Palestinian Authority now uses half of all foreign aid to reward terror
Your tax dollars at work: The Palestinian Authority is now using half of its foreign aid to reward terrorism.
The new PA budget boosts support to terrorists in prison by 13 percent and aid for the families of those killed “in the struggle against Zion” 4 percent, reports the Institute for Contemporary Affairs.
The total, $344 million, equals 49.6 percent of all foreign aid to the PA. In other words, cash from Uncle Sam, Europe and even Israel is subsidizing “welfare for terrorists.”
The PA sends a salary to each Palestinian imprisoned for an attack on Israelis, hitting over $3,000 a month after 30 years. Other stipends go to families of “martyrs” killed in the act. That’s $344 million for 2017 that’s not going to build roads or hospitals.
Knowing that you or your family will be taken care of is a clear incentive to kill. That’s why President Trump is threatening to end US aid if the PA doesn’t quit it.
The PA budget is a clear “no” to Trump’s demand. Ball’s in your court, Mr. President. (h/t Cliff)
PM Justin Trudeau: “Canadian pressure on UNRWA”
PM Justin Tudeau forced to respond on Canada’s funding of UNRWA after UN Watch exposed UNRWA teachers inciting terrorism. On April 9, 2017, UN Watch released a report at the Canadian Parliament entitled “Enhanced Due Diligence? An Examination of Canada’s pledge to stop UNRWA teachers from inciting Jihadist terrorism and anti-Semitism.” The report sparked a firestorm in the Canadian parliament. Numerous opposition MPs quoted from UN Watch’s report, sharply criticizing the government for reinstating funding to UNRWA. “Why are we funding teachers, principals, UNRWA workers who support antisemitism?” asked Conservative MP Dean Allison, Chair of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs. Equally outspoken on the UN Watch report was Conservative MP Peter Kent. The questions caused the government to pledge accountability. International Development Minister Marie Claude Bibeau insisted that Canada was “closely monitoring the activities of UNRWA.” On further questioning by Kent, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself was forced to respond. He spoke of “Canadian pressure” and promised that Canada would ensure that “the help is going to where it is needed.”
“The United Nations has become a threat to the liberal international order. It weakens the constitution of liberal democratic states by attacking the political and cultural conditions required for their survival. It attacks the security of free-world countries and the common values that underpin free societies. In recent years, UN leadership has become more hostile to free citizens and politicians who dissent from illiberal supranational rule.
The UN often acts against the free world by targeting politicians who defend the liberty, security and safety of free citizens. In particular, UN chiefs target pro-Western politicians who defend the free world by upholding democratic rule over supranational rule and adopt secure border policy to keep free societies free. During the US presidential campaign, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said he didn’t intend to interfere with political campaigns but declared Donald Trump ‘dangerous from an international point of view’.
UN members attack the free world by smearing pro-Western politicians with propaganda terms such as xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism and populism. Its leadership has framed democratic citizens’ defence of free-world countries as ‘xenophobia’. They call democratically elected politicians who represent their people and protect them from harm ‘populist’. They claim secure border policy is a form of nationalism and by extension (in UN thought), an abuse of human rights. And they depict the UN as a bastion of benevolent internationalism, despite its track record…
The UN rails against conservative party politicians who defend secure border policy so that Western democracy and open society and can flourish. Human rights chief Hussein described right-wing Western politicians as ‘demagogues’ and compared their ‘tactics’ with those of genocidal Islamic State.
However, the UN adopts a comparatively accommodationist approach to closed and illiberal -societies under Islamist and communist rule. Last year, the UN General Assembly honoured communist dictator Fidel Castro with a minute of silence. On that day, as on so many others, it entertained attacks on Israel’s sovereignty by Islamists. And the UN is yet to explain how its benevolent internationalism includes the Organisation of Islamic Co¬operation’s redefinition of human rights to disallow freedoms ‘contrary to the principles of the sharia’… Liberal internationalists need to ¬acknowledge there’s something rotten in the state of the UN.”
