Posted tagged ‘State Department’

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran

January 17, 2018

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran, Washington Free Beacon , January 17, 2018

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems / Getty Images

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

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The Trump administration State Department is working to suppress new sanctions on Iran’s propaganda network that were promised to be implemented by the White House in response to a wave of protests that have gripped the Islamic Republic for weeks, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

The White House vowed in the opening days of Iran’s countrywide protests against the ruling government that it would take steps to level sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, a satellite service that disseminates propaganda across Iran and routinely censors content.

While Iranian protesters and opponents of the country’s hardline government welcomed the White House’s decision, the State Department is believed to be working against the effort in order to uphold a little-known deal with Iran that was struck during the Obama administration.

The apparent reversal has raised questions in Congress about the nature of the agreement between the Obama administration and Iran that prevents new sanctions on the IRIB. It also has sparked criticism from regional experts who view the move as part of a bid by the State Department to continue appeasing the Iranian ruling regime at a time when dissidents are pleading for help from the United States.

The Obama administration struck a deal in 2013 with Iran that waived existing sanctions on the IRIB as part of an agreement reached under the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, or ITSO.

Since that agreement, the United States has waived sanctions every 180 days on the IRIB, despite evidence it continues to censor content and jam broadcasts the hardline ruling regime finds unacceptable, sources said.

The little-known ITSO agreement with Iran is receiving new scrutiny as lawmakers try to determine how the Obama administration reached this deal and why many in Congress were never briefed on the matter.

“At such an important inflection point in Iranian history as brave Iranians are protesting an illegitimate tyranny, it defies logic that the State Department could be waiving sanctions to assist the Iranian regime,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees told the Free Beacon.

DeSantis is exploring avenues to obtain further information about the 2013 agreement and the context in which it was struck.

“Congress needs to get more information about this specific waiver and why waiving such sanctions is necessary at this moment given that the protesters are calling for more sanctions against the regime,” DeSantis said.

The White House signaled earlier this month, as the protests in Iran erupted, that it would no longer waive sanctions on the IRIB to boost the demonstrators and cut off the Islamic Republic’s chief propaganda organ.

However, the State Department favors continuing the waivers in order to uphold the Obama-era deal with Iran, according to multiple sources.

A State Department official acknowledged the existence of the deal, but would not provide the Free Beacon with details of the agreement, information on how it was struck, and whether Congress had a say in the matter.

This has raised even more questions with lawmakers and experts tracking the situation.

“The administration periodically renews the relevant sanctions waivers to allow international satellite companies to provide satellite broadcast service to IRIB in accordance with an understanding reached with the Iranian government under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) in 2013, where Iran committed to ensure that harmful interference does not emanate from its territory,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon.

This waiver must be renewed every 180 days, the official said.

It also remains unclear if the deal with Iran was struck under the auspices of the landmark nuclear agreement or the negotiations that led to it.

A Treasury Department official directed questions about the IRIB sanctions to the State Department, but told the Free Beacon the entity is still subject to some sanctions by the United States

“Treasury can confirm that IRIB is still designated pursuant to Executive Order 13628 and remains on our SDN [Specially Designated Nationals] List,” the official said, pointing to a 2013 announcement of actions against the broadcaster. “IRIB is subject to secondary sanctions for activity outside the scope of the State Department-issued waiver.”

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iran expert who tracks sanctions with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, expressed concern the Trump State Department is operating as if the Obama administration was still in power.

“The Iranian protesters specifically asked the Trump administration to ban the IRIB,” Ghasseminejad said. “Issuing a waiver for an entity whose job is to broadcast lies and promote violence against the protesters and pro-democracy movement in Iran and to prepare the ground for their arrest, torture, and execution is a slap in the protesters’ face.”

Former Secretary of State “John Kerry is gone and the United States has a new Iran policy but Foggy Bottom still follows the Obama era policy of appeasement,” he said.

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

Mahmood Enayat, director of the Small Media Foundation, an organization that advocates for the free flow of information in Iran, said satellite broadcasts are routinely jammed by the Iranian regime.

“Iran has certainly stopped orbital jamming but it has been continuing with terrestrial jamming, making it impossible for millions of Iranians to watch satellite TV channels broadcast from outside Iran, including VOA and BBC” said Enayat, who recently published a report on the matter.

Some insiders familiar with the agreement, which has not been mentioned in federal records since 2015, view it as another secret deal with Iran that was hidden from the American public, much like a series of secret side deals reached between the Obama administration and Iran as part of the nuclear deal.

One senior congressional official tracking the situation told the Free Beacon that lawmakers would try to scrap any previously unearthed secret agreements with Iran.

“As Iranians are protesting in the streets, our State Department is really considering waiving sanctions against the regime’s mouth piece?” the source asked. “We should be exerting maximum pressure on the regime and its backers, not letting them off the hook.”

“If this decision to take it easy on the regime’s broadcasting arm is pursuant to some secret side deal reached under the Obama administration, it’s time to expose this arrangement and terminate it, not abide by it,” added the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “The State Department needs to get on the same page as the White House and start rolling out coherent Iran policy to push back against the regime.”

Trump names David Schenker new Middle East head at State Department

January 13, 2018

Trump names David Schenker new Middle East head at State Department, DEBKAfile, January 12, 2018

Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been conducting a quiet revolution in the department to replace the professional diplomats who led former administration policies for appeasing Iran, promoting certain Arab and Muslim circles and antagonizing Israel.

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David Schenker, a director at the prestigious Washington Institute for Near East policy, is to be assigned the top Middle East post at the State Department, as part of the ongoing shakeup ordered by President Donald Trump. DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that Schenker, a friend of Israel and expert on Syria, Lebanon, Hizballah, Jordan and Islamist terror, is a former senior adviser to Donald Rumsfeld, when he served as defense secretary in the George W. Bush administration. He is the second non-diplomat to receive a high State Department appointment since Trump entered the White House. As assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, he will follow Andrew Peek, a former military intelligence officer, who was named deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran.

Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have been conducting a quiet revolution in the department to replace the professional diplomats who led former administration policies for appeasing Iran, promoting certain Arab and Muslim circles and antagonizing Israel.

The State Department blinks in the face of Palestinian threats

December 3, 2017

Posted under a slightly different title: The State Department reverts to form | Anne’s Opinions, 3rd December 2017

Last week we were cheering on the State Department, that bastion of anti-Israel attitudes in every American administration, for telling the PLO that their mission was to be closed due to their non-engagement in the “peace process” and for their threats to bring Israeli officials before the International Criminial Corut.

As expected the Palestinians huffed and puffed. Unfortunately they blew the State Department down (metaphorically speaking – so far)/ The State Department blinked, and gave in to the Palestinian threats. As Caroline Glick writes, the State Department dropped the ball:

in response to Tillerson’s notification, the PLO lashed out as the US. Abbas and his advisers launched an all-out assault against President Donald Trump and his team of Middle East envoys led by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump

 

 

PLO-controlled media outlets published a flood of stories which trafficked in antisemitic conspiracy theories against Trump and his Jewish American advisors. The PLO media renewed its allegations that Kushner, Greenblatt and US Ambassador David Friedman are more loyal to Israel than to the US.

Abbas’s media outlets also escalated their criticism of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE for their focus on combating Iranian aggression. These regimes are selling the Palestinians down the river, the PLO outlets have proclaimed, as Abbas’s flacks have insisted that the PLO will not accept any regional peace.

