April 13, 2021

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07/06 Links Pt1: No paying for slaying; Expose the Palestinian ‘Refugee’ Scam; Glick: Why the concern for UNRWA?; The Iran opportunity and European infamy


From Ian:

JPost Editorial: No paying for slaying
We commend MKs from all parties except Meretz and the Joint List who together passed the Israeli version of the Taylor Force bill on Monday night, weakened version though it may be. We especially praise two coalition leaders, Avigdor Liberman and Naftali Bennett, for standing up to the prime minister’s delaying tactics; and Elazar Stern, who wrote the original draft of the bill, and his co-sponsor, Avi Dichter. That’s four different parties represented.

The new bill is aimed at stopping the Palestinian Authority from giving terrorists and their families monthly stipends. The Knesset bill is modeled along the American Taylor Force Act passed by Congress in March – also with bipartisan support – that cuts all US aid to the PA until it stops paying terrorists and their families.

This week, Australia gave its support as well, redirecting $10 million away from the World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund over concern that the money was being used by the PA to pay terrorists to kill.

Though it may be weaker than the Taylor Force Act, the Knesset law passed this week will require the government to deduct NIS 1.2 billion a year that the PA pays terrorists – money Israel withholds from the taxes and tariffs it collects for the Palestinians. The American law, on the other hand, requires the US government to hold back all discretionary funds for aid.

The Israeli legislation was nicknamed the anti-pay-for-slay bill, but it’s not some jingo that makes for a good headline. This is life and death. This is a war being waged against all Israelis, wherever they live – but not just Israelis.

Expose the Palestinian ‘Refugee’ Scam

“If President Trump wants to promote peace in the Middle East, his first step should be to declassify a key State Department report that would end the myth of Palestinian ‘refugees.’

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency is singularly devoted to the Palestinian refugee issue. Unrwa labels more than five million Palestinians ‘refugees’-an impossible figure. The first Arab-Israeli war, in 1948, yielded roughly 800,000 Palestinian Arab refugees. Perhaps 30,000 remain alive today, but Unrwa has kept the refugee issue alive by labeling their descendants-in some cases great-great-grandchildren-as ‘refugees,’ who insist on the ‘right of return’ to their ancestors’ homes. Israel categorically rejects this demand.

If Mr. Trump wants his peace plan to have a chance, he has to challenge false Palestinian narratives. He did this by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. Embassy there. For decades, Palestinian leaders issued maximalist claims on Jerusalem. Mr. Trump’s move sent the message that making peace requires accepting reality.

Mr. Trump can send the same message by declassifying one document. In 2012 Congress ordered the State Department to disclose how many Palestinians currently served by Unrwa fled the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and how many are merely their descendants. The Obama administration classified the report, citing national security-as if revealing foreign census data were a threat to America…”

Caroline Glick: Why the concern for UNRWA?

With less money, UNRWA becomes a less attractive option for millions of Arabs for whom accepting cradle-to-grave welfare payments from UNRWA has substituted work as an economic model. “Employed” on the UNRWA dole, they have been able to take low paying jobs as terrorists.

Obviously, as former UN ambassadors, the seven signatories know all of this. So obviously, they weren’t motivated to write due to some sort of deep seated desire to improve the welfare of the Palestinians. They were also clearly not motivated by genuine concern for Israel’s security, much less for the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Indeed, given what we know – and what they know – about UNRWA, it is impossible to attribute any positive justification to their actions. Rather, the only logical explanation for their decision to sign and send the letter to Pompeo is that they want to perpetuate US assistance to UNRWA because they like what it does. They think it is a good idea to doom Palestinians to perpetual misery and ensure that they will never, ever accept Israel’s right to exist in secure borders unmolested by war and terrorism and demonization.

That is, like UNRWA, the seven former senior diplomats were motivated by rank hostility to Israel. This is remarkable.

Power, Rice, Pickering, Perkins, Albright, Richardson and Negroponte represent the top tier of Washington’s bipartisan foreign policy clique. Together, they have played key roles in shaping US policy towards Israel for 30 years. And they like UNRWA.

