September 24, 2023

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12/02 Links Pt1: Land For Peace: Past and Future; The Ellison Tipping Point; ADL Ellison’s Comments are ‘Disqualifying’

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israel’s constitutional identity crisis
The same flawed premise at the heart of Netanyahu’s claim that approving the bill will cause Israel to be prosecuted for war crimes stands at the heart of his claim that passing the law will increase the possibility that Obama will allow an anti-Israel resolution to pass in the UN Security Council.
The problem with this argument is that it ignores the basic fact that Obama’s desire to stick it to Israel at the UN Security Council has been a consistent feature of his presidency for eight years. Obama has wielded this threat against Israel without regard for its actual policies. He has threatened us when the government froze Jewish building rights. He has threatened us when the government respected Jewish building rights. If Obama decides to enable an anti-Israel resolution to pass through the UN Security Council during his remaining seven weeks in office, he will do so regardless of whether the Knesset passes or scuppers the settlement regulation bill.
The only thing likely to prevent Obama from harming Israel at the Security Council at this point is a clear message to the UN from the incoming Trump administration.
For instance, if President-elect Donald Trump announces directly or through an intermediary that Security Council action against Israel over the next seven weeks will induce the Trump administration to withhold US funding from the UN, UN officials will likely stuff draft resolutions to this effect into a drawer.
Netanyahu’s actions do more to harm his future relations with Trump than advance his current relations with Obama. If Netanyahu blocks passage of the settlement regulation bill, he is likely to enter the Trump era as the head of a government on the verge of collapse. Rather than be in a position to reshape and rebuild Israel’s alliance with the US after eight years of Obama’s hostility, Netanyahu may limp to his first meeting with the new president, the head of dysfunctional government beyond his control, and at the mercy of a legal fraternity and an international judicial lynch mob that he will have just empowered.

Analysis: Is the next ‘Arab Spring’ implosion around the corner?

After the deaths of tens of thousands of youths during the nearly sixyear- old Syrian civil war, it is difficult to know how much credence to give to attitude surveys in the region. After all, 15 Syria youths painted a slogan on a wall in the city of Deraa in 2011 declaring: “The People Want the Fall of the Regime.” The regime carted them off to torture cells. Are they preoccupied with the Israel-Palestinian conflict? As the report notes, “Young people’s awareness of their capabilities and rights collides with a reality that marginalizes them and blocks their pathways to express their opinions, actively participate or earn a living.”
The report omits any reference to the ubiquitous anti-Americanism and antisemitism in the region. The reliance on fundamentalist theology is approached indirectly: “Young people remain vulnerable to victimization by groups that misuse religion to benefit from its pivotal role in shaping identities,” notes the document.
Political Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood are cited once. There are no warnings that mirror the comments of the distinguished Middle East historian Bernard Lewis who told the Post in 2011: “I don’t think it [the Muslim Brotherhood] is in any sense benign. I think it is a very dangerous, radical Islamic movement. If they obtain power, the consequences would be disastrous for Egypt.”
Writing in his book The Arabs: A History (2009), the Oxford University Middle East historian Eugene Rogan said, “If the Arab peoples are to enjoy human rights and accountable government, security and economic growth, they will have to seize the initiative themselves.”
On December 17, many Arabs will commemorate the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor who on that day in 2010 set himself ablaze to protest corruption in the now-defunct police state of former president Ben Ali, and set off the Arab Spring.
The UN report largely shifts the onus to the ruling class in the Arab world to bring about change.
There will be more Arab revolts and more self-protests along the lines of Bouazizi.

Burning the Land

Reflecting on the immense damage caused by the arsonists this month in Israel. We pray for a full recovery to all those injured and assistance for all those who were affected by the fires.

