Saturday, June 23, 2018

Failed Israeli-Russian deal opens SW Syria to Syrian bombardment, Iranian/Hizballah presence

Syria’s moves in the southwest this week followed Russia’s failure to persuade Israel to stand aside and allow Assad’s army to take charge of the Quneitra and Daraa regions on the Israeli and Jordanian borders. Moscow hoped that the Syrian rebel forces defending the two areas would lay down their arms and go over to Bashar Assad’s army. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Netanyahu government spurned Russia’s plan – not least for lack of trust, suspecting that the Syrians would cheat and let Hizballah reach its border. Last month, an attempt was made to trick Israel, after its consent to a previous Russian plan to hand the Beit Jinn enclave on Mt Hermon to Syria, by providing Hizballah troops with Syrian Army 4th Division uniforms.

The same deception is being practiced at present in the southwest regions of Daraa and Quneitra. Russian and Syrian propaganda machines claim that Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militiamen are being withdrawn from the Israeli and Jordanian borderlands,  when in fact they are not moving after being disguised in Syrian army uniforms. The Russians don’t mention an Iranian withdrawal because Moscow pretends they don’t exist, when in fact an Iranian command center is fully operational in that part of Syria.

The statements coming from the Russian ambassador to Beirut, Alexander Zasypkin, to Hizballah medium outlets add to the perplexity in Jerusalem about Moscow’s intentions in Syria. He declared a few days ago: “We say that the Syrian army now, with support from Russian forces, is recovering its land in the south and restoring the authority of the Syrian state.”

Jerusalem tried to find out what is really going on, according to our intelligence sources. Does the Russian ambassador include Hizballah troops disguised as Syrian soldiers and officers in his comment? No answer came from Moscow. READ MORE

Netanyahu meets Kushner and Greenblatt

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Friday in Jerusalem for four hours with U.S. President Donald Trump’s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer also participated in the meeting.
 
Netanyahu expressed his appreciation to President Trump for his support of Israel. “The teams discussed advancing the diplomatic process, developments in the region and the security and humanitarian situations in Gaza,” said a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
A statement from the White House said Netanyahu, Kushner and Greenblatt “discussed the means by which the humanitarian situation in Gaza can be alleviated, while maintaining Israel's security. They further discussed the continued commitment of the Trump Administration and Israel to advance peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
 
Arutz Sheva learned that the meeting took place in a very good atmosphere and one of the main issues discussed was the American plan being formulated to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and particularly how to bring the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the negotiating table.
 
Netanyahu heard from his guests that he may have to agree to one significant gesture to the Palestinians if they return to the negotiating table and also agree to an American gesture which some believe will be the opening of an official consulate in eastern Jerusalem.
 
Greenblatt and Kushner are currently visiting the region as the Trump administration prepares to present its peace proposal for Israel and the PA.
 
The two, who have already met Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, will also visit Israel, Egypt and Qatar but are not slated to not visit Ramallah or meet any PA officials.
 
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused to consider the Trump administration an honest broker for peace negotiations with Israel since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December.
 
PA officials have repeatedly rejected the Trump administration’s peace proposal, claiming it has been coordinated with Israel.
 
Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh last week said that Greenblatt and Kushner are promoting a "meaningless plan" and "will achieve nothing.”

Lebanon Considers Free Border Entry for Iranians

Lebanon’s General Security agency is considering allowing Iranians into the country without stamping their passports, which has politicians concerned that this is reflective of Iran’s deepening influence over the nation’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.
Hezbollah, which means “Party of God” in Arabic, is an internationally-sanctioned terrorist organization. Hezbollah, a Shi’ite group, along with its fellow Shi’ite Amal party allies, made big gains during the country’s May parliamentary elections; a sway that means greater Iranian influence in the country.
According to Reuters, the Christian political party Lebanese Forces, staunch opponents of Hezbollah, have criticized the action as an attempt by Iran to bypass U.S. sanctions to funnel money to Hezbollah and move forces to Syria via Beirut.
Lebanon’s General Security agency reportedly said it defends its decision and will continue to only stamp disposable entry cards instead of passports of Iranians entering the country.
Although Lebanon’s Caretaker Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk will reportedly challenge the measure, Reuters reported that Major General Abbas Ibrahim, a Shi’ite official who has coordinated with Hezbollah and who heads General Security, defended the move as normal procedure and said, “Unfortunately, some in Lebanon have a wide imagination.”
On Wednesday, Machnouk reportedly said the United States, many European countries, and several Arab nations have expressed concern that individuals visiting Beirut are coming for “training or contacting organizations that are internationally rejected,” such as sanctioned terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.
Iran has admitted to similar policies of skipping the passport stamping process in the past. The Epoch Times, citing Iranian media, reported that Mohammad-Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights and an international affairs assistant in Iran’s judiciary, told Iran’s state-run TV that Iranian intelligence officials “agreed not to stamp the passports” of some of the 9/11 al-Qaeda hijackers because “some of them because they were on transit flights for two hours, and they were resuming their flights without having their passports stamped.”
“However, their movements were under the complete supervision of the Iranian intelligence,” Larijani reportedly said.

