Gerald Steinberg: Goliath vs David: The 2018 Version – Is there anything Israel can do to avoid losing soft-power wars?
Israeli government officials and military leaders thought they were well prepared for the first round of Gaza’s “Return March” along the border, at least compared to previous confrontations with Palestinians over the past two decades. The scenario was understood in advance – indeed, Hamas leaders made no secret of their plan to stage a series of such mass confrontations, using thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, as camouflage for attacking soldiers and infiltrating terrorists into Israel. On this basis, the Foreign Ministry and other branches sent diplomats and journalists analyses, telling them not to be fooled by this cynical ploy, and the IDF practiced responses to breaches of the border that would prevent or minimize civilian deaths.
But, to understate the reality, even in the initial skirmish the results of these preparations were less than satisfactory – Israel’s image took a beating, with another round of condemnations and “war crimes” allegations. The headlines in media platforms and the accompanying photos again portrayed Israel as the Goliath in the drama, with the Palestinians in their standard role as the innocent victims. The pictures – featured on the front pages of many mainstream newspapers and leading the video news feeds – reinforced this slogan. The New York Times lead (before the number of dead reached 16) screamed “Israeli Military Kills 8 in Confrontations on Gaza Border.”
In later versions of the news stories, the detailed evidence which clearly linked at least 10 of the 16 dead to terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad was cited, usually briefly. This part of the reporting took the standard “he said, she said” format, as if Hamas and Israel were on parallel footings.
However, as always, the greatest damage was from the visuals of death and suffering that are deemed necessary to grab readers and for use as “click bait” on social media. These images, perhaps staged (a process known as Pallywood), all featuring Palestinian “victims” and without any Israeli parallels, gave editors their headlines in what is otherwise yet another predictable round of the ancient and immovable conflict.
Following the flood of images and headlines, politicians and foreign policy officials, particularly in Europe, recycled the standard condemnations of Israel for using “excess force,” and called, as always, for “independent investigations.” The solemn statement from Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign minister (her title is High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, among other jobs), mourned the loss of life, while failing to even mention Hamas or terrorism.
Gerald Steinberg: Sykes-Picot 2018: The EU and Khan al-Ahmar
Today, European politicians, diplomats, and NGOs are busy drawing new borders for what they imagine to be a “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are currently focusing their attention on the tiny encampment of Khan al-Ahmar, situated strategically just outside Jerusalem on the four-lane highway that connects Israel’s capital to the Dead Sea and the Jordan River.
For three decades, Israel has rejected all the efforts to turn Khan al-Ahmar into a Palestinian outpost along the strategic highway near Jerusalem. As 20 years of Israeli court rulings have confirmed, the law clearly prohibits anyone – Palestinians, Bedouin and Europeans – from squatting on land that is not theirs and starting to build.
The Oslo accords declared Area C, where Khan al-Ahmar is located, to be under full Israeli control. Yet the Europeans have dotted Area C with EU flags hoisted above one-room pre-fabricated huts which, to add to the emotional impact, are usually declared to be schools. Destroying a school is ideal for accusing Israel of human rights violations, and Khan al-Ahmar’s European school is featured in the current campaign of solidarity visits by European diplomats and UN officials.
As part of this campaign, Palestinian NGOs funded primarily by European governments have spent millions of euros from European taxpayers to churn out urgent statements, reports, and social media posts declaring the plan to resettle the residents of Khan al-Ahmar to be a “war crime.”
Caroline Glick: Trump Speech at U.N. Restored U.S. Leadership
In the tumult of the circus surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, little attention was paid to President Donald Trump’s speech last week before the United Nations.
This is a shame, because his address last week was arguably the most significant foreign policy address any U.S. president has delivered since the end of the Cold War.
Many of Trump’s critics insist his view of the world rejects the liberal world order America has led and defended since the end of World War II. But that assessment misconstrues Trump’s world view. Indeed, that ignores it.
Trump’s critics cannot see his world view because they are convinced the universe of foreign policy is but a narrow linear spectrum that veers between isolationism and globalism.
Trump, who has been a peripatetic foreign policy practitioner since his early days in office, is manifestly not an isolationist. He does not believe the U.S. can walk away from the world. He is deeply engaged with the world.
