August 8, 2020

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07/02 Links Pt1: Parents of Jerusalem Terror Victim Launch Petition Demanding Jordan Extradite Bombing Mastermind; Israeli media’s annexation scare tactics

From Ian:

Parents of Jerusalem Terror Victim Launch Petition Demanding Jordan Extradite Bombing Mastermind
The parents of the one of the victims of a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pizza restaurant in August 2001 have launched an online petition
demanding that the Kingdom of Jordan extradite the atrocity’s main planner, who has been residing in Amman since she was released in a prisoner exchange with the Israeli government a decade ago.

“Ahlam Tamimi today lives in Jordan where she is a television personality and icon of the kingdom’s social media and public opinion,” stated the petition posted by Arnold and Frimet Roth — whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was killed in the Aug. 9, 2001 bomb attack inside a Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem.

Fourteen other people were killed in the bombing, among them a pregnant woman, while 130 more were wounded in an attack timed to coincide with the height of the lunch hour.

The bomber — a supporter of the Islamist Hamas movement — was driven to the restaurant by Tamimi, who participated in the planning of the atrocity and disguised herself as a Jewish tourist on the day of the attack.

The US Justice Department unveiled terrorism charges against Tamimi in 2017 and formally notified Jordan of its request that she be extradited to face trial.

Jordan has consistently ruled out the prospect of deporting Tamimi — a stance that has piqued some American legislators, seven of whom wrote to the Jordanian ambassador in Washington, DC, in April in protest.

Obama Judge Frees ‘Palestinian’ Al Qaeda Backer Who Recruited Dirty Bomb Terrorist

Not long after 9/11, Adham Amin Hassoun, a Lebanese ‘Palestinian’ computer programmer, was arrested at a Florida traffic stop. The arrest had been a long time coming.

Hassoun had entered the United States on a student visa in 1989 and quickly got involved in Islamic terrorism. By the early 90s, the FBI had noticed Hassoun because of his conversations with the Blind Sheikh, the Islamic cleric at the center of the World Trade Center bombing and even larger terror plots targeting New York City landmarks.

The Blind Sheikh was the leader of Gamaa Islamiya or the Islamic Group, a Muslim Brotherhood splinter terrorist group responsible for horrifying atrocities like the brutal Luxor Massacre of foreign tourists, including women and children, where the Islamists had tortured young girls, cut off ears and noses, and left a note praising Islam inside a disemboweled body.

Despite, or perhaps, because of their atrocities, the Islamic Group won the support of leftist advocates like Lynne Stewart: the National Lawyers Guild member who was convicted of helping the Blind Sheikh relay guidance to his terror group from prison.

“The FBI has identified Hassoun as a focal point for communications among persons associated with AGAI and with the international radical fundamentalist community. He has been a major fundraiser for extremist Muslim causes in Chechnya and Bosnia and, since as early as 1994, is believed to have recruited… ‘mujahideen,’ for those conflicts.” the FBI’s counterterrorism section chief had warned.

According to the FBI report, Hassoun had been a member of Gamaa Islamiya. By the second half of the decade, he had moved on to Al Qaeda acting as a registered agent for the

Benevolence International Foundation. Despite its ‘benevolent’ name, BIF was a front for Al Qaeda and its name originated with an organization run by Bin Laden’s brother-in-law.

After the Saudis shut down BIF, it headed to Florida, where Hassoun helped out.

Hassoun had become quite fond of Osama bin Laden. “May Allah protect him,” he told one of his collaborators during a phone conversation after the Al Qaeda leader had threatened to carry out attacks against America in a CNN interview.

Experts at Hassoun’s trial later noted that the Islamist had called Bin Laden,

“Abu Abdullah”, a name usually used by Al Qaeda members and close supporters.

Israeli media’s annexation scare tactics – opinion

Many parts of the Israeli media, we find, are directly and indirectly using scare tactics to try and prevent implementation of the Israel law east of the Green Line. The word “annexation” is bandied around. As any legal resource, easily located online, indicates, annexation is an administrative action relating to the forcible acquisition of one state’s territory by another state and is generally held to be an illegal act. Since a Palestinian state does not exist, nor has it ever, Israel will not be annexing Judea and Samaria, since the territory in question does not “belong” to any other state. True, many, especially in Europe, already today consider Judea and Samaria as belonging to the Palestinian Authority and for them, this is the vision of the two-state solution.

But why does our media have to accede to this wishful thinking and accept a term wrongly defined as relevant to the discourse? It should describe the expected act of the government for what it is – extension or application of Israeli law instead of military law, on certain areas in Judea and Samaria.

