Saturday, December 2, 2017

UN Security Council Meets Again on North Korean Missile Test - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

Calls for solidarity in isolating regime undercut by UN bureaucracy hiring of North Korean national.

Following the latest intercontinental ballistic missile launch by North Korea, its most powerful one yet, United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the UN Security Council on Wednesday November 29th at an emergency meeting requested by the United States and Japan. The missile, according to expert estimates, has a potential range of more than 8,000 miles, which would confirm the boast by North Korea’s official media that the missile is “capable of striking the whole mainland of the United States.” Mr. Feltman noted that the latest missile firing was North Korea’s “third test of a ballistic missile of apparent intercontinental range in less than six months and its twentieth ballistic missile launch this year.” The regime, he added, had not bothered to issue any airspace or maritime safety notifications before the missile descended into the sea in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

“Given the grave risks associated with any military confrontation, in exercise of its primary responsibility the Security Council needs to do all it can to prevent an escalation. Unity in the Security Council is critical,” Mr. Feltman said. “Security Council unity also creates an opportunity for sustained diplomatic engagement – an opportunity that must be seized in these dangerous times to seek off-ramps and work to create conditions for negotiations.”

The UN sanctions continue to be evaded and have had no discernible effect to date on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s calculations. He would evidently rather see his people suffer starvation than give up the nuclear arms protection he considers necessary against any perceived external threat to his regime’s survival. North Korea shows no signs of any interest in negotiations unless they result in the lifting of sanctions and acceptance of North Korea as a full-fledged nuclear armed state. North Korea’s official media claimed that the regime had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power.”

In her remarks to the Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that North Korea was proceeding down a dangerous path, which required the international community to “further isolate the Kim regime.” She declared that North Korea’s latest missile test “brings the world closer to war, not farther from it.”

In addition to demanding full implementation of existing UN sanctions, which Ambassador Haley claimed some unnamed nations were not doing, she called upon “all nations to cut off all ties with North Korea.” This would mean severing diplomatic relations, stopping all imports and exports, expelling all North Korean workers, and taking away its voting power at the UN and other UN rights and privileges.

China, Ambassador Haley added, needs to do more to bring economic pressure to bear on North Korea. She recounted a discussion that morning between President Trump and Chinese President Xi in which President Trump said it was now time for China to “cut off the oil from North Korea.” If China does not take this forceful step on its own, “we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” Ambassador Haley added. She also warned North Korea that, while the United States does not seek war, “if war comes, make no mistake, the North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed.”

Both China and Russia reiterated their proposal for a mutual freeze under which North Korea would freeze its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in exchange for a freeze on joint large-scale military exercises by the United States and South Korea. While both countries criticized North Korea for continuing its nuclear and missile programs and urged North Korea to abide by all relevant Security Council resolutions, neither country called for further economic sanctions or isolation of the North Korean regime. Both called for resumption of negotiations.

China avoided any direct criticism of the United States at the Security Council meeting. Russia, however, questioned the U.S.’s sincerity that it is interested in a peaceful solution while conducting military maneuvers and exercises, imposing unilateral sanctions and deploying the THAAD missile system in South Korea. Russia, of course, is the exemplar of insincerity, helping North Korea to evade the UN sanctions.

“Russia supports actions that benefit Russia. Russia purports to support sanctions against North Korea, but in practice supports North Korea in its effort to evade sanctions,” said Geoff Hellman, Chairman and CEO of the Economic Policy Forum. “Russia employs criminal networks to set up front companies in Singapore, for example, to transship oil.” Russia has also been “training North Korean students in transportation and logistics,” according to a Washington Times report.

Russia tries to hide behind its feigned concern for humanitarian conditions in North Korea. Its UN ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia said that sanctions should not be used to strangle North Korea economically and deliberately worsen the humanitarian situation there. He said this with a straight face, forgetting the humanitarian disaster the Russian military and its allies have inflicted in Syria and elsewhere.

The UN’s Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman also raised humanitarian concerns towards the end of his briefing to the Security Council, noting that “the United Nations and other humanitarian actors play a critical role in saving the lives of the most vulnerable” in North Korea. “Member States are again reminded of the need to support the life-saving activities carried out by humanitarian organizations in the country.”

The United Nations has a team working in North Korea, presumably to serve the humanitarian needs of its people. Mr. Feltman failed to provide credible assurances that monies intended for funding the UN’s in-country humanitarian and development programs, for which over $100 million have been requested, are adequately protected from being diverted by the regime for other purposes. The UN has been caught in the past contributing hard currency and other resources for the benefit of the North Korean regime rather than for the benefit of the North Korean people.

Mr. Feltman also failed to explain how a North Korean national now working in his own Department of Political Affairs at UN headquarters in New York has anything to do with helping to ameliorate the suffering of the North Korea people. In a less than fully transparent fashion, the UN Secretariat in New York this past October appointed a North Korean national, selected by the North Korean regime, to serve as a Junior Professional Officer in the Department of Political Affairs’ electoral division. A spokesperson for the Department of Political Affairs declined to identify the individual. Inner City Press has exclusively reported, however, that “he is the son of a Worker's Party official.”

