John Podhoretz: Settlements and the Smelling-Salts Brigade
More important is the argument that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision transgresses settled international law. Balderdash and poppycock. Yes, it is the general understanding of the panjandra of the Smelling Salts Elite that Israel’s “settlements” stand in the way of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and Pompeo himself acknowledged that certain settlement activity can be understood as a means of making agreements more difficult.
But difficult does not mean illegal.
The idea that the West Bank is “occupied territory” itself is based on a problematic reading of international law. As Eugene Kontorovich has said, “the relevant international law instruments speak only of people being ‘transferred or deported’ by an occupying power.” Israel has not deported anyone from the West Bank, nor has it “transported” people there in the sense of forcing its colonization. Israelis have chosen to move to the West Bank. You can interpret that fact broadly to suggest they have “transferred” themselves, but that will result in a Talmudic argument that will never come to a resolution.
If the law were settled, the anti-Semites and Israel-haters at the United Nations would not have felt the need to seek the passage of the infamous Resolution 2334 in December 2016—which declares settlement activity a violation of international law. This is the resolution that Barack Obama allowed to pass without a veto from the United States, because he just wasn’t going to leave office without blowing a childish raspberry at Bibi Netanyahu. It was the existence of this resolution that led the Trump State Department to initiate a study of the legal basis of the Israelis’ settlements—a study whose conclusion is that while the settlements might indeed be an obstacle to peace, that does not make them, as a legal matter, illegitimate.
So don’t listen to the caterwauling and the wailing and the gnashing of teeth. What Secretary Pompeo and the Trump administration have done is speak truth. Odd, isn’t it, how the simple telling of the truth is so agonizing to people who claim to be realists?
The U.S. has corrected its Middle East policy in an important way. The past legal determination that Israelis deciding to reside in the West Bank are doing so in violation of international law has always been deeply flawed.
It failed to recognize that the case of Israeli settlement construction was unique and was not what the drafters of international law had in mind when they first addressed this question. The original basis for judging the question of Israeli settlements was the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.
Morris Abram, who was the U.S. ambassador to the UN in Geneva, had been one of the drafters of the Fourth Geneva Convention. He wrote that its authors had in mind heinous crimes committed by Nazi Germany that included forcible evictions of Jewish populations for purposes of mass extermination in death camps in places like Poland. This plainly was not the case of Israeli settlements and it is utterly vile to even suggest that Israeli settlements should be thought of in this context.
It must be recalled that the last sovereign over the territory of the West Bank was the Ottoman Empire. After the First World War, the League of Nations in 1922 explicitly supported the “close settlement” of Jews in the territory of the British Mandate. Those historical rights of the Jewish people were preserved by Article 80 of the UN Charter.
Jordan seized the West Bank in 1949, yet even the Arab states refused to recognize its sovereignty there. In other words, there was no recognized sovereign over the West Bank prior to Israel’s entry into the area.
Finally, when Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, it acted in the framework of a war of self-defense.
Examining Politics Podcast: State Dept’s Brian Hook, Salena Zito, Victor Davis Hanson
U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Adviser for Middle East Peace Brian Hook explains today’s announcement from Sec. of State Mike Pompeo’s on a change in American policy regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Hook also comments on the recent demonstrations in Iran and Tehran’s violent reaction.
In [Pompeo’s] words, “calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace.” Of course it hasn’t. Placing a lie in the center of the discourse on the Palestinian conflict with Israel is no way to promote understanding and coexistence.
In the interest of promoting peace, Pompeo instead told the truth. Not only are Israeli settlements not illegal. Pompeo noted that they are arguably more justified than civilian settlements built in other disputed territories.
Pompeo’s statement, and indeed the Trump administration’s decision to publish its position now, represent a complete rebuke of the European Union. The EU has made its false determination that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegal as a [pretext] for its hostile, discriminatory, economic, and political policies towards Israel.
Israel’s own foreign ministry should take a lesson from the Trump administration. After a bitter, two-year bureaucratic and political fight, in 2017 Israel’s embassies worldwide published a paper that explained the legal validity of Israel’s settlements in Judea and Samaria. But unlike the Trump administration, the Israeli government has still not stated outright that international law is irrelevant to the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday: “The United States adopted an important policy that rights an historical wrong when the Trump administration clearly rejected the false claim that Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria are inherently illegal under international law. This policy reflects an historical truth – that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea.”
“Israel remains ready and willing to conduct peace negotiations with the Palestinians regarding all final status issues in an effort to achieve a durable peace but will continue to reject all arguments regarding the illegality of the settlements. Israel…calls upon all responsible countries who hope to advance peace to adopt a similar position.”
