Friday, May 8, 2020

The Final Days of the Iran Nuclear Deal - Caroline Glick


by Caroline Glick

The unsalvageable deal.




There is a growing chance that by October, the nuclear deal with Iran, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will be dead.
 
Under the deal with the United States, China, Russia, Germany, Britain and France, Iran purported to accept limitations on its nuclear program.
 
These limitations included capping its low-enriched uranium stockpiles at 300 kilograms (661 pounds), restraining its enrichment activities, and accepting the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) right to inspect its declared and undeclared nuclear sites.
 
In exchange, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, agreed to cancel the Security Council sanctions resolutions that had been imposed on Iran due to its illicit nuclear activities over the previous decade.
 
The JCPOA, which was never formally signed, was anchored in UNSC Resolution 2231, which was passed immediately after the JCPOA was concluded.
 
At the time, the JCPOA was vociferously opposed by U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the partisan divide. Their opposition owed to the fact that even if Iran abided by the restrictions on its nuclear activities prescribed by the JCPOA, it would still be able to develop a full-blown nuclear arsenal within 10 to 15 years.
 
To placate the deal’s opponents, and secure its approval in the Senate, the Obama administration added two safeguards to Resolution 2231. The first imposed a five-year embargo on conventional weapons sales to Iran. The second enabled all sides to the agreement to end the JCPOA by triggering the reimposition of the UN sanctions canceled under 2231.
 
According to Articles 10-12 of the resolution, if a party to the agreement informs the Security Council that Iran is in breach of its commitments under the agreement, such a declaration will automatically trigger the reimposition of the sanctions within 30 days.
 
The Obama administration dubbed this mechanism “snapback sanctions.”
 
Now both of these safeguards are being tested.
 
In May 2018, due to incontrovertible evidence of Iranian bad faith both during the negotiations process and following the implementation of the JCPOA, President Donald Trump announced that the United States was washing its hands of the nuclear deal.
 
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set out the U.S.’s new “maximum pressure campaign” that replaced the JCPOA as the central element of U.S. policy towards Iran.
 
The strategy of maximum pressure involves applying harsh U.S. economic sanctions against Iran’s oil, financial and shipping sectors in particular. The goal is to weaken the Iranian economy in order to destabilize the regime and minimize its financial capacity to fund its nuclear operations and its terror proxies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and beyond.
 
The other parties to the JCPOA did not follow America’s lead. On the contrary, they sought to undermine U.S. sanctions. Led by Germany, the European Union clung ever more tightly to the nuclear deal. Germany, France and Britain attempted to create a financial mechanism that would enable Iran to bust U.S. sanctions. They also continued to develop Iran’s heavy-water reactor at Fordo.
 
The Russians maintained and intensified their alliance with Iran in Syria. China breached the U.S. sanctions and continued importing Iranian oil and gas. Currently, China is working closely with Iran in Afghanistan on behalf of the Taliban.
 
The Europeans, Russians and Chinese have all been playing for time in the hope that Trump loses the presidential election in November. The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, has pledged that if elected, he will return the United States to the nuclear deal and end U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.
 
The problem for all of these parties is that time, and the facts, aren’t on their side.
 
The Iranian regime which they are so keen to keep afloat is not playing along with them. Instead, it is systematically and openly breaching all of its commitments under the JCPOA. In March, the IAEA revealed that between November 2019 and March 2020, Iran increased its store of low-enriched uranium from 373 to 1050 kilograms (822 to 2315 pounds) — more than three times the quantity permitted under the agreement.
 
The IAEA also reported that Iran had increased the number of advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium to prohibited levels in operation by approximately 20 percent since last November.
 
In January, the Iranian regime rejected IAEA requests for information regarding three newly discovered undeclared nuclear sites and subsequently rejected IAEA requests to dispatch inspectors to two of them.
 
Earlier this month, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced that Iran was building two more nuclear reactors at Bushehr. He added that “a new generation of centrifuges would soon come online at the Natanz fuel enrichment plant.”
 
Salehi explained that Iran is now in full breach of the JCPOA, saying, “Nuclear activities, as well as research and development on the nuclear fuel cycle, uranium conversion, and enrichment —including production and storage — are being carried out without any restrictions.”
 
Iran’s apparent race to develop the ability to build a nuclear arsenal on-demand—or what has been dubbed “breakout capacity”—is happening in the context of the quickly approaching deadline for the conventional arms embargo imposed under Resolution 2231. The embargo will expire on October 23.
 
Over the past six months, Pompeo has stated repeatedly that the United States will not permit the embargo to be lifted. According to U.S. intelligence agencies, Russian defense firms have already concluded deals to sell Iran advanced aircraft, tanks and air defense systems the moment the embargo is lifted.
 
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Pompeo set out how the administration intends to prevent it from being lifted. Pompeo explained that the administration is pressuring the Europeans to put forward a Security Council resolution calling for the arms embargo to be extended even as Russia has vowed to veto any such resolution.
 
In light of the Russian position, the only way to extend the arms embargo is to cancel the JCPOA entirely by triggering 2231’s snapback sanctions clause, which no side can veto.
 
To prevent the Americans from triggering the snapback clause, since May 2018, the Europeans, Iranians, Russians and Obama administration officials have claimed Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement canceled America’s standing as a party to the JCPOA and so abrogated the U.S.’s right to trigger the snapback sanctions.
 
Last year, the State Department’s legal department published a brief rejecting this position. The U.S. action did not abrogate Security Council Resolution 2231, and Article 10 of the resolution clearly names the United States as a party to the agreement.
 
At Wednesday’s briefing, Pompeo repeated this key claim.
 
“The U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 is very clear: We don’t have to … declare ourselves a participant. U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 is unambiguous where the United States is a participant,” he said.
 
Pompeo added, “We’re going to … [make] sure that come October of this year, the Iranians aren’t able to buy conventional weapons that they would be given what President Obama and Vice President Biden delivered to the world in that terrible deal.”
 
As the sides set up for a confrontation, the fact is that the administration will come out on top under all circumstances. This is true for three reasons:
 
First and foremost, the United States will benefit if the administration invokes the snapback sanctions articles because it is the right thing to do. As the IAEA reported and Salehi acknowledged, the Iranians are comprehensively breaching all of their commitments under the JCPOA. There is no substantive justification for maintaining the fiction that the deal is still salvageable. There is clearly no substantive justification for selling Iran conventional weapons.
 
