The real waste and destructiveness of UNRWA
As readers may be aware, an internal UN report has been leaked accusing the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN body that looks after Palestinian refugees, of corruption, sexual misconduct, nepotism, waste, and poor management among its leadership team. This comes on top of long-standing complaints about the agency, including:
– Its tolerance of incitement to hatred and violence in its schools and other institutions;
– Its unique definition of who is a Palestinian refugee that means the number of such refugees will expand forever;
– Its political promotion of the legally-baseless Palestinian “right of return”, contradicting the two-state solution and thus damaging any realistic hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Now, the American blogger “Elder of Ziyon” has called attention to some material from UNRWA’s own website demonstrating how the latter two political stances lead to gross waste by the agency, quite apart from the current scandal.
Basically, “Elder of Ziyon” points to three facts noted on the UNRWA website:
– UNWRA says it has “started construction on a new health centre in Zohour area within the Jordanian capital Amman. … The actual construction activities started late in July 2019 and the health centre is expected to be functional by August 2020 and will improve access to health care for over 68,000 Palestine refugees in the area.”
– UNRWA admits “In Jordan, the 2.2 million Palestine refugees who are registered with UNRWA enjoy broad inclusion in social and economic life. The vast majority have Jordanian nationality, with the exception of some 158,000 ‘ex-Gazan’ refugees,” and “[M]ost of the over 2 million Palestine refugees in Jordan have been granted citizenship, and have the same access to health care as other Jordanian citizens.”
– UNRWA says “In Jordan, our clinics serve more than 1.1 million people, nearly 56 per cent of the registered Palestine refugees in the country.”
What these three facts amount to is this: UNRWA is paying to run, and even currently expanding, a separate and discriminatory health care system in Jordan which is almost completely unnecessary.
Completely reliant on donors, UNRWA is always living on the edge, with uncertain funding and a culture of secrecy. The agency regularly assesses its management, but it publishes uniformly positive reports. The imperative is always to support calls for future funding and avoid lending ammunition to critics, namely the US and Israel.
One lesson is that funders must demand internal controls, external audits and public access to information. Assurances regarding Palestinian needs aren’t enough. Scrutiny is also needed for the Palestinian Authority, which uses foreign aid to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in pensions to terrorists and their families.
A second lesson concerns the danger of devoting an international organisation to a single population. UNRWA was effectively taken over by Palestinians decades ago. Politicisation began at the bottom with school curricula, but crept upward with senior managers calling for the Palestinian “right of return”.
The US funding cuts were the first serious challenges to a long overripe status quo. This latest scandal is an opportunity for the US, joined by other angry donors, to demand a phaseout plan for the entire organisation.
UNRWA’s 30,000 employees could join the Palestinian Authority, which would take over its health, education and welfare responsibilities like the state it claims to be. UNRWA’s expensive international cadre, including lobbyists in Washington and Geneva, should be disbanded. And Palestinian residents of Arab states – all of whom are considered refugees by UNRWA – should become citizens of those states, as they are in Jordan, or of the Palestinian Authority. If Palestinians truly desire a state, they should join the call for UNRWA’s abolition.
No joke: 🇨🇭 Switzerland paid for this.
“In 2015, UNRWA chief Pierre Krähenbühl created a post of “Special Advisor” and gave the position to his mistress. Costs of this post were funded by the Swiss foreign ministry from March 2015 to December 2018.” https://t.co/Tvhmxr4nyo https://t.co/DyePU0dA0C
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) August 29, 2019
Video has emerged showing Palestinian children staging a mock terrorist raid on an Israeli military outpost as part of a kindergarten graduation ceremony.
The footage was filmed at Dar al Huda school in the Zeitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City in March last year, and shows five youngsters wearing uniforms of terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad staging the raid.
In the video – which includes footage shot by a drone and bodycamera – the children can be seen carrying replica sniper rifles and assault weapons as they perform sophisticated military manoeuvres in order to ‘capture’ the building.
Inside are two children – one dressed as an Israeli civilian and another as an Israeli soldier – both of whom are shown being captured.
The video was posted to Facebook and uncovered by research organisation NGO Monitor, which passed the footage to Mail Online.
The group also uncovered an image of a training guide the school uploaded to its Facebook page in the same year which shows the Save the Children and Swedish Government logo at the top.