Elliott Abrams: The Next Israel-Hezbollah Conflict
During the Obama years, concerns about Israel’s security situation focused on the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Today, the focus is changing: to the growing Iranian military presence in Syria, the growing military strength of Hezbollah, and the possibility of a devastating Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
That is the subject of a new article in Strategic Assessment, the magazine of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies. Entitled “Political and Military Contours of the Next Conflict with Hezbollah,” it was written by Gideon Sa’ar and Ron Tira. Tira is a strategist who was a long-time Israeli Air Force officer and pilot; Saar is an influential Israeli politician who was for 11 years a Likud member of the Knesset.
It’s dangerous to try and summarize a complex and in many ways worrying text, but I will try. First, war is possible: “A conflict could break out due to a miscalculation, a failure in strategic communication, or uncontrolled escalation.”
Hezbollah’s build-up of precision weapons presents an enormous threat to Israel, as does the growing Iranian presence in Syria. Together, this may constitute “an attempt by Iran and Hezbollah to reach a strategic balance with Israel, or even to gain the capability to launch a strike that will cause significant damage to critical (military and civilian) systems in Israel.” How so?
Not only does no other religion in Turkey, other than Islam, have the power, influence or financing of the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) — whose budget even surpasses that of most ministries; other religions are either not officially recognized (as in the cases of Alevism and Yazidism), or are on the verge of complete governmental elimination — as in the cases of Judaism, Greek Orthodoxy, Assyrian (Syriac) and Armenian Christianity.
“…[S]ince the creation of the world there is only one religion and it is the religion of Islam…. therefore, when Islam was not in that area before Mohammed came to it, it should have been there….So any place like this had to be freed, not to be conquered…And therefore, there is no Islamic occupation. If somebody occupies anything, it will always be somebody else, not the Muslims. So, there is no Islamic occupation. There is only Islamic liberation.” — Moshe Sharon, Professor Emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
To be effective, however, policies safeguarding religious liberty must include conducting an honest and open discussion of the history and doctrine of Islam, as well as its contemporary iteration, not as a “religion of peace” — which, in Islam, is to occur only after the entire world has accepted Allah, as well as Islamic law, Sharia — but as one of war and terror.
Despite Israel’s decision to remove its security measures at the Temple Mount on July 24, Palestinian Authority leaders continue to provoke anger and instill fear in Palestinians by repeating the libel that the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem are “in danger,” and that Israel wants to “destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque” in order to “build the alleged Temple.” The PA government stressed the need for Palestinian “defense” of “Arab and Islamic Jerusalem.”
On the same day that Israel started to remove the metal detectors it had put up following a terror attack in which two Israeli border policemen were murdered on the Temple Mount, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs repeated the libel that “Al-Aqsa is in danger” on official PA TV:
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Sheikh Yusuf Ida’is: “Israel divided [the Al-Aqsa Mosque between Jews and Muslims] regarding [prayer] time, when it admitted the herds of settlers in the morning hours and allowed them to hold Talmudic (i.e., Jewish) prayers, and after it began to place metal detectors [at the entrances] it wants to divide it [the Mosque] according to place. It wants to reach what is beyond that, as it has plans to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and establish the alleged Temple in its place.”
[Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, July 24, 2017]
Kamal Al-Khatib, deputy leader of the outlawed northern branch of the Islamic Movement, claimed that Israel had placed dangerous chemicals in the walls of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in the days in which the compound was closed to worshippers. Prof. (Emer.) Raphael Israeli, an expert on blood libels, traces the history of the Big Lie and its manifestations in the 21st century.
“One of the classic anti-Semitic core motifs is the belief that Jews poison the drinking water of non-Jews. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recycled this anti-Semitic theme at a plenary session of the European Parliament in 2016. There he said that a rabbi had asked the Israeli government to poison Palestinian drinking water.
“This was Palestinian fake news. There was no such rabbi. Nor did the Council he was supposedly the head of even exist. At the end of his speech, including this extreme anti-Semitic libel, Abbas received much applause and a standing ovation from a large number of Europarlamentarians. The chairman of the European Parliament at that time, Martin Schulz — now the Socialist lead candidate in the upcoming German elections — tweeted that Abbas’ speech was ‘inspiring.’ A few days later Abbas said that he was misinformed about the rabbi..”