This brings us to the second reason, and to Iran’s defenders — particularly the European Union and the Democrats:
 
If the United States triggers the snapback sanctions, the move will critically harm the European Union which, under German leadership, has consistently advanced a harshly anti-American foreign policy. If the European Union responds to a U.S. move to trigger the snapback sanctions by insisting the United States has no authority to act, the position will boomerang.
 
Even before the appearance of the coronavirus pandemic, many EU member nations were rejecting the European Union’s authority to dictate a unified anti-American, pro-Iranian foreign policy.
 
In February 2019, Poland co-hosted a summit on Iran in Warsaw with the United States. Then EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Federica Mogherini refused to participate in the conference that bought more than a dozen key EU states, along with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, together to discuss the threat Iran poses to global security.
 
The European Union’s utter failure to manage the coronavirus pandemic has struck it a massive blow. Its incompetence has convinced millions of Europeans who had previously supported the union that they have nothing to gain from it, and that national governments are the only instruments to protect their lives and liberty.
 
The European Union’s weakening was apparent earlier this month when several EU member states angrily rejected an attempt by current EU foreign policy commissioner Josep Borrell to pass a resolution condemning the Trump Middle East peace plan and Israel’s intention to apply its law to parts of Judea and Samaria in the framework of the Trump plan.
 
If the European Union subverts a U.S. effort to restore UN sanctions on Iran, its action is liable to destroy whatever is left of Brussel’s power to dictate a unified EU foreign policy.
 
Perhaps to block this prospect, and perhaps due to Iran’s reduced economic prospects after two years of U.S. sanctions, Germany announced on Thursday that it is finally outlawing Hezbollah’s “political” wing and blocking its operation in Germany.
 
Until now, Germany has blocked the European Union from recognizing Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization and so enabled the Iranian proxy army to raise funds and draft operatives throughout Europe. Germany’s action Thursday indicates that, aware of the dangers to the European Union, Germany may support a U.S. move to impose the snapback sanctions and end the JCPOA.
 
Thirdly, there is Biden. If the administration moves to implement the snapback sanctions and so end the ill-begotten JCPOA, which was the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy in Obama’s second term, Biden and the Democrats will be harmed no matter how the move plays out: If the United Nations blocks the U.S. move, the Trump administration will claim — rightly — that Obama and Biden deliberately lied to the American people when they said the snapback sanctions provision would ensure Iran could not get away with breaching the JCPOA.
 
If the administration is successful and snapback sanctions are imposed, scuppering the JCPOA, its success will expose the madness at the heart of Biden’s pro-Iranian Middle East policy. It will demonstrate that the key component of the Obama-Biden foreign policy was to provide America’s most dangerous enemy in the Middle East with the ability to develop a nuclear arsenal while building itself into a regional hegemon.
 
It isn’t clear how events will transpire in the coming weeks and months. But as things now stand, the Trump administration seems to recognize that there is no downside to triggering the snapback sanction articles in Resolution 2231 and ending the JCPOA by October.
 
* * *
Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.”

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2020/05/final-days-iran-nuclear-deal-caroline-glick/

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A golden opportunity for Judea and Samaria - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen


by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

Israel's center and coastal area are already too congested. Annexation will obligate the government to formulate a new strategic master plan for the development of a crucial eastern backbone.


The public debate over the future of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley has, thus far, mainly focused on considerations of security and demographics. But there is another issue, no less crucial for Israel's future: congested living space and expanding infrastructure. Already today, Israel is among the most congested countries in the world. The "security experts" who support withdrawal and oppose annexation deny and repress this issue.

Israeli cities along the coastal highways that depend on the country's main infrastructure systems weren't planned to accommodate this increasing congestion. Some 60% of the Jewish population in Israel resides between Netanya and Rishon Lezion. Three main highways run along the coast connecting the north and south – namely highways 2, 4, and 6 – and they are jammed throughout most of the day. Highway 6, which was supposed to solve this traffic crisis, is also over-congested.
 
The only other alternative is located in the open space in the east, based on the Allon Road, running roughly south-north between Highway 1 near Kfar Adumim east of Jerusalem and Highway 90 at Mehola in the central Jordan Valley. This is a vital artery, which needs to be expanded to connect Arad in the south and the Gilboa in the north. In Israel's transportation plans this route is known as Highway 80, which hasn't been paved due to diplomatic circumstances. 

The road, on the level of Highway 6, is necessary for the purpose of diverting heavy north-south traffic from the coastal region. Additionally, such a highway would cater to all residents east of the Samarian hills, Palestinians and Jews alike. Such a project also has the potential to impact future regional transportation from Syria and Jordan to Egypt. This vision is imperative for Israel's existence, which in two decades will approach a population of around 15 million.   

According to the current planning trends, Israelis will continue gravitating toward the country's over-crowded center, along the coast and the greater Tel Aviv area. Looking ahead to 2040, the planning authorities have been instructed to build another 2.6 million apartment units – all of them within the Green Line. The Jerusalem District alone needs to plan for another 300,000 apartments, all within Israel's official borders. Such a directive pushes Jerusalem's expansion westward into the green forest areas of the Judean hills and contradicts the national need to realize the potential of the open space east of Jerusalem, toward Ma'ale Adumim and the Dead Sea. Following the same trend, all the existing construction plans have long since expedited the flow of Israel's population toward Gush Dan.

To create more properly balanced spacing, a new national plan is needed along the following lines:
  1. Establishing Jerusalem as a metropolitan city, by developing perimetric municipal transportation infrastructures from Gush Etzion to the Mishor Adumim industrial zone, Ma'ale Mikhmas, Ofra and Givat Ze'ev.
  2. Utilizing the open corridor from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea for settlement purposes through mass construction of hundreds of thousands of housing units.
  3. Developing an eastern boulevard for the State of Israel from Arad to the Gilboa mountain range in the north, while turning the Jordan Valley from the eastern Samarian hills into a contiguous living space that can absorb 2-3 million Israelis. 
  4. Paving a road akin to Highway 6 along with the steps of the Judean Desert, from Arad to Mishor Adumim, continuing northward to Beit Shean and Afula based on the Allon Road outline.
  5. Developing urban contiguity along Route 5, from Rosh Ha'ayin to Ariel, Tapuah, Migdalim, and Ma'ale Efrayim.
These lines all run through Area C, and will create a sustainable infrastructural framework for the Palestinian entity in the areas they already control.   