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) website shows that the country was giving aid money to schools in the West Bank and Gaza that year as part of a programme running from 2017 until 2019.
Last week, UNRWA “youth idol” Mohammad Assaf performed at the new Arab city of Rawabi to conduct a rally in honor of the new school year for 321,000 UNRWA students from UNRWA refugee camps spread throughout Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Gaza.
We dispatched a TV crew to cover that event, which will be screened this week at the UN.Filming a rock concert where a crowd is swayed by a sexy singer is not unusual. Who has not seen that in their lifetime? What is new this time?
After all, the singer who sways the crowd does so in the spirit of a United Nations agency. What could possibly be wrong with that? Except that the message from this UNRWA youth idol is that Jews must be wiped out of Palestine, and replaced with by Palestinian Arabs, only by Palestinian Arabs.
And where does such an agency get its support? Yes, from the usual suspects: Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Yet also from leading democratic nations of the world – Germany, the UK, the US, Canada, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. All turn a blind eye and closed ear to the “Voice of Judenrein”, presented so clearly by UNRWA Youth Idol Mohammad Assaf, who has emerged as the singular voice of the UNRWA path of destruction.
The new school year in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem comes amid growing concern among Palestinians over the fate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), which operates hundreds of schools and provides educational programs to hundreds of thousands of students.
In the West Bank and east Jerusalem, UNRWA provides education to more than 45,000 students in 96 schools. In addition, UNRWA runs two vocational training centers that serve more than 1,000 students.
The remaining schools in east Jerusalem are privately-owned or belong to the Jerusalem Municipality or the Islamic Wakf.
In the Gaza Strip, UNRWA schools and education programs serve nearly 180,000 students in 274 schools that are run by the agency.
Palestinian officials are worried that recent reports about corruption among the top brass of UNRWA may result in ending the agency’s mission and deprive hundreds of thousands of students from going to school.
On the eve of the new school year, New Zealand announced that it was suspending funding to UNRWA pending the end of an investigation surrounding allegations that senior agency officials had engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination, and other abuses of authority.”
Why doesn’t UNRWA Commissioner Gen. Krahenbuhl focus on Hamas when he says “Gazans live under real suffering & that they are deprived of their basic rights, including the right to movement”?! I agree Gazans suffer badly, but making a statement w/o laying blame on Hamas is absurd
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) August 29, 2019
Senior administration officials told reporters via teleconference on Thursday:
“For the last 40 years, the [Iranian] regime has prioritized developing proxy militias that have their own long and bloody legacies to violence against civilians. Hamas has utterly ruined Gaza, isolating and impoverishing the Palestinian people living there, while Hamas uses the funds from Iran to support an endless cycle of violence against Israel.”
“Hizbullah has systematically infiltrated Lebanese institutions. And the designation of the Jammal Trust Bank illustrates how they are trying to exploit the Lebanese financial system….All legitimate institutions should be extremely wary of any interactions with Hizbullah or its affiliates.”
“The United States neither encourages nor discourages the Israeli attacks. The United States believes that the government of Israel has a right to defend itself from threatening activities throughout the region, wherever they may be.”
“It’s our position that Israel is only acting because of Iran’s actions. If Iran was not pouring heavy weapons and fighters into Israel’s neighbors with the express purpose of threatening Israel, I don’t think Israel would be needing to take any of these actions. And we fully support Israel’s right to self-defense, and denounce Iran’s regional campaign of violence.”
Q: “If Israel attacks targets in Iraq, what does the United States do when Israel’s right to defend tramples over Iraq’s sovereignty?”
A: “I think that’s actually an excellent question for the Iranians. Where is their respect for Iraqi sovereignty when they are putting this material into Iraq? That seems, to me, a pretty gross violation of sovereignty.”
“It’s our position that if neighbors of Israel allow a malign third country that does not share a border with Israel to use their sovereign territory as a holding ground for increasingly sophisticated dangerous weapons, the only purpose of which is to attack Israel, I think those governments, if they cannot curb or control those elements, are going to have to be prepared to be responsible for them. So, be it Lebanon, be it Syria, be it Iraq, I think that has to be our very clear message to those governments.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated on Thursday that Israel can rely on diplomatic, legal and military assistance from Washington in the event of a war with Iran, however long.
In an interview with syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt, Pompeo pledged that Israel can rely on the United States for aid if the growing tensions with the Islamic republic escalate into a full-fledged war.
