MEMRI: Palestinian Authority TV Lauds President Abbas’ Holocaust Denial PhD Thesis, Terror Attacks Launched From Lebanon
The official Palestinian Authority TV channel broadcast a bio-documentary on President Mahmoud Abbas. The show presented his Ph.D. dissertation from the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies, claiming that he had “exposed the relations between the global Zionist organization and the Nazi regime.” In a book, published on the basis of the dissertation, Abbas claimed that the number of victims in the Holocaust was less than one million. The PA TV program included an interview with Dr. Khadr Al-Zufairi, a personal friend of Abbas, who praised his oratory skills and said that Abbas had presented 93 documents to prove his claims. Later in the show, the channel lauded Dalal Al-Mughrabi, who led the 1978 Coastal Road terrorist attack in Israel, and other terrorists who launched “heroic operations” from Lebanon, saying that they “embodied the epitome of martyrdom in occupied Palestine.” The program aired on July 20, 2018.
“When [Mahmoud Abbas] Headed The Palestinian-Soviet Friendship Foundation, He Was Working On A Ph.D. Dissertation, Which He Later Published As An Important Book, Titled: The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism And Zionism”
Narrator: “When [Mahmoud Abbas] headed the Palestinian-Soviet Friendship Foundation, he was working on a Ph.D. dissertation, which he later published as an important book, titled: The Other Side: The Secret Relationship between Nazism and Zionism. In the book, Abbas presented documents exposing the relations between the global Zionist organization and the Nazi regime, and the agreements between the Zionists and the Nazis, especially the Haavara Agreement. The Hebrew word [‘Haavara’] means ‘transfer.'”
Khadr Al-Zufairi: “The dissertation committee consisted of 27 professors. There was an unexpectedly large attendance. People were asking one another: How come so many people have come? That dissertation was unusual – even its title was unusual for the Russians. Anyway, the custom is that when a student defends his dissertation, he is allowed to write three or four pages of notes to read from. Abbas had only one page, with the main points, and he started speaking. The translator was from the Institute of Oriental Studies. He was fluent in both Arabic and Russian. He lectured, defending his dissertation, improvising as he spoke… Abbas is a very eloquent and capable speaker. He defended his dissertation.
“Then the head of the committee of the Institute of Oriental Studies asked him: ‘Do you have any documents that prove what you are saying?’ [Abbas] picked up the documents next to him and said: ‘I have 93 documents to prove what I’m saying.’ He read out an abstract of the first document, then the next, and so on. He even had documents that he had managed to get from Israel. Anyway, he finished with distinction, and the Institute of Oriental Studies asked to print the dissertation as a book in Russian.”
Over the past month, reports have circulated that members of the US House of Representatives’ Middle East Subcommittee have raised concerns that humanitarian aid is not reaching the Palestinian population, especially in Gaza.
In response, the Center for Near East Policy Research (CFNEPR) contacted 44 donor nations that contribute humanitarian aid to the Palestinian population in Gaza through UNRWA in order to determine if any had cut back on their donations. With the exception of the US, which has cut back on 20% of its donations, every single donor nation responded emphatically that they are not cutting one penny in aid to UNRWA.
Therefore, UNRWA currently has $1.2 billion to spend on the people supposed to benefit from its health, education, and welfare programs in Gaza, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
Despite this, UNRWA proclaims to the media that it is bereft of resources to provide basic services. The organization’s media adviser Adnan Abu Hasna declared that UNRWA lacks basic food products and the people of Gaza “have nothing to lose,” adding “we don’t know yet whether school will open in the coming year. … We’re talking about 300,000 students who need to go to school.”
So why does UNRWA claim that it does not have funds for humanitarian needs?
The answer may lie with Hamas, the terror group that has controlled the UNRWA workers and teachers associations in Gaza since 1999.
When the gunshots rang out we didn’t panic, but for the wrong reasons. Every evening the sounds of gunfire bursts and firecracker explosions from the nearby Arab villages pierce the air. These villages are trapped between Jerusalem’s municipal territory and the separation fence, and no one enforces the law in them. Thus, on Thursday evening when a few friends and I were mingling in the plaza outside the local synagogue, we didn’t imagine that a tragedy had befallen the community of Adam.