The Department of Political Affairs spokesperson and another UN official I spoke with claimed that North Korea itself was paying the salary and benefits received by the North Korean selected by the regime and appointed by the UN for the one-year Junior Professional Officer position. My request for a copy of the memorandum of understanding signed between the UN and the North Korean regime covering the arrangements for this appointment was rebuffed. There was also reportedly another male North Korean national working at the UN’s New York Secretariat as of last year, according to a UN source cited by NK News. Where the funding for his salary came from is unknown.

How on earth can the North Korean national currently working in the UN’s Department of Political Affairs, the son of a party apparatchik growing up in a totalitarian state, assist other countries organizing their elections, the electoral division’s supposed mission?  Absolutely nothing. Assuming that North Korea is really paying his salary, he is not there for such a purpose in any event. His value is to serve as a plant for the North Korean regime, which has arranged for his placement within a key department of the UN Secretariat where he can scoop up valuable intelligence for his state sponsor. If Ambassador Haley is serious about taking away North Korea’s UN rights and privileges as long as it continues its nuclear arms and ballistic missile programs, she should start with the modest step of insisting that any North Korean national working at UN headquarters be sent home immediately.

Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.


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From Amman to Jerusalem - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Thanks to decades of antisemitic incitement at the hands of his media, school system and religious authorities, the people of Jordan are overwhelmingly antisemitic. And this suits Abdullah just fine.

Abdullah Pence

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

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

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

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

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

It took the intervention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the life-threatening crisis. The price Jordan’s King Abdullah II exacted for the freedom and protection of Israel’s diplomatic personnel was high. In exchange for their safe passage, Netanyahu agreed to permit Jordanian officials to be present during Moyal’s questioning by Israeli officials. He also succumbed to Abdullah’s demand that Israeli police remove metal detectors from the Temple Mount, which had been deployed a few days before amid wide-scale violence by Muslim worshipers against Jews.

Since its diplomats were evacuated in July, Israel’s embassy has been closed. Jordan has refused to permit Schlein to return to her duties and has insisted that Moyal be tried for the death of his assailant and his landlord.

It was reported Wednesday that in the interest of ending the diplomatic crisis and reopening Israel’s embassy, Netanyahu has decided to promote Schlein to a senior position in the Foreign Ministry and appoint a replacement.

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

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

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

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

More often than not, Abdullah, who is touted by the US as a moderate leader and a US ally, spends his visits in Washington lobbying against Israel. And, given his reputation as a moderate, he is usually successful.

This week’s visit was no different.

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

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

By December 4, Trump will have to sign a semi-annual waiver of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

The act requires the State Department to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. If Trump doesn’t sign the waiver, the embassy will automatically be moved to Jerusalem, in accordance with the law.

Speculation that Trump may refuse to sign the waiver was raised this week by Vice President Mike Pence. In his speech at a UN event marking the 70th anniversary of the UN vote to end the British Mandate in the land of Israel and partition the land between a Jewish state and an Arab state, Pence made clear that moving the embassy is being actively discussed.

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

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

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

It can only be hoped that Abdullah’s warnings were rebuked by his American interlocutors.
Because, if terrorists are motivated to act in the wake of a US decision to move the embassy, Jordan will hold a significant share of the blame.

To understand why, it is important to remember what happened last July in Amman. Had Abdullah ordered his media organs to either tell the truth about what happened at Moyal’s apartment or simply not report the incident at all until the embassy staff were safely in Israel, the diplomatic crisis would have been averted.

Abdullah chose, instead, to stoke the passions of his people, which wasn’t difficult. Thanks to decades of antisemitic incitement at the hands of his media, school system and religious authorities, the people of Jordan are overwhelmingly antisemitic. And this suits Abdullah just fine. He, too, is largely sympathetic to anti-Israeli terrorism and terrorists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moreover, freed from the need to pretend that Iran is a credible actor in the international community, Trump can base US policy toward Iran on reality.

No, Trump has not mapped out a clear strategy for containing and scaling back Iranian power. If he had, the US would have stopped arming and funding the Iranian-controlled Lebanese Armed Forces by now.

But, at least he hasn’t based an Iran policy on fantasy as his predecessor Barack Obama did.
Moreover, even the limited steps Trump has taken toward developing a strategy for dealing with Iran have been effective and rational. For instance, to protect the nuclear deal and maintain its claim that Iran was formally complying with its terms, the Obama administration paid the Iranian regime $8.6 million to buy heavy water that Iran produced in excess of the quantities permitted under the nuclear deal.

This week, the White House announced that it would stop this practice. As a National Security Council spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon, “The United States is not planning to purchase any Iranian heavy water. We have made it clear to Iran that it is their responsibility to remain under the heavy water limit.”

