April 6, 2020

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10/06 Links Pt1: Obama’s confusion about the ‘occupation’ of Palestinian land; Air Force pilot dies while ejecting from his fighter jet


From Ian:

Obama’s confusion about the ‘occupation’ of Palestinian land
The president would probably be aghast if he were told that ‘the United States cannot permanently occupy Mexican land.’ Can ‘occupation’ lead to peaceful accommodation?
Moshe_Arens_cropped-150×150“Israel cannot permanently occupy Palestinian land,” said Barack Obama in his speech at the United Nations last month. By Palestinian land he presumably meant Judea and Samaria, the territory between the Jordan River and the lines delineated by Israel and Jordan in April 1949, in an armistice that followed Jordan’s participation in the combined Arab attack on Israel in 1948. Maybe he was also referring to the Gaza Strip, although that region is now under the rule of Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization, and there is no Israeli presence there.
Was it Palestinian land that Jordan annexed after the conclusion of the armistice with Israel? Nobody made that claim at the time, nor during the following 18 years when Jordan held that area.
Did it suddenly become Palestinian land only after Jordan joined Egypt and Syria in their war against Israel in 1967 and was forced to withdraw from the area? Or was it Palestinian land all along, while the Palestinian claim was left in abeyance as long as Jordan ruled the area and sprang to life only after the Jordanian army was defeated?
There is clearly some ambiguity about the Palestinian title to this area. Many Palestinians say Israeli “occupation” is not limited to Judea and Samaria, but also includes the State of Israel itself.
The Palestinian claim is obviously not consistent with the terms of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine of 1922, which recognized the historical connection between the Jewish people and Palestine and called for close settlement of Jews on the land. So maybe the fact that the majority of the population living in the area east of the 1949 armistice lines is Palestinian is sufficient to claim title to the land, a claim that was not pressed during Jordan’s tenure?
Actually, this isn’t the only area on the globe whose ownership is in dispute. Obama would probably be aghast if he were told by someone that “the United States cannot permanently occupy Mexican land.” Yes, much of the United States – California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Texas – is territory captured during the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, in a war of aggression. It was a war waged under the banner of “Manifest Destiny” – America’s destiny to extend its possessions to the Pacific Ocean.

Eugene Kontorovich: Palestine, Uti Possidetis Juris, and the Borders of Israel

Israel’s borders and territorial scope are a source of seemingly endless debate. Remarkably, despite the intensity of the debates, little attention has been paid to the relevance of the doctrine of uti possidetis juris to resolving legal aspects of the border dispute. Uti possidetis juris is widely acknowledged as the doctrine of customary international law that is central to determining territorial sovereignty in the era of decolonization. The doctrine provides that emerging states presumptively inherit their pre-independence administrative boundaries.
Applied to the case of Israel, uti possidetis juris would dictate that Israel inherit the boundaries of the Mandate of Palestine as they existed in May, 1948. The doctrine would thus support Israeli claims to any or all of the currently hotly disputed areas of Jerusalem (including East Jerusalem), the West Bank, and even potentially the Gaza Strip (though not the Golan Heights).

Israel rejects US criticism, says no new settlements planned

Israel on Wednesday rejected harsh criticism from the United States over West Bank building, saying that the controversial construction newly authorized is not a new settlement.
“The 98 housing units approved in Shiloh do not constitute a ‘new settlement’,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shiloh and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint.”
The US State Department earlier issued a biting condemnation of Israeli plans to expand the northern West Bank settlement. The new construction will house the residents of Amona, an illegal outpost scheduled for demolition on the orders of the Supreme Court.
Israel approved the construction of the new housing units to compensate homeowners of Amona ahead of its court-ordered evacuation. The plan calls for two phases of construction, with a further 200 units to be approved after the first round of 98 homes is completed.
The Foreign Ministry also reiterated Israel’s stance that the settlements are not the main cause of the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.