Israel’s rights in the West Bank did not originate with the 1967 Six-Day War. The Balfour Declaration issued by the British government in 1917 acknowledged the indigenous presence and historic aspirations of the Jewish people to reestablish their historic national home in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration received international legal acknowledgment and validity in a series of instruments, commencing with the 1920 San Remo Conference, and was subsequently approved by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922.
Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel attained control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) from Jordan. However, Jordan was not considered by the international community as having attained legitimate sovereign rights there following its 1950 unrecognized annexation of the areas. From the legal point of view, since there existed no legitimate sovereign power, the classic laws of occupation were not legally applicable.
The Oslo Accords created a legal regime that overrides any other previously applicable legal framework. The parties agreed that this arrangement would remain valid pending the outcome of negotiations between them. Despite attempts by the international community, through nonbinding political statements and resolutions in the UN, to prejudge the outcome of the negotiations by claiming that the territories are “occupied Palestinian territories,” there exists no such legally accepted determination.
Experts weighed in on the U.S. State Department’s announcement on Monday that the United States is softening its stance on Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.
It is a reversal of the 1978 State Department legal opinion, known as the Hansell Memorandum, that such neighborhoods are “inconsistent with international law.”
“Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” said Pompeo. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”
Eugene Kontorovich, director of the Center for International Law in the Middle East at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia School of Law, labeled Monday’s announcement as “a major development in U.S.-Israel relations” in that the Hansell Memorandum was “legally inaccurate and long-outdated.”
“The international-law arguments against settlements were devised solely for the case of Israel and have not been applied in any other situation,” he told JNS. “After 50 years, it is clear that these arguments do not reflect international law in practice, but rather a desire to put nice words on the argument that Jews should be banned from living in their homeland. Secretary Pompeo has torn the veil off these arguments.”
“The U.S. now correctly takes the position that Israel is not an occupying power in the West Bank, and Jews living in Judea and Samaria is not a war crime. This does not close the door to a two-state solution,” he continued. “It does mean the negotiations about such a solution will no longer begin from the premise that Israel has no claim to this land or stole it from the Palestinians. That false legal theory only served to harden Palestinian positions and make successful negotiations impossible.”
Moreover, he said, “proponents of the claim that international law regards settlements as illegal have always defended their position with the circular claim that the entire international community agrees with it. That claim can no longer be made with any seriousness.”
This is a paradigm-altering and inspired decision for which the Trump administration deserves effusive praise. It is manifestly correct on the black-letter international law merits, symbolic in its courageous defiance of the sclerotic groupthink of the ubiquitously anti-Semitic “international community,” and stakes out a bold moral starting point in the longstanding fight for Judea and Samaria — which is ground zero in the fight for Western civilization itself.
In many academic, legal, and political circles the world over, it is taken as something of an unassailable given that Israeli “settlements” built over the 1967 armistice line are illegal under well-established principles of international law. In reality, nothing could be further from the case. As legal academic Eugene Kontorovich has painstakingly pressed for years and as Elliott Hamilton once argued here at The Daily Wire, it is Israel that actually has the preeminent modern-day legal claim to the biblical Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria — a.k.a the “West Bank.”
Israel’s claim is based on the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations’ 1922 Mandate for Palestine, the San Remo Conference, U.N. Charter Article 80, the Arabs’ decision to refuse the U.N.’s November 1947 partition plan in lieu of attempting to commit genocidal jihad against the Jews, and Israel’s subsequent victories in the defensive wars against invading Arab foes in both 1967 and 1973. The lands that today constitute Judea and Samaria were never, ever in their entire history part of a sovereign state called “Palestine”; on the contrary, they were merely illegally occupied by the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan between Israel’s independence in 1948 and Israel’s miraculous victory in the Six Day War of 1967. Watch Kontorovich’s fuller explication of Israel’s clearly superior legal claim to Judea and Samaria:
Yet for all its black-letter legal correctness, the Trump administration’s decision is arguably even more indispensable for its pure symbolism. In reversing Obama presidency-era legal precedent and re-asserting the Reagan presidency-era belief that Israeli “settlements” are not legally problematic, the Trump administration has flipped two delectably brazen middle fingers at one of the most deeply held shibboleths of the leftist, Jew-hating “international community.” In left-leaning legal and political science academe circles, there is perhaps no more agreed-upon “truth” than the notion that Israel is an illegal “occupier” that flagrantly tramples all over Palestinian-Arabs’ rights to sovereignty and self-determination. The Trump administration has just taken a jackhammer to that golden calf of ivory tower idolatry — and it has done so less than a week after the European Union’s anti-Semitic decision to specifically label certain Israeli products made by Jews living in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. Bravo — truly.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that the Trump administration’s decision to no longer view Israeli settlements as illegal was “an achievement that will stand for generations.”