In summary, disaster did not strike after Trump bucked the collected wisdom of the entire foreign policy elite in Washington, including his top three national security advisers. To the contrary, things improved. By basing his policy on reality, Trump expanded his maneuver room, empowered US allies and began basing US policies toward Iran on reality.

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

By calling the bluff of the myriad experts that insist recognizing reality will bring war, Trump can expand US power, credibility and deterrence in an unstable region. Far from causing a war, Trump can diminish the chance of war by demanding that Jordan and other disingenuous allies stop empowering jihadists and terrorists.

To this end, rather than heeding Abdullah’s threats of violence, Trump can tell Abdullah to prevent that violence by ending his media’s antisemitic incitement; extraditing Tamimi to the US; accepting the credentials of the Israeli ambassador; and reopening the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Truth is a powerful weapon. Once you base your foreign policy on it, there is no limit to the potential effectiveness of that policy in preventing war and expanding the prospects of true and lasting peace.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 

Caroline Glick


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Palestinian Reconciliation At An Impasse - C. Jacob

by C. Jacob

The tension and disputes between the PA and Hamas came to a head at the conference of Palestinian factions in Cairo on November 21, 2017, when representatives of Egyptian intelligence were forced to wield all their influence to keep the talks from falling apart.

Several weeks after the signing of the October 12, 2017 reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, the euphoria that had initially been felt on the Palestinian street, and even more so in political circles, seems to be waning, and there are increasing doubts as to the possibility of reaching an understanding between the sides. The disagreements are over several issues: the weapons of the various Palestinian factions; the transfer of responsibilities, including for security, from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority (PA); control of the border crossings, in particular the Rafah crossing, and the future of Gaza civil servants. In the background are also Hamas's demands that the PA lift its sanctions on Gaza, stop the arrests of Hamas operatives in the West Bank, and halt the security coordination with Israel.

The tension and disputes between the PA and Hamas came to a head at the conference of Palestinian factions in Cairo on November 21, 2017, at which representatives of Egyptian intelligence were forced to wield all their influence to keep the talks from falling apart. The PA insisted that Hamas first of all meet the demand of tamkin (i.e., allow the PA's national consensus government, headed by Rami Hamdallah, to exercise full authority in Gaza), in all spheres, including security. Hamas's representatives claimed that this has already been done, and demanded to focus on other issues, such as the PLO reform and the holding of elections. As for Hamas's demand that the PA lift its sanctions on Gaza, the PA objected to the use of the term "sanctions". Eventually it was agreed that an Egyptian delegation would oversee the handover of authority. PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani tried to bring up the issue of the weapons, but the factions rejected this out of hand and stopped the discussion.[1]
The crisis between Fatah and Hamas was sharply reflected in an interview given by PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh, who said: "So far Hamas has not allowed the [PA] government to govern [Gaza] on the administrative, financial or security [levels]. The scope of the PA's authority in Gaza is only about five percent."[2] An editorial in the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida likewise stated that Hamas merely wants the PA to extricate it from its economic and social crisis, and does not intend to grant it any genuine authority in Gaza.[3] (For a translation of excerpts from the editorial, see the Appendix to this report).

The deputy head of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Ahmad Bahar of Hamas, said: "The [PA] government will be able to exercise its authority in Gaza only after the siege on Gaza is lifted and the PA's security coordination with Israel stops.[4] These conditions make the possibility of reconciliation even more remote.

The signing of the reconciliation agreement in Cairo (image:, October 13, 2017)
This report reviews the main disputes between Fatah/the PA and Hamas that are impeding the reconciliation.

The Main Point Of Contention: The Weapons Of The Palestinian Factions, In Particular Hamas's Military Wing 

The issue of the weapons has been casting a shadow on the reconciliation process from the start, and highlights the scope of the disagreement between the two sides. Hamas firmly asserts that the issue is beyond debate, since its weapons are intended for use against Israel. For example, Hamas political bureau head Moussa Abu Marzouq said in an interview with the Turkish news agency Andolu: "Hamas will under no circumstances agree to negotiate with Fatah over the weapons of its military wing. This issue has never been discussed in the past and will not be discussed in the future. The weapons of the resistance are intended for the defense of the Palestinian people, and the resistance cannot conceivably cast down its weapons as long as its land is occupied and its people are living in exile."[5]

As for the PA and Fatah, their position on this matter is more complex. Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas has consistently stressed that there must be only one government, one law and one armed force. Other PA officials made contradictory statements, some opposing Hamas's disarmament and others advocating it. Among the former were Fatah official and former PA minister Ahmad Ghneim, who said: "The weapons of the resistance must be regarded as one of the assets of the Palestinian people in the struggle against the occupation, and they do not belong exclusively to one faction or another. Everyone zealously clings to these weapons and will never agree to surrender them or give them up."[6] Fatah representative in Bethlehem 'Awni Al-Mashni said, in a similar vein: "The weapons of the government are not weapons of liberation, but are intended to protect the safety of society and are not in dispute. Conversely, the weapons of the factions are meant to be weapons of national liberation... Whoever surrenders his arms and then negotiates violates the most basic law of politics – that you talk about weapons, even if their impact is small, only at the final [stages of] negotiations, not at the beginning."[7]