Raphael Israeli is Emeritus Professor of Islamic, Chinese and Middle Eastern history at the Hebrew University. He has authored over 50 books including, Blood Libel and Its Derivatives: The Scourge of Antisemitism and Poison: Modern Manifestations of a Blood Libel.
Late last week, on Thursday, July 27, Palestinians arrived en masse to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the first time since terrorists killed two Israeli police on the Temple Mount on July 14. As happened many times over the past few weeks, the area of Jerusalem’s Old City and on the Temple Mount itself was chaotic and violent.
One news outlet described how Israeli police “responded” to “many young people throw[ing] stones and bottles at the forces.” A filmmaker who was present noted, “I was there. There wasn’t one single vantage point where you could tell either way who started it.” A Haaretz editor called it a “complex scene,” with multiple sites of confrontation between security personnel and Palestinians.
Amnesty International, though, professed total clarity. In a press release published July 27, based on claims originating with “Amnesty International staff at the scene,” Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director, accused Israel of attacking “peaceful crowds at Jerusalem holy site.” Amnesty further alleged that this was an “entirely unprovoked attack” and that Israeli police of used “unnecessary and excessive force to disperse a peaceful gathering.”
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office on Monday filed indictments against five east Jerusalem residents for incitement to terror and other offenses.
Three of the suspects are accused of inciting violence on Facebook following a July 14 terrorist attack at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, in which two border policemen were murdered and another was wounded.
The indictments were filed with the approval of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, as required by law, given the nature of the offenses, which touch on issues of freedom of speech.
Muhammad Mukhaimer, 19, is accused of calling for violence and acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians and security forces on Facebook on a number of occasions, praising terrorist organizations such as Hamas military wing Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Following the terrorist attack on the Temple Mount, Mukhaimer posted the following to his Facebook page under the hashtag “Shahid Friday”: “They thought our heroes had grown old, but they’re still alive, and they were taken down among the alleyways and at the entrance to the gates.”
Later that day, Mukhaimer posted a photo of a police officer standing next to medics treating a wounded victim at the scene of the attack. Mukhaimer captioned the photo: “To hell and to darkness.”
US President Donald Trump will meet with his ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Temple Mount crisis.
The meeting is scheduled for late Monday morning, Haaretz reported. An unnamed White House official told the Israeli newspaper that Friedman was coming to Washington this week “as part of a long-planned trip.”
“In addition to a variety of meetings, he will be meeting with the president, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt tomorrow to discuss the events that transpired in the region over the past two weeks where tensions have recently lowered,” the official told Haaretz.
Friedman reportedly was involved in working to reduce tensions over the increased security measures at the Temple Mount, which ultimately were removed. The metal detectors and other measures were installed after a July 14 attack by three Arab-Israeli men that left two Druze-Israeli police officers dead.
Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy for international relations, also visited Israel last week, also in a bid to help lower the tensions at the Temple Mount.
Thousands of supporters of a conservative Turkish party rallied in Istanbul on Sunday to protest security measures taken by Israel in Jerusalem — removed last week — and show solidarity with the Palestinians.
Protesters waved Turkish and Palestinian flags Sunday at the “Great Jerusalem Meeting” in Istanbul. A jingle with the lyric “Hit, hit Zionists” played.
Israel installed metal detectors and cameras around the Temple Mount compound following a deadly July 14 attack that saw three Arab Israeli gunmen kill two Israeli police officers at the holy site with weapons smuggled into the compound.
The new security measures sparked mass protests by Muslim worshipers, who boycotted the compound for 12 days.
Late last week, Israel removed the security measures.
But tensions remain high in Turkey, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying the removal of the detectors was “not enough.”
Sunday’s protest was called by the Saadet (Felicity) Party, which emerged from the same Islamic-rooted political movement as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Erdogan, but is seen as more religiously conservative.
The Islamist party’s leader, Temel Karamollaoglu, told the crowd that Muslims would not give up on Jerusalem.
Hizb ut-Tahrir, the international Islamism group, held a rally Saturday in central London in protest of Israel’s security measures on the Temple Mount.