Pompeo should thank them for their letter. He should thank them for reminding him to reconsider the administration’s position on the UN agency. And then he should follow Haley’s advice from January and end all US funding to UNRWA.

Furthermore, Pompeo should declassify the data on the actual number of Palestinian refugees and he should call for their cases to be dealt with by the UNHCR, without prejudice. And then he should announce that out of concern for the welfare of the Palestinians and in the interests of peace and regional security in the Middle East, the US believes the time has come to shut UNRWA down completely.

Melanie Phillips: The Iran opportunity and European infamy

America’s ultimate strategic goal, however, is clear: to weaken, stymie and ultimately destroy the Islamic regime in Iran.

Yet, incredibly, Britain and Europe are still attempting to support it. This weekend, the five powers still party to the nuclear deal – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – are meeting Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in Vienna to discuss how it might continue without US support.

This, even though earlier this week, six people were arrested in Belgium, France and Germany, including an Iranian diplomat posted to Vienna, over an alleged Iranian terrorist plot to attack an Iranian-opposition rally in a Paris suburb this weekend.

BRITAIN, FRANCE and Germany may realize very soon that they will need to choose between trading with Iran and trading with the US. The State Department has threatened to punish sanctions violators, while major European companies such as Peugeot, Siemens and Total are reportedly preparing to halt their dealings with Tehran.

Both Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have made a point of telling the Iranian people that they have American and Israeli support and that the fight by the US and Israel is merely against the regime that oppresses them.

Iran’s brave dissidents desperately need Western support, both material and psychological, if they are to continue pitting their lives against the regime. Yet, appallingly and shamefully, their protests are receiving virtually no coverage at all in the British or American media. Instead of the wider support needed to help them bring down the regime, they’re being ignored.

Trump is trying to do something which for the first time looks like it might just be possible: to neutralize the Iranian regime, and thus not only rid the world of its most deadly threat to life and liberty but make the defeat of other malign actors such as North Korea more likely.

It may not work. But whatever happens, the role being played by Britain, France and Germany and the decadent Western media will surely be bracketed by future historians with Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler in the annals of political infamy.

Head of Likud South Africa gunned down in Johannesburg

An outspoken Jewish advocate of Israel was gunned down at his workplace in South Africa by unidentified assailants, who left behind his car, wallet and cellular phone.

Sergio Kowensky, the chairman of the Likud South Africa Jewish group, was killed Tuesday in a southern suburb of Johannesburg at his air-conditioning firm, according to the South African Jewish Report.

The shots, fired at around noon, alerted workers in his factory and others in surrounding businesses.

The initial fears were that this could have been the work of anti-Israel fanatics, given that Kowensky spent his entire life dedicated to Zionist ideals, with an intense passion for the well-being of the State of Israel,” the newspaper article’s author wrote. But with the investigation into Kowensky’s death only in its initial phases, his slaying could be “just another senseless act of urban violence on the crime-ridden streets of Johannesburg,” the author also wrote.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Kowensky grew up in the small town of Moisés Ville in the province of Santa Fe, which was founded by Eastern European and Russian Jews escaping persecution in 1889.

Kowensky, 67, is survived by his wife Alison, and their three children, aged 32-42.

The incident closely followed warnings by representatives of South Africa’s Jewish community who said they are seeing an uptick in anti-Semitic rhetoric in real life and on social media.

Poles carry their own hatred for Jews

I know there is a dialogue taking place between the Israeli and Polish governments over Poland’s recently enacted Holocaust law, but a few historical points must not be ignored.

Last week’s joint statement from the prime ministers of Israel and Poland states that “the governments of Poland and Israel call for a return to civil and respectful dialogue in the public discourse.”

It is important to me to add “based on historical truth,” because we cannot hold a dialogue that ignores the truth and what really happened and ignores the Jews’ suffering on Polish ground during the Holocaust.