The Ellison Tipping Point

At best, Ellison seemed to be echoing the toxic Walt-Mearsheimer “Israel lobby” thesis, which claims American support for Israel is the result of a conspiracy that worked against U.S. interests; not the result of a bipartisan consensus that reflects the longstanding support for Zionism that is baked deep into the political DNA of this country. At worst, it was a blatant appeal to anti-Jewish and anti-Israel prejudice. The fact that IPT came across the speech because Ellison’s fundraiser was hosted by Esam Omeish, a leader of the Muslim American Society who has publicly called for “jihad” to “liberate” Israel from the Jews, puts his offensive comments in an even more damaging context.
Unlike the weak rationalizations for his past ties to Farrakhan, there is simply no way to explain away the meaning or the intent of Ellison’s remarks. An abashed Greenblatt called the statement “deeply disturbing and disqualifying.” He further noted:
His words imply that U.S. foreign policy is based on religiously or national origin-based special interests rather than simply on America’s best interests. Additionally, whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S.
The main takeaway here is not Greenblatt’s embarrassing retreat. It’s the fact that Democrats have a choice to make. If, with the help of people like incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (who claims to be the guardian of Israel in Congress but has nonetheless endorsed the Minnesota congressman), Ellison is elected to head the DNC, the party will be making a symbolic statement that goes beyond the identity politics they prize so much. His elevation to the head of the party at a time when when it has few other national leaders is a sign that the Democratic drift away from Israel has reached a tipping point. Pro-Israel Democrats must either stop Ellison or quit pretending that their party is still a bastion of support for the Jewish state.

Anti-Defamation League Calls Keith Ellison’s Comments on Israel ‘Disqualifying’

The Anti-Defamation League pulled its support of Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) to head the Democratic National Committee after it was revealed that the congressman complained to a private audience that Israel has control of U.S. foreign policy in the United States.
“New information recently has come to light that raises serious concerns about whether Rep. Ellison faithfully could represent the Democratic Party’s traditional support for a strong and secure Israel,” wrote ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in a Thursday statement.
A recording of Ellison’s comments during a private fundraiser in 2010 was obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
“The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of 7 million people,” Ellison said. “A region of 350 million all turns on a country of 7 million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes.”
Greenblatt called the comments “deeply disturbing and disqualifying,” and saidthey are based on “age-old stereotypes.”
“His words raise the specter of age-old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but that has no place in open societies like the U.S.,” wrote Greenblatt.

After ADL rebuke, DNC hopeful Ellison says Israel criticism misunderstood

On Thursday, Ellison said the audio was manipulated.
“The audio released was selectively edited and taken out of context by an individual the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an ‘anti-Muslim extremist,’” he said, referring to Steven Emerson, who has claimed the Obama administration “extensively collaborates” with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ellison said his comments were meant to galvanize those present to be more engaged with foreign policy.
“My memory is that I was responding to a question about how Americans with roots in the Middle East could engage in the political process in a more effective way,” he said.
“My advice was simply to get involved. I believe that Israel and the US-Israel relationship are, and should be, key considerations in shaping US policy in the Middle East. Americans with roots or interests in the region should be involved in advocacy and discussions of public policy concerning the region.”

Land For Peace: Past and Future

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make. Sunday’s attack on the Golan Heights, in which the Israel Defense Forces fended off an assault by ISIS, ended with the four terrorists dead and no IDF casualties. The incident was the first direct confrontation between ISIS personnel and the Jewish state. Few would bet that it will be the last. Most Israelis are likely offering a silent prayer of thanks for the failure of past efforts by Israeli leaders to cut a deal with Damascus that would have given up the strategic plateau that dominates the Galilee. Those—in Washington and elsewhere—who are pushing Israel to concede more territory that might one day come to be dominated by Islamist terrorists refuse to learn an important lesson.
In 1992, when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was elected, he thought Syria was Israel’s best option for peace. While Shimon Peres’s deputy Yossi Beilin was beginning the secret talks that led to Oslo without Rabin’s knowledge, the prime minister was concentrating on an effort to broker a different land-for-peace deal with Hafez Assad, the current Syrian dictator’s equally murderous father. Historian Itamar Rabinovitch, whose scholarly work was devoted to the notion that Israel had passed up opportunities to make peace with previous Syrian dictators, was appointed ambassador to the United States and chief negotiator with Damascus. But despite Rabin’s genuine desire to do a deal, the indirect talks with the Syrians failed. Assad senior had no interest in further hostilities with the Jewish state and wanted the Golan, but he never had any intention of making peace. The effort was eventually superseded by Beilin and Peres’s coup in getting the Palestine Liberation Organization to accept Israel’s offer, which brought Yasir Arafat into power in the West Bank and Gaza.
But that wasn’t the last Israeli flirtation with Damascus. During his first term in office later in the decade, Benjamin Netanyahu also dabbled with the idea of a deal with the Assad clan. He exchanged secret messages with Damascus via American philanthropist Ron Lauder. Netanyahu and his advisors have vociferously denied that they offered a full withdrawal from the Golan as others have claimed. But they admit that Assad asked for a map that would detail the border the Israelis were prepared to accept. It may be that this effort failed because Assad demanded a withdrawal up to the shore of the Sea of Galilee or due to the fact that, as was the case with Rabin’s attempt, the Syrian was never serious about peace. But either way, it’s clear that Netanyahu was at the very least prepared to give up most of the Golan.