The person I was talking to in that moment had lost his daughter just three weeks ago due to a rare amniotic fluid embolism. The daughter died, the baby granddaughter was saved, and the entire community, thousands of people, came to mourn and grieve with him. No one was thinking of terror or anything related. Around five minutes later, when a security vehicle sped past us, we understood something had happened. Even then, and perhaps it will sound strange, I assumed it was a criminal incident.
I ran home to the kids. One wasn’t home but we soon learned he was with neighbors. We locked the doors and waited for things to unfold. My phone soon began vibrating with rapidly incoming reports and updates. A long hour later, we still couldn’t get any information about who had been hurt.
The minutes passed and slowly the mind shifted to the realization that we too, in Adam, had come under a terrorist infiltration attack. For years we had been very worried about it. The community guard group had run hundreds of drills to defend against such an attack; they were rushed to the fence dozens of times due to infiltrations, which later emerged as criminal incidents or just a stray animal. This time it was real.
Daniel Nadav walked out of his house to investigate what he believed was a neighbor’s brawl and found himself in the middle of a terror attack.
If not for the quick reaction of his neighbors, Nadav said, “it would have been a killing spree.”
The terrorist was later identified as Mohammed Yusuf, 17, from the village of Kober. He had passed a Beduin encampment on his way to the settlement, whose members understood that he was suspicious and tried to stop him.
They alerted the Adam community, but not before Yusuf had managed to jump over the security fence and make his way into the settlement.
Nadav was in his home, at the end of a small cul-de-sac on a street that was more like a long driveway on the edge of the Adam settlement when the attack occurred.
“I was home. You see the lights? That is where I live. I heard screams. I walked out. At first I didn’t understand what was happening,” Nadav said.
He continued one or two homes down the small street and saw Yusuf, who was wearing jeans and a white T-shirt, stabbing the neighbor in his yard.
The struggle took place literally on the man’s doorstep.
A pair of Israeli lawmakers eulogizing Yotam Ovadia at his funeral Friday afternoon laid blame on the Palestinian Authority for the attack in the West Bank settlement of Adam late Thursday, in which a teenage Palestinian terrorist killed the 31-year-old father of two.
“To those who think that the Palestinian Authority is part of the solution, it is not! It is the problem!” shouted deputy defense minister Eli Ben Dahan. The Jewish Home lawmaker criticized the PA’s policy of payments to security prisoners and accused the PA of inciting Palestinian children in its schools.
“Responsibility lies with the Palestinian Authority. Those who teach hatred will pay a price,” warned Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.
“The lowly terrorist will not achieve his goal. We will continue building on our land,” the minister told the crowd of hundreds at Ovadia’s funeral in Jerusalem. He vowed to expand West Bank settlements in response to the attack.
Ovadia was stabbed to death outside his home in the community near Jerusalem on Thursday night by 17-year-old Mohammad Tareq Yousef, who came from the Palestinian village of Kobar further north in the West Bank.
Levin said relatives told him that Ovadia was on his way to prepare a romantic meal for his wife in honor of Tu B’Av, the Jewish Valentine’s Day, when he was attacked.
The father of Yotam Ovadia, who was killed in a stabbing attack in the central West Bank settlement of Adam, sat on a stoop outside of his home Friday morning in a daze.
Friends stopped by to console 66-year-old Avraham Ovadia, but he didn’t seem focused enough to respond to any of them. The lit cigarette wedged between his fingers burn down, unsmoked.
“He’s in complete shock,” said Avraham’s brother Yaakov. “His only son. He lost his only son.”
Yaakov said that his brother had lost both his parents and three siblings in recent years.
“After he got the terrible news last night that his son didn’t make it, he told me, ‘I thought it was supposed to be me who was next.’”
Yotam Ovadia, who was killed in a terror attack in the West Bank settlement of Adam on July 26, 2018 Courtesy)
Yotam’s uncle recalled how his nephew would stop by his parents’ home every day after work before entering his own house down the street.
The 31-year-old had been on his way to their house when he was attacked.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Friday announced that he had directed his ministry to advance plans for the construction of 400 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Adam, in response to the deadly terror attack that took place there overnight.
“The best response to terrorism is increased settlement in Judah and Samaria,” he tweeted, referring to the West Bank by its Biblical name. “Therefore I instructed this morning that plans should be advanced to build 400 housing units in the Adam settlement and to approve it with the planning authorities in the next few weeks.”
