situation in Palestine.” The response provides insight into the struggling Court’s betrayal of its fundamental role of protecting the rule of law.

The ICC is a UN agency that was established in 2002 to prosecute the most heinous international crimes where there is no national court that can do so. With convictions in only four cases in 18 years, it is doubtful that potential offenders are deterred. The eight convictions have all been for crimes in Africa where national courts were notionally unable to prosecute. Due to its prosecutions exclusively of Africans, a collective move (later suspended) by African countries to renounce the ICC was debated in the African Union. Ultimately, the ICC is relegated to the role of signalling for the international community that there is no impunity for the gravest inhumanities. In other words, its function is primarily symbolic.

With headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, 800 staff, and field offices elsewhere, it is expensive to run: over €1.5 billion so far, with increasing annual costs now running at just under €150 million per annum. Australia provided AUD $9.1 million (over €5.5 million) in the 2018-2019 financial year.

More worrying is doubt over what the ICC symbolises in actual practice. Its brand is tarnished: it is a UN body political in essence, defective in execution and undermining the very tenets of law it was set up to protect.

The ICC is constituted under the Rome Statute, in which some elements are overtly political, such as a revised definition of a war crime (Art. 8(2)(b)(viii)) formulated by negotiators in response to pressure from the Arab League to criminalise Israel allowing its own civilians to move into occupied territory . Its amended definition of international aggression (Art. 8bis) is vague, incoherent, and undermines national rights to self-defence. Most UN Security Council permanent members and the emerging global powers declined to sign the Rome Statute. Ideally, formulation of the world’s most heinous international crimes should be unanimous, obvious, clear, and certain.

Report: ICC Colluding With Terror-Tied Groups to Push Prosecution of U.S., Israeli Personnel

The International Criminal Court is working alongside several organizations and individuals tied to terrorism as it seeks to prosecute American and Israeli personnel for war crimes, according to a new report out of Israel. The findings call into question the court’s integrity at a time when it is facing international backlash over its pursuit of politically motivated cases.

The report—from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), an Israel-based research group headed by a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—concludes that under the leadership of Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the ICC collaborated with terror-tied groups to pursue charges against American and Israeli military officials it claims are guilty of committing war crimes against civilians, including in Afghanistan and Palestinian territories. The cases originated with complaints filed to the court by two nonprofit advocacy groups with ties to terrorism.

In its report, “How the ICC Has Been Weaponized Against the U.S. and Israel,” the JCPA details how two international nonprofit groups hijacked the ICC to ensure it targets the United States and Israel for prosecution on charges that both nations have called unwarranted. Researchers uncovered new information indicating that “radical NGOs, some of which are affiliated with terror organizations, collaborated in promoting the complaints against the U.S. and Israel.”

The findings are likely to stoke already mounting frustrations with the court in Congress and the Trump administration, which has repeatedly condemned the ICC’s pursuit of charges against American military personnel. The United States is not a party to the court and has vowed to defend itself against any legal action. Israel has adopted a similar stance on the court, which has repeatedly attempted to single out Jews for prosecution related to the country’s efforts to combat Palestinian terrorism.

“Any attempt by a renegade ICC to investigate U.S. personnel is illegitimate and unjustified,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told the Washington Free Beacon.

The ICC’s case against the United States originated in complaints issued by two nonprofit advocacy groups—the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Both groups “are closely related to the Palestinian NGOs that brought the complaint against Israel to the ICC,” according to the JCPA’s report.

The NGOs—Al-Haq, Al-Dameer, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)—”maintain strong ties to the designated terror organizations Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP),” according to a 2019 Israeli government investigation.

Further, the NGOs are tied to a network of anti-Israel activists who use the human rights community to push radical agendas at a range of international institutions, including the United Nations.

Syrian Observatory: 15 Iranians Killed in Israeli Attack Monday Night

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Tuesday announced it had documented casualties resulting from the Israeli bombing that targeted the Iranian forces and militias loyal to them late Monday night in Deir Al-Zour, the largest city in eastern Syria, located 280 miles northeast of the capital Damascus on the banks of the Euphrates River (See: Capitalizing on the Coronavirus, Israel Intensifying Airstrikes Campaign Against Major Syrian, Iranian Assets).

According to the Observatory, 14 of the dead were Iranian and Iraqi nationals, killed by the Israeli air raids on their bases in Al-Kouria, Al-Salihiya and Al-Mayadeen in rural Deir Ezzor Al-Sharqi.

The death toll is expected to rise due to the large number of critically wounded militia members.

The Observatory noted that the Israeli bombardment Monday night destroyed warehouses, ammunition and weapons stored in the “Defense Factories” in the Al-Safira area, southeast of Aleppo, which are under the control of the regime forces and Iranian militias.