Relations between Arab states and Israel, the PLO insists, cannot be fostered so long as Israel fails to capitulate to all of the PLO’s demands.

In commentary published at the Gatestone Institute website, Palestinian commentator Bassam Tawil alleges that the Palestinian rejection of the requirements of US law and its assaults against the Trump administration and Sunni Arab states may serve as a pretext for another Palestinian terror campaign against Israel, which will be justified as a response to an American-Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian plot against the Palestinians.

Given that the US is a superpower and the largest state financier of the PA, not to mention the foundation of the PLO’s claim to legitimacy on the world stage, the US might have been expected to respond harshly to the PLO’s threats and slanders. But then, that isn’t the State Department’s way of doing things with the PLO.

Saturday, The Hill online newspaper reported that the State Department had changed its mind. It is no longer interested in following the law. Instead, it has rewritten the law. Now, it’s fine for the PLO to operate in Washington while trampling US law. It just needs to pretend it isn’t doing what it is doing.

According to the State Department spokesman who revealed State’s about face to the media, the PLO mission can continue to operate, but its operations must be “related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

And if they aren’t, well, under this new interpretation of the law, the State Department can pretend it hasn’t noticed.

By empowering the PLO to continue to breach US law – with the full expectation of continuing to receive US assistance to the tune of more than $500 million a year – the US has made itself a laughingstock. Neither Hamas nor the PLO will take the US seriously. Any pressure the US attempts to apply toward the PLO to moderate its stand toward Israel will be ignored by Abbas and his cronies in the PLO and Hamas alike.

The Palestinians have taken the Trump administration’s measure. By beating a hasty retreat from its initial decision to stand with the law against the PLO, the State Department has told the PLO that the Trump administration is a paper tiger, at best.

The Trump administration will do nothing against them. Instead, in the face of this contemptuous slap in the face to the US, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Ramallah next month and have his picture taken with Abbas the “moderate” leader and peace partner.

This then brings us to the second question of how surrendering to PLO threats will influence the US’s regional position. As Tawil reported, Al Quds, a Palestinian paper that reflects the views of Abbas and his associates, blasted the Arab League for focusing on Iran at its most recent foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo.

For more than a generation, the State Department, and through it US Middle East policy as a whole, have been captivated by the myth that nothing can happen in the Middle East without Israel first capitulating to PLO demands.

By reversing course on closing the PLO mission, and groveling to the threatening PLO, the State Department made a laughingstock of the US and President Trump. The decision to reverse course should itself be reversed, in accordance with US law and in the interest in restoring what it is still possible to restore of US credibility in the Middle East.

There is still a chance for the Untied States to recover its credibility – by moving its embassy to Jerusalem. All it needs is for Donald Trump to refuse to sign the waiver which permits the embassy to remain where it is. Will he refuse to sign and thus move the embassy at last? The media is rife with reports and rumours that Vice President Mike Pence is going to make the fateful announcement on Wednesday – but given the State Department’s record, can we actually rely on this happy event taking place? I’m not so sure. From Arutz Sheva’s account:

Will President Donald Trump fulfill his campaign promise of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as recent reports citing unnamed administration officials claim? Or will the president settle with a symbolic move of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as other senior sources have claimed?

Last week, a number of unnamed senior US and Israeli officials were cited in reports claiming that the Trump administration is planning on finally implementing 1995 law requiring the executive branch to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.

Other reports claimed that the White House was not planning an embassy move in the near future, but was poised to declare that it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

While White House officials publicly refused to verify the claims, officials in Jerusalem have noted the timing of Vice President Mike Pence’s comments at the 70th anniversary of the United States General Assembly vote on Resolution 181, endorsing the establishment of a Jewish state.

The Palestinians, as expected, have reverted to form and are issuing threats in all directions:

Palestinian President-for-life Mahmoud Abbas has called on the leaders of eight Arab and other nations to intervene with Trump to prevent the embassy move. As with the closure of the PLO offices, the Palestinians threatened to abandon the peace process – which is surely the most cynical move ever made given that the only reason the peace process has stalled is because of the refusal of the Palestinians themselves to accept a Jewish presence anywhere in the Middle East:

Abbas “warned categorically that taking such a step would lead to the destruction of the peace process and would bring the region into an uncontrollable situation,” according to his spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh.

Mahmoud Abbas, President for life

On Wednesday Abbas ordered his foreign minister to demand the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation hold emergency sessions regarding the possible US measures.

On Friday, a delegation from the Palestinian Authority reportedly met with presidential adviser Jared Kushner to warn that if the White House announces the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, or if Trump makes remarks acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, this would mark the end of the peace process, according to Israeli news reports.

Any such steps “will kill the negotiations,” the PA delegation — which included Majed Faraj and Saeb Erekat, senior officials close to Abbas — told Kushner, Hadashot news reported.

Hamas is still determined to remain relevant (even while begging Fatah to take over the running of the Gaza strip), and has threatened another intifada if the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Caroline Glick had plenty to say about this as well in her article “From Amman to Jerusalem“. She starts by reminding us of a diplomatic incident that almost spiralled out of control, which King Abdullah did nothing to quell:

Five months ago, 28 year old Ziv Moyal, an Israeli security officer at Israel’s embassy in Amman, was stabbed in his apartment by a Jordanian assailant, whom he shot and killed.

Moyal also accidentally killed his Jordanian landlord, who was present on the scene.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, incited by the state-controlled media, the Jordanian public was whipped into an anti-Israel frenzy. In short order, a mob surrounded the embassy, to which Moyal and another 20 Israeli diplomats fled immediately after the shooting.

Violent demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in Amman

For 24 hours, those Israeli diplomats, led by Ambassador Einat Schlein were besieged.

Despite the fact that they are barred from doing so under the Vienna Convention, Jordanian authorities demanded to interrogate Moyal. By refusing to enable the diplomats to safely return to Israel until Moyal submitted to questioning, they effectively held Schlein and her colleagues hostage.

Jordan is still playing its duplicitous game:

But Jordan isn’t interested in ending the crisis it deliberately precipitated.

On Thursday, Reuters quoted a Jordanian diplomatic source saying that a new Israeli ambassador “will not be welcome in Jordan until a due legal process takes its course [against Moyal] and justice is served.”

So, unless Israel criminally prosecutes its diplomat who was attacked in his home by a terrorist, Jordan will continue to breach its peace treaty with Israel and bar the Israeli embassy from operating in Amman.

Jordan’s latest round of diplomatic war against Israel took place while Abdullah was in Washington on a “working visit.”

And here is where this story ties in with the State Department, the Trump administration and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

According to the Jordanian media – which he controls – Abdullah is devoting significant time in his meetings with senior administration and Congressional officials to attacking Israel.

Specifically, Abdullah is lobbying against President Donald Trump’s intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, in accordance with US law.

According the Times of Jordan, Abdullah told senior US lawmakers that “moving the embassy… could be potentially exploited by terrorists to stoke anger, frustration and desperation in order to spread their ideologies.”

Jordanian King Abdullah meets with American VP Mike Pence

During his visit, Abdullah also met with Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.

Although Jordanian media reports of those visits did not include information regarding the possible move of the US embassy, it stands to reason that Abdullah made similar points to Pence, Tillerson and McMaster.

It can only be hoped that Abdullah’s warnings were rebuked by his American interlocutors.

