Friday, February 03, 2017

From Ian:

Obama sent $9.2B to UN, related groups in 2016
In its last year in office, the Obama Administration showered at least some $9.2 billion on the United Nations and its sprawling array of organizations, according to a document recently posted on the State Department website.
The total is gleaned from a document that summarizes U.S. government spending for international organizations, and is about 20 per cent higher than the $7.7 billion figure given out by State for 2010, before the Obama Administration abruptly quit providing any overall tally for its U.N. support.
The overall U.S. bill for international organizations of every stripe is just under $10.5 billion, meaning that U.N. organizations absorb about 88 per cent of such U.S. government spending.
The new tally includes nearly $360 million for the controversial United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, which is regularly accused of inculcating violent anti-Israel attitudes and even abetting terrorist attacks on Israel, which it strongly denies.
That is nearly a 50 per cent jump over the $238.3 million UNRWA got from the U.S. in 2010.
The UNRWA numbers, along with all the rest of the U.N. donations, are likely to come under fierce scrutiny in the weeks ahead, both from the Trump Administration, which wants to take a tough look at aligning its U.N. spending with national interests, and from Congress, which is frustrated by U.N. bloat and inefficiency, and often maddened by its anti-Israel biases.
Lawmakers look to get tough on UN
Lawmakers at a hearing Thursday called on the U.S. to get tough with the United Nations in response to a recent Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlement activity.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) called the U.N. a "politicized tool" at a hearing on Israel, Palestine and the U.N. before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittees dealing with the Middle East and international organizations.
Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, said she would reintroduce legislation to bring about tougher U.S. oversight of the world body.
Her bill — the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act, first introduced in 2015 — demands greater oversight of U.S. contributions to the U.N. and affiliated organizations.
"We now have the opportunity to grow and strengthen our alliance with Israel and show the world that we support our friends — we don't leave them out to dry," added Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who chairs the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.
Hillel Neuer Opening Statement at US Congress Subcommittee Hearing
Hillel Neuer's opening statement at the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Joint Subcommittee Hearing on Israel, the Palestinians, and the United Nations: Challenges for the New Administration. February 2, 2017


UNRWA Schools Exposed as Hotbed of Extremism in New 130-Page Report


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Beinart savages Kushner on refugees but gives Obama a pass
Indeed, herein lies the crux of Beinart’s hypocrisy. His condemnation of Kushner centers on his support for his father-in-law’s executive order for a temporary ban of refugees. For the record, I happen to agree that even a temporary ban should not be implemented – even to simply introduce new vetting procedures – without the simultaneous creation of safe zones in Syria to protect innocent life.
But Beinart forgets that the Syrian refugee crises did not begin under Trump or Kushner, who have been in office for just two weeks. Rather, it came about through the callous and indifferent foreign policy of Beinart’s hero, Obama, who refused to intervene in Syria, even as the slaughter there turned to genocide. Sunni Muslims, including children in Damascus and Aleppo, were being slaughtered by Shi’ite militias and Bashar Assad’s Alawite government, with the active support of Hezbollah and Iran.
Obama did nothing.
Only after Trump’s executive order did Beinart suddenly spring to life to protect the innocent citizens of Syria whom president Obama and his national security team had abandoned. President Obama also finally found his voice – post-presidency and from the vacation comfort of Palm Springs – against the Trump administration’s immigrant ban. This while Obama didn’t even lift a finger to save the children of Syria after Assad violated Obama’s self-declared red line and gassed Arab children. Where was Beinart’s condemnation of Obama’s violation of his own warning to Assad not to gas innocent Arabs?
The immigrant crisis, which is absolutely tragic, resulted in large part from American inaction and Obama’s retreat in the Middle East and beyond. There might never have been an immigrant crisis if Obama had instituted a no-fly zone, safe zones, or supported moderate Syrian rebels against Assad from the outset.
Countless people called on president Obama to pursue policies that would rescue the innocent people of Syria. But not Peter Beinart. Obama refused to listen, and the result was not only the murder of 500,000 Arab men, women and children, but the displacement of millions of refugees, which is the crisis we now face.
But amid this unprecedented humanitarian failure, there was no column by Beinart asking how Christianity could have produced Barack Obama.



