Tuesday, March 31, 2015

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: Abbas Wants Arabs to Bomb Gaza Strip
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is calling on Arab countries to launch a military strike against the Gaza Strip -- even as the PA plans to bring "war crimes" charges against Israel for doing exactly the same thing in the summer of 2014.
The Arabs are allowed to attack the Gaza strip to remove Hamas from power, while Israel is not even allowed to launch airstrikes at those who are firing rockets at its cities.
The PA's call should be brought to the attention of the International Criminal Court if and when Abbas proceeds with his plan to file "war crimes" charges against Israel for its war against Hamas.
This call should also be brought to the attention of Western governments and international human rights organizations that condemned Israel during Operation Protective Edge.
They also need to ask Abbas whether he also plans to file "war crimes" charges against his Arab brethren once they start bombing the Gaza Strip.
John Bolton: Obama Toys With Cutting Israel Adrift in the Security Council
Immediately after Israel’s March 17 election, Obama administration officials threatened to allow (or even encourage) the U.N. Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state and confine Israel to its pre-1967 borders. Within days, the president himself joined in, publicly criticizing not just Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Obama has had notoriously bad relations, but sectors of Israeli opinion and even Israel itself.
The administration leaks suggesting that Israel be cut adrift in the Security Council in effect threatened “collective punishment” as a weapon in U.S.-Israel relations. This is especially ironic coming from “progressives” who have repeatedly accused Israel of “collective punishment” by forcefully retaliating against terrorist attacks. But more important, exposing Israel to the tender mercies of its Security Council opponents harms not only Israel’s interests, but America’s in equal measure. Roughly half of Washington’s Security Council vetoes have been cast against draft resolutions contrary to our Middle East interests.
America’s consistent view since Council Resolution 242 concluded the 1967 Arab-Israeli war is that only the parties themselves can structure a lasting peace. Deviating from that formula would be a radical departure by Obama from a bipartisan Middle East policy nearly half a century old.
In fact, Israel’s “1967 borders” are basically only the 1949 cease-fire lines, but its critics shrink from admitting this tedious reality. The indeterminate status of Israel’s borders from its 1948 creation is in fact a powerful argument why only negotiation with relevant Arab parties can ultimately fix the lines with certainty.
Iran militia chief: Destroying Israel is ‘nonnegotiable’
The commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that “erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable,” according to an Israel Radio report Tuesday.
Militia chief Mohammad Reza Naqdi also threatened Saudi Arabia, saying that the offensive it is leading in Yemen “will have a fate like the fate of Saddam Hussein.”
Naqdi’s comments were made public as Iran and six world powers prepared Tuesday to issue a general statement agreeing to continue nuclear negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June.
In 2014, Naqdi said Iran was stepping up efforts to arm West Bank Palestinians for battle against Israel, adding the move would lead to Israel’s annihilation, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.
“Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of this region,” Naqdi said. (h/t Bob Knot)



JPost Editorial: Real differences
Obama has faith in the ability of diplomacy, negotiations and “engagement” with the Iranians as the best strategy for dealing with the threat presented by an Iran with nuclear weapons.
In contrast, Netanyahu, many Israelis and quite a few American critics of Obama (not just Republicans) are rightly concerned that after being in office for six years, the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East has very little to show for its efforts. Anarchy seems to be spreading, from Syria and Iraq to Yemen.
Israel and its borders, in contrast, are a relative oasis of stability.
This hardly seems the time to be taking chances by creating a Palestinian state that will inevitably be corrupt and autocratic and vulnerable to takeover by Hamas, as in the case of the Gaza Strip. And the Obama administration is hardly in a position to be lecturing to Israel about how best to solve its conflict with the Palestinians.
Further hurting relations between the Obama administration and Israel is the perception – not just among Israelis but also among the heads of Gulf states, Obama’s many American critics (not just Republicans) and even the French – that a tougher stand needs to be taken against the Iranians to prevent them from achieving nuclear weapons capability.
Obama is right. The differences between the Obama administration and Israel’s chosen government “can’t be reduced to a matter of somehow let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya.’” They are much more substantive. They might be brushed over, but no amount of Democratic pushback will make them go away.