What’s Stopping Obama on Israel?

The thinking inside the White House is that if President Obama listens to Israel’s foes and his own inclinations then it will be interpreted by Trump as just as much of a blow to him as to Netanyahu. Even though a U.S. vote or failure to veto a Security Council resolution that branded Israel as an outlaw state for holding onto any part of the West Bank and areas of Jerusalem could not be walked back by his successor, it would generate immediate blowback from the incoming Republican administration. Obama and his staff believe that it would force Trump—whose statements on the peace process have been all over the place, but who has also pledged unwavering support for the Jewish state—even more closely into partnership with the Israelis. Such a move would foreclose any possibility that Trump would follow Obama’s pattern of presenting himself as more impartial arbiter of the peace process by creating more “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel.
Of course, Trump’s supporters have insisted all along that reversing Obama’s “daylight” objective is one of his main foreign policy imperatives, and that there was never any chance that Obama’s actions could influence him to change course. But, apparently, Obama believes that Trump, like all of his predecessors, will be worn down by veteran diplomats and U.S. allies and adversaries and eventually buy in to the conventional wisdom that wrongly presumes pressure on Israel–rather than the truly intransigent Palestinians–is what is needed to achieve peace. Rather than do something that might potentially impede this process of assimilation into the culture of international diplomacy, Obama will apparently forgo the pleasure of sticking it to Netanyahu one more time.
What’s interesting about this analysis is that it runs counter to the conventional wisdom about Obama’s decision making. For example, veteran State Department official and peace processor Dennis Ross claimed in September that a U.S. December surprise for Israel at the UN would be less likely if Clinton was elected, since the president would then be inclined to allow his chosen successor to move at her own pace on Middle East peace, confident that she shared his goals. By contrast, Ross was sure that if Trump won and Obama was followed by an administration determined to walk back his daylight policy, it would provide an added incentive for Obama to issue a diktat to Israel that could not be easily reversed.
We have seven more weeks of Obama’s lame duck presidency to find out if the AP report was right. But it would be a supreme irony if Obama, who did everything he could to secure the election of Clinton (and the continuation of his policies), would decline to hurt Israel in this manner because of Trump’s victory. If Trump rejects advice to pressure Israel and instead seeks to put the onus where it should be, on the Palestinians, then Obama will have gambled and lost.

