Recognizing a Palestinian State before a Peace Agreement with Israel Undermines the International Rule of Law
Those who advocate immediate recognition of a Palestinian state, without a peace agreement with Israel, show cavalier disregard for well-established legal principles for the creation of states and their recognition.
The four criteria of statehood set out in the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (1933) are widely accepted as the minimum required by customary international law for the creation of a new state. Two of the criteria – a single, centralized government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states – are manifestly not satisfied by any Palestinian entity.
For reasons which are entirely internal to Palestinian society, there is no reasonable prospect for the foreseeable future of any government being formed which would exercise effective control over both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and would have the capacity to give effect to any agreements purportedly entered into by “Palestine.”
Recognition of any such entity as a state would be to affirm a fiction, contrary to the imperatives of international law.
Applying the additional requirements for recognition contained in the European Community Declaration and Guidelines (1991), the Palestinians have failed, and are likely to continue to be unwilling to make commitments to respect the inviolability of the frontiers with Israel, to repudiate all territorial claims by Palestine against Israel, and to settle all disputes with Israel by peaceful means.
Recognition of a Palestinian state at the present time would also contravene the internationally recognized and witnessed Oslo Accords between the Palestinians and Israel.
Caroline Glick: America’s strategic paralysis
Last week, after the UN Security Council passed a new sanctions resolution against North Korea, the regime’s No. 2 official, parliament chairman Kim Yong Nam, arrived in Tehran for a 10-day visit.
In the past, CIA officials have claimed that Iranian observers have been present at North Korean nuclear tests. Iran also reportedly financed the Korean-built nuclear reactor in Syria that Israel reportedly destroyed in 2007.
Iran’s Shihab-3 and Shihab-4 intermediate range ballistic missiles are based on North Korean designs. Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton recently revealed that during North Korea’s 1999-2006 missile testing moratorium, Iran conducted missile tests for North Korea.
If the circumstantial evidence linking the two nuclear programs is correct, then whatever North Korea has will be possessed by Iran in short order.
It is certainly possible that there is more happening behind the scenes in Washington than anyone can possibly know. Far from the television cameras, US national security officials may be configuring strategic goals and programs that will enable Trump to abandon Obama’s failed policies in relation to North Korea, Syria and Iran and move the US – and the world – in a safer and more secure direction.
Unfortunately, in light of Tillerson’s claim that the US seeks to return to the negotiating table with North Korea, and given the administration’s decision to continue to implement Obama’s pro-Iran and pro-Hezbollah policy in Syria and Trump’s second certification of Iranian compliance with Obama’s nuclear deal, it is certainly easy to conclude that this is not the case.
As Kupperwasser noted in his essay on the dangers the US-Russian Syrian cease-fire deal pose to Israel and Jordan, Trump’s abidance by Obama’s pro-Iranian policies in Syria “worries Israel… because it casts doubt over the depth of American commitment, the ability of the Americans to deliver, or the relevance of the ‘Art of the Deal’ to the Middle East and international politics.”
It is obvious that Trump continues to seek a clean break with Obama’s policies. But as his critics’ piling on against him following his threat to North Korea and the State Department’s determination to maintain Obama’s failed policy of appeasement toward Pyongyang both make clear, more than anything else, Trump needs advisers who are capable of helping him achieve this goal. He needs advisers willing to stand up to the pressure and the inertial force of the foreign policy bureaucracy and capable of having a serious strategic discussion about how to proceed in an international environment that grows more daunting every day.
Yesterday, August 9, was the 16th anniversary of the horrific suicide bombing at the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem in which 15 Israelis, among them 7 children, were murdered and 130 were wounded. Among the killed were Mordechai and Tzirel Schijveschuurder and three of their children, Ra’aya aged 14, Avraham aged 4, and Hemda aged 2.
Hamas gloated over the murders yesterday in a post on the website of Hamas’ TV channel. Referring to the guitar case in which the suicide bomber hid the bomb, Hamas headlined its story: “The Sbarro operation – The guitar that shook the [Zionist] entity and reaped 20 Zionists.”
