March 9, 2021

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09/08 Links Pt1: Daniel Pipes: Convincing Islamists, fascists and all anti-Zionists that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is over; France protests Israel’s deportation of terrorist who planned to kill chief rabbi

From Ian:

Daniel Pipes: Convincing Islamists, fascists and all anti-Zionists that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is over
The naive view, which prevails internationally, holds that Arafat and the other Palestinian leaders, including the current one, Mahmoud Abbas, are completely serious about accepting “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.” Therefore, moving forward requires the Israelis to be more generous. Outside powers try to make themselves useful by pressuring Jerusalem to be more forthcoming, which they are only too pleased to do.

The realistic view — now dominant in Israel — holds that Palestinians never reconciled themselves to Israel’s existence. To be sure, Palestinians acknowledged their weakness in 1993 by making empty promises. But, as Mrs. Ashrawi reiterates, they never abandoned the goal of eliminating Israel.

Rather, they bided their time, probing for signs of weakness. They seemed to find these in the Oslo accords, Israel’s 2000 retreat from Lebanon and 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. Exhilarated, Palestinians ramped up the violence, believing they had a fatigued Israel on the run, that pure revolutionary fervor made up for economic and military weakness, that Muslims would annihilate Jews.

But they were wrong: The powerful Israeli state had made painful concessions in the hope that its enlightened self-interest would turn Arafat, Abbas and Co. into “partners for peace” and settle an antediluvian conflict obstructing its creative culture and hi-tech prowess. And so, the would-be revolution failed.

With time, Israelis — and youths far more so than their elders — realized that the hopeful discarding of deterrence in favor of appeasement and then unilateral withdrawal inspired not Palestinian goodwill but dreams of conquest. Israelis finally understood they had failed to perceive the continued Palestinian determination to eliminate the Jewish state; that they had ignored the persistent Palestinian drive for victory.

This hard-earned insight now needs to be translated into a new strategy. But which? Not “price tag” attacks on West Bank Palestinians, foul provocations that discredit Zionism. Not annexing parts of the West Bank, which undermines the integrity of Israel and spurs widespread opposition.

Rather, it is achieved by crushing the Palestinians’ persistent anti-Zionist dream, by an Israel victory based on an indominable Israeli will. Palestinian insistence on victory, in other words, compels a parallel Israeli retort. Fortunately for Israel, the Palestinians lack muscle but rely on fumes: religious doctrine, international support and Israeli timidity.

While naifs seek yet more useless agreements premised on counterproductive Israeli concessions, we realists scoff and call for Israel to win. We understand that only defeat will convince Palestinians like Mrs. Ashrawi, and through them Iranian, Turkish, Islamist, leftist, fascist and other anti-Zionists, that the century-plus conflict is over, that Israel has prevailed, and that the time has come to give up on futile, painful and genocidal ambitions.

MEMRI: Senior UAE Official Dr. Ali Al-Noaimi: The UAE-Israel Deal Is Not a Mere Diplomatic Accord

Dr. Ali Al-Noaimi, the Chairman of the UAE Federal National Council’s Defense, Interior, and Foreign Affairs Committee, said in an August 31, 2020 show on Sky News Arabia (UAE) and in an August 16, 2020 show on i24 TV (Israel) that the recent UAE-Israel peace deal is a comprehensive peace that is meant to open new horizons for Arabs and Israelis alike. He emphasized that this agreement is should not be compared previous agreements between Israel and Arab countries, in that it is intended to bring “hope for a decent life” to the younger generation of all Arab countries and the Palestinians, in particular. Dr. Al-Noaimi said that the UAE hopes the peace deal will bring stability, security, love, peace, and cooperation in the fields of global relations, politics, medicine, and technology. He said that people are tired of being held prisoner by conflicts, and that the UAE’s vision is to build bridges and send a message of peace to Israelis, Arabs, and Iranians.

GCC Demands Palestinian Leaders Formally Apologize for ‘Incitement’

The secretary general of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), Nayef al-Hajraf, on Monday demanded an apology from the Palestinian leadership for what he called its incitement against the organization.

“I condemn the irresponsible language that included incitement and threats,” said al-Hajraf.

The former Kuwaiti finance minister’s remarks came in response to speeches by Palestinian leaders during a joint summit last Thursday.