We are being warned day in and day out that removal of the military government will irreparably harm our relations with the democratic world as it is a violation of international law. Tel Aviv University’s INSS, a research institute and think tank, has summarized these dire warnings succinctly: Imposition of Israeli law on all the settlement areas might be considered to be an attractive option, but such a move is expected to undermine the stability in the West Bank area, which has been under stable control for the past 15 years. It will cause an outburst of violence and even seriously harm Israel’s international and regional standing as well as the peaceful relations between Israel and Jordan and Egypt, who will find it difficult to handle internal criticism over a unilateral Israeli annexation.

Of course, our media makes sure that we know that Europe will “punish” Israel for such moves. For example, it will retract Israel’s standing in the prestigious Horizon scientific program. European ambassadors are interviewed on the media to bring their government’s position.

This last Sunday, Efi Trigger, the moderator of Galatz’s early morning news program, aired his interview with the Belgian ambassador. Apart from allowing him unrestrainedly to express opposition to Israel’s intentions, not a single serious question was asked. For example, one could have expected that Trigger would remind the ambassador of the 100 years old San Remo decision and how European policy relates to it. If Israel’s implementation of law in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights is considered to be a serious violation of international law, then what about the US recognition of our rights in the Golan Heights. What are the steps that the European Union has taken against the United States? Or, is it the old story of Israel being handled differently than other nations?

BUT, NO, these questions and many others are not being aired. The mainstream approach was well-described by Ben Caspit in his June 21 report in Maariv: “Most security organs of Israel will establish, with high probability, that any one-sided annexation will lead to violence. The GSS will, it seems, lead in predicting the dire consequences. In internal discussions the GSS predicted that a wave of terror will come especially from the South. It would then move to Judea and Samaria and in the worst case scenario turn into a general conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, turning even into a third intifada… The assessment is that the GSS will officially warn that there will be a round of violence which might lead to a total loss of control.”

Notice how Caspit uses scare tactics. There is not one piece of solid news in his whole article. He is predicting what the GSS will conclude even though the GSS is at present in the midst of deliberations.

20 MPs from Europe, Latin America, Africa sign pro-annexation letter

Parliamentarians from 20 different countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America signed a letter on Wednesday supporting Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank.

The signatories, who are all leaders of the Israel Allies Caucuses in their respective countries, signed the letter on the date when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is first allowed to bring up the subject of annexation to the Knesset for a vote, as per the coalition agreement between his Likud Party and the Blue and White Party, though he has yet to do so at the time of writing.

“We, the chairman of the Israel Allies Caucuses fully support our ally, the State of Israel, in her rights to apply sovereignty to the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria,” the letter states.

“We affirm that the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria have been a key part of the biblical and ancestral homeland of the Jewish nation for centuries. We maintain that Israel applying Israeli civil law to already existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is appropriate and recognizes the democratic wishes of those communities.”

In addition, the letter also cites the freedom of access to important biblical sites to members of all religions. This, the letter states, includes “the Tomb of the Patriarch and Matriarchs in Hebron, the site of Jacob’s dream in Beit El and the tabernacle’s resting place in Shiloh, among many other religious sites.

“We believe that the application of sovereignty to these communities in Israel will not affect the Palestinian people negatively but rather bring the possibility for peace and prosperity closer to the region. Applying Israeli law to already existing Jewish communities in Israel can be part of a realistic regional peace plan which recognizes current realities.”

Is Israel stealing private Palestinian land? – opinion

One of the most serious accusations against Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria to “end the occupation” and in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns is that Israel systematically steals or “seizes” “private Palestinian land.” Not only would that be illegal, it is immoral. This seems to be the basis for the High Court’s decision to strike down the Regulation Law.

It is important to remember the reason for the Regulation Law. When Jewish communities (“settlements”) were established, it was done “in good faith,” and with government approval on vacant land. Arabs did not go to court to claim “their land.” Only much later, led by left-wing NGOs, were Arabs encouraged to make their claims.

The humanitarian purpose of the Regulation Law was to protect Jews who had built their homes “in good faith.” Most other countries have similar laws which protect homeowners in cases where the value of what was built far exceeds the value of the land. Destroying the homes of many thousands of Jews to resolve questionable or false Arab land claims would be unfair and unjust. Therefore, compensation was offered to Arab
claimants, regardless of proof of ownership.

The source for the charge that “Israel is stealing privately owned land” is not only PLO/PA, Hamas, left-wing and anti-Israel media, and Arab propaganda, but an agency of the Israeli government: Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).

