There are still honourable Israelis who demand a state for the Palestinians; there are well-educated Saudis who object to the crazed Wahabism upon which their kingdom is founded; there are millions of Americans, from sea to shining sea, who do not believe that Iran is their enemy nor Saudi Arabia their friend. But the problem today in both East and West is that our governments are not our friends
Theresa May has already suppressed a report so it wouldn’t upset the Saudis. And we wonder why we go to war with the Middle East AFP
When Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite channel has both the Saudis and the Israelis demanding its closure, it must be doing something right. To bring Saudi head-choppers and Israeli occupiers into alliance is, after all, something of an achievement.
But don’t get too romantic about this. When the wealthiest Saudis fall…
Iran condemns its soccer players for match with Israeli team
By Associated PressAugust 4 at 10:17 AM
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s soccer federation condemned two Iranians who play for a Greek team on Friday for participating in a match against an Israeli team, Iranian media reported.The federation “strongly condemns” the participation of Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi in a match for Greece’s Panionios against Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv a day earlier in Greece, it said in a statement reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.
On its Farsi-language Twitter account, Israel’s foreign ministry praised the players for ignoring what is considered a taboo in Iran by playing against the Israelis. Maccabi won the UEFA Europa League match 1-0.
Israel and Iran are bitter adversaries and traditionally, Iranian athletes refrain from playing Israelis. Iran’s government usually rewards such behavior.
The federation said it is reviewing the case and will make a final decision after speaking with both players who in the past have also played for the national soccer team. Fars reported that the two may now be banned from playing on that team again.
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At a previous match against Maccabi in Tel Aviv, both refused to play.
The last competition between Iranian and Israeli sportsmen on the international level dates back to a wrestling match in 1983 in Kiev, Ukraine. From time to time, Iranian players who play for foreign teams have played Israeli teams.
In February, a teenage Iranian chess player angered authorities when he played, as an individual, against an Israeli competitor in the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival.
Iran does not recognize Israel, and supports anti-Israeli militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Reuters
Ramallah- Hamas movement has ignited the battle over the early succession of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by announcing that the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council would assume his position if Abbas could not carry out his duties.
“The Palestinian basic law stipulates that if the president’s health deteriorates, if he dies or can not carry out his job, then the president of the Legislative Council (parliament) should assume his position for 60 days in preparation for holding elections,” said Ahmad Bahar, a leader in the Islamic Movement that governs Gaza Strip.
Bahar recalled a similar incident in 2004, when former President Yasser Arafat passed away and was replaced by Speaker of the Parliament – back then Rouhi Fattouh. He stressed that the National Council has nothing to do with this matter.
Bahar’s statements came amid rising fears of a vacuum in the Palestinian political system after Abbas, especially following a slight setback in his health that demanded him to do some medical tests in Ramallah.
While Hamas says that Speaker of the Legislative Council Aziz Duwaik, pro-Hamas, will succeed Abbas, Fatah is preparing for a totally different plan and is discussing different scenarios, but it will first elect a new executive committee for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The National Council will convene a meeting at any time before the end of the year to elect a new Executive Committee for the PLO. Fatah officials say the election of a new committee comes within the framework of renewing Palestinian legitimacy. Yet, observers say that it also paves the way for a safe and smooth transition of power.
They are not only Palestinian concerns but also Arab as well as Israeli. The Israeli security services have put forward several post-Abbas scenarios.
It is believed that Fatah movement will elect one of its members in the Central Committee for membership of the Executive Committee of the PLO, and this will be, according to the Fathawi Khales’s concept, the closest person nominated to succeed Abbas.
Notably, there is still no vice president for Abbas since the basic constitution of the Palestinian Authority (PA) does not include the position of vice president, but there is a deputy to the president of Fatah movement, who is Mahmoud al-Aloul, the former governor of Nablus.
The other scenario might lead to reconciliation with Hamas and carrying out new public elections.
With this legal dispute and with the absence of a vice president, fears of a vacuum in the Palestinian political system are growing.
These concerns are not only limited to Palestinians but also to Arabs and Israelis as the Israeli security services put several scenarios for the post-Abbas era.
Children at a Hamas summer camp staged a reenactment of the recent tensions at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, with kids dressed up as Hamas fighters pretending to storm the compound and “liberate” the holy site.
When the “worshipers” refuse an order to leave the Mount by the kids playing border guards, the “officers” aim their guns at the group and drive them away from the metal detectors, forcing them to hold prayers outside the site.
At the conclusion of the prayers, several of the children stand up and declare, “We want to liberate Al-Aqsa,” and one of them pretends to stab one of the kids playing Border Police officers.