“It’s unfortunate that the Palestinians are making a mistake and that they have doubts about the GCC’s historic stance alongside them. I call on their leaders, the participants of the summit, and yes, [Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas], to apologize for their provocative declarations,” said al-Hajraf.

Al-Hajraf said the organization wants a formal apology, aired on Palestinian television stations in Ramallah.

Former Dubai Police Chief Who Wanted to Arrest Netanyahu Denounces Abbas for Opposing Israel-UAE Peace Deal

The former chief of the Dubai police, who was outspoken about the alleged Israeli assassination of a top Hamas terrorist in his city in 2010 and threatened to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday for opposing the United Arab Emirates’ peace deal with the Jewish state.

Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, who is now Deputy Chief of Police and General Security, tweeted, “Remove from your heads the idea that you do not establish relations with Israel except by order of Mahmoud Abbas.”

Since the peace deal was announced last month, Abbas has condemned it in increasingly harsh terms as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause and the Arab people in general.

Tamim’s statement is all the more remarkable because of his leading role in the investigation of the execution of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January 2010.

Mabhouh, one of the founders of the Hamas terrorist force the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was killed in a Dubai hotel room by what was reported to be a hit team of 26 suspects using stolen or forged passports, including some belonging to Israeli dual citizens.

Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency was widely assumed to be behind the assassination, and Tamim was extremely outspoken about his suspicions in this regard.

Palestinians set to soften stance on UAE-Israel normalization – statement

The Palestinian leadership has watered down its criticism of the normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates before an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Wednesday at which the accord will be debated.

A draft resolution presented by the Palestinian envoy, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, does not include a call to condemn, or act against, the Emirates over the US-brokered deal.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also issued instructions on Tuesday banning any offensive statements or actions towards Arab leaders, including UAE rulers.

Announced on Aug. 13, the accord was the first such accommodation between an Arab country and Israel in more than 20 years, and was forged largely through shared fears of Iran.

The draft Palestinian resolution to be debated by Arab foreign ministers said the Israel-U.S.-Emirates announcement “doesn’t diminish Arab consensus over the Palestinian cause, the Palestinian cause is the cause of the entire Arab nation”.

“The trilateral announcement doesn’t change the principal Arab vision based on the fact that the two-state solution on the 1967 borders is the only way to achieve peace in the Middle East,” the draft said.

The tone is markedly different from that of Abbas, whose office on Aug. 13 called the accord “betrayal” and a “stab in the back of the Palestinian cause..”

MEMRI: Leader of Palestinian Militant Faction: Palestinians Taught People of the Gulf How to Read and Write

Mu’in Hamed, the Secretary-General of As-Sa’iqa, a pro-Syria Palestinian faction, said in a September 3, 2020 conference of the leaders of 14 Palestinian factions, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, that it is Palestinians who have taught the people of the Gulf how to read and write. He added that the Palestinian factions should contact the 400,000 Palestinians living in the UAE so that they can play a role in dissuading other countries from following the UAE and signing deals with Israel. Hamed said that Iran is not the enemy of the Palestinians and that if an Intifada is needed, “so be it.” The entire conference was aired on Palestine TV.

Bahrain to normalise relations with Israel ‘within a month’: Mossad

Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad is carrying out “intense and very close communications” with Bahraini officials with the move to normalise ties by the end of this month, a report said on Sunday.

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen held talks with the Bahrain Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa three weeks ago, according to a report by Israeli Channel 12.

The channel’s military correspondent, Nir Dafouri, hinted that Israel may entice the Bahrainis with arms deals in exchange for normalisation.

Israeli sources suggested that normalisation with Bahrain would be announced shortly after Israel and the UAE signed the formal declaration of their alliance in Washington, scheduled to take place next week.

They said normalisation may happen as soon as the end of September.

The channel reported that US officials are also mediating between Israel and Bahrain, noting that the senior advisor to the US president and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, met with the Bahraini king and his crown prince last week.

On Thursday, Bahrain allowed Israeli flights to-and-from the UAE to use its airspace, one day after Saudi Arabia approved a similar Emirati request.

In Manama, the Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa assured the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, of his country’s commitment to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which demands the establishment of a Palestinian state in exchange for normalising relations with Israel.

Chad willing to open diplomatic mission in Jerusalem, Israel says

A senior official from Chad told Israel on Tuesday that the country was willing to open an official diplomatic mission in Jerusalem.