COGAT, a unit of the Defense Ministry, is responsible for “implementing government policy in Judea and Samaria.” But COGAT not only “implements,” it also makes policy. And, as a separate independent military-legal administration, it is virtually unaccountable to anyone except the defense minister and the prime minister. They are responsible for this misrepresentation of fact.

Israel’s Impending West Bank

The UN and the vast majority of the international community strongly condemned Israel’s announcement that it wanted to annex parts of the West Bank, a territory at the heart of Palestinian hopes for a future state. But with the backing of the US, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was adamant to forge ahead. But now Israel’s July 1 annexation plans are delayed. Is this pause a win for Palestinians? Or is Netanyahu still committed to seizing land?
Guests: Nour Odeh? Former Palestinian Authority Spokeswoman?
Gideon Levy Haaretz Journalist
Arsen Ostrovsky International Human Rights Lawyer

Israeli Moves in West Bank Are Not the Disaster for Peace Many Say It Is

The Trump administration is the first U.S. administration to state the obvious: Most Israeli communities in the West Bank are here to stay, so we might as well accept them. Doing so doesn’t make a peace deal with the Palestinians less likely. In fact, any attempt to promote a resolution must begin by acknowledging this reality and proceed from there. Denying realities has gotten us, thus far, no closer to healing the rifts between the sides. Only grappling with these realities and finding ways to accommodate them can actually lead to peace.

In 1948, the UN wanted two states to be established in Mandatory Palestine: one for Jews and one for Arabs. The Jews established their state – Israel. The Arabs decided to fight a war and lost. In 1967, in another war instigated by the surrounding Arab countries, Israel took the West Bank, as well. The Israeli government believes that it has the moral and legal right to settle the area, as it is both the heart of the historic national homeland of the Jewish people and essential to the security of modern Israel.

Today, Israel’s so-called occupation is more than 50 years old. The settlers are raising grandchildren and even great-grandchildren in Judea and Samaria. Around half a million Jews live in the West Bank. Whatever one’s views of the legitimacy or desirability of these Israeli communities, they are facts that everyone has to acknowledge. President George W. Bush was the first American leader to acknowledge these facts a decade and a half ago. President Donald Trump went further in his peace proposal in January, indicating that no resident, Jew or Arab, would have to be evacuated from the West Bank as the parties move forward on their quest for peace.

Moves for Israeli sovereignty will merely take an existing reality and make it official. For example: Close to 100,000 Israelis live in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc right outside Jerusalem. No Israeli government is ever going to agree to make them leave. No serious mediator for peace is going to propose that these people must leave.

If a Democrat is elected – it’ll be too late for sovereignty

There is no question in my mind that President Trump will support Israel in its sovereignty plan. He understands how strongly evangelicals feel about the Bible, and the issue of the Peace Plan is not really relevant at this moment, because there’s something that trumps the Peace Plan. It’s called the election. If the President does not win, the plan goes in the trash in Israel.

Biden will be listening to Bernie Sanders and J Street. Israel must heavily weigh the possibility of that in considering their decisions. As evangelicals, we want Israel to move forward with all sovereignty over all Bible lands, and not just have a phased plan. If Israel does not annex Judea and Samaria before a Democrat is elected President, they won’t be able to at all.

America has never had a President more pro-Israel than Donald Trump. He will continue to support Israel as he has in the last three years. The ball is in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hands. He has the Trump card. Israel’s security is totally contingent upon the high ground. They cannot afford to negotiate over their security in Judea and Samaria.

A Palestinian State will never have airspace, an army, or treaties. Israel needs to define what territory is acceptable to Israel as a Palestinian State and do it unilaterally. The Sunni world is fed up with wasting money on the Palestinian mafia. Sure, there will be unhappy campers, but they were unhappy when Israel recognized Jerusalem. It’s time for Jerusalem to seize the opportunity while Donald Trump is still President.

The Palestinians should decide for themselves if they want an autonomous region. But for that to happen, they must resolve the T question—terrorists, especially with Hamas and Islamic Jihad

Annexation’s irony: Bringing Israeli politics closer to Palestinian statehood

In a little noticed video this week, the founder of the most important Israeli settlement advocacy group acknowledged that the movement he helped found had long “denied the reality” of the Palestinian presence in the West Bank — and suggested it could do so no longer.

Israel Harel, 82, was among the Israeli troops who liberated Jerusalem’s Old City in 1967 before going on to help found the Ofra settlement and becoming the founding chairman of the Yesha Council. On Tuesday he joined Rabbi Benny Lau for a conversation broadcast online as part of Lau’s 929 Bible study initiative.

Did the early West Bank settlers, as they planted their flag on mountaintops throughout the West Bank in the early 1970s, “see” the Palestinians? Lau asked Harel.