Hamas wrote: “The news of the operation made Palestinians joyous everywhere. The largest celebrations in honor of the hero [suicide bomber Al-Masri]… Masses of people went out to the streets, cheered, and distributed candies out of happiness.”
[Website of Hamas’ Al-Aqsa Channel, Aug. 9, 2017]
The following are pictures of those murdered in the Sbarro bombing:
The article on the Hamas website also describes with pride how the terrorist mingled among the people in the pizza shop before detonating his bomb, which it describes as “playing the melodies of revenge.”
Palestinian Media Watch has documented that the Palestinian Authority and Fatah likewise glorify and honor terrorists, and even reward them financially. In 2001 the Hamas student branch at Al-Najah University in Nablus celebrated the murders by creating exhibit of the pizza shop and posted on the wall images of body parts. [Source of images: Malki Foundation website]
In 2014, the Palestinian Authority likewise honored the suicide bomber by giving him a military funeral when his body was returned to the Palestinian Authority:
PA TV reporter: ”Thousands of civilians from the Tubas District, representing all segments of the political activity, took part in the funeral of the remains of the Martyr (suicide bomber who killed 15) who gave his soul for the struggle of a nation that strives for freedom.”
Mayor of Aqqaba Jamal Abu Ara: “The popular gathering around the blood of Izz Al-Din Al-Masri (i.e., the Sbarro bomber) is an honest and true expression of our people’s yearning for national unity (between Fatah and Hamas) and unity of action.”
PA TV reporter: “The flags of the political parties were raised at this national wedding (the Martyr’s wedding to the 72 Virgins in Paradise), which demonstrated the national unity and cohesion among our people.” [Official PA TV, April 30, 2014]
Isi Leibler: Stay strong and consistent
Over the past few weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under tremendous pressure. Barbaric terrorism and incitement, problems with the Trump administration, excessive demands from the haredim, constant criticism from government ministers and above all the campaign to indict him for alleged corruption have taken their toll.
In hindsight, the installation of metal detectors on the Temple Mount was a blunder. Under normal circumstances, it would have been legitimate, but given Palestinian fanaticism, Netanyahu should have anticipated that this would be exploited to incite frenzy. He also should have realized that this would create major problems for our more moderate neighbors, who face enormous pressure from their own citizens when swept by the hysterical accusation that Al-Aqsa mosque is being defiled by the Jews.
Had Netanyahu resisted the demand to remove the detectors, Israeli public opinion would have supported him. But he recognized that if he refused, he would risk a new intifada and would probably set back his covert alliance with the more moderate Arab states. Any responsible leader weighing up the issues would have acted similarly.
The issue was compounded by Netanyahu’s mishandling of the Jordanian crisis. No doubt, the embassy guard acted in self-defense when he fired after being attacked with a screwdriver. But Netanyahu’s parading him as a hero was grossly inappropriate. The government should have instituted a legal review even though it would have exonerated him. Besides, an apparently innocent bystander was accidentally killed, which merited an apology and restitution.
To add to our discomfort, the international community reverted to its classical posture, with the U.S. State Department applying moral equivalence to both parties. President Donald Trump, facing his own domestic problems, remained disappointingly silent rather than condemning the bogus Palestinian hysteria.
Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett released a video Thursday detailing the danger that Iran poses to Israel, the Middle East and the rest of the world.
Speaking in English, Bennett urged viewers to take notice of the Iranian threat.
“Sometimes there are big things that happen to the world that we don’t really notice them (sic) until it’s almost too late.” The minister used global warming as a prime example of this.
He went on to say that another problem that is currently going unnoticed is that the “radical Islamic Republic of Iran is becoming a global superpower.”
Bennett said that becoming a superpower is Iran’s “one goal.”
The minister addressed why the Iranian regime should not become a superpower for three reasons.
Bennett first listed how how Iran violates human rights including those of its own citizens: executing LGBT people, restricting the rights of women, and arresting journalists and other members of the media. He also called Iran “a leading source of antisemitism.”
He then went on to address how Iran is “a major supporter of terror and murders innocent people around the world.” From Argentina to Yemen, Iran has had a hand in terror attacks, Bennett stated.