Pompeo stressed that the Trump administration has been “incredibly supportive each time Israel has been forced to take actions to defend itself.”
“We’ve been very clear about a couple of things. First, with respect to Iran, we flipped the US policy there. The previous administration guaranteed Iran a path to nuclear weapons systems, allowed them to foment terror, and allowed their missile system to run amok. President Trump has directed that we do just the opposite – to deny them the resources to create risks not only for the United States and its citizens but for Israel as well. And we’ve been successful with that.”
“We’ve also been incredibly supportive each time Israel has been forced to take actions to defend itself – the United States has made it very clear that that country has not only the right but the duty to protect its own people. And we are always supportive of their efforts to do that. So with respect to ensuring that Israel is treated fairly at the United Nations, Israel can certainly count on the United States of America,” Pompeo said.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that the Trump administration is considering allowing U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on their U.S. passports.
“We’re constantly evaluating the way we handle what can be listed on passports,” he told JNS in a wide-ranging interview. “It’s something that’s actively being looked at.”
Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv months later, Americans born in Jerusalem are still unable to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on U.S. passports.
“The president has made clear that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to final-status negotiations between the [Israelis and the Palestinians],” a State Department spokesperson told JNS in October. “We have not changed our practice regarding place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”
Pro-Israel organizations responded positively to JNS regarding the development.
B’nai B’rith International CEO and executive vice president Dan Mariaschin said “it’s encouraging news. This is a logical follow-on to moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and in the process, corrects a historical wrong which denied this designation for over seven decades.”
“The [U.S.] Supreme Court has determined that the passport issue is within the purview of the administration, which has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said American Zionist Movement president Richard Heideman. “It is most appropriate for passports for those born in Jerusalem, such as my three grandchildren born at Hadassah Hospital, to be listed as born in Jerusalem, Israel and not simply born in Jerusalem as if they were stateless, which they are not.”
The UN Security Council on Thursday voted to renew its long-running peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for a year, warning of a “new conflict” with neighboring Israel as tensions with the Hezbollah terror group spike.
The draft resolution, written by France and approved unanimously, would allow for the approximately 10,000 members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, to stay in place. It also calls for a review of the peacekeeping mission, amid Israeli concerns that Hezbollah and Lebanon “continue to significantly hinder the full and effective implementation” of the Blue Helmets’ mandate.
“Should these restrictions remain, UNIFIL’s relevance is questioned,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said
According to the draft text, the Security Council warned that “violations of the cessation of hostilities could lead to a new conflict that none of the parties or the region can afford.”
It “condemns all violations of the Blue Line” between Lebanon and Israel, “both by air and ground, and strongly calls upon all parties to respect the cessation of hostilities.”
IDF soldiers in northern Israel have been on high alert this week over fears of a reprisal attack from Hezbollah or another Iranian proxy following Israeli airstrikes against Iran-linked targets in Syria, and an armed drone attack on Hezbollah’s south Beirut stronghold, which has been blamed on Israel.
Israel welcomed a United Nations Security Council vote on Thursday afternoon that renewed and strengthened the mandate of UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon.
The new provisions in the mandate include a clear call on the Lebanese government to allow access to UNIFIL forces and increased reporting on the transfer of weapons to terrorist groups in Lebanon such as Hezbollah, a political and military proxy of the Iranian regime.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, commented in a statement that the “updated mandate sends a clear message to the Lebanese government: restrain Hezbollah.”
Danon asserted that Hezbollah’s “grip on southern Lebanon is intended to only harm the State of Israel and endanger the entire region.”
He continued: “Israel will not accept such a reality, and calls on the international community to act resolutely against the Iranian proxy in Lebanon.”
The strengthened mandate of UNIFIL — a force of more than 10,000 UN peacekeepers from countries including India, France, Ireland, Nepal and Ghana — was a result of diplomatic efforts by Israel and the United States to strengthen the peacekeeping force following revelations of Hezbollah attacks on UNIFIL personnel.
“We must ask ourselves a question that has arisen as a result of this experience. People in our country and in many countries ask: What is the use of a United Nations presence if it is in effect an umbrella which is taken away as soon as it begins to rain?”
—A. Eban, 6 June 1967
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) August 29, 2019
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 29, 2019
What’s more dangerous than a missile pointed at Israel?
