JPost Editorial: ‘Quiet for quiet’
And all the government says and does is some version of “quiet will be met by quiet” – nothing about how to solve this issue in the long term and bring back some normalcy to the many Israelis living under fire.
With that in mind, it’s understandable that Bayit Yehudi ministers voted against a cease-fire with Hamas at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
“This ‘quiet’ will give Hamas total immunity so that it can rearm itself with tens of thousands of rockets that will threaten all parts of the country and will allow it to launch a war against Israel… under convenient conditions,” Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said this week.
Israel does not seek an escalation, but “quiet for quiet” lets Hamas set the terms, lick its wounds, and attack again when it sees fit.
It’s not that a cease-fire and opening the crossings are bad ideas. The problem is it’s not backed up by an overarching strategy to keep Israelis safe. We’ve repeated the “quiet for quiet” formula for nearly a decade, and nothing has changed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows this; as opposition leader, ahead of the 2009 election, he said the government must “knock down Hamas.” Liberman knows this as well, having famously said that within 48 hours of becoming defense minister, Ismail Haniyeh would be dead. It’s not clear that those strategies will guarantee Israel’s safety, but at least they had ideas beyond attacking when Hamas attacks, and stopping when Hamas stops.
What we need is for the government to be more forward-looking and to take a holistic view. Residents of the South have been suffering long enough. We need more than “quiet will be met by quiet.”
The bottom line is that the Israeli government, which leads the strongest country in a radius of thousands of kilometers, with one of the strongest, most modern armies in the world, is heading into a deal with an organization that is nothing more than a gang, and why? Because the defense establishment couldn’t handle methods of attack that were cobbled together in a backyard. When we demand answers, it explains why it wouldn’t be right to go all the way and eliminate the threat that we are facing and that has been humiliating us.
This situation is unacceptable. A country that has the aforementioned strength and is surrounded by belligerent mutterings cannot allow itself to behave this way. It can’t allow itself to provide such a thin, ineffectual solution for its citizens, either. They are paying a heavy price for living here. It appears that instead of deterring, we are deterred.
We should be looking at things correctly, especially now, when the question of who will serve as the next IDF chief of staff is up for discussion. Israel needs a military leader who projects confidence, who is unafraid to make hard decisions that come at a cost, who understands that sometimes you need to go all the way, and who knows that he has real influence on the political echelon and understands that it need to project confidence and capability.
We need a chief of staff who will push the defense forces to act, who won’t compromise on a partial solution, who understands that wars are won on the ground and who will revolutionize Israel’s ground capabilities along with creative commanders who insist on victory – commanders who excellence is measured by the security they give, and not by their brilliant explanations.
The deal with Hamas is a political decision, but it stems mainly from the military’s failure to handle Hamas. Now, when the next leader of the IDF is being discussed, we should ask who will restore Israel’s capacity to win and ensure deterrence.
13 years on, instead of peace, this is what Israeli families have to endure👇 pic.twitter.com/efoxV7hnM9
— Mark Regev (@MarkRegev) August 15, 2018
A reported truce agreement aimed at calming weeks of border clashes and violent exchanges between Israel and Hamas on the border with the Gaza Strip will last for a year and see the establishment of a cargo shipping connection between Gaza and Cyprus, a Lebanese television channel reported Thursday.
Israel will have security control over the sea traffic between the Palestinian coastal enclave and Cyprus, according to a brief Thursday report from the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen television channel, which cited sources familiar with the details.
Hamas has long made access to a sea port a key strategic goal. Under the conditions of Israel’s naval blockade, goods heading to Gaza are currently shipped to Israeli ports and then trucked into Gaza.
Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza since Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, seized the territory from the internationally backed Palestinian Authority in 2007. It says the blockade is in place in order to prevent weapons and other military equipment from entering the Strip.
Egypt, too, has kept its Gaza border crossing largely closed during years of sour relations with the Islamist group ruling Gaza.
Yesterday the Palestinian Authority made clear to the world that if forced to choose, it will pay salaries to terrorists rather than pay for the education of its children.
Recent reports claimed that UNRWA did not have enough money to open up the UNRWA school system for over 320,000 Palestinian children. UNRWA’s budget for the schools could easily be paid by the PA from the money it spends paying terrorist prisoners and families of so-called “Martyrs,” yet, last night Mahmoud Abbas announced on PA TV: “Israel considers them (i.e., terrorist prisoners) criminals… Even if we need to cut from our flesh, we will continue to give the support and aid.” [Official PA TV, Aug. 15, 2018]
He didn’t say a word about using money to open up the schools for Palestinian children.