A Wise Choice for Defense Secretary

The most serious criticism of Mattis concerns infelicitous comments he made about Israel at a security conference shortly after stepping down as CentCom commander in 2013. “I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CentCom because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel,” he said. He also complained that Israel’s settlements supposedly threaten peace with the Palestinians: “If I’m in Jerusalem, and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east, and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid.”
These remarks go over the line—in particular, his suggestion that Israel could be guilty of apartheid, given that there are 1.6 million Arab citizens of Israel who enjoy more rights than Arabs do in any Arab state. Israel has already shown its willingness to disband settlements (e.g., in the Gaza Strip) if it thought that doing so would help the cause. The real stumbling block has been the unwillingness or inability of Palestinian leaders to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.
But it would be a big mistake to assume based on these one-time comments that Mattis is somehow hostile to Israel. The conservative Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) reported that its “experiences with General Mattis have been very positive, including many private discussions in the last few years on the Middle East.” JINSA went on to note: “General Mattis has notably and indisputably distinguished himself in advocating for a more robust U.S. military posture to counter, contain and deter Iran, even at the peril of his military career… General Mattis’ outlook on these issues aligns perfectly with Israel’s, which considers an aggressive Iran its greatest strategic threat, and a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat.”
I’ve known Mattis for 13 years and have never heard him say a disparaging word about Israel. To the contrary, he has spoken of his close relationships with, and admiration for, senior Israeli military officers. I am confident that Israel has nothing to fear from Mattis and that the security of Israel and America’s other allies in the Middle East will be enhanced by the tough-on-Iran approach that he advocates. How his outlook will mesh with President-elect Trump’s desire to cooperate with Russia in supporting Bashar Assad—an Iranian client—remains more of an open question.

Will Defense Secretary Mattis help or harm Israel?

The ZOA said in its statement that Mattis’ remarks were “hostile to Israel, and revealed a lack of appreciation for and understanding of the extraordinary value to American security resulting from a strong American-Israeli alliance and a secure Israel.”
The rebuke drew an unusual defense of Mattis from another right-of-center Jewish group, the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs.
Emphasizing that it does not endorse candidates, JINSA said it understood objections to Mattis’ remarks at Aspen, but commended him for his posture on broader Middle East issues, particularly his vehement opposition to last year’s deal between major world powers and Iran trading sanctions relief for a rollback of Iran’s nuclear program.
“General Mattis has notably and indisputably distinguished himself in advocating for a more robust US military posture to counter, contain and deter Iran, even at the peril of his military career, and its importance to American security and the restoration of America’s position in the Middle East – views JINSA has strongly propounded,” its statement said, alluding the reports that the Obama administration ousted Mattis because of his opposition to the deal then emerging with Iran.

A United Front? Abbas Makes Weak Plea for Palestinian Unity

This latest gesture toward Palestinian unity seems directed mostly at credulous Westerners, who want to believe that Abbas can make progress on unifying Palestine and seeking a peace deal. But the divisions between various Palestinian factions are too great to make a united front feasible.
As Abbas preaches unity and makes overtures to his militant rivals in Gaza, the Palestinian leader’s credibility is weaker than ever. Israel distrusts him, doubting both his sincerity in seeking a peace and his ability to deliver one given his inability to restrain Hamas in Gaza. Within Fatah, meanwhile, many complain that the 81-year-old leader is out of touch and too close to Israel. Abbas’ Palestinian critics have lately raked him over the coals for attending Shimon Peres’ funeral and assisting Israel in putting out wildfires. So long as such basic acts of goodwill are treated as unforgivable betrayals of the cause, Palestinians are unlikely to unify or move in a more moderate direction.
Of course, even if Abbas did manage to bring Fatah and Hamas into a single government, it would bring no assurances about Israeli-Palestinian peace. If anything, empowering Hamas in a unified government would only embolden opponents of a Palestinian state in both Israel and in Washington, which is likely to take a harder stance against Palestine under a Trump administration anyway.
Abbas’ speech may make headlines and keep international hopes for the Palestinian cause alive, which is what he wants. But we’ve seen this movie before, and any talk of reconciliation should be taken with a very big grain of salt.

INSS: Jordan-Israel Relations: Normalization in the Shadow of Political Deadlock

Progress on implementing infrastructure projects for water and energy between Israel and Jordan indicates the positive potential inherent in separating economic and infrastructure progress in trilateral Jordan-Israel-Palestinian relations from progress on a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This statement is not meant to detract from the urgent necessity of reaching at least a gradual solution to the conflict based on the idea of two states for two nations. Rather, it indicates a reality of shortages of energy resources, drinking water, ports; the need to prevent pollution of crowded population centers; and the irrationality of preventing solutions to these issues if they are made conditional upon comprehensively solving all of the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The water and natural gas agreements with Jordan, as well as the electricity agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinians (September 2016), prove that the sides can reach understandings and perhaps full agreements in many areas, and these can create a positive environment, even if they are not substitutes for political agreements.

