The Israeli Mutant, the IDF prophecy and the Reality on the Ground

 BY GILAD ATZMON

Israeli Mutant and Aman .jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

As of writing this article, 75.4% of Israel’s new Covid-19 cases are under 39. Only 5.5% were over 60. Only 59.9% of critical patients are over 60 years old. 40% are under 60. The country has also detected a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases amongst pregnant women. Many are in hospital, with 8 currently in critical condition.

In Israel, cases in new-born Covid-19 have seen a significant 1300% spike (from 400 cases in under two-year-olds on November 20 to 5,800 in February 2021).

Israel’s Covid-19 cases per capita spiked sharply and were amongst the highest in the world (if not the highest) during the first month of the ‘successful’ mass vaccination campaign. Within two months of intensive inoculation with the Pfizer vaccine, Israel managed to double the number of deaths it accumulated in the prior ten months of the pandemic. We are talking about 2, 700 Israeli citizens, a similar number to the amount of IDF soldiers who died in the Yom Kippur war, supposedly the most traumatizing event in modern Israeli history.

When I presented these numbers to UK Column’s David Scott just two days ago his reaction was direct and lucid: “what you describe here is, really, a new disease.”  I am afraid that Scott was correct. This is exactly what we see in Israel.

Yesterday I watched Ynet’s live discussion with Professor Nachman Ash, the Israeli ‘Covid-19 chief.’ During the online discussion, Prof. Ash attempted to address Israelis’ concerns regarding the Covid-19 situation and the impact of the Pfizer vaccine. Surprisingly (or not), Ash struggled to address most of the questions for obvious reasons. Nobody, including Prof. Ash, knows the answers to most of the crucial questions regarding Covid-19 and the so-called ‘vaccines’.

No one knows how effective the Pfizer substance is going to be in the long term. No one knows how Covid-19 may evolve in the near future. No one knows whether Israelis are about to face a mass ADE (Antibody-dependent enhancement) surge, though hopefully not. What we do know for certain is that the Israeli medical specialists who air such legitimate concerns are subject to some insane abuse and harassment. They can easily lose their medical license for life. Dr Avshalom Karmel, who was brave enough to warn his fellow citizens about the possible consequences of the vaccine, reported in a tweet yesterday: “The Ministry of Health is threatening me, the director of my hospital scolded me…” Is this how we supposed to treat medical professionals in a ‘free’ society?

 I listened to the live interview with Professor Ash even though he had really nothing to offer, but then came the question I was waiting for. One Israeli asked Prof. Ash “for how long are you going to hide the fact that we are dealing with an ‘Israeli Mutant’?” The Ynet presenter referred to the question as ‘conspiratorial,’ however Ash admitted that “we are detecting many mutants.” I couldn’t hear a categorical denial.

The truth of the matter is that a discussion about an “Israeli mutant” has been circulating for a while. Back in late January, the IDF’s Intelligence warned that an Israeli Covid-19 mutant is a likely possibility. On 24 January Times of Israel reported that “a military-led task force has warned of the potential emergence of a mutated Israeli variant of the coronavirus resistant to vaccines” and “mass rollout of vaccine amid ongoing outbreak may put ‘evolutionary pressure’ on the coronavirus…”

Examining current Israeli policy suggests the possibility that AMAN (IDF Intelligence) was spot on in its prediction. Judging by the unique and novel symptoms that are associated with Covid-19 in the Jewish State, we are dealing with a disease with novel characteristics. It attacks the young and the pregnant, it gave up on the elderly and vulnerable. The more Israel lowers the age of the vaccinated, the younger the cases, and those cases are growing exponentially. 

It is hard to ignore the possibility  that the success of the mass vaccination campaign is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election card. If the campaign proves to be a success by the eve of election day, Bibi is expected to win. Yet, if mass vaccination unveils itself as a disastrous, reckless and politically motivated adventure that has put the entire Israeli population at risk, not only would his political future be destroyed, he would probably see the criminal case against him expanding substantially, and not just in Israel.

I am not in any position to verify whether AMAN’s prophecy regarding the possible emergence of an Israeli mutant has fulfilled itself, but I can try to analyse Israel’s current policies in the light of such a concerning possible development.

1. Israel mounts incredible pressure on every Israeli to take the vaccine. By means of a ‘green passport’ it plans to dramatically limit the freedoms of the unvaccinated and their ability to earn a living. Netanyahu vowed on the 24th of February that, by the 10th of April, every Israeli would be vaccinated. This can obviously be interpreted by some as Bibi’s ‘genuine concern’ for the health of his people. A more cynical explanation is that Bibi now understands that, if there is an Israeli strain triggered by the mass vaccination campaign, the only way to fight it is to vaccinate every living Israeli hopping that the vaccine may reduce illness and death as various studies suggest.

2. Israel’s International airports, seaports and border crossings remain locked indefinitely. Some Israelis may be able to fly in, but nobody can leave the country. One may wonder why Israelis (or even just the vaccinated) aren’t allowed to leave. One possible explanation is that Israel insists on preventing the leak of a potentially unique Covid-19 strain out of the country. Why doesn’t Israel allow its large community of vaccinated to travel? One possibility is that Israel acknowledges that the vaccinated may be spreading the strain. You may even push it and wonder why Israel cares about spreading a mutant? I don’t know if Israel cares or not, but I know that they have an election in less than a month. Bibi will do whatever it takes to maintain the image of a ground-breaking success in the fight against Covid-19. The Israelis who have been the Guinea pigs in this experiment are asked to keep in line for at least one more month.  

3. We learn from different Israeli sources that some issues regarding Israeli Covid-19 policy, including discussions within the Governmental Corona Cabinet, are now subject to 30-year confidentiality laws. In Israel, only matters that are related to national security (such as IDF and Mossad secret operations) enjoy such ‘confidentiality’ status. What is it that the Israeli government and its Prime Minister insist on hiding from his people and the world and why? 

There is a growing number of studies that originating in Israel that refer to the vaccine as over 90% successful in preventing the disease and in reducing illness. Yesterday a new study ‘confirmed’ that Pfizer’s vaccine “performed as well in the real world as it did in the clinical trial that led to its use.”

I myself do not have any doubt that the vaccine could be successful in the short term in protecting those who are willing to take it. But I also can’t turn a blind eye to the scary correlation between mass vaccination and exponential rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths that can be detected in every country that engaged in mass vaccination. I cannot turn a blind eye to the undeniable fact that rapid mass vaccination in Israel correlates with a radical shift in the symptoms of Covid-19 to the point that it appears as a ‘new disease all together.’

I therefore ask every responsible person and government to look at the Israeli case with caution and to examine the shift in symptoms as a crucial hazardous event.

If IDF’s AMAN was correct in its warning and Israel is struggling with its own unique strain, then Israel should come clean and announce to the world that this is the case. This is what China and Britain did. This is what California has just done. This is exactly what we expect from a responsible nation, but Bibi may prefer to keep his cards close to his chest. If this is the case, he may have two paths to choose from.  One is to lock the country and to prevent the spread of the Israeli variant before the election. The other is to encourage other countries and reckless governments to follow the Israeli path so they eventually develop lethal mutants of their own. 

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Biden’s Journey: Change Is Imperceptible

Ph.D., Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.

Philip Giraldi

February 25, 2021

Biden has been a major disappointment for those who hoped that he’d change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts.

The new White House Team has been in place for more than a month and it is perhaps time to consider where it is going with America’s fractured foreign policy. To be sure, when a new administration brings in a bunch of “old hands” who made their bones by attacking Syria and Libya while also assassinating American citizens by drone one might hope that those mistakes might have served as valuable “lessons learned.” Or maybe not, since no one in the Democratic Party ever mentions the Libya fiasco and President Joe Biden has already made it clear that Syria will continue to be targeted with sanctions as well as with American soldiers based on its soil. And no one will be leaving Afghanistan any time soon. The Biden team will only let up when Afghanistan is “secure” and there is regime change in Damascus.

A big part of the problem is that the personnel moves mean that the poison from the Barack Obama years has now been reintroduced into the tottering edifice that Donald Trump left behind. Obama’s United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice once made the case for attacking the Libyans by explaining how Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi provided his soldiers with Viagra so they could more readily engage in mass rapes of presumably innocent civilians. Unfortunately, Sue is back with the new administration as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council where she will no doubt again wreak havoc in her own inimitable fashion. She is joined at the top level of the administration by Tony Blinken as Secretary of State, Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence, Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Samantha Power as head of USAID and retired General Lloyd J. Austin as Secretary of Defense. All of the appointees are regarded as “hawks” and have personal history working with Biden when he was in Congress and as Vice President, while most of them also served in the Obama administration.

Be that as it may, Joe Biden and whoever is pulling his strings have assembled a group of establishment warmongers and aspirant social justice engineers that is second to none. Those who expected something different than the usual Democratic Party template have definitely been disappointed. Hostility towards China continues with warships being sent to the South China Sea and the president is seeking to create a new Trans-Atlantic alliance directed against both Beijing and Moscow. The Europeans are reportedly not enthusiastic about remaining under Washington’s thumb and would like some breathing room.

In a phone conversation where it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall, Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that the United States would no longer ignore his bad behavior. The official White House account of the call included the following pithy summary: “President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ firm support for Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also raised other matters of concern, including the SolarWinds hack, reports of Russia placing bounties on United States soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the 2020 United States election, and the poisoning of Aleksey Navalny.”

And to be sure, there have already been a number of issues that Biden might have dealt with by executive order, like lifting the illegal and unjustified blockade of Cuba, that could have inspired some hope that the new administration would not be just another bit of old wine in new bottles. Alas, that has not taken place but for a series of moves to unleash another wave of illegal immigration and to “protect LGBTQ rights globally.” Biden has also retained a heavy military presence in Washington itself, possibly as part of a Constitution-wrecking plan to tackle what he is referring to as “domestic terrorism.” The domestic terrorists being targeted appear to largely consist of people who are white working and middle class and voted for Trump.

In some ways, foreign policy might have been the easiest fix if the new administration were really seeking to correct the misadventures of the past twenty years. Quite the contrary, Biden and his associates have actually reversed the sensible and long overdue policies initiated by Donald Trump to reduce troop strength in Germany and bring the soldiers home from Syria and Afghanistan. Biden has already committed to an indefinite stay in Afghanistan, America’s longest “lost” war, and has covertly sent more soldiers into Syria as well as Iraq.

As regards Latin America, the U.S. clearly is prepared to double down on regime change in Venezuela, continuing its Quixotic support of Juan Guaido as president. Meanwhile, the new Secretary of State Tony Blinken has clearly indicated that there will be no end to deference to Israeli interests in the Middle East. Under questioning by Congress, he has insisted that Israel will be “consulted” on U.S. policy to include arms sales in the region, which has been interpreted to mean that Jerusalem will have a veto, and has confirmed that his view on Iran is identical to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both are apparently promoting the view that Iran will have enough enriched uranium to construct a weapon within a few weeks, though they have not addressed other technical aspects of what would actually be required to build one. Netanyahu has been making the claim about the Iranian threat since the 1980s and now it is also an element of U.S. policy.

Biden and Blinken have also moved forward slowly on a campaign commitment to attempt renegotiation of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran that President Trump withdrew from in 2017. As a condition to re-start discussions, the Iranian leadership has demanded a return to the status quo ante, meaning that the punitive sanctions initiated by Trump would have to be canceled and Iran would in return cease all enrichment activities. Biden and Blinken, which admittedly sounds a bit like a vaudeville comedy duo, have reportedly agreed to withdraw the Trump sanctions but have also suggested that Iran will have to make other concessions, to include ending its ballistic missile development program and ceasing its “meddling” in the Middle East. Iran will refuse to agree to that, which means that the bid to renegotiate could turn out to be nothing more than a bit of theater involving multilateral “discussions” hosted by the European Union and the pointless hostility between Washington and Tehran will continue.

And speaking again of Israel, there have been concerns expressed by the usual suspects because Biden had not called telephoned Netanyahu immediately after the inauguration. It may be true that the president was sending a somewhat less than subtle message signaling that he was in charge, but the call has now taken place and everything is hunky-dory. As a separate issue, the Jewish state has, of course, the world’s only secret nuclear arsenal, estimated to consist of at least 200 bombs, and it also has several systems available to deliver them on target. For no reasons that make any sense, the United States since the time of President Richard Nixon has never publicly confirmed the existence of the weapons, preferring to maintain “nuclear ambiguity” that allows Israel to have the weapons without any demands for inspections or constraints on their use. The most recent four presidents have, in fact, signed secret agreements with Israel not to expose the nuclear arsenal. Biden has apparently not done so yet, but appeals by international figures, including most recently South African Desmond Tutu, had produced some expectations that the new administration might break with precedent.

Giving aid to Israel is, in fact, illegal due to the Symington Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which bans U.S. economic and military assistance to nuclear proliferators and countries that seek to acquire nuclear weapons. But Biden has already indicated that he would not under any circumstances cut aid to Israel, so the matter would appear to be closed. In any event the Symington Amendment includes an exemption clause that would allow the funding to continue as long as the president certifies to Congress that continued aid to the proliferator would be a vital U.S. interest. Given Israel’s power in both Congress and the White House it is not imaginable that its aid would be affected no matter what Netanyahu and his band of criminals choose to do.

So, it would seem that Biden is unprepared to either pressure or pursue any distancing from Israel and its policies, not a good sign for those of us who have encouraged some disengagement from the Middle East quagmire. And one final issue where some of us have hoped to see some movement from Biden has also been a disappointment. That is Julian Assange, who is fighting against efforts to have him extradited from England to face trial and imprisonment in the U.S. under the Espionage Act. Many observers believe that Assange is a legitimate journalist who is being set up for a show trial with only one possible outcome. The entire process is to a large extent being driven by a desire for revenge coming largely from the Democratic Party since Assange was responsible for publishing the Hillary Clinton emails as well as other party documents. Biden has already indicated that the process of extraditing Assange will continue.

So, Biden has been a major disappointment for those who expected that he might change course regarding America’s pathological involvement in overseas conflicts while also having the good sense and courage to make relations with countries like Iran and Israel responsive to actual U.S. interests. Finally, it would be a good sign if Assange were to be released from the threat of trial and prison, if only to recognize that free speech and a free press benefit everyone, but that is perhaps a bridge too far as the United States moves inexorably towards a totalitarian state intolerant of dissent.

Bibi, Pfizer and the Election

 BY GILAD ATZMON

Bibi Pfizer election.jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

Israel’s biggest news outlet Ynet reported a few hours ago  that in the country voluntarily making itself Pfizer’s testing ground,  “75.4% of those diagnosed yesterday were under 39.  Only 5.5% were over 60. “The number of critical patients dropped to 858 – the lowest since January 4. However, this number is more than double that in mid-December, just before Israel started its ‘pioneering’ experiment in mass vaccination.  Ynet reports today that “In Israel 59.9% of critical patients are over 60 years old. 18.2% are aged 50 to 59. In addition, 10.8% are aged 40 to 49 and 7.5% are in their 30s. As of today, more than a third of critical patients are between 30 to 59 years old.” 

The meaning of the above can hardly be denied or at least demands immediate attention. The country that leads the mass vaccination contest reports a radical shift in the nature of the pandemic. It doesn’t take a genius to suspect that there may be a correlation between the mass vaccination campaign and the growing vulnerability of younger age groups including new-born and pregnant women. The biology here is also far from being too complicated. The virus that initially preyed on the elderly and vulnerable has morphed by means of mutation and is now fit enough to attack other segments of society and particularly younger age groups. 

Up to the 20th of December, the day Israel launched its mass vaccination campaign the country had logged 3,074 deaths. In less than two months of ‘successful’ mass vaccination that number almost doubled. As of writing this article, it stands on 5,526. This spectacular rise in deaths (80% in less than two months) occurred when the country was in lockdown, hence it wasn’t exactly ‘social gathering’ that helped the virus spread. The only thing that was spreading in Israel in these two months was the Pfizer vaccines and the so-called British mutant that is apparently more popular in Bnei Brak than in Kent. The inevitable question here is whether there is a connection between vaccination and mutants, but this is the one question no one is allowed to ask in Israel.

In November 2020 Israeli Health Ministry data revealed that Israel detected 400 cases coronavirus under the age of two. By February 2021, that number grew to 5,800.  We are dealing with a clear rise of about 1300%, impressive indeed. Israeli Ynet reports that this kind of rise in numbers of new-born Covid-19 morbidity are reported around the world, I investigated it but didn’t manage to find any confirmation that this is indeed the case.  In Britain, for instance, all I find is reports on a ‘Covid-19 baby boom’ and some concerns regarding a rise in child obesity. In fact, nobody reports on a rise of 1300% in new-born Covid-19 except Israel. 