“Of course I saw them,” said Harel. “But a revolutionary movement sometimes needs to ignore reality to achieve its goal. Of course, it shouldn’t commit acts of injustice, acts of dispossession. And certainly in that period no settlement sat on the ruins of any Arab settlement. That didn’t happen at all… But for a revolutionary movement to gallop forward, it needs in large measure to ignore reality. It’s like a platoon or company charging under fire; if we’re afraid that every bullet will hit us, we won’t charge.”

Harel’s comments aren’t theoretical. The settlement movement he once led is now torn between two camps: those who support a limited Israeli annexation in the West Bank given the window of opportunity opened up by the Trump peace plan, and those who oppose it as the ushering into being of a dangerous, radicalized, certain-to-fail Palestinian state.

Binyamin Regional Council mayor Yisrael Gantz is an example of the latter, warning in a promotional video released Tuesday that accepting the Trump plan means “agreeing that 70% of the territory will turn into a Palestinian state… We must be clear that consenting to sovereignty [i.e., annexation] is not consenting to the future establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Anti-Zionist Jews in Brooklyn wave PLO flags in protest of sovereignty plan

A group of several dozen anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews joined a protest in Brooklyn on Wednesday against Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and settlements in Judea and Samaria. The protest was part of a “day of rage” against the sovereignty plan, which was marked by demonstrations in a number of US cities.

Protesters in Brooklyn called to liberate “Palestine” and booed Zionism, waving placards that bore anti-Israel slogans such as “End Zionism” and “Judaism Rejects Zionism.”

Reports that preceded the demonstrations indicated that most of the protests were organized by well-known BDS groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace. Some high-level officials in the various cities that hosted the protests were worried that they would turn into violent anti-Semitic events.

One Jewish group sent a letter of concern to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, saying that while the group supported “the right of every American to protest,” it had reasons to believe that the “day of rage” would devolve into violence and anti-Semitism.

Odeh ignites ire by attending event with Hamas

The Likud expressed outrage at Joint List head Ayman Odeh’s participation at a Fatah-Hamas press conference in Ramallah on Thursday.
A Likud spokesman said that Odeh had hit a new low by participating in an event with Hamas, given that there were calls by Hamas and Palestinian political leader Jibril Rajoub to destroy Israel. The spokesman noted that Opposition leader Yair Lapid had tried to form a coalition with the outside support of Odeh’s party.

“There is no limit to shame,” the Likud spokesman said in a tweet that was retweeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (Likud) said he would not tolerate an MK participating in “an event in support of terror with the worst of Israel’s enemies.” He lamented that the Supreme Court has continued to allow MKs to run after showing support for terrorists.

Likud MK Shlomo Karhi filed a complaint at the Knesset Ethics Committee. His Likud colleague MK Keti Sheetrit asked for Odeh to go into a two-week quarantine because he went to Ramallah.

Odeh said he came to Ramallah in order to show support for internal Palestinian reconciliation.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Fatah, Hamas agree to cooperate against Israel, US ‘plots’

The Palestinian ruling Fatah faction and Hamas will work together to achieve an independent Palestinian state and foil Israeli-American “conspiracies” against the Palestinians, senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub said on Thursday.

Rajoub, who was speaking during a joint teleconference press interview with senior Hamas official Saleh Arouri, said: “We will lead our battle together under the flag of Palestine to achieve an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders and solving the issue of the refugees on the basis of international resolutions.”

The joint press conference was the first of its kind in several years between senior Fatah and Hamas officials.

The two rival parties have been at each other’s throat since 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary election and its head, Ismail Haniyeh, headed the first Palestinian unity government.

On Wednesday, Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip were invited to attend a major rally organized by Hamas and other Palestinian groups in protest of Israel’s intention to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

Fatah and Hamas officials said that the rally in the Gaza Strip would pave the way for the two parties to resume their efforts to end their dispute.

Vatican summons US, Israeli envoys over annexation moves

The Vatican, in a highly unusual move, summoned both the US and Israeli ambassadors to express the Holy See’s concern about Israel’s moves to extend its sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

A Vatican statement on Wednesday said meetings with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, and US Ambassador Callista Gingrich and Israeli Ambassador Oren David, took place on Tuesday.

A senior diplomatic source told Reuters that Parolin met the two envoys separately, a detail which was not clear in the Vatican statement.
It said Parolin, the Vatican’s top diplomat, expressed “the concern of the Holy See regarding possible unilateral actions that may further jeopardize the search for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the delicate situation in the Middle East”.

Israeli leaders decided in May that cabinet and parliamentary deliberations on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley in the West Bank, in coordination with Washington, could begin as of July 1.