True, Poland was the only country occupied by Germany in which no citizen joined the SS to fight alongside the Germans, unlike some French, Dutch, Belgians, and Ukrainians, the last of whom guarded the concentration camps.

On the other hand, Poland was the only country in which, after the Nazis were defeated, local anti-Semites carried out a pogrom and murdered dozens of Jews. I am referring to the 1946 Kielce pogrom, in which dozens of Polish Jews who had survived the Holocaust and wanted to go back to their homes in Kielce were killed as a result of blood libels like the story of Jews using Christian children’s blood in religious rites.

‘Historical truth is in peril’

“This is giving in to the Polish narrative, an attack on the memory of the Holocaust, and a danger to any future independent research that people might want to conduct in Poland,” says eminent Holocaust historian and Israel Prize laureate Professor Yehuda Bauer.

Bauer, 92, spoke in response to a joint statement issued by the governments of Israel and Poland this week announcing an alteration to Poland’s controversial Holocaust law, which made it a criminal act to accuse the Polish nation or the Polish people of responsibility for Nazi atrocities committed in Poland.

After lengthy negotiations, the criminal sanctions were removed, although the law still permits civil lawsuits against researchers and activists.

The statement made last week by Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Mateusz Morawiecki said that even though most of the mass extermination of the Jews of Europe was perpetrated in Poland, the main responsibility for the crimes lay with the Germans and many Poles had helped save Jews during the Holocaust. The statement plays down the role the Polish people played in the killings.

“As far as I am concerned, an Israeli government that attacks the memory of the Holocaust is a disaster,” Bauer tells Israel Hayom.

Israel said to protest to Warsaw over PR campaign on Holocaust law deal

Israeli officials have reportedly protested to the Polish government over Warsaw’s global media campaign to tout the joint Israeli-Polish declaration signed last week.

An NGO linked to the Polish government took out full-page ads in newspapers in Israel, the US, Germany, Poland and elsewhere containing the text of the declaration, signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki on June 27, which Poland sees as exonerating it of accusations that Poles had any meaningful role in the Holocaust.

On Friday, Channel 10 reported that the Israeli government, reeling from criticism at home over the content of the joint declaration, has complained bitterly to Warsaw about the ad campaign over the last 24 hours.

“The Polish campaign was a violation of the spirit of the understandings” reached between Israel and Poland, Israeli officials said Friday, according to Channel 10 news.

Israel is also said to have complained to Poland that it had “used a diplomatic step intended to resolve a crisis between the two states for its public relations.”

IDF attacks Syrian regime position after shell hits in buffer zone

The Israeli military attacked a Syrian position on Friday after a mortar shell exploded in the buffer zone between the two countries, in what the military said was a violation of a 1974 ceasefire agreement.

“The IDF attacked a Syrian outpost from which a mortar shell was fired that landed in the buffer zone, east of and close to the fence,” the army said in a statement.

The military said the mortar shell was fired during the ongoing battles between Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s forces and opposition groups in the area. The army would not say if it believed the shelling from Syria was intentionally directed at the buffer zone or if it was a stray shot from nearby fighting.

The Israel Defense Forces said it would continue to hold Assad’s regime responsible for upholding the 1974 ceasefire agreement between the two countries, which ended the previous year’s Yom Kippur War.

Under the armistice, a demilitarized zone was established between Israel and Syria.

Syrian regime troops reach key border crossing with Jordan

Syrian state media said Friday that government forces have reached a vital border crossing with Jordan and raised the national flag for the first time in years.

State news agency SANA said the capture of the Naseeb border crossing happened Friday afternoon after a deal was close to being reached between rebels and Russian mediators to end the violence in southern Syria.

The capture of the Naseeb border crossing is another victory for President Bashar Assad’s forces, who have regained control of most of the area’s key cities from insurgents.

Rebels seized control of the crossing in 2015, cutting a major lifeline for Syrian exports and disrupting a major trade route between Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and oil-rich gulf counties.

Syrian government forces launched a wide offensive on June 19 to retake Daraa and the nearby Quneitra region that borders the Israeli Golan Heights. The attack has displaced some 330,000 people and left dozens dead.