The rest of the group proceeds to pelt the border policemen with rocks to chants of “Allahu Akbar,” and the officers open fire. The play’s narrator announces that “one martyr has fallen while carrying out a stabbing operation” after “killing one of the Zionist pigs.”
Children take part in a reenactment of the Temple Mount crisis during a Hamas summer camp in the Gaza Strip in July 2017. (Screen capture: MEMRI)
With the riot escalating, the “officers” attack the crowd, and sounds sounds of gunfire can be heard alongside flurries of smoke meant to represent tear gas, and the announcer declares that “another martyr has fallen” in the melee.
As the riot ends, a group of kids dressed up as members of Hamas’s military wing arrive to “liberate the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” while the rioters chant, “With our souls and our blood we will redeem you, O Al-Aqsa,” a line often said by protesters during the actual standoff over the security measures at the site.
After blowing up the metal detectors, the terrorists proceed to knock down the rest of the gates and storm the Temple Mount in a hail of gunfire, as the narrator says “the mujahideen [holy warriors] are confronting the Zionist pigs and wiping them out.”
Following their violent takeover the Temple Mount, one of the terrorists addresses the crowd, saying that the terror group will stand with them in “the battle for the liberation of Jerusalem and of Palestine in its entirety,” and explaining that “this is a battle to break the chains, to shatter the shackles and to liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the defilement of the occupation.”
Children take part in a reenactment of the Temple Mount crisis during a Hamas summer camp in the Gaza Strip in July 2017. (Screen capture: MEMRI)
Israel installed metal detectors at the Temple Mount after a July 14 terror attack at the site, in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two police officers using weapons an accomplice smuggled into the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Last week, Israel removed the metal detectors and other new security measures after nearly two weeks of widespread unrest and accusations that it was seeking to change the longstanding arrangements in place at the site.
As part of its boycott against praying at the site, Muslim worshipers held daily prayers outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, which often devolved into violent clashes.
The security measures were also cited in a pair of terror attacks, including one in the West Bank settlement of Halamish, where a Palestinian man broke into a home and stabbed to death three members of a family as they celebrated Shabbat.
Although no terror group took responsibility for the attack, a Hamas spokesperson praised the shooting as a “natural response to Israeli terrorism and the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” and insisted that it proves “that the intifada continues and our people are united behind the resistance.”
Hamas is an Islamist terrorist group avowedly committed to the elimination of Israel. It violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction has called for Muslims to “intensify the popular struggle” over the Temple Mount, despite the removal of metal detectors and security cameras from the holy site after a week of protests over the increased security measures.
Muslim worshipers have stayed away from the sacred Jerusalem compound since Israel installed metal detectors there last week, in the wake of a July 14 terror attack carried out with guns that had been smuggled onto the Mount. Instead, they have performed mass prayer protests outside the shrine, some of which devolved into clashes with Israeli security forces.
Following the shooting, Israel took the rare step of closing the Temple Mount to Muslim worshipers on a Friday — the holiest day of the week in Islam — in order to search for weapons, before reopening it two days later after installing metal detectors at the entrances to the compound. Previously detectors had only been placed at the Mughrabi Gate, the entrance for non-Muslim visitors.
The detectors were removed early Tuesday morning amid intense pressure from the Arab and Muslim world, although metal railings and scaffolding placed by the police in recent days are still in the area where the metal detectors once stood, and Muslims again stayed away in protest.
In its Wednesday decision, the Fatah Central Committee said that it would continue protests over the security measures and called for this week’s Friday prayers to again take place outside of the compound. Last Friday saw violent protests in several Jerusalem locations at the end of prayers.
Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Abbas Momani)
Abbas said on Tuesday he will maintain a freeze on security coordination with Israel — an unprecedented step imposed in the wake of the placement of the metal detectors — “unless all measures go back to what they were before July 14.”
“All the new Israeli measures on the ground from that date to the present are supposed to disappear,” he said. “Then things will return to normal in Jerusalem and we will continue our work after that in relation to bilateral relations between us and them.”
After Tuesday evening prayers, violence once again broke out in East Jerusalem, with rocks thrown at police officers, who responded with tear gas and other “non-lethal crowd disposal methods,” police said in a statement.
The tensions surrounding the site were also cited by assailants in two recent terror attacks, including last week when a Palestinian stabbed to death three members of the Salomon family in the West Bank settlement of Halamish as they celebrated Shabbat.
The security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians, in place for years despite near-frozen diplomatic ties, is seen as critical for both Israel and Abbas’s Fatah faction to keep a lid on violence in the West Bank, particularly from the Hamas terror group.