Major Jewish Group Blasts White House for Refusing to Recognize Jewish State Sovereignty by Crossing Out ‘Israel’ on Transcript of Obama Eulogy at Peres Funeral in Jerusalem

The head of a major Jewish Organization criticized the White House for crossing out the name of the Jewish state from the heading of the transcript of US President Barack Obama’s eulogy at elder statesman Shimon Peres’ funeral on September 30, after an initial press release cited “Jerusalem, Israel” as the location of the speech.
In a statement on Wednesday, the head of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) expressed outrage over the action.
“Mount Herzl cemetery is located in the western part of Jerusalem – an area that has been part of the state of Israel since the nation’s rebirth,” ZOA President Morton A. Klein wrote. “The Obama administration’s ‘corrected’ release excising Jerusalem, and especially Mount Herzl [where Peres was buried], from Israel, is simply wrong and hurtful,” Klein wrote. “Mount Herzl cemetery is located in the western part of Jerusalem – an area that has been part of the state of Israel since the nation’s rebirth.”
Klein also noted similar instances in which the Obama administration went to “extreme lengths to obliterate the reality of Israel’s rights and sovereignty,” including the State Department’s refusal to allow “Israel” to be listed on the US passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem, and its omission of the Jewish and/or Israeli identity of American victims of Palestinian terrorism from official condolence letters, as well as failing to name the Jewish/Israeli locations of the attacks in which they were killed.

US rebuke of settlement plans ‘disproportionate,’ minister charges

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Thursday a harsh US condemnation of Israeli building plans in the West Bank was “disproportionate,” and she called for increased settlement construction.
On Wednesday, Obama administration officials upbraided Israel for plans to build nearly 100 housing units in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh to compensate homeowners in the nearby outpost of Amona ahead of its court-ordered evacuation and demolition.
Shaked, from the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, said the US should focus its condemnation on Syria “rather than criticizing where Israel builds houses.”
“When the Middle East is in flames, when on the borders of Jordan and Syria dozens of men, women and children are slaughtered,” making a statement like this “over a decision by the Defense Ministry to build a few dozen homes for the residents of Amona is completely out of proportion,” she told Army Radio.
“I think we need to build in Judah and Samaria,” she said, using the biblical term for the West Bank.

IsraellyCool: Sick Of State’s Sanctimonious Settlement Screeching

Another day another mindless condemnation from the failed Obama Administration’s State Department.
We strongly condemn the Israeli government’s recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank.
Proceeding with this new settlement, which could include up to 300 units, would further damage the prospects for a two state solution.

Aside from the fact that even those two sentences are riddled with factual errors (I know, it’s hard to believe they could get so much wrong in under 50 words) these stern condemnations are getting tired.
It’s not about the settlements. It’s not about the “green line”. That’s over. The failed Oslo Process is dead. Shimon Peres was a great man who achieved so many great things for Israel: even he couldn’t make the Arabs accept Israeli Jews living anywhere in Israel in peace. Perhaps we can move on and say it can’t be done?

Saudi Arabia unblocks online access to ‘The Jerusalem Post’

After years without reliable verification, a Saudi Arabian journalist confirmed on Monday that Saudis can now access The Jerusalem Post online from inside the Kingdom.
A reader in Saudi Arabia also wrote on Twitter on Monday that he can now access the site from there on his mobile device.
It is unclear when the Kingdom stopped censoring JPost.com, but it apparently blocked access to the site beginning in May 2013. The Post features extensive coverage of Saudi Arabia and its role in the Middle East peace process.
“Traffic in the Kingdom actually went back up in summer of 2014,” Ilan Yogev, the Post’s content collaboration manager said on Wednesday, adding he has not seen any change to suggest that something is different in recent months.
Ahmed Abdel-Raheem is an Egyptian artist and PhD student and lecturer at Al-Lith College for Girls at Saudi Arabia’s Um Al-Qura University.

JPost Editorial: Why do the British royals refrain from official state visits to Israel?

