December 16, 2017

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11/21 Links Pt1: Palestinians freeze all US contacts; Glick: Holding the PLO accountable

http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2017/11/1121-links-pt1-palestinians-freeze-all.html

From Ian:


Palestinians freeze all US contacts over threat to shutter PLO office in DC
The Palestinians have frozen all contacts with the United States after it decided to close their representative office in Washington, officials said on Tuesday.

“In practice by closing the office they are freezing all meetings and we are making that official,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told AFP.

A spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization confirmed that it had received instructions from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “regarding closing down all communication lines with the Americans.”

The Palestinian move comes as the Trump administration seeks to broker the long-out-of-reach Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Speaking in the Spanish Parliament today, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians were “committed to a historic peace deal [with Israel] under the auspices of President Trump.”

Caroline Glick: Holding the PLO accountable

Is the PLO’s long vacation from accountability coming to an end? How about the State Department’s? In 1987 the US State Department placed the PLO on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. The PLO was removed from the list in 1994, following the initiation of its peace process with Israel in 1993.

As part of the Clinton administration’s efforts to conclude a long-term peace deal between the PLO and Israel, in 1994 then president Bill Clinton signed an executive order waiving enforcement of laws that barred the PLO and its front groups from operating in the US. His move enabled the PLO to open a mission in Washington.

In 2010, then president Barack Obama upgraded the mission’s status to the level of “Delegation General.” The move was seen as a signal that the Obama administration supported moves by the PLO to initiate recognition of the “State of Palestine” by European governments and international bodies.

Whereas Obama’s PLO upgrade was legally dubious, the PLO’s campaign to get recognized as a state breached both of its agreements with Israel and the terms under which the US recognized it and permitted it to operate missions on US soil.

Palestinians: If You Do Not Give Us Everything, We Cannot Trust You

The Palestinians are once again angry — this time because the Trump administration does not seem to have endorsed their position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians are also angry because they believe that the Trump administration does not want to force Israel to comply with all their demands.

Here is how the Palestinians see it: If you are not with us, then you must be against us. If you do not accept all our demands, then you must be our enemy and we cannot trust you to play the role of an “honest” broker in the conflict with Israel.

Last week, unconfirmed reports once again suggested that the Trump administration has been working on a comprehensive plan for peace in the Middle East. The full details of the plan remain unknown at this time.

However, what is certain — according to the reports — is that the plan does not meet all of the Palestinians’ demands. In fact, no peace plan — by Americans or any other party — would be able to provide the Palestinians with everything for which they are asking.

PMW: PA Government, PA TV, and Fatah all present a world without Israel

The Palestinian Authority and Fatah continue to present to Palestinians an image of a world without Israel, using a map that erases Israel and replaces it with “Palestine.” This continues despite the PA and Fatah’s numerous assurances to American and European leaders that they recognize Israel and support a two-state solution.

Here are three recent examples of the use of this map in which “Palestine” replaces all of Israel.

An official announcement (image above) on the Facebook page of the PA government included the image of hands raising a Palestinian flag, beside the PA map of “Palestine” that presents all of Israel and the PA areas as “Palestine”. The image is part of the PA Government’s announcement of the 2017 general population census of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. [Facebook page of the PA Government, Nov. 13, 2017]

An official PA TV program I’m Palestinian displays a logo in the shape of the PA map of “Palestine” that erases all of Israel, and on it the words “I’m Palestinian.” The first image below is from the opening of the program, and the following two images are from the studio and from a sequence in the program. [Official PA TV, I’m Palestinian, Nov. 18, 2017]

Fatah also uses this map of “Palestine,” below wrapped in the Palestinian flag, symbolizing Palestinian sovereignty over the entire area, including over the State of Israel:

Ben-Dror Yemini: Why Trump’s Mideast peace plan is doomed

The truth must be told: Regardless of the new initiative’s parameters, it won’t lead to an agreement. On the contrary, it will hinder the chances for an arrangement, because no matter what the US president offers the Palestinians, their answer is predetermined. They will say no.