Caroline Glick: The Trump way of war
The PLO is disoriented, panicked and hysterical. Speaking to Newsweek this week, Saeb Erekat, PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas’s chief conduit to Israel and the Americans, complained that since President Donald Trump was sworn into office, no administration official had spoken to them.
“I don’t know any of them [Trump’s advisers]. We have sent them letters, written messages. They don’t even bother to respond to us.”
The Trump administration’s shunning of the PLO is a marked departure from the policies of its predecessor. For former president Barack Obama, together with Iran, the Palestinians were viewed as the key players in the Middle East. Abbas was the first foreign leader Obama called after taking office.
Erekat’s statement reveals something that is generally obscured. Despite its deep support in Europe, the UN and the international Left, without US support, the PLO is irrelevant.
All the achievements the PLO racked up under Obama – topped off with the former president’s facilitation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 against Israel – are suddenly irrelevant. Their impact dissipated the minute Trump took office.
Israel, in contrast, is more relevant than ever.
John Podhoretz: Israel, Settlements, and the Media
Two important things happened tonight: Donald Trump reversed Barack Obama’s policy toward Israel’s settlements, and the New York Times headline on the story about it was “Trump Embraces Pillars of Obama’s Foreign Policy.” #1 is obviously the matter of the greatest importance. #2 is meaningful because it’s part of a pattern of reporting on the Trump administration by the mainstream media that features breathless and hurried assertions of fact on a policy that turn out not to hold water once they are examined.
First, to Trump and Obama and Israel and the settlements. On Thursday night the White House released the following statement: “The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”
What this letter does, in effect, is return the United States to the status quo ante before the Obama administration—specifically, to the policy outlined in a letter sent from George W. Bush to Ariel Sharon in 2004. In that letter, Bush said, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final-status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.”
This language was an acceptance of the reality that the most populous Israeli settlements beyond the pre-1967 borders would certainly remain in Israeli hands at the end of any successful peace negotiation with the Palestinians. And according to the officials who negotiated the matter, primarily Elliott Abrams of the Bush National Security Council (and full disclosure: my brother-in-law), it was understood that the expansion of existing population centers due to natural growth (families getting larger, people moving in) should not be considered a violation of the idea that there should be no new settlements. For if, like New York City, Ariel gets more populous, its land mass does not increase in size, just the number of people living there.
Spicer: 'Trump administration has not taken an official position' on Israeli settlements
That statement changed U.S. policy in two ways. The assessment that the existence of settlements is not an impediment is a stark contradiction of the Obama administration's view and it should pay dividends with Netanyahu and pro-Israel advocates.
"This statement is a dramatic break from the Obama administration's policy of looking for any reason to beat up Israel, and a return to a foreign policy of treating allies like allies," as a senior official from a national pro-israel organization put it.
"The Trump team is finding its voice on Israel, and they're making it clear no one is going to speak for this administration except this administration. They are out to repair the U.S.-Israel relationship, and they want to make sure people understand that's what is going to happen."
Spicer broke with the Obama administration again by expressing doubt that the expansion of settlements could undermine the two-state solution. Kerry, for his part, accused Israeli settlers of making tactical decisions to build outposts that would hamper the formation of a contiguous Palestinian state.
"If more and more settlers are moving into the middle of Palestinian areas, it's going to be just that much harder to separate, that much harder to imagine transferring sovereignty, and that is exactly the outcome that some are purposefully accelerating," Kerry said days after the UN resolution passed. "They're often located on private Palestinian land and strategically placed in locations that make two states impossible."
More Fake News: Trump 'Opposes' Israeli Settlements
The mainstream media are abuzz with reports that President Donald Trump has come out against Israeli settlements. The New York Times was exultant: “Trump Embraces Pillars of Obama’s Foreign Policy,” it crowed.
That kind of story serves two propagandist purposes. First, it provides a kind of justification for Obama’s betrayal of Israel at the UN Security Council over settlements last month; second, it nods at the old NeverTrump claim that Trump would never keep his word to conservatives.
There’s just one problem: the story is false.
Here is the exact wording of the White House statement on Thursday (emphasis added):
The American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years. While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. As the President has expressed many times, he hopes to achieve peace throughout the Middle East region. The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.