Liberman to UN: Never mind Israel — what about Syria, N. Korean nukes?

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday warned United Nations diplomats they risked becoming “irrelevant” by focusing on anti-Israel resolutions, while ignoring issues like the thousands killed in Syria and North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Speaking to a host of foreign diplomats in a briefing at the UN hosted by the Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon, Liberman blasted the world body for a series of “anti-Israel” resolutions passed in recent weeks at the General Assembly and two especially contentious documents adopted by two UNESCO committees of resolutions that ignore Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and other holy sites in Israel, while highlighting the Islamic connection.
He called these decisions “absurd and hypocritical” and said they demonstrated how the UN and especially the Security Council, was “not fulfilling its role and was irrelevant to events on the world stage.”
Meanwhile the United Nations, and other world bodies, have been “unsuccessful” in trying to solve issues related to world security and that it has “become less and less relevant” in the international sphere.

French Pres. Hollande defends Saudi seat on UNHRC

After 5-year dry spell, EU and Israel move to upgrade ties

After years in which relations between the European Union and Israel have been frosty, bilateral ties will take a significant leap forward in 2017, senior officials from both sides said this week.
In one notable sign of such warming ties, Jerusalem and the EU are in advanced talks over convening the EU-Israel Association Council, a bilateral forum on ministerial level, early next year. The last such meeting took place in 2012.
“Quite a lot of good things are happening, often unseen by the naked eye, but they are there,” Nicholas Westcott, the director of the EU External Action Service’s North Africa and Middle East department, said this week during a visit in Tel Aviv. “We hope early next year to have an Association Council, which we haven’t had for a while, to look at a ministerial level how we can take the relationship forward.”
If a EU-Israel Association Council meeting were to be held in 2017, the EU would likely be represented by its foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Israel by Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, The Times of Israel has learned.
In addition, the EU “would like to develop something we call partnership priorities,” said Westcott, who is the second-most senior EU diplomat dealing with the Middle East, after Mogherini. The so-called partnership priorities are a new instrument regulating bilateral ties that emerged of the EU’s 2015 review of its neighborhood policy program.

Report: Iran owns 4.5% share in German company building Israeli subs

An Iranian government company owns 4.5 percent of the German shipbuilding company at the center of a scandal over its provision of submarines and other services to the Israel Navy, the Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit last week ordered the police to look into allegations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, used his close relationship with the premier to push Israel to purchase several submarines from ThyssenKrupp, award the company a contract for naval vessels to defend Israel’s gas fields, and allow it to build a shipyard in Israel. Shimron was a representative of the company in Israel.
Channel 2 television said that the police inquiry — which is not yet a full-blown investigation — would focus not on the multi-billion-shekel purchase of three Dolphin submarines from the Germany company, which has dominated the headlines, but rather on a separate 2014 Defense Ministry tender for naval ships, also involving ThyssenKrupp, to protect Israel’s Mediterranean natural gas field.
According to Yedioth, the Iranian investments in ThyssenKrupp began in the 1970s, during the era of the Shah. Tehran invested some $400 million in the German company, giving it a 24.9% share that was inherited by the Islamic regime when it took over Iran in the 1979 revolution. The newspaper pointed out, however, that at this time, ThyssenKrupp was not building Israeli submarines, but was instead focused on the steel, automotive and elevator industries.

Israeli Arab Firms Offer to Donate Wood to Rebuild Burned Synagogue

Two Israeli Arab timber suppliers have offered to donate wood paneling to a Conservative synagogue in the northern city of Haifa that suffered extensive damage by last week’s brush fires.
Walid Abu-Ahmed and Ziad Yunis decided to supply the wood free of charge and cover the labor costs after the congregation’s rabbi, Dov Hiyon, sought estimates for synagogue repair work, the Ynet news site reported Thursday.
“I had tears in my eyes when I heard what was happening,” Hiyon said. “It was so emotional to hear that Muslims were asking to donate to a Jewish synagogue. I’ve invited them to evening prayers to personally thank them.”
“Jews and Arabs live together in Haifa, and there is no discrimination,” said Abu-Ahmed. “We must continue with this co-existence and promote peace.”
Abu-Ahmed added that Islam was a religion of forgiveness.
“We are all people,” he said. “I call on all citizens — Arabs and Jews everywhere — to continue to live in co-existence. We all want to live happy lives.”