Obama’s Pax Persarum
Which brings me back to the Obama Administration’s mysterious policy. Trying to get closer to Iran and Syria is the heart of the Baker-Hamilton diplomatic offensive. And this is exactly what the administration is doing. It believes that Iran and its proxies will mop up the Sunni radicals in Iraq and Syria, so that the administration’s pullout from Iraq won’t be blamed for the chaos.
But it isn’t dumb enough to think that Iran wants to help stabilize Iraq and Syria, after which it will go back to minding its own business. The administration understands that the Iranians want the whole enchilada. And they are OK with that. After all, who is to say that a Shiite caliphate is worse than the Islamic State, or the Wahhabi regime of the Saudis? All those Arabs are crap, they think, so who cares what kind of dictatorship they have. We can work with Iran, they think. One address for the whole Middle East. Pax Persarum.
Unfortunately, Israel stands in the way of the Iranian dream. And it might be small, but it’s still a nuclear power. It’s a much bigger threat to the Shiite caliphate than the Saudis or anyone else. So Israel has to go, and the best way to bring that about without a nuclear war is to weaken it, until the conventional forces of Hizballah, Hamas and the PLO combined with boycotts and isolation from the Western world can make it so unpleasant to live here that it will collapse.
For me that would be a big problem. For Obama, not so much.
Ben-Dror Yemini: Someone in the White House is confused
Two days after the Israeli elections, the Islamic State carried out suicide attacks at two mosques in Sana'a, murdering some 150 individuals. The day before, an Islamic State offshoot perpetrated a terror attack in Tunisia that killed 23 people, mostly tourists.
In February, 1,977 people were murdered in Jihadist terrorism. In recent days, reports are emerging of massacres by Iraqi-Iranian forces in the Iraqi city of Tikrit: Shia Muslims are massacring Sunnis, after Sunnis, led by Islamic State, massacred Shias in June 2014. The commander of the attacking forces is General Qassem Soleimani, a mega-terrorist and commander of the al-Quds brigade of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Soleimani oversees Hezbollah and Hamas, as part of the project to destroy Israel.
Throughout the Muslim world, more and more countries have ceased to exist. Syria fell apart a long time ago. Libya is fragmented, with part of the country under the control of an Islamic front, and the city of Derna in the hands of Islamic State. Parts of Nigeria have been abandoned to Boko Haram, another Jihad offshoot.
The situation in Afghanistan and certain Pakistani provinces is similar. Somalia went to pieces years ago. In recent weeks, Yemen, too, has joined the list. Jihadists are in control of parts of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. Four countries and/or parts of countries are already under Iranian patronage – Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.
The Muslim world is undergoing massive upheaval. Arab identity is disappearing. The identity on the rise is Islamic, tribal and sectarian. Death and destruction have reached monumental proportions.
None of the bloody conflicts have anything to do with Israel or the Palestinians.
Iran deal would be worst U.S. betrayal of Israel yet
The last time an Israeli premier stood quietly by while the U.S. tried to cut a separate peace, the Jewish State got bubkes.
This moment was recalled by Secretary Baker in his speech to J Street. “By refusing to respond to Iraq’s Scud missile attacks, Israel helped us sustain critical Arab support for ejecting Iraq from Kuwait,” Baker cooed. “Israel’s forbearance in the face of Iraqi aggression was evidence, if any was needed, of the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. And it was something for which President Bush and all who served on his foreign policy team were immensely grateful.”
Well, that and a dime will get you a cup of coffee. Baker spoke of the opportunity the coalition’s triumph in the First Gulf War provided to “advance Arab-Israeli peace.” He was speaking of the Madrid Conference, which was undercut at Oslo, which eventually failed as well. I’ve always thought that one reason is the fact that the world saw that Israel could be elbowed to the side by its own ally, even in the middle of a missile war aimed at its population centers.
The excuse Baker gave for his famously coarse epithet of the Jews is, “They didn’t vote for us anyhow.” But what excuse does President Obama have? He wants Israel out of the Geneva talks, so that he can cut a separate peace. The last time an Israeli premier stood quietly by while this happened, Israel was trundled from Madrid to Oslo to Camp David II. It got bubkes. That Israel has not been at the table in Geneva and Lausanne is in and of itself reason enough to reject the separate peace that may be unveiled this week.