Among the advocates of disarmament, who are lately being heard more and more, were Fatah official 'Azzam Al-Ahmad, who said at the close of the talks between the two sides: "The Palestinian weapons must be one, regardless of various terms like 'weapons of the resistance,' etc."[8] PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein Al-Sheikh said in his interview: "There will no longer be such a thing as 'the weapons of the factions'... We will not allow any weapons apart from those of the single armed [force] of the [PA] authorities."[9] The Al-Hayat Al-Jadida editorial took a similar line (see Appendix).

The Dispute Over Authorities, Including Security Control

The dispute between Fatah and Hamas deepened even further over the issue of security control. PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah clarified that the PA could not govern Gaza if it was not given charge of security: "The border crossings in the [Gaza] Strip will not be able to function without [the PA being in charge of] security... The government cannot continue [functioning in Gaza] without clear solutions for the security issue."[10]

Hamas officials said in response that Hamdallah's remarks, and the PA's failure to lift the sanctions on Gaza, indicated an unwillingness on the part of the PA to implement the reconciliation. The Hamas Interior Ministry expressed puzzlement over PA officials' statements about the border crossings, saying that they were attempting to "circumvent the mechanism for implementing the reconciliation process."[11]

Nor did the transfer of other authorities go smoothly. PA and Fatah officials complained that some Hamas ministries and bodies refused to hand over control to the PA. The Ministry of the Environment, for example, delayed the process, and the Land Registration Bureau was not handed over at all due to the refusal of its head to give up his authorities in Gaza.

The PA Al-Hayat Al-Jadida daily reported that the Hamas authorities had damaged the Tel Al-Sakan archeological site by destroying the fence that had been built around it to protect it and leveling the area, and had barred the PA archeological team from entering the site and threatened its members – although a Gaza court had issued a restraining order to halt operations at the site following protests about damage caused to it.[12]

In the meantime, Fatah and Hamas have agreed, with Egyptian sponsorship, to postpone the deadline for the full transfer of authorities from December 1, the date specified in the reconciliation agreement, to December 10.[13]

Hamas Opposes The Firing Of Civil Servants It Has Appointed Since 2007

The reconciliation agreement states that the PA government would, by February 1, 2018, establish a judicial administrative committee to draw up solutions for the problem of Gaza civil servants. The issue at hand is the payment of salaries to civil servants who were appointed by Hamas over the past decade, and at the same time bringing back in the PA employees who left their positions after the Hamas coup in Gaza. Against this backdrop, senior Hamas official Rohi Mushtaha expressed the movement's objections to the replacement of civil servants appointed by Hamas with those appointed by the PA, and declared that the Hamas employees "will not be removed and will not be fired."[14] It should be noted that at this point the PA is unable to pay the salaries of some 40,000 civil servants appointed by Hamas after its takeover of Gaza.

The Dispute Over The Border Crossings 

A serious PA-Hamas dispute also emerged regarding the Rafah border crossing. Fatah members argued that the crossing would be operated according to the crossings agreement of 2005, under which European observers would be stationed at the crossings. According to senior Fatah official 'Azzam Al-Ahmad, it was agreed with Hamas that the crossing would be opened as per the 2005 agreement, but Hamas then retracted its consent.[15] Senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya said in response: "We rejected the 2005 Rafah border crossing agreement in the past. This was concluded with the PA two years ago in Lebanon, and this is documented in the summaries of Hamas's meetings with PA representatives 'Azzam Al-Ahmad, Hussein Al-Sheikh, and Majed Faraj."[16] It should be noted that the Rafah crossing is currently closed, although according to the reconciliation agreement it was to have been opened on November 15.

The transfer of the administration of the crossings to the PA was about to fall apart because PA representatives insisted that Hamas members, both civilian and military, not remain at the crossings, while according to Hamas this constituted a violation of the agreement. In light of threats by PA border crossing administrator Nizmi Mihana to quit, the Egyptian mediators persuaded Hamas official Ghazi Hamad, who is in charge of the border crossings in Gaza, to comply with the PA's demand and to hand the crossings over no matter what. In response, the Hamas security apparatus departed from the Rafah crossing and from the roadblocks near the Erez and the Kerem Shalom crossings, leaving them in the hands of PA representatives who came with limited manpower – only 70 personnel to administer three border crossings.[17] As a result, security chaos reigned, with some of the residents taking advantage of the situation to steal equipment and vehicles.[18]