A comprehensive plan is needed for western Israel that will balance the necessary space between transportation, water, electricity, housing, sewerage, and protection of green spaces. From this perspective, applying sovereignty obligates the government to formulate a new strategic master plan for the development of Israel's eastern backbone.


Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/a-golden-opportunity-for-judea-and-samaria/

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Israel demands major changes in UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon - AP and Israel Hayom Staff


by AP and Israel Hayom Staff 

"We are not calling to shut down the mission tomorrow morning but we want them to become more efficient," Israeli ambassador to the UN says of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. UNIFIL includes more than 9,400 ground troops and over 850 naval personnel in a Maritime Task Force. Its budget from July 2018-June 2019 was $474 million.


Israel's UN ambassador said Wednesday that his government is demanding major changes in the way the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon operates on the ground and has support from the United States.

Ambassador Danny Danon told a video press briefing that Israel will insist that peacekeepers have access to all sites, that they have freedom of movement and that any time they are being blocked the UN Security Council must be immediately informed.

The peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, was originally created to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon in 1978. The mission was expanded after a 2006 war between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group so that peacekeepers could deploy along the Lebanon-Israel border to help Lebanese troops extend their authority into their country's south for the first time in decades.

Israel has repeatedly accused Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants of impeding the peacekeepers from carrying out their mandate.

"We have seen that slowly there is less places that the troops in the peacekeeping operation can actually travel in southern Lebanon," Danon said. "So we want them to have full freedom of movement."

"I have discussed it with the commander of the force and we tell them, `You are there, you cannot move and you can't inspect, so why you are there?,"' he said. "`You have to be more active, you have to move freely and you have to inspect all sites.'"

Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon addresses the UN Security Council (Reuters/Mike Segar)
UNIFIL includes more than 9,400 ground troops and over 850 naval personnel in a Maritime Task Force. Its budget from July 2018-June 2019 was $474 million.

Danon said Israel knows that on many occasions UNIFIL troops haven't been able to enter suspicious sites, "and we proved in the past that Hezbollah are digging tunnels, they are bringing weapons to the border, and only in the last few weeks we have had a few incidents on the border."

Danon said Israel will continue pushing for reforms before the mandate for UNIFIL is renewed during the summer and will be explaining Israel's position to council members. He said Israel is grateful for US Ambassador Kelly Craft's strong support.

He said the United States is raising the issue of the budget "and saying very clearly if they are not effective, why are we spending so much money on the troops?"

"We are not calling to shut down the mission tomorrow morning, but we are saying if they cannot change, if they cannot function, why you are spending so much money?" Danon said. "We don't want to send the troops back to their countries, but we want them to become more efficient."

On Monday, the UN Security Council met to discuss the implementation of a 2004 resolution that called for the Lebanese government to extend its authority throughout the country and all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias to disband.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' latest report said Lebanon's government continued with those efforts but Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias continue to operate outside government control in violation of the resolution and the Taif Accords that ended the country's 1975-90 civil war.

"Several groups across the political spectrum in Lebanon possess weapons outside government control," the UN chief said, adding that "Hezbollah is the most heavily armed militia in the country."

Guterres said he continues to urge Lebanon's government and armed forces "to take all measures necessary to prohibit Hezbollah and other armed groups from acquiring weapons and building paramilitary capacity outside the authority of the state."

He also urged countries with close ties to Hezbollah "to encourage the transformation of the group into a solely civilian political party, as well as its disarmament."


AP and Israel Hayom Staff

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/05/07/israel-demands-major-changes-in-un-peacekeeping-in-lebanon/

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Coronavirus: European Leaders Cower in the Face of China - Soeren Kern


by Soeren Kern

The equivocation of European leaders is a reflection not only of Europe's geopolitical weakness and economic overdependence on China, but also of a moral vacuum in which they refuse to stand up for Western values.

  • The equivocation of European leaders is a reflection not only of Europe's geopolitical weakness and economic overdependence on China, but also of a moral vacuum in which they refuse to stand up for Western values.
  • Meanwhile, the French government allowed the Chinese telecom company Huawei to supply parts for its 5G mobile network. The concession was made after China threatened to retaliate against European companies in the Chinese market.
  • "No country with a skerrick of self-respect can allow this behavior to go unpunished. I have already suggested some punitive measures designed to wound the regime's pride without harming the Chinese people: cancel the Huawei deal; pass a Magnitsky-style Act targeting senior CPC figures; champion the Uyghurs at every opportunity (e.g. rename the London street that houses the Chinese embassy after a Uyghur political prisoner); and recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. All I would add, upon reflection, is this: grant British citizenship to Hong Kongers born before 1 July 1997, their children and grandchildren." — Scottish political commentator Stephen Daisley.
  • "We increasingly hear words of admiration in Europe about the speed and efficiency of the Chinese market economy, the rigorous nature of its crisis management. All the time gladly ignoring the fact that China's successes rest on a highly perfected system of digital surveillance that translates the perversions of the KGB and Stasi into the 21st century." — Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, Europe's largest publishing company.
  • "It is remarkable that German politics, with its love of moralizing, seems to throw its values out the window when dealing with China. What is at stake here is nothing less than what kind of society we want to live in and our concept of humanity." — Mathias Döpfner.

In Europe, where the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 100,000 people and caused economic devastation, political leaders have been deafeningly silent on demanding accountability from China. Pictured: French President Emmanuel Macron (center) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Paris on March 26, 2019. (Photo by Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)

Australia and the United States are leading a campaign for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Senior officials in both countries are seeking to determine if the virus originated in nature or in a Chinese laboratory. They are also calling on the Chinese government to account for its handling of the initial outbreak in the city of Wuhan.

In Europe, where the pandemic has killed more than 100,000 people and caused economic devastation on a scale not seen since the Second World War, political leaders have been deafeningly silent on demanding accountability from China. While a handful of European officials have agreed in principle that there should be an investigation at some undetermined point in the future, most appear afraid to challenge China directly.

The equivocation of European leaders is a reflection not only of Europe's geopolitical weakness and economic overdependence on China, but also of a moral vacuum in which they refuse to stand up for Western values.