The 400 homes would be part of an already existing plan which will add 1,000 houses in the settlement, 150 of which are already under construction.
Liberman’s directive likely means the plan will be prioritized by the Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry body that convenes once every three months to approve West Bank construction.
The plan still requires several approvals by planning authorities before ground can be broken — a process that sometimes can take years.
Liberman’s announcement followed a terror attack in which 31-year-old Yotam Ovadia was stabbed to death and two others were injured.
Yet another barbaric attack tonight. When will President Abbas and Palestinian leaders condemn the violence? Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families tonight.
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) July 26, 2018
Shocked to hear of the brutal terror attack in Adam that left 31 year-old Yotam Ovadia dead and two others injured. My heartfelt prayers for all the families. All life is sacred, but premeditated murder cries out for condemnation. Not hearing it from Palestinian leadership.
— David M. Friedman (@USAmbIsrael) July 27, 2018
In a rare move, the leader of a West Bank village on Friday condemned the acts of 17-year-old resident Mohammed Yousef, who carried out a deadly terror attack in a Jewish settlement the previous day.
On Thursday evening Yousef stabbed three residents of the Adam settlement, killing 31-year-old Yotam Ovadia and wounding two others, before he was shot dead, according to the IDF.
Ezzat Badwan, the mayor of Kobar near Ramallah, where Yousef lived with his family, said: “I believe that these [actions] are not correct nor humane. I will never support killing civilians. It is unacceptable and against international, religious and human customs.”
He also urged the IDF not to demolish Yousef’s home, as is common practice by Israel in response to attacks.
“His parents and siblings had nothing to do with what he did. They do not deserve to pay the price for the actions of one of their family members,” he said. He added that the family was relatively poor and would likely struggle to find funds to rebuild its home if it is demolished.
Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man during Friday’s violent protests at the Gaza-Israel border, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said in a statement.
It named the dead man as Ghazi Abu Mustafee, 43, and said he was shot in the head near the border fence, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.
There was no immediate comment from the army. In previous protests the military has responded to rocks, Molotov cocktails and attempts to infiltrate the border fence with tear gas and rubber bullets as well as live fire in specific cases.
The Gaza health ministry reported that over 40 Palestinians were wounded during the weekly clashes.
Earlier the Israeli military carried out an airstrike on a squad of Palestinians in northern Gaza as they flew incendiary balloons towards Israel, the army said. Palestinians said there were no casualties in the attack.
Clashes broke out Friday at the end of Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem when worshipers hurled projectiles at police at the holy site.
“Stones and fireworks were thrown at police officers,” a police statement said. “Police entered the site and began evacuating the Temple Mount compound.”
Initial reports said a policeman and several rioters were lightly wounded, and several people were arrested.
Palestinian sources said there was a parade on the site known to Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif to mark the anniversary of Israel removing metal detectors that were temporarily placed at the entrance to the holy site following a terror attack there, Channel 10 news reported.
The sources also said that the IDF blocked all entrances to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the site using batons and chains.
Israel installed security measures, including metal detectors, at the entrances to the site in response to a July 14, 2017, attack in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers near the Lions Gate. They used weapons they had stored at the mosque.
A shill is the surreptitious partner of a huckster salesman, revving up an audience to believe a sales pitch and buy a product.
Looking back at months of rioting and arson along the Gaza border with Israel—and the distorted rendition of reality by The New York Times of those events—it’s undeniable that the publication has promoted Hamas propaganda, relaying to its millions of readers what the terrorist group wanted them to believe and omitting what Hamas preferred concealed. The product sold? Israel as aggressor, Palestinians as victims.
As of this writing, there’s been, for instance, no human-interest story devoted to what Israelis are suffering as they witness thousands of acres of farms and nature preserves, and extensive wildlife, destroyed in nearly continuous fires set by flaming kites and airborne fire bombs from Gaza.
When Times Bureau Chief David Halbfinger covered the arson story on July 10, he termed the Hamas campaign “ingenious” and the impact for Israel “exasperating.” (In fact, for Israelis, the impact of the destruction can be frightening and devastating.) But the focus was overwhelmingly on criticism of Israel’s countermeasures against Gazans.
