Israel Wins US 2018 Election

Astute News

Judging from the mainstream media, Israel was not a major issue in the midterm election but it sure did come up a lot when candidates for office were wooing Jewish or Evangelical voters. To cite only one example, Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis criticized his opponent Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum during their gubernatorial race for receiving support from the Dream Defenders, a group favoring Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and giving a speech welcoming members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to his city. DeSantis claimed in a video clip that “I can find anti-Semites around him, but it’s almost like ‘we don’t want to discuss that.’”

DeSantis, who sponsored the 2013 Palestinian Accountability Act which called for the withholding of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, charged that Gillum would not be a “friend” of Israel. In 2017, he co-founded

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هل أنقذ نتنياهو المملكة من أزمة الخاشقجي؟

أكتوبر 30, 2018

روزانا رمّال

بتنسيق أو بدونه لا يمكن اعتبار زيارة رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو خارجة عن المشهد الإقليمي المحيط بكل ما يدور في فلك الخلافات الخليجية الخليجية او العربية الإسرائيلية او الأميركية الروسية بل هي جزء منها وجزء من هذا المشهد هو التحدّي المباشر حول قضية مقتل الصحافي السعودي جمال الخاشقجي وما يعنيه ذلك بالنسبة للعائلة السعودية المالكة التي ترغب بالحفاظ على ولاية العهد لمحمد بن سلمان من جهة وبين الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب الداعم لهذا الخيار وما لحقه من انتقادات أميركية محلية استغلت للتأثير على الانتخابات النصفية.

قبل الحديث عن سلطنة عمان والخطوة التي ما كانت قادرة «إلا» على القيام بها، لا بد من السؤال حول سبب التغيير في خطاب الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب بما يتعلق بالأمير محمد بن سلمان فبعد ان اصبحت الجريمة الاهتمام الاول للعالم والرأي العام فيه لم يستبعد ترامب ان يكون إبن سلمان متورطاً. ومفهوم أن هذا الموقف جاء بضغط محلي وحسابات انتخابية يستغلها خصومه، لهذا السبب صار المطلوب من إبن سلمان تقديم الكثير والوفير بالملفين التاليين:

الأول مالي ورفع مستوى التقديمات السعودية لغايات تجارية ونفطية أميركية. وهذا متوقع. أما الثاني فهو صفقة القرن وتمريرها. الأمر الذي يؤكده مصدر سياسي عربي رفيع لـ»البناء» وهو فشل صفقة القرن بعجز سعودي عن تمريرها بعد رفض الملك سلمان التخلي عن الملف الفلسطيني بهذا الشكل والتوقيع. الأمر الذي أُخبر به الرئيس الفلسطيني محمود عباس والحقيقة تعود الى ان العجز السعودي مفاده عدم الاستسلام الفلسطيني والفشل في إقناع حركة فتح والسلطة الفلسطينية التي تزداد تمسكاً برفض اي نوع او بند من هذه الصفقة. وعلى هذا الأساس أخبر المسؤولون السعوديون صهر الرئيس الأميركي المكلف بالملف جاريد كوشنر باستعصاء القضية.

بمقتل الخاشقجي صار الضغط على إبن سلمان مضاعفاً وصارت مسألة تغطية الأميركيين له أمراً ليس سهلاً إلا أن ترامب الذي يحظى بمكانة جد عالية عند الإسرائيليين، وخصوصاً صداقة مميزة مع نتنياهو حرك مسألة الصفقة من زاوية خليجية أخرى بدون الغوص بمسألة إسقاط ولاية العهد عن إبن سلمان الذي قدّم الكثير مبدئياً لواشنطن والقادر على تقديم المزيد لاحقاً. وبالتالي فإن تخليصه من الأزمة تدريجياً يبدأ مع الضغط على تركيا التي خففت من منسوب التصعيد، خصوصاً أن الرئيس التركي لم يقدم معلومات مبهرة عن عملية الاغتيال او قتل الخاشقجي ولم يقدم ايضاً أي معلومة حول رد فعل تركي مباشر. فانتظار التحقيقات يعني انتظار «التفاوض» على شيء ما. وهكذا بدأت القضية بالخفوت تدريجياً بدون أن يعني ذلك إقفال الملف بل السكوت على مضض حتى تتحقق المطالب التركية، خصوصاً بعد الضغط الأميركي الكبير والحصار المالي وتدهور الليرة التركية.

زيارة نتنياهو الى سلطنة عُمان أزاحت المشهد بالكامل إليها ونثرت الغبار وحولت الأنظار عن قضية مقتل الخاشقجي بدون أن يشعر الشارع العربي بذلك. فالصدمة التي تكفلت بها سلطنة عُمان كانت كافية لهذا الشارع للاندهاش والسؤال عما يجري وكانت أكبر من صدمة تقطيع جثة الخاشقجي داخل حرم دبلوماسي. وبعد التوضيح العماني تبين أن الملف هو فلسطيني إسرائيلي أي بكلام آخر «صفقة القرن» من بوابة جديدة ومكان آخر ليس الرياض هذه المرّة.