No to a UN-imposed settlement
You can’t point to very much that’s positive the UN has done – over decades – to advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Indeed, it has often exacerbated the Arab-Israeli conflict, rather than promoting reconciliation by the parties.
From the infamous Zionism equals racism resolution adopted in 1975 (and only repealed 17 years later), to the creation of the special UN in-house committees promoting the Palestinian narrative, to the constant browbeating by the UN Human Rights Council – which also perpetuates the Palestinian narrative – and to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has also perpetuated the narrative of Palestinian victimization, the list is long.
The UN is inhospitable territory for Israel, and attempts to impose any kind of arrangement will find few willing partners in Israel – even beyond the new government.
Knowing a UN Security Council resolution might not require it to make real concessions, would the Palestinian Authority demand a “right of return” of Palestinians to Israel? Attempt to wriggle out of endof- conflict assurances? Agree to be demilitarized? Stop incitement and terrorism? If a framework is imposed through the UN, it will send a message to the European Union and the rest of the world that Israel can be coerced through third parties, and the EU, as well as Israel’s enemies in the Islamic and Arab world will see this as an opportunity to pile on.
Ultimately, a UN-imposed settlement would place Israel in a three-sided vise, facing the prospects of rockets and other terrorist attacks from north (Hezbollah), south (Hamas) and east (Iran and its proxies).
Jennifer Rubin: Bipartisan letter to Obama: Stop threatening Israel
Right Turn has obtained a copy of a letter from Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) to President Obama imploring him to recall that “Democratic and Republican administrations have stood by Israel in opposing anti-Israel or one-sided resolutions at the UN Security Council and other UN agencies.” They quote back to him his own words from 2011 declaring, “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations.” In relatively strong language, the senators say he must remain firm against resolutions that circumvent direct negotiations and “must make clear our willingness to use our veto power to block such efforts at the UN Security Council and our continuing defense of Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council and other agencies where Israel is under constant assault.”
It is extraordinary that such a letter is even necessary, but this president has gone into a realm of threats and recriminations no other president has ever attempted. This is no longer a conservative or Republican backlash. Liberal stalwarts in Congress and in the foreign policy community, many of whom harbor no affection for the current Israeli prime minister, are dumbstruck. David Rothkopf, publisher of the center-left Foreign Policy and a former Clinton official, writes: “Just because the Middle East’s descent into chaos is hardly the fault of the Obama administration, that doesn’t mean its policies in the region are not an egregious failure. . . . Now, as noted above, Benjamin Netanyahu is no walk in the park as a partner. But it is also undeniable that the White House has poured gasoline on the flames that have all but incinerated the traditional foundations of the relationship. Whatever the next 21 months may bring — and a further deterioration of the relationship is likely — it’s no exaggeration to say that the relationship between the leaders of the United States and Israel is at a historic low. In fact, you can say what you want about the origins of the current mess in the Middle East, but the fact that America’s relations with every important country in the region are worse with the exception of Iran is telling.”
Sources: US may push renewed discussion of the Saudi peace initiative
According to the sources, the US would not initiate the move itself, but would "make sure" that another western state would introduce the move.
Sources who work closely with the US delegation to the United Nations say that, parallel to the blatant declarations directed against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the White House recently, senior officials in the administration are initiating steps to be taken immediately after the swearing in of the new Israeli government aimed at renewing Israeli and Palestinian dialogue.
A senior European envoy in New York said that, amid the current chaos in the Middle East and the involvement of Arab states in the war in Yemen, he believes the US will push the Saudi initiative through a discussion at an international forum or by turning directly to the Israelis and Palestinian Authority.
The purported US plans do not signal that Washington supports all of the clauses of the Saudi initiative or agrees to its diplomatic goals. However, the move would serve Washington in two ways: first, it will placate the Saudis and strengthen the standing of Riyadh and the moderate Gulf states, who are afraid of the emerging nuclear deal with Iran and of Tehran's ambitions to take control of the area. Second, such a step would send a message to the new government in Israel: that it does not have a lot of time to ponder a renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians.