Much ado has been made of the private visit by England’s Prince Charles to his grandmother’s grave in Jerusalem following his attendance at the funeral of Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth president, last week.
What should have been seen as a simple act of filial piety was placed instead in a different historical context, that of the alleged sensitivity of the Princess of Battenburg’s final resting place at the convent of Saint Mary Magdalene on the Mount of Olives.
It was alleged, for example, that the royal family has refrained from visiting the site because of its location in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and its desire to remain neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The fact that the British Consulate is located in east Jerusalem has never been cited as a danger to British neutrality. Similarly, the Commonwealth Cemetery on Mount Scopus housing the remains of British soldiers from World War I regularly commemorates their sacrifice.
And as far as neutrality goes, Charles had no problem attending the Peres funeral on Mount Herzl, which the Palestinian narrative lays claim to no less than to Tel Aviv and the rest of the “occupation.”
Princess Alice of Greece was an outstanding example of courage and compassion. She was recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations for giving shelter to Jews in Nazi-occupied Athens.

Air Force pilot dies while ejecting from his fighter jet

An Israeli Air Force pilot was killed Wednesday after ejecting from his F-16 fighter jet while attempting to land at the Ramon air base in southern Israel, the army said.
The pilot was named as Maj. Ohad Cohen Nov, a deputy squadron commander. He was 34 and lived at the Ramon base.
The navigator in the plane also ejected and was lightly injured, the army said in a statement. He was taken to hospital.
The Ynet news site said the jet was returning from an attack on the Gaza Strip. Israeli warplanes hit targets in Gaza after a rocket fired from the coastal enclave struck Sderot.
According to Palestinian media, Israeli jets hit targets in both the al-Tufah neighborhood of Gaza City in the northern Strip and in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. According to Channel 2 television, the targets included Hamas rocket stockpiles.
The army said it was not immediately clear what caused the two to eject and that Air Force commander Major General Amir Eshel ordered an investigation into the deadly crash.

Expert says pilot’s fatal decision to jettison plane was the right thing to do

The Israeli Air Force published on Thursday morning its initial findings regarding the F-16I crash landing on Wednesday, which resulted in the death of Deputy Squadron Commander Maj. Ohad Cohen Nov.
Maj. Nov and his navigator, who survived the incident, were attempting to land after conducting an airstrike on the Gaza Strip.
Aharon Lapidot, a flight expert who served in the IAF, spoke to Israeli Radio station 103 FM Thursday morning regarding the findings. “The landing would have been difficult and complex, as the aircraft was not balanced,” he said, before adding that he was sure Maj. Nov appreciated this as it appears that he had pulled out of a first landing before attempting a second, fatal landing at the Ramon airbase in southern Israel. The F-16I caught fire before exploding, killing Maj. Nov.
“The weight on one side was greater than the other side due to a bomb remaining on one of the wings. The lack of balance makes it very hard to land. The plane needs to land with both wings parallel to the ground… the plane will naturally lean to the heavier wing,” Lapidot said.
Lapidot added that if Maj. Nov felt that it was impossible to save the aircraft, then deciding to eject was the correct decision. “In that case, first the navigator ejects and then the pilot. There is a difference of a second between them, but it appears this was the fateful second.”

IDF strikes Hamas target in Gaza following mortar attack

An IDF tank attacked a Hamas outpost in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday in response to a mortar shell fired at southern Israel earlier in the day, the army said.
Reports within the Gaza Strip also indicated that Israeli forces struck a site in central Gaza, east of the Bureij refugee camp, though that was not immediately confirmed by the IDF.
There were no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries.
Earlier in the day, a mortar shell fired from Gaza struck an open field in the Eshkol region, the army said.
It was the second such attack by Palestinians in two days.
On Wednesday, a rocket hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot and exploded in the middle of a street, causing some damage to the road, cars and nearby homes. Three people were hospitalized after suffering anxiety attacks.