Today, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl announced that the schools will open on time but the problem is not solved:
“While announcing today the opening of the school year, I wish to be clear that UNRWA is by no stretch of the imagination out of the woods. Since January 2018, UNRWA has mobilized $238 M of additional funding, which is very encouraging. However, we currently only have funding to run the Agency’s services until the end of September. We need a further $217 M to ensure that our schools not only open but can be run until the end of the year.”
For the year of 2018, the PA allocated 1.237 billion shekels to pay salaries to terrorist prisoners, released terrorist prisoners, the families of deceased terrorists and the wounded. These funds, paid to less than 100,000 people, are more than one third of the entire budget of the PA’s Ministry of Education (3.35 billion shekels) which provides educational services for over a million Palestinians.
Sufyan Abu Zaida, a Palestinian Authority minister and senior Fatah member living in the Gaza Strip, gave an interview discussing the Gaza Strip to the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation Kan on Wednesday.
Abu Zaida commented on the situation in the Gaza Strip in light of Israeli steps to rescind its stringent restrictions on Kerem Shalom, including lifting the ban on commercial goods, fuel and gas, as well as expanding the authorized fishing area.
On the question of whether the current tentative ceasefire will persist, Abu Zaida said, “Hamas is willing, as is the Palestinian Authority and its citizens. If the price is opening the Kerem Shalom crossing and expanding the fishing range, and a few exemptions on the Erez crossing, it won’t last. A long term ceasefire can last years if the conditions in Gaza improve drastically.”
Commenting on Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, whose bodies are being kept hostage by Hamas, Abu Zaida said, “Nobody in the Israeli military or political systems can know whether Hamas will choose to give you charity and return the soldiers or bodies or whatever they have.”
Abu Zaida added, “As a Palestinian, we are at a war. There is a war, soldiers are captured, their situation is unknown, and then there is a prisoner exchange. Rabin did it; so did [Ariel] Sharon; so did Netanyahu.”
The head of Egyptian intelligence, Major General Abbas Kamel, reportedly came to Tel Aviv on Wednesday to discuss the final details of a reported truce agreement aimed at calming weeks of border clashes and violent exchanges between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Kamel is also scheduled to meet Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported Thursday, citing Palestinian sources.
In addition to halting the recent fighting, the Egypt-brokered plan includes humanitarian projects for Gaza, and future indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the exchange of prisoners, the newspaper reported.
Hamas last week said it reached a ceasefire with Israel brokered by Egypt and the United Nations to end the flareup in violence, though this was denied by Israel. The agreement will reportedly see Hamas halt attacks in exchange for the opening of border terminals and an expanded fishing zone.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said Hamas was not serious about unity talks and accused US officials of lying about their intentions to aid the beleaguered Gaza Strip.
Abbas made the comments in a televised speech at the start of a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council, the PLO’s second highest decision-making body, in Ramallah.
“Hamas principally does not have intentions to achieve reconciliation,” Abbas said.
The comments came after the Egyptian Intelligence Services hosted separate talks with Fatah and Hamas officials over the past several weeks to discuss reconciliation.
Since Hamas and Fatah failed to implement an Egyptian-sponsored unity deal, which they signed in October 2017, reconciliation efforts have been at a standstill.
Abbas said the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership wants to unify the West Bank and Gaza under “one government, one law and one legitimate force without militias.”
The Hamas terrorist group has been the effective sovereign inside the Gaza Strip since it ousted the Fatah-dominated and West Bank-based PA in 2007 from the territory.
13 Years of Hamas in Gaza
Hamas Accomplishments Since the Gaza Disengagement
A Daily Mail article on Aug. 11th about the latest Gaza border riots included the following claim:
A third Palestinian has died after he was shot by Israeli troops as thousands protested along the Gaza border on Friday. Ahmed Abu Lulu was shot in a section of the border east of the southern city of Rafah and died of his wounds in hospital on Saturday morning. The 40-year-old was among 131 Palestinians wounded by Israeli bullets during the protest, breaking an unofficial ceasefire after less than 24 hours.
We immediately filed a complaint with Daily Mail editors, taking issue with their claim that Israel broke the ceasefire. We noted that it’s inaccurate to claim, as if it were an incontrovertible fact, that Israeli fire at violent rioters – many of whom were attempting to infiltrate the border – represented a violation of the unofficial ceasefire with Hamas.