Last week, in Washington, I heard from workers of research institutes that have the Trump administration’s ear that the president’s new peace initiative is about to materialize. Rumor has it that in the coming weeks it will be presented to the relevant parties.

Everything they know, and everything that has been published so far, is too vague for us to seriously address the new outline. At the moment, there is more to it than meets the eye.

But the truth must be told. Regardless of the new outline’s parameters, I can say with a great amount of certainty that the new initiative won’t lead to an agreement. On the contrary, it will hinder the chance for an arrangement, because with all due respect to Trump, he will not be reinventing the wheel, and no matter what he offers the Palestinians, their answer is predetermined. Not because the plan will be so bad. Not because it won’t give them a state. They will say “no” because it’s what they know how to say. So far, the only plan they have said “yes” to is the Saudi-Arab initiative.

There is a dispute over a component in the initiative that has to do with the most difficult issue—the refugees. There have been comments from Arab leaders clarifying that this isn’t about the “right of return.” Occasionally, there have even been comments from Palestinian leaders that hinted at a waiver of a mass right of return.

You can thank Obama for the looming Mideast war against Iran

Israel has been warning of Iranian territorial ambitions since forever and was dismissed by Obama and his acolytes as being intransigent and, well, just not enlightened enough. Meanwhile, within 50 kilometres of the Israeli northern border, Iran has recently built an advanced military base. Hezbollah swarms the Lebanese border and has a military capability greatly enhanced since the 2006 war with Israel, aiming well over 100,000 powerful and accurate missiles at Israel from underground tunnels and civilian villages it uses as shields.

Enmeshed in this mess is the Palestinian Authority and its President, Mahmoud Abbas. After touting a recent “reconciliation” with the Gaza-controlling Hamas — another terror group also allied with Iran — Abbas is in a jam. Does he maintain his most recent rapprochement with Hamas, despite its collusion with Iran, and risk angering Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel? Or does he capitulate to their demands that he bolster their efforts to isolate Iran and its agents?

In the last few weeks in Israel, there have been much-publicized Air Force drills, focusing on the northern fronts with Lebanon and Syria. In the event that there is armed conflict, it almost certainly will flare up on Israel’s northern fronts, with Lebanon and Syria, but the war will actually be with Iran. And it will be unprecedentedly ferocious, likely with significant civilian casualties.

After eight years of Obama’s Mideast policy, this is the outcome. The Saudis, Egyptians, Israelis and others in the region learned from Obama’s snubs that they can trust no one but themselves and have made it very clear that they will confront Iran, whether or not the West continues to cling to its illusion of moderate Iranian leadership. It could all get very ugly, very quickly.

AIPAC-Sponsored Briefing Slams Trump Policy on Iran, Advocates Closer Ties to Islamic Republic

A policy expert at an off-the-record briefing for Capitol Hill staffers on Monday sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, slammed Trump administration efforts to crack down on Iran and advocated in favor of closer ties with the Islamic Republic, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the conversation.

AIPAC, the country’s most prominent pro-Israel organization, sponsored an Iran briefing at its Washington, D.C., headquarters with policy experts Ilan Goldenberg and Michael Singh, according to those familiar with the event.

Goldenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, or CNAS, which backed the Obama administration’s nuclear deal, is said to have blasted Trump administration efforts to tighten the landmark nuclear deal and advocated for closer ties with the Islamic Republic, according to those familiar with the briefing.

These sources expressed concern that the nation’s foremost pro-Israel policy shop would sponsor such an event, particularly given its past efforts to rally against the nuclear deal.

An AIPAC official, speaking only on background, would not directly comment on Goldenberg’s remarks, telling the Washington Free Beacon that, “As with all of our outside speakers, the views expressed are their own.”

