July 12, 2020

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07/04 Links Pt1: Abbas vows never to stop salaries to terrorists; Modi and Israel’s coming of age


From Ian:

PMW: Abbas vows never to stop salaries to terrorists
Even if it might cost him his presidency, Abbas has pledged he won’t stop paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of the so-called “Martyrs.” According to his own Fatah Movement, Abbas has made the following statement, vowing to continue honoring terrorists and murderers with monetary rewards no matter what:
“‘Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary (rawatib) of a Martyr (Shahid) or a prisoner, as I am the president of the entire Palestinian people, including the prisoners, the Martyrs, the injured, the expelled, and the uprooted.’
[PA] President Mahmoud Abbas.”
[Official Fatah Facebook page, July 2, 2017]
According to the 2016 PA budget, the PA currently pays 26,800 families of “Martyrs” a total of 660 million shekels ($183 million) per year, and 6,500 terrorist prisoners receive PA salaries amounting to 486 million shekels ($135 million) per year.
A member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Jamal Muhaisen, also quoted Abbas’ promise, and emphasized that the payment of salaries to terrorist prisoners and “Martyrs” is not an issue of money, but rather is about the “Palestinian historical narrative”:

IsraellyCool: Israeli-Arab Zionist Shot By Terrorists

It seems Mahdi’s father was not shot by terrorists recently – it happened a long time ago. He mentioned it (albeit not at all clearly), prompting a number of people to contact me and write about the supposed recent attack. Reading Mahdi’s posts, I also thought his father had now been attacked. Nevertheless, I apologize for putting out what looks to be incorrect information.
As it turns out, his father has just succumbed to cancer. We wish Mahdi and his family a long life and send them our prayers.
Mahdi Satre is a young Israeli-Arab Zionist who has written on here on a number of occasions.
Mahdi has been aware of the danger some pose to him and his family, but this latest news has still come as a shock to him and his legion of friends around the world: his father was recently shot multiple times by terrorists.
Mahdi writes: At this hard time I wanna thank My Country and the IDF for standing with my family
they didn’t forget my father who was a soldier and they stood and still standing with my family
Today an IDF officer came to the hospital with his soldiers , they stood with us and they helped my family economically and morally
the military officer said and I quote ” The whole people of Israel stands behind you”
I’ve no words
and I feel so proud of my country
Please Pray for My father Omar the Son of Fatima

Update: Mahdi updates: 3 days passed and my father still in a Coma please pray for my father Omar the Son of Fatima and Ahmad

Caroline Glick: Modi and Israel’s coming of age

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel this week marks more than the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
It marks as well Israel’s coming of age as a nation.
When in 1992, India and Israel forged full diplomatic relations, the Indian government was reacting to a transformation in the international arena, rather than to changes that were specifically related to the Jewish state.
In 1991 and 1992, in response to the US victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, a large group of countries restored or inaugurated full diplomatic relations with Israel. These states – including the Russian Federation and China – had by and large been either on the Soviet side of the war, or leaned toward Moscow. Their refusal to forge full ties with Israel, a key US Cold War ally, became a liability in the US-dominated post-Cold War global order. Hence, they abandoned their Cold War rejection of Israel and instead embraced it.

Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu: Hand in hand into the future: Indian PM’s historic visit to Israel reflects how the two countries are working together on many fronts

A historic visit to Israel commences today. It will be the first ever of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel. The two of us have met before but this is the first time we do so on Israeli soil.
The natural partnership between India and Israel, formally elevated 25 years ago to full diplomatic relations, has grown stronger from year to year. The deep connection between our peoples reflects our many similarities in spirit, if not in size. Ours are two modern, vibrant democracies that draw on our rich historical traditions while striving to seize the promise of the future for our peoples.
Both our nations are complex. Like yogic asanas grounding down and pulling up at the same time, they face many challenges. By working together we can overcome some of the challenges.
Over the centuries the philosophies and histories of our ancestors inspired one another. Today the entrepreneurial drive of Indians and Israelis brings us closer together. The Jewish community in India was always welcomed with warmth and respect and never faced any persecution. The Jews of Indian origin in Israel are proud of their heritage and have left an indelible imprint on both societies. Both communities serve as a human bridge between our nations. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Indian PM Modi arrives in Israel for ‘groundbreaking visit’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Israel at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon to begin a historic visit to Israel as the first Indian Prime minister ever to visit the Jewish state.
The historic nature of the visit was not lost on Modi who in his remarks at the airport stated, “My visit marks a path breaking journey of engagement.”
Modi, who will be in the country for 49 hours said that, “India is an old civilization but a young nation, ” and his country regards Israel is an important partner for its sustained growth.
“It is my singular honor to partake on this groundbreaking visit.”
Modi was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a number of senior ministers and senior religious figures from around the country.

