New Palestinian Poll: Ismail Haniyeh Beats Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Wins PA Parliamentary Elections - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
If presidential elections were to take place today in the PA, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas would easily win over PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas would win the largest percentage of the popular vote in parliamentary elections, according to a poll in the West Bank and Gaza conducted on Aug. 26-30.
Haniyeh would receive 61% overall, while Abbas would receive 32%. In the West Bank alone, Haniyeh would receive 66%.
In legislative elections, 46% would vote for Hamas and 31% for Fatah. In the West Bank alone, Hamas would receive 47%, while Fatah gets 27%.
Iran Vows to Free Al-Aqsa Mosque from Israel (IANS)
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Monday vowed to liberate the Al-Aqsa mosque in the old city of Jerusalem from Israeli forces and spare no efforts to help the Palestinian people, state-owned Press TV reported.
"The administration of the Islamic Republic of Iran, like in the past, will use all tools at its disposal to save Al-Aqsa mosque and liberate the first Qibla (point of direction to which Muslims turn for prayers) of Muslims," Rouhani told a conference on World Mosque Day in Tehran.
"We are confident that the final victory belongs to Muslims," he said.
Sinai Jihadists Claim Five More Beheadings - Yifa Yaakov (Times of Israel)
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a jihadist group operating in Sinai, claimed responsibility for executing five more Bedouins for collaborating with Israel, after it announced Thursday that it had beheaded four people on the same charges, Israel Radio reported Tuesday.
In a video released Thursday, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed the men had provided intelligence to Israel's Mossad agency.
The video showed men in black masks beheading the accused collaborators as they knelt on the ground, according to Reuters.
Also Tuesday, a roadside bomb exploded near an Egyptian armored police vehicle traveling through the Sinai village of el-Wefaq, near the border with Gaza, killing 11 police officers, including a senior official.
Sudan Closes Iran Cultural Centers, Expels Diplomats (Oman Tribune)
"The Sudanese government asked the cultural attache' and the diplomats working in the office of the Iranian cultural attache' to leave Sudan within 72 hours," closing three cultural centers, a government source said.
A Sudanese analyst said the move might be in response to pressure from Riyadh, which put enormous strain on the Sudanese economy earlier this year by denying it access to the Saudi banking system.
Sudan President Omar Hassan Al Bashir turned down an Iranian offer to set up air defenses on its Red Sea coast after a 2012 air strike Khartoum blamed on Israel, fearing it would upset Saudi Arabia, Sudan's foreign minister said in May.
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- Islamic State Beheads U.S. Hostage Steven Sotloff
An Islamic State video has appeared which shows the beheading of Steven Sotloff, 31, a U.S. journalist abducted in Syria in 2013 and held hostage by the militants. The video shows a masked figure together with Sotloff, who is dressed in an orange gown. The masked man, whose voice is similar to that of the man who beheaded journalist James Foley, says:
"I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State...despite our serious warnings." The video ends with the militant threatening to kill British captive David Haines.
(BBC News-Fox News)
See also Steven Sotloff Held Israeli Citizenship - Debra Kamin
Steven Sotloff came to Israel in 2008 to pursue his undergraduate degree at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that he held Israeli citizenship.
After graduation, Sotloff began his freelance journalism career, filing stories for both the Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem Report. (Times of Israel)
See also Beheaded American Journalist Steven Sotloff Had Deep Love of Arab Culture - Tom Coghlan
In his Twitter profile, Sotloff was pictured among a group of Yemeni elders, grinning at the camera in traditional dress. "He went to study Arabic and ended up staying," said Ann Marlowe, a fellow journalist. Sotloff spoke good Arabic and his sympathy for Arab culture was despite his own ancestry - he was the grandson of Holocaust survivors. He had attended a Jewish school in Miami.
- Israel: Iran Not Scaling Back Nuclear Program Enough, Israel Won't Accept a Bad Deal
Israel is lobbying world powers anew against any Iranian nuclear deal that would let Tehran retain potential bomb-making technologies, Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz said Wednesday. The next round of talks between six world powers and Iran is expected to be held later this month in New York.
Steinitz told Israel Radio he saw no sign of Iran significantly scaling back uranium enrichment. "What Rouhani has done is concede on all kinds of secondary issues, partial concessions, but protected the project's core, which is what threatens us and the whole world....This means that in substance Iran's positions have remained as tough as before, and if there is no dramatic development in the coming month, then either there will be no deal - or there will be a bad deal leaving Iran a nuclear threshold state, and this is, of course, something we are not willing to accept." (Reuters)
- Saudi Arabia: 88 Held on Suspicion of Terrorist Ties - Ahmed Al Omran
Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested 88 people, including 84 Saudi nationals, on suspicion of planning to carry out terrorist attacks in the kingdom and abroad, the Ministry of Interior said on Tuesday. Mansour Al Turki, a ministry spokesman, said some of the suspects had schemed to carry out assassinations inside the kingdom and had communicated with terrorists abroad.