سوابق التفاهمات التي انطلقت من سلطنة عمان كبيرة وكثيرة. فالسلطنة هي التي استقبلت مساعي الاتفاق النووي الأميركي الإيراني والدول الغربية. وهي اليوم تتكفل بادارة الملف التفاوضي بين السعوديين والحوثيين. والحديث عن سحب الملف من أيدي الرياض غير صحيح، لأن التنسيق العماني السعودي قديم وكل ما يجري منذ أكثر من خمس سنوات تفاوضياً بالملفات المذكورة كان تحت الغطاء الأميركي بالكامل، وبالتالي فان قراءة الاستراتيجية الأميركية حيال حلفائها الخليجيين صارت واضحة فتوزيع الأدوار واضح.

أولاً: بالنسبة لقطر التي لا تزال حليفة واشنطن فإنها في الوقت نفسه حليفة تركيا وصديقة للإيرانيين. وهذا وحده يتكفل بقطع العلاقة الأميركية معها، لكن هذا لم يحصل وبرزت هنا مسألة توزيع الأدوار على حلفاء واشنطن.

ثانياً: السعودية الضامن الأول للتمركز الأميركي في سوق النفط في العالم والمموّل الأساسي للعديد من المشاريع الأميركية والضامن لتمرير مشاريع سياسية في الشرق الاوسط بتامين غطاء إسلامي عريض. فلا يتخلى الأميركيون عنها ولا تتخلى عنهم مستغلة الدعم الأميركي بوجه إيران وسياساتها التي ترفع واشنطن من منسوب تهديدها «الوهمي» والمبالغ فيه بالكثير من الأحيان.

ثالثاً: سلطنة عمان التي تعتبر منصة التفاوض في آخر الطرق وإنذار إعلان التحولات الكبرى، وهي مسرح للتفاوض السياسي وإرسال الرسائل ونقطة وصل بين المتخاصمين. ومما لا شك فيه أن حياد عمان وقلة تدخلها بجدالات الساحة العربية جعلها تحافظ على موقعها التفاوضي الذي قدمته الى العالم. واليوم ينطلق منها أخطر الملفات وهو التطبيع وزيارة نتنياهو كشفت أن العلاقة قديمة وسرية والتنسيق بين مخابرات البلدين قديم أيضاً يصل لعقود.

نجح نتنياهو بإنقاذ حليف الحليف ونثر الغبار على قضية الخاشقجي بزيارة ألهبت الشارع العربي بعد التركيز على قضية تصدّرت اهتمامات الصحافة العالمية وكشفت عن وحشية غير مسبوقة. فكانت المفاجأة التي خرجت من قصر السلطان قابوس. فهل تكون فرصة جديدة تعوّم إبن سلمان؟ ام ان الرياح لن تجري كما يشتهي الأمير الشاب هذه المرة والضغوط أكبر بكثير؟

وقالت حركة فتح في بيان وصل لوكالة «سبوتنيك» نسخة منه:

«إن زيارة رئيس وزراء الاحتلال الإسرائيلي نتنياهو لسلطنة عُمان هو نسف لمبادرة السلام العربية القائمة على أساس الأرض مقابل السلام الشامل ومن ثم إقامة العلاقات بين الدول العربية وإسرائيل».

 

Khan Al-Ahmar Exposes the Misplaced Priorities of the PA and the International Community

Residents of Khan al-Ahmar block Israeli bulldozers to stop the demolition of their village. (Photo: Oren Ziv, Activestills.org)

October 20, 2018

By Ramona Wadi

The Palestinian Authority and the international community made a PR spectacle out of Khan Al-Ahmar and its impending demolition. Suffice to say that when facing human rights violations which are listed as war crimes, protocol is given precedence and the media follows suit. Two recent statements testify to this collective experimentation upon the Palestinian people.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor warned that Khan Al-Ahmar’s demolition would constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute. Fatou Bensouda will, she added, “continue to keep a close eye on the developments on the ground.” It is worth noting that the situation in Palestine has been under preliminary investigation at the ICC since 2015 and the rhetoric remains stagnant in concordance with the bureaucratic procedures that allow war crimes to be committed rather than prevented.

Meanwhile, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah paid a so-called “solidarity visit” to the threatened village in which verbal distinction between the people and the politicians was blurred.  “Our presence here today in Khan Al-Ahmar carries a message that says we are going to fight to defeat the deal of the century,” Hamdallah declared.

Whose presence was he referring to? The PA’s presence is a symbol devoid of any symbolism, diplomatic or otherwise; it’s an authority without authority. There will be no official PA presence in Khan Al-Ahmar when the Israeli bulldozers roll in and rhetoric about fighting the deal of the century will be spouted forth at another opportune time and place.

While the fate of the Bedouin village has indeed attracted international attention, there is a constant failure to note that all such forced displacements from 1948 onwards are part of Israel’s plan to colonize all of historic Palestine. The insistence on framing this eviction as detrimental only to the two-state compromise is not only inaccurate but also dangerous.

To what extent is Khan Al-Ahmar important to the international community? Is it because there is a commitment to uphold human rights — if so, why are they not being upheld? — or is there some value to be derived from maintaining the clearly obsolete two-state rhetoric? It is not difficult to guess that human rights have little to do with what is happening. This should prompt collective outrage at the international community’s own abuse and exploitation of Palestinian rights depending on whether they concur with the accepted paradigm.