I am not in a position to determine what led Israelis to make themselves into guinea pigs for a pharma giant with a dubious safety and ethical record. The possibility must be considered that in Israel the success of a mass vaccination campaign could be Netanyahu and his party’s primary ploy ahead of the coming election. Netanyahu faces a serious legal battle, and winning the election extends far beyond politics for him. It is an existential survival battle. I believe Bibi had to choose between war with Iran and a Pfizer vaccine. He had good reason to assume that Pfizer is by far a better and more peaceful option.

Netanyahu probably gathered that a successful mass vaccination campaign would secure his victory. This was indeed a reasonable consideration on his part, and it may prove to be correct. It is worth mentioning that not one of Netanyahu’s political opponents on the evaporating Israeli Left or centre dare challenge Netanyahu’s vaccine policy. More so, not one Left-wing institution in Israel has stood up for the many Israelis reluctant to be vaccinated (currently more than 50%).  Not one politician took their side and stood for their elementary rights.

Meanwhile, the government is desperate to make sure that the entire nation is vaccinated. The government won’t hesitate to introduce totalitarian measures.   The Jerusalem post reported today that “a green passport will be required to enter certain places and to participate in certain activities. Only people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from coronavirus will be eligible for one. As part of the program, registered gyms, theatres, hotels, concerts and synagogues will be able to operate starting next week.” Israel already signed agreements with countries that will open their gates solely to the Israelis who carry green passport.

One may wonder why the Israeli Government is so obsessed with vaccinating the entire population, including the youth, army and other segments that aren’t necessarily high-risk. One possibility is that the Israeli government knows by now the real implications of the vaccine. Israel can’t turn a blind eye to the 1300% rise of Covid-19 cases in new-borns. They also can’t ignore that the number of Covid-19 deaths since the vaccination campaign started equals that of IDF fatalities in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, a war the country is still traumatized by.

It is possible that Israeli leadership now acknowledge the fatal mistake it has made distributing the vaccine widely. It may be plausible that the only solution they could come up with is vaccinating the entire population, hoping that this may provide at least temporary protection, which may last until the March election date.

If there is any validity in my dark depiction of the Israeli reality, it is reasonable to conclude that with Bibi at the helm and Pfizer with a needle, Israelis do not really need enemies. 

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Israel: How a Trifecta of Court Cases Could Cement King Bibi’s 12-Year Reign

Image result for Israel: How a Trifecta of Court Cases Could Cement King Bibi’s 12-Year Reign

By Miko Peled

Source

Three separate court cases have converged in Israel to provide Netanyahu the cover he needs to maintain power amid an endless stream of controversies.

Three judicial matters have been in Israeli headlines recently, all of them very serious in nature and all likely to serve Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections.

The first is the indicted prime minister’s court hearing in early February regarding his ongoing corruption case. The second is that the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that the territories Israel occupied in 1967 are within its jurisdiction, meaning that many Israelis may well be the subject of war-crimes investigations. The third is an Israeli court ruling from January 2021 banning the 2003 film “Jenin, Jenin,” made by Palestinian actor and director Mohammad Bakri. The film documents the atrocities committed by IDF forces in the Jenin refugee camp in the spring of 2002. All three are likely to raise serious concerns among the highest echelons of the Israeli government.

Yet even as these court cases loom over him, his government, and the Israeli military, and with national elections rapidly approaching, for Netanyahu these crises present opportunity. Taking the familiar pages from the Trump playbook, Netanyahu can turn every accusation of corruption into an attack by liberals, any claims of war crimes, or even misconduct by Israeli forces, into an attack on all Jews by antisemitic forces. Only in Netanyahu’s Israel could so many problems be a blessing.

Indeed, Netanyahu and his supporters claim that the corruption charges against him represent persecution of the prime minister by the liberal press and a biased judicial system. He is leading the charge to attack the ICC and has already stated that its decision is antisemitism raising its ugly head again. As for “Jenin, Jenin,” it is being universally condemned in Israel and is characterized as libelous and totally false.

When you are Benjamin Netanyahu, the best card player in the casino of Israeli politics — when you are the one who knows how to play everyone else in the room, possessing decades of experience — there’s nothing better than a good crisis. It helps to rally people around you. As a matter of fact, dealing with crises is what Netanyahu does best.

Indictment? No problem!

According to the Times of Israel, because Netanyahu’s corruption case has been in the news cycle for close to five years already, “[a]ny political fallout is already baked into the views, poll responses, and voting calculations on all sides.” In other words, nobody cares, and the election results will not be affected in any significant way.

Furthermore, the Times states that many of Netanyahu’s supporters “agree with Netanyahu that he is being unfairly targeted by a politicized prosecution.” Those who feel that the accusations of corruption against him have merit argue that “the advantages he brings as a leader far outstrip any possible malfeasance claimed in the indictment.” In fact, polls quoted in the Times show that “up to 54 percent of Israelis think he’s the best prime ministerial candidate.”

a politicized prosecution.” Those who feel that the accusations of corruption against him have merit argue that “the advantages he brings as a leader far outstrip any possible malfeasance claimed in the indictment.” In fact, polls quoted in the Times show that “up to 54 percent of Israelis think he’s the best prime ministerial candidate.”

Making a deal with the devil

When no crisis is available, Netanyahu creates his own. Tensions along the border with Syria, a threat from Iran, or an impending War on Gaza are the usual favorites and work very well.

In recent days Netanyahu and his Likud Party signed an agreement with the most right-wing elements in the Zionist political spectrum. The worst neo-fascist religious fanatics within Israel have always been his natural allies and he has now come to an official agreement with them on a vote-sharing deal called “surplus votes.” Under the agreement, “Likud promised that Netanyahu would include Religious Zionism MKs ‘in any government he forms.’” That means that after Knesset votes are counted and applied towards seats in the Israeli Parliament, any leftover votes must be shared with Israel’s militant, right-wing religious fanatics.

Surplus vote-sharing agreements are widely used in Israeli elections and allow parties to ensure that extra votes do not go to waste. Instead, the parties utilize them through special agreements with other parties.

While the vote-sharing agreement has irked many in the center and what is sometimes referred to as the center-left of Israeli politics, it shows once again that Netanyahu calls the shots as he sees fit. If other members of the Knesset and even of his own party are unhappy, well then, they are welcome to go elsewhere. However, with nowhere else to go, year after year and election after election, not only do members of his party come running to him, members of the other parties do too.

The parties with which Netanyahu’s Likud signed the vote-sharing agreement include the far-right Religious Zionism Party and the openly racist “Otzma Yehudit,” or Jewish Might. Members of these parties support an ideology that includes expelling Palestinians who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and accept diminished status in an expanded Jewish state. Some party members also support LGBT conversion therapy. These fanatic religious-Zionist parties represent armed gangs that openly terrorize Palestinians across the country.

The International Criminal Court ruling

After lengthy deliberations that led to a landmark decision, the International Criminal Court ruled that it has jurisdiction over war crimes committed by Israel in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. This ruling opens the door to possible criminal charges against Israeli military personnel and potentially even against government officials.

Netanyahu called the international tribunal’s decision “pure antisemitism,” a meritless claim he failed to explain. The ruling addresses specific incidents in which the Israeli military was involved and has absolutely nothing to do with Jewish people.

After nearly 20 years, court ruling bans Jenin Jenin

Israel’s Central District Court has banned the screening of the 2003 documentary film “Jenin Jenin” and ordered the confiscation of all copies of the film in the country. In addition, the court ordered the film’s director, Mohammed Bakri, to pay Lt. Col. Nissim Magnagi, one of the reservist officers who was allegedly present during the assault on the Jenin refugee camp and was shown for a brief moment in the film, 175,000 shekels in damages on top of 50,000 shekels in legal expenses.

One has to question the merits of banning a film in 2021 when it was made in 2003. There are no public screenings of the film and the only viewers that watch it do so online — and that of course cannot be banned. The fine, however, is a blow and it has yet to be seen what will happen when the decision reaches a higher court for appeal.

Of the three judicial issues stated here, only one pertains to Netanyahu and is likely to have little or no effect on his chances to win the elections. The other two only confirm what the Israeli electorate already believes, that the International Criminal Court is antisemitic and that a film made by a Palestinian showing Israeli military crimes must be a vicious, libelous lie, and the common wisdom is that Netanyahu knows better than anyone how to deal with the anti-Semites.

The Israeli electorate is used to both crises and to the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The results of the next election, just like the results of the three previous ones, are almost guaranteed to go in his favor.

Biden Seeks to Sideline Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Biden Seeks to Sideline Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner- The Guardian

The Biden administration has said it expects Saudi Arabia to “change its approach” to the US and signaled that it wants to minimize any direct contact between the president and the country’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The stance marks an abrupt change compared with the Trump administration, which showered the young heir with attention and praise. It comes as intelligence officials are preparing to release – possibly as early as next week – a declassified report to Congress that will describe its assessment of the crown prince’s alleged culpability in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the US-based Washington Post journalist who was killed by Saudi officials in 2018.

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, this week said Joe Biden intended to “recalibrate” the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, and considered King Salman – not Prince Mohammed – to be his counterpart. While the designation might technically be true, the 35-year-old prince is widely seen as running Saudi Arabia and has direct relations with other foreign leaders.

In Washington, the question now is whether the latest remark merely represented a symbolic snub, or whether it was more significant, and suggested the US was trying to exert pressure on the king to change the line of succession and demote Prince Mohammed.

In response to a question about whether the administration was seeking to press for such a change, a state department spokesperson said Saudi Arabia was a key partner on “many priorities” but that the partnership needed to “reflect and be respectful of the values and interests the US brings to that partnership”.

“The American people expect that US policy towards its strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia prioritizes the rule of law and respect for human rights. Accordingly, the United States will cooperate with Saudi Arabia where our priorities align and will not shy away from defending US interests and values where they do not,” the spokesperson said.

The person added: “President Biden has also said he would want to hear how Saudi Arabia intends to change its approach to work with the new US administration, and we look forward to those discussions to shape the future of our relationship.”

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Biden was sending a clear message to the Saudi royal family that as long as “MBS” – as the crown prince is known – was in the line of succession, Saudi Arabia would be treated “as a pariah”.

“I don’t know what the administration is thinking but the best outcome would be [for Saudi Arabia] to remove him. He can retire to his chateaeu in France,” Riedel said.

Other analysts said it was more likely the administration was seeking to demote and de-emphasize the relationship, even as it has made clear that it has a partnership with the kingdom. Biden used his first foreign policy speech to announce that the US would end support of the Saudi-led offensive campaign in Yemen, and was ending sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in the conflict. At the same time, the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said it “remains committed to bolstering Saudi Arabia’s defenses”.

Michele Dunne, the director of the Carnegie Endowment’s Middle East program, said it appeared that the Biden administration was seeking to send several signals at the same time: that it wants to end US complicity in the Yemen war; wants to pursue an agreement with Iran; and believes there is a legitimate need for Saudi to defend its borders.

“There may also be a new signal now that the new administration is not invested in MBS. Whether that means they are hoping to use US influence to suggest a change in succession, I don’t know. They may be seeking to distance themselves a bit,” Dunne said.

She added that the Biden administration’s concerns probably went far beyond the US intelligence assessment that Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi’s murder.

“The whole world has a problem on its hands when it comes to MBS ascending to the throne because we have all seen how reckless and brutal he is,” Dunne said.

Biden’s approach appears to be roiling Prince Mohammed’s inner circle.

In a comment to Politico, the Saudi businessman Ali Shihabi, who is close to the royal family, pointed out that King Salman was “functioning but very old”.

“He’s very much chairman of the board. He’s not involved in day-to-day issues. Eventually, they’re going to want to be talking directly to MBS,” he said.

Seth Binder, who works in advocacy at Pomed (Project on Middle East Democracy) said he did not believe Prince Mohammed was being particularly singled out by Biden, who had so far decided not to contact many of the region’s leaders. Biden spoke to “Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

“Ultimately the distinction they are trying to make is that MBS is one individual and not the whole country, which is contrary to the image MBS himself tries to portray. The idea that [Prince Mohammed] is a reformer who is bringing Saudi Arabia into a new age, it just isn’t true,” Binder said. “While the US might work with autocratic countries, it needs to distinguish between the rulers and the country itself. So its engagement with Saudi Arabia going forward should continue to do this.”

Why Israel is joining the Pentagon’s ‘Arab Nato’ لماذا تنضم “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية

Israel’s inclusion in Centcom will further harm the Palestinian cause, drive a wedge between Arab states and raise the heat on Iran

Flags of the US, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are projected on the ramparts of Jerusalem’s Old City in celebration of Israeli normalisation deals with the UAE and Bahrain, 15 September 2020 (AFP)
Jonathan CookJonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook

2 February 2021 12:21 UTC 

With none of the usual fanfare associated with such a momentous decision, the Pentagon announced last month a major reorganisation to bring Israel – for the first time – inside its military command in the Middle East alongside the Arab states.

Until now, Israel has belonged to the US military’s European command, or Eucom, rather than the Middle Eastern one, known as Central Command, or Centcom. The decision effectively jettisoned the traditional wisdom that Israel’s inclusion in Centcom would increase friction between the US and Arab states, and would make the latter more reluctant to share intelligence or cooperate with the Pentagon. 

Those concerns were felt especially keenly when the US had large numbers of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Back in 2010, David Petraeus, then Centcom’s commander, expressed fears that the price of too-overt military collusion with Israel could be exacted on US forces stationed in the region. 

But Israel’s long-standing goal has been to force the Pentagon to restructure Centcom, and pressure had mounted from pro-Israel lobby groups in Washington in the final months of the Trump administration. The decision looked very much like a “parting gift” to Israel from President Donald Trump as he stepped down.

Military ‘normalisation’

Israel’s formal transfer to Centcom has not yet taken place, but the move was cemented last week with the first visit to Israel by General Kenneth McKenzie, the current head of Centcom, since Joe Biden entered the White House. Alongside Israel’s military chief of staff, Aviv Kohavi, McKenzie planted a tree – officially to mark the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat but symbolically representing a new era in their strategic partnership. 

The decision to bring Israel inside Centcom is best viewed – from Washington’s perspective – as the culmination of efforts to push the Arab states into public ‘normalisation’ with Israel

On Friday, after a meeting with the US general, Benny Gantz, Israel’s defence minister, issued a statement praising the Pentagon’s reorganisation, saying it would “afford Israel opportunity to deepen cooperation with new regional partners and broaden operative horizons”.

The decision to bring Israel inside the US military command in the Middle East is best viewed – from Washington’s perspective – as the culmination of efforts to push the Arab states into public “normalisation” with Israel. 

Military normalisation can now be added to the political, diplomatic and economic normalisation that formally began last September when two Gulf states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, signed the so-called Abraham Accords with Israel. Morocco and Sudan have also announced their own peace deals with Israel, and other Arab states are likely to follow suit once the dust settles with the incoming Biden administration. 

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, the UAE has been forging strong trading ties with Israel and has helped to establish the Abraham Fund, designed to finance the infrastructure of occupation Israel has used to deprive the Palestinians of statehood. When flights to Dubai were launched in November, Israeli tourists poured into the UAE to take advantage of the new friendly relations and escape lockdown restrictions back home. 

In fact, it is widely reported that such visits have become one of the main ways Israel has imported new variants of Covid-19. Last week, Israel effectively closed its borders – except to General McKenzie – to keep the virus in check. 

Growing confidence

On the face of it, Israel’s desire to move into Centcom – a kind of Middle East Nato covering several Arab states with which Israel still has hostile relations – appears counter-intuitive. But, in fact, Israel will make major strategic gains. How Gulf states became business partners in Israel’s occupationRead More »

It will align US security interests in the region even more closely with Israel’s, at the expense of its Arab neighbours. It will aid Israel’s continuing efforts to crush the national ambitions of the Palestinians, with many Arab states’ either explicit or implicit cooperation. It will accentuate political tensions within the bloc of Arab states, further weakening it. And it will help to build pressure on recalcitrant Arab states to join the broader consensus against Israel’s one remaining significant regional foe: Iran.

It is significant that Washington’s long-standing concern about Israel’s presence in Centcom damaging US relations with the Arab states has apparently evaporated. 

Once, the US was careful to distance itself from Israel whenever the Pentagon got deeply mired in the region, whether it was the US Gulf war of 1990 or the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Those calculations no longer seem relevant.

The move demonstrates a growing US confidence that the Arab states – at least those that matter to Washington – are unperturbed about being seen to make a military accommodation with Israel, in addition to political and economic engagement. It underscores the fact that the oil-rich Gulf states, alongside Israel, are now the key drivers of US foreign policy in the region and suggests that the most important, Saudi Arabia, is waiting for the right moment to sign its own accord with Israel. 

Move out of the shadows

Israel, it is expected, will continue to conduct military exercises in Europe with Nato countries, but will soon be able to build similar direct relations with Arab armies, especially those being rapidly expanded and professionalised in the Gulf using its oil wealth. 