In reaction to these events, senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouq said that the PA was not interested in cooperating with Hamas, but only in gaining exclusive control over Gaza, and noted: "The handover of the Rafah crossing was carried out improperly, not as agreed. Any agreement that is unjust and does not honor what was agreed will not succeed."[19]

Cartoon in Hamas daily Al-Risalah: PA President 'Abbas relaxes at the closed Rafah crossing (, November 16, 2017).
The Effect Of Inter-Arab And International Rivalries 

The chances of the reconciliation's success are also impacted by the struggles among the Arab countries, as well as by international rivalries. The PA is considered part of the Arab world's moderate axis, along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE, while Hamas is currently revitalizing its relations with the Shi'ite-Alawite resistance axis, led by Iran, relations that had been close but gradually frayed after the Arab Spring. At one point, Hamas drew closer to Turkey and Qatar, seeing them as a source of support, until this relationship too became shaky. The lesson learned by the Hamas leaders was not to pick a single axis to align themselves with, but to leave themselves room to maneuver. Today, Hamas belongs to no axis, and has good relations with both Iran/Hizbullah and with Egypt. There have also been reports that it may be improving its relations with Syria; however, tension between it and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states remain.

Despite The Disagreements, Both Hamas And Fatah Are Committed To Reconciliation 

Despite all the disagreements, tensions, and mutual accusations between Fatah and Hamas, spokesmen for both movements are careful to state that there is no turning back from the reconciliation, so that they will not be accused of thwarting it. Senior Fatah official 'Azzam Al-Ahmad said after the November 21 Cairo dialogue that the sides had agreed that all obstacles to implementing the reconciliation would be removed by election time. He said: "The Palestinian schism is the handiwork of several international elements, but faced with our will, no power on earth will divide the Palestinian people."[20] Yahya Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, said: "The schism is in the interest of the occupation, and we, as Palestinian, patriots, and Muslims, must not permit this situation to continue."[21]

Appendix: November 27, 2017 Al-Hayat Al-Jadida Editorial 

"What is the connection between, on the one hand, giving the national reconciliation government the possibility of exercising its authority and functioning fully in the southern districts, and on the other hand the weapons of the resistance – which Hamas spokesman [Sami] Abu Zuhri claims in the media are the weapons of the militias of his movement, the ['Izz Al-Din] Al-Qassam Brigades? How does allowing [the government to exercise its authority] become an 'attempt to subordinate' the weapons of the resistance, if they do indeed exist, when allowing this is aimed only at establishing security and order in the southern districts and letting the government continue its activity as it does in the northern districts? Likewise, as noted, the weapons of the Al-Qassam [Brigades] are not the weapons of the resistance, but are the weapons of a particular faction. These weapons are, to some extent, a manifestation of the loss of security control; specifically, these weapons were used against the legitimate rule in Gaza [in the anti-PA coup that concluded, in June 2007, with the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip], and they killed more [PA] members than they harmed soldiers of the Israeli occupation!!!...

"Abu Zuhri knows that there is no connection between these [two] things, but he is clinging to his movement's worn-out slogans so as to avoid the day when the obligations for the reconciliation must be met, and in order to circumvent the agreement in this matter. Thus, Abu Zuhri reveals that his movement's attitude to the reconciliation agreement is for show and for media purposes [only] – and thus he proves, unknowingly and unwillingly of course – the truth and rightness of the words of Fatah leader Mahmoud Al-'Aloul and, later, of Fatah Central Committee member Hussein Al-Sheikh – that the government's ability [to exercise its authority in the Gaza Strip] is still token, and not genuine, and its scope is no greater than 5%.

"'Aloul and Al-Sheikh did not talk about 'weapons of the resistance' but about strengthening the government, and about the issue of security, where not even a minimum of progress has been achieved... Strengthening the government according to the reconciliation agreement means, simply, that the government will receive [responsibility for] all ministries, institutions, and departments in the southern districts, in order to establish a single ruling authority and a single law – a law that will protect security and stability and will not, ultimately, allow the weapons of the militias to violate any decision made by this single law – because the single law cannot coexist with the weapons of the militias, and is in no way compatible with them.

"But it appears that all Hamas wants is for the reconciliation government to extricate it from its economic and social crisis and, in the best case scenario, for it to run the affairs of the municipalities – nothing more and nothing less!!! In fact, it seems clear that Hamas is not interested at all in leaving power – as Isma'il Haniya said three years ago: 'We have left the government and have not left power.' This is the situation today [as well], in light of [Hamas's] policy, which turned the matter of strengthening the government into something token, not genuine at all.

"There are many examples proving this reality, and perhaps one of them, now, is the misleading declarations by Abu Zuhri that contradict reality and are even stated in the loathsome language of schism, blame, and tension.

