February 23, 2020

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09/11 Links Pt1: Caroline Glick: Netanyahu’s earth-shattering announcement; On Eve of 9/11 Anniversary, New US Sanctions Target Hamas, Islamic State


From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Netanyahu’s earth-shattering announcement
Hamas, which seeks to annihilate Israel, certainly was none too pleased with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement Tuesday evening that if re-elected, he would apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea in coordination with the United States.

Hamas has good reason not to like what Netanyahu said. It even made sense that Gaza’s terror regime tried to harm Netanyahu politically by launching a volley of missiles at Ashdod while Netanyahu was giving a speech in the city. (Netanyahu’s political rivals on the Left and Right were quick to take Hamas’ bait and use Hamas’ aggression as a means to score political points against Netanyahu.)

Hamas was right to hate what Netanyahu said because Netanyahu’s statement Tuesday evening was a strategic blow to the hundred-year-old Palestinian war against the Jewish state.

What did Netanyahu do in that statement? Most media commentary claimed his statement wasn’t substantive. It was just another political promise from a desperate politician who is looking with increasing panic at unflattering polls.

But that assessment obscures more than it reveals. Netanyahu may be concerned about his polling numbers. But his statement Tuesday was not a display of political desperation but of diplomatic triumph. Netanyahu’s statement made clear that he enjoys a cooperative relationship with US President Donald Trump that has no parallel in the history of Israel-US relations.

Extending Israeli Sovereignty over the Jordan Valley Does Not Mean “Annexation”

The Jordan Valley lies in Area C of the West Bank where, under the Oslo Accords, Israel retains full civilian and military control. According to the Israel Democracy Institute, 48% of Jewish Israelis support extending sovereignty over the Jordan Valley with U.S. support, with 28% opposed.

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, director of international law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum, said, “The Prime Minister’s announcement is fully in line with Israel’s international legal rights. Because these territories were part of the British Mandate, Israel has as much legal right to them as to Tel Aviv.” Kontorovich said such a move should not be seen as annexation because the territory currently does not belong to a foreign country and annexation means the taking of the territory of a foreign country.

“Israel waited for more than 50 years to regularize the status of these territories, giving the Palestinians opportunity after opportunity to make a peace deal that would have given them a sovereign state. The Palestinians refused time after time, rejecting initiatives under presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump. Israel has now decided that the people in these areas cannot be held in limbo forever; Israelis should not pay the price for Palestinian intransigence.”

David Singer: Trump Seems Set to See Netanyahu as Israel’s Next Prime Minister

Likud voters – buoyed by the post-April statements detailed in 1, 2 and 3 below – will most likely vote again – whilst Blue and White and Yisrael Beiteinu voters – unhappy with their leaders’ post-April statements detailed in 4 and 5 below – are more likely to stay home.

Any increase in general voter turnout this time beyond 67.97 per cent would defy the diplomatic downturn – but should still see parties on the Right securing more of those new votes than parties on the Left. Statements made since April by Trump’s Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, President Trump himself, Likud’s Netanyahu, Yisrael Beiteinu’s Lieberman and Blue and White’s Gantz support this conclusion.

1. Ambassador Friedman indicated that some degree of annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate.
“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank”

More new voters – conscious of their own families’ personal safety – would vote Right – than those opposing any annexation – who would vote Left.
2. Trump endorsed Netanyahu as “a great guy”
3. Netanyahu – speaking in Elkana – located in Samaria – pledged:
“With God’s help we will extend Jewish sovereignty to all the settlements as part of the (biblical) Land of Israel, as part of the State of Israel. “This is our land…”We will build another Elkana and another Elkana and another Elkana. We will not uproot anyone here”

In a first-ever public address from Hebron by a sitting Israeli prime minister – Netanyahu vowed:
“To cite the late Menachem Begin and the late Yigal Allon: ‘Hebron will not be devoid of Jews.’ It will not be Judenrein [ed: i.e. Jew-free]. And I say on the 90th anniversary of the disturbances [ed: when 67 Jews were murdered] – we are not foreigners in Hebron, we will stay here forever.”

These patriotic declarations should attract more Right-supportive than Left-opposing new voters.

On Eve of 9/11 Anniversary, New US Sanctions Target Hamas, Islamic State, Other Terror Groups

The United States on Tuesday announced sanctions on a “wide range of terrorists and their supporters,” including the Palestinian group Hamas and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The targets include 15 leaders, individuals and entities affiliated with groups such as Hamas, al Qaeda, Islamic State and Iran’s IRGC, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

The sanctions were applied using new tools from an executive order recently updated by President Donald Trump.

“Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, the US government has refocused its counterterrorism efforts to constantly adapt to emerging threats,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

“President Trump’s modernized counterterrorism Executive Order enhances the authorities we use to target the finances of terror groups and their leaders to ensure they are as robust as possible,” Mnuchin said.

Sanctioned leaders include Turkey-based Zaher Jabarin, the head of Hamas’s financial office; and Muhammad Sa’id Izadi, the chief of the IRGC-Quds Force’s Palestinian office in Lebanon.

MEMRI: Iraqi News Bulletin On September 11, 2001: The Heart Of Evil Has Been Struck; Whoever Carried Out The Attack Had Had Enough Of Hostile American Policy (Archival)

This clip shows a news bulletin that aired on Iraq TV on September 11, 2001. The anchor announced that two planes crashed into the World Trade Center in Manhattan, that Washington, D.C. was attacked, that thousands of people were killed or injured, that panic and hysteria were spreading among the American public, and that the American government has declared the highest state of emergency. Over footage of the WTC buildings burning, a reporter said that the “heart of evil” has been struck. He said that an unknown aircraft crashed into the first WTC building and that, shortly after, a civilian Boeing 767 crashed into the second building, which he referred to as the “Empire Styre Building.” The reporter described the Twin Towers as a symbol of globalism, and he added that the American political decision-making centers had not been “out of reach of those who had had enough of the hostile American policy.” The reporter said: “The question now is whether the Americans will learn that violence only begets more violence.” The video was uploaded to a YouTube account of Iraq TV’s archival footage.

“This Led To Panic And Hysteria Among The American Public, Thousands Were Killed Or Wounded In The Explosions – The Pentagon Declared The Highest State Of Emergency”

Anchor: “Dear viewers, a series of explosions rocked the cities of New York and Washington today. The explosions destroyed the two towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan after they were hit by an airplane. This led to the collapse of stock markets throughout the world. The White House, the Pentagon, Congress, the State Department, and other vital American institutions were not spared from similar incidents, which followed and escalated. This led to panic and hysteria among the American public. Thousands were killed or wounded in the explosions. The Pentagon declared the highest state of emergency and completely stopped all air traffic in the United States. They evacuated the important buildings and the skyscrapers. More details in the following report.”

“The Strikes Hit The Heart Of Evil, An Unknown Airplane Crashed Into The WTC Building, The Symbol Of Globalism, Indicating Things Yet To Come”

Reporter: “Since the Bay of Pigs crisis in 1961, the United States has not witnessed an earthquake that has sent the American political and economic centers into confusion. This time, the strikes hit the heart of evil. An unknown airplane crashed into the WTC building, the symbol of globalism, indicating things yet to come. Less than 18 minutes later, a civilian Boeing 767 passenger plane crashed into the second building, the Empire Styre Building [sic], a few minutes before the opening of Wall Street. The [building] completely collapsed after it was devoured by the flames. The political decision-making centers in the United States were not out of reach of those who had had enough of the hostile American policy.

MEMRI: Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) Official Sheikh Yahya Bin Taher Al-Farghali: More Large-Scale Attacks After 9/11 Would Have Caused The U.S. To Collapse

In a video uploaded to the Internet on September 4, 2019, Sheikh Yahya Bin Taher Al-Farghali, an Egyptian member of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’s (HTS) shura and shari’a councils, commented on 9/11. He said that “if additional acts [like 9/11] were to keep happening against America – another attack, and a third, fourth, and fifth attack – then America would collapse, along with its will to keep ruling the world, and it would seclude itself once again” but that after 9/11, the U.S. “caught numerous cells that could have continued to carry out attacks like 9/11 many times over.”

“If Other Acts Were To Come In The Wake Of [9/11]… Then America Would Withdraw From The Islamic Countries And Seclude Itself Again, As It Has Done In The Past”

Sheikh Yahya Bin Taher Al-Farghali: “There were three opinions among the mujahideen regarding the events of 9/11. According to one opinion, the benefits of this act outweighed its harms. Naturally, this was the opinion held by Al-Qaeda, which was led by Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on his soul, and by people who espoused this idea. According to another opinion, the harms of this act outweighed its benefits.

“Of course, I am talking only about the mujahideen who evaluated this act in light of the shari’a. The third opinion stated that if other acts were to come in the wake of [9/11] – acts as powerful as [9/11] – then America would withdraw from the Islamic countries and seclude itself again, as it has done in the past. However, Allah decreed that no similar acts came in the wake of [9/11], as a result of a number of unbelievable measures taken by America.”