US Marine Corps General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. (L), Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), shakes hands with Saudi military officers during his visit to a military base in al-Kharj in central Saudi Arabia on July 18, 2019.
US General Kenneth McKenzie (L), commander of US Central Command (Centcom), shakes hands with Saudi military officers on 18 July 2019 (AFP)

As the Israeli scholar Jeff Halper has noted, Israel has shown how effective it is at translating its military and security ties with armies and police forces around the world into diplomatic support in international bodies. 

The Middle East is not likely to be different. Once Israel has become the linchpin of more professionalised armies in the region, those states dependent on its help can be expected to further abandon the Palestinian cause.

Regional divide-and-rule

Another dividend for Israel will be complicating Washington’s relations with the Arab region. 

Not only does Centcom operate major bases in the Gulf, especially in Bahrain and Qatar, but it leads the proclaimed “war on terror”, with overt or covert operations in several Arab states, including Iraq and Syria. 

With Israel inside Centcom, the US and its most favoured Arab states are also likely to be more directly implicated in Israel’s major military operations against the Palestinians, such as the repeated ‘wars’ on Gaza

It will be harder for the US to disentangle itself from Israel’s own openly belligerent operations, including air strikes, in both countries, that are conducted in flagrant violation of international law. Tensions between the US and Baghdad have in the past escalated over Israeli air strikes in Iraq, with threats to limit US access to Iraqi airspace.  

With Israel inside Centcom, the US and its most favoured Arab states are also likely to be more directly implicated in Israel’s major military operations against the Palestinians, such as the repeated “wars” on Gaza. 

This will pose a significant challenge to the region’s cooperative institutions such as the Arab League. It is almost certain to drive an even deeper wedge between pro-Washington Arab states and those accused of being on the wrong side of the “war on terror”.

The result could be a regional divide-and-rule policy cultivated by Israel that mirrors the decades-long, disabling divisions Israel has generated in the Palestinian leadership, most pronounced in the split between Fatah and Hamas.

Anti-Iran front

The biggest bonus for Israel will be a more formal alliance with Arab states against Iran and shepherding more ambivalent states into Israel’s orbit. 

That appears to have been the purpose of the recently well-publicised reconciliation between the UAE and Saudis on one side and Qatar on the other, achieved in the dying days of the Trump administration. One of the chief causes of the lengthy blockade of Qatar related to its insistence on maintaining political and economic ties with Tehran.

the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Hossein Salami (R) watching a launch of missiles during a military drill in an unknown location in central Iran
Head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami (R), watches missiles being launched during a military drill in central Iran on 15 January 2021 (AFP)

Israel’s aim is to force the Biden administration’s hand in continuing Trump’s belligerent anti-Iran policy, which included aggressive sanctions, assassinations and tearing up the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran signed by Barack Obama. That deal had given inspectors access to Iran to ensure it did not develop a nuclear bomb that might neutralise the strategic clout Israel gains from its nuclear arsenal.

Once Israel has become the linchpin of more professionalised armies in the region, those states dependent on its help can be expected to further abandon the Palestinian cause

Inside Centcom, Israel will be able to work more closely with Gulf allies to sabotage any efforts inside Washington to revive the nuclear accord with Tehran. That point was underscored last week when an online security conference, hosted by Tel Aviv University, was attended by two Gulf ministers.

At the conference, Kochavi, Israel’s military chief of staff, issued an unprecedented public rebuke to Biden over recent statements that he wished to revive the nuclear deal. Kochavi called the agreement “bad and wrong strategically and operatively”, claimed that Iran would launch nuclear missiles at Israel once it had them, and declared that a go-it-alone attack by Israel “must be on the table”. 

Bahrain’s foreign minister, Abdullatif al-Zayani, observed that Israel and the Gulf states would have a better chance of preventing any US conciliation towards Iran if they spoke in a “unified voice”. He added: “A joint regional position on these issues will exert greater influence on the United States.” 

That view was echoed by Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s foreign affairs minister.

Middle East bogeyman

In a sign of how the Biden administration is already fearful of taking on a broad Middle Eastern alliance against Iran, the new president’s pick for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said last month it was “vitally important” to consult with Israel and the Gulf states before re-entering the deal.Is the UAE plotting with Israel against Palestinian refugees?Read More »

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, desperate to bolster his electoral fortunes and deflect attention from his looming corruption trial, has every incentive to prise open that chink. 

Ensuring Iran remains the Middle East’s number one bogeyman – the focus of western hostility – is in the joint interests of an Israel that has no intention of ending its decades-old obstruction of Palestinian statehood and of Gulf states that have no intention of ending their own human rights abuses and promotion of Islamic discord.

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s departing secretary of state, planted a landmine last month designed to serve Israeli and Saudi interests by highlighting the fact that a number of al-Qaeda leaders have found shelter in Iran. That echoed the Bush administration’s – in this case, entirely fanciful – claim of ties between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein as a pretext, along with non-existent WMD, for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

With Israel’s arrival in Centcom, the lobbying for a repeat of that catastrophic blunder can only grow – and with it, the prospects for renewed conflagration in the Middle East.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition

“ميدل إيست آي”: لماذا تنضم “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية

المصدر: ميدل إيست آي
11 شباط 12:24

إن انضمام “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة المركزية الأميركية سيزيد من إلحاق الضرر بالقضية الفلسطينية وسيدق إسفيناً بين الدول العربية ويزيد من حدة التوتر مع إيران.

صورة تجمع ماكينزي بغانتس وكوخافي خلال زيارته

كتب جوناثان كوك مقالة في موقع  “ميدل إيست آي” البريطاني قال فيه إن البنتاغون أعلن الشهر الماضي عن إعادة تنظيم كبيرة لإدخال “إسرائيل” – لأول مرة – داخل قيادتها العسكرية في الشرق الأوسط، القيادة المركزية الأميركية ، إلى جانب الدول العربية، وهذا القرار الخطير لم يحدث أي من الضجة المعتادة.

وأضاف: حتى الآن، تنتمي “إسرائيل” إلى القيادة الأوروبية للجيش الأميركي، أو ، بدلاً من القيادة في الشرق الأوسط، المعروفة باسم القيادة المركزية . لقد تخلص القرار بشكل فعال من الحكمة التقليدية القائلة بأن إدراج “إسرائيل” في القيادة المركزية الأميركية من شأنه أن يزيد الاحتكاك بين الولايات المتحدة والدول العربية، وسيجعل الأخيرة أكثر إحجاماً عن مشاركة المعلومات الاستخباراتية أو التعاون مع البنتاغون. فقد تم الشعور بهذه المخاوف بشكل خاص عندما كان للولايات المتحدة أعداد كبيرة من القوات في العراق وأفغانستان. في عام 2010، أعرب الجنرال ديفيد بتريوس، قائد القيادة المركزية الأميركية آنذاك، عن مخاوفه من احتمال دفع ثمن التواطؤ العسكري الصريح مع “إسرائيل” على القوات الأميركية المتمركزة في المنطقة.

لكن هدف “إسرائيل” الطويل الأمد كان إجبار البنتاغون على إعادة هيكلة القيادة المركزية، وقد تصاعد الضغط من جماعات الضغط المؤيدة لـ”إسرائيل” في واشنطن في الأشهر الأخيرة من إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب. وكان القرار يشبه إلى حد كبير “هدية وداع” لـ”إسرائيل” من ترامب أثناء تنحيه.

تطبيع عسكري

وأوضح الكاتب أنه لم يتم الانتقال الرسمي لـ”إسرائيل” إلى “سنتكوم” بعد، ولكن تم تعزيز هذه الخطوة مع أول زيارة الشهر الماضي إلى “إسرائيل” من قبل الجنرال كينيث ماكنزي، الرئيس الحالي للقيادة المركزية، منذ دخول الرئيس جو بايدن البيت الأبيض. إلى جانب رئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي، أفيف كوخافي، زرع ماكنزي شجرة، رسمياً بمناسبة العيد اليهودي لتو بيشفات، لكنها تمثل رمزياً حقبة جديدة في شراكتهما الاستراتيجية.

وبعد اجتماع مع الجنرال الأميركي، أصدر بيني غانتس، وزير الأمن الإسرائيلي، بياناً أشاد فيه بإعادة تنظيم البنتاغون، قائلاً إنه “سيوفر لإسرائيل فرصة لتعميق التعاون مع شركاء إقليميين جدد وتوسيع آفاق العمل”.

وقال الكاتب إن قرار إدخال “إسرائيل” داخل القيادة العسكرية الأميركية في الشرق الأوسط – من وجهة نظر واشنطن – يعتبر تتويجاً لجهود دفع الدول العربية إلى “التطبيع” العلني مع “إسرائيل”. وأضاف: يمكن الآن إضافة التطبيع العسكري إلى التطبيع السياسي والدبلوماسي والاقتصادي الذي بدأ رسمياً في أيلول / سبتمبر الماضي عندما وقعت دولتان خليجيتان، الإمارات العربية المتحدة والبحرين، ما يسمى بـ”اتفاقات إبراهيم” مع “إسرائيل”. كما أعلن المغرب والسودان عن اتفاقيات السلام الخاصة بهما مع “إسرائيل”، ومن المرجح أن تحذو دول عربية أخرى حذوها بمجرد انتهاء الغبار مع إدارة بايدن.

وتابع كوك: منذ توقيع اتفاقات إبراهيم، أقامت الإمارات علاقات تجارية قوية مع “إسرائيل” وساعدت في إنشاء صندوق إبراهيم، المصمم لتمويل البنية التحتية للاحتلال الذي استخدمته “إسرائيل” لحرمان الفلسطينيين من إقامة دولة. وعندما تم إطلاق الرحلات إلى دبي في تشرين الثاني / نوفمبر، تدفق السياح الإسرائيليون على الإمارات للاستفادة من العلاقات الودية الجديدة والهروب من قيود الإغلاق في الوطن. ويُقال على نطاق واسع إن مثل هذه الزيارات أصبحت إحدى الطرق الرئيسية التي استوردت بها “إسرائيل” أنواعًا جديدة من  فيروس كوفيد -19 الشهر الماضي، إذ أغلقت “إسرائيل” حدودها فعلياً – باستثناء استقبال الجنرال ماكنزي – لإبقاء الفيروس تحت السيطرة.

ورأى الكاتب أنه في ظاهر الأمر، فإن رغبة “إسرائيل” في الانتقال إلى “سنتكوم ، وهو نوع من حلف شمال الأطلسي في الشرق الأوسط يغطي العديد من الدول العربية التي لا تزال “إسرائيل” لديها علاقات عدائية معها، تبدو غير بديهية. لكن في الواقع، ستحقق “إسرائيل” مكاسب إستراتيجية كبيرة. وستعمل على مواءمة المصالح الأمنية الأميركية في المنطقة بشكل أوثق مع مصالح “إسرائيل”، على حساب جيرانها العرب. وسوف تساعد جهود “إسرائيل” المستمرة لسحق الطموحات الوطنية للفلسطينيين، مع تعاون العديد من الدول العربية سواء بشكل واضح أو ضمني. وسيزيد من حدة التوترات السياسية داخل كتلة الدول العربية، ويزيد من إضعافها. وسيساعد على زيادة الضغط على الدول العربية المتمردة للانضمام إلى إجماع أوسع ضد العدو الإقليمي الوحيد المتبقي لـ”إسرائيل”: إيران.

وقال الكاتب “إن من الأهمية بمكان أن قلق واشنطن الطويل الأمد بشأن الوجود الإسرائيلي في القيادة المركزية الأميركية الذي يضر بعلاقات الولايات المتحدة مع الدول العربية قد تبخر على ما يبدو. فذات مرة، كانت الولايات المتحدة حريصة على إبعاد نفسها عن “إسرائيل” كلما غرق البنتاغون بعمق في المنطقة، سواء كانت حرب الخليج الأميركية عام 1990 أو غزو العراق واحتلاله عام 2003. هذه الحسابات لم تعد موجودة. فقد أظهرت هذه الخطوة ثقة الولايات المتحدة المتزايدة في أن الدول العربية – على الأقل تلك التي تهم واشنطن – غير منزعجة من أن يُنظر إليها على أنها تقدم تسوية عسكرية مع “إسرائيل”، بالإضافة إلى المشاركة السياسية والاقتصادية. إنه يؤكد حقيقة أن دول الخليج الغنية بالنفط، إلى جانب “إسرائيل”، أصبحت الآن المحركين الرئيسيين للسياسة الخارجية الأميركية في المنطقة، وتشير إلى أن أهمها، المملكة العربية السعودية، تنتظر اللحظة المناسبة لتوقيع اتفاقها الخاص مع إسرائيل”.

وأضاف: من المتوقع أن تستمر “إسرائيل” في إجراء التدريبات العسكرية في أوروبا مع دول حلف الأطلسي (الناتو)، لكنها ستتمكن قريباً من بناء علاقات مباشرة مماثلة مع الجيوش العربية، وخاصة تلك التي يتم توسيعها بسرعة واحترافها في الخليج باستخدام ثروتها النفطية. ومن المحتمل أن يخرج الضباط الإسرائيليون قريباً من الظل ويقومون بتدريب الجيوش الإماراتية والسعودية وتقديم المشورة لهم كجزء من أدوارهم المشتركة في القيادة المركزية. إن خبرة “إسرائيل” الخاصة، التي تعتمد على عقود من المراقبة والسيطرة والقمع للفلسطينيين، ستكون مطلوبة بشدة في دول الخليج التي تخشى المعارضة الداخلية أو الانتفاضات.

وكما أشار الباحث الإسرائيلي جيف هالبر، أظهرت “إسرائيل” مدى فعاليتها في ترجمة علاقاتها العسكرية والأمنية مع الجيوش وقوات الشرطة في جميع أنحاء العالم إلى دعم دبلوماسي في الهيئات الدولية. ومن غير المحتمل أن يكون الشرق الأوسط مختلفاً. فبمجرد أن تصبح “إسرائيل” العمود الفقري للجيوش الأكثر احترافاً في المنطقة، يمكن توقع أن تتخلى تلك الدول التي تعتمد على مساعدتها عن القضية الفلسطينية.

فرّق تسد 

ورأى الكاتب أن المكاسب الأخرى لـ”إسرائيل” ستكون تعقيد علاقات واشنطن مع المنطقة العربية. إذ لا تقوم القيادة المركزية الأميركية بتشغيل قواعد رئيسية في الخليج فقط، وخاصة في البحرين وقطر، ولكنها تقود “الحرب على الإرهاب” المعلنة، مع عمليات علنية أو سرية في العديد من الدول العربية، بما في ذلك العراق وسوريا. وسيكون من الصعب على الولايات المتحدة أن تنأى بنفسها عن عمليات “إسرائيل” العدائية العلنية، بما في ذلك الضربات الجوية، في كلا البلدين (سوريا والعراق)، والتي تتم في انتهاك صارخ للقانون الدولي. 

وأضاف: تصاعدت التوترات بين الولايات المتحدة وبغداد في الماضي بسبب الضربات الجوية الإسرائيلية في العراق، مع تهديدات بتقييد وصول الولايات المتحدة إلى المجال الجوي العراقي. لكن بوجود “إسرائيل” داخل القيادة المركزية الأميركية، فمن المرجح أيضاً أن تكون الولايات المتحدة والدول العربية المفضلة لديها أكثر تورطًا بشكل مباشر في العمليات العسكرية الإسرائيلية الكبرى ضد الفلسطينيين، مثل “الحروب” المتكررة على غزة. سيشكل هذا تحدياً كبيراً للمؤسسات التعاونية في المنطقة مثل جامعة الدول العربية. ويكاد يكون من المؤكد دق إسفين أعمق بين الدول العربية الموالية لواشنطن وتلك المتهمة بالوقوف في الجانب الخطأ من “الحرب على الإرهاب”.

وخلص الكاتب إلى أنه يمكن أن تكون النتيجة سياسة “فرق تسد” الإقليمية التي ترعاها “إسرائيل” والتي تعكس الانقسامات التي دامت عقوداً، والتي عطلتها “إسرائيل” في القيادة الفلسطينية، والتي تجلّت أكثر في الانقسام بين حركتي فتح وحماس.

الجبهة المناهضة لإيران

وأوضح الكاتب أن المكافأة الأكبر لـ”إسرائيل” ستكون تحالفاً أكثر رسمية مع الدول العربية ضد إيران ورعاية دول أكثر تردداً في فلك “إسرائيل”. ويبدو أن هذا الأمر كان الغرض من المصالحة التي تم الإعلان عنها أخيراً بين الإمارات والسعوديين من جهة وقطر من جهة أخرى، والتي تحققت في الأيام الأخيرة لإدارة ترامب. فمن الأسباب الرئيسية للحصار المطول على قطر إصرارها على الحفاظ على العلاقات السياسية والاقتصادية مع طهران. وتهدف “إسرائيل” إلى إجبار إدارة بايدن على مواصلة سياسة ترامب العدائية المناهضة لإيران، والتي تضمنت عقوبات صارمة واغتيالات وتمزيق الاتفاق النووي لعام 2015 مع طهران الذي وقعه الرئيس باراك أوباما. وقد سمح هذا الاتفاق للمفتشين بالدخول إلى إيران للتأكد من أنها لم تطور قنبلة نووية قد تكسر النفوذ الاستراتيجي الذي تكسبه “إسرائيل” من ترسانتها النووية. 