The PA and the international community have tethered Palestinians to future hypothetical support. Furthermore, there is an adamant refusal to view Khan Al-Ahmar’s demolition as another macabre chapter in a long history of forced displacement of the Palestinian people. Historically, the villagers’ struggle is not unique, yet we are forced to view it as an isolated incident.

The difference lies beneath the perception. Palestinian communities targeted with forced displacement are aware of their solitary predicament in relation to the political unraveling of their cause. The PA’s alignment to Israel and the international community, on the other hand, leaves it with little choice other than to continue the charade of allegedly protecting Palestinian rights while failing, more than ever, to find a foothold for its survival beyond what is dictated to, and implemented by, itself as an institution created to defend Israel. Like the international community, PA officials have attempted to tie Khan Al-Ahmar to the two-state delusion in vain, while the community has persisted in its resistance within the framework of historic Palestine.

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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Oslo Paved the Way to Deal of Century: “It Was A Mistake To Have Negotiated With Israel At All”

I Advised The Palestinian Negotiating Team. It Was A Mistake To Have Negotiated With Israel At All

Israel's Prime Minister Yitchak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat conferring after being awarded, together with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

Buoyed by the Oslo Accords, I moved to the West Bank as a legal adviser to the PLO team. I was wrong. 25 years since that iconic Arafat-Rabin handshake, it’s clear talks are futile – and Palestinians are no closer to freedom

By Diana Buttu

September 13, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –    Twenty-five years ago this month, on the White House lawn, the lives of a generation of Palestinians changed forever when the late Palestinian leader,Yasser Arafat, shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. That handshake marked the start of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with promises of a new era of peace, freedom and prosperity.

25 years later, Palestinians are no closer to freedom, as Israel has further entrenched, rather than lessened, its now 51-year military occupation.

Like countless others at the time, I was optimistic that the negotiations would finally lead to Palestinian liberty as promised and based on this, I decided to move to the West Bank to work as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team. During that period, I met with countless diplomats, worked on scores of proposals and even began a house-to-house campaign to speak to Israelis about ending Israel’s military rule.

But while I and others worked to end occupation others worked to entrench it, including the Israeli government and its settlers: within the first seven years after the negotiations began, Israel used incentives to nearly double its settler population. Today, the settler population is more than three times the size it was in 1993, with nearly 700,000 settlers living in the West Bank.

Back in 1993, settlements were, for the most part, confined to hilltops, with Israeli settlers considered to be fringe. Far from being ostracized, today, some Israel’s largest cities are settlements, settlers have taken over homes in the heart of Palestinian towns and settlers command positions on the Israeli cabinet and on the Supreme Court. In short, settlers are the norm, not the exception. Today, Israeli settlers speak openly about annexing the West Bank or expelling Palestinians.

I am often asked why the negotiations process failed. It is easy to point to the rise of right-wing Israeli governments, poor leadership or weak or uninterested U.S. presidents. But the real reason for failure lie beyond these factors.

It is because the parties should not have started negotiating in the first place.

To demand that Palestinians – living under Israeli military rule – negotiate with their occupier and oppressor is akin to demanding that a hostage negotiate with their hostage taker. It is repugnant that the world demands that Palestinians negotiate their freedom, while Israel continues to steal Palestinian land. Instead, Israel should have faced sanctions for continuing to deny Palestinians their freedom while building illegal settlements.

Twenty-five years later, rather than living the joys of freedom, we mark each day, by thinking about how to maneuver the maze of Israel’s more than 500 checkpoints, put in place to accommodate Israeli settlements, just to be able to get to work or to school. A 25 year-old in the West Bank has likely never been able to visit the sea – a few miles away – while a 25 year-old in Gaza has never been able to leave the Gaza Strip, to visit friends and family in the West Bank and Jerusalem or even abroad.

It isn’t just movement of people that is affected. Palestinians have not been able to take advantage of technological progress for “security reasons” for example, as cancer treatment advances throughout the world, Palestinian hospitals are barred from acquiring radiation equipment. Even our postal system remains hostage to Israel’s whims.

But, rather than recognize the mistake of negotiations, the world continues to demand that we continue the facade even though negotiations irrevocably broke down more than a decade ago. The negotiations process has, in effect, served as cover for the world to do nothing – while giving Israel the cover to build and expand settlements.

If peace is to be achieved, it must entail costs – and this time, not shouldered by the Palestinians. Rather, Israel must receive the strong message, the first in its history, that settlements will no longer be tolerated but rather reversed, and that Palestinians must be free.

I am under no illusions that the Trump Administration will put into place such sanctions. While previous administrations tried to maintain a semblance that they were helping “both sides,” Trump has come decidedly in support of Israel’s right-wing pro-settler movement.

Whether by declaring Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or by attempting to extinguish the right of return, President Trump has shown that his “deal of the century” will undoubtedly accommodate Israeli settlements, take away Palestinian rights and reward Israeli wrongs. The closure of the PLO office in Washington D.C. this week is yet another check on Israel’s wish list.