As Palestinians join ICC Wednesday, will war crimes complaints quickly follow?
So what is actually changing on April 1? For one, Palestine will become a voting member of the Assembly of State Parties, which decides on many aspects of the court. But as one of 124 member states, its influence will be marginal.
More importantly, Palestine will be able to file so-called state referrals, which carry more weight than referrals by nonmember entities. In practice, that means that when Palestine the member state complains about crimes committed on its soil, the court will have to take the referral more seriously than it previously did.
And yet, the actual difference between pre- and post-membership complaints is not dramatic, several Israeli officials said, all speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue.
“It changes the procedure down the line, but it’s a pretty minor procedural step that has little impact,” one official said.
PLO member accuses Israel of war crimes over Har Homa
PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi accused Israel of war crimes after the Jerusalem Municipality issued a construction permit for 143 apartment units in the Jewish neighborhood of Har Homa located over the pre-1967 lines on Monday.
“This latest development is an additional war crime as stipulated by the Rome Statute, and the occupation authorities will be held accountable by the International Criminal Court and other venues for its continued aggression on the lands and resources of the state of Palestine,” Ashrawi said.
According to Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, the construction permit was a technicality for a project that was marketed by the city years ago. She explained that a private contractor needed the permit for work that had already been authorized. The municipality made no comment.
Located on the city’s southern end, the Har Homa neighborhood of some 20,000 residents creates a wedge between Israeli-Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem from the nearby Palestinian city of Bethlehem. (h/t NormanF)
Planning body okays Arab construction push in E. Jerusalem
An Interior Ministry planning body on Monday approved continued progress for a plan to construct 2,200 housing units in East Jerusalem and to validate hundreds of others that were built illegally.
The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved for publication a master plan for the housing units, enabling the public to get a first look at — and protest — a scheme to build thousands of homes for the population in the Arab al-Sawahira neighborhood of East Jerusalem. By recognizing additional buildings that were constructed illegally, the plan will enable hundreds more homes to be included in municipal services.
Right-wing city council member Arieh King, a proponent of Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem, strongly opposed the plan. King wrote on his Facebook page before the planning panel’s meeting that “the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, will try and stick another nail in the coffin of Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli control.”
Release of PA taxes said held up over electric bill dispute
Four days after Israel announced it would stop withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid tax funds to the Palestinian Authority, the payment remained held up over a dispute regarding the size of the PA’s unpaid electric bill.
A Palestinian source said that the Israeli demand for electricity costs is far too high for the PA, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday. Multiple sources said the two sides are still NIS 400 million ($100 million) apart on their demands over the amount to be transferred.
PA and Israeli officials met Monday to discuss the details of the transfer, but were unable to come to an agreement.
The PA is scheduled to pay the salaries of 170,000 government employees next week, according to Israel Radio.
While Violence Rages Across Arab Middle East, UN Secretary General Calls Israel a Threat to International Peace
The Arab League met in Egypt on March 28, 2015 in the midst of a bloody coup in Yemen, the Saudi air force bombing parts of Yemen, Iraq and Syria experiencing catastrophic intra-Muslim violence, and Islamist terrorists attacking across Arab countries. In this context, the United Nations' contribution was to help push Israel to the top of the agenda as a central threat to peace in the Middle East. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told participants: "Today, war and violence in the region, reprehensible acts of terrorism, and the seemingly endless Israeli occupation of Palestine are causing enormous suffering. The impact of all these threats transcends the Arab world. They pose a direct challenge to international peace and security..."
In addition, instead of calling for the rejection of the terrorist organization Hamas, the Secretary General urged Palestinians to unite with it. In his words: "I urge the Palestinians to overcome their divisions."
Poll: Clear majority supports nuclear deal with Iran
By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, Americans support the notion of striking a deal with Iran that restricts the nation’s nuclear program in exchange for loosening sanctions, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds.
But the survey — released hours before Tuesday’s negotiating deadline — also finds few Americans are hopeful that such an agreement will be effective. Nearly six in 10 say they are not confident that a deal will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, unchanged from 15 months ago, when the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia reached an interim agreement with Iran aimed at sealing a long-term deal.