As throughout the coverage, the tilt was the same; Hamas violence was discounted, and Israel’s defensive action to stop the aggression was heavily faulted.
What Hamas wanted from the outset when it launched its “Great March of Return” campaign four months ago was stepped-up world pressure on Israel, fueled by stories and images of its people, especially civilians, “protesting” at the border fence, and enduring injury and death at the hands of Israeli soldiers.
A June 28, 2018 Washington Post report, “Prince William visit Jerusalem’s holy sites, concluding historic visit,” omitted key context and details about the Duke of Cambridge’s trip to Israel and areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Prince William was the first member of the British Royal Family to make an official trip to Israel since the Jewish state was recreated in 1948. Washington Post correspondent Ruth Eglash noted the significance of the Prince’s visit and claimed that it comes “at a time when peace seems more elusive than ever for Israelis and Palestinians.”
The Post, however, failed to provide readers with details as to why that might be the case.
As CAMERA has detailed, the PA has refused numerous U.S. and Israeli offers for a Palestinian state in exchange for peace with the Jewish state. More recently, the PA refused offers in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba, and 2008 after the Annapolis Conference—as well as U.S. proposals to restart negotiations in 2014 and 2016. Yet, not only did the PA reject these opportunities, its leaders refused to so much as make a counteroffer.
The Washington Post failed to mention this history—despite its obvious relevance to their report. Indeed, Eglash reported that “some Israelis were upset that the Jerusalem portion” of the Prince’s itinerary was “billed as part of a visit to the ‘occupied Palestinian territories.’”
“Much of the world,” the reporter wrote, “does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the eastern parts of the city, which Palestinians hope will become the capital of the future state.”
Yet, the 2008 offer, among others, would have provided the Palestinians with a state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem. It is odd that The Post chose not to mention that the PA rejected precisely what they claim Palestinians “hope” to obtain.
The Palestinian Authority is weighing a UN General Assembly Resolution to rescind Israeli membership in the international body, which first recognized it as a state in 1948.
“Israel is a country that is in total violation of the charter of the UN. Does it deserve to be a member of the UN and any of its agencies or not?” PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said on Thursday.
He spoke during a solidarity visit to the Bedouin Palestinian herding village of Khan al-Ahmar that is in imminent danger of demolition because it was illegally built.
Erekat sat in the small yard outside the community’s Tyre school and spoke first with journalists and then with diplomats about Palestinian plans to combat a number of particular egregious actions.
Top on his list was the Knesset passage this month of the nation-state law, which cements Israel’s Jewish ethnic character.
But he followed with the relocation of the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, settlement building, and Palestinian home demolitions – including the village of Khan al-Ahmar.
PLO leaders are scheduled to hold a meeting in Ramallah on Saturday to discuss recommendations by various Palestinian bodies to “redefine” the Palestinians’ ties with Israel.
At least two key decision-making PLO bodies have called in recent months for revoking Palestinian recognition of Israel and halting all forms of security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in the West Bank.
Saturday’s “important” meeting will be chaired by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Saleh Ra’fat, member of the PLO Executive Committee, told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station on Thursday.
Ra’fat said that the PLO leaders will discuss the final recommendations of a special Palestinian committee concerning the future of relations between “Palestine and the Israeli occupation state.”
However, it was not immediately clear whether the PLO Executive Committee would endorse the recommendations.
Last May, the Palestine National Council (PNC), the PLO’s parliament-in-exile, called for revising ties with Israel.
If a stone falls in Jerusalem, can its crash be heard and felt worldwide? The answer apparently is “yes.” Earlier this week, an ancient 400-pound stone that had been in place in the Western Wall for centuries dislodged and fell into what is known as “Ezrat Yisrael.”
The fall of the stone has been turned into an international incident by Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority. Although trained archaeologists have not weighed in on the question of what caused the stone to fall, Abbas gleefully announced that it was an attempt by the Israelis to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in order to build a third Temple on the mount.
In the Arab world, a large percentage of the population develops its politics and worldview in the bazaar. Can anyone possibly believe such a wild accusation?
The answer is absolutely not! Abbas has lost all credibility. He has repeatedly refused to be a partner in peace, to recognize US peace efforts, that leaves only one weapon: Incitement fueled by fake news which results in people being killed.