Israel and India – Working together for a better future

JPost Editorial: Welcome, PM Modi

But the centerpiece government decision is the creation of a $40 million Innovation Fund that will encourage cooperation in hi-tech between the two countries.
And Israel has already worked with India on a number of military technology projects, many based on Modi’s “Make in India” campaign, which encourages foreign firms to use Indian workforce and resources. Israel Aerospace Industries recently announced it would join forces with India’s Dynamic Technologies Ltd. to develop unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for the Indian market. Israeli arms industries have also signed huge deals to provide India with medium-range missiles and missile defense systems. And Israeli innovators used India’s space technology – world renowned for its low cost and high quality – to launch a nanosatellite.
The increased cooperation comes against a backdrop of broader political changes taking place inside India. The rise to power of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has resulted in the assertion of Hindutva or “Hindu-ness,” an unapologetic approach to India’s Hindu majority religion and culture. If India’s leftists viewed Israel as a “neo-imperialist proxy of America,” BJP supporters – and Hindus in general – tend to see Israel as a plucky democracy with a strong, non-Muslim religious identity standing up to nihilistic Islamist terrorists – not unlike the Indians themselves.
Many parallels can be drawn between BJP and our Likudled government. Both seek to strengthen what they see as a more authentic national identity – Hindutva in India, Judaism in Israel – while maintaining a robust democracy.
The political transformation that has taken place within India has also had an impact on its foreign policy vis-a-vis Israel. During Operation Protective Edge, India refrained from criticizing Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. In July 2014, India abstained in the vote on the UN report condemning Israel for Operation Protective Edge. And Modi has not felt compelled during his present visit to stop in with the Palestinian Authority to make a show of India’s evenhandedness on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
We welcome Prime Minister Modi, join him in celebrating 25 years of diplomatic ties and look forward to a new era of cooperation and innovation in the ties between our countries.

Isi Leibler: An India-Israel memoir

This week’s historic visit to Israel by India’s prime minister revived memories of my ‎associations with India in the 1980s.‎
At that time, India was a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, dependent on Arab oil and ‎expatriate income from the Persian Gulf states, and home to 100 million Muslims.‎
I shall never forget an unpleasant meeting I had with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on December ‎‎1981. She claimed that American Jews had turned the U.S. government and media against her ‎because of her policies toward Israel. The discussion became hostile and she came close to ‎becoming anti-Semitic. I reminded her — to no avail — that Anglo Jews were among the most ‎fervent supporters of Indian independence. The meeting left me deeply distressed and ‎pessimistic. ‎
India’s Israel policy during the Six-Day War and Yom Kippur War echoed the Soviet line. Indira Gandhi sought to strengthen Indian support for the Arab world and intensified her hostility ‎against Israel. When her son Rajiv became prime minister following her assassination in 1984, ‎the anti-Israel policies were maintained and even intensified.‎
Nevertheless, India’s Hindus never had a record of anti-Semitism, anti-Jewish triumphalism or ‎proselytizing. ‎

Modi visit holds special meaning for Indian Jews in Israel

At a curry house in central Israel, a poster welcoming Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets patrons even before they encounter the rich scent of spices wafting from the kitchen.
Modi’s three-day visit beginning Tuesday — the first ever of an Indian premier to Israel — is a landmark moment for the Jewish state, a country seeking the friendship of powerful allies and customers for its advanced military equipment.
But for members of the small Jewish Indian community in Israel, the trip is a cause of genuine excitement and a unique opportunity to increase their visibility.
“There’s not a single (Indian) household that’s not talking about it. This is all people are talking about,” said Elazar Ashtivker, owner of the Maharaja restaurant in the city of Ramla, south of Tel Aviv.
“It’s historic,” he said.