"But the national reconciliation is the responsibility of the national echelon, which will not back down from executing it as required, because it is meant to remove the suffering from the shoulders of our people in the southern districts, so that they can honorably restore the health of their daily lives. The national reconciliation is not aimed at takeover, nor at sectarian division, but at securing the national future by rebuilding national unity on the strongest of foundations. [This is] so that we will continue the path to freedom, until the actualization of all the just goals of our people, and until the restoration of all its rights by overcoming the occupation, actualizing independence in the State of Palestine whose capital is East Jerusalem, and by means of a permanent and just solution to the issue of the refugees.

"There is no way back from the reconciliation, and there is no bargaining over its lofty goals. The last word is in the hands of the patroness [of the reconciliation] – sister Egypt."

*C. Jacob is a research fellow at MEMRI.

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), November 23, 2017.
[2], November 25, 2017.
[3] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 27, 2017.
[4], November 24, 2017.
[5], September 28, 2017, October 19, 2017.
[6], October 15, 2017.
[7], October 10, 2017.
[8], November 23, 2017.
[9], November 25, 2017.
[10], November 6, 2017.
[11], November 7, 2017.
[12], November 4, 2017; Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), November 6, 2017.
[13] Al-Ayyam (PA), November 30, 2017.
[14], October 12, 2017.
[15], November 15, 2017.
[16], November 16, 2017.
[17] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), November 2, 2017.
[18] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), November 2, 2017.
[19], November 1, 2017.
[20], November 22, 2017.
[21], November 16, 2017.

C. Jacob is a research fellow at MEMRI.


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'We won't allow Iran to acquire nukes, entrench itself in Syria' - Chana Roberts

by Chana Roberts

Ahead of Saban Forum in Washington, PM Netanyahu says Israel 'won't allow a regime bent on destroying Israel to acquire nuclear weapons.'

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke in a video about Israel's policy regarding Iran's nuclear program.

The video was recorded on Thursday and released on Saturday. It will be aired Sunday at the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum in Washington, D.C.

"Let me reiterate Israel's policy," Netanyahu said. "We will not allow a regime hell-bent on the annihilation of the Jewish state to acquire nuclear weapons."

"We will not allow that regime to entrench itself militarily in Syria as it seeks to do for the express purpose of eradicating our state."

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Israel reportedly attacked a military base 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) south of Damascus and 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Israel's border. According to some reports, the base in question was intended for use by Iranian forces.

Iran is currently establishing a military base in Syria, filling the gap left by ISIS' defeat. In August, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen warned that the Iranian regime is expanding its control across the Middle East through proxy forces in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen.

Last Sunday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a message to Netanyahu that he was ready to discuss disarmament of the Golan Heights up to 40 kilometers (29 miles) from the separation line.

Chana Roberts


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"I am not American," said the Islamist; "I am Muslim" - Majid Rafizadeh

by Majid Rafizadeh

Islamist beliefs are supposed to take priority over anything else, including family and friends.

  • For Islamists, non-Muslim land is different from Muslim land. Many can never identify themselves with a Western land -- or with a flag or nationality -- even though they may have been born in that land and their families may have lived there for generations.
  • When people are brainwashed not to identify themselves with a flag and a nationality, it disrupts the human connections and communications that need to take place within communities. It pits the indoctrinated person against the entire society and his own countrymen, and develops an "us versus them" mentality.
  • This view brings with it a wish for waging jihad against one's birth country. It creates the priority -- if the country attacking it is ruled by shari'ah -- of joining the enemy to fight against one's birth country.
Several years ago, when first in the United States on a teaching scholarship, one issue leapt out. A man asked an innocent enough question: Where I was from? I told him; then, as a courtesy, asked him the same question.

"I am a Muslim," he smiled.

Thinking that perhaps he had not understood the question -- he sounded American or English -- I asked if he was from the United States.

"I am not American," he said again; "I am a Muslim."

I subsequently learned that he was an Islamist, a preacher of strict religious teachings, and that many of the people to whom he preached held the same views.

In Iran and Syria, where I was born and raised, I had never before heard this answer.

Later, while speaking in Europe, these notions kept resurfacing. Radical Islamists, particularly in Britain and France, proclaim themselves first to be Muslim. Even when they speak with English, French or American accents, they do not name their countries -- even to me, someone from the Middle East.

Their response signals a reason for concern in the countries they live in now. To begin with, for Islamists, non-Muslim land is different from Muslim land. Many can never identify themselves with a Western land -- or with a flag or nationality -- even though they may have been born in that land and their families may have lived there for generations.

This view is far different from that in the Middle East.

One day, I asked an American imam why he did not identify himself as an American. Millions of people, I said to him, dream of coming to the US and becoming Americans; why would anyone want to reject this?