A few days after European officials caved in to pressure from China and watered down an EU report on Chinese efforts to deflect blame for the coronavirus pandemic, the EU ambassador to China, Nicolas Chapuis, allowed the Chinese government to edit an op-ed article signed by him and the 27 Ambassadors of EU member states, to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations with China.

The EU authorized the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to remove references to the origins and the spread of the coronavirus from the article, published in China Daily, an English-language daily newspaper owned by the Communist Party of China.

An EU spokesperson said that the EU allowed China to revise the op-ed because Brussels "considered it important to communicate EU policy priorities, notably on climate change and sustainability..."

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen backed calls for an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus, but she avoided mentioning China by name and was careful not to offer specifics, such as who should lead the probe or when it might be conducted.

In a May 1 interview with the American broadcaster CNBC, von der Leyen used meaningless "diplomatese" apparently not to offend China:
"You never know when the next virus is starting, so we all want for the next time, we have learned our lesson and we've established a system of early warning that really functions and the whole world has to contribute to that."
In Sweden, Health Minister Lena Hallengren was slightly more forceful. In a reply to parliament on April 29, she called on the European Union to probe the origin of the pandemic:
"When the global situation of Covid-19 is under control, it is both reasonable and important that an international, independent investigation be conducted to gain knowledge about the origin and spread of the coronavirus.
"It is also important that the entire international community's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the World Health Organisation, is investigated. Sweden is happy to raise this issue within the framework of EU cooperation."
In France, President Emmanuel Macron questioned China's handling of the coronavirus outbreak. "Given the choices made and what China is today, which I respect, let's not be so naive as to say it's been much better at handling this," Macron told the Financial Times on April 16. "We don't know. There are clearly things that have happened that we don't know about." He stopped short of calling for an investigation.

Meanwhile, the French government allowed the Chinese telecom company Huawei to supply parts for its 5G next-generational mobile network. The concession was made after China threatened to retaliate against European companies in the Chinese market.

In Britain, which now has the highest coronavirus death toll in Europe, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been strangely silent on China. He continues to resist pressure from parliament to reverse his controversial decision to allow Huawei to supply parts for the UK's 5G mobile network.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab vowed to ask "hard questions" and threatened the end of "business as usual" with Beijing. He has not, however, announced any punitive measures against China.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, when asked by LBC radio if China should be held accountable, replied:
"I think it does. But I think the time for the post-mortem on this is after we've all got it under control and have come through it and our economies are back to normal. Only by being open and transparent will we learn about it, and China needs to be open and transparent about what it learned, and its shortcomings, but also its successes."
Former Prime Minister Theresa May, in a May 6 op-ed published by The Times, called for moral equivalence when dealing with the United States and China. "A world in which a few 'strong men' square up to each other and expect everyone else to choose between them would be a dangerous one," she said, apparently referring to U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Writing for The Spectator, Scottish political commentator Stephen Daisley lamented the government's dithering approach to China. In an essay, "Our Toothless Response to China is Embarrassing," he listed a series of measures the British government could take:
"No country with a skerrick of self-respect can allow this behavior to go unpunished. I have already suggested some punitive measures designed to wound the regime's pride without harming the Chinese people: cancel the Huawei deal; pass a Magnitsky-style Act targeting senior CPC figures; champion the Uyghurs at every opportunity (e.g. rename the London street that houses the Chinese embassy after a Uyghur political prisoner); and recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. All I would add, upon reflection, is this: grant British citizenship to Hong Kongers born before 1 July 1997, their children and grandchildren. Even if just a fraction of Hong Kong's residents took up the opportunity, every one would be a small humiliation for the dictatorship. Given the government's softly-softly approach, we probably shouldn't get our hopes up for anything beyond Huawei cancellation, and even that's far from guaranteed. Even absent the ministerial gumption to impose sanctions on Beijing, there will have to be a strategic rethink of our relationship with the People's Republic. If this is how it behaves in a US-led world order, it is unlikely to be any more benevolent as a rival (or replacement) superpower.
"While abandoning global free trade and economic interdependence would prove a costly mistake, it would be just as foolish to remain in hock to a regime that, in the most generous reading of events, caused thousands of avoidable British deaths to save face. However, reshoring and rebuilding key manufacturing sectors is only a partial solution. We need to trade but our trading priorities are subject to political and security considerations. China is our second-largest trading partner while India is our sixth. It would be in the UK's interests to reverse that ordering. Of course, to make a change like that you need a government with a bit of backbone and it's not at all clear that we have one."
In Germany, Development Minister Gerd Müller said that the Chinese government "had to show complete openness in this world crisis, especially with regard to the origin of the virus." The statement was the most forceful of any German cabinet member to date. Chancellor Angela Merkel distanced herself from the remark, saying that it had not been discussed in the cabinet:
"I believe that the more transparent China is about the history of this virus, the better it is for all of us around the world who want to learn from it. But we didn't have this specific discussion."
German commentator Constantin Eckner noted that the coronavirus has exposed Germany's dependency on its trade relations with China, which Germany needs to overcome the current crisis:
"For years now, Germany has been leaning on China for cheap supply and as a market for its exports. Following the 2008 financial crisis, when most of Europe was suffering, Germany kept itself rather unscathed thanks to a strong export-orientated economy and partly thanks to China. Germany was not concerned about any geo-economic advances Beijing was making. It cared little about the 16+1 forum with Central and Eastern European countries launched in 2012 or the Belt and Road Initiative unveiled in 2013, and the 'Made in China 2025' strategy intended to establish Chinese dominance in emerging technologies....
"Publicly Berlin has positioned itself against Xi Jinping's 'mask diplomacy' since the coronavirus outbreak in Europe, condemning attempts to exploit the crisis politically or economically. But behind closed doors, senior officials acknowledge that the domestic economy needs China just like it did in the aftermath of 2008, or possibly even more. Germany has the highest export ratio among the G20 — about 47 per cent of its GDP. A demand shock of global proportion puts a lot of manufacturers in a tough spot. As China is recovering from the pandemic faster than the rest of the world, Germany might end up tying itself closer to the economic giant than before the crisis....
"These desperate times could make Merkel forge a new alliance with Xi, accepting that Germany cannot survive without the Chinese market and financial firepower, but also knowing that Beijing will not be shy to exploit such a dependency to further its geoeconomic goals. For its future prosperity, Germany may be forced to look east."
Europe's most forceful action against China has been taken by the Netherlands, which recently renamed its de facto embassy in Taiwan. The Netherlands Trade and Investment Office is now called "Netherlands Office Taipei." China responded by threatening to halt shipments of medical supplies, a threat that could ring hollow: the Netherlands recently recalled 600,000 substandard medical masks that had been imported from China.