Israeli-Indian Singer, Set to Perform National Anthem for PM Modi, Gave Up Blossoming Bollywood Career to Return to Jewish State

The Indian-Israeli singer expected to sing the countries’ national anthems when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the Jewish state this week reportedly gave up a blossoming Bollywood career in order to be in Israel.
Liora Itzhak, who was born to Indian immigrant parents from Mumbai, told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that she gave up her music career in India because of homesickness. She had traveled to India at the age of 15 to study music and soon after saw a breakthrough when she was asked to sing in an Indian movie, and later alongside well-known Indian singers. But after eight years living apart from her parents, Itzhak felt compelled to return to her family in Israel. She declined other music industry offers and instead returned home to the Jewish state.
“I was 23 and terribly homesick having spent eight years away in difficult conditions from my parents and siblings. I love India but I just could not bear this separation anymore,” Itzhak — who has previously collaborated with Israeli singer Idan Raichel — told PTI. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Aboard US aircraft carrier, Netanyahu hails symbol of ‘freedom and victory’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday toured the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier as it anchored off the coast of Haifa, and told told US sailors aboard the ship that it is a symbol of “freedom and victory.”
“This great aircraft carrier is a floating island of America. It’s a symbol to the world of freedom and victory,” he said in an English speech aboard the world’s largest warship.
“The war against ISIS should be seen for what it is: a clash between good and evil. And every sailor on this ship should be immensely proud that you are serving good,” Netanyahu said.
“Israel too is a symbol to the world of freedom, victory, and it too helps secure the world against terror. It too is on the front line of the battle between civilization and darkness,” the premier added. “I thank you, the people of Israel thank you, and the free world thanks you.”

Israeli Settlement Movement Leaders Get First-Ever Invite to July Fourth Celebration

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman invited several leaders of the Israeli settlement movement to the American embassy’s July Fourth celebration for the first time, highlighting a shift in policy towards the settlements from previous administrations.
“It’s an interesting change of approach to Judea and Samaria by the American government, which until [President Donald] Trump’s election definitely placed [the settlements] outside of the fence [of acceptability],” the Samaria Regional Council said in a statement.
Among the settlement movement leaders invited to the July Fourth celebration are Avi Ro’eh, head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria; Yossi Dagan, leader of the Samaria Regional Council; Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel; Ariel Mayor Eli Shaviro; and Oded Revivi, chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council, a coordinating body for Israeli settlements’ municipal councils.
Two delegations of settlement leaders were also invited to President Trump’s inauguration in January.

New Documentary Tells the Truth About Gaza

The Gaza Strip has been a flashpoint between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs for many years — but especially since 2005, when Israel unilaterally withdrew its military and civilians from the territory it had conquered in the Six-Day War. The Israeli withdrawal — calculated at once to divest Israel of the headache of ruling a tinderbox and as an earnest gesture of goodwill — actually proved a fillip for Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that is committed in its charter to destroy Israel, and murder the country’s Jews.
As a history lesson, it’s important to know that since its founding in 1988, Hamas has been a challenger to Fatah — a party founded by Yasser Arafat, and the dominant power within the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, in 2007, Hamas seized control of Gaza, ejecting Fatah forces and throwing their officials and loyalists from the tops of buildings. After the coup, rocket fire into Israel increased exponentially, leading to three major Israeli military incursions into Gaza since then. The latest, the Gaza War of 2014 and the issues arising from it, are the subject of a new documentary produced by Robert Magid.
Eyeless in Gaza investigates how the outside world and mainstream media outlets arrive at the popular perceptions that have prevailed over the Gaza conflict. At its basic core, the prevalent international perception of Gaza is of a dominant Israeli power, unwilling to grant independence to stateless Palestinian Arabs, who have taken up arms as a result. As a corollary, there is much sympathy for the residents of Gaza, who have found themselves in the midst of Israeli-Palestinian firefights. There is also much anger against any Israeli military action, which results in dead and shattered Gazan lives. It is the contention of Eyeless in Gaza that this version of events is the product, in large part, of profoundly and systemically flawed international reportage and media bias.
Eyeless in Gaza opens with a flourish of footage from protest rallies against Israel during the 2014 war, seeking the origin of the passions that the conflict unleashed. The film then embarks on a journey through news footage; interviews with journalists, researchers and participants, both local and foreign; an examination of the methodology of reportage; and telling excerpts of Arabic language interviews with Hamas officials that undermine the prevalent international perception of Gaza.