The premier made the comments during a celebratory visit to the West Bank just hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the softening of Washington’s settlement policy.
Pompeo at a Monday press conference declared that the US was relaxing its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that weaken Palestinian claims to statehood.
The secretary of state repudiated a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” Welcomed both by Netanyahu and his rival, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, the move angered Palestinians and immediately put the US at odds with other nations working to end the conflict.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his approval on Tuesday to advance a bill that would have Israel apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley after the US State Department reversed its stance of viewing Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.
Netanyahu called US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision “historic” during a visit to the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank, the day after the announcement, as the UN and others condemned it.
Likud MK Sharren Haskel proposed the annexation bill weeks ago, but decided to fast-track it in light of the change in US policy.
“The bill has the prime minister’s full backing,” Haskel said.
In the days before the September 17 election, Netanyahu announced that if re-elected, he would annex the Jordan Valley, and his cabinet voted to legalize the Mevo’ot Yeriho outpost in the Jordan Valley as a new settlement.
Haskel submitted a request to exempt her bill to annex the Jordan Valley from the mandatory six-week waiting period for any new legislation so that it can go to a vote in the plenum next week. The request will be subject to a vote in the Knesset Arrangements Committee, led by Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn while his party’s leader Benny Gantz has the mandate to build a government.
Haskel called on Blue and White, Yisrael Beytenu and Labor-Gesher to join the Likud’s efforts to annex the Jordan Valley, “in light of the one-time-only chance that we have before us” with US President Donald Trump’s administration.
“I call on them to stand behind their promises and words, and vote together with the Likud on applying sovereignty,” Haskel said. “There is no reason that this important bill won’t pass in the plenum with an 80-MK majority.”
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz similarly lauded the US decision announced by Pompeo.
“The fate of the settlements and the residents of Judea and Samaria should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote a peace that will serve both sides while reflecting the reality on the ground,” Gantz wrote in a tweet.
Moshe Ya’alon, who represents the most right-wing flank of Blue and White, also praised the decision.
Both the right-wing Netanyahu and centrist Gantz say they support continued settlement building, and both have expressed support for annexation of the Jordan Valley, a corridor of land where the West Bank meets Jordan.
The American tourist was staring at me with “deer in the headlights” eyes. She did not comprehend what I had just said to her. I had said that Palestinians are not Israelis.
A minute earlier she had revealed to us – a group of about 15 of her peers, plus me, all gathered in my Efrat living room – the root cause of Palestinian terrorism. It was due, she announced, to Israel “treating Palestinians like second-class citizens and denying them the right to come to Jerusalem.” By this she was inferring that Palestinians are citizens of the State of Israel who are discriminated against and denied numerous rights.
If this initial reality check caused this woman to be taken aback, my next statement elicited her indignation. I felt her silent outrage when I told her that, furthermore, given that Palestinians are not citizens of Israel, they have no right to enter the country. At this point her emotions took over and I sensed that she stopped listening to any further explanation.
Her difficulty with this idea is not uncommon; it is shared by numerous foreign visitors whose primary source of knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the mainstream media. Similar disinformation is disseminated to people who visit the region as participants in carefully crafted and managed political tours under pro-Palestinian auspices.
They conflate the two populations, Israeli and Palestinian, and learn that the State of Israel maintains the “occupation” solely to keep despoiling “its Palestinians.” Some American visitors also express the parochial view that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is analogous to the relationship between white citizens and citizens of color in the United States, and that Israel needs to become a more “inclusive” society. This opinion has been voiced by first-time visitors who have been in the country for less than a week. (h/t Yerushalimey)
Senior Republican lawmakers and conservative US organization voiced support on Monday following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that America will no longer see the Israeli settlements as illegal, reversing a policy dating back to 1978.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that he supports the announcement.
“This announcement is a repudiation of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry’s ill-informed efforts to target Israeli presence in the West Bank,” he wrote. “While I strongly support a two-state solution, I believe the Trump administration’s announcement today will ultimately advance the cause of peace over time.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz said in a statement that he also supports the move.
“For too long, the United States has been slow to acknowledge the basic reality that our Israeli allies have sovereignty over their territories, and today the administration took steps to right that wrong,” the statement reads. “It’s up to our Israeli allies to make their own decisions about what to do with their territories.
“Today’s decision also takes another step in reversing the disgraceful legacy of the Obama administration and United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334,” Cruz added. “That resolution falsely denied Israel’s sovereignty over its territories, including the Jewish Quarter and the Old City of Jerusalem, and called on all UN states to do the same. I have long pushed for policies that demonstrate to the world that the United States considers Resolution 2334 null and void. Today’s announcement is another welcome move discarding that shameful resolution.”