While Europeans cower in the face of Communist China, they have found time to issue threats against the only democracy in the Middle East. On April 30, eleven European ambassadors to Israel warned Jerusalem of "severe consequences" if it goes ahead with plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

In a lengthy essay published by Die Welt, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, Europe's largest publishing company, argued that the time has come for Europe to choose between the United States and China:
"Once a treatment for the virus has been found, the debates about shutdown and easing restrictions have passed, and the recession has reared its ugly head, nothing less than the world order itself must be clarified. Or to be more specific: the matter of alliance. Where does Europe stand? On the side of the US or China?...
"America has clearly decided to pursue a policy of 'decoupling' from China. If Europe does not want to see its freedom subverted by Beijing, it must decide which of the two countries to ally with, and it must do so soon.
"We are told time and again that it is not a case of either-or, that it's about having the best of both worlds. The opposite is true. There is no need for finely crafted rhetoric here, we need to make a fundamental political decision. China or the US. It is no longer possible to go with both....
"Europe has been avoiding the alliance question for a long time, but it is now time to make that decision. This does not directly have to do with the coronavirus crisis. And it certainly has nothing to do with the question of where the virus originated.
"The crisis focuses the way we look at long-standing dependencies, even those in so-called vital supply chains, how we see fundamental differences in communication and crisis management, and our regard for what is ultimately a completely different concept of humanity....
"Europe has failed so far to clearly state where it stands, preferring to play piggy in the middle, able to tip the scales either way. Even believing its opportunism to be a sign of independence and courage. However, Europe will never be able to hold onto its position as everybody's darling. When it comes to questions of world order, you cannot have your cake and eat it....
"Europe's economy likes making deals with China and does not want to be interrupted in those pursuits. Politicians are dithering. The Italians have even been willing to subjugate themselves to China's ridiculous euphemism of the 'New Silk Road.'
"We increasingly hear words of admiration in Europe about the speed and efficiency of the Chinese market economy, the rigorous nature of its crisis management. All the time gladly ignoring the fact that China's successes rest on a highly perfected system of digital surveillance that translates the perversions of the KGB and Stasi into the 21st century....
"Economic relations with China might seem harmless to many Europeans today, but they could soon lead to political dependence and ultimately to the end of a free and liberal Europe. The European Union has the choice. But above all Germany, Europe's economic motor, has the choice.
"Should we make a pact with an authoritarian regime or should we work to strengthen a community of free, constitutionally governed market economies with liberal societies? It is remarkable that German politics, with its love of moralizing, seems to throw its values out the window when dealing with China. What is at stake here is nothing less than what kind of society we want to live in and our concept of humanity....
"If current European and, above all, German policy on China continues, this will lead to a gradual decoupling from America and a step-by-step infiltration and subjugation by China. Economic dependence will only be the first step. Political influence will follow.
"In the end, it is quite simple. What kind of future do we want for Europe? An alliance with an imperfect democracy or with a perfect dictatorship? It should be an easy decision for us to make. It is about more than just money. It is about our freedom, about Article 1 of Germany's Basic Law, the greatest legal term that ever existed: human dignity."


Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15994/coronavirus-europe-china

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OAN reporter lets Giuliani open up on Biden - Jon N. Hall


by Jon N. Hall

Chanel Rion focuses on the squalor the Democrats have made America suffer through.


The Deep State is the “administrative state,” the federal bureaucracy; it’s the permanent government, a.k.a. “the Swamp.” And when it comes to those who make up the Deep State, the “wheels of justice turn slowly”… exceedingly slowly, if indeed they turn at all.

For the last more than three years, Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News has focused on the complex of Deep State scandals centering on the 2016 campaign and its aftermath. The scandals include FISAgate, Spygate, Ukrainegate, and “gates” we may not even know about. So one waits for a little justice to be dealt to the Deep State malefactors who have abused the public trust and who have prima facie broken the law. Regularly we’ve been told that this or that new bit of evidence is “huge” and we’ve been assured that some swamp creature is soon going to be frog marched in to be fingerprinted. But nothing happens.

Given the frustration of waiting for justice, I started tuning in to Kennedy on Fox Business opposite of Hannity. But during the Wuhan virus shutdown, FBN hasn’t been airing Kennedy, so I started watching Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler on OAN (One America News), a network that I hadn’t watched. Liz’s show is terrific, but that’s not what this blog is about. It’s about another OAN journalist that I just discovered: White House correspondent Chanel Rion.

If you’ve been watching the daily White House press conferences during the shutdown, you may have noticed that President Trump occasionally points to the back row as he intones “OAN.” And that’s when you’ll hear from Ms. Rion. (She shouldn’t be in the back.) During the Q&A after the press briefing on April 27, Pres. Trump called on Rion, who asked this:
Mr. President, thank you. I’d like to switch gears and talk about General Flynn. There are reports circulating now that he may well be fully exonerated this week. If that were -- if that were the case, is there any reason why you would not bring him back into the administration?
The president did not answer the question, but rather heaped praise on General Flynn and commented on the “disgrace” of his treatment at the hands of the FBI. The other day Fox New’s Greg Gutfeld threw out the idea that Gen. Flynn should be made Director of the FBI. (I wish I had thought up that delicious irony.)
Anyway, now that Joe Biden looks to be the Democrat nominee for president, it’s time to revisit his Ukraine connections, impeachment, and all the other squalor the Democrats have made America suffer through. And so I give you the following three videos that make up an investigative series by Chanel Rion. Yes, it’s a lot to listen to, but Rion presents the material in a most compelling way.








Jon N. Hall of ULTRACON OPINION is a programmer from Kansas City.