Because, if terrorists are motivated to act in the wake of a US decision to move the embassy, Jordan will hold a significant share of the blame.

Glick reveals more of the nasty side of Jordanian politics, including a deep-seated antisemitism (stoked by the media with the encouragement of the elites), which can clearly be seen in the following story:

Last March, for instance, Abdullah rejected the US’s extradition request for Hamas terrorist and mass murderer Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem.

Fifteen people, including eight children were murdered in the attack. Tamimi selected the Sbarro pizzeria as her target because of the large number of children who frequented the eatery during summer vacation.

She was sentenced to 16 life-in-prison sentences, but was released in Israel’s exchange of Hamas terrorists for captive IDF sergeant Gilad Schalit in 2011. Upon her release, she moved to Amman where Abdullah gave her the red carpet treatment. In her new home, Tamimi hosts a show on Hamas’s television station. She uses her platform to incite terrorism and indoctrinate her viewers to aspire to murder Israelis, as she did.

Several of Tamimi’s victims at Sbarro were American citizens, including 15-year-old Malki Roth and 31-year-old Shoshana Judy Greenbaum.

Greenbaum was five months pregnant when her body was blown apart.

The vile terrorist Ahlam Tamimi who murdered 15 Israelis in the Sbarro bombing – publicly thanks Jordan’s judiciary and leaders for getting her off the hook with the FBI and the US Department of Justice – though the pursuit continues [Source]

By harboring Tamimi, Abdullah tells his subjects they are right to hate Israelis and to work toward Israel’s destruction.

Arnold and Frimet Roth, the parents of Malki Roth who was murdered in that terror attack, have been relentless in following Tamimi’s doings and pulling every string, contact every diplomat and politician possible, in order to have her extradited – all to no avail so far. You can follow their endeavors at their blog This Ongoing War.

Returning to Caroline Glick’s article:

This brings us to the question of Trump’s possible decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Israel’s capital.

By having his media spew a constant diet of genocidal antisemitism, Abdullah is all but guaranteeing that the terrorism he warns of will occur if Trump enforces US law and moves the embassy. So he is not speaking as a worried friend when he tells his American hosts of the dire consequences of moving the embassy. He is threatening them with an outcome for which he will have significant responsibility.

One of the reasons Abdullah feels comfortable making the argument that moving the embassy will provoke terrorism is because that is the argument that has been used successfully to block the transfer of the US embassy to Israel in the past.

But, in October, we received a clear indication that these Chicken Little warnings are untrue.

In October, Trump overruled Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Tillerson and McMaster, and chose not to tell Congress that Iran was in compliance of the nuclear deal the Iranians were breaching. Supporters of the nuclear deal in the administration and outside of it warned that such a move would have a deeply destabilizing impact on the region and endanger the US.

As the past three months have shown, those warnings were entirely wrong.

The world did not explode after Trump rejected the received wisdom of the foreign policy establishment in Washington. Instead, the US’s Sunni-Arab allies have been empowered to join forces to combat Iran. Economically and diplomatically, Iran is far more isolated globally today than it was three months ago.

… if Trump disregards Abdullah’s threats posing as warnings, and disregards the advice of Abdullah’s many friends in Washington, and moves the US embassy to Jerusalem, the sky will not fall. By recognizing the basic fact that Jerusalem is and always will be Israel’s capital, Trump will give himself the ability to develop Middle East policies that are similarly grounded in reality.

Unfortunately, the State Department did not follow through on Trump’s new strategy. They blinked in the face of Palestinian threats of violence, and retracted their threat to close down the PLO offices.

Will they blink again when it comes to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem? I fear they will but am prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

More Middle East changes

November 23, 2017

More Middle East changes | Anne’s Opinions, 23rd November 2017
In some good news related to my previous post, the Trump administration has threatened to close down the PLO offices in Washington in retaliation for the PA attempting to bring Israelis to the International Criminal Court:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday night expressed its surprise over threats by the United States to shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration had put the PLO on notice that it will shutter their office in Washington unless they entered serious peace talks with Israel.

According to AP, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

A State Department official said that in September, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas crossed that line by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis.

The law now gives President Donald Trump 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” If Trump determines they are, the Palestinians can keep the office. An official told AP it was unclear whether the U.S. might close the office before the 90-day period expires, but said the mission remains open at least for now.

The Palestinians then threatened to cut their ties to Washington (a bonus as far as Israel is concerned):

“The State Department notified us in an official letter that they cannot certify the continued opening of the PLO office in Washington, DC, due to the fact that we are pursuing the ICC,” Erekat told Israeli public broadcaster Kan.

“We responded to them in an official letter that in case they officially close the office of the PLO in Washington, DC, we will put on hold all communications with this American administration,” he added.

Watch Saeb Erekat’s statement here:

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said on Saturday night the surprise stems from the fact that the meetings between Abbas and Trump were characterized by a full understanding of the steps necessary to create an atmosphere that would allow the resumption of the peace process.

He said that the American threat represented an unprecedented step in the history of U.S.-Palestinian relations and could have dangerous implications for the peace process and the relations between the United States and Arab countries.

Reports of the threat to shut down the PLO mission in Washington came several days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Taylor Force Act.

The bill, named for U.S. army veteran Taylor Force, who was murdered in a terrorist stabbing attack in Tel Aviv in March, 2016, would cut funding to the PA unless it stopped its payments to terrorists and their families.

All I can say is it’s about time that someone finally held the PLO and the PA to account for their support of terrorism and for scuppering the peace talks with Israel every step of the way.

Bassam Tawil, a Middle East-based Muslim, explains in the Gatestone Institute why the Palestinians will not accede to any demands made upon them by Trump or any other American administration:

  • The Palestinians have made up their mind: The Trump peace plan is bad for us and we will not accept it. The plan is bad because it does not force Israel to give the Palestinians everything.
  • If and when the Trump administration makes public its peace plan, the Palestinians will be the first to reject it, simply because it does not meet all their demands.
  • Trump will soon learn that for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians, 99% is just not enough.

Caroline Glick talks about holding the State Department to account as an extension of the threat to close the PLO mission:

Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson’s letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.

And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate’s activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO’s Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the “Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil” trail in celebration of “the connection of the people with the land.” Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is “Abraham’s path.”

Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.

In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration’s “efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.”

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

With this in mind it is nothing short of astonishing that the following video appeared, in which Kuwaiti writer strongly defended Israel, calling it a legitimate state, not an occupier:

I think we should ask Mr. Al-Hadlaq to provide some urgently-needed background information to the State Department! Kol hakavod to him. I hope he stays safe.

Along with the daring fatwa of Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh condemning Hamas as another terror organization and forbidding fighting against Israel , is this another harbinger of better times ahead for Israel in the Middle East? I hope I’m not being too optimistic in hoping so. There have been too many of these talks, statements, interviews and fatwas to think there is not a sea-change starting to occur in the Arab world. Let us just pray it continues.

Stupidity or malice? The US plans to return stolen Jewish artifacts to Iraq

September 12, 2017

Stupidity or malice? The US plans to return stolen Jewish artifacts to Iraq | Anne’s Opinions, 12th September 2017

Looted Jewish artifacts from Iraq

When the news hit the headlines this week that the US plans to return Jewish artifacts to Iraq – artifacts, it should be noted, that were stolen from the Iraqi Jewish community by the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and rescued by US forces – I thought the story sounded familiar. A quick search on my blog revealed that this decision had already been discussed 4 years ago! To be honest, I thought that this absurd decision to return the artifacts to their unlawful owners had been shelved once Donald Trump became President. Sadly this is not the case.