US Democratic presidential candidates, including frontrunners Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, on Monday condemned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement that the Trump administration was softening its position on Israeli settlements.
Pompeo told reporters at the State Department that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” breaking with decades of US policy.
Former vice president Joe Biden’s campaign called the move “an obstacle to peace.”
“This decision harms the cause of diplomacy, takes us further away from the hope of a two-state solution, and will only further inflame tensions in the region. It’s not about peace or security. It is not about being pro-Israel. It is about undercutting Israel’s future in service of Trump’s personal politics,” Biden’s campaign told Jewish Insider.
Vermont Senator Sanders denounced the move, saying that “Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.”
Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator who is vying with Sanders for the more progressive voters in the party, similarly condemned the announcement.
“Another blatantly ideological attempt by the Trump administration to distract from its failures in the region. Not only do these settlements violate international law — they make peace harder to achieve. As president, I will reverse this policy and pursue a two-state solution,” Warren said.
Pete Buttigieg, the centrist mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and another leading candidate for the Democratic nomination, said the decision undermined peace efforts.
“The Trump administration’s statement on West Bank settlements is not only a significant step backward in our efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is the latest in a pattern of destructive decisions that harm our national interests,” Buttigieg said.
Representative Rashida Tlaib tweeted on Tuesday that Israeli settlements violate international law and called US President Donald Trump “a lawless king-like dictator.”
“Israel’s settlements in the West Bank violate international law. No matter what this corrupt and immoral Trump regime (yeah he is a lawless king-like dictator) say, it doesn’t change that fact. #FreePalestine & #ImpeachmentTrumpNow,” Tlaib tweeted.
Minnesota representative and known Israel-critic Ilhan Omar tweeted in response to the US declaring Israeli settlements are legal.
“Israeli settlements violate intl law, decades of U.S. foreign policy, and the human rights of Palestinians. All who believe in the possibility of peace must speak up in this moment. ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends,'” Omar wrote, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Left-wing Jewish lobby J Street denounces the Trump administration’s move to soften its position regarding West Bank settlements, saying it “shatters America’s limited remaining credibility in the region and around the world.”
“This announcement is just the latest in a long series of actions by the Trump administration designed to aid the Israeli settlement movement, prevent a two-state solution and provide political gifts to Prime Minister Netanyahu,” J Street’s President Jeremy Ben-Ami says in a statement.
“Coming at a moment when Prime Minister Netanyahu is struggling desperately for political survival and faces imminent indictment for corruption, the timing of this announcement can only be read as last-ditch attempt to boost the prime minister’s personal prospects,” he adds.
“With their actions and rhetoric, the president and his advisers have given the Israeli government carte blanche to expand settlements, entrench occupation and move toward formal annexation of the West Bank. By discarding decades of bipartisan US policy and flagrantly disregarding international law, they are trampling on the rights of Palestinians and helping the Israeli right-wing to destroy Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.
“In light of this announcement, it’s more important than ever that Congress move quickly to pass House Resolution 326, which reaffirms support for the two-state solution, notes longstanding US opposition to settlement expansion and clearly opposes any steps toward the formal annexation of the West Bank. While this administration is shredding fundamental norms of US foreign policy, responsible lawmakers must push back — there is no time to waste.”
The Palestinians blasted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Monday that the Trump administration was softening its position on settlements.
Pompeo told reporters at the State Department that “the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” breaking with decades of US policy.
“Secretary of State Pompeo’s declaration… is baseless, unacceptable, condemned and totally in contravention with international law and international decisions that reject settlement building, especially United Nations Security Council resolution 2334,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, said in a statement carried by the official PA news site Wafa.
“The American administration is not qualified or authorized to abrogate international decisions and it has no right to grant Israeli settlement building legitimacy,” Abu Rudeineh added.
A US policy change has no impact on the legality of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the UN said Tuesday, insisting that the communities breach international law.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that after legal consultations, Washington had concluded that the establishment of settlements was “not, per se, inconsistent with international law”.
UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said that “a change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law, nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and the Security Council.”
The rights office will “continue to follow the longstanding position of the United Nations that the Israeli settlements are in breach of international law,” Colville told reporters.
In his announcement, Pompeo said the United States did not necessarily consider the communities legal, but instead would defer to the judgement of Israeli courts.
The majority of citizens live in towns and cities that Israeli courts have judged legal.
Russia and Turkey have rejected the United States declaration that it will no longer regard Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories as illegal.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that treating the settlements as illegal “hasn’t worked,” the latest in a series of policy shifts that have delighted Israel and alienated the Palestinians.