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) August 29, 2019
A week passed since Rina Shnerb, 17, of Lod, was critically wounded in a terror attack at Ein Bubin spring and was treated at the scene before succumbing to her wounds, as her father Rabbi Eitan Shnerb and her 19-year-old brother Dvir were also injured.
The place where the IED that killed Rina Shnerb exploded near Ein Bubin spring (Credit: TPS)The place where the IED that killed Rina Shnerb exploded near Ein Bubin spring (Credit: TPS)
Today, Friday, hundreds left their homes to visit the place where the terror attack occurred, sending a clear message that terrorism will not stop or scare them.
The water at the Ein Bubin spring where Rina, Eitan and Dvir were planning to spend their Friday at could barely be seen due to the amount of people who came in spite of last week’s terror attack.
We are strengthened by the Bible of the people of Israel in the Land of Israel,” rabbi Shnerb said from his hospital bed last week.
The IDF on Saturday arrested three Palestinians as part of a manhunt for the terrorists responsible for the terror attack.
The stabbers at the Chain Gate to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the car-rammers near Elazar, the strangler on the Allenby Bridge, and the bombers at the Talmon spring all feed off the same religious source – the modern-day blood libel that “Al-Aqsa is in danger.” This false story describes Israel as working to take down the Temple Mount mosques, a story preached at mosques, in media, in cartoons, and in speeches of both Hamas and PA leaders.
Hundreds of attackers have taken action “to protect Al-Aqsa.” The Palestinian public has been drinking it in for years. This is part of an ongoing “festival” of glorifying terrorism, jihad, and bloodshed against Jews, and its roots are religious. The battle against Israel and over Jerusalem is repeatedly described as “ribat” – a holy war to defend Islamic territory. That is how they truly see the conflict
Israel is doing everything it can to protect the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It even made an enormous, inconceivable concession by giving up the basic Jewish right of allowing Jews to pray on the Mount at Judaism’s holiest site.
Israel’s Minister of Education Rabbi Rafi Peretz said on Thursday that private schools run by Hamas affiliates in eastern Jerusalem, even with the official approval of the Ministry of Education, would close if the allegations are corroborated.
“It shall not be. I say it unequivocally: An association or a school that has an affiliation to terrorism and Hamas will close. If it turns out that this is true, we will not allow the association’s activities,” he tweeted.
Peretz was responding to a report in Ynet news that schools in eastern Jerusalem were being run by the Al-Iman group that works with Hamas-supporting organizations.
The schools had been recognized as an educational institution that could receive funding from the Education Ministry, according to the report.
The Al-Iman network has ties with Turkish organizations that identify with Hamas.
Last Friday, the Hamas-organized demonstrations along Gaza’s border with Israel were the largest and most violent in some time, with protestors throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers; Sunday, Hamas fired rockets into Israel; on Tuesday, an Islamic State-linked group carried out two suicide bombings in Gaza, killing three Hamas police officers. Michael Milshtein warns that these events, which follow nearly two years of increased violence from the Strip, could be the harbinger of greater unrest to come. But he also cautions that Israel’s options for dealing with Hamas are limited:
[I]t would best if Israel were to drop . . . the idea it can find a solution to the Gaza problem. . . . In practice, there is no willingness or ability on the part of Egypt, the United Nations, or any other local government to step into Hamas’s shoes. [Moreover], although Hamas is [Israel’s] bitter enemy, it may be the lesser of two evils compared with a possible power vacuum that could give rise to anarchy or the ascendance of more extreme forces in the Strip.
[T]here needs to be a long-term plan that has at its core the downfall of Hamas. We should, however, strive to avoid two opposite scenarios—one in which a [new] king is named in Gaza and the other Israel’s total and lengthy direct control of the Strip. Israel must wait for internal change in Gaza, especially by the younger generation, whose distance from Islamic rule only deepens with time and occasionally bursts into civil protests.
Ultimately, Israel needs to understand that it must choose between bad or worse scenarios as a solution to the Gaza issue. Its decisionmakers have to wake up from the dream of easy and quick solutions in either the military or political spheres, . . . and adopt a more patient state of mind.
Israeli soldiers on Friday captured four Palestinians who crossed into Israel from the Gaza Strip armed with a grenade and a knife
The four were arrested shortly after crossing the border and taken in for further questioning, the army said.