The group – which agitates for the establishment of a global Muslim theocratic state, or Caliphate, and sharia law – has up to a million members worldwide.
As an organisation, it is legal in the UK but is allegedly linked to terror and has been banned in Germany, Russia, China, Egypt, Turkey, and all but three Arab countries.
This event, which was segregated by gender, was called ‘Stand, Struggle, and Sacrifice for Al-Aqsa’ – the mosque on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is the third most holy site in Islam and has been put under beefed up security following a series of Jihadi attacks on Jews and Christians.
“Masjid Al-Aqsa is about occupation and not about metal detectors and surveillance cameras”, claimed a statement printed on the event’s poster.
The protest was held outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy, with organisers accusing leaders and those of other Muslim nations of “continu[ing] to sit, watch, stay silent” and being “complicit” in the actions of Israel.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on Muslims to take the opportunity of the Hajj rituals to take a united stance against “Israeli efforts to control the Aksa Mosque.”
The Iranian leader described Hajj rituals as the best opportunity for Muslims to speak up about the Aksa and Palestine issue, Iranian media reported.
“Where can the Islamic Ummah find a better venue than Hajj to comment on the Aksa Mosque?” he said addressing a group of Iranian organizers of Hajj on Sunday.
He further accused the US of meddling in the issues of Muslim countries and creating terrorist groups in the region.
Saudi Arabia says that calls for internationalization of holy sites ‘a declaration of war’
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister called what he said was Qatar’s demand for an internationalization of the Muslim hajj pilgrimage a declaration of war against the kingdom, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said on Sunday, but Qatar said it never made such a call.
“Qatar’s demands to internationalize the holy sites is aggressive and a declaration of war against the kingdom,” Adel al-Jubeir was quoted saying on Al Arabiya’s website.
“We reserve the right to respond to anyone who is working on the internationalization of the holy sites,” he said.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said no official from his country had made such a call.
“We are tired of responding to false information and stories invented from nothing,” Sheikh Mohammed told Al Jazeera TV.
Qatar did accuse the Saudis of politicizing hajj and addressed the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion on Saturday, expressing concern about obstacles facing Qataris who want to attend hajj this year.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain previously issued a list of 13 demands for Qatar, which included curtailing its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, shutting down the Doha-based Al Jazeera channel, closing a Turkish military base and downgrading its relations with Gulf enemy Iran.
Israeli Concerns about Iran in Syria
Israel has five major concerns regarding the Iranian entrenchment in Syria. Two of them are an immediate concern. Israel regards these specific two as tripwires that if and when crossed, Israel will react. These are:
1. Iran’s ongoing effort together with its proxy Hizbullah to turn the northern part of the Golan Heights into a base from which the Iranians could launch – via their proxies – terror activities against Israel. Throughout the civil war in Syria, Israel countered Iranian efforts to establish a launching pad for terror attacks in the northern Golan Heights with the decisive reaction that foiled these attempts. Last year, it seemed that Iranians got the message, and they have been much more cautious about this idea.
2. Iran’s presence in Syria allows for the acceleration of the delivery of military equipment to Hizbullah through Syria, including the supply of “tie-breaking” weapons and weapons components, such as –
– precision guidance for Iranian-made missiles such as the Fatah 110 and missiles with heavier payloads;
– land-to-sea missiles produced by Iran, China, and Russia (C-704, C-802, Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missile with a 600 km range;
– SA-22 air defense system and a wide variety of anti-aircraft missiles produced in Russia and Iran);
– unmanned air vehicles, drones;
– mini submarines (Ghadir type);
– anti-tank missiles, etc.
There should be no discrimination against West Bank settlement products, Mexican politician Hugo Eric Flores Cervantes said on Sunday during a visit to Samaria.
“Those who consider that the factories here are not producing products made on Israeli territory, are mistaken. There is no territory that is more Israeli than here,” Flores Cervantes said, adding that any other understanding is a historical mistake.
“Products should be exported from here to any place in the globe in the most open way possible,” he said.