His argument with the globalists is not about whether the U.S. should be engaged with the world. His dispute with globalists and globalism revolves around the form U.S. involvement should take and what the proper goal of that involvement should be.
The four post-Cold War presidents who preceded him in office — George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — differed on many things. But they shared the basic globalist view that U.S. foreign policy should be undertaken to advance ideological goals not directly related to U.S. national interests. They all agreed with the basic proposition that the U.S. should carry out its foreign policy under the aegis of international or transnational governing structures, which they perceived as somehow more credible than unilateral action or action undertaken in informal cooperation with likeminded governments.
Einat Wilf is the co-author of The War of Return (with former Haaretz journalist Adi Schwartz). She talked to Fathom deputy editor Calev Ben-Dor about the book’s main claims, that peace is impossible while the Palestinians claim a ‘right of return’ for millions of ‘refugees’, making the two states for two peoples solution to the conflict impossible, and that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is the key prop holding up this impossibilist demand. An English translation of an extract from Wilf’s foreword is available here. Download a PDF version here.
Calev Ben-Dor: The War of Return has been very popular in Israel and the English translation will be available in the coming year. You say the book is a product of a shared recognition between yourself and your colleague Adi Schwartz that whoever wants peace must invest in undermining Arab maximalism no less than in Jewish maximalism. What did you mean by that?
Einat Wilf: The world is particularly focused on aspects of Jewish maximalism, particularly the settlements, especially those deep in the West Bank. Certainly, the latter are intended to convey and embody the idea that the entire land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, which Jews call the Land of Israel, is exclusively Jewish. Settlers are intentionally trying to make it impossible to make peace based on the idea of two nation states, Israel and Palestine. Diplomats will regularly argue that settlements are the main obstacle to peace. Yet what Adi and I show in the book is that Arab maximalism is no less, and maybe even more of an obstacle to peace. And that is something that almost nobody talks about.
Arab maximalism is manifested through what Arabs and Palestinians call ‘The Right of return’. The essence of this ‘Right’ is that hundreds of thousands of Arabs (and their millions of descendants) who fled from the areas during the war they waged and lost against partition – a war intended to prevent the emergence of the State of Israel – have a right to settle within Israel in a way that would turn the Jews into a minority. And lest we forget, Jews being a minority generally does not turn out too well.
Dr. Martin Sherman: Obsessing over Oslo – Einat Wilf in “The Atlantic”
Fair-minded, rational human beings might surely been excused for believing that the “jury is no longer out” on the land-for-peace doctrine and its “two-state” corollary.
A desperate and dogged obsession
After all, by any conceivable criterion, the endeavor to implement them, beginning over a quarter-century ago with the ill-conceived—and hence, ill-fated—Oslo Accords have proved a tragic and traumatic failure—precipitating all the perils its opponents warned of, but none of the promised pay-offs it proponents pledged.
Yet, despite the fatal fiasco that two-statism has proven, many of its proponents, impervious to both reason and bitter experience, refuse to admit error—clinging to their credo with a desperate and dogged obsession, reminiscent of the most devout religious radicals.
Even when compelled to admit the calamitous consequences that the quest of their cherished goal has wrought, they resist any thought of renouncing further pursuit of it—as if its eventual attainment was some divinely ordained inevitability. Rather than raise doubts as to the prudence of further efforts to attain their goal, they embark on concocting new ways of achieving it—prepared only to concede that the methods of its pursuit were flawed, at times even resorting to the very ideas they previously rejected as unacceptably detrimental!
A perverse diagnosis
A glaring illustration of this unfortunate phenomenon appeared recently in the well-known publication, “The Atlantic”—where apparently political correctness, rather than sound augmentation, is the overriding criterion for publication. This was an opinion piece written by a long-standing two-stater, Einat Wilf, a former MK for the Labor Party (2010–2011), and later (2011–2013) for the now defunct Independence Party, founded by ex-Defense Minister, Ehud Barak—whom she followed into political oblivion in 2012.
Outgoing Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Thursday detailed a proposal to expel the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency from the capital and have the municipality provide education, health, welfare, and sanitation services in its place.
Barkat, whose term as mayor ends at the end of the month, accused the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) of failing those under its purview and instead inciting terror activity.
He gave details of a plan prepared by a team of city officials and experts to replace all of UNRWA’s functions with municipal services in the Shuafat refugee camp, founded in 1965 and home to some 20,000 residents.
