September 29, 2022

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12/15 Links Pt1: PA: US cut off all aid in 2016; Samantha Power’s Powerlessness

From Ian:

PMW: PA: US cut off all aid in 2016: “No shekel or dollar has been paid”
PA: US cut off all aid: “No shekel… or dollar has been paid”
PA: In total, all foreign aid to PA dropped 62% – 70%
PA: Only 3 donors have given “their aid”: the European Union, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria
PMW’s exposure of the PA’s incitement and misuse of funds led to US legislation prohibiting direct funding of the PA unless “the PA is acting to counter incitement”
According to Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, the United States has completely stopped funding the Palestinian Authority’s general budget:
“2016 is about to end, no shekel or agora, or dinar or dollar has been paid.”
[Facebook page of PA PM Rami Hamdallah, Dec. 8, 2016; Interview with Voice of Palestine Radio]
This corroborates a statement made by US Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson earlier this year. At a hearing in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Congress following the release of PMW’s report The PA’s Billion Dollar Fraud, Patterson was challenged by committee chairman Ed Royce as to why the US was funding the PA given documentation that the PA was still paying salaries to terrorist prisoners.
Patterson responded:
“None of our money goes to this [salaries to prisoners]. It’s not fungible in that respect. Our money goes essentially to pay PA debts to Israel and to other creditors.”
[House Foreign Affairs Committee YouTube Channel, April 13, 2016] (h/t Yenta Press)

PA PM Hamdallah: The US has not paid one dollar in aid to the PA in 2016

Samantha Power’s Powerlessness

When Samantha Power demanded to know at a meeting of the Security Council yesterday whether Russia, Iran and the Syrian government were “incapable of shame,” America’s United Nations ambassador crystallized the horror of the world about the siege of Aleppo, in which the Assad regime and its foreign allies are committing unspeakable atrocities against civilians. But her question could be just as easily posed to her boss, President Obama. If those carrying out the slaughter in Syria are unimpressed by her eloquence, it is because they know they would not be in a position to wipe out Aleppo were it not for Obama’s acquiescence to their actions.
Power’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, outlined the “responsibility to protect” doctrine, or R2P, in which she put forward the idea that the world had an obligation to step in to prevent the kind of mass murder that was committed in the former Yugoslavia or Rwanda. The fame that followed its publication led eventually to a post on Barack Obama’s Senate staff, then to his National Security Council and finally to the UN.
The ascension of Power to high office was, in theory, an opportunity to put into practice the R2P principle that she had championed. But yesterday’s speech was a requiem for R2P. Obama and Power have not merely flopped on the world stage; the catastrophe of Libya and the subsequent refusal to act on Syria as the worst human rights disaster of the 21st century unfolded has completely discredited a doctrine that was never even implemented.

Know Your History: James Bryce’s Impressions Of Palestine (National Geographic, Mar 1915)

A series where I use history to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.
In March 1915, National Geographic featured an article by James Bryce, former British Ambassador to the United States, on his impressions of what was then known as Palestine.
As usual with these old articles, it provides valuable insights, before political correctness and false narratives started to dominate reporting and discourse about this land. Note in particular:
  • Bryce’s constant references to Jewish history in the land
  • The map reference to Judea and Samaria (now referred to as the so-called “West Bank”)
  • His observations as to how poor in natural resources the land was (making Israel’s achievements since then even more amazing)
  • Nowhere is the word “Palestinian” mentioned, only Muslims/Mussulmans (you can work out why)
  • The references to the Muslim conquest of the area and Muslim vandalism
  • The mention of the demographics of Jerusalem at the time (40,000 Jews, 13,000 Christians and 7,000 Muslims)

Note: I cannot provide a link to the full article since it is only available to those who have purchased a National Geographic subscription. But I have provided screenshots below. As usual, click on the screenshots to enlarge.

Can Trump do anything to fix the UN?