The statement puts the United States at odds with UN Security Council resolutions and much of the international community, including the Arab world and Russia.
“The Russian stance on the issue remains unchanged,” a Russian Foreign Ministry official told the TASS news agency on Monday night.
On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the change would undermine peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians, according to Reuters. It also warned regional tensions would be exacerbated by the US position.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter that such declarations “shall have no validity with respect to international law.”
“No country is above international law,” he said.
As former US Mid-East Peace Envoy Dennis Ross observed, “Since the Reagan administration, the US made a policy that settlements were a political issue and not a legal issue.”
Further, note this 2016 Associated Press (AP) correction, prompted by CAMERA:
In a story Nov. 16 about Israel’s settlement policy, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the United States considers Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank to be illegal. While the United States opposes settlement construction, it does not take a position on its legality. Instead, it says that settlements are “illegitimate,” ″corrosive to the cause of peace” and “raise serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.” Most of the international community views the settlements as illegal.
That same year, UK Media Watch prompted The Times to correct a similarly false claim regarding the US position on the settlements:
We wrongly said that the United States, like most other countries, considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be “illegal” (World, Dec 17). The US position is that the settlements are “illegitimate”.
The Times writes:
[In 1975], there were fewer than 5,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Today there are nearly 400,000. That doesn’t count those in the Golan Heights or the approximately 200,000 in traditionally Arab East Jerusalem.
Numbers like that might conjure up images of an Israeli cancer spreading across the West Bank. But the editorial’s numbers don’t indicate that settlers live on a mere three percent of the West Bank. The population growth feared by the Times takes place within already existing settlements. That gives Israelis and Palestinians a surprising amount of wiggle room to negotiate a border and get creative with land-swaps (like the one proposed by prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 that Mahmoud Abbas rejected.)
The term, “traditionally Arab East Jerusalem” further skews the conversation.
– Traditionally Arab implies that this area of the city is inherently “Arab.”
– Capitalizing the word East makes it a proper noun.
There’s thousands of years of Jewish history in eastern Jerusalem. Jordan’s 19-year occupation doesn’t make it “traditionally Arab” or justify a new proper noun. If ever there was an example of language being used to prejudice readers, this is it. (Related reading: Defining Bias: Misleading Terminology)
Would the Times describe the area of Compton as “traditionally Black South-Central Los Angeles?”
There’s much to discuss about settlements. But the Los Angeles Times unhelpfully warps the conversation.
Though it’s not clear where these demonstrations will end, it is clear where they began: with the illegitimacy of the Iranian regime.
The Trump administration’s pressure on the terrorist group Hezbollah, which operates as a semi-governmental entity in Lebanon, increased restrictions on state-owned banks and exacerbated the country’s economic hardships. A Hezbollah-led effort to disperse protesters has focused demonstrator’s attention on the foreign organization that wields so much influence over the country’s politics. Even within the terrorist organization, a crisis of confidence in Iran’s mission in Lebanon is brewing.
The Iraqi crisis, too, is years in the making. As a cache of secret Iranian documents obtained by The Intercept shows, the extensive Iranian covert and overt influence over Iraqi governmental affairs that followed America’s precipitous withdrawal in 2011 was both extensive and overreaching. Amid the rise of ISIS, one 2014 intelligence cable sent back to Tehran warned that the brutal actions of the Iran-backed Shiite militias risked alienating the public. Washington relied upon these militias to maintain order where the Iraqi security forces could not. “This policy of Iran in Iraq has allowed the Americans to return to Iraq with greater legitimacy,” the dispatch warned. “And groups and individuals who had been fighting against the Americans among the Sunnis are now wishing that not only America, but even Israel, would enter Iraq and save Iraq from Iran’s clutches.”
The unrest in Iran cannot be seen in isolation from the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. The slow-motion collapse of the Iranian rial as the White House ramped up sanction on almost every sector of the Iranian economy contributed to the protests in 2017 and 2018, and a dramatic decline in the revenue once generated by oil exports has rendered Tehran’s domestic energy subsidies untenable. “They lie and say America is the enemy,” said one woman as she was filmed bravely tearing an anti-American propaganda banner. “Our enemy is right here in Iran.”
Last week, as a result of the information obtained in a spectacular Israeli intelligence coup, Iran was implicated in a long-running effort to violate the terms of the 2015 nuclear accords, validating the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the deal and reimpose sanctions. The campaign this White House is waging against the Iranian regime has found tens of thousands of natural allies across the Middle East. It’s not a foregone conclusion that the people who suffer under Iran’s yoke will know freedom, but the popular demonstrations have made one thing clear. The obstacle to peace in this region is and remains the criminal theocracy in Tehran, not the responsible nations that oppose it.