The minister also addressed the Hezbollah threat, calling the terror group an “Iranian military force based in Lebanon.”
Bennett’s third and final point regarded Iran’s military escalation. “Iran is growing in military strength and breaking international treaties to do so,” he said.
Irrespective of the blame-game, most agree on one point: resolution 1701 has not brought about its intended effects. Hezbollah, with support from its patron Iran, has since amassed a huge arsenal of weapons, which now threaten all of Israel (Hezbollah has also used its vast armaments in the Syria conflict, which likely never would have reached such magnitude had the Lebanese Shiite group been defanged). And while Israel’s shared border with Lebanon has remained largely calm for a decade, this is liable to change at some point given historical precedent.
Enter Nikki Haley, who in June visited the Israel-Lebanon border, where she was provided with special equipment by the IDF that enabled her to discern observation points erected by Hezbollah, under the guise of an environmental organization called “Green Without Borders.” When UNIFIL Commander Irish Maj. Gen. Michael Beary was questioned by Haley about the posts located south of the Litani River, his retort was that the situation was stable and did not require further intervention. This led to a widely reported heated—and public—argument between Beary and Israeli Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the IDF’s Deputy Chief of Staff, who accused UNIFIL of not doing its job properly.
Within this context, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor acknowledged to The Media Line that Haley faces an uphill battle. “While UNIFIL repeatedly says that it has not been able to detect or report any weapons transfers into Lebanon, you don’t have to be Agatha Christie to know that this has happened,” he quipped. In fact, Hezbollah’s standing army has increased from 20,000 fighters in 2006 to 45,000 in 2016, whereas the number of missiles it possesses has skyrocketed from around 13,000 in 2006 to more than 120,000 today (the maximum range has expanded over this time from 100km to 400km).
To reverse the tide, Amb. Prosor contended that “the US should seek a UN Security Council resolution amending 1701 and providing UNIFIL with explicit powers to disarm Hezbollah and demilitarize south Lebanon under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, the section that deals with peace enforcement.” He also highlights the fact that American taxpayers are on the hook for 43% of UNIFIL’s $488 million budget in 2017, and suggested that “Congress make that funding conditional on performance.”
Holding UNIFIL to account would mark a significant departure from the four-decades-long approach of simply rubber-stamping its activities, which have not put an end to the cycle of violence. To avoid a Third Lebanon War, some out-of-the-box thinking is indeed in tall order, so that a semblance of sustainable peaceful order might finally be achieved.
At a December 4, 2014 speech to the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, an audience member asked McMaster a direct question about the ethics of the IDF’s conduct in that year’s war against Hamas and in other wars.
McMaster was asked: “Firstly, would you consider the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] conduct of the recent war and prior wars as a template for the ethical conduct of war?”
Here is a transcript of McMaster’s reply, which he admitted was a “non-answer”:
Okay. So quickly on that, in terms of the IDF actions and how to evaluate them, I think you could evaluate them based on jus ad bellum sort of criteria of proportionality and distinction and so forth. I’m not the best judge of it. I’ve been following it in the media. I can’t really tell. I do know that they’re responding to attacks.
What you’re asking is, was the response proportional? Now, there’s different kinds of proportionality. There’s proportionality in war, and then there’s a broader sort of humanitarian standard that I think, at times, doesn’t apply as a complete transfer over to wartime situations. So that’s kind of a non-answer, sorry, to your first question.
A defender of Israel or even an objective observer would have noted that Israel goes beyond what almost any other country does to protect civilians and that the IDF is one of the most ethical militaries in the world. The IDF operates under the guidelines of international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict, and imposes its own, even stricter codes.
The Council on American Islamic Relations is backing President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Lieutenant General Herbert Raymond “H.R.” McMaster, claiming over social media that “Islamophobes” and “white supremacists” were behind attacks to remove him from the White House.
In a tweet sent this week, CAIR wrote, “Islamophobia Watch: Islamophobes, white supremacists launch campaign to oust H.R. McMaster after he fired…” and linked to a Newsweek article titled, “Why Is the Alt-Right Attacking H.R. McMaster?”
CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial and Hamas financing case that resulted in the FBI discontinuing its working relationship with the organization. In 2009, a federal judge concluded that the government had found “ample evidence” to link CAIR with Hamas. Additionally, Breitbart News has previously reported that several of CAIR’s board members, employees, and former employees “have been jailed or repatriated for various financial and terror-related offenses.”
The Anne Frank Center, a frequent critic of President Trump, suggested in a tweet Wednesday that there has been an escalation in “alarming parallels” between the present and Nazi Germany.
The nonprofit organization shared a bulleted list of items that seemed designed to show parallels between President Trump and Hitler’s Germany.
In its list, the group said Trump creates his own media; exploits youth at a rally; endorses police brutality; demonizes people who believe, look or love differently; strips vulnerable people of their families, jobs and ability to live; and believes Congress should change its rules to give him more power.
The post did not actually mention Trump, Hitler, Germany or the Nazis, thought the group’s executive director said the comparison was intentional.
You probably never heard of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect until 2017, when they started making media rounds for their criticism of the Trump administration that can be generously described as over-the-top:
And they don’t plan on backing down anytime soon:
Here are five things you need to know about the Anne Frank Center.
1. The Anne Frank Center doesn’t have any connection to Anne Frank herself. The organization’s claim to credibility is that Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, was involved in the founding of the Anne Frank Center. However, documents provided by the organization to The Atlantic that they claimed were proof of Otto Frank’s involvement were “not conclusive.” In fact, Bauco van der Wal, the former head of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, told The Atlantic that it was his job to start an Anne Frank organization in America and Otto Frank had no part in that effort.
3. The Anne Frank Center doesn’t really provide much Holocaust education. According to Jewish historian David Benkof:
The group boasts very little programming beyond the dissemination of Goldstein’s sound-bites. Its Web site describes four small traveling Anne Frank exhibits whose ten stops this year include a high school in Elkhart, Indiana and a library in Sarasota. They are very proud of their touring show in which actors visit high schools and community centers playing Martin Luther King dialoguing with Anne Frank. They also plant “Anne Frank Tree Saplings” around the country.
And that’s about it. They have virtually no presence at the Holocaust conferences scheduled year-round, and they have published no significant research in the area of Holocaust studies. They are an utterly marginal organization.
Benkof added that the organization has eight other employees and all but one have zero “qualifications related to Holocaust or anti-Semitism research or teaching.”
In fact, the new board chair of the organization, Peter Rapaport, told The Atlantic that the Anne Frank Center doesn’t focus on the Holocaust or on Judaism.
“It isn’t our focus to be pro-Jewish or to be just a Holocaust-education [organization],” said Rapaport. “We want to use the knowledge of the Holocaust and go further.”
5. In sum, the organization is using Anne Frank as a banner for leftist activism. The conclusion of The Atlantic piece is that since the Anne Frank Center “talks a big game and wields the name of Anne Frank, the media has awarded it authority it never earned.” Tablet concluded their piece thus:
If the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect — which is now at best tangentially associated with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam — wants, as it claims, to bring about the “kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed,” it should probably dedicate itself to the less glamorous work of correcting ahistorical comments, avoiding ugly witch hunts, and teaching others how to avoid meaningless political theater. Anne Frank has suffered enough.
Indeed, using the name of a teenage girl who perished in the Holocaust is nothing short of appalling and reprehensible. It trivializes the importance of Anne Frank’s life, her diary and the Holocaust down to the feelings-based delusions held by the Left. The Anne Frank Center is perpetuating a scam in order to get the media to hype the organization’s leftist hysteria, and the media continues to fall for it.
Last February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several of his ministers in Berlin for a long line of consultations between the governments of Germany and Israel.
During their meetings, and in the subsequent press conference called by Merkel and Netanyahu, the two displayed not just sympathy toward one another, but extensive mutual understanding, even on problematic issues.