Flores Cervantes was speaking in Spanish in response to a question about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. His words were translated by Yossi Eldar, vice president of the Israel-Mexico Chamber of Commerce.
“Trade between nations must and should be free,” Flores Cervantes said. “I am in favor of accelerating the trade agreement between Mexico and Israel as well as accelerating the marketing of products produced in Judea and Samaria to Mexico.”
He is the founder and head of the Social Encounter Party and serves in the Mexican Congress. “We are evangelical Christians and pro-Israel,” he told The Jerusalem Post in describing his party.
A good Legal Insurrection author is never completely off duty.
Last week, I blogged about an economic agreement being worked-out between Israel and 4 central European countries (including Hungary, which was one of the 5 countries on my summer tour).
Today, I snapped this photo in the Old Town of Brasov, Romania in front of the local synagogue.
Interestingly, during the Cold War, Romania was the only communist country not to break its diplomatic relations with Israel. More recently, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis paid a state visit to Israel in 2016, pledging Romania’s solidarity with Israel in the battle against terrorism, anti-Semitism, racism and hatred.
This relationship will allow Romania to develop its own version of Silicon Valley, which they call “Laser Valley”.
IsraellyCool: WATCH: Terrorist Stunned By Pizza Tray
Last week, I posted how a palestinian terrorist stabbed a man in the neck in Petah Tikva, before being stunned by a pizzeria worker who hit him with a pizza tray.
Now I am pleased to report we have the footage!
Prof. Asa Kasher, who wrote the IDF’s ethics code, came out against the 18-month sentence of Hebron shooter Elor Azaria on Monday, telling The Jerusalem Post that it sets a precedent that “is totally wrong.”
Kasher, speaking to the Post by phone, said that the sentence “is too light a punishment,” adding that the maximum punishment for manslaughter is 20 years.
“I think that 18 months, and there will be a reduction by a third for good behavior, making it a year, to come to a square and seeing a terrorist lying there totally ‘neutralized,’ and where commanders are calm… and just killing him with one shot to the head… it’s too light a punishment.”
Azaria was found guilty of manslaughter by a military court in January for killing incapacitated Palestinian attacker Abdel Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron on March 24, 2016. In February 2017, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and 12 month probation thereafter, and demoted from sergeant to private.
According to Kasher, the judges did not address an important ethical aspect of the case – that as a medic Azaria went against the values of both the IDF and the State of Israel.
“By military regulations, by being a medic, seeing someone lying on the road and been told there is no danger, he should have treated him. Those are our values, our norms. The basic values of Israel and the IDF is to protect basic human dignity, even my enemy whom I may kill sometimes out of self-defense. But when my enemy is lying fatally injured on the road, it is my duty to help him. And he didn’t.”
Among the demands put to Qatar by its Arab rivals are that it shut down Al Jazeera, the media company it owns and sponsors. The editors of such Western publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Economist have rushed to defend the network. Clifford May explains why they’re wrong, citing the observation by the late Arab intellectual Fouad Ajami that Al Jazeera is a “crafty operation” that “day in and day out deliberately fans the flames of Muslim outrage.”
Among Al Jazeera’s brightest TV stars is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the “spiritual leader” of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has praised Imad Mughniyah, the Hizballah terrorist mastermind behind the 1983 suicide bombings in Beirut, in which 241 U.S. Marines were killed. He once issued a fatwa, a religious opinion, calling for the “abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq.”
Sheikh Qaradawi favors the “spread of Islam until it conquers the entire world and includes both the East and West, [marking] the beginning of the return of the Islamic caliphate.” Hitler, he has said, deserves praise for having “managed to put [Jews] in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the [Muslims].”
Defenders of the network argue that however extreme Al Jazeera Arabic may be, its sister network, Al Jazeera English, is different. [But] consider the . . . exchange on National Public Radio earlier this month between [the interviewer] Kelly McEvers and Giles Trendle, the managing director for Al Jazeera English.
The family of the Israeli security guard who killed two Jordanian nationals at the Israeli Embassy compound in Amman last week have reportedly fled their home after publication of his name on Sunday.