“But America Threw The Human Rights It Used To Brag About Out The Window… And It Caught Numerous Cells That Could Have Continued To Carry Out Attacks”

“At the time, I was in my fourth year at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science [at Cairo University]. Because of my studies, I knew very well that if additional acts [like 9/11] were to keep happening against America – another attack, and a third, fourth, and fifth attack – then America would collapse, along with its will to keep ruling the world, and it would seclude itself once again.

David Horovitz: Netanyahu’s Jordan Valley vow: Harbinger of US support or indication of failure?

The political significance of his Jordan Valley promise is plain: Netanyahu unveiled it as proof of his ostensibly unique capacity to build the kind of relationships with leaders like Trump that can enable such a move. Tellingly, he focused on the Jordan Valley because it is more of a consensus issue than the overall settlement enterprise. Many of the residents of the Jordan Valley’s small settlements are traditional Labor Party supporters, living for decades in relatively isolated farming communities, and regarding themselves as performing a vital security function, protecting Israel’s eastern border.

Netanyahu will be hoping that his calculated focus on this area will win him support from beyond his home turf on the right, as well as sapping votes to Likud from smaller right-wing parties. His main rival Benny Gantz, head of the centrist Blue and White, also toured the Jordan Valley recently, describing the area as “the eastern defensive shield of the State of Israel” and vowing to retain it under any peace agreement. Indeed, Netanyahu took pains on Tuesday to assure his current supporters and those he hopes to attract that his planned move would not involve annexing “a single Palestinian.”

By that stage of his speech, the Channel 12 and Channel 13 cameras had cut away from what they had branded election propaganda. In a week, we’ll find out how effective it has proved.

Sooner or later, we may also discover quite how supportive the somewhat unpredictable US administration really is of the idea. Unpredictable, in Netanyahu’s specific context, because Trump is showing every sign of wanting to meet with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani even as the prime minister, most recently with his Iran “weapons site” revelation on Monday, strives to highlight Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and duplicity. Unpredictable, too, in that news broke even as Netanyahu was wrapping up his performance on Tuesday that his recent Jordan Valley guest John Bolton had been fired.

So now we wait to see whether Netanyahu’s appearance on Tuesday was a genuine harbinger of genuine US-backed diplomatic drama to come. Or whether the prime minister was putting the best face on a failure to extract a specific US commitment to back his move now — something that truly would have boosted his re-election hopes, and that no Israeli TV station would cut away from.

How would Netanyahu go about annexing the settlements? An explainer

Until Tuesday, there had also been some debate over whether Netanyahu wanted to annex the territory of the Israeli settlements — which then would beg the question of how to define the borders of each outpost — or merely to “annex” the people residing there, by determining that Israeli laws apply extraterritorially to Israeli citizens who live in areas that are not technically part of the state.

(Currently, laws passed in the Knesset do not apply to the West Bank; this territory is ruled by military law. But in practice, all Israelis enjoy the same legal rights and privileges, regardless of their address.)

Tuesday’s statement put that discussion to rest, as Netanyahu made plain that he intends to annex physical territory.

The Jordan Valley, which he presented as some sort of pilot annexation project for which he would not await specific American approval, is Israel’s “eastern defensive wall that guarantees that we will never again be a mere few miles wide,” the prime minister declared. Therefore, the Israeli army must remain in the entire Jordan Valley, he added. And “in order for the IDF to always remain there,” he spelled out, “it is imperative that the Jordan Valley be under Israeli sovereignty.”

Not the people, that is. The land.

Netanyahu’s promise of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley

Would this hurt the chances for peace?
Chances for peace are already pretty slim. The Palestinians and Israelis haven’t been in any kind of serious negotiations for more than five years. Palestinian leaders won’t talk to the Trump administration because they view it as overly pro-Israel. Netanyahu has said repeatedly that he will not evacuate any settlement and opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state.

This move would make any thought of future evacuation of the territory as part of a peace plan that includes territorial compromise unlikely. The Palestinians have insisted on governing the Jordan Valley as part of a future peace deal.

Netanyahu also promised, in his speech and earlier, to annex even more Israeli communities in Area C, which is where all the Jewish communities and 4% of the Palestinian Arab population are located, down the line. The more Israel annexes, the less possible a contiguous Palestinian state would be.

How are people reacting?
For opponents of an Israeli withdrawal from the ‘West Bank’, this is good news. Yishai Fleischer, the spokesman for the Jewish community in the city of Hevron, tweeted (in all caps) that Netanyahu’s speech was “A HUGE MOVE FORWARD!”

Many Palestinians and many across the international community had a different reaction. A United Nations spokesman called Netanyahu’s pledge “devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution.”