The JTA reports:

NEW YORK (JTA) — The United States will return to Iraq next year a trove of Iraqi Jewish artifacts that lawmakers and Jewish groups have lobbied to keep in this country, a State Department official said.

A four-year extension to keep the Iraqi Jewish Archive in the U.S. is set to expire in September 2018, as is funding for maintaining and transporting the items. The materials will then be sent back to Iraq, spokesman Pablo Rodriguez said in a statement sent to JTA on Thursday.

Rodriguez said the State Department “is keenly aware of the interest in the status” of the archive.

“Maintaining the archive outside of Iraq is possible,” he said, “but would require a new agreement between the Government of Iraq and a temporary host institution or government.”

Detail of Tik (Torah case) and Glass Panel from Baghdad, 19th-20th centuries, part of the Iraqi Jewish Archive. (National Archives)

The archive was brought to America in 2003 after being salvaged by U.S. troops. It contains tens of thousands of items including books, religious texts, photographs and personal documents. Under an agreement with the government of Iraq, the archive was to be sent back there, but in 2014 the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. said its stay had been extended. He did not say when the archive was to return.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers and Jewish groups have lobbied to renegotiate the deal, arguing that the documents should be kept in the U.S. or elsewhere where they are accessible to Iraqi Jews and their descendants. JTA reached out to lawmakers who have sponsored resolutions urging a renegotiation of the archive’s return but did not hear back in time for publication.

Iraq and proponents of returning the archive say it can serve as an educational tool for Iraqis about the history of Jews there and that it is part of the country’s patrimony.

Addressing the points that I highlighted above in bold, Caroline Glick scathingly attacks the “State Department’s strange obsession” while also answering the question in my headline:

The law of Occam’s Razor, refined to common parlance, is that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

If we apply Occam’s Razor to recently reported positions of the US State Department, then we can conclude that the people making decisions at Foggy Bottom have “issues” with Jews and with Israel.

The books and documents were looted from the Iraqi Jewish community by successive Iraqi regimes. They were restored by the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Before Treatment: Passover Haggadah, 1902. One of very few Hebrew manuscripts recovered from the Mukhabarat, this Haggadah was hand-lettered and decorated by an Iraqi youth.

The Iraqi Jewish community was one of the oldest exilic Jewish communities.

It began with the Babylonian exile following the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem 2,600 years ago. Until the early 20th century, it was one of the most accomplished Jewish communities in the world. Some of the most important yeshivas in Jewish history were in present-day Iraq. The Babylonian Talmud was written in Iraq. The Jewish community in Iraq predated the current people of Iraq by nearly a thousand years.

It was a huge community. In 1948, Jews were the largest minority in Baghdad.

Jews comprised a third of the population of Basra. The status of the community was imperiled during World War II, when the pro-Nazi junta of generals that seized control of the government in 1940 instigated the Farhud, a weeklong pogrom. 900 Jews were murdered.

Thousands of Jewish homes, schools and businesses were burned to the ground.

With Israel’s establishment, and later with the Baathist seizure of power in Iraq in the 1960s, the once great Jewish community was systematically destroyed.

Between 1948 and 1951, 130,000 Iraqi Jews, three quarters of the community, were forced to flee the country. Those who remained faced massive persecution, imprisonment, torture, execution and expulsion in the succeeding decades.

When US forces overthrew the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, only a dozen or so remained in the country.

Today, there are none left.

As for the current Iraqi government that the State Department wishes to support by implementing its 2014 agreement, it is an Iranian satrapy. Its leadership and military receive operational orders from Iran.

The Iraqi Jewish archive was not created by the Iraqi government. It is comprised of property looted from persecuted and fleeing Jews. In light of this, it ought to be clear to the State Department that the Iraqi government’s claim to ownership is no stronger than the German government’s claim to ownership of looted Jewish property seized by the Nazis would be.

On the other hand, members of the former Jewish community and their descendants have an incontrovertible claim to them. And they have made this claim, repeatedly.

To no avail. As far as the State Department is concerned, they have no claim to sacred books and documents illegally seized from them.

When asked how the US could guarantee that the archive would be properly cared for in Iraq, all State Department spokesman Pablo Rodriguez said was, “When the IJA [Iraqi Jewish archive] is returned, the State Department will urge the Iraqi government to take the proper steps necessary to preserve the archive, and make it available to members of the public to enjoy.”

It is hard not to be taken aback by the callousness of Rodriguez’s statement.

Again, the “members of the public” who wish to “enjoy” the archive are not living in Iraq. They are not living in Iraq because they were forced to run for their lives – after surrendering their communal archives to their persecutors. And still today, as Jews, they will be unable to visit the archives in Iraq without risking their lives because today, at a minimum, the Iraqi regime kowtows to forces that openly seek the annihilation of the Jewish People.

And the State Department knows this.

The question then arises, surely this new American administration under President Donald Trump would be more sympathetic to Jewish concerns, and would overturn this surreal decision made by the Obama administration?

Apparently it’s not so clear-cut. It appears that Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly has been blocking most conservative news sites from reaching Trump, thus limiting his awareness of what is happening outside of his immediate circle (h/t Dan Miller in Panama).

Daniel Greenfield reiterates his call to the President – which he made in 2013 to Barack Obama (and which I quoted in my blog post at the time) – and demands that Trump should block Obama’s move to return these stolen artifacts to Iraq: (emphases are added):

… The archive doesn’t belong to the Iraqi government, but to the Jewish population that was ethnically cleansed from Iraq.

The United States recovered the archive and should have turned it over to the Jewish community. Instead we had a bizarre Kafkaesque process in which the archive was restored to be turned over to the thieves who stole it.

Jewish political leaders have invested a lot of energy into looted art in Europe. And that’s a worthwhile cause. Yet this is a far more compelling issue. The archive contains the history of a Jewish community. It matters far more than a Klimt painting. Sadly, the priorities are those of a secular Ashkenazi leadership that is uninterested in the Iraqi Jewish archive because it’s Sephardi and religious.

“This is Jewish communal property. Iraq stole it and kept it hidden away in a basement. Now that we’ve managed to reclaim it, it would be like returning stolen goods back to the thief,” Urman told JTA on Friday.

It’s exactly like it. Meanwhile here’s the bizarre anti-Semitic justification on the Iraqi side for wanting the archive. Here’s Al Arabiya’s explanation

Experts add that Israel is keen on obtaining the manuscripts in order to prove their claim that the Jews had built the Tower of Babel as part of its attempt to distort the history of the Middle East for its own interests.

Wonderful.

Harold Rhode, who discovered the trove while working as a Defense Department policy analyst assigned to Iraq’s transitional government, said he is “horrified” to think the material would be returned when it had been “stolen by the government of Iraq from the Jewish community.”

“It would be comparable to the U.S. returning to the German government Jewish property that had been looted by the Nazis,” he told The Jewish Week.

It’s exactly like it.

I don’t expect Tillerson to care. Between McMaster at the NSC, Mattis on Defense and Tillerson, foreign policy is under the control of the usual Islam Firsters who are very concerned with Muslim feelings, particularly in the oil states, and very little else. And so the old Obama plan to turn over stolen Jewish religious items to a hostile Islamic regime is moving forward.