The New York Times pounced on the phrase “may not be helpful”:
In the most startling shift, the White House issued an unexpected statement appealing to the Israeli government not to expand the construction of Jewish settlements beyond their current borders in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Such expansion, it said, “may not be helpful in achieving” the goal of peace.
The statement is only “startling” if one is unaware of the history and geography of the region. In fact, the statement tacitly accepts all existing settlements. (One wonders when the penny will drop, and when the Times editorial page will attack Trump for provoking Middle East tensions with the same statement.)
Danon: US statement on settlements is no Trump U-turn
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon on Friday morning sought to downplay a rebuke from the Trump White House on the construction of new Israeli settlements, saying the statement did not reflect a policy shift, but rather indicated that the subject was on the administration’s radar.
The statement, Danon told Israel Radio, was a sign from the new administration that it has not yet set policy regarding the settlements and would do so following the upcoming talks between the Israeli and American leaders later this month.
“I wouldn’t call it a U-turn, the statement is very clear. The meaning is: Wait until the meeting with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, who arrives in Washington in less than two weeks for a meeting with President [Donald] Trump and then set policy,” Danon said.
In the less than two weeks since Trump took office, Israel has announced the construction of some 6,000 new homes in existing settlements, drawing rebuke from the international community, but not — until Thursday night — from the Trump White House.
On Israel-Palestine, Trump might end up another George W. Bush
Will Trump adopt a version of the 2004 Bush letter?
Trump is always good for a surprise, so Israeli leaders would be well advised to prepare for all eventualities. The new president will certainly continue to proclaim ironclad support for the Jewish state, but decision-makers in Jerusalem should not be caught off guard were he suddenly to announce support for a two-state solution and urge a freeze of settlement expansions outside the larger blocs.
Similar to what George W. Bush did in his 2004 letter to then prime-minister Ariel Sharon, Trump could declare that “it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949” — a de facto recognition that the settlement blocs will remain under Israel sovereignty — while at the same time reasserting that the US “supports the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent.”
Or he might — after a bid to restart peace talks inevitably fails — grow frustrated, move the embassy to Jerusalem, and tell Netanyahu to do whatever he wants in the West Bank.
But given the cautious statements from White House officials over the last few days, the former scenario seems much more likely.
Trump is doing everything he said he would — except on Israel
Donald Trump is only two weeks into his presidency and yet he’s alarmed much of the world for doing exactly what he said he would do as the unorthodox and pugnacious candidate that shockingly won the election.
He signed an executive order that initiated his plan to build a wall along America’s southern border. He began the process of repealing Obamacare. And, he signed a highly controversial immigration order that bans all refugee resettlement from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days and forbids those from war-ravaged Syria from entering the country indefinitely.
During the campaign, one commentator famously observed that he appealed to millions of Americans who took him “seriously, but not literally.” After 14 days in the Oval Office, however, it’s become evident that it was not unwise to take him literally after all.
Except on one issue.
Trump, the presidential hopeful, vowed to make a radical departure from the Israel policies Republicans so loathed in Barack Obama. He told a crowd of roughly 18,000 at last year’s AIPAC’s policy conference that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, dismantle the Iran nuclear accord and send “a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally.”
Palestinian Officials Say U.S. Threatens 'Severe Steps' if Leaders Sue Israel in World Court
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, October 30, 2015
"Washington has warned Palestinian leaders that suing Israel in international courts would trigger severe steps by the U.S. administration, including the closure of PLO offices in the American capital and an end to economic aid to the Palestinian Authority, according to Western and Arab diplomatic sources.
Haaretz has learned that the message from the Trump administration was transmitted through the American consulate -- and not through the White House or State Department -- and consisted of a telephone conversation with a leading Palestinian official directly linked to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
In his first week as president, Donald Trump signed an order to execute a congressional resolution, drawn up during Barack Obama's term, to move against the PA and Fatah (the largest faction of the PLO) if the Palestinians sue Israel, a high-ranking Palestinian source told Haaretz.
'Despite that resolution by Congress, the Palestinian leaders were counting on petitioning the court as a means of halting the settlements. But the messages arriving from Washington in recent days made clear that any such step by the Palestinians would lead to a severe American reaction, so much so that some talked about returning the PLO to the list of terrorist organizations,' said the Palestinian source...