The bombed-out site belongs to the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), a.k.a. Centre D’Etudes et de Recherches Scientifiques (CERS), which, according to Jane’s is responsible for research and development of nuclear, biological, chemical and missile technology and weapons, including ballistic missiles, as well as advanced conventional arms.

Israel Hits Hamas Targets in Gaza in Response to Rocket Fire

Israel targeted three Hamas sites in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday night after a rocket was launched at southern Israel from the Hamas-ruled territory, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The rocket, which was fired at the Eshkol region, triggered a Color Red alert before falling in an open area, causing no casualties or damage, said the military.

In response, the IDF said tanks shelled “three Hamas military posts” in the northern Gaza Strip.

The Israel-Gaza border has been relatively calm in recent weeks, as both parties have been focusing on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Tuesday’s attack was the first time in more than 40 days that terrorist groups in Gaza have fired on Israel.

The IDF responded to the rocket fire in March by attacking “military positions and infrastructure used for underground activity by Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip,” according to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

UN Palestinian Refugee Agency Operating on ‘Month-to-Month’ Basis Due to US Aid Cut: Official

Scrambling to tackle COVID-19 in camps across the Middle East, the UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees said on Tuesday it only has enough cash to operate until the end of May because of American funding cuts.

In 2018, President Donald Trump’s administration halted annual payments of $360 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides assistance to some 5.5 million registered refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Elizabeth Campbell, UNRWA’s director in Washington, told reporters that the loss of US aid had a “corrosive impact” on the agency’s ability to help vulnerable people.

“We are basically operating on a month-to-month basis. Right now, we have funding to pay our 30,000 health care workers until the end of this month,” Campbell said in a Zoom conference call from Washington.

She said UNRWA had only secured a third of its $1.2 billion annual budget and that it was suffering its “worst financial crisis” since beginning operations some 70 years ago.

The agency is trying to plug the $800 million shortfall in part by appealing to European and Gulf countries for emergency donations, Campbell said.

MEMRI: Saudis, Palestinians Clash On Twitter Over Status Of Palestinian Cause, Normalization With Israel

Relations between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians, and especially Hamas, which have been strained for several years, recently grew even more tense. The cause was a cartoon by Palestinian cartoonist Mahmoud Na’im ‘Abbas, who lives in Sweden and works for the Qatari Al-Jazeera network, which was initially published on his personal Facebook page and later also in the Hamas mouthpiece Filastin and on several websites. The cartoon, commenting on the current plunge in oil prices, shows a figure in garb typical of the Gulf Arabs running from a large oil barrel that is hurtling down the hill behind him. It sparked furious responses from Saudis, especially on Twitter, who construed it as an expression of glee at their country’s troubles. The cartoonist, for his part, denied that the cartoon referred to the Saudis at all, claiming that it represented the plight of all Arabs in light of the plummeting oil prices.[1]

Another factor that contributed to the current tension between Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians is two Saudi television series that are being aired this Ramadan on the MBC channel, and which many Arabs regard as promoting normalization with Israel and undermining the Palestinian cause. One is the series Umm Haroun, depicting the persecution faced by the Jewish community in Kuwait during the 1940s. The other is the comedy series Exit 7, which deals inter alia with the issue of normalization with Israel and includes an episode in which a character states that Israel is not an enemy of Saudi Arabia and that the Palestinians have harmed the kingdom more than Israel has.[2]

The tension between Saudis and Palestinians was evident mainly on Twitter, where Saudi and Palestinian users traded insults and accusations. Many Saudis tweeted under the hashtag “Palestine is not my cause” and “the Zionist enemy [is our] brother,” accusing the Palestinians of ingratitude towards Saudi Arabia and stating that it’s time they took responsibility for their own fate. Conversely, many Palestinians, including Hamas officials and supporters, as well as Palestinian journalists on Qatari media outlets, responded under the hashtags “Palestine is my cause” and “Israel is an enemy,” condemning the Saudis and stressing the centrality of the Palestinian cause. Some also speculated that the Saudi tweets were the product of social media bots serving Israel.

This is not the first time the tension between Saudi Arabi and the Palestinians, and especially Hamas, has surfaced on Twitter. The “Palestine is not my cause” hashtag was launched by Saudi users back in 2015, and another hashtag, “Riyadh is more important than Jerusalem,” was launched in 2017, when Hamas expressed support for Hizbullah after the Arab League condemned the latter as a terrorist organization.[3]

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Saudi Arabia behind anti-Palestinian smear campaign

Some Palestinians are convinced that the oil-rich Saudi Arabia is responsible for a hashtag that has recently been trending on Twitter titled, “Palestine is not my cause.” Others believe that some Israelis may also be involved with the anti-Palestinian smear campaign.
Recently, similar anti-Palestinian accounts and posts have also popped up on Facebook.