That is why Israeli officials were taken completely by surprise when, several hours after the press conference, sources close to the chancellor started leaking reports of alleged “outrage in Berlin” over Netanyahu’s supposed misrepresentation of Merkel’s commitment to the two-state solution.
That was not the first time in recent years that those same “sources close to the chancellor” have tried to spark tensions between Israel and Germany. The most memorable effort was when Merkel decided to cancel a round of consultations in Jerusalem in May, and the very public confrontation between Netanyahu and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel over Netanyahu’s refusal to meet with Gabriel following the German minister’s earlier meeting with the NGO Breaking the Silence, which often criticizes the Israeli military.
Today, 52 years after Israel and Germany struck up diplomatic relations, the two countries are going through a particularly rough patch. Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, a veteran Israeli diplomat who served as the head of Israel’s missions to Qatar, Jordan and the EU, has served as Israel’s ambassador to Germany for the last five years.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israeli Police arrested two Arab-Israelis brothers from the town of Umm el-Fahm on suspicion of involvement with the Islamic State last month, the Shin Bet made public on Friday.
The security forces raided the home of Mahmoud ‘Abd al-Karim Qassem Jabarin, 25-years-old, and Na’im ‘Abd al-Karim Qassem Jabarin, 20-years-old, and found ISIS paraphernalia and a Carl Gustav gun on the roof of their home.
Authorities also seized a large number of photographs that were in their possession, which “reinforced suspicions that the two supported the ideas and ideology of the organization of the Islamic state,” the Shin Bet statement said.
According to the Shin Bet, authorities had received intelligence that Mahmoud was in contact with an ISIS recruiter who was a former resident of Umm el-Fahm who has been in Syria since 2014 and Mahmoud had intended to leave Israel for Syria to join the jihadist group.
The investigation also revealed that the younger brother, Naim, swore allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Mahmoud was indicted on charges of collaboration with a foreign agent. Naim was charged for possession of illegal weapons.
Israel will join Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, as well as four European countries, for a first-of-its-kind joint drill of their emergency services.
According to the Israel Hayom newspaper, the Middle East Forest Fire exercise, or MEFF, is slated to take place from October 22 to 26 in Jordan and Israel, and will include rescue forces from Italy, France, Spain and Croatia.
The exercise will test the capacity of all sides to cooperate in major rescue operations, including a focus on firefighting, rescues from collapsed buildings and other emergency situations.
The planning stage of the exercise is set to take place in Jordan before the field training begins in Israel.
The exercise will pit rescue crews against a forest fire in the Carmel region similar to the one that claimed 44 lives in 2010, as well as fires in the towns of Yatir and Amatzia. At Kibbutz Lahav in the south, rescuers will face a fire that threatens the village’s buildings and includes people trapped in its path. In the central city of Lod, forces will practice rescuing people from a building that collapsed after a gas explosion.
Young palestinian terrorist Ahmed Manasra has had his sentence for attempted murder reduced from 12 years to 9.5 years.
According to the Times of Israel
The judges wrote in their ruling that “the actions of the appellant were extremely severe. However, we cannot ignore that his part in this incident was secondary to that of his cousin.”
“We can also not ignore the appellant’s extremely young age and his rehabilitation process, and the opinion [of the prison authorities] that was submitted in his case,” they said.
Now his lawyer can complain “It is not the best we wanted”, but his sentence has now gone down from dead as a door nail to only 9.5 years in prison. He’ll be out while in his early 20s, still in the prime of his life – and a great age to continue his terrorist ways, if he chooses to.
He really does look like the Walking Dead
Sounds like a good deal to me.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has clamped down on social media and news websites — the main outlets for debate and dissent in the West Bank — with a vaguely worded decree that critics say allows his government to jail anyone on charges of harming “national unity” or the “social fabric.”
Rights activists say the edict, issued without prior public debate last month, is perhaps the most significant step yet by Abbas’s government to restrict freedom of expression in the autonomous Palestinian enclaves of the West Bank.
A Palestinian prosecutor denied the decree is being used to stifle dissent and insisted that a new law on electronic crimes was needed to close legal loopholes that in the past allowed offenders, such as hackers, to go unpunished.