PreOccupiedTerritory: UFO Enthusiasts Call Palestinian Unity Government Too Far-Fetched (satire)
Groups of devotees to the notion of extraterrestrial visitors secretly visiting Earth, and whose presence has been repeatedly concealed by the government for decades, despite no conclusive evidence that such creatures exist, have dismissed the idea of a Fatah-Hamas rapprochement that leads to a Palestinian unity government far too preposterous to accept.
The activists and hobbyists, who take flimsy photographic or video evidence for alien UFOs at face value while dismissing all reasonable non-extraterrestrial for it, laughed at international and internal efforts to reconcile the feuding Palestinian factions and called those attempts delusional.
“Those poor souls, devoted to a pursuit with no credibility,” lamented Bob LaRouche, 44, who last year captured video of a flying object that later investigation showed to be a neighbor’s drone, claiming proof of extraterrestrial visitors. “Don’t they have a life or something? It must be a hollow existence, always trying to convince people of the impossible.”
“It’s like they never learn from experience, from disappointment, from failure,” echoed Charlotte May, 56. “You’d think that after all these years of coming up empty, it might dawn on someone that there’s nothing there. It’s pathetic, is what it is.”
Senate report compares Israeli, US-Mexico barriers
The Republican majority on the Senate Homeland Security Committee published a report favorably comparing Israel’s security barriers with the existing fence on the US-Mexico border.
“Securing Israel: Lessons Learned From A Nation Under Constant Threat Of Attack” was posted Wednesday on the website of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and includes reportage by the committee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, who visited Israel in December and toured the fences and barriers along its borders with the Gaza Strip and inside the West Bank.
Johnson is presenting the report as one that could be useful to President Donald Trump and his proposal to separate the United States from Mexico with a wall.
“There is much the United States can learn from Israel as Secretary (John) Kelly and the Trump Administration take important steps forward in securing our homeland,” said the release accompanying the report. Trump has cited Israel’s barriers as an example of what he hopes to build.
Machete-wielding man yelling ‘Allahu akbar’ tries to stab soldier in Paris, is shot
A French soldier shot and seriously wounded a man in a shopping mall beneath the Louvre Museum on Friday after he shouted “Allahu akbar” and tried to attack security forces with a machete, officials said.
The man was carrying two backpacks, and had two of the large knives. When soldiers and police officers on patrol told the man that he could not come in with his bags, he attacked, said Yves Lefebvre, a police union official.
“That’s when he got the knife out and that’s when he tried to stab the soldier,” he said. The soldier was slightly wounded on the scalp.
A soldier opened fire and the man was struck five times, once in the stomach, Paris police chief Michel Cadot said. The backpacks didn’t contain any explosives, he said.
3 hurt in suspected West Bank car-ramming attack
Three Israelis were lightly wounded when a Palestinian woman drove her vehicle into a police car and a guard post outside a West Bank settlement on Thursday in a suspected car-ramming attack, the army said.
“Moments ago, a Palestinian assailant rammed her vehicle into a police car and into the gate of the Geva Binyamin community [also known as Adam] northeast of Jerusalem,” the army said.
Two policemen and a civilian were lightly hurt and taken to the hospital for treatment, the army said, adding that the assailant was being treated and questioned at the scene.
“At first we thought it was an accident, but from what I understand, she confessed [to it being deliberate],” an army spokesperson told The Times of Israel.
The Hadassah Hospital on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus said it treated the three people hurt in the attack. It identified them as two 52-year-old men and another man aged 34.
A short video of the incident taken from security cameras shows two police cars passing through the settlement gate, closely followed by the attacker who drives into the guard post, shattering the windows.
There have been several deadly car-ramming terror attacks in the last 18 months, including a deadly attack in Jerusalem last month when a Palestinian man drove his truck into a group of soldiers on a tour, killing four of them.
How an IDF official shifted policy by sending Schalit deal terrorists back to jail for life
British-Israeli outgoing IDF Chief West Bank Prosecutor Lt. Col. Maurice Hirsch was the official personally responsible for convincing the Government of Israel and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on June 14, 2014 to send dozens of Palestinian terrorists, who had been released in the 2011 Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange, back to jail for life, instead of for only a few months of administrative detention.