وتابع الكاتب: داخل القيادة المركزية -سنتكوم، ستكون “إسرائيل” قادرة على العمل بشكل أوثق مع حلفاء الخليج لتخريب أي جهود داخل واشنطن لإحياء الاتفاق النووي مع طهران. فقد أصدر كوخافي، رئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي، توبيخاً علنياً غير مسبوق لبايدن بشأن التصريحات الأخيرة التي قال فيها إنه يرغب في إحياء الاتفاق النووي. ووصف كوخافي الاتفاق بأنه “سيء وخاطئ استراتيجياً وعملياً”، وادعى أن إيران ستطلق صواريخ نووية على “إسرائيل” بمجرد امتلاكها، وأعلن أن هجوم “إسرائيل” بمفردها “يجب أن يكون على الطاولة”.

وأشار وزير خارجية البحرين، عبد اللطيف الزياني، إلى أن “إسرائيل” ودول الخليج ستكون لها فرصة أفضل لمنع أي تسوية أميركية تجاه إيران إذا تحدثت “بصوت موحد”. وأضاف: “الموقف الإقليمي المشترك بشأن هذه القضايا سيكون له تأثير أكبر على الولايات المتحدة”. وكرر هذا الرأي أنور قرقاش وزير الخارجية الإماراتي.

وفي إشارة إلى كيف تخشى إدارة بايدن بالفعل الدخول في تحالف شرق أوسطي واسع ضد إيران، قال انتوني بلينكين، وزيرة الخارجية الأميركي، الشهر الماضي إنه من “المهم للغاية” التشاور مع “إسرائيل” والخليج قبل العودة إلى الاتفاق النووي.

رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي بنيامين نتنياهو، اليائس لتعزيز ثرواته الانتخابية وصرف الانتباه عن محاكمته التي تلوح في الأفق بالفساد، لديه كل الحافز لفتح هذه الفجوة، وذلك لضمان أن تظل إيران البعبع الأول في الشرق الأوسط – محور العداء الغربي – في المصالح المشتركة لـ”إسرائيل”، التي لا تنوي إنهاء عوائقها المستمرة منذ عقود للدولة الفلسطينية، ودول الخليج التي لا تنوي إنهاء انتهاكات حقوق الإنسان وتعزيز الانقسام الإسلامي.

مايك بومبيو، وزير خارجية ترامب، زرع لغماً أرضياً الشهر الماضي مصمماً لخدمة المصالح الإسرائيلية والسعودية من خلال تسليط الضوء على حقيقة أن عدداً من قادة تنظيم القاعدة وجدوا ملاذاً في إيران. وردد ذلك صدى ادعاء إدارة الرئيس جورج بوش الإبن – الوهمي تماماً – بوجود روابط بين “القاعدة” وصدام حسين كذريعة، إلى جانب أسلحة دمار شامل التي لم تكن موجودة، لغزو العراق واحتلاله عام 2003.

وختم كوك تحليله بالقول إنه “مع وصول إسرائيل إلى القيادة المركزية، فإن الضغط لتكرار هذا الخطأ الكارثي يمكن أن ينمو فقط، وتنمو معه احتمالات تجدد الحرب في الشرق الأوسط”.

ترجمة بتصرف: هيثم مزاحم

Israel will pull out all the stops to avoid facing war crimes charges

An ICC ruling has panicked Israeli officials who can now be investigated, but they will likely respond with intensified threats 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is gaza%20rubble%202014%20afp.jpg
A Palestinian girl walks on the rubble around her family’s home in Gaza in 2014 (AFP)
Jonathan CookJonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook

11 February 2021 11:04 UTC 

Israel has been sent into a tailspin by a ruling last week from the war crimes court in The Hague. Senior Israeli officials, including possibly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, can now be held accountable for violations of the laws of war in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The decision by judges at the International Criminal Court  (ICC) does not ensure Israelis will be put on trial for war crimes – not yet, at least. But after years of delay, it does settle the question of whether the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza fall under the court’s jurisdiction. They do, say the judges. 

While Israel is only too aware of what its top war crimes suspects have been up to, Netanyahu is right to observe that last week’s ruling by the ICC is a political one

Perhaps the most preposterous – if entirely predictable – of the reactions to the ICC’s decision came from Netanyahu himself. 

That the door is now open for Israelis to be investigated for war crimes is the reason Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum responded so angrily to the ruling. The court’s chief prosecutor has already completed a preliminary inquiry, in which she concluded there was a legal basis for a full investigation.

At the weekend, he falsely declared in a video in English, intended for foreign audiences, that the ICC was investigating Israel for what he called “fake war crimes” – and then attributed its imagined actions to “pure antisemitism”. He also threw in a reference to the Nazi Holocaust for good measure.

There was no little irony to his claims. On Friday, Netanyahu denounced the judges’ ruling as proving that the ICC was “a political body and not a judicial institution”. In fact, it is Netanyahu who is playing politics, by character-assassinating the court in what should be a purely legal and judicial matter. He hopes to use antisemitism smears, Israel’s favoured tactic, to keep the ICC’s investigators at bay. 

Court officials have already shown an interest in pursuing three separate lines of inquiry: Israel’s attacks on Gaza that have left large numbers of Palestinian civilians dead; the repeated lethal shooting of Palestinian protesters at Gaza’s perimeter fence; and decades of illegal Israeli settlement-building on occupied land, which has often entailed the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Attack on aid boat

Whatever Netanyahu’s current protestations, the truth is that Israel’s own legal teams have long advised that its military commanders, government ministers and senior administrators are vulnerable to prosecution. That is why they have travelled for many years with a special “panic button” on their phones to alert local diplomatic staff of the threat of arrest at a foreign airport. 

Just such an incident occurred in 2013, when former navy commander Eli Marom hit the button after he wrongly suspected border officials at London’s Heathrow airport were preparing to arrest him under so-called “universal jurisdiction” laws.

Three years earlier, Marom had approved a lethal attack in international waters by navy commandos on an aid convoy of ships trying to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza.

Demonstrators chant slogans during a 2016 rally in Istanbul, Turkey, marking the sixth anniversary of the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident (AFP)
Demonstrators chant slogans during a 2016 rally in Istanbul, Turkey, marking the sixth anniversary of the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident (AFP)

Marom had reason to be nervous. Earlier, in 2005, a retired general, Doron Almog, hid on an El Al plane for two hours after landing at Heathrow before quickly taking off again, to avoid a UK arrest warrant over the demolition of 59 Palestinian homes. Scotland Yard reportedly allowed Almog to escape rather than engage in a gun battle trying to arrest him.

In fact, Israel knows enough about which of its senior officials have broken international law – and how – that last summer it compiled a secret list of hundreds who were most likely to be investigated for war crimes.  

Bid to terrorise court

But while Israel is only too aware of what its top war crimes suspects have been up to, Netanyahu is right to observe that last week’s ruling by the ICC is a political one. 

In fact, the court’s treatment of Israel has been deeply mired in politics ever since the Palestinian Authority acceded to the ICC in 2015. Western allies have sought repeatedly to intimidate and strong-arm the court to ensure Israeli officials are not tried for war crimes.The PA, the ICC and Israel

It is no coincidence that ICC judges found the backbone to assert jurisdiction over the occupied territories immediately after Donald Trump stepped down as US president. His administration had waged a campaign to intimidate the court, which included a ban on ICC staff entering the US and threats to freeze their assets.

The timing of the ICC’s ruling may also be related to the fact that its chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, is due to quit her post in a few months. She is unlikely to launch any investigations of Israelis before then, leaving the task to her successor.

Such a delay will buy Israel more time. And under an onslaught of pressure, the new chief prosecutor may be persuaded that Israel – despite decades of law-breaking – is not a high enough priority to justify the court’s limited resources. 

Campaigning begins 

Just such a campaign has already begun. On Sunday, the Israeli foreign ministry sent an urgent, classified cable to dozens of its ambassadors, urging them to recruit their respective capitals to a campaign to put pressure on the ICC.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi – a former military chief of staff who is almost certainly on Israel’s secret list of war crimes suspects – rang his counterparts in foreign capitals, urging them to help. That will likely include lobbying for a more sympathetic chief prosecutor to replace Bensouda.

There will continue to be many large obstacles – few of them related to law – that need to be dealt with before any Israelis end up in the dock at The Hague

Israeli media reported security sources as saying that several ICC member states had already agreed to tip Israel off should they learn that any arrest warrants have been issued against Israelis.

Already, the Biden administration in the US, Germany and the Australian government, stalwart defenders of Israel, have issued denunciations of the ICC decision – and implicitly the international norms of war the court is supposed to uphold. 

Responding to Germany’s attack on the court, Hanan Ashrawi, a former senior Palestinian official, tweeted on Tuesday: “So your ‘legal view’ supersedes the ruling of the ICC judges and the resolutions of the UN [General Assembly]? No self-respecting state should accept instructions from (or intimidation by) Israel.”

Other states, with their own self-interested calculations, may soon follow suit. Those that have allied themselves most closely with the US-led “war on terror”, including the UK, have every reason to ensure that Israel – a state very much in the “western diplomatic club” – is not held to account for war crimes of the kind they too have committed. They prefer that the ICC continues to limit its indictments to African leaders. 

Behind-the-scenes lobbying and intimidation may explain the seemingly perverse reasoning of the ICC in December to close its investigation of UK officials without issuing any indictments. It did so even while accepting that British forces had likely committed war crimes in Iraq. Israel may hope for a similar, fudged reprieve.

Shielding Israel

The reality is that the case against Israel was always going to depend on political factors far more than legal ones once it became vulnerable to investigation. But the shielding of Israel over war crimes was evident long before Palestine’s ratification of the Rome Statute in 2015.

Six years earlier, for example, Israel orchestrated a campaign of intimidation against a celebrated South African jurist, Richard Goldstone, over the report of his UN committee into Israel’s 2009 attack on Gaza. The report found Israel and Hamas responsible for committing war crimes, and possibly even graver crimes against humanity.

Richard Goldstone, the UN investigator who probed the 2009 Gaza conflict, attends a media conference in Geneva in July 2009 (AFP)
Richard Goldstone, the UN investigator who probed the 2009 Gaza conflict, attends a media conference in Geneva in July 2009 (AFP)

Goldstone repudiated his strongest findings months later after the personal campaign against him culminated in the South African Zionist Federation barring him from attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah.

Similarly, “universal jurisdiction” rules, which allow foreign citizens to seek the arrest of an official suspected of violating international law if his or her state refuses to adjudicate, have never been enforced in practice against Israelis. 

Foot-dragging by ICC

The ICC had an opportunity to investigate Israeli officials over the attack in international waters on the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla to Gaza in 2010. Ten Turkish civilians, one of whom was also an American citizen, were killed by Israeli commandos who boarded the ships. Israel is losing the fight to obscure its apartheid character

Instead, Bensouda chose in 2014 not to proceed with the case initiated by the Comoros, the flag under which the boat was sailing. In an appeal last year, ICC judges criticised her for a series of “errors” in reaching that decision, in refusing to reconsider after they mandated she do so, and in failing to investigate the incident again in 2019.

But the judges concluded it was “unclear” what power they themselves had to rectify these failings and so did not ask for a further review.

Delays and buck-passing have also plagued the ICC’s latest ruling. The court has been foot-dragging on jurisdiction issues ever since 2015. There will continue to be many large obstacles – few of them related to law – that need to be dealt with before any Israelis end up in the dock at The Hague.

Slivers of hope

Nonetheless, last week’s ruling offers Palestinians a few slivers of hope. It confirms that Israel’s battle to deny the Palestinian fight for statehood is not entirely going its way. And it suggests that the post-Trump political climate may turn out to be more stormy for Israel than expected. Its leaders may have to be slightly more cautious about the scale and visibility of the war crimes they approve. 

The real test is whether it can rise above the name-calling and gaslighting to apply international law in a way that truly protects Palestinians

The court may settle to leave the sword of a possible investigation hanging over Israel, hoping that alone will be enough to curb Israel’s worst excesses, such as plans to annex swaths of the West Bank. 

Or the ICC may trust that its jurisdiction ruling will serve as a wake-up call to the Israeli Supreme Court, whose failures to enforce international law in the occupied territories paved the way to The Hague. But settling for any of these outcomes will be more evasion by the court, more playing politics. 

The test of whether the ICC is a judicial body rather than a political one is not, as Netanyahu demands, that it refuse to investigate Israel. The real test is whether it can rise above the name-calling and gaslighting to apply international law in a way that truly protects Palestinians. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

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Why doesn’t Syria retaliate to Israeli attacks? Nasrallah’s response


Date: 17 January 2021

Author: lecridespeuples1 Comment

Interview with Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on May 26, 2020, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Liberation of South Lebanon, followed by his December 27, 2020 annual interview.

US-Israel play poker, Resistance Axis plays chess.

« The Resistance Axis is very vigilant and watchful during this period (of transition between Trump & Biden), and must scrupulously take care not to be drawn into an escalation, in the slightest point of this Axis. We must not allow ourselves to be dragged to an unmeasured (large-scale) confrontation, to a (total) war whose timing would be the one chosen by our enemies. Of course, (open) war (against the United States and Israel) will (inevitably) happen one day or another, but we are talking about this current timing (we will choose the time and place of the Great War, not them). »

Source: https://video.moqawama.org/details.php?cid=1&linkid=2116

Translation: resistancenews.org

Transcript:

Hassan Nasrallah: […] When (in February 2014) Israel hit us in Janta, on the Syrian-Lebanese border, they were hoping to change the rules of engagement, thinking that if they hit us in a border area, we wouldn’t feel obliged to retaliate. We retaliated (hitting an Israeli patrol the following month) in the Shebaa farms (occupied Lebanese territory). When there was the (failed) Israeli drones attack in the southern suburbs of Beirut (in August 2019), I said that we would retaliate outside the Shebaa farms, which did not mean strictly speaking that we forbade ourselves to retaliate there, but it was a clear indication that from now on, no point on the border between Lebanon and occupied Palestine would be immune from our retaliation, and that we could strike anywhere. Previously, Israel was used to always expects our attacks in the Shebaa farms, while all the rest of the border, all the settlements were safe. But I wanted to send this clear message: when you attack us, no point on your (usurped) border will be safe. Israel has been vigilant ever since, and that is why there has been no attacks in Lebanon. Nobody asks why? All those who are eager to get rid of the weapons of the Resistance, can they explain to us why Israel used to attack Lebanon whenever they felt like it from 1948 to 2000, then suddenly stopped, except for the war of 2006? This is thanks to the deterrence equations imposed by the Resistance. Israel knows full well that a retaliation would be inevitable. This is one of the rules of engagement.

So Israel is looking for another way (to attack us). What happened with the drones in the southern suburbs of Beirut was an Israeli attempt to carry out an attack without leaving any fingerprints. They were unmasked because the operation failed, but the goal was to strike without leaving any fingerprints. Because Israel knows very well that if it leaves its mark, it must certainly expect a response from the Resistance, and it knows well what that implies. Even when the tunnels (between Lebanon and occupied Palestine) were discovered, Israel sent to Lebanon through three different channels —Egypt, Cyprus and UNIFIL, i.e. three channels— a message saying that they just wanted to uncover the tunnels, and that they would do nothing more, so that we would stay calm and not fight back. Israel understands that Lebanon is a very sensitive front, and this (deterrence) equation is still valid. This is what protects Lebanon: it is the Resistance.

When it comes to Syria, it must be remembered that at the beginning Israel did not strike anyone —not us, not the Syrians, not the Iranians, or any of the other Resistance movements. Israel let the events unfold in Syria, and was only supporting the armed (terrorist) groups. I’m not saying that the entire Syrian opposition was working with Israel, but there is no doubt that many armed groups linked and coordinated directly with Israel on logistics, security, intelligence, right up to supply and funding, etc. Israel hoped that the regime would collapse and the Syrian army would be dislocated, and that Iran, finding itself unable to do anything, would leave Syria, along with Hezbollah, because the situation would be irretrievably lost. This is what happened during the first few years.

When did Israel start to intervene directly inside Syria? I always say that you have to look at situations from a large point of view, and not be satisfied with the Israeli point of view. You also have to see the other side. The Israeli intervention in Syria is a proof of the victory of Syria and of the victory of the Resistance Axis in Syria. For if Israel had still had any hope that the armed groups & takfiris it was supporting, funding and covering had any chance of winning the war in Syria, they would not have needed to enter the scene.