“If the annexation is carried out, it will have succeeded in burying any prospect of peace for the next 100 years,” tweeted Palestinian Arab negotiator Saeb Erekat,. “The Israelis, the international community must stop this madness. Annexation is a war crime.”

Israelis as a whole are split. Nearly half of Israeli Jews and 11 percent of Israeli Arabs favor annexing the Jordan Valley if Trump supports it, according to a recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute. Twenty-eight percent of Jewish Israelis and a majority of Arab Israelis oppose the idea.

White House responds to Netanyahu’s speech – no change in U.S. policy

The White House responded Tuesday to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement that he will apply Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley “immediately” after the elections.

An administration official said Tuesday, “There is no change in the United States policy at this time. We will release our Vision for Peace after the Israeli election and work to determine the best path forward to bring long-sought security, opportunity, and stability to the region.”

Israeli officials informed the White House in advance about Netanyahu’s upcoming statement. The White House peace team did not consider the statement as one who will prevent a future agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Topping off annexation pledge, PM moves to legalize Jordan Valley outpost

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he will submit for cabinet approval a proposal to retroactively legalize a wildcat outpost in the Jordan Valley, a day after he vowed to annex the entire area if he wins next week’s election.

Ministers will vote and likely pass the motion to legalize Mevo’ot Yeriho at their Sunday meeting, just two days before Israelis go to the polls for an election that could see him ousted from power.

Mevo’ot Yeriho is one of 16 illegal Israeli outposts located on the map that Netanyahu used to illustrate which land he plans to annex from the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea areas.

Roughly 300 national-religious Israelis reside in the outpost, north of the Palestinian city of Jericho. It was founded in 1999 by settlers who set up wildcat agricultural concerns on the land.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu vowed to immediately annex the entire Jordan Valley, excluding the city of Jericho, if given another term as prime minister. He also said he would begin work on annexing settlements across the West Bank.

No cabinet decision would be necessary to legalize Mevo’ot Yeriho once it has been annexed.

Settler leaders lionize Netanyahu for ‘historic’ Jordan Valley annexation pledge

Settler leaders lined up on Tuesday to thank and congratulate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he vowed to annex the Jordan Valley if reelected next week, but some on the right urged the prime minister to go further or dismissed the promise as electoral spin.

In a campaign speech billed by his Likud party as a “dramatic announcement,” Netanyahu said he would immediately move to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley if voters put him back in office. He also repeated his vow from before elections in April to extend sovereignty to West Bank settlements, but said he would do this with “maximum coordination” with the United States.

Meanwhile, the Yesha settlement umbrella council lauded Netanyahu’s announcement, calling it “a historic event” and “unprecedented news for the State of Israel.”

“Sovereignty is the vision of the settlement movement and the path of the future for deepening our presence in the region. The Yesha Council congratulates the prime minister on the historic declaration, which places settlement as an integral part of the State of Israel.”

Noting that a US peace plan for the region would be rolled in shortly after the September 17 vote, Netanyahu claimed that Israel had an unprecedented opportunity to quickly extend sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and later to all West Bank settlements.

NYTs: Why the Arab World Isn’t Outraged by Netanyahu’s West Bank Vow

Netanyahu’s vow to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley comes after strategic shifts in the Middle East have pushed the Palestinian cause down the priority list of many Arab leaders.

Across the region, Arab states like Egypt, Syria, Yemen and Iraq are still reeling from the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings and the fight against the Islamic State, leaving them more focused on internal issues.

Persian Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia now worry more about Iran’s regional influence, a concern they share with Israel.

Arab League: Netanyahu’s plan to annex Jordan Valley is ‘aggression’

Arab foreign ministers condemned a plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex the Jordan Valley as “aggression” undermining any chances of a peace settlement with the Palestinians.

“If I am elected, we intend to apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area,” Netanyahu said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening.

“Along with applying sovereignty during the next Knesset, I will present the next government with a broad plan to bolster Jewish settlement in the Jordan Valley and develop infrastructure,” the prime minister said.

“We have a historic opportunity,” he told the audience, adding that he would wait for the Trump administration to announce its “deal of the century” before announcing any major Israeli policy changes.

The Arab League “considers his announcement a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate international law,” Arab foreign ministers said in a statement after a meeting in Cairo.

“The league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations,” the statement said.

Bahrain blasts Israeli plan to apply sovereignty over parts of West Bank

Bahrain joined other Arab states on Wednesday in condemning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to begin effectively annexing parts of the West Bank, if he is given another term in office following next week’s national vote.