Ziv Moyal’s family left their home in the south of Israel and moved in with relatives out of fear for their safety, after Jordanian media published a photo of Moyal’s diplomatic ID card, with his picture and name, according to Channel 10.
Officials confirmed that Moyal, 28, was the guard who shot and killed the Jordanians while being attacked by one of them with a screwdriver.
His family insisted that “he acted solely according to standard procedure.”
The incident last week has threatened a major diplomatic rift between Israel and Jordan, one of its few allies in the region, after Moyal was returned to Israel, along with the rest of Israel’s diplomatic staff in Amman.
In an unusual move, Amnesty International called on activists Monday to contact leaders of the Hamas terror group to pressure them to free two Israeli citizens held in the Gaza Strip.
The human rights organization circulated a letter with the email addresses and fax numbers of senior Hamas members in a campaign to free Avraham Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, two Israeli men who crossed into Gaza of their own accord several years ago. It was the first time the group has publicly attacked Hamas, which controls the coastal enclave.
The letter was headed, “URGENT ACTION: Israel civilians abducted for more than 2 years.” Amnesty pointed out in the letter that the two suffer from “serious mental health disorders” and that the organization fears “that the two men are being held as hostages by Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades for a potential prisoner exchange.” The letter explained that Mengistu, an Ethiopian Jew, has been in Gaza since September 2014 and Sayed, a Bedouin Israeli, since April 20, 2015.
The organization demanded information about the two from Hamas, and called on people to send messages before September 4 and to contact local “diplomatic representatives in your country to urge them to take action.” September 4 marks the conclusion of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, but it is unclear what the significance of the date is to the human rights group.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has demanded that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan reinstate visitation rights for Hamas prisoners from Gaza who are serving time in Israeli prisons. According to the committee, Israel’s decision to prevent family members from visiting security prisoners is a “violation of the Geneva Convention.”
In an interview with Israel Hayom Sunday, Simcha Goldin, the father of the late Hadar Goldin who was killed in Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and whose body is being held captive by Hamas, called the move “a demonstration of hypocrisy and inhumanity” from the Red Cross.
Referring to the letter sent by the ICRC to Erdan outlining its demands, Goldin remarked: “The letter went out with the knowledge that dead soldiers are being held hostage in Gaza while Hamas prisoners … receive improved conditions according to any convention.”
Goldin said Israel’s decision to deny the security prisoners visitation rights did not go far enough, in light of the fact that the bodies of Goldin and fellow fallen soldier Oron Shaul are still being held captive, along with three Israeli nationals who wandered into Gaza.
The Public Security Ministry has rejected the ICRC’s request outright.
Israel’s security establishment is closely monitoring the health condition of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, after he was hospitalized this weekend at the Al Istishari Hospital near Ramallah.
At the hospital, Abbas reportedly underwent “routine checks” including blood tests and X-rays. The hospital’s director, Dr. Fathi Abu Mughli, stated that the PA leader left after 90 minutes, The Associated Press reported.
“The results are good,” said Mughli, without elaborating.
PA officials stated that Abbas, 82, was admitted to hospital after suffering from fatigue caused by the stressful events of the past two weeks concerning the Temple Mount.
Throughout the 13-day crisis, Abbas purportedly endured a far more rigorous schedule than usual in order to keep up with the rapidly unfolding events and maintain constant contact with Palestinian, Arab and Western officials.
Hezbollah and a Syrian rebel group affiliated with al-Qaida exchanged the bodies of dead fighters along the Lebanese-Syrian border on Sunday in the first stage of an agreement to restore order to a contested frontier zone.
The al-Qaida-linked Fatah al-Sham Front, formerly known as the Nusra Front, is expected to leave the border region in the subsequent stages of the agreement, following two weeks of battles with Hezbollah and the Syrian army.
But the Front announced Sunday it had captured three Hezbollah fighters, one day after Hezbollah admitted a group had gone missing in the Arsal border region. It was not immediately clear whether the revelation would affect the deal already underway.
The Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah handed over the bodies of nine al-Qaida fighters in exchange for the bodies of five of its own, according to the Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television network.
Lebanese Red Cross spokesman George Kattani said a woman and child were also handed over to the al-Qaida affiliate.