But with no agreement with Washington yet on the modalities of the move under a peace proposal announced by U.S. President Donald Trump in January, and talks with the White House still underway, no cabinet session was scheduled for Wednesday.

Pro-Israel protest in Finland counters anti-Israel protest

A pro-Israel protest took place in Helsinki, Finland, on Tuesday with an attendance of more than 200 people.

The protest was organized quickly, as a response to an anti-Israel rally organized by the Finland branch of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, as well as youth organizations of left-wing and green political parties, which are against Israel’s annexation plans.

Risto Huvila, chairman of the Federation of Finland-Israel Associations and vice chair of the March of Life Finland, organized the event on short notice once he heard of the anti-Israel rally on Monday morning.

Over 200 people showed up with flags, shofars and banners, many of whom drove several hundred kilometers, despite quite heavy rain. The number of attendees at the pro-Israel rally was almost double that of the Free Palestine audience.

“This rally really shows that the members of pro-Israel community in Finland are devout and faithful to show their support for Israel even on the very short notice,” Huvila said. “And even in quite bad weather.”

Guardian’s annexation editorial predictable, illiberal and ahistorical.

Guardian editorials on Israel can usually be relied upon to include the following elements of bias:

– Denying Palestinians agency – treating them entirely as victims, erasing decisions their leaders have made that are inimical to peace, and acting as if Israelis are the only party in the conflict that matters.
– Obsessive focus on settlements, whilst ignoring other issues relevant to the absence of peace.
– Using demonising rhetoric in condemning Israeli actions.

The first paragraph of the Guardian editorial published yesterday (“The Guardian view on Israel and annexation: unlawful, unwise and immoral”, June 30), as with the rest of the piece, evokes these three dynamics:
Annexation looks like the executioner of the two-state solution. Israel has changed the facts on the ground, with the rapid growth of settlements rendering that goal less and less viable. But the declaration of sovereignty over parts of the occupied territories, in putting a formal seal on physical realities, will be a new and terrible moment, and above all a fresh injustice to Palestinians.

Denial of Palestinian agency:
Not only is the – possible but far from certain – partial annexation of the West Bank seen a “fresh injustice” to Palestinians, but nothing in the opening sentence, nor in the rest of the 578 word op-ed, even alludes to the question of what Palestinians can do now or could have done in the decades since Oslo to advance the peace process.

In fact, editors even omitted reports on Monday that the PA stated its willingness to renew negotiations with Israel. This is important as it suggests Mahmoud Abbas reached the conclusion – never enunciated in the Guardian – that the PA’s prior decision to refuse talks with Israel and the US was detrimental to their interests. The editorial also of course fails to mention Palestinian decisions to reject offers of statehood since Oslo (deals that would have given Palestinians nearly everything they asked for).

Bad decisions by Palestinian leaders inevitably lead to bad outcomes for the Palestinian people.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Nation That Colonized Half Of World Warns Jews Not To Assert Control Over Own Homeland (satire)

A country that maintained a globe-spanning empire for more than four hundred years cautioned the Jewish State today against applying its sovereign laws to the Jewish heartland after returning from thousands of years of exile and longing.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared Wednesday that Israel must not risk destabilizing the region by annexing parts of territory taken from nineteen years of Jordanian occupation in 1967, a Jordanian annexation that Britain and Pakistan alone recognized. Johnson warned the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in an official statement. Britain, which held the League of Nations Mandate over the once-Ottoman-held territory that gave rise to the modern state of Israel in 1948, cannot accept that Jews control the land that the League of Nations Mandate specifically assigned to Britain for purposes of establishing a Jewish national home.

British government representatives have sounded a similar tone over the last several months, in response to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of previous administrations’ objections to Israeli claims on Judea and Samaria. Johnson’s government thus joins the European Union as the most vocal Western opponents of the move, the specifics of which Netanyahu has yet to announce – nor whether the application of Israeli law to parts of the disputed areas will occur at all. Netanyahu’s dithering amid an internal Israeli admixture of apathy and tentative opposition even among his centrist and right-wing allies has emboldened overseas opponents of the move to thwart it with forceful rhetoric. UK and EU opposition, though by no means unified, comes against the backdrop of two thousand years of European and other dominant powers trying to prevent Jewish sovereignty anywhere, let alone the place where Jews and Judaism began.

PMW: Cooperation with Israel is “treason,” anyone who cooperates with Israel “should be shot”

The Palestinian Authority and Fatah have always vocally condemned so-called “normalization” with Israel – i.e., any cooperation with Israel, be it in business, academia, culture, sports, or otherwise.