Journalist: But hasn’t that resulted in an imbalance of deterrence (in favor of Israel, as it strikes Syria with impunity)?

Hassan Nasrallah: I’m coming to it, I’m explaining things step by step. When you read the latest statements by Israeli leaders, when asked why they intervened in Syria, they say it is because they realized that (the terrorist groups) would not win. Israel understood that we were going to win in Syria, that the Syrian army was recovering its health and strength, that the presence of Iran and Resistance factions in Syria was taking root. The takfiri groups that occupied the Syrian part of the Golan have been evacuated, and the Golan is a very sensitive subject for Israel… It can’t even bear anyone taking pictures there! This clearly indicates their weakness. The fact that Israel does not tolerate anyone taking photos of positions in the Golan, [not even the inhabitants of the occupied Golan], is a sign of weakness and not of strength. Seeing that Syria was triumphing and recovering, and that there was no longer any hope of victory for the armed groups, Israel resolved to strike positions here and there, to try to hinder the transfer of Syria’s weapons in Lebanon —everyone knows that our missiles do not fall from the sky, and that Syria’s historic role has been to arm the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistance.

Even in Israel’s recent operation, when they hit one of our cars on the Syrian-Lebanese border…

Journalist: And you retaliated (with an incursion into Israeli territory).

Even though Israel’s “apologies” are pitiful and will in no way prevent a deadly response to the deaths of two Hezbollah fighters in an Israeli strike last August (see War of nerves: Israel begs Hezbollah to retaliate), it should be noted that the Zionist entity is doing everything it can to avoid touching Hezbollah members in Syria, going so far as warning them before they target a vehicle, as seen in this video from last April.

Hassan Nasrallah: I’m not saying we retaliated, and I’m not saying we didn’t hit back. Israel was quite capable of killing our fighters, this is not a mistake on its part. They fired a warning shot, or gave a warning, for the fighters to get out of the vehicle, and then they hit it. Why didn’t they want to kill these young (fighters)? Because there is a clear equation: if Israel kills one of our fighters, whether in Lebanon or Syria, we will retaliate. This equation has been proven in practice (time and time again). This is why when, at the same time as the Israeli drone incident in the southern suburbs of Beirut, two of our fighters were killed (by Israel) in Syria, the Israelis evacuated the border for 7 kilometers, on the whole border. They stayed like that, standing on one leg and a half (ready to run for their lives), for 7 days, and if we hadn’t hit that vehicle, they could have stayed like that for 14 days, a month or two whole months. It’s part of the rules of engagement. So far, when Israel strikes (in Syria), it strives not to kill anyone at all, for it fears it will come to a point where the Syrian leadership, or the leaders of the Resistance, will no longer be able to withstand these strikes. Even in this battle, Israel does not have a free hand (and knows the situation can explode at any moment).https://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x7v64pq

Maybe someone will retort that Israel (often) strikes (Syria) and the Resistance Axis is not responding, and that we should impose a balance of deterrence in Syria. I will be very frank. This issue is continuously discussed and debated. The Syrian leadership is the one who has the last word, because the decision is theirs, even though the battle concerns us all, and we are all targeted. Sometimes there is the impression that Israel’s goal is escalation, and that they want to push the situation into open war against Syria. Syria is (caught) between two priorities: on the one hand, the battle inside is not over, the terrorist and takfiri groups are still present and are on the lookout for the slightest opportunity to gain strength; on the other hand, escalating into a war between Syria and Israel would run counter to the primary objective (of ending the terrorists). Syria still needs time. Let me explain this point well, because there are a lot of people criticizing us, saying that Israel is hitting Syria and Syria is doing nothing. I don’t know how far the Syrian leadership can tolerate these strikes, and there is a threshold that, once crossed, would result in an (inevitable) retaliation (without fear of escalation), but so far they consider that Israel intervenes to protect armed groups and change the equations in their favor, and lead Syria to a regional war; and it is not in the interest of Syria, which is waging a global war on terrorism, to be drawn into a war against Israel, so what it takes is patiently enduring it. This is what we call strategic patience. But within the framework of this (policy of) patience and endurance, there are certain rules which remain valid and which are respected by Israel and by us, and in any case, Israel does not achieve any objective by its strikes: they did not interrupt the transfer (of missiles), and they recognize it themselves; they failed to expel the Iranians from Syria, and they never will, and the same goes for Hezbollah; and they have failed to weaken the Syrian army, which continues to strengthen. We can defeat the objectives of these Israeli attacks without going to a (devastating) regional war, which would not be in Syria’s interest, at least not at this stage.

Let us recall that in addition to having shot down an Israeli plane in February 2018, in May 2018, Syria retaliated by launching several volleys of missiles against Israel, which hastened to demand a truce: see Syria Imposes New Rules of Engagement on Israel

The danger, and I always warn Israel about this, is that patience has limits. Endurance capacity has limits. The Syrian leadership, and the situation in Syria in general, can absorb some aggression and remedy it within the framework of this vision (of strategic patience), but perhaps Israel will make a mistake or blunder that will exhaust this patience. Israel (isn’t acting rationally, it is) sheer adventurism. Israel has no interest in entering a regional war, and it is very vigilant in this regard.

Journalist: But some analysts say Israel has opted for hit-and-run attacks even if it will lead to war.

Hassan Nasrallah: It’s more psychological warfare than an (accurate) description of reality.

See Nasrallah: IDF has turned into a Hollywood Army, any War against Iran would mean the end of Israel & US Hegemony

Journalist: Regarding your operation (a triple infiltration into Israeli territory following the destruction of Hezbollah’s vehicle in Syria), Hezbollah did not announce that it had retaliated. But why did you retaliate when there had been no martyrs of the Resistance? Doesn’t the equation say that you only retaliate if your fighters are hit? What was your target?

Hassan Nasrallah: Hezbollah did issue issue a statement on this, so I’ll refrain from commenting. [Hezbollah’s policy is to claim the great majority of its operations, but to leave doubt for some; remember that Israel hardly ever claims its own operations, which is an admission of weakness.] […]

***

Annual interview with Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah on December 27, 2020, by the Lebanese pan-Arab channel Al-Mayadeen. This interview lasted almost 4 hours.

Source: https://video.moqawama.org/details.php?cid=1&linkid=2184

Translation: resistancenews.org

Transcript:

Hassan Nasrallah: […] Nobody has precise data, sure and reliable information according to which Trump or the Israeli enemy are about to launch some operation in the days which separate us from January 20, if the guy [Trump] ends up submitting to the election result [Laughter] and leaves the White House. But there are analyzes in this direction, especially with a personality of this caliber, affected by so much follies: arrogance, recklessness, effrontery… Especially since this madman is now in a great anger: he is an angry madman. Everyone expects such an act (of madness) and such an eventuality, whether it is actors outside the United States like Iran, Lebanon or Palestine, or elsewhere: even inside the United States, top leaders from both Democratic and Republican parties are worried about what this angry and mad President might do in the next few days, (fearing the worst). So we cannot deny this possibility. But I consider that everything that has been said (on this subject) is only analysis, and is not based on clear and proven information. Even the reports about an an Israeli nuclear warship or submarine sent to the Persian Gulf, via the Suez Canal, are not true, (Israel would never dare to do such a thing). Are the US or Israel going to do something (stupid) or not? Is it a psychological warfare to deter possible armed actions against American troops & interests with the approach of the first anniversary of the assassination of Soleimani and al-Muhandis? All these hypotheses are possible.

The Resistance Axis is very vigilant and watchful during this period (of transition between Trump & Biden), and must scrupulously take care not to be drawn into an escalation, in the slightest point of this Axis. We must not allow ourselves to be dragged to an unmeasured (large-scale) confrontation, to a (total) war whose timing would be the one chosen by our enemies. Of course, (open) war (against the United States and Israel) will (inevitably) happen one day or another, but we are talking about this current timing (we will choose the time and place of the Great War, not them).

Journalist: But don’t you think the threats are particularly pressing? Netyanyahu threatens, the Israeli Chief of Staff threatens…

Hassan Nasrallah: When the Israelis openly threaten and raise their voices publicly, know that these threats do not hide anything material. This is how I understand it: (the more Israel threatens, the less risk of war). We remain vigilant and ready for anything, 24 hours a day, on all battlefields, but this is our analysis: the enormous media hype is a clue that there is nothing serious to fear, it is only psychological warfare, they are only trying to dissuade members of the Resistance Axis from doing anything against them (this is a defensive posture).

Journalist: What do you think of the visit of US Chief of Staff Mark Milley to Israel? In what framework did it happen?

Hassan Nasrallah: Our analysis on this, and it is analysis and not information, is that it has to do with the months and years to come. The Trump administration is about to leave, and a new administration will take its place. It is said that Biden will have a different approach to the Palestinian question, to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab conflict: for example, maybe he will support the two-state solution, rejected by Trump & Netanyahu; they have a different take on the details of the Deal of the Century that Trump wanted to impose. With Iran, there is talk of a return of the Biden administration to the nuclear deal, which greatly worries the Israelis and others (Gulf countries), etc. Thus, the Israeli government is worried about the new US administration. Note that it is not the Secretary of State for Defense or the Secretary of State who came: these personalities will no longer be in their posts with the new administration. But as regards the Chiefs of Staff, as a rule, they do not change fundamentally when a new administration takes over, except in some (rare) cases. I think it was not Trump who sent Mark Milley, but the Biden administration, with a message to reassure Israel about what will happe next. […]

See also Nasrallah explains why Qassem Soleimani is unique and how he defeated ISIS in Iraq & Nasrallah’s outburst: ‘If you don’t want to respect Covid-19 health & safety measures, go away from people!’

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“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” 

إدارة بايدن… فلسطينياً

سعاده مصطفى أرشيد

استطاع بن يامين نتنياهو اعتصار الأيام الأخيرة من رئاسة ترامب، ساعة بساعة ودقيقة بدقيقة، في سباق لاهث مع موعد العشرين من هذا الشهر، وها هو قد حقق على أرض الواقع مجموعة من النقاط والمكاسب الشخصية والانتخابية له، ولجمهوره المتطرّف، ثم لمجموع «الإسرائيليين»، وهي مكاسب من النوع الذي يفرض واقعاً ويكون من الصعب تجاوزه أو العودة عنه لأيّ رئيس وزراء قادم في (إسرائيل) حتى ولو كان ببعض المقاييس معتدلاً، وكذلك على الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة إنْ رغبت – وهي لن ترغب، إذ إنها مرتاحة جداً بما حققت سياسات ترامب – نتنياهو، فما تلك السياسات إلا تعبير عن رغباتها وأمانيها المضمرة ومنسجمة مع قناعاتها، وهي وإنْ كانت تحسب لتنفيذها أكثر من حساب، فإنّ ترامب قد رفع الحرج عنها، سواء في موضوع ضمّ الجولان أو نقل السفارة الأميركية للقدس، أو في صفقته الشهيرة التي منح بها نتنياهو الأغوار والمستوطنات وشمال البحر الميت وبرية الخليل، ويسارع نتنياهو الزمن لتنفيذها خلال الأيام المتبقية، بصمت أو بصوت مرتفع، وكان آخرها إعلان حكومته عن قرارها ببناء مئات الوحدات السكنية الاستيطانية الاثنين الماضي.

أما وقد زال الحرج، ورفع العتب عن الإدارة المقبلة، فإنّ بإمكان بايدن أن يبدو بمظهر المعتدل الحكيم الذي سيحاول معالجة وترميم ما أحدث ترامب من فوضى ودمار، بإعادة إطلاق مسيرة التسوية من جديد، ثم بفتح حوار مباشر مع السلطة في رام الله، وغير مباشر مع غزة. إلى رام الله ستأتي وفود أميركية لعقد لقاءات والتعرّف على عقد ومفاصل الصراع باعتبارهم طارئين عليها، كما يحدث مع كلّ إدارة أميركية جديدة، وستذهب وفود فلسطينية إلى واشنطن، ويزدهر موسم السفر والطيران غرباً برغم عراقيل الوباء. نصيب السلطة من المساعدات المالية سيتسم بالسخاء وتعود وكالة التنمية الأميركية إلى سابق نشاطها في دعم مشاريع ذات شكل يراه الناس، ولكن على أن لا تكون مفيدة، سيُعاد فتح مكتب منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية في واشنطن، كلّ ذلك سيتمّ تسويقه باعتباره انتصاراً للدبلوماسية الفلسطينية، التي سبق لها أن ادّعت محاصرتها للدبلوماسيتين الأميركية و»الإسرائيلية» قبل أيام من الكشف عن مسلسل التطبيع، وقد أعلنت القاهرة الثلاثاء الماضي عن بدء التحضير لاجتماعات رباعية ميونخ لدعم مسار السلام، وذلك بعد عام كامل من الدعوة للاجتماع في مطلع العام الماضي. أما في غزة فسيتولى القطريون إدارة الحوار وينوبون عن الأميركان في تقديم الدعم المالي بحقائب الدولارات الذي ستزيد وزناً وانتفاخاً كلما سارت أمور غزة كما يشتهي ويريد القطري باعتباره الممثل الأول وربما الحصري لسياسات الإدارة الديمقراطية، وبقدر ما تستجيب حركة حماس لخيارات القطري في تركيب وتراتبية قيادتها في المرحلة المقبلة، في الانتخابات الداخلية المقبلة.

ما تقدّم لن يغيّر من حقيقة أنّ الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة لا تقلّ صهيونية ودعماً (لإسرائيل)، وعدوانيّة علينا عن سابقتها الجمهورية في الجوهر، (فإسرائيل) هي ذراعها القوية والضاربة عسكرياً، وقاعدتها المتقدّمة، والنموذج المشابه لها والابن المباشر في السلوك لأبيه، في ادّعاء الديمقراطية والليبرالية وتطبيق نظم الرفاه والرعاية الصحية والاجتماعية، كما يماثله في صفات العدوان والتوحّش وادّعاء التفوّق، ستقوم الإدارة الديمقراطية بدعم وتغطية كامل النشاطات العدوانية والاستيطانية سواء في القدس أو في ما تبقى من الضفة الغربية، فقد أزالت الإدارة السابقة الحَرَج عنها كما ورد آنفاً، وهي تتعامل مع حقائق فاعلة وثابتة على أرض الواقع، هذا فيما يعدّد الفلسطيني انتصاراته وإنجازات دبلوماسيّته، ويحتفي بالضيوف الكرام الوافدين من واشنطن، وإعداد القوائم الطويلة لأعضاء الوفد – الوفود التي ستردّ الزيارة.

العودة إلى مسار التسوية لن يكون فورياً، وقد يستنفذ العام 2021 بأكمله فمن ناحية تجد الإدارة الأميركية أنّ لديها من الملفات الملحّة ما يتفوّق بأولوية على هذا الملف الذي قد لا يكون فيه ما يستدعي الاستعجال، فالعرب يهرولون بتسارع نحو التطبيع، والاهتمام بفلسطين يتآكل بتسارع عربياً وإسلامياً ودولياً، ولا دماء تسيل، ولا اشتباكات تثير فضائيات الأخبار وتشغلها، وسياسات بناء الفلسطيني الجديد وإعادة ترتيب أولوياتة واهتماماته قد آتت أُكُلها، فأمام الرئيس قائمة من العناوين الداخلية المستعجلة وعلى رأسها ملفات وباء الكورونا والانكماش الاقتصادي، وتفكك المجتمع عرقياً وثقافياً، ثم الحالة الشعبوية التي أوجدها ترامب وتجلت في غزوة دهماء على مبنى الكونغرس في الأسبوع الماضي، وملفات خارجية ملحة كالعلاقة مع روسيا والتوتر في بحر الصين ومعها، والملف النووي الإيراني وغير ذلك كثير، ثم أنّ (إسرائيل) ستكون على موعد مع انتخاباتها الرابعة في آذار المقبل، ولا أحد يستطيع الجزم بنتائجها، ولكن مؤشرات عديدة تشير إلى أنّ نتنياهو قد لا يغيب عن مسرح السياسة، والاستطلاعات تعطيه إمكانية الحصول على مقاعد أكثر مما حصل عليه في المرات السابقة، وهو وإنْ غاب عن مسرح السياسة، فإنّ مَن سيرثه في زعامة اليمين، لن يختلف كثيراً عنه إلا في حالة أن يكون أكثر تطرفاً، وأقلّ دبلوماسية ومهارة وخطابة، نتائج الانتخابات بكلّ حال لن تكون حاسمة باتجاه فريق قادر على تشكيل حكومة بسهولة، الأمر الذي سيجعل من مشاورات تشكيلها طويلة، وقد تستمرّ إلى أواخر الصيف فيما يبقى نتنياهو خلال كلّ تلك الفترة رئيساً لحكومة تصريف أعمال، التي قد تنتهي بتشكيل حكومة أو الذهاب إلى انتخابات خامسة، ومن الطبيعي أن ينتظره الأميركي غير المتعجّل الذي سيفضل إطلاق عملية التسوية مع حكومة «إسرائيلية» مستقرة.