One only has to remember the Spanish Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust, and 9/11 to see the consequences of fake news. The new wars of the twenty-first century are media and ideological wars. This is what fueled 9/11.
Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan Heights
Amb. Dore Gold told the House Subcommittee on National Security in Washington on July 17 that Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights will protect the Israeli military presence there – that must be continued. Therefore, U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan would unquestionably be in Israel’s security interest. It would deter aggression and also serve the interests of the anti-Iranian group among the Middle Eastern states.
Given that all Palestinian leaderships have called for a Palestinian state that will encompass and obliterate the state of Israel, it is not surprising that they cannot bear to accept any proposal that will give them only one small state (or two small states) in the territory allotted to them by the United Nations in 1947.
Re-imposition of Islamic waqf law will not restore Spain, Portugal, Sicily, India, Greece and all the other states of the abandoned caliphal empires to Muslim rule, and it is futile to think that is nothing more than a fantasy.
A recent US report revealed that there are, it seems, actually no more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees in the world.
In the end, it is so-called pro-Palestinian activists such as Robert Fisk or writers for papers such as The Independent, The Guardian, or the New York Times who do their utmost to persuade the world to favour Palestinian intransigence over offers of upgrading lives and international law.
Sohrab Amari: A Reprieve for a Hostage of Sultan Erdogan
The Turks accuse of him of “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” by which they likely mean the cultish network of Fethullah Gülen, the Pennsylvania-based Islamic guru whom Erdoğan accuses of hatching an attempted coup in the summer of 2016. The charge is an absurdity, and as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted in a tweet reacting to news of Brunson’s transfer, “we have seen no credible evidence against Mr. Brunson.”
As I’ve noted elsewhere, Gülen, who once helped Erdoğan purge the secularist old guard, is something like Turkey’s “Goldstein,” the mythical subversive who haunts Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984. Erdoğan and his propagandists have decided to peg Christians in Turkey—both indigenous believers and foreign missionaries like Brunson—as Gülenist conspirators. The move is of a piece with the broader push to Islamize, or re-Islamize, the new Turkey.
Brunson isn’t the only Western national caught in the sultan’s dragnet. Others include Deniz Yücel, a German reporter with Die Welt who spent a year in prison for interviewing Kurdish militants—i.e., for the crime of practicing journalism. The Istanbul prosecutor has “investigated” Michael Rubin, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and a contributor to these pages, and 16 other U.S.-based figures at the behest of pro-Erdoğan lawyers. Other figures under “investigation” include Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, and former CIA director John Brennan. The allegation was that all these figures were—you guessed it—Gülenists.
The question for the U.S. and other NATO allies of Turkey is: What kind of an ally treats citizens of supposedly friendly nations this way? And the painful answer is that Ankara should no longer be thought of as a Western ally. Under Erdoğan, Turkey increasingly acts like the Islamic Republic of Iran and similar anti-Western regimes. Perhaps it should be treated accordingly.
Meanwhile, if you’re the praying kind, say a prayer for Pastor Brunson’s speedy release.
US President Donald Trump says the United States will impose sanctions on NATO ally Turkey over a detained American pastor held on terror and espionage charges.
Shortly after the possibility of sanctions was first announced by Vice President Mike Pence Thursday, Trump wrote on Twitter that the US “will impose large sanctions on Turkey for their long time detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson.”
“He is suffering greatly. This innocent man of faith should be released immediately!” the president added from aboard Air Force One as he flew to Iowa for an event.
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, quickly responded, also via Twitter:
“No one dictates Turkey. We will never tolerate threats from anybody. Rule of law is for everyone; no exception.”
Pence’s initial announcement of possible sanctions came at the close of a three-day conference on religious freedom.
Israel confirmed on Friday a US newspaper report that President Donald Trump had requested its release of a Turkish woman accused of Hamas ties, while Ankara denied ever agreeing to free a detained American pastor in return.
Israel deported Ebru Ozkan on July 15, a week after indicting her for smuggling money and goods to the Palestinian Islamist terrorist group while visiting as a tourist — charges her lawyer denied and which angered Turkey.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Trump had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a July 14 phone call to let Ozkan go in what the White House envisaged as an indirect trade for Pastor Andrew Brunson.