The plan comes after the Trump administration announced it was cutting nearly $300 million in planned funding for UNRWA, and said that it would no longer back the agency after decades of support. Instead, the US said, it would seek other channels by which to aid the Palestinians.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat speaks at a conference organized by the Hadashot TV news channel, September 3, 2018. (Hadashot news)
“The US decision to stop funding UNRWA creates a rare opportunity to deal immediately and decisively with the PA’s intention to perpetuate the ‘refugee problem’ and encourage incitement,” Barkat said in a Thursday statement.
“There are no refugees in Jerusalem, only residents. They will receive their services from the Jerusalem Municipality alone, like all other residents,” he added. “The municipality, at my instruction, has developed a detailed plan of action to replace all UNRWA services by the services of the Jerusalem Municipality, including education, welfare, health, and sanitation.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday asked visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop transferring funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, a body that supports Palestinian refugees.
After the U.S. announced it would cut off its funding, Germany declared it would “significantly” increase its donation to the U.N. body that had to date relied mainly on American money.
Israeli officials have been trying to persuade additional countries to stop funding the agency, and on Thursday Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely raised the matter at a meeting between the German delegation and Israeli government officials in Jerusalem.
“Those labeled ‘Palestinian refugees’ are the only refugees in the world who have been inheriting this refugee status for five generations,” she said.
Netanyahu echoed Hotovely’s sentiments, telling the German leader: “Both Israel and Germany have absorbed and rehabilitated millions of refugees throughout the years, and didn’t perpetuate their refugee status like the Palestinians are doing. We want a change.”
The prime minister added that UNRWA should be shut down and that the designated donation funds should be transferred to the Palestinian Authority.
A year ago, Russia’s mask of non-hostility towards Israel was still in place, in the form of strategic coordination with Israel regarding the latter’s bombings in Syria. This allowed it to conceal that it fully sided with Israel’s enemies – Syria and Iran. Even as it refrained from trying to stop Israel from bombing Iranian targets in Syria – as if it could have prevented this – it was at the same time enabling and sponsoring Iran’s expansion into Syria.
An article I wrote a year ago presented the unvarnished facts about Russia’s support for Iran’s expansion in Syria at the expense of Israel’s national security. It asserted that the Iranian forces’ presence in Syria constituted an existential threat to Israel. It further explained, for the benefit of those who could not conceive of Putin as so anti-Israel – after all, he had made Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a guest of honor at the Moscow Victory Day parade in Red Square in May – that this was nothing personal against Israel, but, as they say in the Mafia, just business connected to Russia’s rivalry with the U.S. In truth, the strategic Israel-Russia coordination of Israeli bombings in Syria served Russian interests: Israel declared that it would continue the bombings no matter what, and an Israel-Russia military escalation could only draw the U.S. into the melee and expose Russia as a mere regional power that was no match for the U.S.
Following the September 18 downing of an Ilyushin-20 plane by Syrian missiles, Russia’s mask dropped, and the true anti-Israel face of its policy was fully revealed. Indeed, Putin first attempted to conceal it by refraining from fully blaming Israel for the tragedy. But soon enough he joined his subordinates in blaming Israel, and announced that Russia would equip Syria with S-300 missile systems, which would, inter alia, protect Iranian forces in Syria from Israeli attacks.
Now the picture is crystal clear: The Russians, who originally enabled and sponsored the Iranian expansion in Syria as an anti-U.S. measure, will now also protect the Iranians in Syria from Israeli attacks. This constitutes an undeclared act of war against Israel by an enemy, i.e. Russia – since it will not be the Syrians operating the S-300s against Israeli aircraft, because they yet face a long learning curve to do this; it will, for an indeterminate time, be Russian officers.
The High Holidays, when nothing much gets done in Israel, are over, and we are returning to our turbulent day-to-day lives and on the front lines, the mentality is one of battle.
Primarily, this means that cross-border terrorist activity has resumed. After two months of relative quiet, last Friday some 20,000 Gazans approached the fence to clash with IDF forces. It ended with seven casualties and 500 wounded on the Palestinian side and none among the Israeli forces but make no mistake – it could have been much worse. Only our forces’ correct operating tactics prevented the incident from ended otherwise.
