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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Abbas outlines conditions for peace talks

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday once again outlined his conditions for negotiations with Israel.
 
PA chairman ready to resume negotiations on the basis of two-state principle and determination that "settlements" are illegal.
 
Speaking with members of his Fatah movement, Abbas said the PA is prepared to return to the negotiating table on the basis of the two-state solution, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the determination that “settlements” on all Palestinian land are illegal.
 
He reiterated that the issue of prisoners is a top priority and that the PA will continue to support the prisoners until they are all released from Israeli prisons.
 
"We adhere to a peaceful popular struggle because we are aware of what the occupation wants, and we adhere to our policy while coordinating with our people in Al-Quds, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and wherever our people are," said Abbas.
 
The PA chairman has repeatedly rejected calls by Israel to sit down for direct negotiations, choosing instead to impose preconditions on such talks.
 
His comments come ahead of a visit to the region by U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior advisor, Jared Kushner, meant to advance the peace process.
 
In his remarks on Tuesday, Abbas also discussed the ongoing tensions with Hamas, and rejected claims that the PA had taken punitive measures against Gaza.
 
These steps, he explained, are meant to send a clear signal to the leadership of Hamas that it must abandon its policy, and in particular the Gaza Strip Executive Committee, which functions as an independent government.
 
Abbas stressed that the PA is serious about its policy and is ready to take additional steps if Hamas did not comply with its call for national unity.
 
Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction have been at odds since 2007, when Hamas violently took control of Gaza in a bloody coup.
 
A unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed in 2015 when Abbas decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.
 
In recent months, Fatah has finally acknowledged that it has no control over Gaza and is now trying to force it to return control of the enclave by creating economic pressure on the group, most notably by cutting electricity supplies to Gaza through Israel.

Iran building missile factory in Syria

Iran has been building a Scud missile factory in Syria, newly released photos from Israeli satellite imaging company ImageSat show.
 
The factory is being built near the city of Baniyas, south of Latakia, and is built in the same way as an Iranian missile factory in Tehran, Channel 2 News reported Tuesday.
 
The photos show that the construction of the advanced plant began last year and will probably continue until the end of the current year.
 
Intelligence experts who analyzed the images told Channel 2 News that the construction of the plant, which is almost identical to the construction methods used in similar factories in Iran, indicates the high involvement of Iranian experts.
 
Iran is a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has been providing him with both financial aid and military advisors against a range of opposing forces.
 
Near the start of the Syrian civil war, it was reported that then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had personally sanctioned the dispatch of officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to fight alongside Assad’s troops.
 
A senior Iranian commander said several months ago that Iran will provide military advisors to Syria for as long as necessary and stressed that “the advisory help isn't only in the field of planning but also on techniques and tactics.”
 
The report on the satellite images follows an assessment by Mossad Director Yossi Cohen earlier this week. Cohen told the Cabinet that the Iranian regime is expanding its control across the Middle East through proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

Haley: Iran can't hold the world hostage

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley responded on Tuesday to threats by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who said his country would withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal if the U.S. imposes new sanctions on it.
 
"Iran cannot be allowed to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage ... The nuclear deal must not become 'too big to fail'," Haley said in a statement quoted by Reuters, adding that new U.S. sanctions were unrelated to the Iran nuclear deal.
 
She called for Iran to be held responsible for "its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of UN Security Council resolutions."
Rouhani had earlier blasted plans by the United States to impose new sanctions on the Tehran regime, declaring the Islamic Republic would withdraw from the treaty “within hours” of any new sanctions.
 
"If America wants to go back to the experience [of sanctions], Iran would certainly return in a short time -- not a week or a month but within hours -- to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations," Rouhani said during a live broadcast on Iranian state television.
 
While lifting nuclear-linked sanctions, the United States maintains sanctions related to Iran's ballistic missile program, human rights record and its support for international terrorism.
 
Earlier this month, President Trump signed a new package of sanctions into law, with sanctions targeting not only Iran, but North Korea and the Russian government as well.
Within hours, Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the new sanctions and vowed an “appropriate and proportional response”.
 