With a United States president- elect whose agenda promises change in numerous directions, perhaps the time has come for the United Nations’ major funder – the US – to reconsider its continued support of this body? The UN came into being in October 1945, following the devastation of World War II, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. Yet the reality is that wars continue to rage.
We look on with horror at today’s genocide in Syria and the lack of human rights responses to the indiscriminate murder of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. Millions of Syrian refugees are displaced to other countries, 17.6 million are starving and 14 million have no access to medical facilities. Today some 200,000 civilians, including many children, in eastern Aleppo are without food and medical aid. This is hardly surprising with the repeated targeted bombing of hospitals. When confronted with the TV images, I have to switch them off – it is too painful. What we see is the fatal impotence of the UN in enabling humanitarian aid to enter Aleppo.
Yet despite the ongoing tragedy in Syria, the prime activity of the United Nations is its obsessive focus on and condemnation of Israel.
The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council’s membership includes human rights violators like Saudi Arabia, where women are subjugated and beheadings are at an all-time high; China, where 1.3 billion people are denied freedom of speech, assembly and religion; Qatar, where abuse of foreign workers is ongoing, and Algeria, home to forced child labor camps.
In 2015, the council passed 20 resolutions condemning Israel, and only three for the rest of the world combined. Not surprising to learn, therefore, that Item 7 on the Council’s agenda is looking at Israel’s “violation of human rights” while Item 4 looks at all of the rest of the world.
Sixty-two percent of the members of the HRC are from non-democratic countries.

ADL’s Greenblatt: Trump Has ‘More Intimate Relationship With Jewish People Than Any Other President’

The Anti-Defamation League’s Jonathan Greenblatt said that President-elect Donald J. Trump “walks into the Oval Office with a more intimate relationship with the Jewish people than any other president in the history of the United States of America.”
Greenblatt made the statement while participating in a “dinner-style information conversation” about political and Jewish values at the Shalehevet High School in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
The event was moderated by Danielle Berrin, a senior writer and columnist for the Jewish Journal, who — among other questions — asked the panelists how think the Trump administration will either exemplify or contravene Jewish values.
Greenblatt said, “we don’t yet know.” He added, “I think it is worth nothing that whether you like this President-elect or not… This man walks into the Oval Office with a more intimate relationship with the Jewish people than any other president in the history of the United States of America. So I just wanted to point that out.” He added his belief that “the notion of having children who are ‘shomer Shabbas’ [Sabbath observant] in the First Family is pretty remarkable.”
The panelists were critical of Trump overall, although there were a few glimmers of positive comment. Rabbi Ari Segal, who heads the Shalhevet Institute, said, “Whether you like him or hate him, he did show empathy in this election; maybe not for everybody. But for the states — Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin — he showed more empathy for them than Hillary Clinton did.”

Dershowitz: Support for Israel Must Remain Bipartisan

This year’s memorial event took the form of a dialogue rather than a debate between Dershowitz and JCPA President Dore Gold.
The main focus of their discussion was the aftermath of the US presidential elections.
Dershowitz, a diehard Democrat, who worked to have Hillary Clinton elected, said that he had actually predicted in his most recent book that the result would be close but that Donald Trump would win. He also predicted a split between the electoral and the popular vote, but he had expected it to go the other way with Trump getting the popular vote and Clinton getting the electoral vote. The reason he supported Clinton, he said, was because he thought she promised greater stability than Trump.
Relating to the divisions amongst American Jews in trying to decide which of the two candidates would be better for Israel, Dershowitz warned against any disruption to bi-partisan support. “We can never allow our election to become a referendum over Israel,” he said..
As for foreseeing what may eventuate under the Trump administration, “We cannot predict anything about the Trump administration other than it’s unpredictable,” said Dershowitz.
When the conversation turned to populism, Dershowitz stated that Trump is not a typical populist in that he is not an ideologue.

Dershowitz: “When the Palestinians Want a State More than They Want Israel to Cease to Exist, They Will Get a State”

The second day of the Globes Israel Business Conference 2016 in Tel Aviv opened with a panel on “Economy, Society, Security –The Great Powers and their Impact on the Middle East”. The participants were Prof. Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School, Shiv Malik, author and former investigative journalist with The Guardian, Dr. Patrick Clawson, Morningstar Senior Fellow and Director of Research, Washington Institute, David Wertime, senior editor of Tea Leaf Nation and a writer for Foreign Policy. The moderator was CNN’s Richard Quest
Asked about the excitement gripping Israel over the arrival of its first F-35 “Adir” stealth combat aircraft, Dr. Clawson responded, “Israel wants to ensure that its military superiority is maintained, and this is an aircraft that can evade the Russian anti-aircraft systems in Syria and Iran. This aircraft is a game-changer.”
Dershowitz said that “Israel has made clear, and continues to make clear, that it will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear capability. This aircraft enforces this commitment.” Dershowitz added that “Israel will be able to maintain ties with the moderate Sunni world against Iran through peace with the Palestinians.”
“Netanyahu acted wisely in broadening international support for Israel by becoming closer to Russia, India, and other countries. It happened because of the vacuum created during Obama’s term,” Dershowitz continued. On the possibility of peace negotiations with the Palestinians being renewed during the term of president-elect Donald Trump, Dershowitz, known as a fierce opponent of US President Barack Obama on foreign policy, said, “Obama alienated the Israelis, the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and Saudi Arabia. The only country that he brought closer is Iran. Clearly here could be no progress in negotiations with Palestinians in his time, but I believe with all my heart that during Trump’s term it could happen.”