Leading African-American Pastor: Hell Is a ‘Fairytale’ Like Santa Claus

The Rev. Timothy Rogers, the popular pastor of Prince of Peace Church in Blytheville, Arkansas, said Wednesday that hell is an “imaginary place” invented to scare ignorant believers, adding that “when you’re dead, you’re done.”
Speaking at the funeral of a 30-something man he said he had not known, Rev. Rogers told the congregation they had been “sold a lie” and “bamboozled” into believing in hell.
“All that stuff is a fairytale. To believe in hell means you have to believe in Santa Claus. I don’t care how you cut [it]. Hell is an imaginary place. And I was told that if anything that does not have an explanation must be imagination,” he said.
The celabrated African-American preacher said that hell is part of a “fantasy” created by church leaders for their benefit.
“Church is corrupt,” he said.
“The Church don’t want to address what’s really wrong with you, they just want you to be quiet, sit down and act nice,” he said. “You want a baby to be quiet, just tell them Santa Claus is coming to town. Only until their eyes come open and they realize that Santa Claus has never come to town,” he said.
“I didn’t come to feed you a lie today, I came to feed you the truth.”
“I don’t believe in a lot of stuff that church gave me. I quit. Matter of fact, I don’t want church. I want good,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to do church, I want to do good because everybody that doing church, ain’t doing good.”
“Most folk who doing good don’t even go to church,” he said. READ MORE

Friday, June 22, 2018

PLO: We foiled Trump's Mideast peace plan

Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a Palestinian Authority legislator claimed recently that the PA had successfully blocked a long-awaited Middle East peace deal floated by President Donald Trump’s administration.
 
The peace plan, dubbed by Trump the “Deal of the century”, was never publicly released, though envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt discussed the key issues in the deal with both Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials during a series of visits to the region since Trump took office in January 2017.
 
The PLO is set to hold a meeting next Monday in Ramallah to discuss the recent political developments in the region, including the PA’s responses to the Trump administration’s moves in the Middle East. The meeting will be hosted by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas.
The meeting is the latest by a special committee empowered by the PA to draw up responses to the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
 
Last month, the committee voted to freeze the PLO’s recognition of Israel until a Palestinian state is established along the June 4th, 1967 borders.
 
According to reports in the PA’s WAFA mouthpiece, Al-Ahmad recently discussed plans by the committee next week to address the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan, and efforts to reach a “humanitarian solution” for the Gaza Strip.
 
Al-Ahmad claimed the effort to improve the living conditions of Gazans outside of the context of a final status agreement was an attempt to negate the PA’s demands for statehood.
 
“A humanitarian solution for the Gaza Strip [would come] at the cost of [nullifying] legitimate international decisions and the two-state solution,” said al-Ahmad.
 
The PLO leader added that the PA had succeeded in neutralizing Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, rendering it effectively irrelevant. Since PA objections torpedoed the achievement of a comprehensive deal under the aegis of the Trump administration, al-Ahmad continued, the White House had shifted its approach, looking for a piecemeal solution to the Middle East crisis, including “humanitarian solutions” for the Gaza Strip.

Terrorist attacks on Israelis reach 2.5-year high

May saw the highest number of terrorist attacks in 2.5 years against Israelis, following an increase of almost 40 percent from the 223 incidents recorded in April.
 
Of the 365 attacks recorded in May, 271 involved firebombs, the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) said in its monthly report, published this week. The increase occurred in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, as well as along Israel’s border with Gaza.
 