For Israel and its supporters, the past 25 years have been a victory. With Trump at the helm, Israel’s settlers are at an all-time high, Palestinians are confined to bantustans and the U.S. is cracking down on Palestinians for demanding their freedom.

But this short-term fix has long-term implications. While Oslo changed the lives of a generation of Palestinians, this generation and the next have certainly learned its lessons: that negotiating is futile, and that our rights cannot be compromised. With this, it is only a matter of time before we begin struggling for equal rights in a single state, rather than press for statehood.

Diana Buttu is a Ramallah-based analyst and activist, and a former adviser to Mahmoud Abbas and the negotiating team of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Twitter: @dianabuttu 

This article was originally published by Haaretz 

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US Declares War on PA, Closes of it’s Mission in Washington Calls ICC ‘Dangerous’,

US Calls International Criminal Court ‘Dangerous’

September 10, 2018

US President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton.

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton branded the International Criminal Court dangerous and unaccountable Monday, saying it constitutes an assault on US sovereignty.

“In theory, the ICC holds perpetrators of the most egregious atrocities accountable for their crimes, provides justice to the victims, and deters future abuses,” Bolton said.

“In practice, however, the court has been ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous,” he said.

Source: AFP

US Confirms Closure of Palestinian Mission in Washington

US State Department

The US State Department confirmed Monday it was ordering the closure of the Washington mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, saying the Palestinians were not supporting ‘peace’ talks with ‘Israel’.

“We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

“However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with ‘Israel’.”

Source: AFP

PLO Describes US Move against Mission in Washington as Declaration of War

PLO

The Palestinian government condemned the US administration decision to close the headquarters of the Palestinian mission in Washington, describing the move as a declaration of war.

The spokesman of the Palestinian government Youssef Al-Mahmoud stressed that the US decision would not be able to impose on the Palestinians the formulas which eradicate their cause, calling on the whole world to confront those new imperial policies.

The United States has decided to close the Palestinian mission in Washington in the latest move against them by President Donald Trump, a Palestinian official had said Monday.

“We have been notified by a US official of their decision to close the Palestinian mission to the US,” Palestine Liberation Organization secretary-general Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

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Hassan Nasrallah: Trump, Netanyahu and Bin Salman want to liquidate the Palestinian cause

THE SAKER

Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on May 14, 2018, commemorating the second anniversary of the death of Hezbollah Commander Sayed Moustafa Badreddine.
Translation : unz.com/sayedhasan
Transcript:

[…] (Finally), Palestine, (the most) important question —I will be brief because everything we said before had to do with Palestine. Tomorrow (May 15) is the 70th anniversary of the Nakba (‘catastrophe’, designating the forced exile of Palestinians in 1948), the Nakba of Palestine, or rather the Nakba of Arabs, Muslims and the (Muslim) Community, and even the Nakba of humanity. What happened 70 years ago and has continued for 70 years is a badge of shame (branded with a hot iron) in History and on the forehead of all mankind, of all States and world leaders, as well as all international organizations in the world. And it continues to this very day: what is happening today in Gaza —tens of martyrs, over a thousand injured— is a continuation of what happened 70 years ago.The Palestinians, for 70 years, did not abandon their cause. They may have differed on some choices, but none of them has accepted that the Palestinian cause is liquidated or definitively closed, regardless of the minimum (1967 borders), median (1948 borders) and maximum (historic Palestine) terms. And their struggle, their fight, their sacrifices and martyrs have continued until what happens today.

Today we are also facing a great and very dangerous challenge to the Palestinian cause, of which I will talk briefly, ie what is known as (Trump’s)  (definitively settling the Palestinian issue), and according to some information —I do not have specific insight about it, but that’s what can be read in the media—, Trump will announce in May, in the last remaining two weeks, he will officially announce this Deal. And the US project to solve the Palestinian issue is this, points 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 (which I’m going to detail).

(What is the position of Trump 🙂 “O Palestinians, O Arabs, O Muslims, if you agree (to the Deal), you’re welcome, come and sign it. If you do not agree, so long (we have nothing more to say), and we will still impose it on you.” Because I forgot something in the first part (of my speech) about the consequences (of the American withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal), it’s not only that (Trump and the United States) do not respect (the agreements nor the world) but they take (unilateral) decisions that favor their interests and just impose them (forcefully) to the world. And those who do not give in, they subject them to sanctions, even if they are their allies. They are not going to propose a settlement (of the conflict), but they will announce it (as a fait accompli). If you accept it, you’re welcome. And if you refuse it, they will wage war against you, inflict sanctions on you, impose it to you (by force). Such is the danger facing the Palestinian cause these days.It started with the recognition of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel, and now it’s done, despite the fact that Trump had promised the Arab (leaders) it would take two or three years and that there was time before its implementation. But no, they chose a modest place of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and rushed to move their embassy (for the inauguration) today.