First, the informal ceasefire narrowly related to the Hamas initiated violence on Aug. 7th and 8th, which included over 180 rockets attacks from Gaza, and Israeli retaliation against Hamas military targets. No reasonable interpretation of the ceasefire could include a demand that the IDF cease to respond to violent Gaza riots and attempts to breach the border. Palestinian violence during the Aug. 9th riots included makeshift bombs, Molotov cocktails, and at least one incident where a grenade was thrown at Israeli troops.
Representing more evidence that the ceasefire didn’t relate to the border riots, Hamas had put out a statement on Aug. 9th making it clear that the “March of Return” demonstrations would continue, despite its announcement of a cessation of hostilities with Israel the prior evening.
The Trump administration said Wednesday that neither Israelis nor Palestinian would be “fully pleased” by its long-awaited Middle East peace plan, whose contents are one of the most guarded secrets in Washington.
Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, tweeted a statement from multiple officials that said the only way to achieve a final-status accord was for both parties to accept painful compromises.
“No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that’s the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved,” the officials said. “Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities.”
The quote was attributed to US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Greenblatt.
Trump officials have said they are finishing the plan and working on rolling it out, but have not offered any timeline.
In a meeting with several settler leaders Wednesday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that he saw “no reason to evacuate settlements” in a peace deal, a Likud lawmaker said.
MK Yehudah Glick, who organized the sit-down with Har Hebron Regional Council chairman Yochai Damari, recounted the statement to the Times of Israel and said that the ambassador was “very explicit” in his remark regarding Israeli communities in the West Bank.
A spokeswoman for the embassy declined to comment.
Damari said the purpose of the meeting at the US embassy in Jerusalem was to present a number of Israeli-Palestinian economic ventures in the West Bank, ahead of the anticipated unveiling of the US’s peace initiative.
According to the regional council chairman, who presides over 19 Israeli settlements in the southern West Bank, the sit-down provided an opportunity to present the settler perspective.
“The reality of recent decades has taught us that any attempt to impose political solutions by people who aren’t on the ground [in Israel] and don’t breateh the conflict every day is doomed to fail, and the past two bloody decades are proof of this,” Damari said in a statement following the meeting.
Top White House official John Bolton will visit Israel for talks next week, the Trump administration said Tuesday.
Bolton, US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, will visit Israel as part of a trip that will also take him to Ukraine and Geneva, where he will follow up with Russian officials on Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Sanders did not elaborate and the White House did not return a request for comment.
There was no immediate confirmation from Jerusalem.
The trip to Israel will be the first for Bolton, seen as a pro-Israel hawk, since he was appointed to the role in March. At the time, government figures praised the choice, with Education Minister Naftali Bennett calling him a “stalwart friend of Israel.”
A former ambassador to the UN, Bolton is known for taking a hard line against Iran, and was seen as a central player in the US decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal in May.
US administration officials who purportedly claim to want to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are “liars,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday.
Abbas, who was speaking at the opening session of the PLO Central Council in Ramallah, also vowed to pursue efforts to thwart US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East and the Jewish Nation-State Law.
He also pledged to continue payments to Palestinian security prisoners and families of “martyrs” killed while carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel.
Referring to Trump’s unseen plan, which is also known as the “Deal of the Century,” Abbas said: “We were the first to fight against it and we will continue to fight against it until it falls. This is the ‘slap of the century.’”
Abbas said that the two-day PLO conference, which was launched in Ramallah on Wednesday evening, will discuss Trump’s upcoming plan, the “racist” Nation-State Law and other Israeli measures, including the decision to demolish the Bedouin shantytown of Khan al-Ahmar east of Ma’aleh Adumim and relocate its residents to near Jericho.
Abbas urged Palestinians to continue with their protests against the decision to evict the residents of Khan al-Ahmar and to “stop the Zionists from fulfilling their wishes.”