Hirsch made the revelations to The Jerusalem Post in his first exclusive interview to be published since having retired as chief prosecutor on January 31.
Sending back most of the nearly 60 Palestinians to jail for violating their parole was cited by Hamas as one of the reasons, from their side, for the war with Israel which started on July 8, 2014, and for refusing cease-fires and continuing the war for the 50 days it ran until August 26, 2014.
Hamas’s attempts to get them released has also been a regular topic of the intermittent indirect communications between Israel and Hamas since then, including in several news reports on January 11.
Israel’s dramatic decision, which it announced on June 16, 2014, to seek to send around 60 Palestinians back to prison, many for life, for violating the terms of their Schalit deal parole, was a titanic policy shift.
Palestinian NGO worker pleads not guilty to helping Hamas
The Gaza head of a major US-based NGO pleaded not guilty in an Israeli court Thursday to aiding Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, his employers said.
Israel accuses Mohammed al-Halabi, head of Gaza operations for the global Christian charity World Vision, of siphoning millions of dollars to the Islamist movement which runs the territory.
At the district court in Beersheba in southern Israel, Halabi pleaded not guilty to all charges against him, World Vision said.
The group said its humanitarian work in Gaza has been suspended following Halabi’s arrest “as we conduct a thorough and wide-ranging review of our operations.”
“World Vision has not seen any credible evidence supporting the charges,” it said in a statement.
Court blocks eviction of Arab squatters from Jewish property
The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a Jerusalem District Court ruling ordering the eviction of Arabs who live on a Jewish-owned property in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
Last month, Jerusalem District Court Presiding Judge Aharon Farkash ordered that the home be evicted by Feb. 12, but the Arab residents illegally squatting on the property appealed to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger overturned Farkash's ruling and said that "the home in question is the residents' only place of residence and an eviction order would effectively mean throwing them out on the street."
The Arab residents had questioned the validity of the property titles presented by the Jews who claim ownership to the home, but the Jerusalem District Court rejected their claim.
PreOccupiedTerritory: High Court Rules Unconstitutional To Appoint Non-Left-Wing Justices (satire)
Israel’s supreme court handed down a decision today reaffirming the long-held judicial principle that to be accepted as members of the High Court, a judge may not espouse anything but a left-wing political ideology.
Court President Justice Miriam Naor authored the decision, explaining in it that according to democratic principles established by the Left, only the Left has a legitimate claim to defining and defending democracy, and that therefore any candidate for a position on the country’s highest judicial authority must perforce have expressed a lifelong commitment uphold democracy insofar as it furthers or protects the Left.
Legal experts noted that while the decision has far-reaching ramifications in a theoretical sense, in practice nothing will change, since the method by which justices have long been chosen allows the existing members of the Court to effectively block or veto any candidate not to their liking.
“Structurally, the High Court is going to be the last bastion of power the left has retained since its gradual loss of power since the 1970’s,” explained Moshe Negbi, a legal analyst for Reshet Bet radio. “There hasn’t been a bona-fide left-wing government in Israel since 2001, and only intermittently before that going back to 1977. But the ascendancy of the Left was cemented into the workings of the justice-appointment process, and the Left has been clinging to its hold on the institution for dear life.”
Palestinian sentenced to 9 years for hacking Israeli drones
A court in Israel on Thursday sentenced a Palestinian computer engineer from Gaza to nine years in prison for hacking into Israeli drones for the terror group Islamic Jihad, the Justice Ministry said.
A transcript of the court proceedings released by the ministry said that Majid Oweida, a 23-year-old from Gaza City, had been convicted of spying and other offenses, following a plea bargain earlier this week.
On Thursday, it said, the district court in the southern city of Beersheba passed sentence.
The ministry said Oweida had pleaded guilty to “various offenses against state security including membership of, and activity in, a forbidden organization.”
The transcript said Oweida admitted that in 2015 he agreed to develop software “to hack into and monitor broadcasts of pictures from the skies of Gaza” by Israeli military drones.