Exclusive: Lawmakers call on Trump administration to outlaw Muslim Brotherhood with new strategy

Lawmakers behind a House bill aimed at designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization have prepared a draft letter calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to designate the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The draft letter was signed by some two dozen congressmen and was shown to Fox News.

The draft letter, which Fox News has authenticated, calls on Tillerson to consider the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2017 that is sponsored by 63 members of Congress.

The letter gives examples of how the Muslim Brotherhood had been outlawed in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and says by following suit, the U.S. would be in a position to stifle those organizations by adding financial and travel restrictions and making it difficult for the group to function, while also further isolating them.

While the lawmakers support a full designation of the group, they also suggest a new strategy by which the administration could first designate country-specific organizations. It notes that chapters of the Brotherhood in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are all good examples of where a country-specific designation would work.

One Middle-East adviser closely involved in the congressional push on the Brotherhood told Fox News the designation is a “no-brainer.

40 years after historic visit, PM says he’s yet to meet ‘the Palestinian Sadat’

Marking 40 years since Anwar Sadat’s landmark visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he had yet to meet the Palestinian equivalent of the Egyptian leader who went on to sign a peace deal with the Jewish state in 1979.

“It is with sadness that I say, I have not yet met the Palestinian Sadat, who will declare his desire to end the conflict, who will recognize the State of Israel in any borders and our right to security and peace,” said Netanyahu.

“Our Palestinian neighbors refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist,” the prime minister added, speaking during a special plenary session held in honor of the anniversary of the historic visit.

Rebuking the prime minister, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Israel lacks the equivalent of then-prime minister Menachem Begin, the Likud leader who clinched the accord with Cairo.

In Knesset, Egypt’s envoy urges Israel to seize ‘real opportunity’ for peace

Forty years after Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Israel, Egyptian Ambassador to Israel Hazem Khairat on Tuesday urged Israeli leaders to seize a “real opportunity” to normalize ties with neighboring Arab states by pursuing a peace deal with the Palestinians based on the Arab Peace Initiative.

That peace framework, backed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, is an extension of the peace initiative started by Sadat 40 years ago, said Khairat at a Knesset event attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

“I say to the Israeli side, there is a real opportunity to open a new page with the Arab neighbors, based on co-existence and mutual understanding for a better future leading to peace,” he added, speaking in Arabic.

On November 20, 1977, Sadat made history when he became the first Arab leader to visit Israel and address the Knesset with a call for peace with Israel. Sadat’s visit helped pave the way for Israeli-Egyptian talks at Camp David a year later, and a full peace agreement between the two former enemies in 1979, just six years after the painful Yom Kippur War.

Speaking ahead of Khairat, Hotovely and Edelstein hailed the “courageous” pact between then-prime minister Menachem Begin and Sadat.

Dr. Martin Kramer: Sadat and Begin – the Peacemakers

In the words of Jimmy Carter, the personalities of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat “were totally incompatible”; they were two men with nothing in common. The president’s characterization interpretation of the two leaders, widely accepted both now and at the time of the 1978 Camp David negotiations, inflated Carter’s own image as heroic peacemaker. But, argues Martin Kramer, Begin and Sadat actually had very similar backgrounds and career trajectories—and these similarities might have made possible their success at achieving a compromise:

One obvious similarity is [that] both entered politics through the back door, as conspirators who planned political violence and were steeled by long stints in political prison. Sadat, as a young revolutionary, immersed himself in conspiratorial plots, both against the British (who then controlled Egypt) as well as against Egyptian leaders he regarded as collaborators. As a result, he found himself in and out of prison. . . .

Menachem Begin had the more famous “underground” career. He was first sent to prison during World War II by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD. . . . By then, he too had been initiated into a life of clandestine conspiracy—methods of operation he would bring with him to Palestine in the last days of the British Mandate. . . .