However, the government has blocked 30 websites in the past month, according to the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, or Mada.
Most of the sites were affiliated with Abbas’s two main rivals — a former aide-turned-foe, Mohammed Dahlan, and the Islamist Hamas, Mada said. A few of the blocked sites had supported the extremist Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is often described by the West as a “peace partner” of Israel’s, on Thursday praised the role that younger Palestinian Arabs play in the fight for the establishment of a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
The comments were made by Abbas in a speech at his Ramallah headquarters before participants in PA summer camps, many of which are named after terrorists who were responsible for the murders of dozens of Israelis.
“We all believe in the mutual protective force of the generations in order to achieve liberation and the establishment of our independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital…Hundreds of thousands of young men and women carried the flag and led the way, some of them who were killed, arrested and wounded, but the path continued and will continue until we achieve our independence on our national land,” said Abbas.
“You are our hope and our lives depend on you, because we see in you the future of Palestine and we see our national independence through you, and through you we see the noble Al-Quds, and this was revealed this past month in noble Al-Quds,” he continued.
“When Israel decided to erect electronic checkpoints at the gates of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, men, young men, women and children from Jerusalem rose up and declared their opposition to these measures of occupation and succeeded in opening the gates of Al-Aqsa and removing the barriers through their steadfastness and resilience,” said the PA chairman.
This July was a month full of depressing news regarding diplomacy among Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.
And yet, far from the headlines, cooperation across these populations was thriving at the Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI) in Nahalal, a city in northern Israel.
During July alone, GIMI gave a training course to Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli olive-oil producers, taught farmers from Palestinian Authority territories to grow avocados for export, and began planning a tele-course for Gazan computer engineers meant to lead to remote employment at Israeli companies.
“This is nothing new for us,” says GIMI President Joseph “Yossie” Shevel. “We’ve been cooperating with the Palestinians for the last 30 years.”
Established in 1987, GIMI develops and presents advanced capacity-building courses for professional personnel from all over the world – from more than 170 countries so far — taught in a wide variety of languages. But local and regional needs are never far from GIMI’s radar.
The avocado-growing course came out of GIMI’s awareness that the healthful avocado is in great demand in Europe and that Israelis could help Palestinian farmers join them in offering a quality product for this “green gold” market.
“We thought we should encourage Palestinians to grow avocados based on the excellent Israeli experience. We know there is a problem of exporting agricultural goods from the West Bank to Europe and we hope to help find a way,” Shevel tells ISRAEL21c.
Hamas is reportedly considering advancing an unprecedented move in the Gaza Strip in response to the harsh sanctions imposed on it by the Palestinian Authority. This is a scenario that has been taken into account in Israel and could lead to chaos in the Gaza Strip. A source within Hamas said that the organization’s military wing recently submitted a proposal to the organization’s political leadership, suggesting Hamas create a political and security vacuum in the Gaza Strip by waiving its management of the Gaza Strip.
In such a scenario, Hamas will not hand the reins of power over to the Palestinian Authority, but implement a four-part plan that will create a vacuum in the Strip that could lead, among other things, to a new military confrontation with Israel.
The plan details that after Hamas relinquishes its political rule over the Gaza Strip, Gaza Police will continue to function together with local institutions that will provide services to Gaza residents. At the same time, security forces in the strip that are subordinate to Hamas will carry out civilian missions but not security ones. Hamas’s military wing would then fill the security vacuum in Gaza, by assuming control over the region’s security and deploying its forces throughout the territory, along with the smaller military forces of other factions.
The proposal is perceived as a threat to Abbas, as it pushes to create a military regime in Gaza without civilian rule, a reality that could easily devolve into unbridled violence. Hamas is apparently also aiming to have Arab countries pressure Abbas to lift sanctions off the Gaza Strip, in an effort to prevent a possible military escalation against Israel.
Hamas on Thursday warned that the new underground barrier Israel is building on its border with the Gaza Strip is “a declaration of war” and it will not allow the barrier to be completed.
The IDF is building the 60-kilometer (37-mile) barrier, which includes underground and underwater sections, to counter the threat from Hamas’ grid of terror tunnels.
GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir told reporters on Wednesday that work on the barrier is progressing and will continue even if Hamas renews hostilities with Israel.
The situation in Gaza “is stable, but volatile. … If Hamas chooses to go to war over the barrier, it will be a worthy reason [for Israel] to go to war. But the barrier will be built,” Zamir said. He added that the barrier is expected to be completed within two years.
“This is a declaration of war. We will not allow the occupation to carry out its plots and crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and we will prevent the construction of this barrier by all means,” a senior Hamas official declared Thursday.
“The entry of the occupation army’s troops and equipment into the Gaza Strip to carry out this work is tantamount to a military incursion into Gaza and Hamas will respond accordingly. We will not sit idly by and we will respond with force the likes of which Israel has never known.”
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that Iran was not upholding its obligations under the landmark nuclear deal struck in 2015 by former president Barack Obama.
“I don’t think they’re living up to the spirit of the agreement,” he told reporters at his private golf club in Bedminister, New Jersey, where Trump is currently spending a 17-day retreat from Washington.
“They are not in compliance with the agreement and they certainly are not in the spirit of the agreement in compliance, and I think you’ll see some very strong things taking place if they don’t get themselves in compliance,” he went on to say.
Trump has been signaling for weeks that he would like to declare Tehran noncompliant with the terms of the accord. In July, he instructed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to verify to Congress that Iran was abiding by the pact.
But two weeks ago, he told The Wall Street Journal he did not suspect he would do the same three months from now. Under the agreement, the White House must certify to Congress every three months whether Iran is honoring the deal, which rolled back sanctions in exchange for curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
As the Trump administration considers its options regarding Iran, how much of Iran’s sanctions relief from the 2015 nuclear deal is funding Tehran’s support for sectarian conflict and terrorism across the Middle East?
Last week, President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program and its human rights violations. The sanctions come amid Iran’s reported efforts to fuel the Temple Mount crisis, and its agreement to bolster relations with Hamas.
Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah also continue to back President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war, although Russia’s military support for Assad is far more important for Iran’s involvement there than the sanctions relief that Tehran obtained in the nuclear deal.
“I think what has been crucial for the expansion of Iran’s role in Syria, more than anything, has been the air support [Assad] has received from Russian President Vladimir Putin,” said Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at Israel’s IDC Herzliya research college.
Javedanfar estimates that, so far, Iran has received less than $20 billion of the $150 billion in sanctions relief that it secured in the nuclear deal. Even if all of the sanctions relief money had been released immediately, he said, it “wouldn’t have been enough to save Syria.”
Rather, how the US responds now to North Korea will also impact on Iran’s hegemonic designs, even though the North Koreans – unlike Iran – do not have dreams of, for instance, invading the Japanese islands.
“If Iran sees that the US stood strong against North Korea, and North Korea blinked first, then the Iranians will have to think twice about escalating their own challenges to Washington in the future.” And these challenges are emerging all over the Middle East.
Israel, Gold said, has been talking about Iran’s regional hegemonic goals for years.
At the time that the nuclear deal was being pushed in Washington, he said, there was a school of thought there that argued that if the deal was signed, Iran would become a more moderate actor in the region.
But Iran’s recent moves in the region – in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and even Afghanistan – have proven that the exact opposite has occurred, he maintained.
The Trump administration, Gold argued, “understands the hegemonial ambitions of the Iranians.”
But if that is the case, he was asked, how did it agree to the cease-fire deal with Russia, which will keep the Iranians in place in Syria?
“They did, but they have also expressed themselves against the idea of Iran turning Syria into a satellite,” he responded. The US has a lot of global challenges right now, Gold said, in reference to the North Korean crisis, but they understand the Iranian hegemony problem.
And in his mind, that very understanding “is a shift from the Obama days, when they thought that American and Iranian interests were aligned.”
President Donald Trump signed wide-ranging Congressional sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Russia last week. Known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, the law’s Iran section requires the president to extend a terrorism designation pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its foreign agents and affiliates by Oct. 30.