Dershowitz: ICC will go after Israel if settlement bill passes

If the Knesset passes the settlements regulation bill, the International Criminal Court will go after Israelis and the Obama administration will let an anti-settlement resolution through at the UN, Prof. Alan Dershowitz says.
Dershowitz made the statement at an event for the Matan Institute for Women’s Torah Studies in Ra’anana on Tuesday night.
There is an intense debate in Israel over whether passing the bill to retroactively legalize certain unauthorized outposts built on private Palestinian land in exchange for financially compensating the Palestinians is legal and whether it would bring consequences from the international community, such as provoking the ICC. The original text of the legislation covered the Amona outpost, which the High Court of Justice has ordered demolished by December 25, but the proposed law has since been amended to not cover outposts which the court has ordered must be taken down.
In January 2015, the ICC started a preliminary examination of alleged war crimes in connection with the 2014 Gaza war (Operation Protective Edge) and the settlement enterprise, but to date it has not decided whether to open a full criminal investigation, which top Israeli officials worry would have grave consequences.
After other wide-ranging remarks, Dershowitz signaled to the crowd that he was about to drop some political bombshells, saying, “The other thing which is going to get controversial, but you don’t bring me not to be controversial… I think that Israel has to take into account world opinion and let me give you a very specific instance.”
“If the Amona bill is passed, two things will happen: One, the International Criminal Court, which is now reluctant to take jurisdiction, will take jurisdiction. It will be a provocation,” he asserted.

Palestinians preparing new Security Council draft – report

The Palestinian delegation to the United Nations has reportedly circulated a new draft of a resolution condemning Israel settlements that they hope to bring to a vote before US President Barack Obama leaves office next month.
The draft is reportedly softer than one circulated earlier in the year, but still calls all the settlements, including Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, illegal, Israel Radio reported, noting that Egypt would submit the text for the Palestinians.
The Palestinians pushed for the Security Council to adopt a resolution against settlements in February 2011 but it was vetoed by the United States. The 14 other Security Council members voted in favor of the resolution, reflecting the wide support for the draft which had over 100 co-sponsors.
Palestinians have said that the new resolution would draw from the 2011 text.
There was speculation that Obama would not veto the new resolution, however, the chances of that are thought to have gone down significantly since the election of Donald Trump to succeed him on January 20.
Following a meeting in Washington on Tuesday between a Palestinian delegation and US Secretary of State John Kerry, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that as regards any potential UN action relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “nothing’s changed about our view on that.”
Longstanding US policy has been for years that any resolution to the conflict should come from direct negotiations between the parties and not be imposed from the outside.

Netanyahu in Kazakhstan warns Iran: We’re a tiger, not a rabbit

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a visit to Kazakhstan Wednesday to send a warning to arch-enemy Iran: Don’t underestimate us, we are tigers, not rabbits.
During a meeting Wednesday morning in Astana with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the host asked Netanyahu whether he could deliver a message to Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, who is set to visit the Central Asian country next week.
Netanyahu replied yes, according to a senior official with knowledge of the details of the discussions. “Ask him why Iran continues to threaten us with annihilation. Don’t you understand: we’re not a rabbit. We’re a tiger,” the prime minister told Nazarbayev.
Netanyahu also told Nazarbayev that “if Iran attacks Israel it will put itself at risk,” the official said, speaking on conditioning of anonymity.

2 Arab Israelis charged with arson

An Israeli court ordered the arrest of two Arab Israelis charged with arson on Thursday.
Suleyman Ben Tawfiq Mahameed and an unnamed minor, both from the northern Arab-Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm, are alleged to have attempted to start a large forest fire in the area of the nearby town of Mei Ami on November 25.
After lighting some bushes on fire near the entrance to the town, the two got in their car to leave the scene, but were spotted by the town’s security coordinator, Tom Dahan, and volunteer security guard Chai Shalem, who were patrolling the area. The two tried to chase after the suspects in their car, but they sped off, according to a statement published by the Haifa District Court.
The court on Thursday accepted a request from the state prosecution to arrest the two.

