Palestinian Court Postpones October Local Elections - Dov Lieber (Times of Israel)
The Palestinian high court in Ramallah in the West Bank on Thursday postponed Palestinian municipal elections set for Oct. 8 following disputes between Fatah and Hamas over candidate lists.
Earlier on Thursday, a court in Gaza invalidated five electoral lists belonging to Fatah.
Report: Abbas Was a Soviet Spy in the 1980s - Tamar Pileggi (Times of Israel)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas was a Soviet mole in Damascus in 1983, Israel's Channel 1 television reported Wednesday, citing information in an archive smuggled out of the USSR.
Vasily Mitrokhin, a senior KGB archivist, defected to the UK in 1992. His edited notes were released in 2014, while his handwritten notes remain classified by MI5.
See also Soviet Document Suggests Mahmoud Abbas Was a KGB Spy in the 1980s - Peter Baker (New York Times)
Iran, Venezuela Involved in Cruise Missile Manufacturing (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
Mass media in Brazil and Venezuela reported that Tehran and Caracas developed a program to manufacture cruise missiles.
Veja Magazine, a Brazilian weekly, said Iran supported a Venezuelan program in 2009 to develop missiles and chemical compounds following the sanctions imposed on Tehran then.
Islamic State Claims 729 Suicide Attacks So Far in 2016 - Thomas Joscelyn (Long War Journal)
The Islamic State claims to have executed 729 "martyrdom operations" in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first eight months of 2016, with 81 such attacks in August alone.
They include 431 suicide bombings in Iraq, 268 in Syria, and 29 in Libya.
492 attacks employed vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, while 224 bombings involved explosive belts, jackets and vests.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Atlas Labeling Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Won't Be Pulled from Czech Schools (JTA)
The Czech Education Ministry said last week that a school atlas that labels Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would be removed following a complaint by the Palestinian ambassador in Prague.
But on Tuesday, Education Minister Katerina Valachova told Czech Radio that Jerusalem would not be removed from the textbooks after all.
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
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- As ISIS Loses Ground, It Sends Fighters to Europe - Martin Chulov
ISIS once controlled a stretch from Syria's Aleppo hinterland to Mosul in northern Iraq. It regularly moved men between the two points, using Turkey as a supply line for fighters, money and food. But now, in Syria and Iraq, the self-styled caliphate is rapidly contracting. A Baghdad-based U.S. diplomat said, "Everywhere [ISIS] tried to make a stand in recent times, they have been hosed out. They know it's near the end."
"Morale is desperate," one ISIS official tells the Guardian. "Even in Raqqa. But they are very smart. They have made plans for all of this. They are investing a lot in sending their people to Europe, and it won't be over soon." (Guardian-UK)
See also European Security Services Bracing for Return of Thousands of Jihadists as ISIS Loses Territory - Kim Sengupta
Security services are examining how to deal with thousands of Western jihadists who would seek to return to Europe as ISIS continues to lose territory in its "caliphate." These extremists, radicalized, armed and trained, will present a severe threat in the near future, "a ticking time bomb," say security officials.
Some 5,000-7,000 foreign fighters from Europe are believed to have joined ISIS and other hardline groups. Just under 800 have travelled from the UK, while around half are believed to have returned. (Independent-UK)
- Israel: Rise of Social Media Linked to Rising Anti-Semitism - Edith M. Lederer
Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon told a High-Level Forum on Anti-Semitism on Wednesday that media companies should "stop providing a platform for hate sites," saying there is a clear link between the rise of social media and the rise of anti-Semitism. He called on media companies to "start developing mechanisms to detect and report on racist and anti-Semitic search results."
Danon said Google recently took down an interactive program used to identify and target Jews on the Internet. It let users around the world "tag people who they thought had a Jewish-sounding name or who openly supported Israel," Danon said. "By the time it was shut down it had a vast database of names."