Hundreds of leaked reports and cables from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security reveal that Tehran established extensive connections with former Iraqi CIA informants after the U.S. withdrew its forces from the country in 2011.
Documents given to The Intercept and shared with The New York Times allege that after the U.S. enacted a withdrawal under the direction of the Obama administration, many CIA informants in Iraq turned immediately to Iran and offered their services, including intel on American operations.
One informant, “Source 134992,” promised to write a report on “everything he knew about American intelligence gathering in Iraq was for sale: the locations of C.I.A. safe houses; the names of hotels where C.I.A. operatives met with agents; details of his weapons and surveillance training; the names of other Iraqis working as spies for the Americans.”
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“I will turn over to you all the documents and videos that I have from my training course,” the Iraqi man told his Iranian handler, according to a 2014 Iranian intelligence document. “And pictures and identifying features of my fellow trainees and my subordinates.”
Another document shows Iranian efforts to recruit a State Department spy to provide “intelligence insights into the U.S. government’s plans in Iraq, whether it is for dealing with ISIS or any other covert operations.”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Iran’s Palestinian Proxies: United Against Israel
Hamas is hardly on its way to transforming itself into a non-violent movement that would uphold Israel’s right to exist. Its decision to refrain, this time, from pounding Israel with rockets is in no way a sign of moderation or pragmatism. Instead, the terror group needs a break from the fighting in order to prepare better for its main goal: to take down Israel down, once and for all.
Hamas leaders – like their PIJ counterparts – are motivated for their own well-being; the well-being of the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip is a joke to them. Why else would PIJ endanger their people by forcing Israel to respond to the launching of hundreds of rockets toward Israeli civilian communities?
This is not a good guy/bad guy scenario. Instead, it is a temporary rift between two extremely bad guys, both of whom are wholly committed to destroying Israel, even if that means destroying their own people along the way as well.
The chief Nazi-hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday urged the European Union and German commissioners to combat antisemitism to demand a full ban of the most lethal antisemitic terrorist organization in the world, the Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah.
“The EU commissioner should recommend a ban on Hezbollah, as should Felix Klein, “ Dr. Efraim Zuroff, one of the world’s leading experts on contemporary antisemitism, told The Jerusalem Post. Dr. Felix Klein is the commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight against Anti-Semitism in Germany.
When the Post asked Katharina von Schnurbein , the European Commission Coordinator on combatting Antisemitism, if Hezbollah’s entire organization should be outlawed within the EU , she forwarded the Post’s query to the Press officer for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / European External Action Service (EEAS)Middle East and North Africa.
An EU spokesperson wrote the Post that “The European Union has designated the military wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.”
The EU stands firmly against all forms of Antisemitism. This phenomenon is incompatible with the values and principles on which the EU is founded.”
German authorities have arrested a man and raided his apartment over suspicions he was planning an attack.
The country’s federal prosecutor said in a statement that the man was arrested Tuesday in Berlin. His identity was not given but he was described as a “radical Islamist,” who was planning an attack in Germany to “kill and injure a maximum number of people.”
Berlin prosecutors told the dpa news agency that the suspect is a 37-year-old Syrian who got information online on how to build bombs and talked about planning an attack in internet chats.
In January, the suspect allegedly started procuring material and chemicals, including acetone and hydrogen peroxide, to build an explosive device.
It was not clear when and where exactly the attack was going to happen.
Four rockets fired from near Damascus, likely by Iranian elements, were intercepted by Iron Dome missile defense batteries as they flew over the Golan Heights in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday.
The rockets triggered a Code Red alarm, and Golan residents reported hearing explosions as the rockets were shot down.
Syrian media reported that explosions were heard at Damascus Airport.
Tensions have been running high along the Syrian border, though no attacks have been reported from Israel in the last month and a half. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett convened a high-level military meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi and other senior officers.
Over the weekend, two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip were intercepted by the Iron Dome.
A Palestinian man from the West Bank was arrested early Tuesday for allegedly making deaths threats on the Facebook page of settler leader Yossi Dagan, chairman of the Samaria Regional Council.
Israel Defense Forces together with Israel Police detained the suspect in a late night raid on his home in Hebron and brought him in for questioning.
Among other threats the suspect allegedly wrote on Dagan’s page, “Death to the Jews. We will come to your home, don’t worry” and “We will come for you and we will kill you.”
According to the reports Dagan was briefed by security officials about the development, and security equipment was installed near his home. In addition police patrols were initiated in the area of his home in the West Bank settlement of Shavei Shomron.