Hamas Delegation Arrives in Egypt for Talks on Extraditing Jihadists
A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo Wednesday morning as part of the movement’s ongoing rapprochement with the Egyptian regime, according to a Hamas source.
The source said that discussions will focus on security arrangements as well as measures against dozens of jihadi fighters who have been given refuge in Gaza after fighting against the Egyptian army in the ranks of Waliyat Sinai, the Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate, as well as Palestinian jihadists currently engaged in battle in Sinai.
In addition, Egypt’s blacklist includes a number of operatives in Hamas’ so-called military wing, who allegedly trained the IS-aligned fighters, provided them with logistical support and sometimes even took part in fighting.
Among the militants wanted by Egypt are members of Gaza’s Army of Islam, led by Mumtaz Dughmush, who, together with Hamas, kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and BBC reporter Alan Johnston about a decade ago, the source said. The Army of Islam has in the past made a formal petition to IS to be recognized as their sole representative in Gaza.
Iran Promises More Missile Tests After White House Puts It ‘On Notice’
Earlier this week, Iran performed a ballistic missile test in defiance of a UN resolution. President Donald Trump’s White House officially put Iran on notice for more consequences if the regime has more tests.
The regime has laughed at the threats:
“This is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran,” [President Adviser Ali Akbar] Velayati said. “Iran is the strongest power in the region and has a lot of political, economic and military power … America should be careful about making empty threats to Iran.”
He added: “Iran will continue to test its capabilities in ballistic missiles and Iran will not ask any country for permission in defending itself.”
MEMRI: According To Iranian Officials, Obama Administration Gave Unwritten Consent In The Nuclear Talks And In The JCPOA Negotiations For Iran To Develop Ballistic Missiles With A Range Of Only 2,000 km – That Is, Capable Of Striking Israel But Not Europe
U.S. Approves Iranian Development Of Missiles With A Range Of Only 2,000 km – That Is, Capable Of Reaching Israel
However, after U.S.-Iran negotiations began, and at the end of their first stage, in Geneva in November 2013, Iranian officials began reporting that Iran's missile program for missiles with ranges above 2,000 km was being restricted.
Thus, for example, immediately after the interim agreement was reached in Geneva, on December 10, 2013, and in reference to it, IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said that Iran is capable of producing missiles with a range of over 2,000 km but that Khamenei had restricted the IRGC to a 2,000-km range: "We want to increase the range of the IRGC's missiles, but despite this, the Leader [Khamenei] has restricted us to a range of 2,000 km. We have the capability to increase the range of our missiles, and our missiles should obviously reach Israel... The regime's red lines were not crossed during the nuclear talks with the P5+1 [Group] and in the Geneva Agreement."[6]
Indeed, IRGC commanders stressed that the most important thing for the regime was missiles capable of striking Israel; see, for example, comments by IRGC Aerospace and Missile Division director Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who said following a 2016 missile launch: "For us, Israel's evil is totally clear, and the 2,000-kilometer range of our missiles [is intended] to confront the distant Zionist regime."[7]
Extensive quotes regarding the Iranian regime's explicit intent to target Israel with its missiles can be found in MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1135, Iranian IRGC Missile Unit Commanders: We've Developed 2,000-km Range Missiles And Equipped Hizbullah With 300-km Range Missiles; Fars News Agency: Israel's Illusions About Its Natural Gas Fields Will Be Buried In The Mediterranean, December 3, 2014, and Special Dispatch No. 6349, Iran Launches Long-Range Missiles Emblazoned With Slogan: 'Israel Should Be Wiped Off The Face Of The Earth', March 16, 2016.
Trump tweets 'Iran is playing with fire,' says won't be as kind as Obama
US President Donald Trump tweeted early on Friday that "Iran is playing with fire" and "they don't appreciate how kind President Obama was to them. Not me!"
Trump plans to impose sanctions on several Iranian entities, seeking to ratchet up pressure on Tehran while crafting a broader strategy to counter what he sees as its destabilizing behavior, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Iran's decision to test-fire a ballistic missile on Sunday helped trigger Trump's decision, which could be announced as early as Friday, they said.
In response Foreign Minister of Iran Javad Zarif tweeted that "Iran is unmoved by threats."
Adding that Iran will "never initiate war" and would only rely on its "own means of defense."