The tally for May is the highest on record since October 2015, when 620 attacks were recorded. One Israeli died as a result of attacks, a soldier who was killed after a terrorist crushed his helmet. Four more soldiers were injured, one in an explosion in Jerusalem and three others, as well as one civilian, from a rocket near Gaza.
 
Hamas has organized a number of deadly riots weekly along the border with Israel, labeling them "nonviolent events" despite the fact that they feature the hurling of firebombs at troops near the fence and attempts to breach it.
 
Additionally, Gazan terrorists have burned over a thousand acres of land near the border by sending over kites and helium balloons carrying firebombs and other explosives.

Jordan King Heads to U.S. to Discuss Peace Plan with Trump

(AFP) — AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah II set off for the United States on Thursday for talks with US President Donald Trump on Middle East issues including the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the palace said.
Accompanied by his wife Rania, the monarch is also scheduled to meet with senior officials from the Trump administration and members of Congress, the palace said in a statement.
His meeting with Trump is expected to take place at the White House on Monday.
The White House said in a statement that they would “discuss issues of mutual concern, including terrorism, the threat from Iran and the crisis in Syria, and working towards a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been on ice since 2014, was the subject of meetings this week in Amman between Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, and the Palestinians’ negotiators and intelligence chief.
King Abdullah held talks on the issue with Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt in Amman on Tuesday, a day after hosting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a rare meeting.
An ally of the United States, Jordan is also one of only two Arab countries that has signed a peace treaty with Israel. The other is Egypt.
The kingdom is the guardian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem.
It has played a leading role in the peace process, where it has supported the so-called two-state solution, or the creation of a Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel.
Trump’s administration sparked anger across the Arab world in December by recognizing Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state, though the move was welcomed by Israelis from across the political spectrum.
The Palestinian leadership responded by freezing all contacts with US officials.
In May Washington moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking mass demonstrations and stoking deadly clashes on Israel’s flashpoint border with Gaza.

Kushner, Egypt’s Sissi discuss Israel-Palestinian peace process

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and his special envoy Jason Greenblatt met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on Thursday to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Sissi told the US diplomats, who are touring the region in a bid to revive long-stalled talks, that Egypt supports a “just and comprehensive settlement” to the conflict.
He argued in favor of a “two-state solution on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine,” the presidency said in a statement.
Trump’s administration sparked anger across the Arab world in December by recognizing Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state, a move that was welcomed by Israelis across the political spectrum.
The Palestinian leadership responded by freezing all contacts with US officials.
In May Washington moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sparking mass demonstrations and stoking deadly clashes on Israel’s flashpoint border with Gaza.
The White House said Thursday that Kushner and Greenblatt had discussed increasing cooperation between the US and Egypt. READ MORE

Turkey's Erdogan seeks new term with greater powers

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Since he took office in 2003, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given a name to each stage in his consolidation of power in Turkey. First he called himself the apprentice; then the journeyman; and latterly the master. Now, he says a new five-year term would elevate him to the role of "grandmaster" and help him make Turkey one of the world's top powers by the time the republic marks its centenary in 2023.
The most powerful and polarizing leader in Turkish history, Erdogan, 64, is standing for re-election in a presidential vote on Sunday that could cement Turkey's switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system, which was narrowly approved in a referendum last year. He would take an office with vastly expanded powers, in a system that critics have compared to one-man rule. His opponents have promised a return to a parliamentary system with a distinct separation of powers.
Opinion polls have put Erdogan several points ahead of his closest competitor in the presidential race. However, he would need to win more than 50 percent of the votes for an outright first-round victory and that looks less likely. Analysts say the outcome could be decided in a second round runoff on July 8.
Erdogan, who has never lost an election, is this time around facing more robust opposition figures and parties cooperating with each other in an anti-Erdogan alliance. For the first time ever, Turkey will elect a new parliament at the same time, but his Justice and Development party's election campaign has appeared a little flat and uninspired, focusing on past achievements and making odd campaign promises such as the creation of neighborhood "reading houses" offering free tea and cakes. Analysts even speak of the possibility of Justice and Development losing its majority in Parliament. READ MORE

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Syrian army takes two rebel-held strategic points on way to Golan and Daraa