With reprisal campaign, Israel looks to put ‘strategic’ dent in Hamas

A major Israeli bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip Wednesday targeted strategic Hamas positions seen as important to the group’s operations, a military official said, while maintaining that Israel would continue to strike the ruling terror group in response to rocket attacks carried out by other groups in the Palestinian enclave.
The strikes, which comprised some two dozen bombings according to some reports, came after a missile fired from Gaza slammed into a street in the Israeli town of Sderot, causing damage and sending three people to the hospital to be treated for anxiety. There were no reports of Palestinian casualties in the Israeli raids.
A fringe Salafist group took responsibility for the rocket attack.
The army would not specify on record which Hamas sites were hit in the retaliatory strikes. In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces would only say its aircraft targeted “a number of terror installations belonging to the Hamas terror group.”
A military official, speaking to the Times of Israel on condition of anonymity Thursday, said the strikes targeted “key Hamas strategic infrastructure,” without giving details.
The statement marked a departure from past Israeli reprisal attacks, which often took a tit-for-tat approach, targeting low-level Hamas sites.

After airstrikes, Hamas said to appeal to Israel for calm

Hamas has reportedly sent a message to Israel calling for calm and saying the terrorist group was not interested in a further escalation of tensions, following IDF airstrikes on its installations in the Gaza Strip Wednesday in response to a rocket attack from Gaza on the Israeli city of Sderot earlier in the day.
A Hamas official said the group told Israel it would not allow other terrorist groups within Gaza to further inflame the situation, according to Israel Radio.
He said that the group passed on the message via a third party, Israel Radio reported.
“From our perspective, the incident is over,” the Hamas official reportedly said.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office could not confirm or deny that Israel had received a message from Hamas.
The Islamic State-affiliated Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group took responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket launch. The Salafist group said in a statement that attack on Sderot was a response to Hamas’s arrest of several members of the Salafist organization, according to the group’s statement.

NGO Monitor: Background: Funding for the “Women’s Boat to Gaza” Flotilla

On October 5, 2016, a group of activists under the banner of the “Freedom Flotilla Coalition” approached Gaza by boat in an attempt to break the blockade and instigate a confrontation with the Israeli Navy. The Coalition includes the following groups: Ship to Gaza-Sweden, Ship to Gaza-Norway, Canadian Boat to Gaza, Freedom Flotilla-Italy, Palestine Solidarity Alliance-South Africa, Rumbo a Gaza-Spain, International Committee to Break the Siege of Gaza, US Boat to Gaza, Kia Ora Gaza – New Zealand/Aotearoa, and Free Gaza Australia.
NGO Monitor research shows a variety of mechanisms for financing this flotilla:
1) The Women’s Boat to Gaza Generosity funding page – As of October 5, 2016, only $3,063 has been raised to purchase a second boat (following engine troubles). This is only 5% of the stated goal of $66,948 to be raised by September 23. This crowdfunding page was initiated by the Ship to Gaza-Sweden.
2) Women’s Boat to Gaza- US Campaign – Lists Nonviolence International as its “fiscal sponsor” and claims to have raised $27,700.76. Nonviolence International is a registered 501(c) (3) and is “closely affiliated” with the Holy Land Trust, Interfaith Peace-Builders, and others. Nonviolence International does not list donors or amounts, reflecting a lack of transparency and accountability.

Gaza-bound female flotilla meets Israel’s female combat soldiers

As the passengers aboard the all-female flotilla ship the Zaytouna-Oliva neared Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, they were met by Israeli Navy soldiers ready to escort them to Ashdod, however not just any Navy soldiers. The Navy sent both female and male navy combat soldiers to escort the boat to Ashdod, according to an IDF spokesperson.
In Israel, seeing a female combat soldier is not all that unusual – women are eligible for 92% of the IDF’s jobs. According to the IDF, in 2014 roughly 40% of the army was made up of women, including 4% serving in combat roles.
According to Yehudit Ilani, spokeswoman for MK Haneen Zoabi, who was originally on the flotilla boat, in the past the navy has also brought female soldiers. Ilani got off the boat in Italy, for what she described as logistical reasons.
Ilani claimed that female soldiers don’t necessarily mean “better service.”
She also said that when the IDF brought the female combat soldiers in the past, the treatment was often more serious.
Not much is known what has happened to the women aboard the flotilla since the IDF escorted them to the post of Ashdod.
The IDF stated that they took over the boat once it was clear that the women would not willingly sail to Ashdod and the process was quick with no casualties.