Chad’s cabinet chairman, Abdelkarim Déby, who is also its president’s son, visited Israel for a series of meetings, including with Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen.

A statement from the Intelligence Ministry said Déby expressed “willingness to open an official mission in Jerusalem.”

“At the request of Minister Cohen, General Déby responded positively to advancing the establishment of an official representative office of Chad in Jerusalem,” the statement said.

Cohen wrote on Twitter that he had held an “important meeting” with Déby and the director of Chad’s national security agency, but made no mention of a mission in Jerusalem, only saying that “additional news will be published later.”

Cohen said that the two sides discussed “cooperation in intelligence, security and economics.”

Taiwan to send military delegation to Israel to study reserve forces

Taiwan will be sending a military delegation to Israel in order to learn about its reserve mobilization systems as the Asian country moves to improve its military preparedness.

The week-long visit by military and think tank representatives between July and September 2021 will focus on learning about the IDF’s organization, mobilization, deployment and wages for reservists, Taiwan’s Liberty Times reported.

As tensions rise with Beijing, with Chinese aircraft and warships repeatedly threatening Taiwan’s airspace and territorial waters, the self-governing democracy’s government announced that it would increase the country’s defense budget by 10% and reform the country’s military and reserve forces.

Taiwan does not draft women into the military; men are required to complete only four months of military service and then join the reserves.

The training of the reserve forces, meanwhile, was found to be “inadequate for maintaining the readiness of those reserve units that would see combat,” read a 2017 report by the RAND Corporation.

Model diplomacyIsraeli model waves flag in UAE pajama photoshoot

It wasn’t Camp David or the White House lawn, but for a brief, breezy moment on Tuesday, the Israeli flag fluttered alongside the four-colored banner of the United Arab Emirates on the sand dunes in Dubai.

The unusual snapshot on the path toward normalization between the two countries, which began with a US-brokered deal on August 13, involved pajama-wearing models instead of diplomats.

Israeli model May Tager said it meant the world to her to be in Dubai for the shoot.

“I am very honored to be the first Israeli model to shoot here,” she told The Associated Press. “I am very proud to … represent my country and just be here.”

She added: “I am feeling very safe to say that I am from Israel.”

Kosher in Dubai: Elli’s Kosher Kitchen Caters to Jewish Dietary Restrictions

MEMRI: Human Rights Activist Ammar Abdulhamid and Researcher Samuel Tadros on UAE-Israel Relations

On August 27, 2020, Syrian-American human rights activist Ammar Abdulhamid and Egyptian-American researcher Samuel Tadros discussed the recent normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel. Tadros said that there is no united Islamic or Arab nation, but rather several different countries facing unique challenges, including terrorism and domestic conflicts that have nothing to do with the Palestinians. Abdulhamid said that countries need to define their own priorities, interests, and challenges. He mocked people who view the Arab-Israeli conflict as a religious conflict between Muslims and Jews or Christians, he asked: “Why are they dragging the Jews into a subject that is supposed to be political?” Abdulhamid said that the Arab hostility towards Israel stems from religious considerations and racism, which prevent them from dealing realistically with the changes around them. Tadros agreed and said that Israel is a strong country because of its commitment to democracy and human rights. Abdulhamid further said that boycotting Israel might not be productive, and that normalizing relations with Israel might benefit the Palestinians and incline Israel to make political concessions that it otherwise would not make. For more about Ammar Abdulhamid and Samuel Tadros.

MEMRI: Senior Hamas Official Mahmoud Al-Zahar: Countries That Support Israel Are Hit Hardest by COVID-19

PreOccupiedTerritory: NGOs Could Swear They Saw Palestinian Veto Of Arab-Israel Normalization Enshrined In International Law Somewhere (satire)

Human Rights groups, pro-Palestinian activists, and other figures remain convinced they can find a provision in various UN Security Council resolutions, International Criminal Court decisions, or other repositories of legal precedent that grant Mahmoud Abbas the power to overrule other nations’ establishment of diplomatic and trade relations with the Jewish state, the groups claimed today, but they just cannot recall the specific source for some reason.

Representatives of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, and other associations enlisted the help of international law scholars today to help them find the provision they could swear they saw in the various documents governing the field, a provision that empowers the Palestinian leadership to torpedo deals between Israel and various Arab or Muslim-majority countries.