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2020/05/oan_reporter_lets_giuliani_open_up_on_biden.html

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PA banks heed PMW warning and start closing terrorist bank accounts - Maurice Hirsch Adv. and Itamar Marcus


by Maurice Hirsch Adv. and Itamar Marcus

PMW will be watching closely to see how the PA will attempt to transfer monthly salaries amounting to nearly 50 million shekels to 6,000 terrorist prisoners, without using the banking system 

  • PMW cracks the weakest link in the PA’s “Pay for Slay” payments
  • Banks closing “will anger the prisoners’ family members and various groups in the Palestinian people”
  • PMW will be watching closely to see how the PA will attempt to transfer monthly salaries amounting to nearly 50 million shekels to 6,000 terrorist prisoners, without using the banking system  
Banks operating in the Palestinian Authority are heeding the warning of Palestinian Media Watch and have started closing bank accounts of Palestinian terrorist prisoners. PMW’s recent letter warned bank officials that failing to close the accounts could result in potential criminal and civil action for aiding and abetting the payment of the PA’s terror rewards to terrorist prisoners when Israeli legislation regarding this procedure is applied in two days. In recent days different Arab media outlets have reported that some banks active in the PA are already rushing to close the accounts of terrorist prisoners and released prisoners before the new law takes effect.

PMW’s warning letter informed the banks of the new Israeli legislation that explicitly criminalizes the PA’s salary payments to the terrorist prisoners and also prohibits facilitating the payment of these rewards for terror. In the letter, PMW warned the banks of the legal repercussions they would face.

Based on the speed by which the PA banks are responding to PMW’s letter, it seems that PMW accurately identified the banks as the weak link in the PA’s terror reward program. Many of these banks are foreign banks that conduct business internationally and would not want to be tainted by the threat of criminal or civil proceedings for supporting terrorism.
Significantly, the reports about the banks closing accounts of the terrorist prisoners did not appear in the official PA-controlled media, but rather appeared in independent Palestinian or Arab news sources. 

PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs spokesman, Hassan Abd Rabbo, confirmed that families of terrorists are already complaining that their bank accounts have been closed and he also confirmed that the PA is holding discussions about this new crisis:
“[PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Spokesman Hassan Abd Rabbo confirmed to the [independent Palestinian] paper Al-Hadath that complaints have come in from the families of prisoners and released prisoners against two banks that are active in the Palestinian territories, because they have closed the prisoners’ bank accounts.
He added that today, Wednesday [May 6, 2020], a meeting will be held on the matter between the [PA] Monetary Authority and the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs.”
Documents obtained by Al-Hadath revealed that Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) Director of Legal Strategies and former Head of Israeli Military Prosecution Itamar Marcus (sic., Maurice Hirsch; Itamar Marcus is PMW director) warned the Palestinian banks of the consequences that there will be for continuing to maintain the prisoners’ accounts, through which the PA pays them salaries… It should be noted that PMW, which Marcus directs, issued a special report at the end of 2019 regarding the amount of money that the PA pays the prisoners, which according to the report had reached $517 million.”
[Al-Hadath, independent Palestinian weekly paper, May 6, 2020]
One Palestinian source depicted the decision of the banks with this cartoon, showing a credit card of the Jordan-based Cairo Amman Bank, which recently closed accounts of terrorist prisoners. The card is superimposed on a prison cell with a Palestinian flag on it, which is surrounded by barbed wire.
[Credit for the image at bottom: “Palestine Live”]

An article published by Wattan, an independent Palestinian news agency, titled “Hello, close the account – Jordanian banks that are active in Palestine close released prisoners’ accounts, and other banks are on the way”, exposed that one of the banks had ordered the prisoners to pay off their debts and move their accounts to other banks:
“Prisoners confirmed that today, [May 6, 2020], one of the Jordanian banks that is active in Palestine, [the Cairo Amman Bank,] closed bank accounts of prisoners who were released from the occupation’s prison, and this was in submission to pressures exerted by the occupation authorities.
According to the prisoners, the bank management demanded that they pay off their debts and transfer their accounts to other banks.
[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, May 6, 2020]
Explaining the decision to close the accounts of the terrorists, the article continued:
“In the coming days, additional banks are expected to follow the [Cairo Amman] Bank and make similar decisions that will harm the released prisoners – which will anger the prisoners’ family members and various groups in the Palestinian people…
It should be noted that a former senior Israeli army member (i.e., PMW Director of Legal Strategies Maurice Hirsch) last month [April 2020] announced new legislation that would come into effect on May 9 [2020], which forbids the Palestinian banks from cooperating with the prisoners’ salaries [from the PA], and if not – they will find themselves exposed to a series of severe measures and sanctions, which are liable to go as far as lawsuits being submitted against them.

The new legislation, some of whose details were recently exposed by former Head of the Israeli Military Prosecution in the West Bank Maurice Hirsch, warns the banks against cooperating with the prisoners’ salaries, because this is an illegal act. It determines that ‘the monthly salaries the PA pays to the prisoners constitute forbidden payments, and it will be possible to confiscate this money from any person who is holding it.’

[Hirsch] told the banks that their continued cooperation with this ‘forbidden’ policy will expose them to civil suits.”
[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, May 6, 2020]
Former PA Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, Wasfi Kabha, also responded to the new development in a post on his Facebook account expressing his surprise that the banks were preferring their own interests “over the prisoners’ interests”:

“The bank must refuse the occupation’s dictates and cooperate with the other banks and banking institutions, in coordination with the relevant institutions in the PA and official institutions that deal with the prisoners and released prisoners’ affairs, in order to reject the occupation’s decisions and arbitrary measures.”
[Facebook of Wasfi Kabha]
The internet edition of the Qatari Al-Jazeera news agency also confirmed that both Jordanian and Palestinian banks havealready begun closing the accounts of the terrorist prisoners and the Martyrs.

“Sources in the PA (sic., PLO) Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs confirmed that Palestinian and Arab banks have begun to close the accounts of the prisoners and Martyrs, in submission to Israeli pressures.
The sources said that two Jordanian banks and other Palestinian banks have already begun to close the accounts of the prisoners and Martyrs and have asked their owners to sign the closure documents, shortly before the Israeli ultimatum to these banks to close the accounts expires.”
[Al-Jazeera.net website, May 6, 2020]
Al-Jazeera further quoted the Director of the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Office in Bethlehem, Munqidh Abu Atwan, who called on the PA Monetary Authority to take a firm stand and close the banks that ordered the closure of the accounts of the terrorists:
“The Monetary Authority must take a firm stand regarding the banks that have frozen the prisoners’ accounts and cooperated with the occupation authorities’ decision… The Monetary Authority, which serves as the central bank, [must] close the banks and not give them privileges and easements.”