A convoy of buses was deployed on Monday to transport Nusra Front militants and refugees from Lebanon’s border region to Syria in exchange for Hezbollah prisoners.
Under a local ceasefire between the Lebanese Shi’ite group and the Sunni militants, about 9,000 fighters and their relatives would leave for rebel territory in Syria on Monday, a Hezbollah media unit had said.
The Nusra Front was al-Qaeda’s Syria branch until it severed ties and rebranded last year. It now spearheads the Tahrir al-Sham Islamist alliance in the Syrian war.
The deal includes the departure of all Nusra militants from Lebanon’s northeast border region around Arsal town, along with any civilians in nearby refugee camps who wish to leave.
Hezbollah took most of the barren, mountainous zone of Jroud Arsal last week, after launching an offensive with the Syrian army to drive militants from their last foothold along the border.
The next phase is expected to target a nearby enclave in the hands of Islamic State.
Since its establishment some three years ago – following a fatwa issued by Iraqi Shi’ite leader Ayatollah ‘Ali Sistani calling for “jihad kifa’i” against ISIS – the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU, Al-Hashd Al-Sha’bi in Arabic), an umbrella organization of armed Iraqi militias, has played an important role in the fight against ISIS in Iraq, alongside the Iraqi army and the international coalition.
Because most of the militias in the PMU are Shi’ite and their commanders are very close to Iran, elements both inside and outside Iraq have long been questioning whether the militias are subordinate to and controlled by the Iraqi authorities, or are in fact controlled exclusively by Iran. To repel this charge by institutionalizing the PMU and thus granting it government legitimacy, in early 2014 the Iraqi government formed the “People’s Mobilization Committee.” Furthermore, in 2016 the Haider Al-‘Abadi government passed the PMU Law, formally incorporating the organization in the country’s armed forces and subordinating it to the prime minister. In an effort to refute the claim that the PMU is controlled by Iran, Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih Fayyad, chairman of the People’s Mobilization Committee, said that Iran had extended assistance to the PMU but only in an “advisory” capacity, and emphasized the Iraqi identity of the organization: “In its first months the PMU received assistance from Iran; nevertheless, it is a purely Iraqi endeavor…” Asked about the involvement of senior Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and of experts from the Lebanese Hizbullah in establishing the PMU, Fayyad said: “We received help from the brothers in Iran and Lebanon… [and] we thank our friends for the extensive advice they granted us.”
These statements, however, did not quell the doubts regarding the organization’s primary loyalties, for good reason. PMU commanders have openly discussed the militias’ close connections with Iran and Hizbullah, as well as their fierce opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq, which is sanctioned by the Iraqi government. Reports about these connections have also appeared in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to the resistance axis.
This paper reviews recent statements by PMU commanders, as well as the Al-Akhbar reports, about these connections.
A federal appeals court on Friday ordered Sudan to pay more than $7 billion in damages to American families of victims of the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that Sudan was liability for the bombings at U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
However, it threw out the $4.3 billion in punitive damages and is seeking to clarify whether the non-American victims’ families qualify for a chunk of the more than $7.3 billion in damages.
The ruling, written by Judge Douglas Ginsburg, a Reagan appointee, affirmed much of the lower courts’ ruling and rejected arguments from Sudan’s government that the court had considered “inadmissible evidence” to make their final determination.
“We’re obviously very pleased that the D.C. Circuit has affirmed [a lower court] decision after what has been a long struggle in court of the families,” said Stuart Newberger, a lawyer for the U.S. families at law firm Crowell & Moring. “We are hopeful that with this ruling, the Americans who were killed in [the attacks] get closer to reaching a final resolution to the tragic saga in their lives and finally get some closure.”
Lawyers for the Sudanese government argued that the entire case should have been thrown out for several reasons, foremost by challenging the court’s interpretation of the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA), which was revised in the middle of the 15-year legal proceeding.
Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan until the government kicked him out in 1996. The court took the side of expert witnesses that said the country continued to fund the terrorist group al Qaeda, which carried out the attacks that killed 200 people — including 12 Americans.
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