“There’s no doubt that several people from Saudi Arabia are behind this campaign,” said a Palestinian political analyst in Ramallah. “It’s also obvious they are receiving help from Israeli activists.”

Palestinians also believe that many of the offensive posts published under the hashtag do not belong to real people, but are Internet bots (also known as web robots) – software applications that run automated and repetitive tasks over the Internet.

Several anti-Palestinian posts, however, do seem to belong to real people, particularly from Saudi Arabia.

The anti-Palestinian posts also target Qatar, which has been accused by Saudi Arabia of embracing various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. In 2017, Saudi Arabia officially cut ties with Qatar and banned the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera television network from operating in the kingdom.

To “disgrace” Qatar, several Arab social media users posted photos of meetings between Qatari and Israeli officials. Those behind the posts used, as profile photos, images of Saudi monarchs and the current crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Cabinet Affirms Palestinian Cause Will Remain ‘Central Issue’ for Arabs and Muslims: SPA

Saudi Arabia’s cabinet affirmed late on Tuesday that the Palestinian cause will remain a “central issue” for Arabs and Muslims, Saudi news agency said in a statement issued early on Wednesday.

The statement added the cabinet also reviewed the results of the emergency Arab League meeting which condemned Israeli plans to annex any Palestinian land.

Is coronavirus Iran’s Chernobyl? – opinion

Walking alongside the graveyard of ambitious and expansionist empires, it is frequently overlooked that collapse often results from internal implosions and mismanagement, rather than from outside threats. The critical threshold of implosion begins when an authority spends more attention and resources on its external ambitions than its internal responsibilities.

Our most modern example of this is the fall of the Soviet Union. Marred by internal social unrest that perestroika reforms were unable to amend, immense military expenditure of 15 billion rubles in Afghanistan, and the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the 1980’s defined the decade in which the USSR passed the critical threshold. Former USSR secretary-general Mikhail Gorbachev noted that along with internal challenges, most notably the Chernobyl meltdown “was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.”

While Gorbachev himself highlighted that Chernobyl was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the road toward implosion was paved long in advance.

If those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, then Tehran is in for a rude awakening. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, Iran has the eighth-highest number of reported cases of the virus and the eighth-highest most deaths. The internal socio-economic unrest, large military expenditures abroad, and poor crisis management that prioritized public image over competency reflects many parallels between the Chernobyl meltdown and the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran.

Just as the seeds to Soviet collapse were sown before the mismanagement in Chernobyl, the internal discontent in Iran was sown before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Limping into the decade, the nationwide protests in late 2019 reflected Iranian authorities’ internal challenges.

Ex-IDF intelligence chief Yadlin: I don’t buy that Iran is leaving Syria

Iran is not leaving Syria despite some reports to the contrary, former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on Wednesday.

Speaking to a media briefing hosted by MediaCentral, Yadlin, who currently is executive director of INSS, said, “the Iranians are not leaving. I am not buying this argument.”

Rather, he suggested that the forces led by Iran in Syria have always included a mix of actual Iranians and militias made up of local Syrians, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiites, Pakistanis and Afghans, and at most might see an adjustment in the mix.

Questioned about why the IDF would put out a statement on Tuesday that Iran was reducing its presence in Syria if this is not true, Yadlin responded, “I didn’t hear the IDF. I heard a high-level source in the defense establishment. My suspicion is it came from above the IDF political level. When you go to the political level, you need to ask someone whose is an expert in politics.”

Pressed if he was referring to outgoing defense minister Naftali Bennett, the former IDF intelligence chief responded, “I think you connected the dots of who is leaving the defense ministry soon, and what is the legacy he wants to leave behind.”

Turkey’s Dangerous Intervention in the Libyan and Syrian Civil Wars

Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan is constantly looking for opportunities to enhance its status as a regional superpower and promote its Islamist ideology in the Arab Middle East. Libya is the newest arena in which Erdogan is trying to capitalize on inter-Arab rivalries, this time in service to his desire to lay claim to gas under the seabed of the Mediterranean.

The so-called “Arab Spring,” which erupted in late 2010, brought several Arab countries to a state of near or in some cases total collapse. Erdogan saw this as an opportunity to further his perpetual quest for broad regional power. Earlier in 2010, prior to the uprisings, he had sent the Mavi Marmara cruise ship to “save” Hamas in Gaza from the “Zionist blockade.” In February 2011, following the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, he threw Turkish support behind the Muslim Brotherhood and provided support to Qatar, the Brotherhood’s main financier.