Today is Friday, and we’ll probably see more of the same. To that end, additional personnel were deployed to the border on Thursday to help prevent a situation in which a small contingent finds itself in trouble, which could lead to a hefty injury count among Palestinians or wounded among the IDF soldiers – not to mention the threat of a soldier being kidnapped. The IDF announcement about additional forces being sent to the border carried a clear message of deterrence. It told Hamas, “Pay attention – the holidays are over, and we will not allow things to slide toward a situation of terrorism from Gaza against Israeli communities on the other side.”
It’s doubtful that Hamas wants that to happen, but its back is against the wall. The socioeconomic situation in the Gaza Strip is consistently deteriorating and the leadership there has no solution. The indirect cease-fire talks in Cairo are stalled because of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and all efforts to find a way around him have failed. Abbas was the one who vetoed a plan to ship more fuel to Gaza (with Israel’s approval and funding from Qatar), thus increasing the number of hours of electricity for residents. The Fatah leader is trying to bring Hamas to its knees.
Two Palestinans were killed during Friday clashes with IDF forces near the Gaza border security fence on Friday, Palestinian media reports.
Palestinian reports claim 124 protesters were injured, 18 by IDF sniper fire.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that a reporter and a paramedica are among those injured.
Around 20,000 protesters riot near the security fence between the Gaza strip and Israel on Friday and dozens of explosive devices reportedly thrown at IDF soldiers, no injuries were reported.
The protesters throw rocks at IDF soldiers and set fire to tires, IDF spoksperson stated.
The security fence area between the Gaza strip and Israel was declared a closed military zone by the IDF, Maariv reports on Friday.
Additional IDF forces in the area have been deployed ahead of the Friday protests Palestinians call “March of Return”, now entering their seventh month.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been sidelined, isolated and humiliated by the Trump administration. But the embattled Palestinian leader may have the final say in determining the fate of the White House’s long-awaited vision for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
In recent weeks, Abbas has thwarted a series of internationally backed initiatives aimed at rehabilitating the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. With Gaza expected to be the centerpiece of the US peace plan, Abbas has given himself a virtual veto over the expected American initiative. The deadlock over Gaza appears to be a key reason behind the repeated delays in unveiling the plan.
“The US is trying to use the humanitarian situation in Gaza as a tool to implement its plan,” said Mohammed Ishtayeh, a top Palestinian official. “We say that Gaza is an integral part of the Palestinian lands, and solving the problems of Gaza should be in the context of a broad political framework.”
For all of its talk about bringing a new approach to Middle East diplomacy, the Trump White House is running into a familiar obstacle that has confounded its predecessors and the international community for over a decade: the Hamas group’s continued control over Gaza.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman celebrated the holidays of the Hebrew month of Tishrei in Israel with a broad smile.
Ambassador Friedman was surrounded by his family, many grandchildren who were looking for his closeness, until the start of our interview, and afterward. He received an embrace wherever he went, including in the Western Wall plaza where he arrived on Sukkot for the traditional priestly blessing.
A significant change has occurred in US-Israeli relation in the year-and-a-half since Ambassador Friedman assumed his position. In the past year alone, the Trump Administration has relocated the US embassy to Jerusalem, withdrawn from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, cut funding to the Palestinian Authority over its payments to terrorists, and cut funding to UNRWA, in addition to standing by Israel in international forums.
Ambassador Friedman said that American support for Zionism dates back hundreds of years. “There is a long historical connection between the United States and Israel that goes back to May 14, 1948. And even beforehand, when Israel was being conceived, even. It goes back to the pilgrims, when they came to the United States and thought they were creating the new Jerusalem and prayed that they would have the support of the G-d of Israel. The entire 19th century is full of Christian Zionists who sought to advance the return of the Jews to the land of Israel.”
The lack of international moral clarity was never more clearly defined than at the UN meeting in New York City on Tuesday. When US President Donald Trump spoke of the progress that he has made in his time in office, the assembly laughed derisively. The reason is quite easy to identify. He has clearly aligned himself with America’s trusted ally, Israel.
The president took a stand against a decades-long policy of not recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; he authorized the move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City. In his speech, he said:
“America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again.”
Trump has also defunded the UN agency on Palestinian refugees. To some UN member nations that rally behind the Palestinians, it is a politically correct way of hating Israel and assisting those who seek her obliteration.