But President Trump can and should block the move. It’s the right thing to do. And Jewish activists should make that case.

If at the end the State Department’s decision cannot be overcome by President Trump’s executive veto (or whatever it is called in American politics), we can safely say that this decision is motivated more by malice than stupidity.

As before in 2013, there is a petition (possibly still the same one) which you should all sign, demanding that the artifacts do not return to Iraq.

Please sign and share the petition.

State Dept. Country Reports on Terrorism 2016

July 20, 2017

State Dept. Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, July 2017

(Please see also, Trump State Dept Unsure Why Palestinian Terrorists Kill Israelis. — DM

Please excuse the formatting. The State Department Report is in PDF and therefore very difficult to format correctly for this site.– DM)

ISRAEL, THE WEST BANK AND GAZA, AND JERUSALEM

Overview: Israel was a committed counterterrorism partner in 2016. Israel again faced terrorist
threats from Iranian-support groups such as Hizballah in Lebanon. Other threats included
Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees, and Palestinian
Islamic Jihad (PIJ), particularly from Gaza but also from the West Bank; al-Qa’ida (AQ) and its
affiliates, and ISIS and its affiliates along its borders, such as ISIL-Sinai Province (ISIL-SP) and
the Jaysh Khalid ibn al-Waleed group (JKW, formerly the al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade) in the
Syrian Golan Heights. In addition, since 2015, Israel has faced numerous incidents of terrorist
attacks committed by individuals with no clear affiliation to terrorist organizations, termed “lone
offender” attacks.

Israeli security officials and politicians remained concerned about the terrorist threat posed to
Israel from Hizballah and Iran, highlighting that Iran, primarily through the efforts of its Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, continued to fund and supply Hizballah. Israeli experts
believed that Iran has transferred to Hizballah advanced weapons systems such as anti-aircraft
and anti-ship cruise missile systems, and was continuing to transfer long-range rockets into
Lebanon. Also, Israeli officials were concerned about the proliferation of conventional and
non-conventional weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations. According to the Government
of Israel, Hizballah has stockpiled more than 130,000 rockets and missiles in Lebanon since the
2006 Lebanon War.

Israeli counterterrorism officials said Hamas and other Gaza terrorists made quantitative and
qualitative advances in their military capabilities. Israel assessed that Hamas and PIJ have
regained most of the military capabilities that were severely damaged during operation
“Protective Edge” (July 7 to August 26, 2014), and have, in some cases, expanded their
capabilities, including by constructing new offensive tunnels and acquiring other advanced
capabilities such as an arsenal of medium-to-long range rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist organizations continued rocket and mortar attacks into Israeli
territory, although no Israeli fatalities were reported.

While Israel was not involved in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, it shared information to
help track and stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters through information exchanges on
counterterrorism issues with numerous governments. In support of the UN Security Council
(UNSC) ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime, Israel regularly updated its list of foreign
terrorist organizations and individuals involved in terrorism to better align with UNSC sanctions
lists.

In 2016, Israel and the United States held numerous interagency counterterrorism dialogues to
discuss the broad range of threats in the region and to determine areas of collaboration to address
these challenges.

2016 Terrorist Incidents: Israel experienced numerous terrorist attacks in 2016 involving
weapons ranging from rockets and mortars to small arms and knives. The wave of violence that
began in late 2015, termed the “knife intifada,” gradually decreased during the year; nonetheless,
numerous Israelis and Palestinians were injured in these attacks. The following list details only a
fraction of the total terrorist incidents that occurred during the year.

• In January, an Israeli Arab gunman opened fire on several businesses in downtown
Tel Aviv, killing two people and wounding seven others. He subsequently killed a taxi
driver while fleeing the scene of the attack. Israeli officials identified the attacker as
31-year-old Nasha’at Melhem from the northern Israeli town of Ar’ara. Following a
week-long nationwide manhunt, Melhem was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli
security forces.

• In March, a Palestinian man went on a stabbing spree in Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, killing a
U.S. citizen and wounding 10 other people. The attack lasted approximately
20 minutes and ended after police shot and killed the assailant. Israeli authorities
identified the assailant as 22-year-old Bashar Masalha, from the West Bank village of
Kalandiya.

• In June, two Palestinian men opened fire on a popular market in downtown Tel Aviv,
killing four people and wounding seven others. Responding police arrested both
assailants, later identified as Muhammad and Khalid Mukhamra, cousins from the
West Bank town of Yatta. An Israel Security Agency (ISA) investigation determined
that ISIS online propaganda provided inspiration for the attack and friends of the
assailants assisted them with preparations.

• In November, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) units responded to machine gun and mortar
fire from JKW militants (an ISIS-aligned group) across the Syrian border. Israeli
forces crossed the Israeli security fence, while remaining within Israeli territory, and
called in an airstrike which killed four militants.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Israel has a robust legal framework to
counter terrorism and promote international legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution
of terrorists.

The Israeli Knesset passed new counterterrorism legislation in 2016 that broadened the range of
activities subject to enhanced criminal sentencing. These activities include tunnel-digging, stone
throwing, incitement, and planning intended to assist terrorist organizations and individuals. The
Combatting Terrorism Law was designed to empower law enforcement authorities to preempt
the establishment of terrorist cells and attack planning. The new provisions contained in the law
codified numerous military and emergency orders issued under general emergency powers in
place since the founding of the State of Israel. They include: the Anti-Terrorism Ordinance of
1948, the Anti-Terrorist finance Law of 2005, and various regulations issued under pre-statehood
emergency defense authorities of 1945.

Non-governmental human rights organizations protested the Law’s broad definition of terrorism,
arguing it serves to codify counterterrorism powers that critics compared to martial law.
Additional concerns regarding the scope of Israeli counterterrorism legislation were directed
towards the criminalization of activities related to freedom of expression, association, and
peaceful assembly that could affect the Arab population of Israel.

The ISA and Israel National Police (INP) continued to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement
agencies on cases involving U.S. citizens killed in terrorist attacks. Elite Israeli units engaged in
counterterrorism operations included Yamam (Israeli Border Police) and IDF special operations
units, such as Sayaret Matkal and Duvdevan (Urban Warfare Counterterrorism Operations).
Israeli Border police have a “hot return” policy for visitors suspected of ties to terrorist or
criminal organizations. The border fence constructed along the border with Egypt, and fences
along the West Bank and Gaza, assisted Israeli security forces in preventing migrant inflows and
mitigating security threats. The West Bank and Gaza barriers were augmented by cameras,
sensors, and active patrols by Israeli Border Police and the IDF.

Israel’s airport security was considered robust by international security experts, particularly with
regard to its security screening and inspections program. The Israeli Ministry of Interior
maintained a voluntary biometric passport control system at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International
Airport, which was available for Israeli passport holders over the age of 18 years. This system
facilitated both entry into and exit from Israel via an automatic kiosk for Israeli citizens who
successfully passed a background check and provided a scan of their hand.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: The Israeli financial intelligence unit, the Israeli
Money Laundering and Terror Finance Prohibition Authority (IMPA), is a member of the
Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. Israel was also welcomed as an observer to the
Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at the organization’s plenary meeting in February 2016, and
Israeli anti-money laundering (AML) experts have begun to participate in FATF peer reviews of
other countries’ anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism regimes.
Israel’s counterterrorist finance regime continued to be enhanced through enforcement
operations and the inclusion of new groups under national terrorist finance laws. The
well-regulated Israeli banking industry worked to address suspected terrorist activity. Israeli
experts and officials continued to raise concerns about the issue of state-sponsored funding of
Hamas, and said that Hamas funded terrorists in the West Bank preparing to perpetrate terrorist
attacks against Israel, Israelis, or Israeli interests.