Israeli car hit by gunfire outside Ramallah; woman driver, two kids, unharmed

A gunman shot up an Israeli car with two children in the back seat outside Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday evening, causing damage to the vehicle, but no injuries, the army said.
The Israel Defense Forces launched a search for the perpetrator of the shooting attack, who had fled the scene.
An Israeli woman was driving near the Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mash’al, northwest of Ramallah, when a gunman opened fire at her car, the army said.
Photos from the scene showed multiple bullet holes on the side of the vehicle and on the door; the pictures also showed the children in the back seat.
The shooting attack came hours after a 21-year-old Palestinian man attacked a group of police officers in the Old City of Jerusalem with a screwdriver, stabbing one of them in the head and another in the upper body, police said.
In response, the officers opened fire, shooting the assailant and mortally wounding him.

Amona residents reject state’s solution for contested outpost

The residents of the contested Samaria outpost of Amona on Wednesday rejected the government’s latest solution for their relocation, sparking new concerns over clashes with security forces scheduled to enforce the eviction on Dec. 25.
The residents held a marathon discussion over the proposed solution to relocate them to a hill behind Amona, where there are larger swaths of land not subject to Palestinian ownership claims, and decided to reject it by a vote of 58 to 20.
A source privy to the discussions said the reason for the rejection was the residents’ uncertainty as to whether they would be allowed to set up a permanent community at the new site.
The government’s proposal, formulated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett, was favored by some in Amona, who believed it was the best solution possible at this time.
Others, however, argued that the proposal was too vague and that, with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit yet to approve the plan, it would likely encounter legal hurdles that would hinder the government’s timetable for setting up the new community.
The residents’ decision to reject the solution reignited concerns over a forced eviction, especially given the violence that erupted in 2006 when Israeli troops demolished nine illegal structures in the outpost.

Amona settlers reject state’s ‘Swiss cheese’ relocation offer

Shortly after midnight, Wednesday, the 40 Amona families rejected a last minute compromise relocation plan which the state had offered them in hopes of avoiding a violent evacuation.
The offer, proposed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was to relocate the homes to abandoned Palestinian property on the same hilltop, where the West Bank outpost of Amona is currently located.
Families living in Amona said they had been prepared to accept a serious offer by the state that involved rebuilding all their homes on the same hilltop and promise not to destroy the current structures until the new ones had been completed.
Instead the state’s offer was so full of holes it was like “Swiss Cheese” and provided a solution for only a quarter of the families, the Amona residents said.

Top Abbas rival sentenced to jail on corruption charges

A top critic of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was sentenced in absentia Wednesday to three years in prison on corruption charges.
“The Anti-Corruption Crimes Court in Ramallah sentenced Muhammed Dahlan… to three years in prison after convicting him of embezzling $16 million,” Palestinian news agency Maan reported on Wednesday.
The court also fined Dahlan $16 million.
Sevag Torossian, one of Dahlan’s lawyers, told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the ruling “is a part of President Abbas’s ‘liquidation plan’ at the expense of his opponents.”

Smuggled scuba diving gear intercepted en route to Gaza Strip

A crate with scuba diving gear was discovered Wednesday at the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Israel-Gaza Strip border.
Inspectors noticed the gear, which is on the list of goods banned from entering Gaza, inside a semi-trailer hauling a load of clothing. The trailer was confiscated and the driver was detained for questioning by security forces. Investigators are also trying to find the person who sent the scuba equipment.
Along with the suits, inspectors found oxygen tanks, vests, masks and other accessories required for deep-sea diving.
In July 2014, five Hamas terrorists attempted to infiltrate Israel via the sea and carry out a terrorist attack near Kibbutz Zikim, on the Israeli coast. The squad was detected by IDF spotters, who dispatched forces to intercept them. The five terrorists were killed. In a briefing with military correspondents in April 2016, then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Hamas was trying to develop its naval capabilities.
Meanwhile, citing security concerns, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri signed a travel ban against five residents of east Jerusalem with alleged ties to Hamas. The five will be prohibited from leaving the country.