Overall, the poll finds 59 percent support an agreement in which the United States and its negotiating partners lift major economic sanctions in exchange for restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. Thirty-one percent oppose a deal.
Be ‘very worried’ about Iran deal, says ex-Shin Bet head
A former head of the Shin Bet security agency said Tuesday that Israel has “good reasons to be worried, even very worried” about a potential nuclear deal between Iran and the world powers known as the P5+1.
Avi Dichter, who has also served as public security minister and who is re-entering Knesset Tuesday as a member of the Likud party, told the Walla news site that the agreement would effectively make Iran a nuclear threshold state. He also said Israel would launch a military strike if necessary.
Dichter made his comments before news came out Tuesday that Tehran and the P5+1 were preparing to issue a general statement agreeing to continue negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June, according to AP.
The Likud MK emphasized that Iran’s regional standing in the Middle East is also troubling. Iran has “moved from a position of isolation, of losing its northern axis — Iraq, Syria and Lebanon,” he said, and “suddenly becomes the favorite son of the West in general, and the US in particular.”
Former IAEA Deputy Director: Current Deal’s Breakout Time Would Be Seven or Eight Months
In an analysis published Saturday, Olli Heinonen, former deputy director-general for safeguards at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and now at Harvard University, argued that a one-year breakout window is not enough to prevent the Iranians from dashing across the nuclear finish line—even assuming that the rumored terms could achieve such a one-year period, which Heinonen calculated is not at all certain. Instead, it appears that the deal shaping up would put Iran perhaps only seven to eight months from breakout. Assuming that Iran will be able to operate 6,500 centrifuges, Heinonen estimated that using first-generation centrifuges, the breakout time would be nine months; however, given the stockpile of low-enriched uranium the Iranians have on hand, he writes that “a breakout time of between seven and eight months would…be possible.”
Real world constraints on detection mean that even with a one year breakout time, the U.S. might not have sufficient time to prevent the Iranians from constructing a nuclear bomb should the Islamic Republic go down that path. If Iran attempted to conceal its nuclear activities from the IAEA, it would take the organization at least two months to sift through samples and conduct the proper analysis. Further samples would likely be needed, expanding the detection time to three months. Then the IAEA would need time to report to the United Nations Security Council, which would need more time to respond.
Heinonen, along with Michael Hayden, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Ray Takeyh, a former State Department advisor on Iranian affairs in the Obama administration, wrote last week in The Washington Post about additional real-world constraints that make one year an inadequate time to catch Iran cheating and act:
IAEA Wants 'Snap Inspections' as Part of Iran Nuclear Deal
A piece on the Iran nuclear deal published at the Huffington Post cites the IAEA inspection regime that is already in place as a sign of the forthcoming deal’s success, but what the IAEA really wants is the implementation of the so-called “additional protocol,” which amounts to snap inspections.
Joe Cirincione is the president of the Ploughshares Fund, an organization that seeks to reduce nuclear arms stockpiles and prevent nuclear proliferation. In his piece published today at the Huffington Post he cites three necessary elements which will allow readers to judge whether the deal being negotiated with Iran is a good one. The second of the three points is the need for tough inspections. Cirincione writes, “the deal must give us eyes on the program. It must create an inspection regime so intrusive that if Iran tries to break out, sneak out or creep out, we can detect it quickly.”
That seems reasonable. After all, what good is a deal if there is no way to verify it? Cirincione writes, “If the inspection procedures are as good as reported, we can detect cheating very quickly. I was with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano last week. He told an international gathering of non-proliferation experts that with the new inspection procedures, ‘If there is any abnormality, we can detect the change on the following day, on the very same day or in one week’s time.'”
Report Says Iran May Be Keeping Elements of Nuclear Program in Syria, North Korea
As world powers race to close a nuclear deal with Iran, recent reports have indicated that not all elements of Iran’s nuclear program may be domestic, but that some of it may be located in Syria and as far away as North Korea. In light of the secrecy surrounding the talks going on in Lausanne, Switzerland these reports are receiving some attention, according to The Israel Project, a Washington DC-based advocacy group.