The PA Commissioner of Prisoners’ Affairs explained that the PA is trying to find a solution:
“Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr confirmed to [the UK Arab news website] Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that two of the banks that are active in Palestine have decided to close the prisoners’ accounts, because they fear the Israeli army order that was signed on Feb. 9 [2020] and will take effect on May 9 [2020].
Abu Bakr added: ‘The banks are afraid of dealing with the money of the prisoners and released prisoners, and are afraid that proceedings will be taken against them, including lawsuits by settlers.’
Abu Bakr noted that a meeting was held with the banks, the Monetary Authority, and the [PA] Ministry of Finance, and that an additional meeting will be held with the prisoners’ institutions in order to search for an opening.”
[Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, UK Arab news website, May 7, 2020]

PMW notes that the official PA media’s silence about the banks’ closing terrorist prisoners’ accounts, which for the PA is an issue of highest urgency, is an indication of how challenging this new situation is for the PA.

PMW will be watching closely to see how the PA will attempt to transfer monthly salaries amounting to nearly 50 million shekels to 6000 terrorist prisoners, without using the banking system.  

The following are longer excerpts of the reports cited above

Headline: “The [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs: Some of the banks have begun to close prisoners’ accounts”

“[PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Spokesman Hassan Abd Rabbo confirmed to the [independent Palestinian] paper Al-Hadath that complaints have come in from the families of prisoners and released prisoners against two banks that are active in the Palestinian territories, because they have closed the prisoners’ bank accounts.

He added that today, Wednesday [May 6, 2020], a meeting will be held on the matter between the [PA] Monetary Authority and the Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs.

Documents obtained by Al-Hadath revealed that Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) Director of Legal Strategies and former Head of Israeli Military Prosecution Itamar Marcus (sic., Maurice Hirsch; Itamar Marcus is the director of PMW) warned the Palestinian banks of the consequences that there will be for continuing to maintain the prisoners’ accounts, through which the PA pays them salaries (refers to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.)…

It should be noted that PMW, which Marcus directs, issued a special report at the end of 2019 regarding the amount of money that the PA pays the prisoners, which according to the report had reached $517 million. It called on the occupation government and the American administration to exert more pressure on the PA so that it would stop paying the prisoners’ salaries.”
[Al-Hadath, independent Palestinian weekly paper, May 6, 2020]
Israeli army legislation which applies parts of Israel's 2016 Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank (taking effect on May 9, 2020). The law prohibits numerous terror related offenses, including terror funding/rewarding and holds heads of terror organizations responsible for murder committed by members of the organization. The law criminalizes the provision of funds for or the payment of rewards for the commission of terrorist offenses, such as the salaries the PA pays to terrorist prisoners and released prisoners. The provision also applies to any person or body - such as a bank - that facilitates such funding or rewarding of terror offenses. Based on this last provision, PMW sent letters in April 2020 to the heads of banks in the PA areas warning them that they must freeze the accounts of terrorists and their proxies and transfer them to the Israeli army or face legal consequences.

Headline: “Hello, close the account – Jordanian banks that are active in Palestine close released prisoners’ accounts, and other banks are on the way”

“Prisoners confirmed that today, Tuesday (sic., Wednesday) [May 6, 2020], one of the Jordanian banks that is active in Palestine, [the Cairo Amman Bank,] closed bank accounts of prisoners who were released from the occupation’s prison, and this was in submission to pressures exerted by the occupation authorities.

According to the prisoners, the bank management demanded that they pay off their debts and transfer their accounts to other banks.

Released prisoner Wahid Abu Maria published a post on his Facebook page in which he called on all the institutions and organizations to work quickly and take practical steps on the ground regarding the bank…

Abu Maria added that this decision, if it passes, will soon apply to all the other banks. He also said that what this means is that there will be an internal battle [within Palestinian society], which is what the occupation is striving for…

On the same matter, former [PA] Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Wasfi Kabha said in a post on his Facebook page that he was surprised that one of the Jordanian banks that is active in Palestine obeyed the occupation’s decisions and submitted to its pressure, while giving the bank’s interests priority over the prisoners’ interests… by closing the released prisoners’ accounts…

Kabha added: ‘The bank must refuse the occupation’s dictates and cooperate with the other banks and banking institutions, in coordination with the relevant institutions in the PA and official institutions that deal with the prisoners and released prisoners’ affairs, in order to reject the occupation’s decisions and arbitrary measures…

The bank’s decision is not new. In the past, another Jordanian bank refused to activate the account of the daughter of prisoner Marwan Barghouti (i.e., terrorist, orchestrated three attacks in which 5 were murdered), because her father is a prisoner in the hands of the occupation. Ruba Barghouti said at the time on her Facebook page that she contacted one of the bank’s branches in order to activate her private account, which had been deactivated for a while, but when the bank clerk discovered that she was the daughter of prisoner Marwan Barghouti, he refused to activate the account. Ruba explained that the bank clerk informed her that he could not activate her account because she was the daughter of Marwan Barghouti, and this is against the bank’s policy.

Ruba noted that she contacted the bank’s deputy manager, who echoed the clerk’s words and explained this was because the bank’s policy does not allow opening accounts for some of the prisoners in the occupation’s prison and for their family members…

In the coming days, additional banks are expected to follow the [Cairo Amman] Bank and make similar decisions that will harm the released prisoners – which will anger the prisoners’ family members and various groups in the Palestinian people…

It should be noted that a former senior Israeli army member
(i.e., PMW Director of Legal Strategies Maurice Hirsch) last month [April 2020] announced new legislation that would come into effect on May 9 [2020], which forbids the Palestinian banks from cooperating with the prisoners’ salaries [from the PA], and if not – they will find themselves exposed to a series of severe measures and sanctions, which are liable to go as far as lawsuits being submitted against them (refers to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.).


The new legislation, some of whose details were recently exposed by former Head of the Israeli Military Prosecution in the West Bank Maurice Hirsch, warns the banks against cooperating with the prisoners’ salaries, because this is an illegal act. It determines that ‘the monthly salaries the PA pays to the prisoners constitute forbidden payments, and it will be possible to confiscate this money from any person who is holding it.’

[Hirsch] told the banks that their continued cooperation with this ‘forbidden’ policy will expose them to civil suits.”