IS in Sinai claims rocket attack on Israel that missed target

The Islamic State terror group claimed Wednesday that it was responsible for firing two missiles on Monday from the Sinai Peninsula, aimed at an Israeli border crossing with Egypt but which missed the mark and landed in Egyptian territory.
The Islamic State affiliate in Egypt, known as Sinai Province, published photos on one of its news agencies from the attack on Monday documenting “the bombardment of the Nitzana border crossing on the border with Palestine with two grad rockets.”
On Monday, incoming rocket alert sirens sounded in southern Israel, as a result of the missiles launched in Sinai.
The Islamic State group claimed Israel responded with a series of airstrikes against it in the northern Sinai peninsula. The IS news agency said that Israel carried out three strikes over the course of three days in the area of Sheikh Zuweid in the northern peninsula. The Israel Defense Forces would not respond to the allegation.

Report: ISIS Envoy to Hamas Killed

The ISIS-affiliate terrorist group in Egypt has announced that its liaison to Hamas in the neighboring Gaza Strip has been killed.
ISIS’s Sinai Province released a statement confirming the death of Hashem Abdel Aileh Kishtah, although it did not specify how he had died. It is thought that Kishtah, who is originally from Rafah in the Gaza Strip, was smuggled into Sinai via tunnels from Gaza to train operatives of Sinai Province on how to use sophisticated anti-tank missiles and explosives.
Although Hamas has not confirmed Kishtah’s membership, he is thought to have been a high-ranking official in the group’s Izz ad-din al-Qassam wing and was referred to as such in previous reports on Sky News Arabic and the German publication Der Spiegel. He has also been highlighted as a crucial go-between for Hamas and ISIS in Sinai by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.
On Tuesday, the ISIS-linked Amaq news agency claimed that Israel carried out three strikes against its Sinai affiliate, specifically in El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid. Israel has not responded to the claims. However, rocket warning sirens were sounded in some southern Israeli communities that morning. No rockets reached Israel, but a projectile is thought to have been fired from Sinai, either at Israel or targeting Egyptian security forces within Sinai.

Although Hamas is now 29, it still behaves like a delinquent child that receives money and praise for doing nothing, out of the fear that it may do even less.

Every year at this time, Hamas marks its birthday with celebrations and festivities focusing on a leadership said to have no flaws. This year it turns 29, and as always at this time, it is boasting of its “successes.”
Last year, it published a list of such “successes” that included, but were not limited, to: 16,377 rockets fired at Israel, 86 suicide attacks, 36 stabbing attacks, 500 infiltrations into Israeli territory, and 26 abductions of living or dead Israelis. These were the atrocities that Hamas chose to publish in commemorative pamphlets. They do not take into account the past 12 months.
When Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom meets with representatives of the Palestinian Authority this weekend, I am curious to see if she brings up any of these activities, claimed and celebrated by Hamas. She is said to be excited to discuss the building and betterment of the Palestinian Authority and state, as well as moving forward in the peace process between Israel and Palestine. This has to be a somewhat one-sided talk, however, as Wallstrom is famously unwelcome in Israel after her anti-Zionist tic acted up to an absurd degree throughout 2016.
But the focus on the PA may allow her time to ask some pertinent questions.

Thousands rally in Gaza for anniversary of Hamas founding

Tens of thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of gunmen and children waving mock weapons, rallied in Gaza on Wednesday in support of the Islamic terrorist group Hamas that rules the territory on the 29th anniversary of its founding.
In a show of force for Hamas, loudspeakers blasted the group’s slogans through the streets as rockets mounted on pickup trucks rolled by. Hundreds of masked militants marched and dozens of children wielding imitation assault rifles attended with their families.
Hamas official Khalil Haya, delivered a fiery speech at the rally full of rhetoric against Israel. He also called for reconciliation with the Fatah party, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — but only under Hamas’ terms.
Hamas overtook Gaza in 2007 after routing troops loyal to Abbas in bloody street battles. Palestinians have since been divided between Gaza under Hamas and Abbas governing parts of the West Bank.
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took over Gaza. Israel says the blockade is necessary to prevent Hamas, which is openly committed to destroying Israel, from getting weapons; critics say it amounts to collective punishment.
Hamas has fought three wars three wars with Israel since it took over Gaza, including a 50-day clash in 2014.