“I could swear it was in the Geneva Conventions or something,” insisted Human Rights Watch coordinator Omar Shakir. “It’s not there? That’s so weird. I just know the Palestinian veto is enshrined. It should be right next to their right to perpetrate the most horrific violence under the rubric of ‘resistance to occupation.’ Are you really sure it’s not there? That makes no sense. It was right there, I’m certain I saw it.”

France protests Israel’s deportation of terrorist who planned to kill chief rabbi

France has registered an official protest against Israel’s planned deportation of French-Palestinian terrorist Salah Hamouri, who planned to assassinate former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef, along with other attacks.

Paris asked Israel on Sunday to postpone the expulsion and allow Hamouri, who is a French citizen, to be reunited with his family in Jerusalem.

Foreign Ministry deputy director-general for Europe Anna Azari told French Ambassador to Israel Eric Danon that Israel plans to revoke Hamouri’s residency in light of his continued, active membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

“Israel is committed to fighting terror and is acting against the terrorists among us, as France and many other countries in the world do,” she said.

Azari shared details of Hamouri’s case with Danon, including that he was served prison sentences for numerous security crimes, including taking part in the planned but thwarted assassination of Yosef, funding terrorism and recruiting PFLP members.

Hamouri continues his hostile actions against Israel to this day, Azari continued, and was recently put in administrative detention for 13 months because of those activities.

According to Azari, Hamouri took advantage of his permanent residence status in order to harm the State of Israel and its residents, which is a clear breach of trust against the state – the standard by which Israel revokes residency.

In tacit threat, IDF makes mass arrests of Hamas members around Hebron

Israeli security forces arrested large numbers of suspected Hamas members in predawn raids in the Hebron area on Tuesday, in an apparent show of strength to the terror group amid an uptick in Palestinian violence in recent weeks.

Palestinian media reported that upwards of 45 people were arrested in the flashpoint city and surrounding towns, including Bayt Umar, Dura and Yatta.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed conducting the raids, but said only 21 people — all suspected Hamas members — were arrested. It was not immediately clear what accounted for the discrepancy, but it appeared to derive from the military’s policy of counting only those placed under arrest, excluding those detained for a short period of time and then released.

According to the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa, many of those arrested were former security prisoners who had been released from Israeli prisons.

An IDF spokesperson said the mass arrests were not tied to a specific Hamas plot, but were motivated by the “usual” reasons of suspected involvement in terrorist activities; low-level violence like rock throwing; and taking part in violent protests against Israeli security forces.

PMW: “A war crime,” “tantamount to igniting religious war” – PA about Israel’s wheelchair accessibility plans for the Cave of the Patriarchs

Israel’s plan to make the Cave of the Patriarchs wheelchair accessible by installing an elevator has already been condemned by the PA as “Judaization,” as documented by Palestinian Media Watch.

But now, the PA is ratcheting up its rhetoric against this improvement – which will benefit not only Jews but also Muslims coming to the holy site – to a whole new level of incitement, to the point that the PA’s Supreme Shari’ah Judge Mahmoud Al-Habbash threatened that such “aggression” will “have a cost” and warned that “the Palestinians are prepared to do anything.” He described Israel’s activities at the Cave as “tantamount to igniting a religious war in the region and in the world”:

“[Al-Habbash said] this oppressive decision against the Ibrahimi Mosque (i.e., Cave of the Patriarchs) is a strengthening of the Israeli aggression and a continuation of the provocation of the Muslims’ sensibilities. Al-Habbash added that the occupation state and its leaders will bear the consequences of this continued arrogant behavior, and that aggression towards our holy sites will have a cost. He warned that the Palestinians are prepared to do anything in order to protect our religion and holy sites and defend them – regardless of the cost, and regardless of the sacrifices. Al-Habbash described the Israeli ruling as an attack on our religion and holy sites, and [said] that this will have severe consequences and is tantamount to igniting a religious war in the region and in the world.”
[WAFA, official PA news agency, Aug. 4, 2020]

Al-Habbash sought to spark an international confrontation by asking UNESCO to “intervene and stop the Israeli aggression against the Ibrahimi Mosque,” citing a UNESCO resolution that the PA interprets as confirming that “the Ibrahimi Mosque is a purely Islamic heritage [site], and that there is no right to it for anyone who is not Muslim.” [WAFA, official PA news agency, Aug. 4, 2020]