DROPPING THE HAMMER US slaps new sanctions on Iran following missile tests
The Trump administration imposed new sanctions Friday on nearly two-dozen individuals and companies in response to Iran’s recent missile tests, quickly moving to increase the pressure on the regime after putting Tehran “on notice” earlier this week.
The U.S. Navy also moved a destroyer into position off the coast of Yemen, amid deep concerns over Iran’s support for Shiite rebels there who recently attacked a Saudi naval vessel.
"Iran's continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide and to the United States," John E. Smith, the Treasury Department's acting sanctions chief, said in a statement.
The Treasury Department announced the additional sanction targets -- 13 individuals and 12 companies -- late Friday morning.
Those targeted include various agents, companies and associates involved in procuring ballistic missile technology for Iran. Iranians, Lebanese, Chinese and Emirati individuals and companies also are now blacklisted from doing any business in the United States or with American citizens.
How Israel sold Russia drones to stop missiles from reaching Iran
Russia’s interest in Israeli drones was sparked during the war it fought with Georgia in South Ossetia in the summer of 2008. The war lasted five days, and while Russia ultimately won, the fighting exposed a severe decline in the Russian military’s technological capabilities, particularly when it came to drones.
In the weeks leading up to the war and amid growing concern that Russia was going to annex the breakaway territories, Georgia began flying drones on routine reconnaissance missions over the conflict zone. These weren’t just any drones. They were Hermes 450s, manufactured by Elbit in Israel and used by the Israeli Air Force. In the span of three months, Russia shot down three drones.
While the downings of the drones were impressive on their own, Georgia’s use of drones highlighted a problem on the Russian side. To begin with, Russian drones were late to the battlefield and failed to provide real-time intelligence, forcing Moscow instead to dispatch fighter jets and long-range bombers for standard recon missions. One drone used during the war was the old Tipchak, which Russia later admitted made too much noise, making it easy to detect and intercept.
On the other hand, the Georgian military effectively gathered intelligence, largely due to its small fleet of Israeli drones.
Congressmen From Both Parties Call On White House To Enforce Iran Deal Rigorously
Two U.S. Congressmen from both sides of the political aisle have come together to call for a more rigorous enforcement of the Iran deal a year after it went into effect.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Ca) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) on Wednesday laid out their views of how the US should conduct its relations with the Islamic republic during a panel discussion on Capitol Hill organized by The Israel Project (TIP).
According to a report on the panel in the Algemeiner, Royce, who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that US President Donald Trump’s White House should instruct the Treasury Department to put Iran “on notice” with sanctions such as barring global banks from doing deals in US dollars with Iran if it repeats acts like the weekend’s ballistic missile test.
Engel, the ranking Democratic member of the committee Royce heads, said, “We need to make sure they [the Iranians] live up to their obligations under the JCPOA. … We have to be smart about it and hold their feet to the fire. We must never, never trust them.”
“Iran needs to suffer consequences for its dangerous behavior,” he added.



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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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The Jerusalem Report:"A seemingly indefatigable one-man operation, armed only with a computer, chutzpa and stamina."

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Omri: "Elder is one of the best established and most respected members of the jblogosphere..."
Atheist Jew:"Elder of Ziyon probably had the greatest impression on me..."
Soccer Dad: "He undertakes the important task of making sure that his readers learn from history."
AbbaGav: "A truly exceptional blog..."
Judeopundit: "[A] venerable blog-pioneer and beloved patriarchal figure...his blog is indispensable."
Oleh Musings: "The most comprehensive Zionist blog I have seen."
Carl in Jerusalem: "...probably the most under-recognized blog in the JBlogsphere as far as I am concerned."
Aussie Dave: "King of the auto-translation."
The Israel Situation:The Elder manages to write so many great, investigative posts that I am often looking to him for important news on the PalArab (his term for Palestinian Arab) side of things."
Tikun Olam: "Either you are carelessly ignorant or a willful liar and distorter of the truth. Either way, it makes you one mean SOB."
Mondoweiss commenter: "For virulent pro-Zionism (and plain straightforward lies of course) there is nothing much to beat it."
Didi Remez: "Leading wingnut"

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