هكذا سيمرّ العام 2021، عام انتظار جديد، ولا ندري إنْ كان الأخير، بإمكان الفلسطيني قضاءه في حوارات الوحدة والحديث عن ضرورتها، وعن الانقسام ومخاطره، ثم انتظار فراغ بايدن من معالجة الملفات المزدحمة والملحة على مكتبه، وانتظار مآلات تشكيل حكومة في (إسرائيل) إنْ تشكلت، وقد يجري انتخابات المجلس التشريعي الثالث، بعد عقد ونصف العقد من موعد استحقاقها، بالطبع إنْ وافقت (إسرائيل) على ذلك، مع أو بدون القدس ومناطق (ج) والأغوار، هكذا يحترف الفلسطيني الحزن والانتظار…

*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة.

Israel & United States Unite Efforts In Large-Scale Strikes On Iranian Infrastructure In Syria

South Front

The first two weeks of 2021 have, so far, been marked by an incredible increase in Israeli activity in the skies over Syria.

The most intense strike took place on January 13 morning hitting multiple Syrian and Iranian-affiliated targets in the province of Deir Ezzor, including the underground base of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Corps near al-Bukamal.

The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israeli strikes have killed 57 and wounded another 37. Pro-government sources confirmed only 5 casualties.

The airstrikes were so numerous that even Abu Yatem al-Katrani – the commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) 4th Brigade was killed in an airstrike.

The Israeli operations were carried out with the assistance of the United States – it provided intelligence and Israeli struck on them. Former CIA Director, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was reportedly discussing the airstrikes with Yossi Cohen, chief of Israel’s spy agency Mossad.

The US support of Tel Aviv’s aerial raids is a clear message to Iran, and is a very open support to Israel’s undeclared war against Iran, which it has been waging in Syria since hostilities began.

All of the airstrikes in the first two weeks of 2021 are the most significant by Israel, and over all, since the beginning of the war in Syria. They were so significant, that Damascus even accused Tel Aviv of carrying out the strikes in very open support of ISIS militants which the Syrian Arab Army is hunting.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a sense of urgency, or a sense of danger in the air, as the United States reinforced its troop positions in the Omar oil fields with artillery pieces and other equipment.

The US troops, together with their local proxies also hold frequent drills in the area, to keep ready, for some future unknown escalation.

Prior to New Year’s Eve, Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated, in what Tehran claimed to be an elaborate Israeli operation.

Additionally, since around the same time, a farewell strike on Iran has been expected from US President Donald Trump, and the general chaos in the US ahead of Joe Biden stepping into office has been used by Israel as a chance to inflict as much damage as possible on Tehran and its allies.

Russia, at the same time, appears to also be preparing for an escalation of some sort, by building up its forces and is lying in wait.

Israel appears dead set on continuing its crusade against Iran and its allies in Syria. An urgency is felt, since Biden is unlikely to support Tel Aviv as much as Trump did, and every possible chance should be used. This is all in spite of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed the photo of Donald Trump from his Twitter, but all is fair in love and war.

Finally, both the American and Russian forces appear to be biding their time, waiting for an escalation that, with tensions at the breaking point appears closer than ever.

The year began with terrorist attacks in Syria, increased Israeli strikes, Iran threatening against any aggression against it, and the two most significant players in the face of Moscow and Washington are expecting an escalation, and no amount of preparation would be enough for the incoming storm.

US nuclear submarine comes in close contact with Iranian anti-submarine chopper: video

Iran ends massive war games in Strait of Hormuz, issues stern warning to enemies: photos

BY NEWS DESK 2021-01-14

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:00 P.M.) – A U.S. nuclear submarine was spotted making close contact with an Iranian military chopper this week, in a new escalation in the Persian Gulf region.

In a video released by the Iranian media and shared on social media, the U.S. nuclear submarine can be seen making close contact with the Iranian anti-submarine helicopter, the SH-3D, in the Persian Gulf waters.

The video, which is shared below, was allegedly take on Thursday, January 14th, in the Persian Gulf; however, the U.S. and Iranian forces have yet to comment on this close approach.

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A New Year’s Wish

See the source image
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

PHILIP GIRALDI • JANUARY 5, 2021 
Source: The Unz Review

Let’s remove Israel from American politics

There has been one good thing about the COVID-19 virus – for the first time many among the general public are beginning to ask why a rich country like Israel should be getting billions of dollars from the United States taxpayer at a time when many Americans are struggling. Inevitably, of course, the press coverage of the questions being asked about the cash flow failed to discuss the real magnitude of the “aid,” trade concessions, co-production projects and dicey charitable contributions that our federal and many state governments shower on the Jewish state, which easily exceed $10 billion per year.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Pollard-and-Netanyahu-600x337.jpg

There has been one good thing about the COVID-19 virus – for the first time many among the general public are beginning to ask why a rich country like Israel should be getting billions of dollars from the United States taxpayer at a time when many Americans are struggling. Inevitably, of course, the press coverage of the questions being asked about the cash flow failed to discuss the real magnitude of the “aid,” trade concessions, co-production projects and dicey charitable contributions that our federal and many state governments shower on the Jewish state, which easily exceed $10 billion per year.

During his 2016 campaign Donald Trump swore that he would be the best friend that Israel has ever had in the White House, a pledge that some of us viewed skeptically as Trump was also committed to bringing the troops home from “useless wars” in Asia, most of whom were in the Middle East supporting Israeli interests. More recently Trump admitted that America was in the Middle East to “protect Israel” and he has indeed proven to be the great benefactor he promised to be in responding fully to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wish list. Trump has increased tension dramatically with Iran, moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, has recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan Heights, and has basically given Israel the green light to do whatever it wants on the Palestinian West Bank, including getting rid of the Palestinians. And as all that has played out the Israelis have attacked and killed thousands of civilians in Gaza, Syria and the West Bank with impunity, protected by the U.S. veto in the U.N. Security Council against any consequences for their actions while a subservient Congress gives Netanyahu twenty-eight standing ovations and bleats that “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Trump has made the United States completely complicit in Israeli war crimes and has committed a few of its own to include the widely condemned assassination of the senior Iranian official Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad one year ago.

Israel more-or-less openly admits that it controls the actions of the United States in its region, its leaders having boasted how the U.S. federal government is “easily moved” when it comes up against the Israeli Lobby. Nor is there any real secret to how the Lobby uses money to buy access and then exploits that access to obtain real power, which is then used to employ all the resources of the U.S. government in support of the Jewish state. The top donor to the Democratic Party, Israeli-American Haim Saban has stated that he is a one issue guy and that issue is Israel. This single-minded focus to promote Israel’s interests at the expense of those of the United States makes the Israel Lobby the most formidable foreign policy lobby in Washington and it recalls the warning once issued by George Washington in his Farewell Address, where he stated that “permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded, and that in place of them just and amicable feelings toward all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges toward another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.”

The complete contempt that the Israelis and Israeli supporters in the U.S. have for other Americans and their interests was on full display last week when convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard flew “home,” meeting Netanyahu as he disembarked from a private plane that had departed from Newark New Jersey before being given a hero’s welcome.

Pollard is the most damaging spy in American history, having stolen the keys to accessing U.S. communications and information gathering systems. He was an unlikely candidate to become a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, and one review board determined that he had been hired in the first place under pressure from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). A month after Pollard’s arrest in 1985, C.I.A director William Casey stated: “The Israelis used Pollard to obtain our war plans against the USSR – all of it: the co-ordinates, the firing locations, the sequences, and Israel sold that information to Moscow for more exit visas for Soviet Jews.” According to a C.I.A. after-the fact-damage assessment “Pollard’s operation has few parallels among known U.S. espionage cases…. his first and possibly largest delivery occurred on 23 January [1984] and consisted of five suitcases-full of classified material.”

Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger wrote a forty-six page review of the case that remains largely classified and redacted to this day, detailing what incredible damage Pollard had done. Part of the document states: “In this case, the defendant has admitted passing to his Israeli contacts an incredibly large quantity of classified information. At the outset I must state that the defendant’s disclosures far exceed the limits of any official exchange of intelligence information with Israel. That being the case, the damage to national security was complete the moment the classified information was given over. Ideally, I would detail…all the information passed by the defendant to his Israeli contacts: unfortunately, the volume of .data we know to have been passed is too great to permit that. · Moreover, the defendant admits to having passed to his Israeli handlers a quantity of documents great enough to occupy a space six feet by ten feet… The defendant has substantially harmed the United States, and in my view, his crimes demand severe punishment… My foregoing comments will, I hope, dispel any presumption that disclosures to an ally are insignificant; to the contrary, substantial and irrevocable damage has been done to this nation. Punishment, of course, must be appropriate to the crime, and in my opinion, no crime is more deserving of severe punishment than conducting espionage activities against one’s own country.”

The Pollard trip to his “home” occurred because Donald Trump had obligingly lifted the travel restrictions on him the week before, one more favor to Israel. At the airport, Pollard and his wife knelt to kiss the Israeli soil before Netanyahu handed him an Israeli citizen ID and welcomed him. The 737 luxury-fitted executive jet Pollard and his wife flew on belongs to Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, chief donor to the Republicans and to Donald Trump. Adelson is married to an Israeli and famously has said that he regrets having worn a U.S. Army uniform when he was drafted, much preferring instead that he might have done military service in the Israel Defense Force.

I should point out that permitting dual nationals with singular loyalty to a foreign nation to have such significant influence over the two leading political parties in the U.S. by virtue of money alone is a recipe for disaster, and so it has proven. What were Trump and Hillary Clinton thinking when they tied themselves to Adelson and Saban? Or were they thinking at all?

The Israeli boosters in the United States have flat out corrupted our political process to get where they are. They have bought or intimidated every politician that matters to include presidents, congressmen and even those in state and local governments. Anyone who criticizes Israel or Jewish collective behavior in support of the Israeli state is subject to character assassination and blacklisting a la Mel Gibson and Rick Sanchez. Those who persist are denounced as anti-Semites, a label that is used liberally by Zionist groups.

Anyone who is bold enough to either criticize the Israelis or defend the Palestinians is targeted, and if they happen to be in Congress like Cynthia McKinney, Pete McCloskey, Paul Findlay, James Traficant, William Fulbright and Chuck Percy they are first vilified in the media and then set up against a very well-funded candidate to drive them from office. The end result is that when Israel kills civilians and rampaging armed settlers destroy their livelihoods the United States government chooses to look the other way and shower the rogue state with money so it can continue to do its dirty work.

The corruption extends to the state level, where twenty-six governments have passed Israel lobby-promoted legislation that limits free speech rights if anyone seeks to criticize Israel. This sometimes includes forcing employees, under threat of dismissal, to sign a pro-Israel oath and promise not to support any boycott of the Jewish state. The massive interference in the internal governance of the United States by Israel and its U.S. born lackeys far exceeds that of any other country, including inappropriately vilified Russia or China.

It is well past time to get rid of the Israel parasite that feeds on the American government and people. The special relationship with Israel, sanctified in the halls of Congress and by a Jewish dominated media, does nothing good for the United States and for the American people. Israel’s constant interference in the U.S. political system and economy comes at a huge cost, both in dollars and in terms of actual American interests.

And then there are the hot buttons which, if the U.S. actually had a functional government that is responsive to the people, should have been pushed long ago. Israel is ranked by the FBI as the number one “friendly” country in terms of its spying against the United States. Pollard is an exception, but Israeli spies are routinely slapped on the wrist when caught and never face prosecution. The Mossad agents who were the “Dancing Shlomos,” celebrating while the twin towers went down on 9/11, were allowed to go home. And Israel has never truly paid any price for the horrific bombing and torpedoing of the U.S.S. Liberty fifty-three years ago, which killed 34 Americans and injured over one hundred more. The completely unprovoked attack took place in international waters and was later covered-up by President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and Congress. May they burn in hell. The surviving crew members are still waiting for justice.

So, let’s all resolve for 2021 to do whatever we can to pull the plug on Israel. Let Israel pay its own bills and take care of its own defense. American citizens who prefer the Jewish ethno-religious state to our constitutional republic should feel free to emigrate. Lacking Washington’s backing, Israel will also be free to commit atrocities and war crimes against all of its neighbors but without the U.S. United Nations veto it will have to begin facing the consequences for its actions. But most of all, as Americans, we will no longer have to continue to carry the burden of a country that manipulates and uses us and also has a certain contempt for us while doing so. And maybe just maybe freeing the United States from Israel could lead to an end to all the wars in the Middle East that Washington has been waging in spite of the fact that we Americans are threatened by no one in the region and have no real interest whatsoever in prolonging the agony of staying there.

Israel Bombs Damascus while World Riveted to Capitol Hill Mayhem

 MIRI WOOD 

Israel bombs southern damascus on Orthodox Christmas eve

At the late night of the 6th of January and while the Orthodox Syrian Christians were celebrating Christmas eve, Israel engaged in yet another war criminal bombing of Syria, in Damascus countryside, taking advantage of the world riveted on the storming of Capitol Hill by ‘peaceful protesters’ ‘democratically’ engaged in trying to prevent the official confirmation of the election of demented Joe Biden.

A military source stated that: “at exactly eleven and ten minutes this evening, the Israeli enemy carried out air aggression through bursts of missiles fired from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan on some targets in the southern region.

People in southern Damascus heard and saw Syrian air defense fired at the incoming missiles and some explosions in the skies and others from the southern direction.

This video is also available on YouTube and BitChute.

Netanyahu and his Trump buddy need an escalation that led to the mayhem in Washington DC, this is the 3rd Israeli attack on southern Syria in the past 2 weeks only, the first bombing was on the eve of the 25th of December and the second was on the 30th of January:

The country that exported its version of democracy to countries that didn’t need it by ways of military invasions, black op covert attacks, destabilizing efforts using 5th column elements, sanctions, stealing wealth of the targeted countries while appointing some of the most despised figures as presidents of those countries, yet it was very much comfortable with dictators and absolute monarchies in countries that do not have a constitution even like in the cases of Saudi Arabi and Qatar, who both jointly funded Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria to the tune of 137 Billion Dollars up until 2017 as per a statement of the Qatari former Prime Minister.

And instead of pushing for the rights of people in Palestine, the US regimes throughout history has empowered and encouraged Israel to attack its neighbors and steal more land to the extent that the current PM of Israel, Netanyahu, takes advantage of his close relationship with the US despot Trump repeating the elections in Israel for 4 times within 2 years because he’s not getting a majority to save him from prison on multiple charges of corruption in the last apartheid regime in the world, we’re here today with the evil powers of the world attacking other countries and trying to ignite more wars and strife so they can remain in power.

What we saw in the US Capital of mobs attacking the center of the fake US democracy and a real ‘peaceful protester’ sitting on the chair of the head of the congress is exactly what the US did to Venezuela and a host of other countries. That was a real peaceful protest compared with what the officials in the US and its stooges worldwide and their mainstream media called as ‘peaceful protesters’ Al Qaeda terrorists torching public buildings in Syria, slitting the throats of kidnapped police officers and public workers and throwing post office workers off the rooftop of their 4 story building. The citizens and residents of the United States of America are lucky there’s no US embassy in Washington, otherwise, it would be a very different scene, a long time ago.

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Sayyed Nasrallah: ’Israelis’ Know They Didn’t, Couldn’t Dismantle Hezbollah’s Precision Guided Missiles P

Sayyed Nasrallah: ’Israelis’ Know They Didn’t, Couldn’t Dismantle Hezbollah’s Precision Guided Missiles P

Translated and Subtitled by Al-Ahed

Israeli minister orders jails not to vaccinate Palestinian security prisoners

Order defies health ministry guidelines that prisoners should be part of second group of Israelis to be vaccinated

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana’s statement did not single out Palestinian inmates, but there are no non-Palestinian security prisoners in Israel (AFP)

By MEE and agencies

Published date: 27 December 2020 15:47 UTC 

Israel’s Public Security Minister Amir Ohana told the country’s prison service late last week not to inoculate Palestinian security prisoners, an Israeli newspaper has revealed.

The order came despite health ministry guidelines that prisoners should be part of the second group of Israelis to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 coronavirus, together with security personnel, Haaretz wrote on Sunday.

The report came as Israel began its third coronavirus lockdown at 5pm (15:00 GMT) on Sunday, with most people forced to stay within 1,000 metres of their home. Covid-19: Gaza resumes screening after receiving nearly 20,000 kits from WHO

Read More »

The office of the minister said that only prison staff should be vaccinated because “there should be no inoculating security prisoners without approval and in line with vaccination progress among the general population,” the newspaper said.

Although the statement referred only to “security prisoners,” a letter on the matter sent by Moshe Edri, the Public Security Ministry’s director general, did not make such a distinction, instead referring to the general prisoner population, Haaretz said.