In January 2016, head of the PA’s security forces Majed Faraj said his forces, working with Israeli security services, managed to foil hundreds of attacks against Israelis in less than a year.
Despite the removal of the metal detectors and security cameras Tuesday, Muslim leaders advised worshipers to continue to stay away from the Temple Mount.
The Jordanian-controlled Waqf Islamic trust, which administers the site, said a decision to continue the boycott was pending a review of new Israeli security arrangements there.
Overnight Tuesday, Israel’s security cabinet said it would replace the metal detectors with “advanced technologies,” referring reportedly to cameras that can detect hidden objects, but said the process could take up to six months.
Muslim women pray outside Jerusalem’s Old City on July 25, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
A Waqf official told The Times of Israel that it was continuing the boycott of the Temple Mount until all security measures added after the attack are removed.
The official noted that “the new high tech cameras” would not be accepted in place of the metal detectors.
Waqf officials pointed to the increased police presence as an example of security measures they demanded be removed along with the metal detectors.
Raoul Wootliff and Dov Lieber contributed to this report.
Post July 18th 2017
1. Where is the leadership of the Palestinians? Yes, they are somewhere. Abu Mazen, the one that control (not leading) Palestine is fighting for his reputation and position. He must do it as the Gaza branch of Palestine don’t recognize him and want to kill him. (Please pay attention that the solution for every dispute, in the Muslim world, is a kill). So, in order to give Gaza revenge he stopped all payments to support Gaza. (It is not just the name. In Gaza live people, Muslims, million). So far the Gazan authority, the Hamas, used to get support from various sources like Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Syria, S. Arabia and more. But, now days, they get nothing. They are neglected by the Arab/Muslim countries. So, the overall situation in Gaza is deteriorating sharply. One of the results is that the previous leader of Hamas Gaza, Ismail Haniea, who was elected to the chairman of Hamas, is not allowed/accepted to live in any of the Arab states. He wanted to settle in one of the Gulf States. None of them approved his staying there. Why? Because the Arab states saw that they can’t trust him, which means not trusting Hamas, because they, Hamas, give only troubles everywhere they are present.
2. This situation causes Israel a lot of hardships. For example: The Gazans that so far, used to process their own sewage stopped doing it. They just let the water flow. The water penetrates into the water equipper and infects the cleanliness of the fresh water. The funny thing is that they don’t care. They drink poisoned water. Nobody of them say a word because their health services don’t issue, to the public, any info of what is going. So, the number of sick people increases, in the hot summer time, substantially. Couple of children died.
3. Their brothers/enemies, the Palestinians, of Abu Mazen, are very happy with this situation as instead of behaving with understanding to each other they behave like enemies. The situation is such that they bless each other to die. This is what the Arab leadership is doing instead of taking care of their poor people. Is it not shame?
4. After the murder of 2 Israeli Druze policemen, and in order to eliminate smuggling of arms and ammunition to the mount temple, Israel installed Magnometers/metal detectors. The Muslim Imams refused to go through it as they claimed that it is a change in the status quo. The status quo was that Israeli Jews must pass through the detecting posts while the Arabs not. The reason was that Israelis were more disciplined while the Muslims are not at all. As for them the murder of the 2 Israeli policemen was not a change in the status quo. Their status quo was that they kill Israeli policemen with the permission of their imams and the Quran. But to prevent the murder is a change of their education and behavior. Can you understand it? I don’t. Do you agree to it? I am doubt especially if you think that such a murder can happen in your family. Muslim Logic
5. Funny enough. When I visited in one of my work trips the Mosques in S, Arabia, I noticed that they have Magnometers and cameras installed and everybody goes through. No Imams were complaining. OK. There they must secure the Muslims from the Muslims and/or other people. But in Israel they refuse to it as the Imams support their crowd. Actually the Imams are part of the terror movement as they allow storing weapons and other attack means in the Mosques. They are criminals that are looking to become Shahids in order to have 72 virgins in paradise. They should be sent to hell, instead.
6. And what Jordan is saying? This is peculiar. The king of Jordan condemned the attack (Friday. 2 Arab Druze Israeli policemen were murdered). But his Parliament praises it. As for the honorable Parliament delegates the murder of Arabs by Arabs is a big challenge. Where they learned it from? From………..you know: The holy Quran.