The incident came shortly after an incendiary balloon launched from Gaza started a fire in the Sdot Hanegev Regional Council and as Palestinians took part in the weekly “March of Return” rallies along the border.
Channel 13 news reported some 2,000 Palestinians took part in the protests.
The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said seven Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli troops, five of whom from live fire.
Recent weeks have seen an increase in violence from Gaza, which is ruled by the Hamas terror group.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since the Islamist organization took over Gaza in 2007, the last of which ended five years ago this week.
According to a report Friday in Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper, Israel has offered Hamas economic concessions and to ease its blockade of Gaza in return for a long-term ceasefire.
During the talks between the Hamas delegation, Egyptian intelligence officials proposed a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas – Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Friday morning.
According to the report, the Egyptians suggested a long-term ceasefire in exchange for humanitarian and economic improvements for the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian officials warned the Hamas delegation that, given the tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, Israel would strike a fatal blow to the strip in a case of conflict.
During the talks, the Hamas delegation guaranteed that the March of Return protests will be restrained this Friday – Ynet reported.
According to the report, if Hamas maintains its promise, Israel will restore the fuel supply to Gaza to its full capacity on Sunday after cutting it by half this week following rocket launches.
While the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been threatening a financial meltdown over the U.S. decision to withhold aid and its own refusal to accept taxes collected by Jerusalem, the residents of the areas under its control have been flourishing. Dan Zaken explains why:
Exports from the West Bank to Israel have grown and Israelis—mainly Israeli Arabs—are coming to West Bank cities to buy goods. The shopping malls of Jenin, Tulkarem, and Kalkilya are packed every weekend with tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs who come to buy in the stores and eat in the restaurants. Jerusalem Arabs go shopping in Ramallah and Bethlehem. . . .
[P]erhaps most significant of all is that the Palestinian economy is based mainly on the private rather than the public sector. . . . [T]he 130,000 Palestinian workers employed in Israel [have an] average salary of over 5,000 shekels ($1,400) per month, two-and-a-half times the average salary in the Palestinian autonomous areas. Income in this sector . . . is even rising, as are the number of requests for licenses to work in Israel. The number of Palestinians working in Israel, [whether in Jewish areas of the West Bank or in other parts of the country], also is rising constantly. New facilities at the border checkpoints have shortened lines and waiting times at the crossings from hours to minutes.
The continual growth of construction in Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, after years in which new building was frozen, has also . . . provided more work for Palestinians. Moreover, it’s easier and quicker for a Palestinian to get a work permit for such work, which pays “Israel-level” salaries.
Shaban Khalaf’s advice to any other Gazans thinking of heading to Europe in search of a better life, as he did, is blunt: don’t bother — it’s not worth the danger and the expense.
Khalaf should know. Despairing of ever finding a decent job in Gaza, where the economy is near collapse, the journalism graduate flew to Turkey via Egypt in June 2018 and tried no fewer than 18 times to cross into Europe, mostly by boat.
“One time a naval boat hit ours, our boat flipped and we almost died,” said Khalaf, 25, adding that each time Turkish or Greek authorities would send them back to Turkey’s shores.
By February this year he had given up and returned home to Gaza, much poorer for his ordeal after having paid off the people smugglers who had tried in vain to get him to Europe.
“I don’t advise people to leave unless a job is waiting for them there. It is better to stay and die with their families in Gaza than to throw themselves into the unknown, or die in the sea,” he said.
Thousands of other Palestinians have had similar experiences as they try to escape the rampant unemployment, poverty and violence of life in Gaza, a tiny enclave between Israel and Egypt run by the Islamist Hamas group.
Former Iraqi MP: Sunni Iraqis Will Seek Help from America, Israel to Get Rid of Injustice in Iraq
Former Iraqi MP Misha’an Al-Juburi said in an August 22, 2019 interview on Alsharqiya News TV (Iraq) that the government’s harshness in Iraq’s Sunni provinces is worse than the American occupation was. He gave the example of a family from which 40 members were arrested, and he said: “Today, the people in the Sunni areas are longing [for the return] of the Americans [and] are willing to accept any occupation and any invader that will rid them of this injustice… [They] will seek help [in] confederalism, in federalism, from America, from Israel, [and even] from Satan himself.”
