Rouhani: No Options Left for Palestinians But Jihad (Fars-Iran)
"There is no way but jihad and resistance for the Palestinians against the usurper [Zionist] regime," Iranian President Rouhani said in a meeting with Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah in Tehran on Tuesday.
See also Hamas: Ties with Iran Getting Better Every Day (ISNA-Iran)
Hamas representative in Iran Khaled al-Qaddumi told the Iranian Students' News Agency Tuesday that Iran-Hamas ties are getting better every day.
Photos: Jihadis Celebrate Capture of Russian Base in Palmyra, Syria - Thomas Joscelyn (Long War Journal)
The Islamic State's Amaq news agency released a video Tuesday showing its men sorting through the weapons and ammunition left behind at a Russian base in Palmyra, Syria.
The video shows some Russian books on a table and paraphernalia scattered on the floor, but it appears the Russians were gone by the time the jihadis showed up.
Amaq also produced an infographic documenting the spoils seized during the four-day battle in Homs province: 44 tanks, 7 infantry fighting vehicles, 7 130mm cannons, 14 23mm cannons, several anti-armor rocket launchers, dozens of anti-armor rockets, various automatic weapons, military vehicles, and ammunition.
The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
U.S. to Halt Some Arms Sales to Saudis, Citing Civilian Deaths in Yemen - Phil Stewart and Warren Strobel (Reuters)
The U.S. has decided to limit military support to Saudi Arabia's campaign in Yemen because of concerns over widespread civilian casualties and will halt a planned arms sale to the kingdom, U.S. officials said.
However, the U.S. will keep refueling Saudi-led coalition aircraft involved in the campaign, revamp training of the kingdom's air force to improve targeting practices, and share more intelligence with the Saudis on their border with Yemen, where the kingdom has been subject to cross-border attacks by the Iran-allied Houthi movement.
Israeli Officials Will Not Meet Visiting Swedish Foreign Minister - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
A senior Israel Foreign Ministry official said no government representative will meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom during her visit to the region this week.
He said the reason was the government's unhappiness with Sweden's policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and Wallstrom's own statements linking the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"We reached the conclusion that there's nobody to talk to and nothing to talk about," the official said.
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- Rouhani Issues Orders in Retaliation for U.S. Extension of Iran Sanctions Act
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has issued orders to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi to pursue an appropriate response in the wake of the U.S. violation of the Iran nuclear deal (the JCPOA) by extending the Iran Sanctions Act.
On December 1, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to renew the Iran Sanctions Act for another decade. Iran had vowed that its passage would be an absolute violation of the deal and it would take retaliatory measures based on the JCPOA. (Mehr-Iran)
See also Iran to Work on Nuclear-Powered Ships after U.S. "Violation" of Atomic Deal - Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Shadia Nasralla
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered scientists on Tuesday to start developing systems for nuclear-powered marine vessels in response to what he called a U.S. violation of the 2015 atomic deal. Nuclear experts said that Rouhani's move, if carried out, would probably require Iran to enrich uranium to a purity above the maximum level set in the nuclear deal. (Reuters)
- Jerusalem Mayor Hopes Trump Will Move U.S. Embassy - Audrey Horowitz and Isaac Scharf
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Tuesday that he is confident Donald Trump will move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and has been in touch with Trump's staff about the issue. While previous presidential candidates have made similar promises, Barkat said his conversations have led him to believe that Trump is serious.
"My intuition tells me that it's different this time, knowing the people," Barkat said. "The United States of America has embassies in all of the world's capitals with the exception of Israel. That's absurd, and moving the embassy to the capital of the Jewish people, to Jerusalem, is a straightforward, standard thing to do."
On Monday, Trump's spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway said moving the embassy to Jerusalem "is a very big priority for this president-elect, Donald Trump. He made that very clear during the campaign....And as president-elect, I've heard him repeat it several times privately, if not publicly." (AP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israeli Prime Minister Hails Azerbaijan Cooperation as Beacon of Jewish-Muslim Coexistence - Raphael Ahren
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday hailed Israel's cooperation with Azerbaijan as a positive example of Muslim-Jewish coexistence after meeting in Baku with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. "Here we have an example of Muslims and Jews working together to promise a better future for both of us," Netanyahu said. "This is an example of how the Muslim-Jewish relationship can and should be everywhere."