Although Ohana’s statement did not single out Palestinian inmates, there are no non-Palestinian security prisoners in Israel.

The ministry’s directive contradicts the health ministry’s guidelines regarding the prioritisation of vaccination. 

Haaretz said it was unclear on what authority Ohana can order the prisons service to vaccinate certain inmates and not others.

‘Politically motivated directive’

In response to the Public Security Ministry’s directive, Shas lawmaker Moshe Arbel posed a parliamentary question to Ohana asking him to explain why there is no need to inoculate all inmates in light of the crowding and harsh conditions in Israel’s prisons and the positive pace of vaccination among the general population.

“The state should weigh in on the difficult situation of the prisoners, among the most crowded and vulnerable groups in the country, and act to vaccinate them as soon as possible,” Arbel wrote.

“The minister’s directive contradicts the vaccination guidelines that the Health Ministry issued. 

“We should be making sure that prisoners are given high priority for vaccinations in line with recommendations by health experts involved in the matter, especially in light of worldwide data showing that the risk of infection among inmates is higher than that of the outside population.”

Palestinians left waiting 

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a Covid-19 vaccine jab, starting a national rollout.

However, the massive vaccination campaign, said to be the biggest in Israel’s history and titled “Give a Shoulder,” will not include millions of Palestinians living under Israeli control despite a recent spike in cases and deaths stemming from the virus.

Israel’s vaccination campaign will include Jewish settlers who are Israeli citizens living deep inside the occupied West Bank, but not the territory’s 2.5 million Palestinians.Palestinians left waiting as Israel rolls out Covid-19 vaccine jabRead More »

They will have to wait for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank in accordance with interim peace agreements reached in the 1990s, to provide them.

The PA hopes to get vaccines through a World Health Organisation-led partnership with humanitarian organisations known as Covax, which has so far fallen short of the 2 billion doses it hopes to buy over the next years for those in poor countries.

Complicating matters is the fact that the Palestinians have only one refrigeration unit capable of storing the Pfizer vaccine. 

The Palestinian Authority has reported more than 85,000 cases in the West Bank, including more than 800 deaths, and the outbreak has intensified in recent weeks.

The situation is even more dire in Gaza, home to two million Palestinians and which has been under an Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Hamas seized power in 2007. Authorities there have reported over 30,000 cases, including more than 200 deaths.

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US Labels Illegal Jewish Settlement Products as ‘Made in Israel’

December 24, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: File)

The US has started to label products from illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as “Made in Israel”. Washington claims that this is to mark goods in accordance with import laws and regulations.

In a statement published yesterday by US Customs and Border Protection, it called for the accuracy of the labeling on products from territories held by Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Gaza to be “consistent with the United States’ foreign policy approach.”

Under the new ruling, all products made and packaged in the areas controlled by Israel and its military – including those in the West Bank formerly held by the PA – are to be marked as Israeli-made. The areas mentioned include the West Bank’s Area C, where around 150,000 Palestinians live under Israel’s full control.

The order came into effect yesterday and follows last month’s landmark visit to a settlement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Prior to Pompeo’s visit, he announced that the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against illegal settlement goods will be branded as “anti-Semitic” by the US.

The labeling of goods from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories has long been a debated issue. Prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the US required all products from those areas to mention Israel. Since 1995, however, products from the West Bank and Gaza have been required to be labeled from those territories; two years later, they were allowed to have the joint label of “West Bank/Gaza”.

In 2016, under President Barack Obama, it was ruled that wrongly labeling settlement goods as “Made in Israel” could lead to fines being levied.

Even though the new ruling has now come into effect, importers have been given a 90-day grace period to implement the changes to their labels.

This new development ensures that consumers who want to buy products from the Palestinian territories and not Israel or its settlements can do so more easily. Nevertheless, such labeling gives US legitimacy to the settlements, all of which are illegal under international law.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Trump’s final month in office could be his most dangerous one – update

Update: Washington has sent Nuclear Submarines to the Persian Gulf, in a move to “deter” Iran. This combined with Mike Pompeo laying the blame on “Iranian-backes forces” for the alleged “attacks” on the US embassy in Baghdad, leaves us in a very dangerous situation.

Trump’s final month in office could be his most dangerous one – update

December 22, 2020

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blog

Only one month remains of Donald Trump’s presidency. It seems inevitable that the Biden administration will take over the White House come January 20th. While the Trump administration has been very aggressive against the Islamic Republic during the past four years, it has nonetheless refrained from starting a full-fledged war. This could all change as he is about to leave office.

A few days after the election in November, reports emerged that Trump had “asked his advisers last week about the options he could have to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.”

However, “a range of senior advisers dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike,” The New York Times reported. According to the report, Vice president Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and others reportedly told the outgoing president that such action could spiral out of control.

Despite the NYT being notorious liars, I could imagine this report being true. I’ve for long maintained that Trump is an imbecile surrounded by war hawks and Zionist extremists. Nonetheless, those extremists and hawks still understand the consequences of a direct attack on Iran. Trump on the other hand does not. Zionist chieftain Benjamin Netanyahu knows that Trump is an imbecile and has done his utmost to take advantage of it. Netanyahu has for long dreamed of a US-Iranian war as it would do a lot of harm to his main enemy Iran, while it would cost Israel nothing when US soldiers are the ones being sacrificed to save the supremacist Zionist regime. Knowing that Joe Biden would be far more reserved in his approach towards Iran compared to the belligerent “maximum pressure” policy of the Trump regime, it is no coincidence that Netanyahu chose to assassinate Iranian scientist Dr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh only weeks after the US election.

Much like when Iran responded to Martyr Soleimani’s murder, Netanyahu and the Zionists had hoped that Iran would somehow retaliate again and enter the Zionist trap- to drag Iran into a war.

During these past four years, Trump has offered Israel a lot of “gifts” to prove his loyalty to the Empire. It is no coincidence that his administration has been very generous to Netanyahu and his friends since Trump has chosen to surround himself with the most extreme Zionists around, including his son in-law Jared Kushner. The relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, the recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as “Israeli territory”, and the recent “peace deals” between certain Arab states and Israel have all been very important moves for the Empire. Being wary that Trump, in his last month in charge could offer Israel a final gift in the form of an attack on Iran, Tehran has been preparing itself for any possible scenario.

Any attack by the US on Iranian soil will lead to war. That war will quickly become a regional war unless they expect Hezbollah, Hashd Al-Shaabi, the Houthis and many more to just sit idly by while the leader of their alliance is being attacked. Despite the risk of starting a regional war, Trump could make such a move in order for Biden to “inherit” the war, thus giving Israel the ultimate gift.

These are just speculations of course, but the sudden “attacks” on the US embassy in Baghdad, General Frank McKenzie, saying that the US is “ready to respond” if Iran attacks it on the first anniversary of the assassination of the Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani, and Mike Pompeo’s increasing obsession with Iran, are all causes for concern.

Trump’s policy of absolute subservience to Israel has only made Zionist hawks like Netanyahu much bolder and more audacious. It will also leave its mark for years after his exit from the White House as Bibi will now demand the same level of subservience from the Biden administration. Netanyahu has taken upon himself to show the former Vice President who is calling the shots, before Biden has even had the chance to take office.

In an obvious message to Biden, Netanyahu told him that “There can be no going back to the previous nuclear agreement. We must stick to an uncompromising policy of ensuring that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons.”

The fact that Biden has remained rather coy about how he intends to “return the US to the JCPOA”, makes me believe that he has readily agreed to continue the policy of the Trump administration in one way or another.

“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal’s provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” he wrote in an article for the CNN website.

“Strengthening” the deal’s provisions and “addressing other issues of concern” sounds a lot like someone who is hoping to alter the deal in some form. This was something that Trump also hoped to achieve with his “maximum pressure” campaign. It is no coincidence that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas all of a sudden is calling for a “nuclear deal plus” either. They all want to include Iran’s missile program into the deal because it has started to become a concern for the Zionist Empire and its vassals. So you can see that going back to the original JCPOA seems impossible at this point.

There is also the matter of how the JCPOA is viewed in Iran these days. Many Iranians had huge hopes for the JCPOA. They were hoping to finally be able to enjoy the benefits of an economic recovery after decades of sanctions and blacklisting. Most of them now consider the JCPOA to be evidence of the failure of diplomacy with the US. To them, despite long negotiations and concessions, Iran is still suffering from sanctions and is in no better position economically than it was before the JCPOA. This is why the Iranian “conservative bloc” emerged victorious in the parliamentary elections earlier this year, and it is also why I believe they’ll win the presidency next year.

With the “conservatives” in power, Iran will not so easily want to return to the stipulations of the JCPOA either. Last year Iran began scaling down on its commitment to the JCPOA agreements, in response to Washington’s withdrawal and Europe’s inability to stand up to the US. Iran has since lost billions of dollars worth of trade revenue due to the sanctions that Washington reimposed- why would Iran want to just return to the JCPOA without compensation for the damage done to its economy?

The Islamic Republic will be facing the 8th President since its birth when Biden assumes power. Nobody is expecting Biden to change anything in US policies towards Iran and the rest of the world for that matter. Trump is really hated in Iran, to the point where he is regarded as a terrorist. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani recently said: “We are by no means excited about [Joe] Biden coming to power, but we are happy with Trump leaving as a terrorist and a person who even blocked Iran’s access to [COVID-19] vaccines; we are happy because he failed to adhere to basic moral and human principles,”

Personally, I understand the hatred towards Trump, it is easy to dislike such an imbecile who has no self-control. But in anger, it is also easy to lose sight of the bigger picture; Trump was in many ways a preferable enemy. Assad said it several times too, noting how the imbecile openly bragged about stealing Syrian oil. Trump was a clumsy and irrational enemy, the Europeans and many liberals realized this too, hence the great animosity towards him and his rule. His maximum pressure policy has left Washington rather desperate and pathetic, whereas his predecessor managed to portray Washington as a serious negotiator when the JCPOA was first announced.

Unfortunately, there’s also the other side to his irrationality. Trump’s irrational behaviour after what he perceives to be electoral fraud, could cost many people their lives if and when he decides to give his friend Bibi Netanyahu his final gift.

Everybody in the region will be holding their breath until Trump leaves office as this final month could end up being disastrous for the Middle East. Whatever he decides to do, the Islamic Republic and its allies must remain ready for all-out war.

Biden and the inevitable return to the nuclear understanding بايدن وحتميّة العودة للتفاهم النوويّ

**Please scroll down for the English Machine translation**

بايدن وحتميّة العودة للتفاهم النوويّ

ناصر قنديل

تمتلئ الصحف العربية والأجنبية والقنوات المموّلة من دول الخليج بتحليلات وتقارير ومواقف لخبراء، تركز على تعقيدات تعترض طريق عودة إدارة الرئيس الأميركي المنتخب جو بايدن، تبني عليها الاستنتاج بأن بايدن سيجد طريقاً آخر غير العودة للاتفاق، وجوهر التعقيدات التي يجري استعراضها التي تتوزّع بين مستجدات الملف النووي نفسه، ما يستدعي بعد الخطوات التي اتخذتها إيران منذ الانسحاب الأميركي من التفاهم، ما هو أكثر من مجرد إعلان إيران عن العودة للالتزامات، وهو ما قاله مدير الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية، بالإضافة لاعتبار ملف الصواريخ الإيرانية البالستية والملفات الإقليمية الملتهبة في اليمن وسورية والعراق أسباباً إضافية لتعطيل فرص العودة للتفاهم.

معلوم أن إيران ترفض أي مراحل انتقالية، تتضمن تفاوضاً يسبق العودة للتفاهم، وتصرّ على اعتبار العودة الأميركية المطلوبة بلا شروط لتقابلها عودة للالتزامات من جانب إيران، وعندها ينعقد لقاء الخمسة زائداً واحداً، الذي تشارك فيه الأمم المتحدة والوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية، والاتحاد الأوروبي كشركاء مع الدول المعنية، وفي هذا الإطار الراعي للتفاهم يتم التداول بكل القضايا التقنية التي أراد مدير الوكالة مطالبة إيران بها عبر تصريحاته التي رفضتها إيران، أما في شأن الملفات الأخرى التي يتحدّث عنها الأوروبيون والأميركيون سواء ملف الصواريخ الإيرانية أو ملفات النزاع الإقليمية، فهي قضايا سبق وكانت مطروحة قبل التوقيع على الاتفاق النووي، وفي النهاية بقيت قضايا خلافية وتقرّر السير بالاتفاق رغم بقائها.

السؤال الذي يواجه بايدن، هو الذي واجهه مع الرئيس باراك أوباما عام 2015، أنه في ظل وجود قضايا عالقة مع إيران، ما هي الطريقة الفضلى للتعامل مع الملف النووي، مواصلة الرهان على العقوبات أم الذهاب للحرب أو الاحتكام لقواعد التفاهم، وكان قرار ثنائي أوباما بايدن يومها، الاحتكام للتفاهم، وهذا ما شرحه أوباما مراراً بقوله إنه يدرك أن الاتفاق سيئ، لكنه يدرك أن البديل الذي يمثله الرهان غير الموثوق على العقوبات، مخاطرة كبرى بإضاعة الفرصة، وصولاً لاكتشاف لحظة تمتلك فيها إيران قنبلة نووية، شارحاً كيف أن واشنطن كانت تكتشف مع كل توقف للتفاوض وعودة للعقوبات أنها عندما تعود للتفاوض أن الملف النووي زاد تعقيداً وقدرات إيران زادت نمواً، بينما الحرب مغامرة أشد خطورة، ولا تزال ردود أوباما على رئيس حكومة الاحتلال بنيامين نتنياهو يومها، بنظر فريق بايدن صالحة اليوم، وفقاً لنتائج تجربة الرئيس دونالد ترامب.

يقول فريق بايدن إذا كانت الحرب خياراً، فلماذا لم يلجأ إليها ثنائي ترامب ونتنياهو، أما عن العقوبات فيستعرض فريق بايدن، حصيلة السنوات الأربع لمشروع ترامب نتنياهو، بالخروج من الاتفاق النووي والرهان على العقوبات، التي تسببت بالكثير من الخسائر لإيران، لكنها لم تخل بنظام الحكم ولا فرضت على القيادة الإيرانية التنازلات المطلوبة، وبالمقابل خسرت واشنطن وحلفاؤها الكثير في هذه السنوات، سواء في تطور مقدّرات إيران النووية وغير النووية، أو في تراجع وضع حلفائها وتقدم حلفاء إيران، ففي هذه السنوات تحققت الانتصارات الكبرى لسورية، وامتلك حزب الله الصواريخ الدقيقة، وتحوّل أنصار الله إلى قوة عظمى تمسك بأمن الخليج.

فريق بايدن يقول إن التفاهم الذي كان خياراً سيئاً في عام 2015، هو خيار أشد سوءاً في 2020، لكن الرهان على العقوبات كان مخاطرة كبرى عام 2015 وصار حماقة كبرى وانتحاراً في العام 2020، والحرب التي كانت خياراً على الطاولة عام 2015 لم تعد خيار مطروحاً للنقاش في 2020.

Biden and the inevitable return to the nuclear understanding

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Untitled-803.png

Nasser Qandil

Arab and foreign newspapers and gulf-funded channels are full of analysis, reports and positions of experts, focusing on the complexities of the return of President-elect Joe Biden to JCPOA, They concluded that  Biden will find a way other than to returning to the agreement, And the essence of the complications being reviewed that are distributed among the developments of the nuclear file itself, which calls for, after the steps taken by Iran since the US withdrawal from the understanding, more than just Iran’s announcement of a return to commitments, the director of the IAEA said, in addition to considering the file Iranian ballistic missiles and the and the inflamed regional files in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq as additional reasons for disrupting the chances of a return to understanding.

It is known that Iran rejects any transition, including negotiations prior to the return of the understanding, and insists on considering the return of the U.S. unconditionally required to be met by a return to the commitments of Iran, and then the meeting of the P5+1, in which the UN and the IAEA participate, and the European Union as partners with the countries concerned, As for the other issues that the Europeans and the Americans are talking about, whether the Iranian missile file or the regional conflict files, they are issues that were previously discussed before the signing of the nuclear agreement, and in the end they remained contentious issues and it was decided to proceed with the agreement

The question Biden faces, is what he faced with President Barack Obama in 2015, that with the outstanding issues with Iran, what is the best way to deal with the nuclear file, continue to bet on sanctions or go to war or invoke the rules of understanding, and the decision of the Obama-Biden duo on that day, invoking understanding, and this is what Obama has repeatedly explained by saying that he realizes that the deal is bad, but he realizes that the alternative represented by the bet on the sanctions are a great risk of wasting opportunity, explaining how Washington was discovering with every pause for negotiations and a return to sanctions that when it returns to negotiations that the nuclear file has increased complexity and Iran’s capabilities have grown, while the war is a more dangerous adventure, and Obama’s responses to the prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, in the eyes of the Biden team, are valid today, according to the results of President Donald Trump’s experience.