Netanyahu pledged in a speech on Tuesday to apply Israeli sovereignty over significant portions of the West Bank, including the vast majority of the Jordan Valley, if he wins another mandate to serve as prime minister.

Netanyahu said that, if reelected, he would quickly apply Israeli sovereignty over the majority of the Jordan Valley, and would aim to do the same for settlements in other parts of the West Bank after the US administration releases its plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The foreign ministry of the Kingdom of Bahrain strongly condemns the Israeli prime minister’s announcement of his intention to apply Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern part of the Dead Sea in the occupied West Bank,” the Bahraini Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that Netanyahu’s comments “represent a barefaced and unacceptable violation of the Palestinian people’s rights and reflect resolve to not achieve a just and comprehensive peace.”

Bahrain has recently expressed greater openness to Israel, with its Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa describing the Jewish state as a part of the region.

U.N.: Annexation would be devoid of international legal effect

A spokesperson for the United Nations secretary-general stated on Tuesday that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to follow through with his promise to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the move would not have any international legal effect.

“The Secretary General position has always been clear and consistent: unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process. Our position today is unchanged and is reflected in relevant UN resolutions,” said spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

“Any Israeli decision to impose its law jurisdiction and legislation in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect,” he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, the prime minister announced that if reelected, he will apply sovereignty over all settlements in Judea and Samaria, starting with the Jordan Valley.

Netanyahu added that the steps would be taken in coordination with the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Commenting on the announcement, a White House official said “There is no change in the United States policy at this time. We will release our Vision for Peace after the Israeli election and work to determine the best path forward to bring long-sought security, opportunity, and stability to the region.”

EU condemns Netanyahu plan to annex Jordan Valley

The EU warned Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to annex the Jordan Valley in the West Bank if he wins next week’s election undermines chances for peace in the region.

Netanyahu’s vow was roundly condemned by the Palestinians as well as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, with the EU saying it would not recognize any change to Israel’s borders that was not agreed to by both sides.

“The policy of settlement construction and expansion… is illegal under international law and its continuation, and actions taken in this context, undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” an EU spokesperson said in a statement.

In a televised speech, Netanyahu also reiterated his intention to annex Israeli settlements in the wider West Bank if reelected.

Critics have warned that such a move could effectively kill any remaining hope for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long the focus of international diplomacy.

Abbas threatens to end agreements with Israel

All agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel will end if Israel expands its sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and the Northern Dead Sea, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Tuesday.

Abbas made his statement in response to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that he will extend Israeli sovereignty to the two West Bank areas if he’s re-elected in the upcoming election.

Last July, Abbas announced that the Palestinian leadership has decided to “halt work related to the agreements signed with the Israeli side.”

The PA later announced that a special committee has been set up to study mechanisms for implementing the decision. However, it remains unclear whether the committee has made any decision in this regard.

Abbas said that the Palestinians “have the right to defend our rights and achieve our goals with available means, notwithstanding the results.”

Seth Frantzman: Trump’s Bolton Removal Leaves Pompeo as the Last Man Standing

It now appears Trump, going into 2020, will need yet another new team. He lost Defense Secretary James Mattis in December 2018 over his Syrian policy. Patrick Shanahan, who was supposed to replace Mattis, only lasted six months. Jason Greenblatt, who was supposed to be pushing the “Deal of the Century” with the Palestinians, is also leaving. The Afghan deal envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, may not be at the helm much longer. If this were an episode of Survivor, it would be time to combine the tribes. In an administration that sometimes seems a bit more like it was scripted for reality TV in an era of social media driving politics, these things matter.

McMaster, Bolton’s predecessor and a competent hire who is largely forgotten as the man who steadied the ship for the first year of Trump’s tenure, is emblematic of the revolving door. He replaced Michael Flynn, who had to leave due to a scandal in the first days of the administration. It is easy to forget that Trump’s second chief of staff, John Kelly, left in January. He, like McMaster, sought to steady things. Mick Mulvaney is still acting chief of staff.

The big question is whether Bolton’s departure will also eventually erode Pompeo’s agenda, or if Pompeo will simply assume more power now. Having gone from CIA to State, he has eclipsed both. He has also brought in a competent team with Brian Hook to play linebacker for Iran issues, and Jim Jeffrey to deal with Turkey, ISIS and Syria issues alongside Joel Rayburn, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Levant Affairs.

On foreign policy, whether dealing with China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, Iran or Syria, Pompeo has proved a center of gravity. But The Washington Post reports that he may be eying a political future. There are thoughts he could run for Senate. But why would he do that when he is the administration’s rock?