Haley is set to travel to Vienna later this month to discuss Iran's nuclear activities with officials from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Raheem Kassam on ‘No Go Zones’: From Statue Destruction to Muslim Migration, the Left Wants to Erase America

Raheem Kassam, Breitbart London editor and frequent host of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily, talked with Alex Marlow about his new book, No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, on Tuesday’s edition of the show.
Kassam said that writing the book involved “a lot of old-school stuff: planning and getting on buses in foreign countries, and talking to people in different languages and trying to get your head around something that wasn’t a massive established paper trail already.”
“Funnily enough, the Swedish government doesn’t want to release their rape statistics and crime statistics,” he explained. “It doesn’t suit them very well to do so. You’ve got to do a lot of pushing, a lot of pressuring, a lot of translating, a hell of a lot of digging.”
Kassam said his journey took him from cities like Molenbeek in Europe to the United States. For example, one passage in No Go Zones discusses his discoveries at the Arab-American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
“These places are open to the public, and yet you never hear about quite exactly what’s going on there,” he said. “What I found going on at the Arab-American Museum in the United States in 2017 was U.S. corporations sponsoring anti-U.S. government and anti-Israeli propaganda for public consumption. This is supposed to be a museum, and actually, what they were doing was propagandizing. There’s a lot of unique reporting in the book.” READ MORE

Al Qaeda Publishes Blueprint for Attacks on Key U.S. Transportation Systems

The al Qaeda terror group's chief bomb maker has published a blueprint for new attacks on U.S. transportation systems, including planes, trains, and boats, which the terror group views as "prime targets," according to a copy of a lengthy manifesto that provides a guide for would-be terrorists to launch attacks.
Ibrahim al-Asiri, a top al Qaeda leader known as the terror group's chief bomb maker, detailed the extremist organization's plans to target U.S. passenger and shipping transportation services, which the terror organization views as weak links ripe for attack.
While al Qaeda's operations have been weakened by years of U.S. attacks on its key locations and apparatus, it has increasingly relied on promulgating its radical ideology to so-called "lone wolfs" who are not officially affiliated with the group but who are capable of carrying out terror attacks without detection by American authorities.
The shift to lone-wolf attacks highlights al Qaeda's continued influence and brand strength among jihadists following the rise of splinter groups such as ISIS. Al Qaeda is still a primary source of concern for the U.S. intelligence community, which continues to see the group as a central threat against American safety.
Al-Asiri emphasizes in his manifesto, published in the latest issue of al Qaeda's chief propaganda organ Inspire Magazine, that lone jihadists could easily carry out terror attacks on bustling locales, such as airports and train stations.
"We will be focusing on targeting means of transportation," the terror leader writes in the English-language article, which was first highlighted by the Middle East Media Research Institute. "We will explain more on this, which is part of the general policy of targeting the ring of security in the chain." READ MORE

ISRAEL BUILDS UNDERGROUND WALL AFTER GAZA TUNNEL TRAUMA

KIBBUTZ NIRIM, Israel (AP) -- Israel is pressing ahead with construction of an underground barrier along the border with the Gaza Strip in an ambitious project meant to halt the threat of attack tunnels built by the Hamas militant group.
 
Cranes and work crews are digging holes and installing sensors and other equipment for a structure that is expected to stretch along the entire 60-kilometer (40-mile) border when it is complete.
 
Gadi Yarkoni, head of the local Eshkol regional council, said the project is a key reason that the area has enjoyed a surge in growth and attracted young families since a devastating war with Hamas three years ago.
 
"I believe building the barrier is the right thing to do, to build in order to stop and to give an answer to the issue of the tunnels, and to the issue of the communities in the area," he said. "The surge in development in this area is unbelievable."
 
During the 2014 war, Hamas militants on several occasions made their way into Israel through a tunnel network that caught Israel off guard. Although they did not manage to reach civilian areas, the infiltrations terrified the local population. Israel destroyed 32 tunnels during that conflict, and since then has made neutralizing the tunnel threat a top priority. READ MORE

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Iranian Military Officials: We Will Never Allow U.S. to Inspect Military Sites

TEL AVIV — A top official with Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps expressed strong opposition to the notion that the United States should be allowed to inspect Iran’s military sites.
“Both the great Iranian nation and the U.S. and the world should know that if there is only one demand in the whole world which will be rejected and if there is only one wish that will be taken to the grave, it is the Americans’ demand to visit our military centers,” lieutenant commander of the IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami said, according to a report by the Iranian Fars news agency.
Speaking on Saturday night, Salami said that “if (the Americans) want to visit a base, they should go to the military sites in the U.S. The Americans should not allow themselves at all to speak about Iran.”
According to the Israel-based i24 news service, another Iranian military official, Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, made similar comments last week on the possibility of visits to Iranian military sites by officials from the U.S. and other western countries.
“We will not give them such permission,” Hajizadeh said last week.
Salami’s comments came after President Donald Trump said that Iran was failing to abide by the spirit of the nuclear deal it reached with the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China and Germany in 2015. The White House said last month, however, that Tehran was complying with the terms of the agreement as delineated.