The Syrian army veered southwest Wednesday, June 20, to seize rebel-held Kfar Shams and Busra Al-Harir near the Israeli and Jordanian borders. Israel has not intervened as thousands flee the area under Syrian shelling, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Syrian strategists, instead of launching the promised major offensive to capture rebel-held Quneitra opposite the Israeli Golan and Daraa on the Jordanian border, appear to be running the operation in small steps. Kfar Shams is situated north of Daraa and Busra al-Harir east of Quneitra (see attached map). The fall of Kfar Shams drives a hole in the rebel formations ranged along the Syrian-Israeli border and brings the Syrian army several kilometers closer to Israel’s Golan border; the fall of Busra al-Harir cuts the rebels’ supply lines from the north and severs their defense array along the Jordanian border.
 
Hamas and Islamic Jihad strategists in the Gaza Strip are not blind. They draw their own conclusions from the lack of IDF intervention as the Syrian Army moves closer to Israel’s northern border, despite high-sounding threats from Israel’s leaders.  Indeed, the Palestinian terrorist leaders seemed less concerned than the Israelis living near the Gaza Strip by the war drums of an approaching conflict beaten on Wednesday at the highest level by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot after a Palestinian barrage of 45 rockets. The joint communique issued by Hamas and Jihad in reply was defiant: It stressed an equation of “a bomb for a bomb!” and vowed: “The enemy will not be allowed to force its aggressive equation on our people and the resistance.”
For now, our military sources note, the Palestinian terrorists are being allowed to set the pace and make the rules of the contest with Israel. That is because Hamas has been able to challenge Israel from the Gaza Strip for four months without the IDF stalling its belligerent momentum.

California Bill Will Outlaw Churches Helping People Out Of LGBT Lifestyle

The state of California is close to passing a law that would use consumer protection regulations to control the information presented by churches under the guise of protecting Californians from fraud. 
 
Bill AB 2943, which has passed several rounds of committee votes and amendments as well as the assembly and will be voted on by the state senate on June 25th, would specifically ban any religious organization from providing assistance to those struggling with gender identity.
 
The law cites the American Psychiatric Association, as well as several other organizations, to claim that there is no evidence that adults can change their gender orientation and that attempts to do so may be harmful. The law argues that since there is no evidence that the services offered by the church are effective, then charging individuals for such therapy amounts to fraud. 
 
In doing so, they have plunged the state deeply into issues of sexuality, individual freedom to choose and religious liberty. The law would ban anyone from offering sexual orientation change services or the materials, print or otherwise, in conjunction with such services.
 
While this is not likely to result in the banning of Bibles, a strict reading of the law would allow for such a ban the moment one is used to counsel someone on God's plan for sexual morality. Luis Javier Ruiz, a survivor of the 2016 massacre at The Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, has joined the voices speaking out against this law.  
 
Following the tragedy, Ruiz left behind a life of homosexual hedonism with the help of God's Word, but he is worried that others will be prevented from getting the same help.
 
"If they pass that bill in California, it will take away the rights of counselors, pastors and people that want to give you guidance on coming out of homosexuality." he told The Christian Post.  "I came to Christ through the Word of God. I came to Christ over Godly counsel, pastors, people prayed me through," and he fears that this law will prevent others from getting the same help he did. READ MORE

Rouhani: We will never surrender to American pressue

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared on Wednesday that the Iranian people will not give in to U.S. pressure.
 
His comments, quoted by Reuters, come as the Islamic Republic faces the reimposition of economic sanctions by Washington after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal.
 
“The Iranian people will never surrender in the face of the plots and pressure of the American government,” Rouhani said.
 
Rouhani won reelection last year largely on a promise that the economy would improve because of the 2015 agreement with major powers under which some sanctions were lifted in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
 
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal threatens to fatally undermine the accord, though the remaining signatories - Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - are scrambling to preserve it.
 
Tehran has demanded that Europe come up with an economic package to offset the effects of the U.S. withdrawal.
 
Rouhani warned world powers last week that it was impossible for Tehran to stay in the nuclear deal if it cannot benefit from it after the U.S. withdrawal.
 
“If Iran cannot benefit from the (nuclear) deal, then it’s practically impossible to stay in the accord,” Rouhani told French President Emmanuel Macron.
 
On Tuesday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Europe’s proposals to salvage the nuclear deal were not satisfying for Tehran.