Financing of Hamas through charitable organizations remained a concern for Israeli authorities,
as did the funding of Hizballah through charities and illicit activity. In one high-profile case in
August, Israeli police charged Mohammad al-Halabi – the Director of the NGO World Vision in
Gaza – with diverting material and financial assistance to Hamas; the charity itself was not
implicated in the case.

Israel regularly updates the list of foreign terrorist organizations and individuals involved in
terrorism, to implement the UNSC ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime. Israel also has
a domestic sanctions regime in place with the Anti-Terrorist finance Law of 2005, which allows
the Israeli Security Cabinet to declare a foreign organization to be classified as a foreign terrorist
organization in coordination with findings presented by a foreign country or by the UNSC.
The new counterterrorism law that entered into force on November 1 significantly reduced the
time it takes to adopt international designations. The UN sanctions lists were registered in the
formal government registry. Every domestic and UN designation was published in three
languages (Hebrew, Arabic, English), and run in three different newspapers, as required by law.
In addition, designations were published on the website of the IMPA and distributed by email to
the IMPA’s mailing list, which included banks, lawyers, and finance professionals.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial
Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Israel supported several organizations
that used educational and interreligious projects to build bridges between citizens of different
religions and beliefs. These interfaith initiatives benefitted a wide range of age groups and were
conducted in numerous fora, including from elementary schools to universities.
Israel’s national program, “City without Violence,” supported municipalities and local
authorities conducting programs to counter violence, crime, and violent extremism.
Israeli politicians and the public were increasingly concerned about online incitement’s role in
exacerbating the recent wave of violent attacks by so-called lone offender terrorists. The Israeli
government blamed social media companies and online platforms for not doing enough to
prevent the proliferation of online content inciting terrorism. The Israeli government also
considered legislation to obligate companies, such as Google and Facebook, to do more to
prevent incitement. Israel’s new counterterrorism law established a new criminal offense for
demonstrating solidarity with a terrorist organization or with an act of terrorism, and incitement
to terrorism, including via the internet and social media; the new criminal offense replaced and
consolidated two existing penal code offenses for incitement to terrorism.

International and Regional Cooperation: Israel continued its counterterrorism cooperation
with a range of regional and international institutions, including the United Nations, the
Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Israel cooperated with numerous countries to thwart terrorist attacks and plots against Israelis or
Israeli interests abroad.

The West Bank and Gaza, and Jerusalem

Overview: The Palestinian Authority (PA) continued its counterterrorism efforts in the West
Bank where Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
remained present. The PA Security Forces (PASF) constrained the ability of those organizations
to conduct attacks, including through arrests in February and April of Hamas members in the
West Bank who were planning attacks against Israelis. The PA exercised varying degrees of
authority over the West Bank due to the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) continuing presence in
certain areas, per Oslo-era agreements. The Israeli Security Forces (ISF) also arrested members
of suspected terrorist organizations operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Extremist Palestinians continued to conduct acts of violence and terrorism in the West Bank and
Jerusalem. The heightened period of violence that began in October 2015 abated significantly in
April 2016. However, sporadic lone offender stabbing, shooting, and vehicular attacks against
Israelis continued. A majority of perpetrators did not have any known organizational affiliation.
Attacks in 2016 resulted in the deaths of five Israeli citizens, including two dual U.S.-Israeli
nationals, and three ISF officers.

Extremist Israelis, including settlers, continued to conduct acts of violence as well as “price tag”
attacks (property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in
retaliation for activity they deemed anti-settlement) in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In March,
Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian home south of Bethlehem and spray-painted “Death to
Arabs” on the walls. The UN reported 101 incidents of settler violence in 2016, compared to
221 in 2015. Israeli NGO Yesh Din reported 19 incidents of settler violence during the
October – November Olive Harvest, compared to 15 in 2015. There were no reports of fatalities.

Hamas continued to maintain security control of Gaza. There is evidence that Hamas continued
to prepare for future conflict with Israel. Several Gaza-based terrorist and militant groups
continued to launch rockets against Israel from Gaza. Gaza remained a base of operations for
several Salafist splinter groups, such as Jaysh Al Islam, and clan-based terrorist groups that
engaged in or facilitated terrorist attacks. Hamas confronted Salafists in Gaza by arresting and
detaining a number of them this year, but at the same time Hamas likely maintained ties to
Salafists in the Sinai. Despite claims of responsibility from individuals or groups in Gaza
purporting affiliation with ISIS, there is no definitive link confirming membership on a large
scale in Gaza.

2016 Terrorist Incidents:

• In February, three Palestinian assailants shot and killed an Israeli National Police (INP)
officer and injured a second in Jerusalem’s Old City. INP shot and killed the attackers.
• In April, a Palestinian member of Hamas detonated a bomb on a bus in Jerusalem,
injuring approximately 21 people. The assailant died of injuries from the explosion.
• In March and July, suspected Israeli settlers conducted two arson attacks against
Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Douma, damaging homes of the relatives
of the Dawabsheh family, whose house in Douma was set on fire by settlers in July 2015
and resulted in the deaths of three Palestinians.
• In June, a Palestinian assailant stabbed to death a 13-year-old Israeli-American dual
national in her home in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba. A private security
guard fatally shot the attacker.
• In October, a Palestinian member of Hamas shot and killed an Israeli civilian and INP
officer, and injured 12 others, while carrying out a drive-by shooting in Jerusalem. INP
shot and killed the attacker.

The United States continued to assist the PA’s counterterrorism efforts by providing training and
equipment to the PASF in the West Bank. The United States also assisted the PA criminal
justice system to conduct more thorough investigations and prosecutions of terrorist-related
activity, among other criminal acts, and to ensure safe incarceration of those held for trial or after
conviction for such crimes.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the
State of Israel, and pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means. President
Abbas supported a security program involving disarmament of fugitive militants, arresting
members of terrorist organizations, and gradually dismantling armed groups in the West Bank.
In July, President Abbas instructed the PASF to intensify measures in the West Bank to ensure
the safety and security of people; security services subsequently increased efforts to disrupt
criminal activity, including the proliferation of illegal weapons.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The PA continued to lack legislation
specifically tailored to counterterrorism, although existing Palestinian laws criminalize actions
that constitute terrorist acts. The PASF were active throughout the year in seizing illegal
weapons and closing down weapons manufacturing facilities in the West Bank.

The PA arrested terrorists, including Hamas elements suspected of terrorism, in the West Bank,
and the PASF and public prosecutors received training to enable better investigations of
terrorism-related crimes. The PA continued to develop its civilian justice institutions
(e.g. judiciary, police, prosecutors) to improve both investigative and prosecutorial functions.
The United States provided assistance to enable the PA to reduce case backlogs, improve warrant
executions, and upgrade forensic services.

The Preventive Security Organization (PSO) is the key PA institution by mandate and law that
works to prevent internal terrorist events and investigates security-related criminal conduct. In
practice, the General Intelligence Organization and the Military Intelligence Organization also
play a critical role in this effort. The PSO conducted investigations in coordination with public
prosecutors, but this cooperation could improve, especially the PSO’s ability to conduct criminal
investigations and gather admissible evidence. The United States assisted the PSO and the
Security Forces Justice Commission to help the PA move the prosecution of all civilian cases,
including those involving terrorism and security-related offenses, to the exclusive jurisdiction of
the civilian courts, and enhance cooperation between security service investigators and public
prosecutors.