“I can confirm that there was such a request by President Trump,” an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity, without elaborating on whether this effected Ozkan’s release.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem had no immediate comment.
Brunson, arrested for alleged links to a group that Ankara blames over a 2016 coup attempt, was moved to house arrest on Wednesday — prompting the Trump administration to threaten sanctions against fellow NATO-power Turkey.
The pastor denies the charges against him. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in the past linked his fate with that of US-based Muslim cleric Fehullah Gulen, whom Turkey wants to try as the chief coup-plotter. Gulen has denied any such role.
Ankara said it had not agreed to any Ozkan-Brunson swap.
The Trump administration’s State Department is working to quash new legislation that would sanction international terror groups for using human shields, a battlefield tactic employed Hezbollah and Hamas, according to multiple U.S. officials familiar with the administration’s behind-the-scenes effort to nix the legislation.
A bipartisan team of lawmakers, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), recently introduced new legislation that would enable the United States to impose harsh sanctions on any foreign person or group caught using human shields during combat. The bill is the first of its kind to be introduced in the United States.
Human shields, which are routinely used by terror groups, enable terrorists to inflate the number of civilian casualties and avoid military reprisals from more conventional forces. The U.S. and Israeli governments are one of a number of countries who have been dealing with the use of human shields by these terror groups for years.
While the new legislative effort to target terrorists who force civilians into dangerous combat zones quickly won bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, the Trump administration’s State Department has quietly been working for months to kill the bill and prevent lawmakers from moving the legislation, multiple U.S. officials told to the Washington Free Beacon.
The State Department is said to be opposed to the legislation due to its hesitance to sanction groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, where the United States continues to provide massive amounts of military aid that has repeatedly made its way to Hezbollah forces.
U.S. officials in the State Department ignored formal requests from lawmakers for months as they tried to mount the new legislative effort, sources said, and tensions are said to have boiled over earlier this week as the State Department continued efforts to block the bill.
Since the start of the offensive in southern Syria last month, there have been all kinds of optimistic takes on how Russia will agree to rein in the Iranians in Syria. But what Putin actually wants to do, his language suggests, is to establish Russia as the central interlocutor for everyone in the region. To that end, what could be better than the tried and true path of hosting talks between Israel and its adversaries in Syria?
Of course, the notion that Israel would restart talks about the Golan when the Iranians are entrenching themselves in Syria is laughable in the extreme—and the Russians clearly know this. Instead, they might start with technical talks, say, about how best to implement the Separation of Forces agreement, or about the modalities of the return of the Assad regime to the area. That, as Putin said, would be the first step.
Talks in relation to the Syrian regime would themselves only be a gateway to the broader conversation Putin hopes to orchestrate with Iran. The Russians have been making clear that the notion of them pressuring the Iranians in Syria, let alone pushing them to withdraw from the country, which is Israel’s position, is something in which they haven’t the slightest interest. Instead, in keeping with the objective to position itself in the middle, Russia wants Israel and Iran to hash it out, at its table. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained earlier this month, “there is no other way” but for Iran and its regional adversaries to “sit down at the negotiating table, state their concerns and start talking on how they can remove them on a mutually acceptable basis.”
The idea of a new status quo in which Iran entrenches itself in Syria while Russia positions itself as an “honest broker” to adjudicate territorial claims in the Golan should be a strategic nightmare for Israeli planners, starting with the absence of the United States from the region. Although President Trump spoke positively in Helsinki of Russia working with Israel, the U.S. should seek to preserve its own equities in the region by recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. This would effectively make up for the American exit from the region by taking the Golan off the table and backing America’s own ally as Russia aligns with Iran and positions itself as the new regional arbiter.
At the end of last month, the UN Security Council passed a little-remarked-upon resolution renewing the mandate of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan Heights (UNDOF) for the duration of 2018 and instructing this force to resume those operations that had ceased with the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011. UNDOF, created in 1974 to police the demilitarized zone separating Israel and Syria in the wake of the Yom Kippur war, presided over several decades of relative peace along the Golan, but largely ceased its activities due to the fighting in the area. Upon its return, writes Assaf Orion, it faces new challenges:
Unlike in the past, the UN force will not encounter the standing Syrian army but rather a spectrum comprising military forces, local and foreign militias, and armed civilians. As noted in [a recent] UN report, the prohibition against any military or armed presence in the DMZ is violated blatantly today, both by the regime forces and by all of the rebel organizations, which are battling among themselves in the territory. The complete disarmament of the population will take a long time, if it is possible at all, and will affect UNDOF’s safety.