Muslim Azerbaijan is one of Israel's main trading partners. (Times of Israel)
See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets with Azerbaijan President Aliyev (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israel-Azerbaijan Relations: Discreet But Close - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Azerbaijan on Dec. 13, a secular Shia Muslim country that borders Iran. A cable from the American Embassy in Baku in 2009, published by WikiLeaks, accurately described the relations between Israel and Azerbaijan:
"Azerbaijan's relations with Israel are discreet but close. Each country finds it easy to identify with the other's geopolitical difficulties and both rank Iran as an existential security threat. Israel's world-class defense industry with its relaxed attitude about its customer base is a perfect match for Azerbaijan's substantial defense needs that are largely left unmet by the United States, Europe, and Russia for various reasons tied to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh." (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Palestinian Poll: 2/3 Demand Abbas' Resignation - Dr. Khalil Shikaki
64% of the Palestinian public want President Abbas to resign,
according to a poll conducted last week among 1,270 Palestinians by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. If new presidential elections were held today between Hamas' Ismail Haniyeh and Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, Haniyeh would receive 49% compared to 45% for Abbas.
In the West Bank Abbas receives 45% and Haniyeh 47%.
53% support a return to an armed intifada. 53% said they wanted U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to stay out of the peace process. 62% support abandoning the Oslo agreement. 73% believe that Abbas should reject the Israeli Prime Minister's invitation to speak in front of the Israeli Knesset. 50% think it was a wrong decision to send fire fighting vehicles and men to combat recent fires in Israel.
Perception of corruption in PA institutions stands at 76%. Only 36% of the Palestinian public say people in the West Bank can criticize the PA without fear. 52% believe that Israel intends to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock and replace them with a Jewish temple. (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
- BDS Momentum Stalls on U.S. Campuses - Ben Sales
Within two weeks in February 2015 the BDS movement - which aims to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel - scored three campus victories: at Northwestern University's student Senate, the University of California Student Association, and Stanford University's Undergraduate Senate.
But nearly two years later, the wave seems to have receded. Of about a dozen BDS resolutions passed since November 2015, only two or three have come at major universities. A BDS resolution at the University of Michigan failed last month.
Most significantly, not one university has actually divested from Israel or companies targeted for doing business in the West Bank. Hillel International President Eric Fingerhut told JTA, "We have been in touch with university leaders, trustees and administrators to help them oppose, to help them understand why any kind of academic boycott or divestment would be the wrong thing to do. They've all agreed with that position." (JTA)
- The Palestinian Leadership that Doesn't Represent Palestinians - Diana Buttu
The recent Fatah Congress ended with disappointingly predictable results. Of the 18 members of the Executive Committee, the governing body of Fatah, once again 17 are men, and only one person is in his 40s.
The average age of the Executive Committee is pushing past 65 and is advancing with each congress. Abbas was once again elected head of Fatah and, once again, the top 12 members of the Executive Committee are the same members (in the exact order) of the committee that preceded it.
With Mahmoud Abbas desperate to cling to and consolidate power despite being in his 80s, and working to quash any opposition to his ineffective rule, he actively set out to undermine Fatah by not allowing dissenting members to attend the congress, disqualifying members and appointing those who would support his oppressive rule.
The Palestinian Legislative Council's term expired more than six years ago; it has not met in nine years. Abbas rules by presidential decree. In other countries, this would be called a dictatorship, yet Abbas is treated as a world leader and the representative of the Palestinian people. Abbas has made it normal that a Palestinian leader can cancel elections because his ratings are unpopular. The writer served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team from 2000 to 2005.
Israel: EU Labelling Rules Have "Non-Existent Impact" - Nigel Wilson (Al Jazeera)
- A year after the European Union issued labelling guidelines for products imported from Israeli settlements, the economic effect on settlement businesses appears to be minimal, according to analysts.
- "What's actually happened, and I think part of it is due to ferocious Israeli pushback, is that there's very little follow up on the guidelines," said Hugh Lovatt, Israel/Palestine project coordinator at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
- The Israeli government drew comparisons between the labelling guidelines and anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe around the time of the Second World War. Implementation seems to have been limited throughout Europe.
- When a German department store removed settlement products in order to re-label them, the store was targeted in an online campaign and accused of "anti-Semitism," forcing it to apologize and re-stock the products within days.
- At the Psagot Winery in the West Bank, owner Yaakov Berg has not changed a single label on his wine bottles and said his winery has actually increased the amount of wine it sells internationally.
- "We are selling much more. To Europe and to the States, we increased exports by almost 80%," said Berg, noting that a number of buyers came to him specifically to show solidarity against the EU labelling decision.
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