Nine UN Ambassadors Tour Archaeological Site Showing Jewish Roots in Jerusalem

Israel took nine visiting UN ambassadors on a tour of the City of David archaeological park in Jerusalem on Sunday in a bid to highlight the Jewish heritage of the holy city following a spate of UN resolutions denying that historic link.
The diplomats, representatives of Australia, Estonia, Gabon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Papua New Guinea, Poland, and Togo, were led on the tour by Israeli’s UN envoy Danny Danon and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and shown ancient remains believed to be from the Jewish town that stood on the site in biblical times.
The visit was organized by Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee.
“To defeat the lies spread about our capital city at the UN, nothing is more important than for my fellow ambassadors to learn the truth about Jerusalem and see the beauty of this city firsthand,” Danon said in a statement. “The more UN ambassadors visit Israel, the more they appreciate both the challenges we face and the opportunities that exist in our region.”
The City of David — which archaeologists believe is the actual site of biblical Jerusalem and the epicenter of the Davidic dynasty — draws about half a million visitors each year. Its two sections are located beyond the pre-1967 lines in the city’s east, which the international community does not recognize as part of the State of Israel.
Foreign dignitaries therefore rarely visit these sites in an official capacity and generally do not meet Israeli officials there.

What Are Defensible Borders and Why Are They Important for Israel?

“Defensible borders” means the line from which you can defend yourself with your own forces. The average distance between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is 40 miles, which does not provide minimal strategic depth. The Jordan Valley with the ridge to the west is the best line that you can rely upon. There are only five strategic passages through the ridge.
We know that to fight terrorism effectively, if you don’t control the envelope of the region, terror groups like Hamas will quickly take over, and they will invite the Iranians and, all of a sudden, you have an Iranian outpost in the West Bank. They already have an outpost in Lebanon and in Gaza. We don’t need another one in the West Bank and near Jerusalem.

Anti-IDF Group Breaking the Silence Faces Wave of Event Cancellations in Israel

An event featuring Breaking the Silence, an organization that promotes criticism of the IDF, was canceled at Kibbutz Neve Ur in northern Israel Monday due to pressure from kibbutz residents.
The decision follows a wave of similar cancellations of events featuring the controversial group in kibbutzim and other small communities. Breaking the Silence collects testimonies from former Israeli soldiers on alleged human rights violations against Palestinians in the disputed territories.
All of the canceled Breaking the Silence events were initially planned to be held in public buildings. Faced with fierce resistance from residents, some of the meetings were forced to move to private homes or rented auditoriums. In one kibbutz, event planners rented an auditorium in a nearby hotel, and in another, the conference was moved from the kibbutz meeting hall to another facility sponsored by the area’s regional council.

Ontario court upholds $1.7B judgment against Iran, ruling in favour of American victims of terrorism

Ontario’s Court of Appeal upheld a US$1.7-billion judgment against the government of Iran in favour of American victims of terrorism, rejecting the state’s immunity and accusing Tehran of trying to derail Canada’s Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.
The appeal court’s resounding rejection of Iran’s appeal is another victory for victims of terrorism holding Iran accountable for its support of Hamas and Hezbollah during terror campaigns from the 1980s through to 2002.
“The terrorist attacks out of which the respondents’ U.S. judgments arise are repugnant to civilized society. The fact that a foreign government would engage in the sponsorship of such atrocities is chilling,” wrote Justice Justice C. William Hourigan, on behalf of a panel of concurring judges.
“There is nothing offensive about using peaceful legislative means to combat terrorism,” the judgment says. “To the contrary, awarding damages that may have a deterrent effect is a sensible and measured response to the state sponsorship of terrorism and is entirely consistent with Canadian legal morals.”
The unusual case sees a long list of American victims of terrorism suing Iran in Canada to recover massive U.S. court awards.

US envoy honors memory of Hadar Goldin, fallen US and IDF soldiers at July 4 event

The American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, hosted his first Independence Day reception as US envoy on Monday evening, giving Israeli officials and guests a red carpet welcome at his residence in the coastal city of Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.
The event, live streamed on Facebook, included live performances, speeches by Friedman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an offering of such “American food” as hamburgers, pizza and ice cream, and fireworks.
In his remarks before some 1,600 guests to mark the US’s 241st Independence Day on July 4, Friedman honored the memories of Hadar Goldin — an IDF soldier and US citizen killed during the 2014 summer war and whose remains, along with those of another IDF soldier, Oron Shaul, are being held by Hamas — and other fallen Israeli and American forces.
One of the values that unites the US and Israel is the “honor and respect for the sacrifices of those who have preceded us,” said Friedman, who also told the audience that among the artwork in the residence “is a beautiful painting by Hadar Goldin, whose parents are here tonight and who still grieve not just for their lost son but because his remains have not yet been returned.”