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power called for "more effective tools to monitor and confront anti-Semitism online and in social media." But she stressed that freedom of speech must be protected "even in some of its most hateful forms." (AP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Former Israel Security Agency Head: Unilateral Withdrawal from the West Bank Is Suicidal - Raphael Ahren
MK Avi Dichter, a former head of the Israel Security Agency (Israel's domestic intelligence service) who today chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Tuesday that Israel is not about to unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank. "A unilateral withdrawal is, as far as we're concerned, a suicidal leap," he said. Israel is not in any immediate danger and the status quo will continue until a genuine opportunity arises to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinians.
"We must not interpret the fact that [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas is not ready to promote a political process as a situation requiring Israel to act unilaterally against its own interests just to please any government, however sympathetic to Israel it may be."
Dichter said an Israeli military presence in the West Bank is "essential" to the country's security. (Times of Israel)
- Israel Helping Paraguay Fight Hizbullah - Herb Keinon
Israel is helping Paraguay take action against Hizbullah in the tri-border area with Argentina and Brazil, the Israel Foreign Ministry said Wednesday while announcing the reopening of Israel's embassy in Asuncion. "Israel cooperates with Paraguay in the battle against terrorism and maintains a supportive role in actions against Hizbullah at the tri-border region."
One official explained that intelligence cooperation has been taking place for years in the area, where there is a high concentration of Shi'ites of Lebanese descent who have set up a logistical base that assists Hizbullah. Paraguay is considered a close friend and has supported Israel at major international forums.
- Holy War of Words: Growing Saudi-Iranian Tensions - Simon Henderson
This year no Iranians will visit Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Last year, a tragic stampede killed hundreds of pilgrims, an incident in which Iran suffered more victims than any other country. This week Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared that Iranians who were injured last year were "murdered" and suggested that Saudi Arabia was not a proper custodian of the holy places.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the country's chief cleric,
responded by describing Iran's Shiite majority as "not Muslims." Anti-Shiite sentiment is common in Saudi Arabia.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Saudi Arabia Wants to Roll Back Iran - Arash Reisinezhad
On July 9, former Saudi intelligence head Prince Turki bin Faisal attended a rally for the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK) and called for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In March, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), which has not taken up arms for twenty years, engaged in bloody skirmishes with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in northwestern Iran. Tehran and Riyadh are backing different sides in Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon and Yemen.
See also Shiite Alliance Against Saudis Grows Tighter - Ali Mamouri
On Sept. 5, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attacked the Saudi alliance and described the Saudi leaders as strife instigators in the region. He blamed them for the chaos and destruction across the Muslim world, naming Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. On Aug. 18, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Falaki, a commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, announced the formation of a Shiite liberation army to face Saudi and Israeli threats, as Iran believes the two countries are allies.
Israel's Rights in the Territories under International Law - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- International law defines "occupation" as one power occupying the lands of a foreign sovereign, but Israel is not occupying any foreign sovereign's land. Israel entered the area known as the West Bank in 1967 and took over the authority to administer the land from Jordan, which was never considered to be a sovereign in the area.
- In actual fact, Israel and the Jewish people have got claims to the area that go far back into history. Therefore, Israel considers the territories not to be Palestinian, but as in dispute.
- Israel is committed to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians in order to find a permanent settlement to the issue.
- The international community's constant referral to the "Palestinian territories" is a complete fallacy and has absolutely no legal or political basis. There's no international agreement that determines that the territories belong to the Palestinians.
- In the Oslo agreement, the Palestinians acknowledge the fact that the ultimate permanent status of the territory is to be determined by negotiations.
- The Palestinians have agreed that the issue of settlements is one of the issues on the permanent status negotiating table. Therefore, anybody who claims that Israel's settlements are illegitimate is prejudging an issue which is to be negotiated by the parties.
- Thus, nobody can claim that the settlements are illegitimate or illegal.
The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon.
See also Video - International Law Expert: Israel Is Not an "Occupier" - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
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