Rebels in southern Syria said on Friday they were close to reaching a deal with regime ally Russia including a ceasefire and the handover of some territory.

Israel lays down red lines for postwar relations with Syria

As Syrian government forces press on with a furious offensive against rebel-held areas in the country’s south, Israel is quietly acknowledging that President Bashar Assad’s forces will soon be on its doorstep, laying down red lines for postwar relations with the Syrian leader.

Israel’s main concern is to keep archrival Iran, an Assad ally, as far away from its border as possible — along with its proxy, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.

“Our demand is that the Iranian forces will go out or withdraw from Syria as a whole, and in it specifically southwest Syria,” said a senior Israeli military official.

It is a turnaround from a few years ago, when Israeli leaders were publicly predicting Assad’s overthrow and some voices even mused about peace with a future democratic Syria.

While carefully refusing to take sides in the Syrian civil war, Israel offered humanitarian assistance to rebels, and has made a public show of taking in several thousand wounded Syrians for medical treatment.

But there is a sense now in Israel, as in parts of the West, that despite Assad’s vicious conduct of the war — with hundreds of thousands killed and millions forced from their homes — his survival may be a better outcome than a takeover of Syria by Islamic militants who emerged over time as his most potent rivals.

IDF deploys Iron Dome batteries in the south

The IDF deployed several Iron Dome batteries in southern Israel Thursday following a situational assessment, the military told The Jerusalem Post.

“The IDF is prepared for several scenarios and ready to defend the citizens of the State of Israel and its sovereignty,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.

On Thursday, an IDF drone fired “a missile at a motorcycle” east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported, adding that while there were no injuries the motorcycle was destroyed.
Arrow 3 Trial (Defense Ministry)

The IDF has been carrying out strikes in the Gaza Strip against vehicles used by terrorist cells who launch incendiary aerial devices into Israel. The Hamas terrorist group in turn has launched mortar shells towards southern Israeli communities.

On June 20, Hamas, along with Islamic Jihad, launched a barrage of 45 mortars shortly after IAF jets struck three targets in the Strip in response to incendiary kites and explosive balloons launched towards southern Israel.

Seven of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and another three fell inside the Strip. Four were found inside communities in the Eshkol Regional Council, causing damage to nearby homes and cars. One landed in the yard of an empty kindergarten.

IDF Blog: Israelis Speak About Living with Hamas Terror

Israelis living in communities 5 km (3 mi) from the Gaza Strip speak about living with Hamas terror.

Dennis Ross: The U.S. Peace Plan Is Serious

Dennis Ross, who was President Clinton’s Middle East envoy and a member of the National Security Council staff with responsibility for the Middle East and the Persian Gulf in the administration of Barack Obama, says that he is convinced of the seriousness of the work of Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, President Trump’s envoys to the Middle East.

Ross told Globes that he has met Kushner and Greenblatt several times over the past year. “On the basis of my conversations with them I’m convinced that they studied the material well and did serious preparation….I’m convinced that what they are doing is serious…. Actually one of the things that indicate seriousness is the fact that the plan has not been leaked.”

I asked Ross whether there was any possibility of moving forward when everything was stuck vis-a-vis the Palestinians. “This is the reason that they are focusing on leaders of countries in the region,” Ross answered. “The leaders of the Arab countries won’t put themselves in place of the Palestinians, and they won’t force their positions on the Palestinians either, but they could create a climate that will make it difficult for the Palestinians not to respond.”

“So, for example, the leaders of the Arab countries could respond to publication of the plan by stating that they have some questions about it, but that they believe that it’s a serious plan that could represent a basis for negotiations. If this is what the Arab leaders say after the plan’s release, and if the European countries also come out with a positive and supportive reaction, a general context will be created in which Abu Mazen [Abbas] will find it hard to continue to remain silent and ignore it.”