If true, the implications of the reports are far reaching. The Israel Project said that the debate in these reports “involves how Iran has dispersed its nuclear assets to Syria and North Korea, which means that any envisioned deal would only slow a part of the Iranian nuclear program, while flooding the Iranians with cash to bolster what’s left over.”
Last November, as an earlier deadline for the talks approached, the issue came up regarding Iran moving its nuclear program’s assets to Syria, but now the debate is including North Korea. And according to the Israel project, “Even if everything goes right in slowing Iran’s nuclear work on Iranian soil…the deal wouldn’t touch all of the places and ways the Iranians are going nuclear.”
Expert: “Mistake” To Believe That Only Alternative to Nuke Deal with Iran is War
In an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Monday, David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, disputed the idea that the only alternative of the deal being negotiated with Iran was a war. The relevant segment of the interview is embedded below. When Mitchell asked if “we’re better not to have a deal at all,” Albright responded:
Well I think a bad deal is worse than no deal. I think I’ll repeat what the U.S. government has said many times. And I’ll also repeat what other U.S. [government] officials have said to me privately and publicly. There are alternatives to not having a deal and one of them as stated by very senior treasury official recently is that they would work with Congress to increase pressure on Iran. I think one of the mistakes is to think that somehow if there’s no deal it’s war. I think that’s good in a kind of the rhetorical war that takes place within the Washington Beltway but in real life … those are not the only two choices by any means.
Iran Tests Obama’s Desperation Again
As the last weekend before the deadline for its nuclear talks with Iran wound down, administration sources were talking as if a deal was a foregone conclusion. But as they have throughout this process, Tehran’s agents decided to test President Obama’s desperation one more time. On Sunday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi let slip that, contrary to the West’s expectations, the Islamist regime had no intention of agreeing to anything that would commit them to shipping their growing stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country. Reneging at the last minute on something they have previously committed to doing is a standard Iranian negotiating tactic. Though American officials are insisting that negotiations about this crucial point are continuing, the last-second switch was yet another telling moment in a dispiriting display of weak American diplomacy. Along with Iran’s ongoing refusal to reveal its military research program and reports about nuclear work in Syria and North Korea that may be conducted on behalf of the regime once sanctions are lifted, this news raises the question of just how much more will the U.S. have to concede to get Iran to sign on to anything?
The official U.S. response to the New York Times report about Iran reneging on exporting its nuclear fuel was hardly encouraging. Virtually all observers were under the impression that the West had secured Iran’s agreement on this point. Though there would still be plenty of room to cheat on a deal with such a provision in place, without it, the entire shaky edifice of the negotiations would collapse. Thus, when a “senior State Department official” said that, “Contrary to the report in The New York Times, the issue of how Iran’s stockpile would be disposed of had not yet been decided in the negotiating room, even tentatively,” that is hardly a sign that the situation is in hand. If Iran is still holding onto that crucial card with only hours before a deadline is supposed to expire, that’s a sign of enormous confidence on the part of Tehran’s negotiators that they have President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry just where they want them.
What If There’s No Iran Deal?
Taking a tough line on Iranian nukes is bad, according to Obama, because it could help Republicans. It’s a rather amazing bit of myopia and partisan mania from the president.
And yet all this damage Obama is doing is for an Iran deal that might, in the end, not happen. And what if that’s the case? We can’t stitch Yemen, Syria, and Iraq back together. The failure of the negotiations won’t make the Saudis or the Israelis or the French trust Obama any more.
Obama’s clout on the Hill will plummet. And his legacy will be in ruins. After all, though he has been on pace to sign a bad Iran deal, it would at least buy him time for his devotees to spin the deal before its worst consequences happen (which would be after Obama leaves office, as designed). In other words, signing a bad deal for Obama allows him to say that at least from a narrow antiwar standpoint, all the costs we and our allies have incurred were for a purpose.
Of course, the grand realignment Obama has been seeking with Iran can’t and won’t be undone. That’s happening whether a deal is signed or not. And while Obama will have spent much of his own political capital, the president’s wasted time will pale in comparison to the smoldering ruins of American influence he leaves behind.