Expert: Palestinian state an existential danger to Israel

The "state of Palestine” presents a far greater threat to Israel than a third intifada or persistent terrorism. This threat, which would further exacerbate the area’s correlation of forces, is potentially existential. Under certain circumstances, Palestinian Arab statehood could meaningfully enlarge the prospects of both mega-terror attacks and regional nuclear war, warns Prof. Louis René Beres of Purdue University, expert on nuclear strategy and afrequent columnist on Arutz Sheva..
 
In an article published on the Begin-Sadat (BESA Center) website, he explains that examining the subject in depth shows that the danger to Israel from a Palestinian Arab state is far greater than is generally stated, and that it may be existential.
 
However, he pointed out, the actual danger is indirect - as in the case of a disease that is not serious enough to kill a person, but weakens it in such a way that other diseases can kill it.However, he said, it is also possible that a Palestinian Arab state would pose a mortal danger in itself, but would implement the danger in a piecemeal manner.
 
According to Beres, since any Palestinian Arab state will be created at the expense of the State of Israel, Israel will weaken as a result of the agreement, while the Palestinian Arab entity will be strengthened. On the basis of Palestinian Arab declarations and positions over the years, there is no escaping the conclusion that in this situation, the Palestinian Arabs will continue their terrorist activities and terrorism will expand in scope.
 
As for the fear of a third intifada, he wrote, it makes no sense for Israel to encourage its adversaries to become an even more organized and powerful entity, because such an entity could cause Israel greater damage. For example, it could attack the reactor in Dimona. Beres notes that polls conducted by the PA found that most of the residents there support the armed struggle against Israel. READ MORE

Iran’s Parliament Chants ‘Death to America,’ Increases Funding for Missiles, Revolutionary Guard

(AP) — Chanting “Death to America,” Iran’s parliament voted unanimously Sunday to increase spending on its ballistic missile program and the foreign operations of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, part of a sanctions bill mirroring a new U.S. law targeting the country.
While offering hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding, the lawmakers’ bill offered a tactic as old as the slogan shouted since the 1979 Islamic Revolution — using America’s own tactics against it.
The vote salves public anger in Iran over U.S. President Donald Trump’s constant threats to renegotiate or abandon the nuclear deal struck by world powers under his predecessor. While lawmakers stressed the bill wouldn’t violate that agreement, it ensures those both home and abroad know Iran will continue confronting America either in the Persian Gulf or legislatively, analysts say.
“They want to show that the pressure that the U.S. is exerting on Iran, they can respond with similar measures,” said Adnan Tabatabai, an Iran analyst based in Germany who is the CEO of the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient. “It’s not that important that those measures may not hurt the U.S. in the same way. … They want to show they are not just standing still and watching this happening.”
In the session Sunday, 240 lawmakers voted for the bill, with only one abstention from the 247 legislators on hand, Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA reported. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani after the vote described the measure as just the first step the country could take. READ MORE

Report: Moscow Takes Control of Venezuelan Oil Assets amid Socialist Meltdown

Venezuela needs cash, and Russia has it. Venezuela has oil, and Russia wants it. According to a special report at Reuters, the socialist meltdown in Venezuela is likely to end with Moscow controlling a good deal of that tormented country’s most valuable asset: its oil fields.
According to Reuters, Russia’s giant state-owned oil company Rosneft has been holding secret negotiations with its opposite number in Venezuela, PDVSA, to purchase “ownership interests in up to nine of Venezuela’s most productive petroleum projects.”
The number of Venezuela projects Russia would have substantial or ownership stakes in would jump from five to 14 if these deals go through. The new acquisitions would include projects in some of Venezuela’s richest oil and natural gas fields.
The article goes on to note that Rosneft has already floated a billion dollars to PDVSA for promised future oil shipments, and the regime of socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro used Russian money to avoid defaulting on bonds at least twice. Russia announced one of these seemingly risky advance payments immediately after the United States announced a new round of sanctions against Maduro at the beginning of August.
Barron’s explains that Russia’s advance payments for Venezuelan crude are essentially a stealth strategy for buying the oil fields themselves. Russia writes huge checks for barrels of oil, Venezuela is unable to deliver the product or pay the debt, and Russia swaps the debt for equity in the oil projects. READ MORE