Both men [later] spent many years on the political margins, overshadowed by domineering leaders who had a stronger grip on the imaginations of their peoples, . . . [and] who issued the declarations of independence of their countries. (David Ben-Gurion actually declared Israel’s independence in 1948, and Gamal Abdel Nasser effectively declared Egypt’s independence by nationalizing the Suez Canal in 1956.) But neither of these giants had managed to bring peace to their peoples. . . .

Dr. Mordechai Kedar: Keeping our cool with Saudi Arabia

Revelry and rivers of enthusiasm washed over Israeli media over the past week: “Saudi newspaper interviews Israeli chief of staff!” “Peace with Saudi Arabia has begun!” “The days of the messiah are upon us!” That was the general spirit of the responses to the interview Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot gave to the Arabic news website Elaph last Thursday.

This site is, in fact, not at all a Saudi newspaper, as claimed in the various reports, and is run from London by two people, one born in Saudi Arabia and the other in Iraq.

Few Israelis know that the interviewer was not some Saudi journalist who landed in Israel in secret, as was suggested, but by Druze-Israeli Majdi Halabi, one of our own, who serves as Elaph’s Israel correspondent.

This site has given a platform to a number of Israeli writers since its establishment in 2001, including articles by my mentor, the late Prof. Shmuel Moreh, and even yours truly. But by all means, if we can get everyone excited about a historical event or the coming of the messiah, why not?

Incidentally, I combed the Saudi news outlets for any mention of the interview, but I did not find one.

UN special envoy: No peace with Arabs while ignoring Palestinian statehood

Israel can’t build ties to the Arab world based on the common regional threats they face without also resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told The Jerusalem Post.

“The Palestinian question” remains “a very emotional issue for the Arab public,” said Mladenov, who will be appearing at the Post’s Diplomatic Conference on December 6.

“I do not believe any Arab leader, whether a king or a president, can go to their own people without saying something on how the Palestinian question is being addressed,” Mladenov said.

He spoke with the Post last week, as Israel has increased its outreach to moderate Arab countries, primarily Saudi Arabia, which are banding together to oppose Iran.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has called for moderate Arab leaders to visit Jerusalem to form a coalition against Tehran with Israel.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Peace Now Slams Joshua, David, For Promoting Settlement Beyond Green Line (satire)

Activists in the country’s leading organization promoting removal of Jewish communities from areas Palestinians claim for a future state are leveling criticism at two major leaders of the nation for promoting the establishment and development of such communities beyond the 1949 armistice lines with Jordan.

Joshua, son of Nun, and King David, came under fire from Peace Now this week for what the organization called efforts to undermine a peace agreement. Organization spokesman Yariv Oppenheimer told reporters that the unrestrained conquest by Joshua and David in areas that, under any foreseeable peace agreement, would become part of a Palestinian state, demonstrated how determined the extremists are to prevent territorial concessions even at the price of Israel’s soul.

“The policies of those governments will make a sustainable peace accord impossible,” contended Oppenheimer. “We will forever be condemned to rule by force over millions of Palestinians because Joshua and David cannot refrain from taking territory beyond the Green Line. Such occupation will bring inevitable moral decay, and force us to choose between a Jewish state and a democratic state. I, for one, refuse to entertain participation in the Apartheid that must characterize iron-fisted rule over another people.”

Jordan Holds Firm On Refusal To Reopen Israeli Embassy

Jordan will not allow the reopening of the Israeli embassy in Amman or the return of Israel’s ambassador unless the Israeli security guard involved in the killing of two Jordanians in July is brought to trial, a Jordanian government minister said Thursday.

Jordanian Media Affairs Minister Mohammed Momani issued a press release to this effect, in which he added that Jordan’s position on the issue was very firm.

Saleh al-Armouti, a Jordanian member of Parliament, told The Media Line that Israeli ambassador Einat Schlein is unwelcome in Amman because she “accompanied the murderer,” security guard Ziv Moyal, back to Israel. The appropriate response to the entire incident, according to al-Armouti, would be for Jordan to “close the embassy and cut ties with Israel for good.