Biden’s team says if war is an option, why didn’t the Trump and Netanyahu duo resort to it, but as for the sanctions, Biden’s team,  the outcome of the four-year Trump-Netanyahu project, is reviewing the outcome of the nuclear deal and betting on sanctions, which caused a lot of losses to Iran, but did not disturb the regime or imposed on the Iranian leadership In these years, the major victories of Syria have been achieved, and Hezbollah has possessed precise missiles, and Ansar Allah has turned into a superpower that holds on to Gulf security.

Biden’s team says that understanding, which was a bad choice in 2015, is a worse option in 2020, but betting on sanctions was a major risk in 2015 and became a major folly and suicide in 2020, and the war on the table in 2015 is no longer an option for debate in 2020.

Israel and Morocco to normalise ties as US recognises Rabat’s claim to Western Sahara

North African kingdom the fourth Arab state to build full diplomatic relations with Israel in four months

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Donald Trump and Morocco’s King Mohammed VI (AFP)

By Oscar RickettDaniel Hilton

Published date: 10 December 2020 16:22 UTC

Israel and Morocco will normalise ties and the United States is to recognise Western Sahara as part of the North African kingdom, US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday.

Morocco becomes the fourth Arab country to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel in four months, following the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.

“Today, I signed a proclamation recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara. Morocco’s serious, credible, and realistic autonomy proposal is the ONLY basis for a just and lasting solution for enduring peace and prosperity!” Trump tweeted.

In a separate tweet, the president then added: “Our two GREAT friends Israel and the Kingdom of Morocco have agreed to full diplomatic relations – a massive breakthrough for peace in the Middle East!”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the deal as “another great light of peace”.

The Polisario Front, an independence movement from Western Sahara, a disputed desert territory, said it “regrets highly” Trump’s decision but will continue its struggle.

Morocco’s Royal Court said King Mohammed VI had called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and reiterated his commitment to the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Previous relations

Though Israel and Morocco have not had full diplomatic ties since the former’s founding in 1948, they have nonetheless shared relations and intelligence.

Morocco and Israel began low-level ties in 1993 after the latter reached a peace agreement with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation as part of the Oslo Accords. But Rabat suspended relations with Israel after the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2000.

Morocco described Thursday’s announcement as the “resumption” of diplomatic relations with Israel.The open secret of Israeli-Moroccan business is growing

Read More »

Around half a million Moroccan Jews live in Israel, and Israelis are known to occasionally visit the kingdom, and Netanyahu said he expects direct flights to begin soon.

In recent years, King Mohammed VI has encouraged the restoration and preservation of his country’s Jewish heritage, which Moroccan Jewish Israelis have participated in.

Moroccan activists have highlighted frequent steps towards the normalisation of relations with Israel, which the government has denied or remained silent about.

In February, Israeli media reported that Netanyahu had lobbied the United States to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara in exchange for Rabat taking steps to normalise ties with Israel. 

A few months later, Amnesty International revealed that Israeli spyware was used to target Moroccan activists. 

Territorial claims

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, confirmed that recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara is linked to kingdom’s normalisation with Israel.

“It also could possibly break the logjam to help advance the issues in the Western Sahara where we want the Polisario people to have a better opportunity to live a better life,” Kushner told reporters on Thursday.

“The president felt like this conflict was holding them back as opposed to bring it forward. This recognition will strengthen America’s relationship with Morocco.”

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, was claimed by Morocco in 1957 and is believed to have significant offshore oil reserves and mineral resources. Western Sahara: A decades-long sovereignty battle for ‘Africa’s last colony’

Read More »

Its indigenous population has fiercely rejected Moroccan control, however, and between 1975 and 1991 the Polisario Front fought an insurgency against Rabat’s presence.

Polisario estimates the indigenous population of Western Sahara to be between 350,000 and 500,000 and has long called for their right to a referendum on independence, something that has also been promised by UN resolutions. 

Polisario has repeatedly accused Morocco of exploiting the region’s natural resources while half of its population await a referendum in camps and in exile. 

Last month, Moroccan forces and Polisario fighters clashed over a protest blocking a highway into Mauritania, with the Sahrawi movement declaring the 1991 ceasefire over.

Morocco’s Royal Court said the US will open a consulate in the Western Sahara. Last month, Bahrain, which normalised ties with Israel in September, also said it was opening a consulate in the territory.

Trump’s announcement was denounced by Sahrawis.

“The Polisario and Sahrawi government condemn in the strongest terms the fact that outgoing American President Donald Trump attributes to Morocco something which does not belong” to the country, said the Sahrawi information ministry in a statement to AFP.

Ahmed Ettanji, a journalist and activist in Western Sahara’s Laayoune, told Middle East Eye that the move was a blatant tit-for-tat strategy. 

“It’s like an exchange: supporting the so-called Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in exchange for political recognition of Israel,” Ettanji said.  

‘We were shocked when we saw Trump’s tweet. At the same time, it’s not something new. As a Sahrawi, I’ve seen the US back Morocco for many decades’

– Ahmed Ettanji, Sahrawi journalist and activist

“We were shocked when we saw Trump’s tweet. At the same time, it’s not something new. As a Sahrawi, I’ve seen the US back Morocco for many decades. But there is some hope that the next administration will be different.”

Sahrawi activist Mohamed Elbaikam said the announcement had been anticipated.

“We believe that this position is an attempt to bypass international law and all its principles,” he told MEE.

“We believe that the next US administration led by [Joe] Biden will correct the American position, just as the American people will not accept it.”

Mahmoud Lemaadel, a Sahrawi citizen journalist, told MEE Trump’s announcement was like “the blind leading the blind”.

US Congresswoman Betty McCollum, an outspoken advocate for Palestinian human rights, also denounced Trump’s move to recognise Morocco’s claim over Western Sahara.

“I condemn Trump’s unilateral recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara in exchange for Morocco’s diplomatic recognition of Israel,” McCollum wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “The Sahrawi people have an internationally recognized right to self-determination that must be respected.”

Jim Inhofe, a senior Republican Senator who supports the people of Western Sahara’s push for self-determination, accused Trump of “trading the rights of a voiceless people” to secure the Morocco-Israel deal.

“Today’s White House announcement alleging Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara is shocking and deeply disappointing. I am saddened that the rights of the Western Saharan people have been traded away,” Inhofe said in a statement.

War on Want, an anti-poverty charity based in London, warned that the move was “not about peacebuilding”. 

“It’s a cynical attempt to rally repressive regimes around some of their most egregious policies: military occupation and human rights abuse,” Ryvka Barnard, the group’s senior campaigner, said in a statement on Thursday. 

“President Trump calls this announcement a ‘breakthrough’, but it comes on the back of the recent Moroccan breach of a decades-old ceasefire in occupied Western Sahara, as well as Israel’s ongoing expansion of illegal settlements, destruction of Palestinian homes and structures, and lethal violence against Palestinian civilians, including children,” Barnard said. 

“This move smacks of the colonial mindset that carved up the world at the expense of its inhabitants & seeks to normalise injustice.”

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Israel’s Honeymoon with the United Arab Emirates Is Grotesque

By Belén Fernández

Global Research,

December 10, 2020Jacobin 7 December 2020

Since normalizing relations in September, Israel and the United Arab Emirates have teamed up to do what both do best: trample on democratic freedoms, commit atrocities, and whitewash occupation.

***

Back in 2010, the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman issued the following complaint: “Destructive critics dismiss Gaza as an Israeli prison, without ever mentioning that had Hamas decided — after Israel unilaterally left Gaza — to turn it into Dubai rather than Tehran, Israel would have behaved differently, too.”

Never mind that Israel never “left” Gaza — or that even if Hamas had managed to transform the diminutive Palestinian coastal enclave into the capital of Iran, international law would not have authorized the Israelis to then convert it into the “world’s largest open-air prison.” It’s also unclear how any territory could be turned into Dubai while under siege and frequent bombardment, or how Gazans would go about building malls with ski slopes — or building anything, for that matter — when Israel intermittently blocks construction materials from coming into the narrow strip of land.

Now, courtesy of the September normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates — the culmination of a long-standing clandestine love affair — it seems the Palestinians will finally get to experience a taste of Dubai. (And Emirati alcohol consumers will get a taste of Israeli-made wine from the illegally occupied Golan Heights.)

In a recent CNN dispatch titled “The UAE and Israel’s whirlwind honeymoon has gone beyond normalization,” correspondent Ben Wedeman writes of the “mutual enthusiasm” infecting the Israeli government and the federation of Arab sheikhdoms, so much so that the UAE “appears to have dropped, in practical terms, any objections to Israel’s occupation of Arab lands.” That’s no accident. Disappearing the occupation is a primary function of normalization, fitting right in with the Friedmanite approach to Middle East peace, which posits that, if the Palestinians would just stop bitching about being occupied and massacred and get on with their lives, they, too, could be Dubai — the equivalent of telling a person in a burning house to simply ignore the flames.A Special Relationship Born in Hell: The US Should Cut all Ties with War Criminal Israel

Wedeman catalogues the perks of the overzealous Emirati-Israeli honeymoon: mutual visa exemption, the aforementioned wine, an excursion to the UAE by Israeli settler leaders from the West Bank, direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi scheduled to start early next year, and an arrangement where the UAE will “finance with the US and Israel a project to ‘modernize’ Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank used to control and monitor the movement of Palestinians.”

Presumably, “modernization” does not mean that Israeli soldiers will stop beatingkilling, detaining, and otherwise abusing Palestinians at checkpoints. But perhaps the Emiratis can help install state-of-the-art mobile maternity wards to deal with the Palestinian women forced to give birth there.

To be sure, it’s not like the checkpoints aren’t “modern” enough already. As NBC News reported last year, Microsoft has “invested in a startup that uses facial recognition to surveil Palestinians throughout the West Bank, in spite of the tech giant’s public pledge to avoid using the technology if it encroaches on democratic freedoms.”

That’s no turnoff for the UAE, where democratic freedoms are entirely absent and the slightest criticism of the government is grounds for detentiontorture, or disappearance. And what do you know: Emirati-Israeli collaboration regarding surveillance far predated the official unveiling of amorous bilateral relations. In 2015, a Middle East Eye article quoted a description of Abu Dhabi’s Israeli-installed mass civil spying system: “Every person is monitored from the moment they leave their doorstep to the moment they return to it. Their work, social and behavioral patterns are recorded, analyzed and archived.”

Call it modern barbarism — a right-wing neoliberal dream where basic rights are supplanted by skyscrapers, artificial islands, the annual Dubai Shopping Festival, and other distracting obscenities built on the backs of a migrant work force toiling in “virtual slavery.”

For their normalization efforts, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Perverse, unless you recall that former US president Barack Obama, the man who ordered the dropping of at least 26,171 bombs on seven Muslim-majority countries in 2016 alone, also received the prize. “Peace,” meanwhile, is not currently an option for Palestinians, Yemenis, and other regional inhabitants whose lives are sacrificed in the interest of arms industry profits and similar fixtures of “modernity” — all with US backing, and an imperial narrative that insists Iran is the one causing all the trouble.

So the honeymooners are getting off scot-free, whether for killing 2,251 people in Gaza in a matter of fifty days or for helping oversee the sexual torture of Yemeni detainees and mass starvation of Yemeni children as part of the Saudi-led coalition. And as normalization forges ahead, it’s nothing short of terrifying that anyone finds this normal.

*

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Belén Fernández is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at WorkMarytrs Never Die: Travels through South Lebanon, and, most recently, Exile: Rejecting America and Finding the World. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin.

Featured image is from DesertpeaceThe original source of this article is JacobinCopyright © Belén FernándezJacobin, 2020

‘Long Live the (Dead) Peace Process’: Abbas Prioritizes US Ties over Palestinian National Unity

December 9, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo: File)

By Ramzy Baroud

No one seemed as excited about the election of Joe Biden being the next President of the United States as Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. When all hope seemed lost, where Abbas found himself desperate for political validation and funds, Biden arrived like a conquering knight on a white horse and swept the Palestinian leader away to safety.

Abbas was one of the first world leaders to congratulate the Democratic President-elect on his victory. While Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, delayed his congratulatory statement in the hope that Donald Trump would eventually be able to reverse the results, Abbas suffered no such illusions. Considering the humiliation that the Palestinian Authority experienced at the hands of the Trump Administration, Abbas had nothing to lose. For him, Biden, despite his long love affair with Israel, still represented a ray of hope.

But can the wheel of history be turned back? Despite the fact that the Biden Administration has made it clear that it will not be reversing any of the pro-Israel steps taken by the departing Trump Administration, Abbas remains confident that, at least, the ‘peace process’ can be restored.

This may seem to be an impossible dichotomy, for how can a ‘peace process’ deliver peace if all the components of a just peace have already been eradicated?

It is obvious that there can be no real peace if the US government insists on recognizing all of Jerusalem as Israel’s ‘eternal’ capital. There can be no peace if the US continues to fund illegal Jewish settlements, bankroll Israeli apartheid, deny the rights of Palestinian refugees, turn a blind eye to de facto annexation underway in Occupied Palestine and recognize the illegally-occupied Syrian Golan Heights as part of Israel, all of which is likely to remain the same, even under the Biden Administration.

The ‘peace process’ is unlikely to deliver any kind of a just, sustainable peace in the future, when it has already failed to do so in the past 30 years.

Yet, despite the ample lessons of the past, Abbas has decided, again, to gamble with the fate of his people and jeopardize their struggle for freedom and a just peace. Not only is Abbas building a campaign involving Arab countries, namely Jordan and Egypt, to revive the ‘peace process’, he is also walking back on all his promises and decisions to cancel the Oslo Accords, and end ‘security coordination’ with Israel. By doing so, Abbas has betrayed national unity talks between his party, Fatah, and Hamas.

Unity talks between rival Palestinian groups seemed to take a serious turn last July, when Palestine’s main political parties issued a joint statement declaring their intent to defeat Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’. The language used in that statement was reminiscent of the revolutionary discourse used by these groups during the First and Second Intifadas (uprisings), itself a message that Fatah was finally re-orienting itself around national priorities and away from the ‘moderate’ political discourse wrought by the US-sponsored ‘peace process’.

Even those who grew tired and cynical about the shenanigans of Abbas and Palestinian groups wondered if this time would be different; that Palestinians would finally agree on a set of principles through which they could express and channel their struggle for freedom.

Oddly, Trump’s four-year term in the White House was the best thing that happened to the Palestinian national struggle. His administration was a jarring and indisputable reminder that the US is not – and has never been – ‘an honest peace broker’ and that Palestinians cannot steer their political agenda to satisfy US-Israeli demands in order for them to obtain political validation and financial support.

By cutting off US funding of the Palestinian Authority in August 2018, followed by the shutting down of the Palestinian mission in Washington DC, Trump has liberated Palestinians from the throes of an impossible political equation. Without the proverbial American carrot, the Palestinian leadership has had the rare opportunity to rearrange the Palestinian home for the benefit of the Palestinian people.

Alas, those efforts were short-lived. After multiple meetings and video conferences between Fatah, Hamas and other delegations representing Palestinian groups, Abbas declared, on November 17, the resumption of ‘security coordination’ between his Authority and Israel. This was followed by the Israeli announcement on December 2 to release over a billion dollars of Palestinian funds that were unlawfully held by Israel as a form of political pressure.

This takes Palestinian unity back to square one. At this point, Abbas finds unity talks with his Palestinian rivals quite useless. Since Fatah dominates the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestine National Council (PNC), conceding any ground or sharing leadership with other Palestinian factions seems self-defeating. Now that Abbas is reassured that the Biden Administration will bequeath him, once again, with the title of ‘peace partner’, a US ally and a moderate, the Palestinian leader no longer finds it necessary to seek approval from the Palestinians. Since there can be no middle ground between catering to a US-Israeli agenda and elevating a Palestinian national agenda, the Palestinian leader opted for the former and, without hesitation, ditched the latter.

While it is true that Biden will neither satisfy any of the Palestinian people’s demands or reverse any of his predecessor’s missteps, Abbas can still benefit from what he sees as a seismic shift in US foreign policy – not in favor of the Palestinian cause but of Abbas personally, an unelected leader whose biggest accomplishment has been sustaining the US-imposed status quo and keeping the Palestinian people pacified for as long as possible.

Although the ‘peace process’ has been declared ‘dead’ on multiple occasions, Abbas is now desperately trying to revive it, not because he – or any rational Palestinian – believes that peace is at hand, but because of the existential relationship between the PA and this US-sponsored political scheme. While most Palestinians gained nothing from all of this, a few Palestinians accumulated massive wealth, power and prestige. For this clique, that alone is a cause worth fighting for.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

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