Well, what is this project, a clear, known project about which nothing is hidden?1 / No Quds (Jerusalem), neither East nor West (for Palestine), it will not even be a matter of discussion. And what appears of the holy places, is that neither what is on the surface, nor what is underground (will be given to the Palestinians). No Quds (Jerusalem). Al-Quds is the eternal capital of Israel.  If a Muslim wants to go to the Al-Aqsa Mosque (the third holiest site in Islam), or if a Christian wants to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, he has to ask Netanyahu. That’s the first point. This is definitely settled for Trump, he announced it.

2 / No return of Palestinian refugees. Nothing at all. Now they’re wondering what to do at the Sinai (Egyptian desert), whether they will take them there… Palestinian refugees will either take the nationality of the country in which they reside, or be sent to other places. But there shall be no return of refugees (in Palestine).

3 / The Palestinian State will be Gaza. That is all. The State of Historic Palestine, which is two or three times larger than Lebanon, will be limited to Gaza.

4 / As for the Palestinian presence in the West Bank, it will take some form: self-governance, regional autonomy, partly linked to the ‘State’ of Gaza… I do not have details on that.

5 / Treaties of comprehensive peace. And all Arab and Muslim countries will have to stand in rank, recognize Israel, establish relations with Israel, normalize relations with Israel, and those who do not accept will be subject to sanctions, blockade, pressures and plots ready to be implemented.

Such is the “Deal of the century”. What then is the “Deal of the century” (if not that)? That is to say, the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. This means that the Palestinian cause will end this way.

In this context, what should be our position? We must not be content to describe and analyze. Let’s be realistic. Trump is serious in this choice, and things take their natural course. What is happening, and what does it require from us? From us and others, every Muslim, every Arab, every Christian, every worthy man in this region (and in the world).

What is happening now is that there is a process to impose this outcome. The first step in this process, is the (considerable) pressure exerted on Iran. Currently the pressure on Iran is maximal. Perhaps we who are staying in Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, are not well aware of this. Today, they are exerting maximum pressure on Iran. They work on finances and on the economy (of Iran), to bring down the Iranian currency, and to undermine the economic situation inside the country, in order to create situations of popular demonstrations against the government and against the regime, and therefore lead Iran to a (completely) different location (domestically and regarding its stance on Palestine). The ultimate pressure on Iran consists in the removal of the nuclear deal, the return of US sanctions and the threat of new sanctions. It is not just the old sanctions but also new sanctions against Iran.

Is it only a nuclear issue? They know very well that there is no military nuclear (program) in Iran. The real reason was stated by Trump himself, I do not even need to make an analysis.

He mentioned:

1 / nuclear weapons, knowing that it is a false (charge);2 / ballistic missiles (owned by Iran) and the fact that Iran manufactures them;

3 / support from Iran to Hezbollah and Hamas. He said so explicitly. That is to say, to Palestine.

This means: “O Iran, my problem with you is not only the nuclear issue, ballistic missiles, their scope, their manufacture and their number. One of my main problems with you is your support for Resistance movements in the region.”  And when Trump speaks of Hamas, in truth, it is not only Hamas. It is he who says ‘Hamas’. But the Islamic Republic stands with the entire Palestinian people and all the Resistance movements in Palestine, and supports all those who believe in the choice of Resistance in Palestine. Such is the (true cause of) the pressure against Iran.

“If you want us to go back to the (nuclear) deal, if you want us to waive the sanctions, to quit putting pressure on you with the conversion rate of your currency to the dollar, if you want us to allow European companies to continue investing in Iran and trade with you (O Iran), then leave Palestine aside, detach yourself from it (and toe the line like the others).” That’s the first point.Second, the continuing pressure on Syria in order to monopolize and exhaust it. Syria is nearing victory. Soon they will resort yet again to the pretext of chemical weapons to come and threaten, intimidate and bomb, and if there were not some fears (for the USA), they would not content themselves with what they hit (the last time). The US wants to ensure that the Syrian leadership, President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian state, the Syrian Army and the Syrian people continue to be drained in the inner battle, in order to get Syria out of this equation (Palestine).

Third, the continuing pressure on Resistance movements in the region, especially in Lebanon. They had already inflicted banking sanctions on us, and now they threaten us with new sanctions from the Congress, they threaten anyone who has links with Hezbollah, financially, etc., etc. You know the extent of this issue, we have already talked a lot about (in the past).

But what is even more dangerous, and it had been a while that there was no such thing, is that today, every day we hear threats of launching a war against Lebanon, saying that if such and such happens, they will send back Lebanon to the Stone Age, etc., this kind of intimidation. What does it mean ? This is part of this process (liquidation of the Palestinian cause), this is a way to say “Watch out you Lebanese, watch out Hezbollah, be reasonable, keep aside. Do not stand in our way by trying to help the Palestinians, give them support, backing and assistance, otherwise you’ll have all kinds of problems.” So there is also the pressure on Lebanon.And lately, the renewal of the blockade against the Palestinians in Gaza to the point of starvation. Gaza today faces a famine situation. Over time, Gaza gets closer and closer to the situation of the Yemeni people. The situation in Gaza is difficult and (even) terrible at this point. There will come a time when people will not have money to buy food. Already, people have no money to buy food. What does it mean ? “Either we bring Gaza into submission and bend its knee by famine, until they fold and sign, either we lead it to an inner explosion.” And the leaders of the Resistance in Gaza acted (very) wisely, because they turned the threats of internal explosion into an opportunity with the March of Return, which will reach its pinnacle tomorrow. But this project and vision (liquidation of the Palestinian cause) are continuing.