He has also decreased funding to the Palestinian Authority over its response to the recognition of Jerusalem. The president is in favor of reducing foreign aid for those countries which openly belittle the US while accepting her dollars. Trump said: “Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends.”
Israel at the center of the UN General Assembly 73rd
The Trump administration has pulled the United States out of an amendment to the Vienna Convention to keep the Palestinians from suing the US government at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
“The president has decided that the United States will withdraw from the optional protocol and dispute resolution to the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations,” US National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “This is in connection with a case brought from the so-called State of Palestine naming the United States as a defendant, challenging our move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
Bolton said the US will remain party to the underlying Vienna treaty, but that it will review all international agreements that could still expose the country to ICJ resolutions.
Our actions today deal with the treaties and current litigation involving the United States before the International Court of Justice,” he said. “Given this history, and Iran’s abuse of the ICJ, we will commence a review of all international agreements that may still expose the United States to purported binding jurisdiction and dispute resolution in the International Court of Justice.”
He added: “The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us.”
Despite the United States recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December and relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv in May, 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. “We have not changed our practice regarding place of birth on passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad at this time.”
A group of 55 House Republicans sent a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump several weeks ago, urging him to instruct the State Department to permit American citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their birth country on their passport.
“Despite the progress in moving the embassy, the State Department has not yet fully implemented the administration’s policy of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for purposes of registration of birth, certification of nationality, or issuance of a passport of a United States citizen born in the city of Jerusalem,” the letter stated.
A bank in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia sent $43,720 to the Islamic terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Germany’s best-selling paper Bild reported on Thursday that the bank, which was not named, sent the money in February to the US- and EU-designated terrorist entity Hamas because the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) did not swiftly crackdown on the transfer.
The Bild wrote that the bank reported the suspicious transaction on February 23 to the FIU, an anti-money laundering unit of the customs agency.
Two months later on April 23, the FIU forwarded the case to the public prosecutor. The reaction from the authorities was too late, according to the newspaper. After the transaction was completed, the remaining balance in the Hamas account was roughly $124.
Free Democratic Party politician Christian Dürr told Bild that: “Across Germany, terrorism is being financed in the Middle East. The deficits in the FIU must finally be eliminated.”
Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian teenager jailed for assaulting an Israeli soldier, says that she supports violence against Jews and seeks the destruction of Israel.
And I believe that groups such as J Street, which have defended Tamimi and claimed that she is non-violently resisting “the Israeli occupation of the West Bank,” owe the Jewish community an apology for refusing to believe her.
When Tamimi was arrested last December for assaulting an Israeli soldier, some on the Jewish left leaped to her defense. J Street president Jeremy-Ben Ami wrote an op-ed arguing that Israel has been “illegally taking over” the land of her village, and that her assault of the Israeli soldier “results quite naturally … from the human impulse to resist injustice against one’s community and family.”
The J Street website posted an essay by a Washington, DC rabbi named Hannah Goldstein, declaring that that she could “understand why” Tamimi’s father sent her and her siblings to throw rocks at Jews since “under occupation, their opportunities are limited” and “putting children [or allowing them to put themselves] in harm’s way for the sake of greater change seems worth the risk.”
But as soon as Tamimi finished her jail sentence, she began issuing statements making it clear that for her, the issue is not the village’s land, but rather the very existence of Israel. And far from being some kind of Palestinian Gandhi, she supports terrorism and terrorists.
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi this week hosted Palestinian Arab teen Ahed Tamimi, who was jailed in Israel late last year after she was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier during a protest of leftists and Palestinian Arabs in her town of Nabi Saleh.
According to Yediot Aharonot, the meeting between Tamimi and Essbesi took place on Tuesday, the 33rd anniversary of Operation Wooden Leg, in which Israeli Air Force planes bombed the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) headquarters in Tunisia.
“Hosting Tamimi symbolizes Tunisia’s recognition of the just Palestinian struggle and its place in the heart of the Tunisian people,” President Essebsi was quoted as saying.