“The security guard doesn’t have diplomatic immunity,” said al-Armouti, “but [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu wants to challenge Jordan.”

Al-Armouti stressed that to reopen the embassy without Moyal having been put on trial would constitute a blot on Jordan’s history.

Army rescues 3 Israelis after Palestinians torch their car in Nablus

The IDF rescued three Israelis who illegally entered the West Bank Palestinian city of Nablus late Tuesday night after their car was stolen and set ablaze, the army said.

The civilians were there in violation of military law prohibiting Israelis from entering into Palestinian-controlled Area A. The car theft and arson attack took place after the trio left their vehicle to roam through the city.

It was not immediately clear why they entered the city.

Separately in Nablus, the IDF gave special permission for some 1,000 Jewish worshipers to enter Joseph’s Tomb holy site. While the army said the prayers were carried out without incident, Palestinian media outlets reported clashes between local youth and Israeli forces.

The B’Tselem rights group condemned the increasingly routine practice in a Facebook post earlier this week, writing that “Israel has preferred the interest of Jewish worshipers over the rights of the Palestinian residents, their security, their safety and their daily routine.”

Family of Israeli Man Held Captive by Hamas in Gaza Urges International Action to Free Loved One

The brother of an Israeli man who has been imprisoned by Hamas in the Gaza Strip for more than three years urged the international community on Thursday to act to bring his sibling home.

During a visit to the United Nations headquarters in New York City, Ilan Gashao Mengistu — the brother of 30-year-old Avraham Avera Mengistu, an Ashkelon resident who crossed into Gaza on his own accord in September 2014 and has not been heard from since — accused Hamas of “toying with the life of a mentally disabled civilian.”

“They are playing a cynical and cruel game with the life of a man who has never harmed a soul,” Mengistu — standing between his mother Agarnesh and Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon — continued. “I have a brother — he is helpless — and he needs your help.”

“Look at my mother,” he added. “She is a mother like all other mothers, and she deserves to know the fate of her son.”

“We are here today, at the United Nations, to call on the international community to put the full weight of its authority on anyone who can help release my brother,” Mengistu declared. “Pressure the international organizations that have showed weakness and helplessness. And of course, pressure Hamas, which is holding an ill individual captive more than three years, and is responsible for his fate.”

Minister looks to disqualify pro-BDS groups from national service

Strategic Affairs and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Monday sent a letter to Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, who is also in charge of the country’s national service program, asking him to rescind eligibility quotas for organizations that boycott Israel or support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

The national service program functions as an alternative to mandatory military service, allowing young Israelis to serve the state by volunteering instead. The program allots quotas of national service volunteers to different institutions and organizations deemed to be contributing to the state.

“It is unacceptable that an organization working to harm the country with boycotts enjoys quotas [from the government] that are intended for the betterment of the country and its citizens,” Erdan wrote.

Erdan named the rights group Amnesty International as an example of a nongovernmental organization that receives six national service volunteers from the state while waging a broad and prolonged campaign urging other nations and international companies to boycott goods manufactured in Judea and Samaria.

Amnesty International has even accused Israel of committing war crimes and supports draft-dodging, he said.

Lebanon army chief asks troops for readiness at Israel border

Lebanon’s army chief urged “full readiness” at the southern border to face the “threats of the Israeli enemy and its violations,” the army said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Army Commander General Joseph Aoun called on soldiers to be ever vigilant for the “good implementation” of the UN resolution 1701 to “preserve stability” at the border with Israel.

The Lebanese army is responsible for security on its side of the border under the resolution that ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

His remarks came a day after Lebanese president Michel Aoun appeared to defend Hezbollah as necessary to resist Israel, after an Arab League statement accused the group of terrorism and noted it is part of Lebanon’s coalition government.