It’s the same with the pressure on all Palestinians, on the Palestinian Authority, the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine, inside, outside, with refugees, moral, psychological and financial pressures, blockades, etc. What they ask from the Palestinians today, and we come to the position (required), what they want from the Palestinians today, through the blockade, pressures, famine, their efforts to break them and humiliate them, all this is to obtain their signature. This signature is very expensive, it is (really) expensive.

In addition to all this, in that process, we always find more support from Arab governments and the Gulf for the US-Israeli project of “Deal of the century” . This is also part of this process. And worse, what some Gulf countries do, is two things.The first thing, which I have already referred to several years ago, is the religious and (Islamic) Law cover, that is to say the religious justification for surrendering to Israel. You see, when Anwar Sadat went to make a peace agreement (with Israel), it was (as) a political State, a secular President who was making peace with Israel. Sadat did not give any religious cover, nor did he invoke Islamic jurisprudence. He did not claim that he was following the will of God, the Prophet, and the Prophet’s companions, no. The most we could hear in the speeches of Anwar Sadat is that he tried to take advantage of a Quranic verse, reciting it in his Egyptian dialect (thus showing a lack of deference to the Quran, which should be recited in an unaltered classical Arabic), “And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also].” (Quran, 8, 61). End of the story.

King Hussein (of Jordan), when he officially made peace with Israel at (the border post of) Wadi Araba, he did not bring with him the religious organizations claiming that it was the will of God, the Prophet, the family of the Prophet, the Companions, nor, since he is a Hashemite King (descendant of the Prophet), did he claim that it was the will of the Banu Hashim, of his ancestors and forefathers, he did not claim that they accepted this, never. It was (only) a State concluding a peace treaty.

The great misfortune, as I said a few years ago, the great calamity is when Saudi Arabia walks this path. This is the great misfortune. This is the great calamity. Because we will then see the Grand Mufti, the Committee of great scholars, great scholars, jurists, muftis, scholars of hadith, commentators of the Qur’an, as it has already begun, (we will see them justify their surrender to Israel in the name of Islam)…

What have we just seen? It’s Mohammad Bin Salman who said it, but he first spoke with the sheikhs. This is what we heard : “O brothers, O Arabs, O Muslims, you are mistaken! Palestine is for them, O people, it is the Jews who are entitled to it. They are the legitimate owners. This is the land of their fathers and ancestors. And it is God who has given it to them. And the Quran says so.”  Look how they want to lead people astray and fool them. “It is the Quran that says that.” And they cite verses from the Quran as evidence.An imbecile from the Gulf claiming to be a strategic thinker —I saw him on television—, said: “Israel was mentioned 38 times in the Quran, but the word ‘Palestine’ is not mentioned in the Quran. So who is within his rights? Palestine belongs to the Jews. You do not have a say. Enough, give back the land to its rightful owners!”

And now what do we see? Look, now that Saudi Arabia gets (openly) involved, it would be religion, the Quran, History and God’s promise that would have granted (Palestine) to the Jews. And therefore, we Muslims, before 1948, and for hundreds of years, would have usurped Palestine, deprived its rightful owners from it, so we should apologize to them and also compensate them. And Mohammad Bin Salman is ready to pay those compensations. This is what is happening.In an discussion with an important Sunni scholar, I told him: “If anyone has connections to Saudi Arabia, let him ask them ‘O my brothers, who came to Palestine and freed Al-Quds (Jerusalem), making it enter the great Islamic state? It is the second caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab (revered by Sunnis). So be careful (with what you say). Who is it that would have ‘occupied’ Palestine (according to you), depriving (the Jews) of their rights (on this land) and would have taken away from them this so-called historic right?” But unfortunately, we have now arrived at a point where (we hear that) it would be their historical right.

I heard one of the important (scholars) in Saudi Arabia declare on TV that we must recognize that just as Mecca is a holy city for Muslims, just as Medina is a holy city and belongs to us, Al-Quds (Jerusalem), the House of Holiness, is a holy city for Jews, and so we should leave it to them, with respect, humility, generosity. This Arab ‘generosity’, which only manifests itself towards the enemy.

This first point is worse (than what was done by Egypt and Jordan).

And the second thing that is worse (than that) is that the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, are leading the region against an enemy they have fashioned from scratch, and towards a war that they want to push the world to declare, namely against Iran. These governments are willing to pay the United States hundreds of billions of dollars to come and fight a war against Iran, without (any consideration) for Palestine and the Palestinian cause. This is part of the ongoing process.

(What is) the position (we must take)? To be realistic, and benefit from our experience (in Palestine) from 1948 to date, for 70 years, and from our experience in Lebanon.