Ross points out that in the past few years he has written a monthly column in Asharq al-Awsat, an Arabic daily published in London. “I think that that’s a sign that indicates change – the fact that they want to read a column from an American, a Jew….The interesting thing is that I receive many supportive responses.”

“They see Israel differently from the way they saw it in the past. In the countries of the region, Israel is no longer seen as a threat, but as a country that acts on what it says. It’s doing things at a time when no one else is lifting a finger in relation to Iran and Syria. The Jordanians, for example, may perhaps not admit it, but they appreciate Israel’s strength and the fact that it doesn’t just talk but also acts.”

White House Stands By Ambassador to Israel David Friedman

The White House and leading lawmakers are dismissing a liberal Middle East policy group’s escalating attacks on the U.S. ambassador to Israel, according to conversations with Trump administration officials and others who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the situation.

J Street, a liberal advocacy group viewed as operating on the fringes of the Jewish community due to its harsh criticism of Israel, recently called for U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to be recalled from his post for promoting closer U.S.-Israel ties as he carries out President Donald Trump’s policy priorities in the region, which included relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the country’s capital city of Jerusalem.

While Friedman has been hailed by Republicans for his work to repair the historically close U.S.-Israel relationship that had frayed during the Obama administration, J Street and its allies have been attacking the diplomat for recent comments stating, “There’s no question Republicans support Israel more than Democrats.”

J Street has repeatedly been on the losing side of confrontations with the Trump administration. It’s efforts to save the Iran nuclear deal, oppose Friedman’s nomination, stop the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, torpedo the nomination of current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and numerous others, have all failed in recent months.

J Street, which has long found itself isolated in the Jewish and foreign policy communities, is now calling for a Senate investigation into Friedman as part of what many insiders described to the Free Beacon as a smear campaign meant to undermine the ambassador and the Trump administration’s increasing efforts to foster peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

UK Lawmakers Denounce Incitement in Palestinian Textbooks as Government Plans Inquiry

British parliamentarians raised concerns on Wednesday about the Palestinian Authority’s possible use of aid money to fund an educational curriculum that has been accused of glorifying terrorism.

In a House of Commons debate, MP Joan Ryan — a member of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) — referenced a report published last year by the Jerusalem-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) on the PA’s recently-reformed curriculum for grades 1 through 11.

The review found that PA textbooks exert “pressure over young Palestinians to acts of violence,” provide “a rationale for war” with Israel, and encourage “Palestinian children to sacrifice themselves to martyrdom” — elements that Ryan said represent “a significant step backwards.”

“Children of 13 are taught Newton’s second law through the image of a boy with a slingshot targeting soldiers,” she noted. “Children of 10 are asked to calculate the number of martyrs in Palestinian uprisings in a maths textbook.”

Other lessons glorify Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist who took part in a 1978 massacre of 38 Israelis, including 13 children.

Devoid of Jews for decades, one Syrian city would be ready to welcome them back

In today’s Syria, there are not many places where one can openly ask about the former Jewish community. But Mahmoud doesn’t seem to feel the need to lower his tone. In Qamishli — a bustling northern city that numbered 185,000 in 2004 and has likely only grew in the years since Syria’s civil war began — he has nothing to fear.

“I don’t understand the problem,” says the local shoemaker, who keeps shop near the Qamishli bazaar. “The neighbors of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, were also Jews, so I see no reason why we should not have Jewish neighbors. Years ago, there were many Jewish families that used to live with us in peace.”

Mahmoud doesn’t remember much from when Jews still lived in Qamishli; he was just a child when most Jews left. “After the first wave, a few Jewish families remained here, but in the end, everyone left, leaving behind them houses, shops, and property,” he says.

After speaking for a few minutes, he asks, “Do you want me to show you where our Jewish neighbors used to pray?”

Visitors from Papua New Guinea tour Judea and Samaria

A group of tourists from Papua New Guinea visited Judea and Samaria as part of a project organized by the Lev HaOlam Organization.

The group, consisting of about thirty members, first arrived at the home of Lev HaOlam founder Attorney Nati Rom, who told them about Judea and Samaria history and the connection of the Jewish people to the region.