Fatah Central Committee Member Jibril Rajoub to Netanyahu, Lieberman, Bennett: You Are Criminals and Neo-Nazis! pic.twitter.com/0MoClo7lQp
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) August 16, 2018
In an article titled “An Alternative Deal” in the Jordanian government daily Al-Rai, Salah Jarrar, Jordan’s former minister of culture and former vice-president of the University of Jordan, came out against the Middle East peace plan that the Trump administration is promoting, known in the Arab world as “the Deal of the Century.” He wrote that this deal reflects nothing but the weakness of the Arabs and the arrogance of Israel and the U.S., who wish to impose upon the Arabs a humiliating solution that meets none of their demands and restores none of their rights. Calling on the Arabs not to wait until the details of this deal emerge and not to regard it as decreed by fate, he urged them to propose a different deal, as part of which all the Jews who came to Israel after 1917 Balfour Declaration, and their descendants, will return to their countries of origin “without taking anything with them,” the Palestinian refugees will return to their homes, and the U.S. and Britain will compensate the Palestinians and the Arabs for the “damage” caused by the occupation and for hosting the Palestinian refugees. He added that, even if this plan does not seem feasible today, the Arabs must persist in making these demands, for these are their rights and they will eventually attain them.
The following are excerpts from his article:
“The entire world is currently occupied with the so-called ‘Deal of the Century,’ invented by Donald Trump and his diplomatic, economic and security teams. Many politicians and intellectuals, Arab and non-Arab, are trying to discover the details of this deal, which is shrouded in mystery and obscurity, while the Arabs and Muslims are [just] waiting to see what this deal will cause, as though it is decreed by fate.
“Whatever its nature, content and goals, the Deal of the Century is a natural outcome of the current state of the Arabs, which is characterized by division, internal wars, insane conflicts, neglect, and a failure to confront the challenges, foreign ambitions and plots, and the Zionist occupation of Arab lands. Everyone knows that the more flexible and amenable the Arabs become, the more stubborn and arrogant the Zionists and their American allies become, to the point that they make demands that contradict all logic and every law and principle, and treat us as defeated, submissive and humiliated slaves. It has come to the point that we now see them trying to impose a solution that satisfies them but does not meet a single one of our demands or restore a single one of our stolen Arab rights.
As noted by CNN reporter Daniel Matamala, UN Watch was the first in the world to raise the problematic ties of new UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet with Latin America’s human rights abusing dictatorships, including Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
UN Watch’s tweets on the subject — in English and Spanish — went viral, and were widely shared among influencers concerned with human rights in those abuser states.
• U.S. SPEAKS OUT: In wake of UN Watch’s press release (see below), the U.S. delegation to the UN issued a powerful statement calling on the new UN rights chief to address Cuba and Venezuela. “The UN system has failed to adequately address major human rights crises in Iran, North Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and elsewhere, or stop its chronic, disproportionate obsession with Israel. It is up to Ms. Bachelet to speak out against these failures rather than accept the status quo.”
• MEDIA REPORTS: UN Watch’s statement on Bachelet was quoted by leading Spanish newspapers La Vanguardia and ABC, Fox News, Eurasia Review, CNS News, as well as Diario de Cuba, Martí Noticias and Diario Concepción.
• HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS: The Human Rights Foundation tweeted that it “shares UN Watch’s concern over Bachelet’s fitness to hold the highest UN human rights office, due to her track record cozying up to Latin American dictators.”
Italy’s Matteo Angioli, Secretary of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law and activist with the Non-Violent Radical Party, also posted UN Watch’s statement. Dissident Rosa Maria Paya noted that Cuba and Venezuela praised Bachelet’s appointment.
Human Rights Watch chief Ken Roth initially had only praise for Bachelet. But under pressure after UN Watch reminded him how his own Latin American director had previously slammed Bachelet’s record on both Cuba and Venezuela, Roth reversed course and shared a sharp critique by Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez. He acknowledged that Bachelet had “downplayed repression by leftist Latin American governments such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.”
The Shin Bet security service has denied entry into Israel to some 250 people since the beginning of the year, citing reasons such as involvement in terror or fears they would engage in spying while in the country, the Kan public broadcaster reported Wednesday.
The issue received prominent attention after Jewish-American journalist and Israeli government critic Peter Beinart said he was questioned on his political views upon arriving in the country for his niece’s bat mitzvah earlier this week.
Most of those who were stopped “were Muslims, or were in the process of becoming Muslims,” and arrived from Arab countries, Europe and Africa, the report said. Some were Christians. They were turned away when they arrived at Ben Gurion International Airport, the Taba crossing from Egypt or the Allenby bridge crossing from Jordan.
According to July statistics published by the Tourism Ministry, a record number of tourists visited Israel in the first half of 2018. Some 2.1 million tourist entries were recorded between January and June, the most for any half-year period.