O Palestinian people, O Lebanese people, O Syrian people, O peoples of the region, O Iranian people —as it is now in the heart of the challenge—, O all the peoples of the region. Pinning one’s hopes on international law, international institutions, international organizations, for any issue whatsoever, is vain, meaningless, empty talk. More than that. Pinning one’s hopes on the Arab regimes, in their great majority, for anything at all, is vain, meaningless, empty talk. I speak from our experience and from the experience of Palestinians. Where to pin our hopes, in short? On the position of our people, the position of some countries and the position of the Resistance movements. This is what brings results, and this is what changes the equation (in our favor). I do not speak to give hope. I only remind what the experiences taught us, that hope is open before us, and in very big way.

Today, a position is needed in two places.

First, with the Palestinians. Currently, it is not necessary that the Palestinian launch a war, or that they launch an armed intifada, or anything like that. This popular uprising expected from them, even if it does not materialize, only one thing is required from them, and that will be enough to dismiss the “Deal of the century”. Of course, now the Palestinians are demonstrating, and they have been demonstrating for weeks, and it destroys and annihilates (completely) the “Deal of the century”.

But there is one basic thing that will prevent the “Deal of the century” to become effective, even if the whole world is unanimous about it, even if a decision of the UN Security Council (recognizes it): that no Palestinian sign it. That neither the President of the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO Chairman, neither Fatah nor Hamas nor (Islamic) Jihad nor anyone signs it. No Palestinian who claims he is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people must sign this agreement. If they do not sign it, this Deal will have no effect whatsoever (it will be null and void).Israel occupied Palestine, and in addition the Golan, and parts of Lebanon and the Shebaa farms so far —may God make the best out of it—, (but) the cause remained alive, Resistance movements have expanded and have become more powerful and more determined (than ever), and the awareness of the (Muslim) Community grew. As for the Arab leaders, nothing has changed, except that they took off their masks, but their essence and reality have not changed, (treachery) has been their reality for decades.

Therefore, the main position (required), from which derives the second position, is that the Palestinians do not sign. And even if a thousand Trump, a thousand Netanyahu and a thousand Mohammad Bin Salman strove to it, they could never impose on the Palestinian people the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.

And the second place is the Resistance Axis: the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon (Hezbollah), Iraq, Yemen, our peoples in the region, from Bahrain to North Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, etc., etc. The Resistance Axis, with his countries, his parties (movements) and his peoples, must stand firm, enduring, not bow, not bend the knee, not give up, even if it is subjected to sanctions, blockade, even if the price of its currency is brought down, even if the war in Syria and Yemen is extended, even if (its members and supporters) are oppressed and imprisoned. It must remain firmly attached to its rights and yield nothing, and that is all that is required for us to overcome this stage (successfully). And we can overcome this stage.

In 1996, the world met in Sharm el-Sheikh, the whole world, and it was said at the time that the settlement (of the Palestinian cause) was over, that the Palestinian issue was over, and the world had made a final choice. But thanks to the battle that took place in Lebanon and Palestine, and to the endurance of Syria and Iran, (this final settlement) claimed to be “at a distance of but two bow-lengths or (even) nearer” (Qur’an 53: 9), the end of the Palestinian question in 1996, all (this) was shattered, and we are now in 2018.

The current project, as some say —these are not my words, but I borrow them— this project is based on the three vertices of a triangle: Trump, Netanyahu and Mohammad Bin Salman. In all likelihood —in order not to be categorical—, if only one of the three falls, the entire project will fall. Each of these three men, from the standpoint of political realism, (is unstable). Trump is faltering in the US because of the scandals, problems, etc., we do not know where he will lead the world and where he will lead the United States’ domestic situation. Netanyahu also because of the corruption cases which weigh (heavily) on him, and he strives to strengthen his position with political successes to save himself from all the corruption cases. As for Muhammad bin Salman, God knows what is happening in Saudi Arabia (dynastic and personal conflicts, rumors of serious injury and/or assassination attempt, etc.). Anyway, may God make the best happen. After King Salman, we’ll see what happens. None of these three is firm, solid, stable and rooted in his office.

And I add to this that all their projects in the region have fallen and failed, and they vainly wasted their resources, their allies and their instruments. And today, the Resistance Axis is stronger than ever. And after what happened in Syria several days ago, and what is happening today in Gaza, I tell you this: my brothers and sisters, do not listen to all these… Today my heart is stronger on this point. Do not listen to all the Israeli intimidation and war threats, these (claims that) they will achieve and accomplish (such and such things), strike (us) and swoop down on (us), turn our world upside down. In the vast majority, all (these rantings) are, according to me and to others —we talked about it with my brothers(-in-arms) —, I am convinced that these are empty words, vain threats. This Israel, if someone is more afraid to go to war than anyone else in this region, it is Israel. And although, as it is known, terrified people would scream louder, make threats, bomb the torso, shows muscles and insult, so that nobody approaches them, but as soon as we approach him, he flees for his life. As soon as one approaches him, he will hide in his hole.