Recently, a representative of the Khalifa Haftar government in Libya was named ambassador to Syria. He reopened the Libyan embassy in Damascus with the full consent of Assad’s government. The embassy had shut its doors in 2013, as did all Arab League diplomatic missions in Damascus following the suspension of Syria’s membership in that organization. That occurred in response to the Assad regime’s refusal to comply with a 2011 League resolution mandating a ceasefire in the Syrian civil war.

Khalifa Haftar’s rival in the bicephalic control system that has ruled Libya since the start of the second Libyan civil war in 2014 is the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord. That government has signed cooperation agreements in the economic, energy, security, military, and maritime borders areas with Ankara, its chief ally and patron. Ankara is also a supporter of the rebel groups currently fighting Assad in Syria.

Erdogan tells children to stop drawing rainbows in anti-LGBT outburst

Just when you think you can no longer be surprised, Turkish President Recep Erdogan does it again. Even the COVID-19 pandemic can’t stop the drama-loving leader’s angry outbursts against his new favorite Ramadan enemy: the LGBTQ community.

It all started with the pandemic-controlling measures. Schools transitioned to remote learning. To cheer up the young ones, teachers urged them to paint rainbows and hang them up on their windows.

The rainbows angered radical Islamists in Turkey, as media outlets started blaming the LGBTQ community for supposed efforts to poison the youth. The Turkish Education Ministry promptly reacted to save the kids from the tentacles of LGBTQ entrapment, telling schools not to be fooled by perverts and that the kids had to stop drawing rainbows.

Even before gay pride marches were banned, and cafes and bars were shut down, the LGBTQ community had been in isolation. They are the ones who know the government-funded hatred hurts the youth. They wanted to show the public their own childhood photos on social media and share their pains of growing up. People who are not members of the community then began showing solidarity in a spontaneous “Gay Lives Matter” movement.

On the first Friday of Ramadan, Turkey’s notorious state religious body generated an anti-gay sermon to be read in all mosques. It said the gay community was the cause of spreading disease and corruption of souls. Erdogan backed the anti-gay sermon, saying targeting the chief of the religious authority was the same as targeting the state. And we all knew that criticizing the state could easily turn your world upside down and might even land you in jail for years without ever seeing a day in court.

MEMRI Pakistani Taliban Document Accuses Jews Of Unleashing ‘Virus War’ On The World: ‘It Is The Hand Of Jews Behind All These’

In the document, Mufti Abu Hisham Masood argues that the coronavirus is part of a global war in the name of the “New World Order.” Interpreting history to argue that Jews want to rule the world, the writer accuses the Jews of launching a “virus war” to rule the world.[2]

Throughout the article, Mufti Masood fails to distinguish between the Jews and Israel. However, he does not mention the word Israel anywhere in the document.

“Since It Is A Claim Of The Jews That They Are From Among The Descendants Of Prophet Sulaiman [Solomon] And Prophet Sulaiman Ruled Over The Entire World, Therefore The Right To A Global Governance Belongs To The Jews Only”

Mufti Masood writes: “There are some aspects of Coronavirus which it is necessary to understand. One is its religious aspect. Since this disease has acquired the form of epidemic, it is necessary therefore to undertake the remedies that are taught by the shari’a. These have been time and again discussed by Islamic scholars through audio and video lectures. Also, the shari’a has ordered that it is not correct to go to a place where epidemic spreads, nor it is right to leave from there.”

“The other aspect of it is political which is not in contradiction with religion. Because, the real creator of the Corona is the personality of Allah. It is Allah who is the creator of everything. From whichever matter has the Corona been readied, its creator too is Allah. Because Allah has granted man this skill and power that he can make beneficial or non-beneficial, harmful or non-harmful things, so it is not abnormal or anti-shari’a of certain thing to become an epidemic after suddenly arriving in the world,” the militant cleric notes.

He then goes on to cite that it is man who has created atom bomb or hydrogen bomb, which can kill millions of people. “Then it is not far-fetched to create such a virus which can spread across the world and begin to kill people,” Mufti Masood says.

“In the light of this introduction, I would like to argue that the Coronavirus too is an important part of the war underway in the name of the New World Order. To comprehend this, it is necessary to understand a short background. Since it is a claim of the Jews that they are from among the descendants of Prophet Sulaiman [Solomon] and Prophet Sulaiman ruled over the entire world, therefore the right to a global governance belongs to the Jews only,” he says.

“By Bringing The World To A Standstill Through The Virus War, [The Jews] Are Eager To Have Their Existence Accepted”

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