He quoted said one of the founding fathers of Islamist thoughts, Sayyid Qutb:
"The homeland of the Muslim, in which he lives and which he defends, is not a piece of land; the nationality of the Muslim, by which he is identified, is not the nationality determined by a government; the family of the Muslim, in which he finds solace and which he defends, is not blood relationships; the flag of the Muslim, which he honors and under which he is martyred, is not the flag of a country; and the victory of the Muslim, which he celebrates and for which he is thankful to God, is not a military victory."
What became apparent was that Western Islamists were far more strict and fundamentalist than the Islamists in the Middle East with whom I had grown up. Once, when I mentioned the name of a deceased imam in a casual conversation with an American Islamist preacher and some of his followers, I forgot to attach a piece of religious praise to the name such as "Allah's peace be upon him." There was a chill. The conversation came to a halt. The American Islamist preacher and his followers did not hesitate to express their anger.

What you end up seeing is that when people are brainwashed not to identify themselves with a flag and a nationality, it disrupts the human connections and communications that need to take place within communities. It pits the indoctrinated person against the entire society and his own countrymen, and develops an "us versus them" mentality. The indoctrinated group then wants to create its own group. For Islamists, it is an ummah (borderless Islamic community). Emotion and sympathy for fellow countrymen disappear; people feel isolated from other citizens, and view themselves as separate. Respect for the social order and the laws of the land vanish, as Islamic laws become more vital and obedience is then just to shari'ah.

Islamist teachings in the West appear to focus on indoctrinating followers to identify themselves with Islamist ideals rather than with a nationality. Moreover, Islamist beliefs are supposed to take priority over anything else, including family and friends.

The teachings of these Islamist preachers further echo what Sayed Qutb said:
"A Muslim has no relationship with his mother, father, brother, wife and other family members except through their relationship with [Allah], and then they are also joined through blood. A Muslim has no country except that part of the earth where the Shari'ah of God is established and human relationships are based on the foundation of relationship with God; a Muslim has no nationality except his belief, which makes him a member of the Muslim community in Dar-ul-Islam; a Muslim has no relatives except those who share the belief in God, and thus a bond is established between him and other Believers through their relationship with God."
Do these Western Islamists then ever identify themselves with their land and flag? Not, according to their teachings, until the law of the land is shari'ah. As Syed Qutb also stated:
"The fatherland is that place where the Islamic faith, the Islamic way of life and the Shari'ah of God is dominant; only this meaning of 'fatherland' is worth of the human being. There is only one place on earth which can be called the home of Islam (Dar-ul-Islam), and it is that place where the Islamic state is established and the Shari'ah is the authority and God's limits are observed, and where all the Muslims administer the affairs of the state with mutual consultation. The rest of the world is the home of hostility (Dar-ul-Harb). A Muslim can have only two possible relations with Dar-ul-Harb: peace with a contractual agreement, or war. A country with which there is a treaty will not be considered the home of Islam."
This view brings with it a wish for waging jihad (war in the cause of Islam) against one's birth country. It creates the priority -- if the country attacking it is ruled by shari'ah -- of joining the enemy to fight against one's birth country.
"The honor of martyrdom is achieved only when one is fighting in the cause of God, and if one is killed for any other purpose, this honor will not be attained."

When people are brainwashed not to identify themselves with a flag and a nationality, it disrupts the human connections and communications that need to take place within communities. It pits the indoctrinated person against the entire society and his own countrymen, and develops an "us versus them" mentality. Pictured: Muslims demonstrate in Sydney, Australia, September 15, 2012. (Image source: Jamie Kennedy/Flickr)

Western governments need seriously to address these prevailing extreme Islamist beliefs, which have significant social, political, and security implications in their countries. These beliefs are the foundations of disrupting the social order, peace, freedom, democracy, human rights, and security. If allowed to continue, these beliefs will become more rampant, and the consequences more severe.

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Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategic advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He is the author of "Peaceful Reformation in Iran's Islam". He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu.


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Feminists on the injustice of pregnancy - Daren Jonescu

by Daren Jonescu

The proper progressive woman's position toward pregnancy and motherhood -- is defiance, the fist of war, angry violence against nature, hatred.

Korea's recently-elected progressive government has announced plans to begin "research" on the country's restrictive abortion laws, which, of course, is another way of saying they are going to get the ball rolling on legalizing abortion.

This initiative is merely an effort to bring the letter of the law into sync with the spirit of national decay, since many thousands of illegal abortions are performed in Korea every year, and public opinion, especially among the younger generations, tilts hard in the direction of complete legalization. (I'll have a lot to say about this in the near future, as I have recently had the misfortune, through a research project, of coming face to face with the disturbing amorality of young Koreans on this issue -- so disturbing, in fact, that I have forestalled writing about it publicly out of sheer dismay and nausea at the truth I have been forced to accept about the people with whom I spend much of my time, namely young middle class Koreans.)

For the predictable details of the abortion activism, I refer you to the news article linked here, from The Blaze. Today, I merely wish to draw attention to the particularly telling symbolism chosen by the feminist vanguard for protestors' signs in this latest front in the progressives' global war against human life, which accompanies the Blaze piece. (Full image of protestors at link)

As you can see, the photo shows a group of smiling, placard-wielding activists. I wish to draw your attention to the artwork on those placards, which is, in my opinion, the most pithy, almost eloquent distillation of the essence of feminism that you will see anywhere.