The Tunisian President emphasized his country’s support of the Palestinians and recognition of the Palestinian fight to establish a sovereign state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
Abbas’s Advisor: Women’s Mental Nature Cannot Yield Authentic Testimony in Some Legal Cases
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, was interviewed on Palestine TV on September 8, 2018. Al-Habbash said that in some cases, a woman’s legal testimony might not be enough because her “mental nature cannot yield an authentic testimony.” He said that men are naturally inclined to intervene in crimes such as murder, but that women are inclined to cover their eyes to avoid seeing the terrible sight. Al-Habbash also said that men’s psychological and physical nature inclines them to take a “long hard look and check things out” when witnessing acts of fornication, while women are likely to avert their gaze due to their modesty and chastity.
Jordanian Prof: Tzipi Livni Had Rabbi’s Permission to Serve Israel by Sleeping with Arab Leaders
Professor Ahmad Nofal, who teaches Islamic law at the University of Jordan, said that former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had admitted to having been “issued a religious ruling” by Israel’s Chief Rabbi to “[serve] the State of Israel and the Lord” by having sex with Arab leaders. Saying that Livni had “been around the block,” Nofal also said that Israeli journalist Tamar Golan had done these “acts of depravity” before Livni, and that she had been with Qadhafi, Al-Assad, and Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Professor Nofal added that the global superpowers, including Israel, America, and Europe, are “very interested” in spreading alcohol, drugs, adultery, and other forms of depravity in order to weaken and disintegrate Arab society. Nofal made his remarks on Jordan’s Yarmouk TV on August 3, 2018.
Jordan on Thursday received over $1 billion in financial aid from three key Gulf backers as part of a broader package to help ease an economic crisis, a government source said, according to an AFP report.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait in June offered a $2.5-billion lifeline to Amman after a wave of protests which resulted in King Abdullah II replacing Prime Minister Hani Mulki.
Finance ministers from the three countries officially signed off on the June commitments at a meeting in Amman on Thursday, state news agency Petra reported.
“Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have both deposited $333.3 million with the central bank, while Kuwait has transferred $500 million,” the Jordanian government source said.
Cash-strapped Jordan, a close US ally that relies heavily on donors, has struggled to curb its debt since securing a $723-million loan from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
Austerity measures tied to the IMF loan saw prices of basic necessities rise across the kingdom — culminating in angry demonstrations over tax proposals which ultimately ended with the Prime Minister’s resignation.
The root corruption of the nuclear deal that the Obama administration reached with Iran in July 2015 was not only that Iran got to keep its nuclear facilities but that President Barack Obama didn’t insist on truly intrusive international supervision of what goes on deep inside them.
After all, Iran had clandestinely crossed every red line set by the West over 20 years – putting nuclear plants online, building heavy water facilities, refining uranium, working on explosive triggers and warheads and generally breaching all its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – and Iran got away with it.
It lied, formally and repeatedly, to the international community about its nuclear efforts.
So “anywhere, anytime” international inspections of Iran’s secret-most nuclear and military facilities were the minimum prerequisite for a verifiable deal. Obama said so himself, but then reneged on this.
Under the terms of the P5+1 agreement with the ayatollahs (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), U.N. inspectors were given the right only to “coordinate” their visits to suspect Iranian sites, “in consultation between Iran and the world powers.” Worse still, Iran was given the right to deny and challenge U.N. requests to send inspectors to suspicious sites. In these cases, an arbitration board composed of Iran and the powers would decide on the issue. This allows Tehran time to cover up any sign of noncompliance with its commitments.
Hanging on a wall in John Bolton’s West Wing office is a memento of his proudest achievement as national security adviser: a framed copy of President Donald Trump’s order to pull the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Right next to it hangs a cartoon mocking the agreement.
Bolton’s choice of decor reflects his disdain for the deal secured by President Barack Obama and other world powers in 2015, and his relentless focus on trying to isolate Tehran and cripple its economy by reimposing tight sanctions.
Bolton took over as national security adviser in early April. A month later, Trump abandoned the Iran deal, meeting a promise he had made as a presidential candidate, which other wary West Wing advisers had persuaded him to put off.
Bolton changed that dynamic quickly. In an interview with Reuters, he said he reassured Trump that his instincts were right and that he could ignore the pleas and warnings of moderates and European allies to stay in the deal.
“It’s not the end of the world,” Bolton said he told Trump in arguing for withdrawal from the pact. “The Western alliance is not going to fall apart.”