Bolton warned Iran frequently, talking about not mistaking prudence for weakness, warning of hell to pay and that there would be “serious consequences.” He also warned foreign countries not to meddle in Venezuela against US policy. His departure will be seen in Tehran and Caracas as signaling that the more isolationist tendencies of Trump have won out. That may not be accurate, and those countries should not test the US, as the Taliban learned.

What does John Bolton’s departure mean for Israel?

Notably, Bolton got a fond farewell from the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group that has otherwise enthusiastically embraced the Trump presidency in the last year.

“Thank you for your longstanding friendship, moral clarity and passionate defense of America and our allies, especially Israel,” RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said on Twitter.

Democrats were ready to pounce on an administration that has seen significant turnover in its upper ranks. Bolton was Trump’s third national security adviser in less than three years.

“This national security — and cabinet — turnover is unprecedented and a clear sign of Trump’s failed leadership, domestically and in the world,” Halie Soifer, the executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, said on Twitter. “It also indicates the incoherence and danger of Trump’s erratic foreign policy.”

Kupperman, Bolton’s Acting Replacement, is Jewish, Worked Under Reagan

Following the resignation on Tuesday of US national security adviser John Bolton, Charles M. Kupperman has taken up the post on an interim basis.

Kupperman, a former defense contractor executive, served in the Reagan administration and was appointed deputy national security adviser in January.

While he is reportedly close to Bolton, which could work against him, according to The New York Times, US President Donald Trump likes his straight-shooting style and there is a chance he may take up the post on a permanent basis.

The Islamic American organization CAIR reacted to the news with a Facebook post bashing Kupperman and implying he was Islamophobic. The group said it was “appalled” by Kupperman’s appointment, and noted that he had “served on the board of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), an organization headed by notorious Islamophobe and conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney.”

CAIR has been linked to Islamists, including Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization. Andrew McCarthy has documented the roots of the organization in the Muslim Brotherhood-Hamas network.

Moshe Ya’alon: John Bolton Ousted is Bad News for Israel

Former Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon spoke with Jeff Smith on the recent dismissal of US National Security Advisor John Bolton and how this action will effect Israel.

Likud blasts Left for ‘gloating’ over PM’s evacuation in rocket attack

The controversy over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rapid evacuation from a Likud campaign rally and his rapid return to the stage moments after rockets were fired at the southern Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod continued on Wednesday.

Numerous politicians from across the political spectrum commented on the incident, which was broadcast live on the Likud’s Facebook page and later removed. Blue and White party leader and former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi took to Twitter after the sirens were sounded to say, “We don’t run. We are committed, and we are here, carrying on with a conference in Ashkelon as usual. We are not afraid, not of Hamas and not of Hezbollah.”

The No. 4 on Yemina’s list, former Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted, “This is a national humiliation.”

Government ministers from the Likud were busy responding to the attacks on Netanyahu.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said, “He has to obey the orders of the Shin Bet security agency and must be evacuated to a safe room, he has no discretion. I, personally, as a figure with a security detail, asked to remain at the conference, but I was met with an outright refusal and was escorted with the prime minister.”

Gaza rockets fired at southern Israel for second day in a row

Three rockets were fired toward Israeli communities north of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday afternoon, in the second such attack from the Palestinian enclave in as many days, the army said.

One of the projectiles struck inside an Israeli community, causing light damage to a home. The other two appeared to have landed in open fields. There were no reports of injuries, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces targeted two Hamas observation posts in northern Gaza.

“An IDF tank attacked two military posts belonging to the Hamas terror group in the northern Gaza Strip. This attack was carried out in response to the rocket launches at Israeli territory,” the army said in a statement.

Palestinian media reported that several people were injured in the Israeli retaliatory strike, but that was denied by the Strip’s Hamas-run health ministry, which said that there were no casualties.

IDF airstrikes hit 15 sites in Gaza after 2 rockets fired at Israeli cities

The Israel Defense Forces launched a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, just hours after terrorists fired two rockets at the southern cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding an election rally.

The IDF said warplanes hit 15 different targets across the Strip, “including a number of targets in a military base producing arms, a number of targets in a compound belonging to the naval forces and a terror tunnel belonging to the Hamas terror group.”

The army said it held Hamas responsible for the rocket fire.

Palestinian sources reported heavy strikes and explosions in Beit Lahiya just north of Gaza City, Deir el-Balah in central Gaza and in Khan Younis in the south.

There were no reports of injuries.

Doctor: ‘We’re not going to let this child die without a fight’

Two Israeli teenagers seriously injured in a terror attack south of Jerusalem continue to show signs of improvement, but face long roads to recovery.