Krauthammer On Iran Deal: 'Surrender At Every Level'
KRAUTHAMMER: It’s more than chaotic. It’s a surrender at every level. The latest news — the most shocking news is another bait and switch. We were assured that the Iranians would ship all their enriched uranium out of the country so they wouldn’t have access to it. They would have to re-enrich the stuff they had which would take them time, which would give us and the west the opportunity to do something about it if they were cheating or a breakout.
Now, we are learning — we heard from the deputy foreign minister of Iran, that it is a principle of theirs that they will not ship out right enriched uranium. Are we going to cave on this? We already caved on four other supposedly nonnegotiable principles. This is a total collapse on our side and this administration is so desperate that the Iranians have the audacity on the day before to do a final bait and switch on highly enriched uranium.
'Iran is placing guided warheads on Hezbollah rockets'
Iran is placing guided warheads on its rockets and smuggling them to Hezbollah in Lebanon, a senior Defense Ministry official involved in preparing Israeli air defenses said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Israel Air and Missile Defense Conference in Herzliya, organized by the iHLS defense website and the Israel Missile Defense Association, Col. Aviram Hasson said Iran is converting Zilzal unguided rockets into accurate, guided M-600 projectiles by upgrading their warheads.
Hasson, who is in charge of upper tier missile defenses in the Defense Ministry's HOMA, which is a part of the Defense Ministry's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, described Iran as a "train engine that is not stopping for a moment. It is manufacturing new and advanced ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. It is turning unguided rockets that had an accuracy range of kilometers into weapons that are accurate to within meters."
Hezbollah, he continued, "is getting a lot of accurate weapons from Iran. It is in a very different place compared to the Second Lebanon War in 2006."
PA Asks FIFA to Suspend Israel
The Palestinian Football Association on Monday officially asked the international soccer organization FIFA to suspend Israel.
The move is being led by Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement who currently serves as president of the Palestinian Football Association. Rajoub has been trying for months to convince FIFA to suspend Israel because of his claims that it discriminates against Palestinian Arab players.
Until recently, FIFA heads tried to convince Rajoub not to submit his request, but Rajoub chose to ignore pleas on the issue from FIFA president Sepp Blatter and went ahead with the request, which will be discussed by the FIFA congress in two months.
It is believed that there is little chance the request will be approved, however, as it takes a majority of 66% of the members to pass such a resolution. (h/t Bob Knot)
Jerusalem Land Day event low on turnout, high on rage
The Land Day demonstration, an annual protest against state confiscation of privately owned Arab land, all but ended 15 minutes after it began.
A few dozen protesters, mostly teenagers, stood on the stone steps across from the grand gate erected by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1538, waving Palestinian flags and chanting nationalistic songs. Local politicians, including Fatah’s former Jerusalem affairs minister Hatem Abdul Qader and Legislative Council member Jihad Abu Zneid, sat in the front row, cheering, as the youth behind them chanted: “Hand in hand, we shall protect Jerusalem from Judaization,” “Tomorrow Hamas will arrive and with it suicide attacks,” and “How great are the kidnappers of soldiers and border police.”
When the demonstrates began moving toward Sultan Suleiman Street, a major thoroughfare, they were stopped by Israeli border police, and physical altercations erupted. One man was arrested, a couple of mounted policemen arrived at the scene, and within moments the road was back to normal, with only a handful of journalists looking for people to interview and three Irish solidarity activists carrying a banner that read “Celts against Apartheid” left behind.
IDF Clashes with 40 Rioters at Gaza Border
Israeli soldiers shot and wounded at least one Arab when approximately 40 Gazans rioted near the security fence at Khan Yunis in central Gaza Monday.
An IDF spokeswoman told The Jewish Press, “Soldier shot warnings in the air and when the protesters did not retreat, shots were fired at their lower extremities, injuring one person.”
The Palestinian Authority-based Ma’an News Agency reported that three Arabs were wounded.
The riot coincided with “Land Day” marches and riots in Judea and Samaria, which generally did not result in unusual violence.
Palestinian official in charge of rebuilding Gaza resigns
Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa was not available for comment Tuesday on why he stepped down. It was not clear if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would accept the resignation of Mustafa, an experienced economist.