Proud of his role in the policy shift, Bolton said he believes the reimposition of sanctions is already heaping pressure on Iran’s leaders.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser on Thursday unveiled the administration’s long-awaited counterterrorism strategy, delivering it with harsh words for Iran.
Calling Iran the “world’s central banker of international terrorism since 1979,” John Bolton said the strategy will rely on traditional military action to fight terrorists, but also seek increased emphasis on nonmilitary means to battle not only Islamic State terrorists but those backed by Iran and other groups.
“We recognize that there’s a terrorist ideology that we’re confronting, and I think it’s long been the president’s view that without recognizing that we’re in an ideological struggle, we can’t properly address the terrorist threat,” Bolton said.
In line with the Trump administration’s “America First” policy, the strategy also calls for sharing the burden and expense of fighting terrorism with allies.
“The strategy also places greater emphasis on protecting the homeland, preventing attacks, and mitigating the impact of an attack, should one occur,” Bolton said.
This is the first U.S. strategy on counterterrorism since Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, issued his strategy in 2011, but it has similar themes to those compiled by previous administrations.
The deputy commander of Iran’s revolutionary guards warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to “practice swimming in the Mediterranean” because he would be forced to abandon his country.
“I tell the prime minister of the Zionist regime to practice swimming in the Mediterranean because soon you will have no choice, but flee into the sea,” Brigadier-General Hossein Salami said, according to the ultraconservative news website Fars news.
Speaking at a rally of the volunteer Basij militia in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, Salami said Israel could be destroyed by Iran’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
“They are not at the level of being a threat for us, Hezbollah is enough for destroying them,” he said.
Iran has supplied the Lebanese terror group with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles.
His comments echo the repeated threats of Israel’s enemies to drive Israel into the sea and wipe out the Jewish state.
The French government appeared to contradict its own policy this week by freezing the assets of an Iranian ministry and two individuals connected to a foiled terrorist attack on a June meeting of a dissident group near Paris. Austria-based Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi was among those arrested for plotting to bomb the event, which, parenthetically, was attended by Trump administration lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The scheme reportedly was masterminded by Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, Iran’s director general of intelligence.
“[Actions of] such extreme seriousness on French territory could not be let go without a response,” a joint statement issued by France’s foreign affairs, interior and economic ministries read in part. “[We have] taken preventive, proportionate and targeted measures…[to] reiterate [our] determination to fight terrorism.”
Notably, the announcement coincided with a massive police operation targeting a Shiite Muslim “club” named the Centre Zahra France, whose leaders are accused of having ties to Tehran’s Lebanese proxy Hizbullah as well as to Iranian sleeper cells in the country.
Thereafter, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian suggested that the developments “confirm the need for a tough approach in our relations with Iran.”
Except that France’s decision to sanction Iranian officials—including Assadi, who is set to be extradited to Belgium for prosecution—was made one week after Paris signed off on the creation of a “special purpose vehicle” geared towards circumventing renewed American financial penalties on the Iranian regime. Indeed, the government of President Emmanuel Macron committed to “assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran,” possibly by setting up a mechanism to barter European goods for Iranian oil.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has a solution for all the #MeToo angst — the hijab.
A video he tweeted Wednesday ran through a number of prominent American women describing their experiences of assault.
Aly Raisman, the Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast, is shown at the start of the 2-minute video. The clip then segues into her testimony at the sentencing of the Olympic team doctor, Larry Nassar, who molested dozens of women and girls. After that, Khamenei is shown speaking about how wearing a hijab can protect women from “deviation” (translation: being assaulted) and how Islam does not allow sexual abuse or violence against women.
Her starring role might come as a surprise to Raisman, a proud Jew who first rose to prominence competing to the sounds of “Hava Nagila.” She also favored a moment of silence for the Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics and lit the torch — in Jerusalem — for the 2013 Maccabiah Games.
She has also become a leading voice in the #MeToo movement following her testimony at Nassar’s trial went viral. Earlier this year, Raisman made her case for women’s ownership of their bodies by posing in the nude.
Turkey to continue occupation of Syrian territories with 500 villages. “Turkey is prepared to, in a sense, quasi-annex this region,” says Syria expert Joshua Landis.
• UN resolutions on Turkish occupation: 0
• Campus campaigns: 0
• Corbyn speeches: 0https://t.co/5vJth41Ju5
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) October 4, 2018
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