PA libel: Israel delayed fire trucks, cut off water, to let a fire consume Al-Aqsa in 1969

Official PA TV reporter: “For many years and even today the Israeli occupation has been targeting the Islamic, historical, Arab, and Palestinian presence in Jerusalem. Fifty-one years ago Michael Denis Rohan of Australian origin, who had Israeli interests, committed his atrocious crime – setting the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque on fire… The fire trucks of the Palestinian cities and our people rushed to put out the fire, but the occupation authorities delayed the fire trucks and cut off the water in the area.

Israeli firefighters – who eventually put out the fire and not Palestinian firefighters – arrived within minutes but rioting Muslims interfered with their work and broke the only fire hydrant at the site. PMW found no evidence for claims that Israel cut off the water.

Michael Rohan – Australian Christian with a mental health disorder who set fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. For years, the Palestinian Authority has falsely accused Israel of setting the fire.

MEMRI: Lebanese Journalist: The Verdict Issued In The Rafiq Al-Hariri Murder Trial Implicates Hizbullah In The Crime; Hizbullah Is The Embodiment Of Terror And A Threat To Our Future

On August 18, 2020, the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established to deliver justice in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, issued its verdict. The tribunal convicted senior Hizbullah operative Salim ‘Ayyash of involvement in the murder, but acquitted three other Hizbullah members due to insufficient evidence.

Responding to the verdict in his column in the Lebanese Al-Nahar daily, journalist ‘Ali Hamada wrote that, although the tribunal did not convict all four defendants, it is wrong to say that it cleared Hizbullah or the Syrian regime of responsibility for the assassination, because the defendant who was convicted, Salim ‘Ayyash, is a senior Hizbullah official to this day. Moreover, he said, a close reading of the verdict leads to the conclusion that Hizbullah was involved in the crime and committed it as an agent of the Bashar Al-Assad regime and of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Hamada added that Hizbullah has occupied Lebanon and controls it using its agents and subordinates, and that it is the embodiment of terror and intimidation, responsible for the severe crisis in Lebanon and for its isolation in the Arab and international community. He called on Lebanon’s government and president to arrest Salim ‘Ayyash, who was tried in absentia and is still at large, and bring him to justice, even at the cost of a confrontation with Hizbullah. He also called on the Lebanese to appeal to the international community and show it that there are still voices in Lebanon that oppose Hizbullah.

Media Silence as Arch-Terrorists Plot to Destroy Israel

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah says openly that “There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel” and that he is against any peace agreements with Israel. Just this past May he gave a public address in which he called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and proclaimed that “Palestine from river to sea must be liberated” and “Israel must be destroyed.”

Nasrallah is also known for making outright antisemitic statements like his speech on September 28, 2001 in which he said, “What do the Jews want? They want security and money…If you look all over the world, you will find no one more miserly or greedy than they are.”

Two factors make the Hamas-Hezbollah alliance extremely disturbing:
1 Hezbollah is Shia Muslim and Hamas is Sunni. The two have been in conflict since they disputed who should succeed Muhammed following his death in 632 CE. Much blood has been shed between the two sides over the centuries and has ravaged the Middle East in recent decades. The fact that Hamas and Hezbollah are willing to put centuries of conflict aside in order to gang up on Israel, demonstrates the degree of their commitment to this cause.
2 Hezbollah is estimated to possess 150,000 rockets including hundreds of Zetzal-2 missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel. Their arsenal includes precision guided missiles and their army includes 45,000 well trained soldiers.

Hamas has approximately 6,000 rockets including the Fajr and J-80 which travel 100 kilometers, the R-160 with a range of 120 kilometers and the M-302 which can reach 200 kilometers – essentially covering all of Israel. They have 30,000 well trained soldiers and 7,000 reserves in case of emergency.

A coordinated missile strike against Israel from Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north would be catastrophic for Israel. And now their leaders have connected to form an axis against Israel.

The consequences of this meeting could be severe. And the decision of countless media outlets to allow the public to be entirely uninformed of its occurrence demonstrates a massive failure to discharge their journalistic duties.