Firebomb Attack Targets Jewish Worshippers at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem

A firebomb was thrown at Jewish worshippers on Monday at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.
Jerusalem police said that “an object was thrown at the Tomb of Rachel, near the wall of the facility; there were no casualties and no damage was caused.”
Rabbi Tzvi Uziyahu, one of the rabbis administering Rachel’s Tomb institutions, told Israel National News, “By God’s grace we had a miracle. If God forbid the explosives had ignited, there would have been many casualties at the bus stops and at the entrance to the tomb.” Jewish studies and prayers continued at Rachel’s Tomb despite the firebomb attack, he added.
Located on the northern edge of Bethlehem, the tomb is revered as the burial place of the Jewish biblical matriarch Rachel, the wife of Jacob and mother of Joseph and Benjamin. It is considered one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

Border police say Jerusalem terror attack foiled at West Bank checkpoint

Border police said they foiled a terror attack Tuesday after finding a bag of knives, stun grenades and Molotov cocktail materials during the search of a Palestinian vehicle at a checkpoint near East Jerusalem.
The car was heading into the Jerusalem side of the Mizmoriya checkpoint, outside Bethlehem, when it was stopped after security forces noticed that its front and back license plates did not match.
The officers ordered the six riders, who also lacked entry permits, to exit the vehicle for it to be examined.
Upon discovering the various weapons, the suspects were detained, the vehicle was seized and the checkpoint was temporarily closed.
According to the police spokesperson, the suspects admitted during initial questioning to planning to carry out a terror attack in Jerusalem.

Top Hamas commander, booted from Qatar, said hiding with Hezbollah

One of the most wanted Palestinian terrorists, believed by Israeli intelligence to have planned the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank in the summer of 2014, has moved to Lebanon after being expelled last month from Qatar.
Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is hosting Saleh al-Arouri in its Dahieh stronghold in southern Beirut, Channel 2 news reported Monday.
Citing unnamed Palestinian sources, the television station said that Arouri and two other senior Hamas figures have relocated to the Hezbollah-dominated neighborhood in the Lebanese capital, an area heavily protected with checkpoints on every access road.
On June 5, Palestinian sources confirmed that Qatar — which is embroiled in a boycott by Saudi Arabia and four other Arab states — had asked several top Hamas officials to leave for Lebanon, Turkey and Malaysia.
A few days later, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman charged that Arouri had resettled in Lebanon, where he has been planning, along with two other activists, terror attacks against Israel.

Palestinian Authority lays off 6,145 of its Gaza employees

The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday forced 6,145 of its civil employees in the Gaza Strip into early retirement, as a part of measures to pressure Hamas to concede control over the territory, a PA government spokesman said.
Over the past two months, the PA has slashed the salaries of its employees in Gaza, reduced electricity to the area, and cut medical budgets.
PA spokesman Tariq Rishmawi said the moves are aimed at restoring the unity of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“We will not allow for Hamas to perpetuate the split,” Rishmawi said in a phone interview. “We will take all the necessary to measures to end it.” Rishmawi called on Hamas to enable the PA government to operate fully in Gaza.
Hamas ousted the PA from Gaza in 2007 in a coup d’etat. The Islamist group has since signed multiple agreements with Fatah to unite the West Bank and Gaza under one PA government, but heavily restricts the PA from operating in the Strip.

Qatar has become an incubator for radicals and terrorist groups

The interview with Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi on Al Jazeera television was chilling.
“If Al Jamaa [the Muslim Brotherhood] saw that there is a need for someone to blow himself up to kill others and it is something required,” Qaradawi said, “Al Jamaa will show him how to do it.”
Qaradawi is among 59 individuals listed as terrorists by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. He joins a rogue’s gallery of terrorists who have appeared uncritically on Al Jazeera, including Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Al Jazeera, launched and funded by the Qatari government in 1996, has proved itself a useful platform for disseminating radical Islamist views.
Al Jazeera is a tool for the larger Qatari effort to support terrorism and harbor terrorists and their financiers. That’s why Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the UAE recently cut ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions on it. They have had enough.