In Fatah Congress Address, Palestinian Authority President Abbas Praises Dead Terrorist Leaders as ‘Martyrs’

In an address delivered at the 7th Fatah Congress in Ramallah on Wednesday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas praised numerous late terrorists as “martyrs,” the Elder of Ziyon blog reported.
According to the popular pro-Israel blog, the list of “martyrs” mentioned by the Western-backed Abbas during his three-hour speech included Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shaqaqi, PFLP founder George Habash and pre-World War II era Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, among others.
“They are all our heroes, you will not forget them, they are immortal in our people’s memory, and the homeland of Palestine,” Abbas was quoted as saying. “Their sacrifices will not be in vain.”
According to Israeli news website Arutz Sheva, Abbas also said the PA would maintain its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The Jordan-based Ammon news site quoted Abbas as saying about US President-elect Donald Trump, “We know nothing about him. His people elected him. We didn’t, and if he wants to talk with us, we are pursuing that…We hope that he will be able to offer something to the Palestinian cause, to offer a solution, a sane, balanced and fair (solution).”

Senate Votes 99-0 to Extend Sanctions on Iran

The Senate voted 99-0 on Thursday to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for another ten years.
The vote follows a 419-1 vote in the House of Representatives last month. The bill will now go the president for his signature.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that it was necessary to extend the legislation “given Iran’s continued pattern of aggression and the country’s persistent efforts to expand its sphere of influence across the region.”
“We can ill afford to allow sanctions that deter and impede Iran’s development of conventional weapons of mass destruction to expire,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who supported the nuclear deal with Iran last year, said on the floor of the Senate.
“We need this legal framework to address any Iranian violations of the deal so that sanctions can be rapidly put in place if necessary,” added Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who also supported the nuclear deal. Iran has already been found to have twice violated its limits on heavy water, a component that can be used to make a nuclear weapon.
Iranian government officials have claimed that extending the law would constitute a violation of the deal, a charge Peters called “not true.”

Trump said exploring fresh non-nuclear sanctions on Iran

US President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team is said to be considering new sanctions on Iran which would be unrelated to the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
According to a report Friday in the Financial Times, congressional sources say the new sanctions could pertain to Tehran’s ballistic missile program and its human rights record. The Trump team is currently “sounding out” Republican lawmakers on restrictions that would not violate the terms of the agreement reached between Iran and world powers last year.
In the past year Republican lawmakers have advanced several bills proposing new sanctions against Iran over it ballistic missile program. “The big difference next year is that we will go from a White House that did everything it could to block these bills to a White House that will be in favor and maybe even sponsor some of these proposals,” a Republican congressional source told the paper.
The report said that the sanctions could be imposed in an effort to reduce Iranian support for “militant proxy groups in the Middle East.”
Iran is the chief backer of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, having helped set up the group in the early 1980s. Since then, Iran has supplied Hezbollah with a range of weapons and helped fund its social programs in southern Lebanon, and has used the group to carry out terrorist attacks against American and Israeli targets.

Former Top Israeli Official: Iran in Rush to Arm Terror Proxies Before Trump Takes Office

Iran is stepping up the speed at which it is arming its proxies in the region due to its fear that after Donald Trump assumes the US presidency in January, its room to maneuver in Syria will be greatly hampered, a former director-general of Israel’s Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Yosef Kuperwasser, currently a senior project manager at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank, was giving his take on the timing of what was reported by Syrian media outlets as an Israeli Air Force strike on Hezbollah targets outside of Damascus on Tuesday night.
Though Kuperwasser, who has held an array of military intelligence positions, said he could not confirm or deny whether such a strike actually took place, he noted that “based on past such cases, there is good reason to believe it did.”
Though its specific timing, he said, would have been a result of information Israel garnered on particular weapons convoys, in general, the IDF these days is keenly aware that Hezbollah — the Lebanon-based Shiite terrorist organization that is fighting on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad — “has been gaining in strength.”