Erekat blasts Israel for takeover of flotilla

Saeb Erekat, the secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee, blasted Israel on Wednesday evening for taking over the women’s flotilla which attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza.
In a statement, Erekat strongly condemned what he called the Israeli “aggression” against the “freedom flotilla” which, he said, tried to break the “illegal” Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza.
Israel does not allow entry of ships to Gaza for security reasons, fearing that Hamas and other terrorist organizations will use these ships to acquire weapons.
As an alternative, goods and humanitarian aid can be transferred to Gaza through the Ashdod Port and are supervised by Israel.
Erekat in his statement declared that the Palestinians are proud of and applaud the International Solidarity Movement which supports the demands of the Palestinian people, and are particularly proud of the women’s flotilla which included members of parliament, writers and human rights activists.
He demanded that Israel immediately release the women who took part in the flotilla, and called on the governments of Spain, Sweden, Norway, Australia and Canada to intervene immediately to prevent Israel from harming the rights of their citizens.

Hezbollah cell planned to blow up IDF soldiers, but lost its bombs

Israel’s security forces arrested six Arab Israelis suspected of planning terror attacks against civilians with explosive devices they obtained from the Hezbollah terror group but later lost, the Shin Bet security service announced.
The case had been kept under a gag order since the suspects’ arrests in September, but it was cleared for publication on Thursday as indictments were filed against the men in a Northern District court in Nazareth.
The six suspects have been accused — to varying degrees — of planning to carry out terror attacks in northern Israel and of selling drugs, the Shin Bet said.
A seventh man, Maher Harbawi from the Druze town of Yarka, was also arrested, but is only suspected of selling drugs and not taking part in the cell’s terrorist activities.
The ringleader of the cell was named as Diab Kahmouz, a resident of Ghajar, whose father — an alleged drug dealer — fled to Lebanon in 2006 after being indicted for his aforementioned activities and is believed to have made the connection between his son and Hezbollah, according to the indictment.
Two of Diab’s brothers, Yusuf and Jamil, were also arrested for their involvement in the alleged bombing plot, along with two of his cousins, Muhsen Kahmouz and Mamdouh Ibrahim, and a friend, Adel Aweinat.

Palestinians arrested for pipe bomb attacks at Rachel’s Tomb

A group of Palestinian teens, including at least one minor, was arrested this week for planning and carrying out a series of attacks on the Rachel’s Tomb holy site in northern Bethlehem, the army said Thursday.
Seven suspects from the Aida refugee camp were detained in a number of joint operations by the IDF, Israel Police and Border Police, according to an army statement. They were all between the ages of 16 and 18.
During an initial interrogation, all seven admitted to planning and carrying out a number of attacks using improvised explosive devices and rock throwing, the statement said.
They are also accused of buying materials with the intent of making pipe bombs and coordinating plans to set them off at the holy site.
Rachel’s Tomb is believed to be the burial place of the Biblical matriarch Rachel. It is holy to Jews, Christians, Muslims and members of other world religions.
The site is in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem but is surrounded by high walls and closely guarded by the IDF. A heavily fortified road used by pilgrims connects the enclave to Jerusalem.