Per the Oslo-era Accords, Israel controlled border security in the West Bank.

The primary limitation on PA counterterrorism efforts in Gaza remained Hamas’ control of the
area and the resulting inability of PASF to operate there. Limitations on PA counterterrorism
efforts in the West Bank included restrictions on the movement and activities of PASF in and
through areas of the West Bank for which the Government of Israel retained responsibility for
security under the terms of Oslo-era agreements. Moreover, ISF incursions into

Palestinian-controlled Area A at times disrupted ongoing PASF counterterrorism operations.
The PA advanced its forensic capabilities with the official opening of the Palestinian Civilian
Police forensic laboratory in November. The laboratory is capable of conducting basic
analyses/examinations in firearm and tool mark evidence, document examination, and drug and
chemical analysis. The PA already has a basic ability to examine and compare unknown prints
to known prints.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: In 2015, the PA became a full member of the Middle
East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force, a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style
regional body. President Abbas issued Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist financing Decree
No. 20 in December 2015, which criminalizes terrorist financing and defined terrorists, terrorist
acts, terrorist organizations, foreign terrorist fighters, and terrorist financing. It also makes
terrorism and terrorist acts predicate money laundering offenses, although the decree does not
fully meet international standards as it does not criminalize all forms of material support or the
financing of an individual terrorist in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act. Because the
legislature has not convened since 2007, the PA remained unable to make legislative
improvements (without decree) required to bring the current law up to international standards.
The Palestinian Financial Follow-Up Unit (FFU) is a fully functional financial intelligence unit
with 19 employees and a computer system linking it with 15 banks licensed to operate in the
West Bank. Seven banks are local and eight are foreign, operating through a network of
302 branches in the West Bank and Gaza. There are 311 money changers. The banks file
suspicious transaction reports (STRs) and currency transaction reports electronically through this
system. In 2016, banks filed 113 STRs, compared to 108 in 2015. Although the FFU has
adequate staffing, authority, and equipment, restrictions in the law hinder its operational
effectiveness. The 2007 Anti-Money Laundering Law No. 7 restricts information sharing
between the FFU and any law enforcement agency, with the exception of the Attorney General’s
Office. While the FFU may pass information to any requesting authority according to the 2015
Decree, the Attorney General’s Office is the primary recipient of the FFU’s information.
Moreover, the PA has no effective control outside of Area A. The absence of PA law
enforcement and regulatory power in Areas B and C increased vulnerability.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2017 International
Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial
Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.

Countering Violent Extremism: The PA continued to counter violent extremism in the
West Bank through security operations to prevent attacks, the PASF’s outreach to Palestinian
communities to alert them to signs of youth at risk of extremism, and monitoring social media
for indicators of extremism and intent to carry out violent acts. During an interview broadcast in
March, President Abbas said he sent the PASF to schools to look for knives and to caution
Palestinian youth against undertaking attacks against Israelis. The PASF thwarted hundreds of
lone offender attacks, according to public statements by PA and Israeli government officials.
Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli
settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank,
the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram
Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.
The PA has taken significant steps during President Abbas’ tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that
official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that
incites violence. While some PA leaders have made provocative and inflammatory comments,
the PA has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to
violence. Explicit calls for violence against Israelis, direct exhortations against Jews, and
categorical denials by the PA of the possibility of peace with Israel are rare and the leadership
does not generally tolerate it. In April, President Abbas condemned an attack on a Jerusalem bus
and said he was against all forms of terrorist activity that affect Israelis and Palestinians. In
November, he said, “Incitement can lead to violence, and we must end it in every place.” During
a speech to the Seventh Fatah General Congress in November, Abbas expressed his commitment
to fight terrorism and to cooperate with regional and international parties in this endeavor, while
reaffirming a “culture of peace and tolerance and the renunciation of violence and extremism.”
According to the PA’s Palestinian Broadcasting Company’s code of conduct, it does not allow
programming that encourages “violence against any person or institution on the basis of race,
religion, political beliefs, or sex.” In practice, however, some instances of incitement took place
via official media. There were also some instances of inflammatory rhetoric and the posting of
political cartoons glorifying violence on official Fatah Facebook pages.

The PA maintains control over the content of Friday sermons delivered in approximately
1,800 West Bank mosques to ensure that they do not endorse incitement to violence. Weekly,
the PA Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs distributes approved themes and prohibits
incitement to violence. The PA’s ability to enforce these guidelines varies depending upon the
location of the Mosques and it had limited authority to control the content of sermons in
Israeli-controlled Area C. A senior PA religious official met in October with prominent Israeli
rabbis to discuss ways to increase religious tolerance in the region.

As part of a policy codified in 2003, the PA provided financial packages to Palestinian security
prisoners released from Israeli prisons in an effort to reintegrate them into society and prevent
recruitment by hostile political factions.

International and Regional Cooperation: PA justice and security leaders continued to
participate in regional conferences and meetings to counter terrorism. PASF personnel attended
a variety of international training courses related to counterterrorism at training facilities in
Jordan, Europe, and the United States.

The only ethnic cleansing that the world accepts is that of the Jews

September 12, 2016

The only ethnic cleansing that the world accepts is that of the Jews | Anne’s Opinions, 12th September 2016

Binyamin Netanyahu brought down the opprobrium of the world onto his head on Friday when he stated two categorical truths: the first: the Palestinians want to ethnically cleanse Jews off their land. The second: that it is absurd that such ethnic cleansing is a pre-condition to “peace”.

Here is Bibi’s statement:

The United with Israel article reports on the video which has gone viral:

Israel’s prime minister rejected international criticism of Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria on Friday, equating it to “ethnic cleansing” of Jews and insisting the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are not an obstacle to peace, in a video that drew a rare rebuke from the United States.

Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video posted online that he has “always been perplexed” by claims that Israeli building in Judea and Samaria is “an obstacle to peace.”

He pointed to Israel’s Arab minority, which enjoys citizenship and voting rights.

“No one would seriously claim that the nearly 2 million Arabs living inside Israel, that they’re an obstacle to peace,” Netanyahu said. “Yet the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one precondition: No Jews. There’s a phrase for that: It’s called ethnic cleansing.”

“It’s even more outrageous that the world doesn’t find this outrageous,” he added. “Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace?”

Of course such simple, clear truths are unacceptable to the liberal, progressive, enlightened, oh-so-politically correct State Department which never met a terrorist it couldn’t love. They condemned Netanyahu’s video as “inappropriate”:

Washington on Friday fumed at comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video released online in which he accused the Palestinians of advocating ethnic cleansing of the Jewish population in the West Bank.

US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters the administration is “engaging in direct conversations with the Israeli government” about the video.

“We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful,” Trudeau said.

She said Israel expansion of settlements raises “real questions about Israel’s long-term intentions in the West Bank.”

I would like to throw the State Departments words back in their face and ask them why the Palestinians’ demands for ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria do not raise real questions about the Palestinian Authority’s long-term intentions in the West Bank”.

As expected, beyond Washington’s seething, Netanyahu’s words also aroused condemnation from the usual suspects, as the JPost reports:

The Zionist Union’s Tzipi Livni responded to the video, saying that the US is now saying that all the settlements are obstacles to peace, including those inside the large settlement blocs, while in the past Israel received recognition for those blocs.