[Wattan, independent Palestinian news agency, May 6, 2020]
Marwan Barghouti – Palestinian terrorist and member of the Palestinian Authority parliament who is serving 5 life sentences for orchestrating three shooting attacks in which 5 people were murdered: one attack on the Jerusalem-Maale Adumim road (June 12, 2001) in which Greek Orthodox monk Tsibouktsakis Germanus was murdered by terrorists Ismail Radaida and Yasser Ah'Rabai, another attack at a gas station in Givat Zeev near Jerusalem (Jan. 15, 2002) in which Yoela Hen was murdered by terrorists led by Mohammed Matla, and one shooting and stabbing attack at the Seafood Market restaurant in Tel Aviv (March 5, 2002) in which Eli Dahan, Yosef Habi, and Police Officer Sergeant-Major Salim Barakat, were murdered by terrorist Ibrahim Hasouna. When arrested by Israel in 2002, Barghouti headed the Tanzim (Fatah terror faction). After he was convicted and imprisoned, he was re-elected as a member of the Palestinian Authority parliament. On Dec. 4, 2016, he was elected to Fatah's Central Committee. 

Headline: “In submission to Israeli pressures, banks close the accounts of prisoners and Martyrs”

“Sources in the PA (sic., PLO) Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs confirmed that Palestinian and Arab banks have begun to close the accounts of the prisoners and Martyrs, in submission to Israeli pressures.

The sources said that two Jordanian banks and other Palestinian banks have already begun to close the accounts of the prisoners and Martyrs and have asked their owners to sign the closure documents, shortly before the Israeli ultimatum to these banks to close the accounts expires.

Director of the [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Office in Bethlehem Munqidh Abu Atwan said that a number of the banks have already closed the prisoners’ accounts, while all the other banks are on the way to closing these accounts.
He placed the responsibility on the Palestinian [PA] Monetary Authority, because it is not obligating the banks to continue their activity as [banks] that are subordinate to the Palestinian regulations.


Abu Atwan said that the Monetary Authority must take a firm stand regarding the banks that have frozen the prisoners’ accounts and cooperated with the occupation authorities’ decision (refers to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.). He called on the Monetary Authority, which serves as the central bank, to close the banks and not give them privileges and easements.

It should be noted that the Israeli army commander of the West Bank decided to consider the salaries that the PA pays the prisoners in the Israeli prisons as ‘forbidden payments.’ The Palestinian banks were warned not to carry out forbidden acts connected to money associated with ‘terror’…

Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Spokesman Hassan Abd Rabbo previously told Al-Jazeera.net [on April 28, 2020] that the decision of the occupation’s military commander is ‘theft of Palestinian money, which is liable to increase the suffering of the prisoners and their family members.’ He noted that at the beginning of the current year, the money of more than 50 prisoners from the occupied Interior (i.e., Palestinian term for Israel) and Jerusalem was confiscated (refers to seizure of PA terrorist salaries from Israeli Arab terrorists –Ed.).

The official spokesman promised to continue to provide the prisoners and their family members with all that they require, in the framework of the authorities given to the Commission [of Prisoners’ Affairs] according to the Palestinian regulations and laws, as if the military order does not exist.

In this way he hinted at the examination of alternatives for paying the money to which the prisoners are eligible.”

[Al-Jazeera.net website, May 6, 2020]
Headline: “Palestinian banks close the prisoners’ accounts for fear of being targeted by the occupation”

“Mahmoud Hammash, a resident of the Deheisheh refugee camp in Bethlehem, which is in the southern West Bank, was released from the Israeli occupation’s prison in 2018 after 14 years of imprisonment (PMW was unable to determine the nature of his crimes –Ed.). Since his release, he has been receiving the salary from the PA to which he is eligible as a former prisoner, in accordance with the [PA] Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners, through a bank that is active in the Palestinian territories.

But on Tuesday [May 5, 2020], at the time of the payment of the salary, Mahmoud was surprised by a letter informing about the cancellation of his ATM card and urging him to close his account at the bank, because soon an Israeli army order banning cooperation with the prisoners’ salaries would come into effect (refers to the application of much of Israel's Anti-Terror Law to the West Bank, including rendering banks liable to punishment for facilitating PA terror salaries -Ed.)…

Hammash is considering contacting another bank, but fears that the pressures will reach all the banks. He has demanded that the PA and the [PA] Monetary Authority stand against the occupation’s policy…

Many families have talked about a similar process that was not implemented only against released prisoners, but also included salaries of prisoners who are still imprisoned in the occupation’s prison. This is what happened to the family of prisoner Khaled Nawawreh (Nawawreh is serving a sentence of 25 years in prison, but PMW was unable to determine the nature of his crimes –Ed.) from Bethlehem who has been imprisoned since 2003. On Wednesday they contacted [the bank] to withdraw the salary, and the bank conditioned this on closing the account before withdrawing the money…

Despite the many complaints, Palestinian [PA] Monetary Authority Governor Azzam Al-Shawa… said that as of now ‘The banks have not closed accounts’ …

In contrast to these statements, Director of [PLO] Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs Qadri Abu Bakr confirmed to [the UK Arab news website] Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that two of the banks that are active in Palestine have decided to close the prisoners’ accounts, because they fear the Israeli army order that was signed on Feb. 9 [2020] and will take effect on May 9 [2020].

Abu Bakr added: ‘The banks are afraid of dealing with the money of the prisoners and released prisoners, and are afraid that proceedings will be taken against them, including lawsuits by settlers.’

Abu Bakr noted that a meeting was held with the banks, the Monetary Authority, and the [PA] Ministry of Finance, and that an additional meeting will be held with the prisoners’ institutions in order to search for an opening. He anticipated that the issue would end at the start of next week, because they are discussing a number of proposals to extricate the bank (sic., banks) from the crisis and protect the prisoners’ salaries, in order to reach an appropriate and safe solution…

Qadri Abu Bakr noted that the goal of these measures is to define the Palestinian struggle as a crime and eliminate the Palestinian cause…

It should be noted that [the Israeli news website] Arutz Sheva revealed last month… that former Head of the Military Prosecution for the West Bank and Palestinian Media Watch Director [of Legal Strategies] Maurice Hirsch sent the Palestinian banks a letter warning them about being arrested and put on trial.”

[Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, UK Arab news website, May 7, 2020]


Maurice Hirsch Adv. and Itamar Marcus

Source: https://palwatch.org/page/17909

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