Security Tightened Around Abbas Following Participation In Peres Funeral

The Palestinian Presidential Guard has upped security measures for President Mahmoud Abbas following his participation in former Israeli President Shimon Peres’ funeral last week.
The Palestinian media reported that “surprising changes” were introduced to Abbas’ security apparatus “in the wake of threats made against the president.”
Abbas’ critics, such as the blogger Fadi Salameen, said they had been contacted by members of the Presidential Guard who said that the alert had been raised, and that some members were suspended on suspicion that they may harm the president.
Writing to his 600,000 followers on Facebook, Salamin quoted a Presidential Guard official as saying that two suspects have been arrested for firing at Abbas’ residence, and will be charged with plotting to kill the president. According to the official, a gag order has been imposed.
A senior Abbas staffer confirmed to Breitbart Jerusalem that security measures have been stepped up “in response to the growing incitement against him,” but the president’s agenda remains unchanged.

Palestinian woman sentenced to death by hanging in Gaza

A court in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday sentenced a Palestinian woman to death by hanging after she was convicted of premeditated murder, Palestinian media reported.
The court in Gaza’s southern city of Khan Younis convicted the woman – identified only as N.A. – of killing her husband, Palestinian news agency Ma’an cited the prosecution as saying.
On January 30, the woman’s husband, 36-year-old Rabie Abu Anzeh was reportedly found dead in southern Gaza.
Further details of the legal proceedings were not reported.
Willful, premeditated murder, treason and collaboration with the enemy are punishable by death under Palestinian law.

Obama Admin Hiding Secret Hostage Docs Signed With Iranian Intel Officials

Key documents relating to the Obama administration’s secret negotiations with Iran, including a $1.7 billion cash payment, are being stored at a highly secure site on Capitol Hill, preventing the public and many in Congress from accessing them, according to multiple sources who described the situation to the Washington Free Beacon.
The documents are not technically classified but are being kept in a “secure reading space” where the majority of congressional officials cannot access them. Those cleared are forced to relinquish their cellular devices and are barred from taking notes, undermining the ability of staffers to brief their lawmakers on the contents, according to the sources.
Sources further disclosed that joint U.S.-Iranian signatures across the three documents add up to a package deal between Washington and Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, the country’s internal spy agency. Sources familiar with a closed-door January briefing by senior Obama administration officials told the Free Beacon they were informed the United States negotiated with “the Iranian intelligence apparatus.”
The terms of the arrangement—which was signed by Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk—had Iran releasing several U.S. hostages and obligated Washington to pay Tehran $1.7 billion in cash, removed international sanctions on a key financial node of Iran’s ballistic missile program, and dropped charges against 21 Iranian operatives linked to terrorism.
“There are three of them [agreements], and one specifically relates to the $1.7 billion [payment] and is a commitment of the U.S. to make arrangements to transfer the money,” said one congressional official familiar with the agreements.
A second document “lays out the commitments regarding Iranians that the U.S. was going to pardon, as well as the release of [imprisoned] Americans,” the source explained.

Iran’s Dual-Use Universities

But what about university exchanges and the idea of welcoming Iranian student into U.S. universities? Certainly, there’s something to be said for imbuing Iranian students—many of whom have been subjected to a steady stream of anti-American propaganda for the length of their schooling—into the reality of American life. It is also true that, prior to World War II, Iranians who studied in the United Kingdom tended to become Anglophiles, those educated in French universities tended to be Francophiles, and those learning in German universities returned to become apologists for if not proponents of Nazism.
But is embracing university exchanges and academic visas for Iranian students wise? As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton actively encouraged Iranian students to come to the United States and eased the visa regimen for them. Put aside the lack of reciprocity: American universities welcome thousands of Iranians, but Iranian universities do not welcome more than a handful of Americans and the Islamic Republic certainly is reticent to grant visas to American passport holders in anywhere near the same numbers that the Clinton and Kerry State Departments have given visas to Iranian passport-holders.
Consider the latest Iranian defense industry announcements. When the Iranian Minister of Defense is calling out ten universities for contributing to the research to help Iran build new jet engines. Ditto Iran’s ballistic and nuclear programs: There is no firewall between military and academic work at Iran’s top universities. In effect, U.S. universities are centers of learning first and foremost; their Iranian counterparts are dual use. Many of Iran’s scientists held university positions while working to expand the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ military capabilities. While the State Department theoretically monitors Iranian students, few are sent home for switching majors; the way the rules are written, it is not the job of universities to report Iranian students who begin studying sensitive fields and the Obama administration isn’t interested in enforcing the rules.