The patient entrenchment efforts of Iran and its proxies can be expected to take the form not of tanks and cannon but rather of the assimilation of foreign forces into the ranks of the Syrian army; the building of military infrastructure—particularly underground infrastructure—under the guise of civilian rehabilitation (e.g., building bomb shelters that are in fact bunkers) and embedding it in a populated environment; and intelligence activity and military patrols [masquerading] as “journalists,” “ornithologists,” “hunters,” “environmental activists,” “angry civilians,” [and the like].
Shooting incidents, minelaying, and improvised-explosive-device attacks from Syria into Israeli territory are also possible. As in Lebanon, the Syrian army will provide explanations, excuses, and justifications for any UN findings attesting to violations, and will naturally impede UN forces from gaining access to prohibited military targets on the pretext of maintaining law and order, privacy, or preventing disruption of the population’s day-to-day life and local customs. UNDOF will have a hard time verifying or refuting these allegations by its own means if the UN continues to refrain from collecting intelligence.
The UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon will soon have a new commander.
On Aug. 7, Italian Maj. Gen. Stefano Del Col will replace Irish Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, who has served in the role since the summer of 2016.
Recent UNIFIL commanders have all served terms of 2-3 years.
In March, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told The Algemeiner that UNIFIL “must do more” to thwart Hezbollah’s armament efforts.
“All too often they do not report on the full extent of the dangerous buildup of missiles and rockets in southern Lebanon,” Danon said of UNIFIL. “The fact is that despite the presence of UNIFIL, Hezbollah today is stronger than ever.”
Last September, in an Algemeiner op-ed, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hailed changes made to UNIFIL’s mandate meant to bolster its ability to carry out its mission.
The “status quo with UNIFIL was unacceptable, so the United States refused to accept it,” she wrote.
“For the United States, this is a time for strength, resolve, and accountability at the United Nations,” Haley declared. “That’s what our effort at strengthening UNIFIL was all about.”
On Sunday, former Israeli UN envoy Ron Prosor asserted that Del Col would have “difficult task of rebuilding the UN force in Lebanon, after Beary lost any credibility UNIFIL could have had, by turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s illegal operations” in southern Lebanon.
From across the country, a small but determined contingent of Jordanians arrived outside of Irbid, Jordan’s second-largest city, to protest on Wednesday an agreement to import Israeli natural gas to the kingdom.
The day was hot, the crowd small. Holding signs in blue, white and red reading “No to Normalization” and “Our Blood Isn’t Worth Gas,” the assembled demonstrators marched along the proposed route for a natural gas pipeline that would link the two countries.
Demonstrators placed red stickers emblazoned with “The Enemy’s Gas is the Occupation” along piping which, organizers said, would be used to construct the line linking the two countries.
The event was sponsored by the Professional Associations Complex, an umbrella organization for many of Jordan’s biggest labor unions. The Complex was closely involved in the Ma’anash (“We Have Nothing”) cost of living protests that toppled the previous Jordanian government this past June.
For several years now, Jordan has endured a stubborn economic recession: the price of necessities such as electricity and gas have soared, even as wages have remained stagnant and taxes have risen. The Jordan-Israel pipeline promises to bring $10 billion of natural gas to the kingdom over 15 years, saving the country’s national utility company over $300 million annually.
Some of the commanders of the Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank are “terrorizing” women and children, a former PA security chief said on Thursday.
Tawfik Tirawi, a former commander of the PA’s General Intelligence Service and member of the Fatah Central Committee, made the rare charge in a statement issued by his office.
Tirawi did not name the commanders of the PA security forces who he says are responsible for “terrorizing” Palestinians.
Nor did he say which security force he was referring to. The PA has several security services that operate in the West Bank.
Tirawi did not provide any details about the alleged practices of the PA security commanders or the purported victims.
However, he also accused some PA security chiefs of “humiliating” Fatah members.
The statement “condemned the practices of some commanders of the Palestinian security forces who humiliate the sons of Fatah and terrorize women and children under various pretexts.”