After PA Chairman Abbas’ announcement on May 19, 2020, that the PA had absolved itself from all agreements with Israel in response to Israel’s plans to apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and the Jewish cities and towns in the West Bank, official PA TV has broadcast a filler against “normalization.” In it, the PA and Fatah announce that cooperating with Israel in any way is “treason”:

Texts on screen: “Fatah: Cooperation with the occupation and its institutions is treason”
“Fatah Revolutionary Council: We’ll strike with an iron fist and not go easy on those who agree to a truce with the occupation” …
“The Palestinian Federation of Industries stresses its commitment to the leadership’s position and its refusal to cooperate with Israel”
“The Private Sector Institutions Coordination Council: We support the leadership’s decisions, and won’t allow cooperation with Israel”
[Official PA TV Live, June 1, 6, 8, 9 (twice), 13, 2020]

Adding a death sentence to this, Fatah official Abbas Zaki stated that anyone who cooperates with Israel “should be shot”:

“Having connections with the occupation is treason” – PA and Fatah against normalization with Israel

Arab Media Supports Egypt’s Threat To Intervene Militarily In Libya: Turkey’s Attempts To Become A Regional Superpower Must Be Stopped

Fighting has recently escalated in Libya between the two sides in the country’s civil war: on one side the Government of National Accord (GNA), headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj, which is supported by the UN, Turkey and Qatar, and is also backed by Islamic circles in Libya, such as the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and on the other side the Libyan National Army, under the command of Gen. Khalifa Haftar, which is supported by Egypt, the UAE and Russia.

The Al-Sarraj government appears to have the upper hand at the moment, mostly due to Turkey’s growing military intervention in Libya, which includes airlifts of fighters, weapons, drones and armored vehicles, in direct violation of the UN arms embargo on bringing weapons into the country. The Al-Sarraj forces and their allies have regained full control of the capital, Tripoli; captured considerable additional territory, and even managed to advance on the city of Sirte and the Al-Jufra area to the south of it, a strategic area connecting West and East Libya and the gateway to the oil-rich eastern regions. Al-Jufra is also the site of an airbase and a strategic operations room of General Haftar’s forces.

This escalation on the ground, and the advance of Al-Sarraj’s forces, with Turkish military assistance, towards the eastern regions of the country adjacent to the border with Egypt, intensified the existing tension between Turkey and the Arab countries, especially Egypt, which sees this advance as a threat to its western border. Turkey’s actions in the Middle East have in general been a source of concern for many Arab countries, who view them as an attempt by Turkey to establish itself as regional power, which poses a threat to their stability.[1] The recent setbacks of Haftar’s forces thus increased concerns in the UAE – the principal backer of these forces – and in Egypt, prompting Egyptian President ‘Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi to issue the June 6, 2020 Cairo Declaration, a proposal for a ceasefire and a political solution in Libya. The declaration, issued by Al-Sisi in the presence of Gen. Haftar and the head of the pro-Haftar parliament in East Libya, Aguila Saleh, also calls for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libya, including the Turkish ones.[2]

When his initiative was rejected and Al-Sarraj’s forces continued to advance toward the Sirte-Al-Jufra line, Al-Sisi issued a threat from an Egyptian military base on the Libyan border, saying that Sirte-Al-Jufra frontline was a “red line,” the crossing of which could lead to direct Egyptian military intervention in Libya.

Many Arab countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan, hurried to express support for the Egyptian position. Some of them claimed that Egyptian military intervention would be legitimate based on the Joint Defense Treaty signed by several Arab countries in 1950.[3] Even Syria, which was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011, joined these expressions of support, although it has no official diplomatic relations with most of the Arab countries, including Egypt.[4]

Furthermore, at Egypt’s request, on June 23, 2020 the Arab League foreign ministers held a video conference to discuss the situation in Libya.[5] Their concluding statement stressed the importance of a political solution for the Libyan crisis, while expressing support for the Cairo Declaration and opposition to any foreign intervention in Libya. Some states expressed reservations about parts of the statement, including Qatar, Tunis and Somalia, as well as the GNA.[6]

Trump Admin Vows to Secure Permanent U.N. Arms Embargo on Iran

The United States will seek a permanent extension of an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire later this year, setting up a confrontation at the United Nations with Russia and China, Iranian allies poised to block the Trump administration’s efforts.

The October expiration of the United Nations arms embargo on Iran was a key part of the Obama-era nuclear deal that blocked nations from exporting arms to Tehran. The Trump administration has vowed to keep the embargo alive and in recent months expended significant diplomatic capital preparing a U.N. resolution to accomplish that goal. Russia and China promise to veto any such measure and are able to unilaterally do so as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Both countries remain close allies of Iran and have already discussed plans to sell Tehran billions of dollars’ worth of advanced weaponry once the embargo lifts.