In brief, the placards depict a simple variation on the typical portrayal of the myth of Sisyphus, with the king pushing a boulder up a mountain changed to a woman pushing a womb with a developing fetus in it up that same mountain. The Korean words next to the image read, "Stop the crackdown on abortion -- abortion is a woman's choice." In the top left corner of the placard we see a small female or "Venus" symbol, with a clenched red fist inside, the standard iconography of progressive assertions of revolutionary "power."

To begin with, the juxtaposition of those two icons -- the womb containing a fetus (bad) vs. the Venus symbol containing a fist (good) -- says it all. The story here is simple: defiance against pregnancy -- against the injustice of motherhood.

And make no mistake about it: from the progressive egalitarian perspective, motherhood really is unjust, simply because it is a burden that women bear, but men do not.

"But it's a natural fact!" might seem a rational reply to you, but not to a progressive. Progressivism is, and has been since its earliest instantiations in 19th Century German idealism, an anti-nature ideology. Progressives are, in theory and in practice, rebels against the imperatives of nature. (Environmentalism is not a pro-nature position, by the way. It is merely one of the cleverest delusions or self-delusions in the progressive rebellion against human nature.) All the neo-Marxist "systemic oppression" theorizing is, in the end, mere marginalia used to make the basic position seem more rational. The basic position is this: Nature is unfair and regressive; a new, self-generated humanity must liberate itself from nature's imperatives in order to live in the freedom and justice of the artificially contrived and controlled society.

Hence, the proper progressive woman's position toward pregnancy and motherhood -- toward the womb full of developing natural life -- is defiance, the fist of war, angry violence against nature, hatred. In short, feminism.

And to understand what freedom means to progressives, and hence why they seem constitutionally incapable of understanding notions such as the rule of law, limited government, and individual responsibility, consider more carefully the main image, the female Sisyphus pushing an impregnated womb up a mountain.

Sisyphus is pushing that boulder up a mountain as a punishment from the gods -- "Nature" in non-religious parlance. The keys to his ordeal are that it is (a) inescapable, and (b) never-ending: that boulder will roll back down the slope at the moment he reaches the summit, and he will have no choice but to start his grueling labor yet again. The combination of inescapability and perpetuity forms the essence of the gods' punishment of Sisyphus.

The briefest comparison of this situation to the feminists' laments about the "fate" of pregnancy reveals the inanity of the analogy. The Sisyphean labor is by design futile. The labor of pregnancy results in new human life, a sea of potential meaning and happiness for both the new child and the parent.

Sisyphus can never leave his painful labors behind; he must work all his life toward a goal he knows to be unattainable -- and worse than unattainable, a mockery of purposefulness. An expectant mother, by contrast, knows she has a very high likelihood of success in her endeavor, and that her mission is not only purposeful, but history's chief exemplar and metaphor of purposefulness itself.

And purposeful means more than merely "having a natural goal." It also means intentional, i.e., voluntarily aiming at a goal. This implication highlights the biggest problem with the feminist advocacy of abortion in the name of "a woman's freedom of choice."

King Sisyphus has an endlessly futile effort imposed on him by the gods as punishment for his avarice and deceitfulness. He was not deprived of his freedom of choice. His story is not one of unfreedom. On the contrary, he made his choices, and his burden was the natural result of those choices. Choices have consequences. Poor choices have undesirable consequences. The worst choices have the most undesirable consequences.

For the abortion advocates, the message here, unheard by them but ironically revealed within their own chosen imagery, is straightforward: If you don't want the burden of pregnancy, don't choose the one course of action that may be expected to result in pregnancy. The freedom to choose is yours. Choices have consequences. One who makes a choice with natural (but undesirable) consequences has no one to blame but herself when those consequences arise.

Sisyphus learns nothing if he blames his boulder for his own poor choices. If Sisyphus is a woman, and the burden resulting from her choices is motherhood, then blaming the "boulder" is not only folly, but the heights of immorality and unnaturalness. She is conveniently overlooking the real freedom of choice that she had, in favor of asserting the "freedom" to end a human life that she carelessly chose -- yes, poor choices are those with natural consequences we didn't sufficiently consider -- but which she now regards as an inconvenient burden.

To add to the perfection of the Korean feminists' abortion imagery -- the eloquence I noted above -- consider this: the gods punished King Sisyphus in part for his ultimate violation of the moral rule of hospitality, as he killed guests and other temporary travelers through his kingdom. The feminists, by choosing to adapt Sisyphean imagery for their own ends, and even to juxtapose it with a fist of power, brilliantly expose themselves as what they really are: sinfully inhospitable hostesses, who claim the "right" to invite temporary (and unwelcome) guests into their city only to kill them in a twisted conception of defending their own power.

Daren Jonescu writes about politics, philosophy, education, and the decline of civilization at


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