Earlier this year, Saudi rulers branded a range of armed groups in the region as terrorists, including Islamic State, the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, the Iranian-backed Hizbullah, the Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen and the Muslim Brotherhood. (Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Defense Minister Ya'alon: West Bank Withdrawal Will Lead to Rocket and Mortar Fire on Ben-Gurion Airport - Niv Elis
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon spoke out Tuesday against a diplomatic process with the Palestinians that would include Israel pulling out of the West Bank, saying that such a withdrawal would lead to rockets and mortar shells being fired at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Speaking at an economic conference in Tel Aviv, Ya'alon said it must be remembered that every instance of the IDF withdrawing from territory led to a takeover by terrorist elements. (Jerusalem Post)
- Foreign Minister Lieberman Thanks U.S. for Support During Gaza War
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday thanked
two visiting leaders of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, chairman
Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member
Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), for U.S. support during the Gaza war.
Lieberman said Israel was particularly thankful for U.S. support in developing the Iron Dome missile defense system, which saved both Israeli lives and the lives of Palestinians by allowing Israel to deal with threats from Gaza without having to invade on the ground.
- Israel Deducts Palestinian Debts from Transferred PA Tax Revenues
Israel deducted some $55 million from monthly tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, a senior Palestinian official said Monday.
He said Israel took $25 million to cover unpaid debts of a Palestinian electricity company, $25 million to cover other PA debts, and the remainder to cover the cost of Palestinian patients referred to Israeli hospitals by the PA.
The deduction will further jeopardize the PA's ability to pay civil servant salaries in Gaza, since the $106 million transferred by Israel will only cover 40% of the monthly wages for PA civil servants in the West Bank.
- Defenders of Hamas Practice the Bigotry of Low Expectations - David Feith
Diplomats consistently ignore the violent and anti-Semitic statements that Palestinian leaders make to their own people in Arabic, as long as those leaders speak soothingly in English to foreign audiences. Veterans of the "peace process" seek to legitimize Hamas with invitations to the international bargaining table, despite the group's clearly stated mission of eliminating Israel and Jews.
Such Western enablers overlook that Palestinian leaders rejected Israeli offers of statehood in 2000 and 2008. Their idea of progressivism means admiring the Palestinian "resistance" - and remaining silent about the illiberal horrors facing Palestinian women, religious minorities, gays and political dissidents.
This approach isn't simply a whitewash. Rather it portrays Palestinian leaders in purposefully limited fashion, as victims and pawns forever being acted upon, and not as decision makers choosing how to act toward Israel and their own people. This treats Palestinians as if they have no responsibility for tyrannizing other Palestinians or terrorizing Israelis.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Why I'm Unsubscribing to the New York Times - Richard A. Block
For four decades, until last week, I was a New York Times subscriber. What drove me away was the paper's incessant denigration of Israel, a torrent of articles, photographs, and op-ed columns that consistently present the Jewish state in the worst possible light. This summer, after Hamas renewed its terrorist assaults upon Israel, the Times launched what can only be described as a campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state.
Its obsessive focus is on Palestinian civilian casualties, especially children, publishing photos of their corpses and little else, as if they tell the whole story. But a newspaper committed to balance and fairness would provide context and perspective. It would show traumatized Israeli children running to shelters. It would publish photos and accounts of militants launching rockets from the roofs of mosques, a church, and a media hotel, alongside schools, refugee shelters, clinics and hospitals, and of weapons concealed by Hamas in UN facilities.
Then there are the op-eds: "Israel's Bloody Status Quo;" "Darkness Falls on Gaza;" "Israeli Self-Defense Does Not Permit Killing Civilians;" "Israel Has Overreacted to the Threats it Provoked;" "U.S. Should Stop Funding Israel, or Let Others Broker Peace;" "Israel's Colonialism Must End;" "Unwavering Support of Israel Harms U.S. Interests, Encourages Extremism." Rabbi Richard A. Block is president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic organization of Reform Judaism.
The World in Flames - Henry Kissinger (Sunday Times-UK)
- In the purist version of Islamism, the state cannot be the point of departure for an international system, because states are secular and hence illegitimate; at best they may achieve a kind of provisional status en route to a religious entity on a larger scale. Non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs cannot serve as a governing principle, because national loyalties represent deviations from the true faith and because jihadists have a duty to transform the world of unbelievers.
- The conflict in Syria and Iraq and the surrounding areas has thus become the symbol of an ominous new trend: the disintegration of statehood into tribal and sectarian units, some of them cutting across existing borders, in violent conflict with one another and manipulated by competing outside factions, observing no common rules other than the law of superior force.
- When states are not governed in their entirety, the international or regional order also begins to disintegrate. Blank spaces denoting lawlessness come to dominate parts of the map. The collapse of a state may turn its territory into a base for terrorism, arms supply or sectarian agitation against neighbors. Zones of non-governance or jihad now stretch across the Muslim world.
- In an era of suicide terrorism and proliferating weapons of mass destruction, the drift towards pan-regional sectarian confrontations must be deemed a threat to world stability warranting co-operative effort by all responsible powers, expressed in some acceptable definition of at least regional order.
- If order cannot be established, vast areas risk being opened to anarchy and to forms of extremism that will spread organically into other regions. From this stark pattern the world awaits the distillation of a new regional order by America and other countries in a position to take a global view.
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