The Trump administration has made extending the arms embargo a centerpiece of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, which includes crippling economic sanctions. The diplomatic push comes as Iran ramps up its contested nuclear work, particularly the enrichment of uranium, the key component in an atomic weapon. For months, Tehran has blatantly violated the nuclear deal by, among other things, preventing international atomic inspectors from accessing key military sites believed to contain undeclared nuclear materials. As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, the arms embargo could be the Trump administration’s last chance to prevent Tehran from becoming an international arms dealer.

Amid the showdown between the United States, Russia, and China, European countries on the U.N. Security Council have sought to forge a compromise. Under this proposal, the arms embargo would be extended, but only for a short time, and might be limited in other ways, according to multiple sources familiar with the negotiations.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ruled out such a plan on Wednesday in some of his clearest comments on the matter to date. The United States, he said, will not tolerate any plan that only extends the embargo for a limited time.

“Our objective is not to extend the arms embargo for another short period of time,” Pompeo said in response to questions from the Washington Free Beacon during a briefing at the State Department.

The embargo is “not a time-limited matter,” Pompeo said. “Extending it for six months or a year or two years fundamentally falls into the same trap that the previous administration fell into.”

Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility damaged in ‘incident’

An “incident” occurred at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility but no damage was caused and the site is operating as usual, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Thursday.

The Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP), covering 100,000 square meters and built eight meters underground, is one of several Iranian facilities monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN nuclear watchdog.

“The incident took place in a facility in an open area near Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility. There were no casualties or damages and the nuclear site is operating as usual,” Iran’s nuclear agency’s spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, was quoted as saying by Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

A team of experts from Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization are investigating the cause of the incident, he said.

“There is no concern about the possibility of contamination as one of the sheds which was inactive and under construction was damaged and not the facility itself,” Kamalvandi told state news agency IRNA.

The incident immediately raised speculation whether someone physically sabotaged Natanz, hacked it using cyber weapons or whether Iran itself accidentally caused the incident by some kind of technological failure.

It is also unclear, since Iran often lies about setbacks, whether the damage was only to the nearby construction site or also to Natanz enrichment facility itself.

Are three mysterious explosions in Iran linked? – analysis

Three mysterious incidents, linked by explosions – at least two of them at secretive nuclear and weapons facilities – have rocked Iran in the past week. All three have been reported by Iranian media with various excuses about how they are less serious than they appear, that they are being investigated and that there is no major story to tell.

On June 25, a massive explosion, seen many miles away in Tehran, burned a hillside near a missile complex at Khojir. On June 30, a medical center suffered a fire in Tehran, killing at least 18 people. And on July 2, an incident at Iran’s Natanz enrichment facility was mentioned by the country’s official media, without elaboration. Officials claimed that only a shed was damaged. In each case, officials appeared to try to get ahead of the story by obfuscating about the seriousness of the incident or why it took place at a sensitive facility.

This leads to key questions about why so many explosions or incidents have affected key aspects of Iran’s military-industrial complex. Rumors posted on social media and elsewhere online have suggested not only a cover up but also allegations of a “cyber” attack or other concerns about how these incidents unfolded. Iran alleged a cyber attack harmed Shahid Rajaee port in May, in the wake of an Iranian cyber attack on Israel.

AT THE HEART of this are concerns about Iran, increasingly pressured by US sanctions, lashing out across the region. The Islamic Republic has systematically walked away from the 2015 Iran deal, enriching uranium and ramping up its weapons programs. It has focused on ballistic missiles and precision guidance for munitions, as well as drones and nuclear facilities. The Natanz facility was well known for being affected by the malicious Stuxnet computer worm in 2010. Stuxnet was developed by the US and Israel according to The New York Times and may have destroyed up to 1,000 centrifuges at the Natanz facility.

Natanz consists of a fuel enrichment plant and is Iran’s largest gas centrifuge uranium enrichment facility, according to the BBC. It began working in 2007. Iran’s Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said on July 2 that no casualties had occurred at Natanz and that the incident was being investigated. He said there was no need to worry about the possibility of contamination “due to the inactivity of the complex.” It was a strange statement, to deny that anyone had been injured and highlight that the facility was not operating. Kamalvandi’s statements headlined the Iranian Students News Agency website and others in Iran on Thursday.

At the same time, Tehran prosecutors have said that the explosion at the Sina Medical Center in Tehran was unintentional. But at least 18 people are dead. High level officials in the government speaking about the June 30 explosion also highlighted the mystery of it. If it was just a routine tragic fire and mistake, what was the need to have high-level officials looking into it, commenting on it and vowing to investigate?