On top of that, an influx of foreign activists, mainly from countries of the former Soviet Union, has led to changes in relations with the local population. Sinai Province had always relied on Bedouin activists from the local tribes, such as the Sawarka and the Barikat. But the strengthening of foreign elements in Sinai Province led to particularly cruel acts against the local population, including even against the members of the tribes that were loyal to the group.
For instance, Islamic State fighters hunted down and punished smugglers and merchants who brought cigarettes to the Gaza Strip through the tunnels. This caused a great deal of tension and even violent acts on both sides, particularly among the Bedouin, who saw a threat to an industry that provided them with a livelihood. For this reason, many of Sinai’s inhabitants turned against Islamic State and provided the Egyptian army’s intelligence efforts with much assistance.
Additionally, immense Egyptian pressure on Hamas has led the Palestinian terror group to change its relationship with the Sinai Province. Hamas suddenly distanced itself from members of the Sinai Province who had previously been welcome guests in the Gaza Strip. Hamas even provided the Egyptians with information about its own members who had crossed the border into Sinai in order to join Sinai Province — an act that also weakened Islamic State in Sinai.
Does this mean that the beaches of Sinai are safe for tourists again? The assessment would be no, even though 15,000 Israeli Jews spent the last Passover holiday on the shores of the Red Sea in the Peninsula. Hundreds of Islamic State members were killed in recent months, leaving the group with a total of approximately 1,000 fighters. But Sinai Province and its members are maintaining their efforts to harm the Egyptian economy by harming its tourism industry, and are still successfully recruiting new volunteers.
In addition, no long-term solution to Egypt’s governance problem in Sinai has yet been found. At some point after the Egyptian army leaves Sinai or reduces its presence there, the devastation it caused in many towns and villages could strengthen, rather than weaken, the Islamist elements in Sinai.
Iran, and not Russia, has been the dominant actor in Syria. Iran dictates the fighting on the ground by the pro-Assad coalition, controls the Syria-Iraq and Syria-Lebanon border crossings, and tailors the re-organization of areas and communities based on the ethnic element. Iran wields much – and often decisive – influence on the pace of fighting, in consultation with Russia and Assad.
Prior to operations by the pro-Assad coalition, first Iranian advisors assess the prospects for successful conquest. Then they meet with Russian liaison officers to coordinate the land and air operation. Military combat forces are then sent into the campaign – Syrian army forces and Shiite militias under Iranian command.
Iran is gradually taking over a number of key areas in order to create a contiguous territorial presence between Iran and the Mediterranean Sea, first aiming at the easier portion and then proceeding to the more difficult parts.
Iran conceals its control in Syria; it wants to act and influence behind the scenes, while integrating the forces under its command into the country’s militias and military governmental framework. Russia is certainly aware that not only are the pro-Iranian Shiite militias not withdrawing from southern Syria, but they are even reinforced there. Presumably the Iranian project in Syria will continue, and forces identified with Iran will be deployed near the border in the Golan Heights under some kind of cover in the near future.
It is highly questionable whether Russia and Assad have the will or the capability to get rid of the Iranian presence on Syrian territory, especially in view of the integration of Iranian commanders and Shiite fighters in the local forces.
A U.S.-based cybersecurity firm has uncovered a new “highly active” espionage group believed to be based in Iran that is breaking into networks of government organizations and other firms located in the Middle East.
Symantec released information early Wednesday on the hacking collective, which researchers have dubbed “Leafminer.” The group is allegedly targeting organizations in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Eqypt, Israel and Afghanistan.
Leafminer’s targets reportedly cut across several sectors, including energy, telecommunications, financial services, transportation and government.
Vikram Thakur, technical director at Symantec, told The Hill that the group has been active since early 2017 but “ramped up” its activity between the end of last year and the start of 2018. Thakur said the organization is “continuing to conduct attacks as of right now.”
Through its research, Symantec obtained a target list of roughly 800 organizations catalogued based on their country of origin that analysts believe serves as a blueprint for the espionage group. The list was written in Farsi, leading analysts to conclude that the hackers are based in Iran.
Iran’s Aggression Unveiled – Part 3
Iran is VERY busy these days. With what? Mostly fueling war and terror all around the Middle East and the world – Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, Europe. Why are Iranian leaders instigating bloodshed, war and terror around the world?
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