The Trump administration on Thursday issued a new batch of sanctions on the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in the latest salvo aimed at disrupting the Iranian-backed organization’s illicit funding and weapons networks, according to information provided by the State and Treasury Departments.
As Iran continues to ratchet up regional support for terror groups that have attacked American and allied forces, the Trump administration is moving to disrupt these terror groups by hitting them in their pocketbooks. The latest sanctions target Lebanon’s Jammal Trust Bank SAL, which the Trump administration has identified as providing “illicit financial and banking activities” for Hezbollah.
The Trump administration has walked a tricky diplomatic line with Lebanon as it seeks to support the country’s legitimate military forces while attempting to ensure money and military hardware does not make its way to Hezbollah operatives, who have bragged in the past about siphoning American weapons from the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Hezbollah continues to keep an overwhelming grip on Lebanon’s economy, government, and military, making it all the more difficult for the international community to work with the country’s government.
“Today’s designation reflects our determination to counter Hezbollah’s terrorist and illicit activities in Lebanon,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement accompanying the sanctions. “We will continue to target individuals and entities involved in financing and providing support to Hezbollah while working closely with the Central Bank of Lebanon and other Lebanese institutions which work to preserve the integrity and stability of Lebanon’s banking system.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Friday with French President Emmanuel Macron, urging him not to negotiate with Iran at the present time.
According to a readout from his office, the Israeli premier said that, with Tehran increasing its regional aggression and threatening Israel and others, “now is “precisely not the time” to hold conciliatory talks with the regime.
In the phone call, initiated by the French side, the two discussed recent regional tensions in Israel’s north as well as with the Gaza Strip. The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu told Macron Israel would defend itself from attacks by enemies who desire its destruction.
He added that whoever gives cover to aggression against Israel will not be safe from attack, in apparent reference to Israeli strikes in Syria and Lebanon. Israel has also been blamed for a series of recent strikes against pro-Iranian militias in Iraq.
Macron has been one of the leading voices in the European Union for dialogue with the Islamic Republic. This week he arranged the surprise arrival of Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, and proposed a summit between US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
US President Donald Trump’s willingness to hold direct talks with Iran doesn’t signal any change in his administration’s stance toward the Islamic Republic, his national security adviser, John Bolton, said Tuesday.
“Talking with them [Iran] does not imply for President Trump changing your position and the idea that Iran would receive some tangible economic benefit merely for stopping doing things it shouldn’t have been in the first place is just a nonstarter,” Bolton told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in an interview as he visited Ukraine.
“If there is a comprehensive deal then of course the sanctions will come off at point. When the regime in Iran is ready to talk about that then there’ll be a meeting,” he said.
Earlier, Iran’s top diplomat called a meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Trump unthinkable.
Israel is deeply worried by US President Donald Trump’s declared readiness in principle to meet in the near future with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, top ministers were quoted saying on Monday evening. The fear is that the US president will open a dialogue with Iran similar to the ongoing one he has with North Korea, taking pressure off Tehran.
To say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is uncomfortable with the US president’s newly open-minded stance on Iran “is the understatement of the millennium,” Israel’s Channel 13 reported, quoting what it said were three senior cabinet ministers expressing profound concern that just as Trump has “gotten nowhere” with North Korea, while relieving the economic pressure on Pyongyang, the same would now happen with Iran.
“We have no interest in a negotiations between the United States and Iran,” the TV report quoted one minister saying, “but our capacity to influence and confront Trump is extremely limited.” This, the report went on, was because Trump has “bear-hugged” Netanyahu so tightly that going out against him is deemed impossible.
Netanyahu has been a strident opponent of the P5+1 countries’ 2015 deal with Iran on its rogue nuclear program, arguing that Tehran is intent on attaining a nuclear weapons arsenal, has lied to the world about its plans, and that the 2015 accord actually paves the way to an Iranian bomb. Trump has hitherto adopted a similar stance, and pulled the US out of the accord last year.
Mark Dubowitz is the chief executive of FDD, a Washington think-tank that is known for its hawkish stance on Iran. Just last Saturday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry threatened Dubowitz personally, as well as FDD as an organization.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “The president has indicated repeatedly a willingness to meet with officials from the regime in Iran.”
According to Dubowitz, “Israel and US supporters of the president should be making it very clear to Trump that his maximum pressure campaign should not be diminished in any way, and if there is an agreement it has to be an agreement that meets the 12 demands that the president and Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo laid out last year.”