Rom also told them about intentions of the boycott organizations and the BDS movement against Israel. He explained the false narrative spread by these groups and how their true goal is the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state.

Rom further told the visitors about industry in Judea and Samaria and the need to strengthen the economy, which will in turn strengthen the Jewish pioneers living in the region. The visitors expressed significant interest and promised to remain in contact.

Prominent African Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs Tour Israel to Deepen Ties

A delegation of 10 African business leaders and entrepreneurs are touring Israel as part of an effort to grow further business and development ties between the Jewish state and sub-Saharan Africa.

The tour, organized by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange, features African business leaders and entrepreneurs from Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, who specialize in renewable energy and agriculture. They will meet with Israeli counterparts in those fields.

“We are delighted to host such a distinguished business delegation in Israel and to facilitate introductions to counterparts in fields that symbolize the potential for enhanced engagement between Africa and Israel,” said Eliseo Neuman, director of AJC’s Africa Institute, who is accompanying the delegation in Israel. “We thank the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce in Tel Aviv for its advice in designing the program and granting us access to its impressive membership.”

While Africa is rich in natural resources, there are important bilateral benefits to be realized through expanded exchange of agricultural and other technologies between Israel and Africa.

Number of terrorist attacks in Jerusalem drops to 3-year low

Israeli security services documented only six terrorist attacks in Jerusalem in June — the lowest figure on record for any given month in at least three years.

The tally constitutes a sharp drop in attacks in Jerusalem from May, when security forces documented 34 such incidents in the capital. The decrease was part of an overall drop of 40 percent in the number of terrorist attacks documented in June, when 220 such incidents were registered, the Shin Bet said in its monthly report published this week.

The figure for May was 365, the highest number in over two years of terrorist attacks on Israelis.

The first half of June was Ramadan, a Muslim month-long holiday when observant worshipers fast from sunrise to sundown. Ramadan usually features a spike, not a decrease in terrorist activity. Israeli security services massively increased their presence in Jerusalem in June to prevent disturbances.

Five people were wounded in the terrorist attacks in May, one of them moderately and the rest lightly.

Arabs riot, IDF ambush nets ringleader

Dozens of Arabs threw firebombs and rocks at IDF forces in Hevron Friday, until their ringleader was arrested in an IDF ambush.

A team from the IDF’s 636th Battalion, which specializes in field intelligence, was able to identify the terrorist who led the violent activity.

This enabled a force from the Nahal 932nd Battalion to carry out a successful ambush, catch the suspect and bring him in to be questioned.

His arrest brought about the immediate cessation of the violent rioting.

Captain Yair Ben David, commander of the “Palhod” company in Battalion 932, told Arutz Sheva that the Nahal Brigade warriors have been serving in Judea for the past four weeks, and have been protecting the Jews of Hevron and preventing Arab terrorism around the clock.

High Court freezes demolition of West Bank Bedouin village

The High Court of Justice on Thursday night issued a temporary injunction preventing the state from carrying out plans to demolish a West Bank Bedouin village.

Following an urgent petition submitted by Alaa Mahajna on behalf of the Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, the court froze the demolition of the village, giving the state until July 11 to respond.

The petition says the Civil Administration, in charge of construction permits in the West Bank, never offered any plans to legalize the village, and refused to review a plan submitted by the villagers.

After a years-long legal battle, the Supreme Court approved the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar in May. The state says the structures were built without the relevant building permits and pose a threat to the village residents because of their proximity to a highway.

But activists say the villagers — who have lived at the site since the 1950s after the state evicted them from their Negev homes — had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits, as these are almost never issued to Palestinians for building in parts of the West Bank, such as Khan al-Ahmar, where Israel has full control over civilian affairs.

Russia 2018Palestinian resentment of UK bubbles over into England-Sweden World Cup support

As England prepare to play Sweden in a crunch World Cup quarter-final Saturday, the Scandinavians will find strong support in a perhaps unlikely location: the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

In busy cafes where young men pack in to watch games while smoking shisha, the support for Sweden may be almost as strong as their dislike for England after a century of historical hurt.