MEMRI: The Organization For The Liberation Of Argentina (OLA) – Building Support For The Iranian Regime And Hizbullah

Ever since the founding of the Ayatollah regime in Iran, the country has invested significantly in the export of the principles of the revolution to the world at large, in establishing local support bases in other countries, and in undermining local governments abroad. One of its most prominent measures to achieve these aims is by means of proxies which receive financial, political, propaganda and organizational assistance in the guise of armed militias which gradually infiltrate local politics, such as Hizbullah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, the Shi’ite militias in Iraq, and the Shi’ite clerics in Nigeria. In addition, the Iranian regime and its protégé, Hizbullah, operate various types of media, including social media accounts which address local audiences in their own languages. Thus, in an attempt to reach a Spanish-speaking audience, Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, has both a website and a Twitter account in Spanish.[1] Furthermore, in 2001 the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting set up a Spanish-language television channel called HispanTV.

The Organization for the Liberation of Argentina (OLA), a political organization headed by Argentine-born Shi’ites, appears to support Iranian regime flagship objectives to export the Iranian Islamic revolution’s principles and values and to build support for the Iranian regime and for Hizbullah in Latin America.

Known in Argentina by its Spanish name, Organización para la Liberación Argentina,OLA was established in 2012 by a member of an Islamic Center in Argentina and a well-known local political activist. He heads the organization with his wife, a fellow activist, and with the organization’s National Director.

The OLA leadership comprises active members of the Shi’ite community in Argentina and maintains ties to local Shi’ite institutions and religious leaders, most notably to the Al-Tawhid mosque in Buenos Aires, where prominent cleric Mohsen Rabbani was a key suspect in the bombings of the Israeli embassy and the AMIA[2] building in Argentina in 1992 and 1994.

Since its establishment in 2012, OLA has openly supported Iran’s proxy organization, Hizbullah, and continues to do so despite Argentina’s official designation of Hizbullah as a terrorist organization in July 2019[3] – a decision which OLA criticizes. OLA also supports the Iranian Islamic Revolution and its leaders and fully incorporates its principles, motives and terminology into the OLA political platform, which is critical of the government’s neoliberal economic measures and of American influence in the country. In this way, the organization, which aims to address the general local population and not necessarily the local Shi’ite community, introduces the ideology of the Shi’ite Islamic revolution into the largely Catholic population.

US files suit to seize gasoline in four Iran tankers headed to Venezuela

US prosecutors late on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to seize the gasoline aboard four tankers that Iran is shipping to Venezuela, the latest attempt by the Trump administration to increase economic pressure on the two US foes.

The government of Venezuelan socialist President Nicolas Maduro has flaunted the tankers, which departed last month, to show it remains unbowed by US pressure. The United States, has been pressing for Maduro’s ouster with a campaign of diplomatic and punitive measures, including sanctions on state oil company PDVSA.

Gasoline shortages in Venezuela, like Iran a member of OPEC, have grown acute due to the US sanctions, and the country has undergone an economic collapse. Still, Maduro has held on, and the failure to unseat him has been source of frustration for US President Donald Trump, some American officials have said privately.

In the civil-forfeiture complaint, the federal prosecutors aim to stop delivery of Iranian gasoline aboard the Liberia-flagged Bella and the Bering, and the Pandi and the Luna, according to the lawsuit, first reported in the Wall Street Journal. It also seeks to deter future deliveries.

The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, also aims to stop the flow of revenues from petroleum sales to Iran, which Washington has sanctioned over its nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and influence across the Middle East. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran agrees to compensate downed plane victims’ families, Sweden says

Sweden said Thursday that Iran had agreed to compensate the families of the foreign victims of a Ukrainian passenger plane that was shot down outside Tehran in January.

The Boeing 737 aircraft was struck by two missiles and crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran airport on January 8, killing all 176 people on board.

The Islamic Republic admitted days later that its forces accidentally shot down the Kyiv-bound jetliner.

“We have signed an agreement of mutual understanding that we will now negotiate with Iran about amends, compensation to the victims’ next of kin,” Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde told news agency TT, in a statement confirmed by her press secretary to AFP.

Linde said the agreement had been reached after negotiations with Iran and the countries with citizens among the victims.

While it was still unclear what sums would be paid out, Linde said there was “no doubt” that Iran would follow through on the compensation.

Many of the victims were Iranian-Canadians, but there were also victims from Sweden, the UK, Afghanistan, and Ukraine, including the nine crew members.

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