Arutz Sheva spoke with the two injured teens’ grandmother, Rochel Sylvetsky – an editor at Arutz Sheva – about her grandchildren’s condition nearly a month after they were hit by a car driven by a terrorist outside of the town of Elazar in Gush Ezion.

Last month, Nahum, 17, and Noam Nevies, 19, were hit in a ramming attack as they walked to a bus stop next to the entrance of Elazar. Both of the siblings were seriously injured, with Nahum left fighting for his life.

“Two of my grandchildren were severely injured at Elazar three weeks ago,” said Sylvetsky.

Sylvetsky said her granddaughter, Noam, had been released from the hospital, but is still confined to a wheelchair for the time being, though she hopes to return to her dance troupe.

“I’m thankful to Hashem [God] to say that Noam is at home… She is in a wheelchair, she has a cast on each of her legs and has months of physical therapy ahead of her. But she’s cheerful and wonderful – her regular self. We hope she gets back to her dancing – she was in a religious dance troupe. She also played piano beautifully and many other things and we hope she gets back to all of them, she’s working hard at it. Pray for her: Noam Aliza Bat Zahava Rivka.”

By contrast, Nahum’s injuries were so severe, Sylvetsky recalled, that doctors at Hadassah Hospital were unsure if they could save him.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Why Egypt Does Not Want to Help Gaza

Israel’s goodwill gestures, however, have so far failed to deter Hamas and other Palestinian groups from repeatedly violating the ceasefire understandings.

Israel is prepared to do whatever is required to help the Palestinians in return for a cessation of terrorist attacks against Israel. Meanwhile, the Egyptians themselves offer nothing but broken promises regarding the crisis in the Gaza Strip. Egyptian policy, it appears, is based on the assumption that the Gaza Strip is – and must remain – solely the problem of Israel.

Why do Egyptians have to travel all the way to Israel to discuss supplying the Gaza Strip with food, medicine and fuel (through Israel) when Egypt can easily do so through its shared border with the Gaza Strip? The world seems to have forgotten that the Gaza Strip has a shared border not only with Israel, but with Egypt as well.

Egypt’s shifting and sometimes contradictory policy toward the Gaza Strip seems to have one goal: to divert attention from Cairo’s responsibility for the ongoing plight of its Palestinian neighbors.

Here is what Egypt and the Arab states should be telling Israel: “Thank you for all that you have done so far to help the people of the Gaza Strip. However, these are our Arab brothers. Therefore, it seems fair that we step in and assume this burden.”

Hamas Reshuffling Its Security Apparatus in Gaza

Operations against Israel by individuals operating independently have led Hamas to make major changes in the ranks of its security forces in Gaza, beginning with the replacement of the chief of police on Aug. 29. Other personnel changes have involved internal security, border protection, political guidance, and military police. The shuffle followed rocket launches from Gaza at Israel despite Hamas and Israel having agreed to a cease-fire.

Talal Awkal, a political analyst at Al-Ayyam, said: “These changes… are a message to Egypt and Israel indicating that Hamas is actually dealing with securing the border and stopping the launch of rockets into Israel” and attempted infiltrations into Israel by Palestinians operating on their own. Their actions served to make Hamas look weak in its ability to control Gaza’s border with Israel.

Ibrahim Habib, former vice dean at the Gaza Police Academy, said that Hamas “does not want to guard Israel, but it wants to stop random operations against Israel since they frustrate its maintaining the cease-fire.”

Al Jazeera: Palestinian Authority frees jailed activist

The Palestinian Authority released a leading human rights activist on Sunday, a week after he was detained for criticising the government’s controversial “electronic crimes” law.

Issa Amro, director of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements activist group, was arrested on September 4 after denouncing on Facebook the arrest of a journalist calling for the resignation of PA head, Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas has come under scrutiny for the vaguely worded decree, which allows security forces to jail those deemed to be harming “national unity” or the “social fabric” online.

Critics say the law, rolled out without consultation in July, is a restriction on freedom of expression.

Speaking after his release, Amro accused Palestinian security forces of physical and verbal abuse during his imprisonment.

“They want to silence me and silence every voice defending human rights, but they are wrong. I will continue defending human rights and struggling against occupation,” he said.

Human rights groups have expressed concern over the increasing number of journalists being detained by the PA in the West Bank, with Amnesty International calling Amro’s arrest a “shameless attack on freedom of expression”. (h/t L_King)

In Lebanon, the United Nations has failed Israel yet again

UNIFIL’s $450 million budget and 11,000 on-site “peacekeepers” have yet to discover any Hezbollah rockets or related sites, although many of them are literally yards away from UNIFIL bases in southern Lebanon.