Hezbollah stored explosive material from 2016 in Germany, says minister

Hezbollah has stored in Germany the chemical ammonium nitrate, which it has used in bombings across the world, a state interior minister said.

“The stored cold packs were brought out of Germany in 2016,” said Baden-Württemberg Minister Thomas Strobl confirmed Friday, according to a regional newspaper.

“There are no findings or indications that the local cold pack storage is related to the storage in the Port of Beirut.”

Last month, a devastating explosion rocked the port, killing 191 people and injuring more than 6,000.

The port contained nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, which can be used as a fertilizer or to make explosives, and was lodged at the harbor for six years.

Hezbollah operatives have used ammonium nitrate for terrorist plots in France, Argentina Britain, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

The Lebanese organization has denied any involvement in the Beirut explosion. Hezbollah is widely viewed as controlling Beirut’s port system.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Turkey’s ‘Filthy War’ Against Syria, Libya

The Turkish regime, about a month ago, cut off the water supply to residents of northern Syria, where the temperature in August easily reaches more than 39° Celsius (103° Fahrenheit). It is a move, human rights advocates said, that “amounts to crimes against humanity.” They called for launching an international investigation into Erdogan’s violations and “crimes.”

Political analyst Mayyar Shehadeh pointed out that although the European Union has objected to Erdogan’s “provocations”, it has not taken any effective action to stop him from pursuing his violations against the civilians in northern Syria.

Maj. Gen. Ahmad Al-Mismari, spokesman of the Libyan National Army, warned Europe against the escalation of illegal immigration across the Mediterranean, and indicated that this migration may not be innocent: there may be terrorist elements among them that cause unrest in Europe.

“The move against Palestine is not a step that can be stomached,” Erdogan said. The thirst-ravaged Syrian civilians near the border with Turkey and the victims of the civil war in Libya, however, do not seem to be worried about the Israel-UAE deal. Erdogan’s victims want to see him held to account for his crimes against innocent civilians.

“The spirit of conquest is dominant in the modern Turkish political scene and their regional interventions. Rooted in the Ottoman ‘law of the sword’ – or the idea that the conqueror can rule a conquered country or territory according to his desires – Turkey has returned to its Ottoman ambitions.” — Costas Mavrides, Cypriot member of the European Parliament and committee chair at The Union for the Mediterranean.

Turkey and Iran seek ‘strong foundation’ for partnership – analysis

Turkey has been increasing its aggressive threats against fellow NATO-member Greece, and also threatening Egypt, Cyprus, the UAE and other states in the region. It has invaded and occupied part of northern Syria and often bombs northern Iraq, claiming to be fighting militants. In recent years Ankara tried to get Tehran to work with it against far-left Kurdish insurgents.

At the same time Turkey works with Russia to buy air defense systems from Moscow, much to Washington’s dismay. Erdogan’s hosting of senior Hamas leaders in Istanbul also received complaints from the US State Department.

It now appears that Turkey and Iran, which have sought to boost trade, are continuing to become closer politically. The overall substance of the Tuesday discussions were not yet available to the press. Anadolu, which is a pro-government channel in Turkey, described the talks as the 6th high level discussions.

They aim toward cooperation. While Turkey often attacks Greece, France and other countries with threats and insults, it tends to praise Iran, Russia, Hamas and other extremists. Anadolu says Turkey and Iran will discuss regional and international matters as well as COVID-19.

Iran building new centrifuge production site, state TV says

Iran said Tuesday it is building a sophisticated new building near its underground Natanz nuclear site, state TV reported.

The report quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the country’s nuclear agency, as saying the new structure is being built in the wake of a July explosion that damaged a building that housed centrifuge machines.

“Regarding the evil action and sabotage that was carried out, it has been decided to establish a more modern, wider and more comprehensive hall to be constructed in the heart of the mountains around Natanz,” Salehi was quoted as saying.

Natanz hosts the country’s main uranium enrichment facility. In its long underground halls, centrifuges rapidly spin uranium hexafluoride gas to enrich uranium.

Salehi said construction of the new building “has already begun.”

On Sunday, Iran said it had found those who were involved in the alleged sabotage, but said details will be released later.

The July 2 explosion, which foreign media reports have attributed to Israel or the US, damaged an advanced centrifuge development and assembly plant. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said this week that it did not interrupt operations but has vowed that Iran would respond if international actors were found to be behind the explosion.

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