Will Iran nuke deal negotiators win the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize? (not satire)

Peace researchers dropped Colombia on Monday from a list of favorites for the Nobel Peace Prize after Colombians voted “No” in a referendum to an agreement to end a 52-year war with Marxist rebels.
Sunday’s surprise rejection of the accord, after criticism that it was too lenient to the rebels, improved chances for other Nobel candidates such as Russian human rights activists or brokers of Iran’s nuclear deal to take the peace award, they said.
“Colombia’s off any credible list,” Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute, Oslo, speaking to reporters about the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize that will be announced in Oslo on Friday at 0900 GMT.
President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC’s top commander Rodrigo Londono, better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko, had been widely tipped for the 8.0 million Swedish crown ($936,000) award before the referendum.
The prize has often gone to encouraging peace processes, such as in Northern Ireland in 1998, between Israelis and Palestinians in 1994 or even in Vietnam in 1973, but never in defiance of a popular vote.

Turkey’s Military Is Down over 100 Thousand Troops After Failed Coup

The purge of suspected supporters of the July 15 failed coup against Recep Tayyip Erdogan has left Turkey’s military down hundreds of thousands of men, including nearly 200 generals, just as Erdogan seeks an expanded role in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria.
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet compared the total number of military personnel on July 1, fourteen days before the failed coup attempt, to the most recent rosters of Turkish soldiers, and found a drop of 162,954 troops, including 157 fewer generals, in that time frame. The number of military personnel dropped from 518,166 to 355,212. The number of generals/admirals dropped from 358 to 2o1.
These dramatic numbers include sweeping arrests of military officials believed to be loyal to the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has blamed for organizing the coup attempt, as well as defections by soldiers who have fled the country due to their involvement. As the event unfolded, initial reports suggested the coup was a plot by Kemalist secularist soldiers attempting to thwart Erdogan’s plans of establishing an Islamist, Muslim Brotherhood-friendly dictatorship. Erdogan instead argued that it was Gulen, a cleric based in Pennsylvania, who had mobilized his followers to remove him. Gulen has denied any involvement in the affair.
Over 200 people, most Erdogan supporters, died during the coup attempt. In the month following the incident, Erdogan purged the military, the nation’s police forces, and schools of anyone suspected of being sympathetic to Gulen. By August, nearly 100,000 people had been either fired, detained, or arrested for ties to Gulen. Erdogan also shut down 131 media outlets, alleging that they were publishing news sympathetic to Gulen.

World Health Organization Links Falafel and Hummus to Religious Fanaticism (satire)

Only one year following the release of a report linking processed meat to cancer, the World Health Organization has unveiled a disturbing new study that examined the dietary habits of individuals from countries around the world and determined that people who consume a high amount of falafel and other chickpea-based food items are at significantly higher risk of being involved in an intractable religious or sectarian conflict.
“Our studies found that test subjects who consumed falafel or hummus three times a week or more were more likely to establish a caliphate, be beheaded due to their belief in a hidden imam, or live in a makeshift trailer in an illegal settlement outpost in the Judean hills out of a heartfelt believe that it’s the will of God,” the WHO noted in their report. “Anyone looking to reduce their risk of such outcomes is urged to consider eliminating ground chickpeas from their diet immediately.”
The revelation came as a shock to many falafel lovers, who were unaware of any connection between consumption of the Middle Eastern street food and religious radicalization.
“I always wondered why, after moving from London to Iraq, my interests began shifting from birdwatching and rap music to beheading Christians and Yazidis,” explained former ISIS member Jihadi John. “Now it all makes sense.”

Iraqi Transport Minister Kazem Finjan: 5,000-Year-Old Sumerian Airport Served for Space Travel

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