“Israeli targeting still continues and it is the right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means,” the President’s office quoted him as saying in a Tweet.

Nasrallah ‘proud of delivering anti-tank missiles to Gaza’

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah boasted in a speech Monday that his organization shipped anti-tank missiles to the Gaza Strip. “I’m proud and honored to say we sent Kornet missiles to the Gaza Strip. We’re using our own weapons in Syria as well,” he said.

The Hezbollah chief was nevertheless dismissive towards allegations his organization was responsible for the ballistic missile recently launched from Yemen at Saudi Arabia by Iran-affiliated Houthi rebels.

Nasrallah also complained that while no Israeli attack has thus far caused the Arab League’s foreign ministers to convene, a single missile launched at Riyadh led to a special session of Arab countries’ organization.

Touching on Lebanon’s political turmoil following the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, Nasrallah remarked, “I wish to remind (the Arab League ministers) and public opinion that the single greatest threat to Lebanese security and stability is the Israeli occupation. Likewise, the most important factor contributing to Lebanon’s liberation is resistance, and the backbone of that resistance is Hezbollah.”

Nasrallah also went on to bemoan the Arab League’s decision to recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. “I thank the Palestinian factions for their responses to the Arab League decision marking Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The excitement we can now see within the Arab world is covering for relations with Israel.”

Hamas: Hezbollah isn’t a terrorist organization

Hamas on Monday rejected an Arab League resolution labelling Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

In a statement quoted by AFP, Hamas said it “rejects the description of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement as terrorist.”

Instead, it added, Israel’s actions against Palestinians should be labelled “terrorism.”

It also called on Arab states to “support the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people” and urged them to work together to solve their differences through dialogue.

The statement came a day after Arab League members adopted a resolution saying they would hold the “terrorist Lebanese Hezbollah… responsible for supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations in Arab countries, with modern weapons and ballistic missiles”.

Sunday’s meeting of the Arab League was held at the request of Saudi Arabia, amid growing tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, its regional rival.

PA: Israel’s fault Arab men beat their wives

The Palestinian Authority submitted a report to the United Nations blaming Israel for the phenomenon of domestic abuse in PA-controlled areas, according to a human rights NGO.

Human Rights Voices (HRV), a UN watchdog organization, reported that the PA submitted the report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a group of independent experts who monitor implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. CEDAW will consider the report in July 2018.

According to HRV, the PA report contains “a litany of anti-Semitic accusations and blood libels against Israel.”

The report describes Israelis as terrorists but refers to Arabs who attack Jews, including civilians and children, as “martyrs.” Terrorist attacks on Israelis are called the “liberation movement.

The report further blames Israel for the “psychological suffering” of the family members of terrorists, and boasts about the payments the PA issues to terrorists in Israeli prisons.

Egypt Briefly Opens Gaza Border After Palestinian Authority Assumes Full Control of Rafah Crossing

Egypt opened its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip for three days starting Saturday, after the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group handed over administrative control of the checkpoint to the Palestinian Authority (PA) earlier this month.

Hamas’ move was part of the implementation of its Palestinian reconciliation deal with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

The terror group removed its forces from Rafah, and now PA security forces stand guard with a framed portrait of Abbas hanging on the crossing’s gates adjacent to a portrait of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Egypt’s government played a central role in mediating the recent reconciliation pact between the rival Palestinian factions, and is expected to arbitrate additional talks in Cairo during the coming weeks regarding the expansion of the PA’s rule in Gaza.

The Palestinian unity deal, announced in October, will see Fatah end sanctions on Hamas in return for allowing the PA to regain full control of Gaza by Dec. 1. The Israeli government reacted to the unity deal by calling for Hamas to disarm and recognize Israel.

Six Syrians arrested for ‘planning terror attack’ in Germany

German police on Tuesday arrested six Syrian refugees suspected of preparing a terror attack in the name of the Islamic State jihadist group, prosecutors said.