We have very high hopes. We have very high hopes. We have (real) men in Lebanon and throughout the region, similar to the martyr Mustafa Badreddine, the (Hezbollah) martyred commander, courageous, determined and lucid. We have many men like Hajj Imad Moghnieh (Hezbollah martyred commander) among his brothers and comrades in arms. We have scholars, leaders, great (men), personalities, entire generations. And I know our new generation. Our new generation has even more enthusiasm, impulse and preparation for martyrdom. There is no loss or deficit in this regard, despite everything they do (to pervert it): social networks, games, numbness, moral corruption, drugs. Our new generation is stronger than that and stronger than previous generations. That’s why (we are not pessimistic), and we have high hopes. We just have to sustain our efforts, to stand firm and maintain this position. […]

See also Part 1 (Trump only cares about US and Israeli interests) and Part 2 (Syrian strikes in Golan frightened Israel and shattered its prestige) of this speech.

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President Trump to Unveil New Middle East Peace Plan

President Trump to Unveil New Middle East Peace Plan

ALEX GORKA | 22.05.2018 | WORLD / MIDDLE EAST

President Trump to Unveil New Middle East Peace Plan

At the very start of his presidential term, Donald Trump promised to do what no other US president had done despite all their efforts. He said he would find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem and close “the ultimate deal.”

Donald Trump will unveil his new Middle East (ME) peace plan in mid-to-late June after the end of Ramadan. The exact date for its publication is yet to be announced. Select allies are already being briefed on the elements of the plan. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has confirmed that the initiative is being finalized.

The details are not yet known, but it is generally believed that the proposal will suggest recognizing Israel as the Jewish people’s homeland. The Palestinian Authority (PA) will be given limited sovereignty. Its territory will include about half of the West Bank, including the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and the entire Gaza Strip, provided that Hamas agrees to disarm. The Jordan Valley will go to Israel, preserving its security presence along the Jordan River. The Old City will also become a part of Israel. Palestine and Jordan will share religious jurisdiction over Jerusalem’s mosques. Abu Dis, located in the eastern part of Jerusalem, will become the capital of the PA. Israel will be responsible for the West Bank and the security of the border crossings. A system for compensating Palestinian refugees will be established and managed by the international community. Their right to return will not be recognized.

The plan will not be presented as a definitive document, but rather as the springboard for generating the momentum to rush into broader negotiations with the leading Arab actors, such as the Persian Gulf states and Egypt. The expectation is that certain mutually acceptable ideas will be discovered that will get the ball rolling.

So the proposal is not a two-state solution, but rather a blueprint offering a smorgasbord of options for further talks.

The plan is expected to be rebuffed by the PA amid signs that the US may slash funding for the West Bank and Gaza. The funds are likely to be reallocated elsewhere. Washington and its allies are looking for prominent Palestinians who would agree to back this plan that is certain to face rejection from the president of the PA. Mahmoud Abbas.

Progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track is a must; otherwise it’ll be a tall order to establish an anti-Iranian coalition that includes the leading Arab states. Saudi Arabia and other potential members of such a group cannot openly cooperate with Israel. The Palestinian problem is an obstacle. The US needs to marshal regional support for this plan. We’re going to start seeing some very intensive diplomatic efforts, including behind-the-scenes meetings. The plan will be inevitably rolled out at an international conference, probably hosted by a large Arab nation, such as Egypt for instance.

As mentioned above, many US presidents have tried to find a solution to the ME conflict. Trump’s plan stands out as an initiative not aimed at bringing the two sides to the negotiating table but rather one that exerts pressure to make them accept it. Resolving the Palestinian issue paves the way for uniting a powerful coalition under the US banner. Another hallmark of the plan is the attempt to find an alternative to the current Palestinian leadership. Finding the right people is part of the effort.

The US position in the region was weakened as a result of the decision to move the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Leading the peace process will get the US back onto the field as the leading player and an indispensable nation in the region.

With an anti-Iranian coalition in place and moves underway to roll back Tehran, China will suffer and find itself growing weaker. The rise in global oil prices will make Chinese commodities more expensive and thus its exports will become less competitive. The growth of its GDP could slow as a result.

Russia has the reputation of being an “honest broker” in the ME and its regional influence is on the rise. Keeping Moscow out of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation process is one way to contain it.

And in the end, the Palestinians will actually gain nothing. The proposal appears to be highly favorable toward Israel and dismissive of the PA. With Israel retaining control over security almost throughout the Palestinian territory, no full sovereignty is possible. The PA’s borders would not be based on the pre-1967 demarcations as the UN resolutions demand. But Sunni Arab states and others would provide enough economic assistance to the Palestinians to make them pliable.

Donald Trump likes to make “deals.” Perhaps he views the Palestinian problem as essentially an economic issue, not a political one. Because of this perspective he has adopted a “you make concessions to get economic benefits in return” approach. The problem is with the PA’s leadership, which is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, its people, and also the Arab leaders who want a real political settlement instead of a trade deal, because they aren’t going anywhere. It’s really hard to imagine the Palestinians taking any offer of “limited sovereignty” seriously.

The Israeli-PA conflict is not a problem to be tackled by a club of the chosen. Any peace effort requires broad international representation. The Palestinian leadership insists that Russia and a number of other states and organizations take on the role of mediating such a multilateral peace process.

President Trump’ proposal hasn’t even been made public yet. Nothing official has been heard from Washington so far. But some experts believe that the plan is dead on arrival. Perhaps they have a good reason to think so.

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