But this avoidance of responsibility by UNIFIL is utterly consistent with all U.N. actions regarding Israel’s security since 1948.

Having voted to partition the British Mandate of Palestine, the U.N. did nothing to thwart the pan-Arab invasion of the new State of Israel.

After the Suez Campaign of 1956 and an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, Israel signed onto U.N. guarantees of a demilitarized Sinai—enforced by the U.N. Yet a decade later in 1967, Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser blockaded the Straits of Tiran and massed his troops and tanks for a genocidal war against Israel. Egypt requested that the U.N.’s peacekeepers be withdrawn, and U.N. Secretary General U Thant quickly removed the “guaranteed” force, thus enabling the Six-Day War.

Years later, the UNIFIL-supervised withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon turned into a frenzy of Hezbollah missile purchases and deployments that yielded the 2006 Lebanon War, in which over a hundred Israelis and 1,500 Lebanese lost their lives.

Clearly, it is suicidal for Israel to agree to any further role for the U.N. in its affairs. When things again get ugly in Lebanon—which will probably happen sooner rather than later—Israel must recognize that the U.N. is in league with its enemies, and minimize its involvement.

Always bear in mind that the once-promising U.N. of yesteryear has become the corrupt and inept U.N. of today—and has betrayed Israel time after time. Harebrained schemes involving “U.N. peacekeepers in the Jordan Valley” or, even more outlandish, “the internationalization of Jerusalem under U.N. auspices” are guaranteed to be disastrous for Israel and for any hope of a peaceful Middle East.

Nasrallah Pledges Allegiance to Khamenei, Adds: Regional War Would End Israel, U.S. Hegemony

In a September 10, 2019 speech in honor of Ashura that aired on Al-Manar TV (Lebanon), Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah reiterated Hizbullah’s loyalty to Iran and its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Nasrallah said that, as part of the Islamic resistance, Hizbullah will never be neutral in the battle between truth and falsehood, and he assured the audience that a regional war would spell the end of Israel and of U.S. hegemony and presence in the region. Referring to Supreme Leader Khamenei as the “[Imam] Hussein of this age,” Nasrallah said that Hizbullah and its followers would follow Khamenei even if they knew that America and the Zionists were to kill them, burn them, and spread their ashes into the wind 1,000 times over. This is the same pledge that Imam Hussein’s companions told Hussein on the eve of Ashura. The audience chanted: “We would not abandon you, oh son of Hussein!”

Iraqi Researcher: We Should Recognize Iraq Doesn’t Have Military Capability to Pose Threat to Israel

Iraqi researcher Muayad Algehiche said in an August 25, 2019 interview on Al-Rasheed TV (Iraq) that Iraq should recognize that it does not pose a threat to Israel because it does not have weapons or technology that can compare to Israel’s. He said that the threats made by Iraqi militias against Israel are meaningless and that even Iran does not have military capabilities that can stand against Israel. Algehiche gave the example of the F-35 jets, which he said are so stealthy that only Allah can detect them, and he pointed out that neither Hamas, Hizbullah, not Syria have attacked Israel. In addition, Algehiche said that Hassan Nasrallah declared that Hizbullah would engage Israeli drones in Lebanese airspace (see MEMRI TV Clip No. 7439) because it cannot respond to Israeli aggression near the border or within Israel itself.

U.S. to IAEA: “What Else Is Iran Hiding?”

U.S. Ambassador Jackie Wolcott told the International Atomic Energy Agency board on Tuesday: “Iran has a history of deception, and we must ensure that Iran’s actions do not distract from the IAEA’s vital verification efforts….Nuclear escalation of the kind Iran is attempting will only deepen the pressure Iran is facing and exacerbate the crisis Iran continues to make for itself. Such brinkmanship and extortion tactics will neither resolve the current impasse nor bring Iran sanctions relief.”

“The United States is open to negotiation with Iran without preconditions, when the time is right, to resolve the issues that divide it from the international community, and we are offering Iran a possibility of a full normalization of relations and the lifting of sanctions.”

“Our goal remains the conclusion of a comprehensive deal with Iran that addresses our concerns, ends Iran’s destabilizing behaviors, and fully reintegrates Iran into the international community. To achieve relief from sanctions pressure, however, Iran must be willing to end its malign behavior and take lasting steps that deny it any pathway to nuclear weapons.”

“Iran must finally address why it secretly retained an immense archive of materials from its past nuclear weapons program that could easily facilitate a resumption of nuclear weapons work. And…in light of new concerns…we should all be asking ourselves what else is the Iranian regime continuing to hide?”

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