The suspects, aged 20 to 28, were detained in dawn raids that saw some 500 police officers swoop on residences in the cities of Kassel, Essen, Hanover and Leipzig.

The men are accused of belonging to “the foreign terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State,” Christian Hartwig, a spokesman for the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office, said in a statement.

“The accused are also suspected of preparing an attack on a public target in Germany using weapons or explosives,” Hartwig said.

The investigators believe the men had not yet finalized their attack plan, he added.

The suspects arrived in Germany between December 2014 and September 2015 at the height of Europe’s migrant crisis.

Iran-Backed Forces Persecuting Christians Who Survived ISIS, Kurdish Parliamentarian Says

Iran-backed Shia paramilitary forces operating in northern Iraq have been accused by a Kurdish parliamentarian of engaging in “flagrant injustice” toward Christians in the region which until earlier this year was in the grip of ISIS terrorists.

Wahida Yaqo Hormuz — a Christian representative in the parliament of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) — said she had alerted the Vatican and international human rights groups to what she called the “Shia-ification” of the Nineveh Plains, where the northern Iraqi city of Mosul is located. Conquered by ISIS in 2014, Iraqi government forces retook the city in July.

“This is a flagrant injustice done to Christians,” Yaqo Hormuz said, commenting on reports that the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary, a coalition of armed Shia groups supported by Iran, was preventing the return of Christians who fled during the recent assault on KRG-controlled territories in northern Iraq.

According to a Christian refugee from ISIS interviewed by the Kurdish news outlet Rudaw, Hashd al-Shaabi forces are persecuting those Christians, once a population of 40,000, who remain in his home town.

“The situation of these areas is getting worse day by day,” the refugee, Amir Yaqu, said. “The Hashd al-Shaabi forces are systematically trying to change the Christian demography of these places. They have started to operate sectarian schools in churches and religious centers.”

US hits Iran firms with sanctions for counterfeit Yemen cash

The Trump administration is imposing sanctions on six Iranian men and companies for counterfeiting Yemeni currency as a part of a scheme by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to destabilize the country.

The Treasury Department said Monday that those sanctioned, including two German-based printing and design firms, are part of a network that produced potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in fake Yemeni cash. It said the network used “deceptive measures” to get around European export restrictions to buy advanced equipment and materials to print the counterfeits for the Guard Corps.

The sanctioned companies are Pardazesh Tasvir Rayan Co., Tejarat Almas Mobin and the German firms ForEnt Technik and Printing Trade Center. Their owners also face sanctions, which include a freeze on any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions.

Israel Awaits Saudi Approval To Participate In Chess Championship

The Israeli chess team is preparing to participate in the World Chess Championship in the Saudi capital of Riyadh next month. The seven contestants are waiting for Saudi approval of their visa applications to enter the kingdom, a move that would ultimately broadcast to the world Saudi Arabia’s acceptance of Israel as a valid and recognized participant.

If Saudi Arabia approves the visas, however, it will place itself in an awkward position regarding normalization with Israel. On the other hand, if the Saudis reject the Israeli delegation, it might lose the right to host further matches and the International Chess Federation confirmed it would not pay the tournament prizes, estimated to be millions of dollars.

The Israeli participation in the championship is based on an invitation received from the World Chess Federation.

When reached by The Media Line, Ahmad Al-Hbilani from the Saudi Chess Federation refused to comment on the issue.

Lior Eisenberg, spokesperson for the Israel Chess Federation, expressed to The Media Line how important it is for Israelis to participate and play against Arab countries in such big championships. “If Saudi Arabia agrees to host the Israelis, it will be a very big thing; allowing the Israelis to enter the kingdom publicly for the first time,” he said. “Our policy is to develop this game in Israel and to use it as a bridge to play abroad, but we have to wait and see.”

Eisenberg further noted that both “Israel and Iran are now in the same situation, waiting for the Saudi approval of our visas.”



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