Dagan had informed regional police of the threats against him, which began about a month ago, and police then passed on the information to security forces leading to the arrest.
Hashtag #StopIsraeliTerror was trending on top on Twitter in India yesterday.
Tweeting under this hashtag, a Twitter user by the name of ‘Mo.Riyaz’ shared an image of an injured baby to imply that the infant was injured by the Israel Army, recently.
TRUTH AND VERIFICATION
The claim is false. The baby in this picture was not injured by the Israeli Army. The image is of an injured infant from Mosul, Iraq and is over two years old.
Using reverse-image search on Google, we found a tweet dated April 24, 2017, from the verified handle of MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) India which posted the same image saying that this baby, severely injured, was rescued from Mosul and that she was the only surviving member of her family.
The image was also used in a report titled ‘After the battle: The unfolding of a disaster’ published by msf.org on July 11, 2018.
The report talks about military offensive led by an alliance of the Iraqi security forces and an international coalition to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city. In this article, the image is shared and credited to some Javier Rius Trigueros.
The Palestinian Authority stresses its support for terrorist murderers of Israelis in numerous ways.
One of the significant ways the PA expresses this support to the Palestinian population, as Palestinian Media Watch has exposed, is – under instructions from PA Chairman Abbas – to highlight the terrorist prisoners and “Martyrs” as heroes in the official media.
Recently, the head of official PA media, General Supervisor Ahmad Assaf, followed these orders to the letter. He met with 5 released terrorist murderers and stated that “our Martyrs and heroic prisoners’ sacrifices are medals of honor for our people and our Arab nation.” Assaf further confirmed that official PA media considers the focus on the prisoners and the released prisoners – i.e., terrorists – a “supreme priority”:
“Assaf emphasized that the cause of the prisoners and released prisoners is at the official [PA] media’s center of focus and is a supreme priority, due to it being a national cause that interests the leadership – which is represented by [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas – and all members of the Palestinian people. Assaf – who received released prisoners Muhammad Al-Sabbagh (i.e., terrorist, murdered 3), Osama Abu Hananeh, Ahmad Qadura (i.e., terrorists, murdered 1 together with accomplices), Mukhlis Sawafta (i.e., terrorist, murdered 1 together with an accomplice), and Hazza Al-Sa’adi (i.e., terrorist, murdered 2 together with an accomplice) in his office in Ramallah yesterday [Oct. 1, 2019]… – noted that our Martyrs and heroic prisoners’ sacrifices are medals of honor for our people and our Arab nation, and that they [the sacrifices] guide us to continue on our path towards freedom and independence. He explained that the official media’s role is to defend the national project, and that this project… will achieve its goals through the Palestinian people’s sacrifices, and foremost among them the Martyrs and prisoners.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 2, 2019]
Assaf also signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Director of PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr. At this event, Assaf expressed admiration for terrorists and murderers – “the brave prisoners” – and emphasized that all official PA media – “written, audible, visual, and internet-based” – are interested in them:
Mother of the Palestinian terrorist that hacked at me mercilessly with a machete, now whining her son doesnt have his favourite food in an Israeli prison. Watch this. Feel sick. Now follow @ThisOngoingWar (video @palwatch ) https://t.co/c4ZakNgpsH
— Kay Wilson (@kishkushkay) November 19, 2019
Why were the camera men wearing gas masks BEFORE there was tear gas and where are the soldiers? They couldn’t get one frame of an Israeli soldier? https://t.co/AzfnS0L3Gb
— AZ (@americanzionism) November 19, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh Monday evening and affirmed Tehran’s support for the Palestinian “resistance,” the terror group based in the Gaza Strip said in a report on its official website.
Iran provides significant backing to both Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and that of the Islamic Jihad terror group, the Al-Quds Brigades.
“The minister…said that the Islamic Republic of Iran stands with the Palestinian people and its valiant resistance in Gaza,” the report on Hamas’s website said, employing a term that usually refers to terror groups in the coastal enclave.
Senior Hamas members have frequently heaped praise on Iran for its support of its military wing and often visit Tehran to meet top Iranian security and political officials.
“Iran is the only country that says that the entity [Israel] is carcinogenic and should be uprooted from the region,” Hamas deputy chief Salah al-Arouri told the pro-Hamas Al-Quds TV in February 2018. “It is the only country that is prepared to provide real and public support to the Palestinian resistance and others to confront the entity.”