Dubowitz said that a meeting by itself is not a negative development, but that he’s worried about the possibility that such a meeting would come with American concessions.
“When the president is now talking about what he expects from Iran, he doesn’t even mention terrorism,” said Dubowitz. “He mentioned the nuclear program and the sunsets. He mentioned ballistic missiles. But he doesn’t mention Iran support for terrorism. He doesn’t mention Iran’s destructive regional behavior. So at least rhetorically he sounds like backing off from these 12 very specific demands that were laid out by the president through Secretary Pompeo last year.”
As for the Iranian threats against his think-tank, Dubowitz said, “We’re certainly taking the threat seriously. We’re taking the proper steps to secure and defend our organization and our personnel. We’re heartened by the significant support that we’ve received across the policy and political spectrum. But we also hope that our think tank colleagues would not meet with Zarif in New York when he comes for UNGA.”
Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Wednesday urged the United Kingdom to follow in the US’s footsteps and designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.
In a meeting with his British counterpart Dominic Raab, Katz thanked the UK government for officially designating the Iran-backed group Hezbollah a terrorist organization earlier this year, but pressed for the IRGC to also be included on the government’s terror blacklist, the Walla news site reported.
Citing Iran’s malign activities throughout the region, Katz said the terror designation would be the “appropriate and just response” to the attacks masterminded by IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani.
Raab made no formal comment on the matter. Following the meeting, he tweeted a photo of himself and Katz and said Israel “remains a close partner and friend.”
An Iranian rocket exploded on its launch pad at Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran before its scheduled launch on Thursday, an Iranian official said.
The launch was due to have taken place despite US warnings to Iran that it should avoid such activity.
“It was due to some technical issues and it exploded but our young scientists are working to fix the problem,” the Iranian official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. He gave no further details.
A US official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, also said that Iran suffered a satellite launch failure.
The United States, Iran’s long time foe, fears long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could also be used to launch nuclear warheads.
Tehran denies the US accusation that such activity is a cover for ballistic missile development.
Turkey’s Jewish community is still reeling from the content of a video that went viral at the end of July. The video shows what appears to be a summer camp at which young children, with a group of burqa-clad women behind them, are being led in an anti-Semitic cheer in Turkish by a young girl or woman counselor.
In the 39-second clip, when the girl says, “The Jews,” the women and children reply, “Death!”
When she says, “Palestine,” they reply, “It will be saved.”
When she calls out, “Hagia Sophia” — referring to the Byzantine cathedral-museum in Istanbul that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced will be turned into a mosque — they chant, “It will be opened.”
A few days after the footage began to circulate, Garo Paylan, a Member of Parliament from the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, tweeted his outrage. He announced his intention to file a criminal complaint against the camp counselor and the organization behind her. Two days after posting the tweet, Paylan submitted the following parliamentary questions to Family, Labor and Social Services Minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül:
– Where and under whose care were the children in the film?
– Were their parents or other family members present during the event?
– Did the children who were instructed to shout “Death to the Jews” come together at that event as part of an organization?
– Did the event take place with the knowledge of your ministry?
– Will you launch an investigation into the organizers and the families of those children who abuse and encourage them to commit hate crimes?
– Will you launch administrative investigations into the authorities that neglected to expose the event?
– Will you put these children under the protection of your ministry?
– What kind of precautions will your ministry take so that our children are not exposed to such abuses again?
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Monday that Russia would resume the delivery of its S-400 missile defense system to Turkey this week.
Akar told reporters that Russia would begin transporting parts of a second S-400 battery to Turkey on Tuesday.
“Our aim is to protect our country and people from external aerial and missile threats,” he told reporters in the eastern province of Erzincan.
Turkey took delivery of the first part of the Russian system last month despite strong objections from the United States, which had been pressing Ankara to cancel the deal with Russia by threatening to sanction its NATO ally.
Washington said the S-400 batteries would compromise the F-35 stealth aircraft program and aid Russian intelligence.
In a major break with a longtime ally, US President Donald Trump last month announced that Ankara was being kicked out of the F-35 program for purchasing the Russian-made system.
FACT: The UN Human Rights Council has never once condemned Erdogan’s Turkish regime for anything & cannot even say the word ‘Kurd’.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) August 26, 2019
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