The findings, compiled by the Central Bureau of Statistics, reveal some 1.8 million tourists entered Israel by air — including 63,000 via Ovda Airport near Eilat — 73% more than last year. About 243,000 arrived through land crossings.
The Israeli military’s top lawyer on Wednesday closed the case on one of the bloodiest battles of the 2014 Gaza war, deciding not to file any criminal charges against those involved in a massive shelling of southern Gaza that left 72 civilians dead, the army said.
The Israel Defense Forces also completed the investigation of seven other, lower-profile cases in which soldiers were said to have unnecessarily killed Palestinian civilians, finding that no crimes or misdeeds were committed.
The military’s findings regarding the “Black Friday” offensive, the nickname for the bombardment of the southern Gaza city of Rafah, largely matched those of the IDF Southern Command’s investigation shortly after the war. The IDF released the results of the probes in a 30-page document in Hebrew.
At 9:06 a.m. on August 1, 2014, just over an hour after the start of a humanitarian ceasefire, fighters from the Hamas terror group emerged from a tunnel in the southeastern part of Rafah and attacked a nearby IDF unit, killing two soldiers and capturing Lt. Hadar Goldin, dragging him back into their tunnel.
Six minutes later, troops in the area initiated the so-called Hannibal Protocol, a controversial order giving commanders near unlimited freedom to do anything necessary to prevent the capture of a soldier.
Israel Police on Wednesday arrested a man on suspicion of spraying a swastika and an SS symbol on the wall of a synagogue in the central city of Petah Tivka.
The suspect, 36, resisted arrest and attacked officers with an electric screwdriver, the force said in a statement. Police used a taser to subdue the man and then detained him.
The man is also suspected of spraying Nazi symbols on the walls of Health Ministry and National Insurance premises in the city in the attack overnight Monday. A black swastika and SS symbol were also discovered sprayed onto the wall of the Mikdash Moshe synagogue.
Police identified a suspect and when officers arrived at his home in the city he attacked them with the drill.
Hundreds of UN-run schools for Palestinian refugees will open on time after fresh funding temporarily staved off a financial crisis triggered by a US contributions freeze, the United Nations said on Thursday.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said all 711 schools it runs for 526,000 pupils in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria would open for the coming school year.
There had been warnings from UN chief Antonio Guterres and others that the schools might not be able to open due to funding shortages provoked by US President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold aid to the Palestinians.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said it had mobilized an additional $238 million since the start of the year, but added that it currently only had enough cash to keep its services operating through September.
“We need a further $217 million to ensure that our schools not only open but can be run until the end of the year,” the agency said in a statement.
The White House warned on Wednesday that Turkey is increasingly trending away from US interests, furious over the continued detention and trial for espionage of an American pastor there.
The Trump administration has levied tariffs against Istanbul over Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s refusal to release Pastor Andrew Brunson after he had given the US assurances that it would do so.
Trump had come close to negotiating his release, which included securing the release of a Turkish woman detained in Israel accused of links to Hamas. But Erdogan’s reported backtracking has infuriated the American president and prompted the expanding crisis.
In response to the latest economic punishments from Washington, Istanbul this week doubled tariffs on US imports. The move riled markets.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said a further deterioration could be averted if Erdogan agrees to let Brunson go. The evangelical pastor was detained in October 2016 amidst a nationwide crackdown after an alleged coup shook Istanbul. He is now facing terrorism and espionage charges, which Brunson’s legal representation dismiss as absurd.
The Turkish lira continued to rebound from record losses on Thursday a day after Qatar pledged $15 billion in investments to help Turkey’s economy.
The currency strengthened some 2 percent against the dollar, trading at around 5.85 per dollar, hours before Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak was scheduled to update international investors about the economy.
The lira had nosedived in recent weeks, hitting a record low of 7.24 earlier this week, amid a diplomatic and trade dispute with the United States that has exacerbated investor concerns over Turkey’s economy.
Washington imposed sanctions on two Turkish government ministers and doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports over the continued detention of an American pastor on espionage and terror-related charges. Turkey retaliated with some $533 million of tariffs on some US imports — including cars, tobacco and alcoholic drinks — and said it would boycott US electronic goods, singling out Iphones.
Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has admitted he made a mistake in allowing the country’s foreign minister to speak to his US counterpart during negotiations that led to a 2015 international nuclear agreement.