On October 28, 2019, several days after the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in a U.S. forces raid in Syria, Syrian oppositionist Mustafa Sejari, a senior official in the Turkey-backed Mu’tasim Brigade opposition faction, published an article with the provocative title “Death to America and Long Live Al-Baghdadi, Emir of the Believers.” Sejari is known to have connections to the U.S. government. In January 2018 he took part in a Syrian opposition delegation to Washington, and in September 2019 he participated in a meeting in Turkey with representatives of the U.S. State Department Moreover, his faction has received aid from the U.S.
In the first part of the article, Sejari presents the discourse that exists in the Arab world, a discourse which extols Al-Baghdadi as a hero and a role model while cursing the U.S. as a country that defends dictatorial regimes, humiliates the Arabs and is hostile to Islam. In the second part of the article Seraji clarifies that these sentiments are not his own. Rather, these are the feelings that prevail in Syria, and among many other Arabs and Muslims, towards the U.S., while he himself believes in building trust and forming good relations with this country. He writes further that the ones responsible for the Arab street’s hostility towards the U.S. are actually the Arab regimes, such as the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, who for many decades have cultivated their people’s hostility and mistrust towards the U.S. by presenting it as “the Great Satan,” while at the same time persuading the U.S. that the Arab peoples are the source of terror.
Sejari calls on the U.S. to redress this injustice by adopting a policy of sincere reconciliation with the Arab peoples, and by helping them fight the dictatorial regimes (hinting especially at the Assad regime), for this is the only way to end terror and achieve freedom and peace.
It should be mentioned that the title of Sejari’s article and the claims made in its first part caused many to misunderstand his message and present him as an anti-American and a supporter of ISIS. He retorted that these were merely attempts to incite public opinion against him, and that “terrorists never read past the title.” When he later published an English translation of the article, he changed the title to clarify his intentions.
The United States is ending a sanctions waiver for civil-nuclear work at a site where Iran recently announced it was enriching uranium, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday.
“The United States will terminate the sanctions waiver related to the nuclear facility at Fordow effective Dec. 15, 2019,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. “The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero. Iran originally constructed Fordow as a fortified underground bunker to conduct secret uranium enrichment work, and there is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site.”
“Iran should reverse its activity there immediately,” he added.
Pompeo’s announcement comes after Iran announced, and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed, that it had resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow site in its latest breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The deal between Iran and other world powers allowed Fordow, a long-secret facility, to maintain centrifuges for research purposes, but banned enrichment activities there.
Iran has been steadily increasing its violations of the nuclear deal, which President Trump withdrew the United States from in 2018, in an effort to pressure the United States and Europe for sanctions relief. Iranian officials have maintained the violations are reversible should the relief come.
Violation after violation, Iran is spinning its way to a nuclear bomb
First they increased their stockpile of Uranium above the 300 KG allowed by the nuclear deal, and the world said, “it’s only a temporary, reversible step.” Then they increased the level of enrichment above the agreed upon 3%, and the world said, “it’s till far from military grade.” Then they began operating faster, advanced centrifuges, in an underground military bunker, enabling them to shorten the breakout time to a nuclear military bomb. And the world? Silence. The international community must take decisive action against Iran’s nuclear program. The time is now.
After the Iranian government announced Friday that it would double the price of gasoline, riots broke out all over the country.
Iranians have taken their frustration with the new policy both to social media and to the streets by deliberately creating traffic jams – and according to the Italian daily La Repubblica, the Israeli navigation app Waze has been instrumental in this protest.
La Repubblica reported on Sunday that the protesters managed to communicate where to drive and leave their cars to maximize the disruption using Waze.
New York Times journalist Farnaz Fassihi also tweeted a screenshot of Google Maps depicting Tehran’s traffic jams.
Iranian Internet access was curbed this week by order of a state security council, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported, an attempt apparently aimed at preventing protesters from communicating with each other and sharing video on social media.
Internet watchdog NetBlocks said on Sunday that connectivity had fallen to just 5% of ordinary levels.
3 reasons why the US must revoke Iran’s civil nuclear waivers:
1?They keep the catastrophic Obama-Iran nuclear deal alive
2?They give Iran cover to keep facilities open & engage in illicit activities
3?They allow Iran to continue developing its nuclear program pic.twitter.com/zAerETJ4rE
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 18, 2019
#Iran 🇮🇷: Multiple demonstrations have also been reported in #Tehran and the surrounding area.
– Details from the clashes remain unclear, as Iranian authorities blocked access to internet over the weekend. #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/ho3pJDDWYs
— Intelligence Fusion -Asia (@IF_Asia_) November 18, 2019
WATCH: Israelis send a message of support and peace to the Iranian people who are standing up to their tyrannical regime and demanding freedom. Israelis stand with you! #IranProtests pic.twitter.com/QfpViyogS9
— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) November 19, 2019
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