“I worked to get diplomatic benefit while paying a political price, while Netanyahu is trying to get political benefit while paying a diplomatic price,” she said.

Tzipi Livni might wave her diplomatic credentials around, but the truth is that she achieved nothing during her vaunted peace-processing career. The highlight of her career was the lopsided UN Resolution 1701 after the Second Lebanon War which handed a political victory to Hezbollah.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List, slammed Netanyahu for comparing Israeli Arabs to “settlers.”

Netanyahu, he said, “is comparing a minority born here, who has lived in the place for generations, which Israel came and foisted itself upon, to settlers that were transferred against international law to occupied territory, all the while trampling the human rights of the residents of the West Bank and Gaza.”

But reality, he said, “never bothered Netanyahu.”

I don’t expect anything different from Odeh, but he really must be called out for the bunch of lies that he spouts. Calling the Palestinians “a minority born here who has lived in the place for generations” is a verifiable untruth. The land was empty and desolate, and the Arabs were uninterested in it until the Jews returned to their homeland and made it flourish. It is the Jews who are indigenous to Israel – which includes our Biblical and historical heartland, Judea and Samaria – not the Arabs, and the only time the land was Judenfrei was for a mere 19 years, a blink in the eye of history, from 1948-1967.

With every other nation, the world applauds as indigenous peoples return to their homelands. But as always, when it comes to the Jews, when they are ethnically cleansed, they’d better stay ethnically cleansed! The hypocrisy and absurdity, as Netanyahu points out, are breathtaking.

As for the video itself, people are scratching their heads wondering what prompted Netanyahu to publish this provocative statement davka now. The JPost gives a bit of background:

The brief video is the eighth that Netanyahu has made since David Keyes took over from Mark Regev as Netanyahu’s English spokesman in March. The Prime Minister’s Office views these videos as a very effective way to get the premier’s unfiltered message out to millions of people. Some 750,000 people have seen this video since it was uploaded Friday, and the number of those who have seen the others – which have dealt with issues varying from Israeli Arabs to gay rights – have been seen by tens of millions of people.

Raphael Ahren in the ToI further explains Netanyahu’s intentions. He notes that this is not the first time Netanyahu has made decried Palestinian ethnic-cleansing of the Jews in videos, speeches and interviews:

“Ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd. It’s about time somebody said it. I just did,” Netanyahu said at the end of the two-minute clip. But Netanyahu did not invent this controversial comparison on Friday afternoon, when the clip appeared on his social media accounts. He has made the argument, in various mutations, throughout his political career. In the 2000 edition of his book “A Durable Peace,” written before his watershed Bar-Ilan speech conditionally accepting the two-state solution, he flatly rejected the notion of a “hostile, Judenrein Palestinian state.” Even if the entire world supports it, the campaign for a West Bank free of Jews is based “not on justice but on injustice,” he argued at the time.

Amid the widespread criticism Netanyahu’s latest video elicited, many are wondering about his motives. Ethnic cleansing is widely considered a crime against humanity; the clip can thus be seen as a premeditated slap in the face of the Americans and indeed the entire international community for demanding that Israel agree to such a practice, some pundits said.

Others blamed the polls. Over the weekend, a second survey within a week showed Netanyahu’s Likud trailing the centrist Yesh Atid, indicating that for the first time since 2012, Likud would no longer be the country’s biggest party if elections were held today. Several analysts argued that Netanyahu provoked the ethnic cleansing drama to deflect criticism over his handling of last week’s train crisis and galvanize his right-wing supporters, relations with the US and the rest of the world be damned.

But the fact that Netanyahu and his aides have made the “ethnic cleansing” talking point before appears to discredit this theory. It is more likely that Netanyahu and Keyes — who, before he entered the Prime Minister’s Office, was known for his unorthodox style of political activism — released the clip as just one more of their ongoing series of hasbara (pro-Israel advocacy) videos, not expecting it would lead to such outrage.

The point of these videos, … is to make Israel’s case directly to the masses via social media, thus circumventing the ostensibly biased mainstream media.

Ahren then embarks on a Talmudic pilpul dissection of what constitutes “ethnic cleansing” – as if Bibi’s words are devoid of anything but political showboating:

Notwithstanding the emotions Netanyahu’s use of the term “ethnic cleansing” evoked this weekend, and the fact that Palestinian activists often use it to describe Israel’s actions in 1948, is the description factually sound?

Golden Oldie from 1994: Ethnic cleansing of the Jews

Golden Oldie from 1994: Ethnic cleansing of the Jews

There is no clear legal definition of “ethnic cleansing.” The Cambridge Dictionary describes it as “the organized, often violent attempt by a particular cultural or racial group to completely remove from a country or area all members of a different group.”

A commission of experts examining the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s — when the term was invented — established ethnic cleansing as a “purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”

On the face of it, the forced evacuation of Jewish settlers from the West Bank for the benefit of Palestinian Arabs appears to fit the bill. Palestinian leaders have been adamant that “not a single Israeli” will be accepted in their future state.

On the other hand, proponents of an Israeli withdrawal are not calling for the violent removal of settlers by Palestinians, but rather for a coordinated evacuation of settlements in the framework of a peace agreement.

As previous Israeli withdrawals from Sinai and Gaza have shown, a proportion of ideologically and religiously motivated activists would likely have to be evacuated by force — though hardly by “terror-inspiring means.”

That is absolutely not the point. See the Dry Bones cartoon from above, still accurate after over 20 years. The point remains that the Palestinians refuse to have one single Israeli in their midst, as Palestinian “President-for-Life” Mahmoud Abbas himself declared. Keeping a territory “pure” for one ethnicity only, and demanding the expulsion of other nationalities, in however peaceful a manner, remains ethnic cleansing. This “word-washing” of the Palestinians’ rejectionism has to stop if we are ever to arrive at any kind of non-violent accommodation with each other.

As an aside, Abbas even rejects Syrian Palestinians, fleeing for their lives from the civil war, heartlessly telling them to “go to Israel or die in Syria”. So much for brotherly love.

Dennis Ross

Former US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross

In a further reminder, if any were necessary, of the dangers of the US Adminsitration’s exacerbating the problems in the conflict, here comes Dennis Ross asserting that if Hilary Clinton is elected she should seek more Israeli concessions.

If Hillary Clinton is elected US president, she should launch a behind the scenes initiative to bring about changes in Israel’s policies, according to former Clinton adviser and US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross.

Ross’s remarks came during a panel discussion at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service on Thursday.

Ross said that “even though negotiations with the Palestinian Authority won’t work now,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should take steps of his own. “He should, at a minimum, announce an official policy that there will be no further Israeli construction east of the security barrier,” Ross said.

Numerous Israeli settlements would be affected by such a policy, including the communities in the Jordan Valley. Ross said such unilateral concessions would be consistent with “the traditional Zionist way of shaping your own destiny.”

No Mr. Ross! That is NOT the Zionist way. The Zionist way is to take our own destiny in our own hands, to settle our own land any way we wish, and not to kow-tow to foreign meddlers who most definitely do not have our own interests at heart.

The Zionist way is to reject the Exile, to reject the ghetto way of living where we had to be afraid of the powers that be. The Zionist way is to reclaim our own narrative, our own history, our own land and our own destiny.