International sanctions on Iran were lifted when the pact with world powers came into force in 2016, but the expected level of foreign investment to help revive the economy has never materialized. Then this May President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement and is now reimposing US sanctions in stages.
Khamenei, who rarely admits in public to making errors, said he had done just that over the nuclear talks. “With the issue of the nuclear negotiations, I made a mistake in permitting our foreign minister to speak with them. It was a loss for us,” he said.
The comments made by Khamenei, the highest authority in the country, were tweeted on Wednesday by the Khat-e Hezbollah newspaper, a weekly affiliated with his official website.
Khamenei made the remarks on Monday, but the newspaper said it was now quoting them due to inaccurate accounts published previously by other media.
Dennis Ross: Iran Is Throwing a Tantrum but Wants a Deal
Even in its afterlife, the Iran nuclear deal continues to polarize. Those who supported the agreement proclaim loudly that Iran will never negotiate any adjustment to it, while its opponents argue U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of it will produce a better deal.
Trump himself seems to believe a better deal is possible, having recently offered to talk to the Iranians without preconditions. On Monday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei indicated he disagrees, declaring: “I ban holding any talks with America. … America never remains loyal to its promises.” Khamenei’s ban came after Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, had already insisted: “The Iranian people will never allow their officials to meet and negotiate with the Great Satan, we are not North Korea.”
That sounds strong, but I suspect Trump’s backers have the better case. History and basic political dynamics suggest Iran’s defiant attitude about negotiations will soften before long, and it’s entirely possible to imagine the two sides reaching an agreement. The next round of U.S.-Iranian negotiations, however, won’t look anything like the first—and Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely play a starring role as peacemaker.
Let’s first dispense with some mistaken assumptions on the U.S. side. Jafari’s reference to North Korea is telling, both because Iran is not a one-man show and because Trump seems to believe that his “maximum pressure” approach worked on North Korea and can work on Iran. Leaving aside whether it has worked, the two cases are quite different. On North Korea, a strong international consensus existed on stopping the regime’s nuclear program—and the Trump administration mobilized support for new, tougher sanctions. On Iran, by contrast, the president broke the international consensus by walking away from the nuclear deal. It is hard to apply maximum pressure when other governments, especially our European allies, oppose our efforts and are adopting regulations to protect their companies from U.S. sanctions for doing business with Iran. At a minimum, our allies and others are not going to be vigilant in plugging loopholes in the sanctions regime and preventing the Iranians from evading the sanctions—a practice that they have honed over time.
Insightful Iranwire report into how the Iranian regime discriminates against Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians. Zoroastrians and Christians are accused of proselytising and all minorities are subject to legal discrimination. Jews are not allowed to reprint religious books and there is no rabbi, as foreign-trained clerics are not allowed to take office in Iran.
Robert is an Armenian Christian, and he echoes much of what Armaiti says about discrimination. “Many of our Muslim friends ask us about converting to Christianity but in Iran we are not allowed to proselytize,” he says. According to Robert, the official Armenian churches are carefully monitored by security forces to prevent any kind of proselytization.
Maryam is a Christian convert who was baptized in a home-church in the northwestern city of Urmia. “In home-churches they both teach about Christianity and hold prayers and ceremonies like official churches,” she says. “In recent years, holding prayers at home-churches has become very difficult and dangerous. Under the guise of being interested in Christianity, security agents infiltrate home-churches to identify Christian converts and proselytizers.”
According to Maryam, converts are now very cautious about going to home-churches for prayers and ceremonies after many converts were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms. In less than two months in 2017, 11 converts and one priest were sentenced to a total of 125 years in prison.
The Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund has admitted they are in advanced talks with Elon Musk to finance his buyout bid. A spokesman commented, “Let’s be honest the Zionists have won down here on Earth. We need to draw a line under it and look to the stars. Mr. Musk has promised us exclusivity on the first Mars rockets. I don’t care how devious you think the Jews are, they can’t fly.”
“Obviously we will be using the old ‘diversifying from oil’ excuse to provide a smoke screen. But we all know that’s camel crap. We’ve got hundreds of years left of the black stuff. But just imagine ‘Mecca on Mars’. Come on you have to admit it’s got a nice ring to it.”
A spokesman for the Israeli government said, “Two words. Iron. Dome. No one gets into orbit without our permission. Just think what would happen if people got a glimpse of our giant Zionist moon base and put all the pieces together…”
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