John Bolton: Iran: Regime Change is Within Reach

And let’s be clear: Even if somebody were to say to you that the regime is in full compliance with the nuclear deal, it doesn’t make any difference. North Korea is already perilously close to the point where they can miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and hit targets in the United States. And the day after North Korea has that capability, the regime in Tehran will have it as well, simply by signing a check. That’s what proliferation is, that’s what the threat’s about, and that’s why Donald Trump’s views on North Korea are so similar to his views on the regime in Tehran.
But in the region as well, we face a very, very dangerous point. As the campaign to destroy the ISIS Caliphate nears its ultimately successful conclusion, we must avoid allowing the regime in Tehran to achieve its long-sought objective of an arc of control from Iran, through the Baghdad government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon — an arc of control, which if it’s allowed to form, will simply be the foundation for the next grave conflict in the Middle East. The regime in Tehran is not merely a nuclear-weapons threat; it’s not merely a terrorist threat; it is a conventional threat to everybody in the region who simply seeks to live in peace and security.
The regime has failed internationally. It has failed domestically, in economics and politics — indeed its time of weakening is only accelerating, and that’s why the changed circumstances in the United States, I think, throughout Europe and here today, are so important.
There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today. I had said for over 10 years since coming to these events, that the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself. And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran! Thank you very much.

French Energy Giant Total Signs Major Iran Gas Deal, Defies U.S. Pressure

French energy giant Total defied US pressure on Monday by signing a multi-billion-dollar gas deal with Iran, the first by a European firm in more than a decade.
Total will invest an initial $1 billion (880 million euros) in the South Pars offshore gas field as part of a consortium with Chinese and Iranian firms.
The 20-year project, which will eventually see the firms inject $4.9 billion, is by far the biggest vote of confidence in the Islamic republic since sanctions were lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“Today, for Total, is a historic day, the day we come back to Iran,” Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said at the signing ceremony in Tehran.
“We aren’t a political organisation, but I hope this agreement will encourage other companies to come to Iran because economic development is also a way of building peace,” he told AFP.
“We are here to build bridges, not walls,” he added.
The project in South Pars, a field shared between Iran and Qatar, is the first under a new Iranian Petroleum Contract which offers better terms to foreign investors but has faced intense criticism from hardliners who said it was too generous.
Oil Minister Bijan Namadar Zanganeh said the deal was a direct result of moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s resounding re-election victory in May and strong public support for rebuilding ties with the West.

North Korea: Our missiles can strike anywhere in the world

North Korea said Tuesday that it has successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew a trajectory that an expert said could allow it to hit the U.S. state of Alaska.
The launch came days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations are due to discuss steps to rein in North Korea’s weapons programs, which it has pursued in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
The launch, which North Korea’s state media said was ordered and supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, sent the rocket 933 kilometers (580 miles), reaching an altitude of 2,802 kilometers (1,741 miles) over a flight time of 39 minutes.
Officials from South Korea, Japan and the United States said the missile landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone after being launched near an airfield in Panghyon, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northwest of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
“The test launch was conducted at the sharpest angle possible and did not have any negative effect on neighboring countries,” North Korean state media said in a statement.
North Korea also said its missiles are now capable of striking anywhere in the world.

PreOccupiedTerritory: North Koreans Hoping Missile That Can Reach North America Can Bring Back Food (satire)

The government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced the successful test of a ballistic missile yesterday, claiming the weapon’s capabilities bring almost anywhere on Earth into range, and prompting the inhabitants of North Korea to wonder whether the missile, once it travels that far, can pick up some of the surplus foodstuffs that must exist outside the country, and deliver them to the starving DPRK population.
While foreign defense and intelligence sources questioned the veracity of North Korea’s claims that the missile has the range to cross, for example, the Pacific Ocean, to threaten the US, inside the DPRK, citizens are looking to the new weapons technology to help them, reasoning that even if the missile can only reach as far as Alaska, Hawaii, or Japan, those places have significant quantities of actual food, a resource North Korea lacks.
“There’s only so much ammunition and rocket fuel a family can eat,” explained Aimong Rhee, a father of two. “We’ve been subsisting on that, on barbed wire, and on leaflets distributed by the government to the effect that we live in a workers’ paradise whose prosperity is unrivaled anywhere else on Earth thanks to the wisdom, resolve, and just all-around greatness of the Kim dynasty. Maybe the amazing new missile, which we are told can carry a nuclear warhead, can also carry some bread and meat back to us? Maybe some vegetables? We’re not picky.”

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