Ruled by the Hamas terror group and closed off by an Israeli and Egyptian blockade for the past decade, politics seeps into nearly every conversation in the strip, even when it comes to soccer.

And in this game, for many Palestinians, there is a clear good and bad guy.

“Of course I will support Sweden,” said 37-year-old Hisham Ahmed.

“I can’t imagine a Palestinian supporting England, which created the Balfour Declaration, or not supporting the country that stood before the world and recognized our state.”

Forlorn Palestinian parliament a glum emblem of lost optimism

Pigeons have covered the unused plenum hall with thick layers of droppings. A security guard chases away a stray dog, waving a stick. The would-be Palestinian parliament is left empty, a glum reminder of what might have been.

Construction began in 1996 as Israel and the Palestinians were negotiating interim agreements that set up the Palestinian autonomy government and were widely expected to lead the way to an independent Palestinian state.

The village of Abu Dis was seen then by some as an elegant solution to the conflicting Israeli and Palestinian claims on Jerusalem. Located outside the Israeli-delineated city limits it is nonetheless considered part of the Jerusalem district by the Palestinian Authority.

Indeed, top-floor offices in the building offer a view of the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in the Old City just a few kilometers away. Legend has it that one of those rooms was reserved for use of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

But in 2000 peace talks over a final agreement collapsed in the Second Intifada. The Jerusalem area was boiling over with tensions and a location that was once a blessing instead became a curse. Construction halted, and Israel built its separation barrier just outside the building, cutting it off from Jerusalem.

Cracks form in bid to save nuke deal as Iran spurns European economic package

Three European nations along with Russia and China met with Iran Friday to offer it economic benefits that would lessen the blow of sweeping US sanctions, but the meeting was quickly overshadowed by Iran expressing disappointment and Germany saying it could not offer full compensation for new sanctions.

Their foreign ministers were holding talks in Vienna, where the accord was signed in 2015 with the aim of stopping Iran from building the atomic bomb in return for sanctions relief that promised greater trade and investment for the country.

“We are meeting here today to make sure the nuclear agreement with Iran has a future,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said as he arrived for talks with counterparts from Iran and the other signatories Britain, China, France and Russia.

“After the withdrawal of the United States, which we can’t understand, we face a difficult situation,” he said. “We want to make clear to Iran that it will still gain economic benefits through this agreement.”

In Iran, though, President Hassan Rouhani told German Chancellor over the phone that he was “disappointed” with the deal, according to Iranian state run media.

MEMRI: Senior Saudi Journalist ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed: Oil Sanctions Are The Most Effective Weapon Against The Iranian Regime

It has recently been reported that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to slap oil sanctions on Iran beginning in November of this year. To this end, on June 30, 2018 he asked Saudi King Salman Bin ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz to increase his country’s oil production so as to prevent any shortage of oil when the sanctions on Iran come into effect. This led Iranian officials, chief of them Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, to threaten that, if Iran is prevented from exporting oil, other countries in the region will not be able to continue exporting their own oil.

Against this backdrop, Senior Saudi journalist ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, who is a former editor of the Saudi London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and former director of the Al-Arabiya website, pointed out that most of the wars in the Middle East are over oil, and argued that, regardless of Iran’s threats, oil sanctions are indeed the most effective weapon to use against the Iranian regime. The recent U.S. sanctions and measures against Iran, he wrote, have already caused a decline in its oil production capacity, which contributed to the collapse of its currency that sparked widespread protests across the country in June. Therefore, he concluded, if Saudi Arabia cooperates with the U.S. in pressuring Iran on the oil front, this may bring the Iranian regime to a point where it can no longer maintain its policy of military intervention in other countries. At that point this regime will either be forced to change its policies and comply with the West’s demands, or else collapse.

It should be noted that, in a 2012 article, Al-Rashed expressed support for the oil embargo that had been imposed on Iran at the time.

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