The milestone marks the first instance the US will designate the military branch of a foreign country for terrorism.
The law’s Sec. 105 (3) states, “The IRGC, not just the IRGC-QF [the Qods Force, the Guard’s extraterritorial branch], is responsible for implementing Iran’s international program of destabilizing activities, support for acts of international terrorism, and ballistic missile program.”
E.O. 13224 is an authority aimed at freezing the assets of terrorists and their supporters, while isolating them from the US financial and commercial systems, according to Treasury.
In 2007, the US designated the Qods Force for terrorism pursuant to the same order.
As a consequence of the latest law, the US will apply the terrorism designation to the IRGC in its entirety, which would include its Ground Forces, Aerospace Forces, Navy and the Basij paramilitary. The Revolutionary Guard, which is a conscript army, is estimated to have 150,000 active duty members. Estimates for the all-volunteer Basij vary widely: Iranian officials claim as high as 10 million, but a 2007 study by a Western think tank estimated the Basij at 90,000 active members, 300,000 reservists and 1 million who could be mobilized. A 2015 study by scholar Saeed Golkar argues the Basij has 200,000 special, 1 million active and at least 4 million total members.
Thousands of speakers of Persian appealed on social media to the world soccer federation to punish Iran for its banning of two athletes on the national soccer team from playing for their country over their participating in a match against Israelis.
The players, Masoud Shojaei, 33, the captain of the national team, and Ehsan Haji Safi, 27, one of Iran’s most promising players, were banned Thursday for playing for their Greek club team, Panionios, in a home game last week in Athens against Maccabi Tel Aviv from Israel, the New York Times reported.
“It is certain that Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Haji Safi will never be invited to join the national football team because they violated the red line,” Mohammad Reza Davarzani, Iran’s deputy sports minister said Thursday on Iranian state television.
The move prompted thousands of speakers of Persian, including Iranians living in the Islamic Republic or beyond, to call on the FIFA soccer federation to impose sanctions on Iran for the move, according to Omid Memarian, A New York-based journalist.
On Twitter, under the hashtag #NoBan4OurPlayers, a user under the handle of Ajib Zade wrote that “players should be free to choose who to play against.”
But Vali Nasr, a well-known Iran-born Middle East analyst and scholar, argued the Iranian players were actually bound contractually to play against the Israeli athletes as part of their engagement for the Greek team, and therefore should not be punished by Iran
An Argentinean-Israeli doctor was honored at the Buenos Aires city parliament as an “outstanding personality in the human rights field” for assisting victims of the Syrian civil war.
Dr. Alejandro Roisentul, who has lived in Israel for the last 28 years, received the kudos on Tuesday for his part in bringing Syrian patients to Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel.
“Syrian injured people, even children, who came to the border of Israel by foot, in very bad condition. The IDF brought them to our hospital and we the Israeli doctors, helped them, cured them. They looked at us as the enemy but after being taken care of in Israel they changed their views. I hope that these small steps also can help toward peace,” Roisentul told Argentinean media.
Roisentul was born in Buenos Aires in 1964 and graduated as a dentist from the University of Buenos Aires in 1986. Three years later he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces. Currently he is head of the Maxillofacial Surgery Unit of Ziv Medical Center, a hospital located in Safed, in northern Israel, about 40 miles from the Syrian border.
The Tuesday ceremony was attended by parliamentarians, the country’s human rights secretary and the Israeli ambassador. The official website of the Buenos Aires parliament describes Roisentul as “an Israeli that heals and saves lives of Syrians who do not know their neighbors or have a distorted view (of them).”
Roisentul told local media that seven Syrians were treated at Ziv in 2013 and “more than 1,500 Syrian have been treated for free since then just in our hospital. I have received people with serious injuries to their head and mouth, most of them can’t talk or eat correctly, and they return to Syria with a smile on their face. We also help them with clothes and sometimes they live for months in the hospital… people without place to go.”
Roisentul also gave a lecture to the Maxillofacial Argentinean Society, held private meetings with Argentinean professors of medicine and meetings in Jewish institutions.
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