29 Years of Hamas

Islamists threaten ‘volcano of jihad’ against Egypt after execution

Egypt executed prominent Islamist fighter Adel Habara on Thursday, state media said, days after a top court rejected his final appeal and in defiance of militant threats to ignite “a volcano of jihad” across the country.
Habara, 40, was sentenced to death in 2014 for killing 25 army conscripts in Northern Sinai in August 2013. He was hanged early on Thursday after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi signed off on the death sentence, state news agency MENA said.
Sisi has launched a fierce crackdown on Islamists since as Egypt’s then-military chief he overthrew the country’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in July 2013.
He is battling a raging insurgency in Northern Sinai, led by Sinai Province, the Egyptian affiliate of ISIS. The militant group has killed hundreds of soldiers and police in regular attacks that have intensified since Sisi took power.
After Habara’s appeal was rejected by the Court of Cassation on Saturday, ISIS supporters issued warnings to Sisi online not to carry out the execution.

Iran Breaks Nuclear Deal and UN Resolutions

“We will have a new ballistic missile test in the near future that will be a thorn in the eyes of our enemies.” – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The range of existing Iranian ballistic missiles has grown from 500 miles to over 1,250 miles (roughly 2,000 kilometers), which can easily reach Eastern Europe, as well as countries such as Israel.
In addition, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan said that there would be no limit for the range and amount of missiles that Iran will develop.
The nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Agreement (JCPOA) — effective, as of October 18, 2015, according to the State Department – clearly and distinctly stipulates that Iran should not undertake any ballistic missile activity “until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.”
Not only is Iran avoiding honoring this stipulation, but also Iran’s ballistic missile operations have significantly ratcheted up. More importantly, there has been no criticism at all from the Obama administration or other involved parties regarding this critical violation.

Extension of the Iran Sanctions Act Becomes Law Without Obama Signature

In an unexpected reversal, President Barack Obama declined to sign a renewal of sanctions against Iran but let it become law anyway, in an apparent bid to alleviate Tehran’s concerns that the U.S. is backsliding on the nuclear deal.
Although the White House had said that Obama was expected to sign the 10-year-renewal, the midnight deadline came and went Thursday with no approval from the president. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama had decided to let it become law without his signature.
“The administration has, and continues to use, all of the necessary authorities to waive the relevant sanctions” lifted as part of the nuclear deal, Earnest said in a statement.
Under the Constitution, the president has 10 days after Congress passes a bill to sign it, veto it or do nothing. If Congress has adjourned, failing to sign it is a “pocket veto” that prevents the bill from becoming law. But if Congress is still in session, the bill becomes law with no signature. Although lawmakers have returned home for the holidays, Congress technically is still in session and holding “pro-forma” sessions this week.
Though Obama’s move doesn’t prevent the sanctions renewal from entering force, it marked a symbolic attempt by the president to demonstrate disapproval for lawmakers’ actions. The White House has argued that the renewal is unnecessary because the administration retains other authorities to punish Iran, if necessary, and has expressed concern that the renewal may undermine the nuclear deal.

Russia: Loss of Iranian nuclear deal would be ‘unforgivable’

In an unexpected reversal, President Barack Obama declined to sign a renewal of sanctions against Iran but let it become law anyway, in an apparent bid to alleviate Tehran’s concerns that the U.S. is backsliding on the nuclear deal.
Although the White House had said that Obama was expected to sign the 10-year-renewal, the midnight deadline came and went Thursday with no approval from the president. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama had decided to let it become law without his signature.
“The administration has, and continues to use, all of the necessary authorities to waive the relevant sanctions” lifted as part of the nuclear deal, Earnest said in a statement.
Under the Constitution, the president has 10 days after Congress passes a bill to sign it, veto it or do nothing. If Congress has adjourned, failing to sign it is a “pocket veto” that prevents the bill from becoming law. But if Congress is still in session, the bill becomes law with no signature. Although lawmakers have returned home for the holidays, Congress technically is still in session and holding “pro-forma” sessions this week.
Though Obama’s move doesn’t prevent the sanctions renewal from entering force, it marked a symbolic attempt by the president to demonstrate disapproval for lawmakers’ actions. The White House has argued that the renewal is unnecessary because the administration retains other authorities to punish Iran, if necessary, and has expressed concern that the renewal may undermine the nuclear deal.