Mustafa had been put in charge of Gaza reconstruction, following a 50-day war last summer between Israel and Gaza’s ruling Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group and a bitter rival of Abbas.
The fighting destroyed or damaged thousands of homes. Reconstruction has sputtered, in large part because of continued political wrangling between Abbas and Hamas over who controls Gaza.
Ehab Bseiso, a spokesman for Abbas’ West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, says Mustafa resigned for personal reasons.
Abbas Slammed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad for Urging Arab Intervention in Gaza
Leaders from the Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad slammed Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas for purportedly suggesting that Arab states intervene in Gaza with military force resembling their action in Yemen.
Abbas made the suggestion during his remarks at the Arab League summit in Egypt, where he praised the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen as “acceptable and advisable” and said that “there are other cases, there are other countries suffering from division and discord.”
“We suffer from division. We were the first to suffer from division,” Abbas said, in reference to the split between the PA-controlled West Bank and Hamas-controlled Gaza.
“Abbas had previously described Gaza as a rebellious region and seeks to pit the world against his own people, not to mention that he works with the Israelis against his Palestinians,” Hamas member Mushir al-Masri said at a rally against Abbas in northern Gaza on Sunday evening, the Turkish state-runAnadolu Agency reported.
Hezbollah ‘operating in Yemen’ with Houthis
Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based Shiite militia, is operating in Yemen on the side of the Houthis with the aid of Iran, a senior Saudi diplomat claimed on Friday.
Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel Al-Jubeir made the claim in an interview on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. “We have reports that the Iranians are providing weapons, training and advisers to the Houthis. We have reports of Hezbollah operatives being in Yemen.”
According to Al-Jubeir, when the Houthis captured Sanaa one of the first things they did was to release captured members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.
“This is really a war to defend the legitimate government of Yemen and to protect the Yemeni people from being taken over by a radical militant group that is aligned with Iran and Hezbollah.”
Al-Jubeir said the coalition would do “whatever it takes to achieve that objective.”
Iran Tells Its Citizens Israel IDF Joined Saudis to Bomb Yemen
One of the Iranian regime’s mouthpieces reported has reported that the Israeli Air Force joined Saudi warplanes to bomb Yemen this week.
The article by the Fars [read: Farce”] News Agency was so ridiculous that even the less responsible news sites did not repeat the propaganda.
On the other hand, considering Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s statement earlier this week that “we see eye to eye with many of our Arab neighbors regarding the danger posed by Iran and we also view positively the benefit that this new partnership could have for the region,” perhaps the Fars report is a harbinger of the future.
Israel rooting for the Saudis
When Shi’ite Houthi rebels took Yemen’s capital in September, it sent shock waves to countries on the Red Sea, scared of Yemen becoming an Iranian hub. Besides Israel, these countries are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti.
The new Saudi leadership role in the region, demonstrated by King Salman and his ability to put aside Sunni differences such as Qatar’s and Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, could provide a counter-force to Iran absent a US force doing so.
Analysts and a former deputy national security adviser told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Israel’s interest lies in the victory of the Saudi alliance over the Houthis.
“Israel’s clear interest is to see a rollback of Iranian influence in Yemen. This is true also in Syria, where the fall of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad will be a blow to the Shi’ite corridor,” Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, told the Post.
At Least 40 Casualties Reported In Yemen Refugee Camp Bombing
Reuters reports at least 40 people were killed and 200 more wounded in an errant attack against a camp for “displaced people” in northern Yemen on Monday. Houthi insurgents claim this was collateral damage from an air attack on their positions by the Saudi-led international coalition seeking to restore the government of deposed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
The Saudi military said they were investigating the incident. “It could have been that the fighter jets replied to fire, and we cannot confirm that it was a refugee camp,” said a Saudi general. Hadi’s government, meanwhile, blamed Houthi artillery fire for casualties at the camp.
At least one witness at the camp said that the target of the strike appeared to be a truck full of Houthi militia parked at the gates. A Yemeni journalist quoted by the L.A. Times said he thought Saudi forces mistook the refugee camp for a Houthi military installation. Other sources believe the target of the airstrike was a Houthi base located uncomfortably close to the refugee camp.


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