Iran could quit nuclear deal in 'hours' if new U.S. sanctions imposed: Rouhani

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers "within hours" if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.
"If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time -- not a week or a month but within hours -- to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations," Rouhani told a session of parliament broadcast live on state television.
Iran says new sanctions that the United States has imposed on it breach the agreement it reached in 2015 with the United States, Russia, China and three European powers in which it agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most sanctions.
The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms in late July for their role in the development of a ballistic missile program after Tehran launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.
In early August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea passed by the U.S. Congress. The sanctions in that bill also target Iran's missile programs as well as human rights abuses. READ MORE

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup

Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Tehran.
The military investment and buildup comes following weeks of tense interactions between Iran and the United States in regional waters, where Iranian military ships have carried out a series of dangerous maneuvers near U.S. vessels. The interactions have roiled U.S. military leaders and prompted tough talk from the Trump administration, which is currently examining potential ways to leave the landmark nuclear deal.
Iran's increasingly hostile behavior also follows a little-noticed United Nations report disclosing that Iran has repeatedly violated international accords banning ballistic missile work. Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and some policy experts also believe that Iran has been violating some provisions in the nuclear agreement governing nuclear-related materials.
With tensions over sanctions and Iran's compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by more than $500 million. This is at least the second recent cash influx to Iran's military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash.
Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted "death to America" as they passed the measure, which boosts spending to Iran's contested missile programs by around $260 million.
The bill also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials in the region. Additionally, Iranian officials are moving to set up courts to prosecute the United States for the recent sanctions, which Iran claims are in violation of the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, following several aggressive encounters with U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian military leaders announced that they would be leading a flotilla of warships into the Atlantic Ocean. READ MORE

Pence says 'failed state' in Venezuela threatens United States

WASHINGTON/BOGOTA (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday the United States would bring all its economic and diplomatic power to bear to see democracy restored in Venezuela, saying a failed state there threatens Americans.
"President (Donald) Trump has made it very clear that we will not stand by while Venezuela collapses into dictatorship," Pence told reporters in Cartagena, Colombia. "A failed state in Venezuela threatens the security and prosperity of our entire hemisphere and the people of the United States of America."
Pence has struck a more conciliatory tone than Trump during the start of a Latin American tour to Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama, saying a peaceful solution to unrest and political turmoil in Venezuela is possible.
Trump last week threatened military action, sparking condemnation from around the region, including from countries which are usually some of leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's harshest critics.
"We are absolutely determined to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until we see democracy restored in Venezuela," Pence told reporters after meeting with Venezuelan families living in Colombia. READ MORE

Monday, August 14, 2017

Your Tax Dollars At Work - Funding Another Extremist Palestinian Camp For Teens

Camp Two prominent US senators are raising questions about an American-funded school in Ramallah, which is running an extremist summer camp for Palestinian teens from around the world — many of them Americans.
 
The controversial summer program, called "Go Palestine," is run by the Ramallah Friends School, a 148-year-old Quaker institution in the Palestinian Authority's de facto capital. 
 
Its stated mission is to provide Palestinian teens from abroad with "introductions to Palestinian culture, cuisine, life and work, and the Arabic language."
 
But in addition to traditional summer camp fare, Go Palestine participants are immersed in anti-Israel films, and lectures by militants — some with terrorist connections.
 
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) gave the Ramallah Friends School $800,000 in 2016 to make various improvements to its facilities. USAID also sent the school $700,000 in 2015, $900,000 in 2014 and similar amounts in prior years, through USAID's “American Schools and Hospitals Abroad” program.
 
The school is owned and operated by the Indiana-based Friends United Meeting, one of the major divisions of the Quaker movement.
 
US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that the evidence gathered by JNS.org concerning Go Palestine is "disturbing" and that USAID "must immediately investigate it." Schumer added: "If true, this school should be cut off because entities that receive USAID should be teaching about democracy and coexistence — not intolerance or extremism."
 
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is a longtime supporter of USAID’s assistance to overseas schools, but "the allegations described are quite concerning" and Cardin "has reached out to USAID for an explanation," a spokesperson for the senator told JNS.org.
 
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS.org, "I endorse the calls by Senators Schumer and Cardin for an investigation to make sure that no US government funds are being used, directly or indirectly, to support a camp that promotes BDS or other anti-Israel extremism." READ MORE