Khamenei to Palestinian Islamic Jihad: Israel Will Fall in 25 Years if Palestinians Unite

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with the head of the Gaza-based terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) on Wednesday and vowed that if “all Palestinians unite and all contribute to the fight, the Zionist regime will not be in existence in 25 years.”
Khamenei told PIJ leader Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah that “all efforts by the Zionist regime to overshadow Palestinian issue will fail and the occupied lands will be liberated by the very perseverance in the battle of all Palestinian groups,” the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
Iran promised in May to provide PIJ with $70 million in aid.
There have also been growing indications that Hamas, the main Gaza-based terror group, is also reconciling with Iran after a split over its role in Syria. Imad al-Alami, who is reported to have close ties to Iran, was appointed leader of Hamas in Gaza last month. A number of Hamas officials met with Iranian diplomats in Beirut in September, pledging to face the “Zionist threat” together. The following month, Gaza-based Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said that the terror group sought to “enhance and develop” its ties with Iran in order to prepare for a new war with Israel.

Citing Holocaust, Deri calls for emergency UN debate on Syria

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Tuesday that he had asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to officially request an emergency United Nations Security Council session on the worsening humanitarian situation in Syria, asserting that, “as Jews, we cannot ignore these atrocities.”
Deri, chair of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, said that the history of the Jewish people demanded Israel do what it can to the prevent the “massacre” of innocent civilians. “Six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust and the world was silent. As Jews, we cannot ignore these atrocities that have been taking place for nearly six years in Syria,” he said in a statement.
More than 300,000 people have been killed in Syria and millions more have fled their homes in nearly six years of civil war between government forces and a collection of rebel and Islamist groups.
Syrian civilians walk towards a checkpoint manned by pro-government forces, at the al-Hawoz street roundabout, after leaving Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods on December 10, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / George OURFALIAN)
Syrian civilians walk towards a checkpoint manned by pro-government forces, at the al-Hawoz street roundabout, after leaving Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods on December 10, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / George OURFALIAN)
On Tuesday, government troops poised for the final sweep to take the last rebel holdouts in eastern Aleppo as the international community and aid agencies appealed for the lives of thousands of civilians who have “nowhere safe to run” to be spared and for those fighting to capture the rebel enclave to refrain from atrocities. The UN said that pro-regime forces had executed 82 civilians in the city.

JPost EDitorial: Israel’s moral obligation to help save Aleppo’s civilians

There are no easy answers to the fighting in Syria.
With forces affiliated with al-Qaida, such as the Levant Conquest Front fighting alongside the rebels, it is impossible to differentiate between the good guys and bad. Israel’s position has been to remain completely neutral. Only when attempts are made by Hezbollah to smuggle game-changing military equipment out of Syria into Lebanon, where it could be used against Israel, did the IDF launch preemptive attacks.
But the fate of civilians and aid workers in Aleppo is a moral issue. Regardless of which side you are on, a solution must be found to enable the safe evacuation of those trapped in the ancient city. And Israel – as a moral voice in the region – must take a stand on the matter.
The UN and its institutions must do more than make empty declarations (or focus almost exclusively on human rights abuses purportedly committed by Israel). The UN, together with the US and the EU, must make the horrific situation in Syria a top priority in public discourse and diplomatic efforts.
US President Barack Obama, with only a few weeks left in office, should recognize the plight of Aleppo as his final moral test and stop at nothing to prevent a humanitarian tragedy. If successful, the evacuation of Aleppo can serve as a model for evacuating other areas of Syria.
As a people who suffered the Holocaust, we should see it as our moral imperative to protect the lives of Syrian civilians, including the thousands of innocent children.
There are no easy answers in the ongoing conflict.
But before time runs out, the innocent – civilians and aid workers trapped in the fighting – must be saved.

Assad and allies commit war crimes in Aleppo, while US stands idly by

On Tuesday morning, Syrian pro-government forces, accompanied by thousands of Shiite militias, began another ground operation in eastern Aleppo.
As of Tuesday evening, the operation hadn’t finished, but it was clear that the Syrian rebel forces were on the brink of defeat, and the citizens of eastern Aleppo were facing a massacre, at least according to reports emerging from the area.
Testimonies emerging from the city since Monday detail brutal atrocities being committed by pro-government Syrian forces. Arabic news outlets such as Al-Jazeera are broadcasting desperate calls from citizens who are trapped and crying out for help.
The UN on Tuesday warned of systemic murder being perpetrated by Syrian soldiers against citizens in neighborhoods that have been taken from rebel forces. According to UN reports, hundreds of people have been executed, and surviving civilians are being prevented from leaving Aleppo.
Pictures emerging from the area show the results of Iranian and Russian involvement in the war. The eastern part of the city is in ruins. Aleppo will not be restored as the economic engine of Syria, at least not within the next decade.

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