British Researchers Find Evidence of Iranian “Weapon Pipeline” to Yemen, Somalia

A British research group has suggested that arms shipments that were intercepted en route to Houthi rebels in Yemen this year were likely sent with the complicity of the Iranian regime, Reuters reported Tuesday.
A report recently released by Conflict Armament Research found that two of the three smuggling ships seized by Western navies in the Arabian Sea, which contained arms matching those taken from Houthi insurgents, were manufactured by the Iranian shipbuilding company Al Mansoor. According to state records, Al Mansoor is located next to a base of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“Since 2012, Al Mansoor dhows have been involved in multiple cases of trafficking in heroin, cannabis, and more recently, weapons,” the report noted. “Analysis of the weapons suggests that at least two of the three deliveries were probably supplied with the complicity of Iranian security forces.”
The serial numbers on several of the arms shipments were sequential, suggesting that they came from a national stockpile, according to the report. The lot numbers of anti-tank weapons found aboard one of the intercepted boats also matched the production run of similar weapons that United Arab Emirate forces said they captured from the Houthis.
The report further pointed to Somali ports as an important drop-off point in the smuggling operation, and said that the warships HMAS Darwin, FS Provence, and USS Sirocco had captured more than 4,500 rifles, mortars, machine guns, and rocket launchers in a four week period between February and March of this year.

MEMRI: Iran’s Mashhad Municipality Opens Military-Religious Amusement Park – To Reinforce Revolutionary Values For Children

On September 24, 2016, the Iranian news agency Raja News, which is close to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), published an interview with Child and the Future Cultural Center director Hamid Sadeghi about an event held during the second half of September that is a military-religious amusement park, called The City of Games for Revolutionary Children. Sadeghi, who operates under the aegis of the Mashhad municipality and also runs the website, said that his center had set up and inaugurated the City of Games park, and that it is open free of charge to children aged eight through 13. It should be noted that this is the second City of Games event held by the Mashhad municipality; the first was last summer (see MEMRI Special Dispatches – No. 6098, Revolutionary, Anti-West Indoctrination Of Children By Municipality Of Mashhad, Iran, July 08, 2015).
According to Sadeghi, the City of Games park has 12 stations with activity aimed at inculcating the messages of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and of the revolutionary Shi’a. He stated that in the park, the children wear military uniforms and are accompanied through the stations by a guide in the role of a military commander whose orders they must obey. The children follow paths with activities including simulating fighting the enemies of the Revolution, ranging from the Iraqi enemy in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War to the current battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and against the Saudi royal family. At the various stations, the children can launch plastic missiles and fire plastic bullets at targets such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. and Israeli flags, effigies of ISIS fighters, and members of the Saudi royal family. At the final station, the children, who are blindfolded, are asked to throw a ball at a puzzle of an Israeli flag and knock it down, and then put together a puzzle of the Iranian flag.
Below are the main points of Sadeghi’s interview with Raja News, along with photos that accompanied the interview:

Iran urges Kenya to free 2 charged in plot to attack Israeli Embassy

Iran on Friday urged Kenya to release two of its citizens charged by a Nairobi court with planning a terrorist act after being arrested for filming the Israeli Embassy in the capital.
Kenyan State Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu said in court on Thursday that Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahimi and Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee were arrested Tuesday in an Iranian diplomatic car while taking the pictures of the Israeli mission using a mobile phone, including when they were intercepted.
He said the two were found with video footage of the embassy.
But according to Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi, the two men are “official lawyers of the justice ministry… who traveled to Nairobi on behalf of the families of two Iranian prisoners in Kenya for a legal follow-up.”
The men, along with a Kenyan driver also charged on Thursday, had been to Kamiti prison outside Nairobi to visit two other Iranians, Ahmad Mohammed and Sayed Mousavi, serving a 15-year term for possessing explosives after being convicted in 2013.
Ghasemi said the arrest of the two lawyers had been the result of a “misunderstanding,” and called for their immediate release.

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