7. The status quo is that the Wakf, the representatives of the Islam, is managing the Temple mount. As such they must do everything to allow all religions worship. They blame Israel for disturbing this order. Their sense says that the 3 terrorists got their education and instruction, to murder, in mosques in Israel. As for them it is easier to blame the victim, Israel, than to blame their Muslim brothers. I am sure that every Muslim will accept the fact that Israel is guilty. Why? Because Israel occupies Palestine that was conquered in a defense war after Israel was attacked by 3 Arab countries, Egypt, Syria and Jordan that were supported by all Muslim countries and although they, all 3 attackers, were defeated, they still claim that Israel is guilty/responsible for the occupation. Can anybody tell me why while Palestine was under full Jordanian rule (1948-1956), nothing was done to proceed the peace and the Muslims kept attacking Israel?
8. PM Netaniahu is visiting France. In a correspondence conference the president of France said the following brave words: “The new anti-Semitism is the anti-Zionism”. This is the best short explanation what the Muslims do: They wake up the anti-Semitism under the cover of Anti Zionism. Well, like in many instances they failed. They will fail now as well.
9. Disastrous. An Israeli Muslim man who his daughter wanted to convert due to unrequited love, with Christian Arab man, murdered her because he was against this step. Where did they learn to cut lives of youngsters that easy? We all know and there is no reason to repeat after saying so many times that the Quran recommends murder very easily.
10. Here are the words of another genius, big supporter of the Arabs. His name is Sir R. Waters. In a conversation that was transmitted in FB (That I dislike the way they dislike me) Waters was asked his opinion about the claim of S. African artists that there is nothing to compare between the apartheid in Israel and, in the past, in S. Africa. He replied: “The Israeli propaganda do like the Nazi Gebles did. He used to lay very often the same lie so the people accept it like it was the truth. So Israel is doing”. He said that he can’t convince the American about the Muslim’s rights as the Israeli propaganda is more influencing. Now let me tell you Mr. Waters. You will never win as you can lie as much as you want but you will catch in your net just the small fish/sardines/anchovy. They eat everything. You will never catch the big fish as they are smart and they know that you lie. This is all the Torah on one leg.
11. The 1st and major way of Water’s propaganda is publishing anti-Semitism. As long as he doesn’t understand it he will fail. Please tell him.
12. This is the Israeli formula for top win against all Arabs and Muslims. As long as they will not understand it and will not adopt Israel’s way they will lose. The place was the world’s Olympiad for Chemistry. 4 Israeli high school students participated it. 3 of them returned with medals: One of them was ranked silver ( 2nd). More 2 were ranked 3rd (Bronz). The competition was based on 2 parts. The 1st one was theory and the 2nd practicing. Another Israeli team won last year the 1st and 2nd places. Well, this is what I wrote in the forward to this chapter: Please, you, the sensible people among the Arabs: Go and study. It will help you. Don’t make wars. Make your homework. Neglect wars. Peace is the name of the game. Row towards it and win.
13. The fight in Israel is endless. In order to clarify the situation please let me quote a short sentence from the resolution of the UN: “In Nov. 29th 1947 the general assembly of the UN published a resolution that enforces the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel. All citizens must take all measures needed to execute this resolution. This recognition of the UN in the rights of Jewish people on the land of Israel is not being expropriated”. More over: “Jerusalem will have unique international rule that will be established not later than Oct. 1st 1948”. Well, how this meets with the stupid resolutions that the stupid UN produce daily. Please think of
DOHA, Qatar — Take a drive in Doha, leaving behind the mirrored skyscrapers and palm-fringed avenues of this gas-rich city, and the protagonists of myriad conflicts are in easy reach.
In one western district, near the campuses hosting branches of American universities, Taliban officials and their families can be found window-shopping in the cavernous malls or ordering takeout meals from a popular Afghan eatery.
A few miles away at a vast United States military base with 9,000 American personnel, warplanes take off on missions to bomb the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — and sometimes the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Officials from Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, work from a luxury villa near the British Embassy, and recently held a news conference in a ballroom at the pyramid-shape Sheraton hotel.
The Sheraton hotel in Doha.CreditKarim Jaafar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
And an elderly Egyptian cleric, a fugitive from Cairo, is a popular fixture on the city’s swank social scene, and was recently spotted at a wedding by an American diplomat who was attending the same celebration.
This is the atmosphere of intrigue and opulence for which the capital of Qatar, a dust-blown backwater until a few decades ago, has become famous as the great freewheeling hub of the Middle East.
Against a backdrop of purring limousines and dhows moored in the bay, Doha has become home to an exotic array of fighters, financiers and ideologues, a neutral city with echoes of Vienna in the Cold War, or a Persian Gulf version of the fictional pirate bar in the “Star Wars” movies.
Yet that welcome-all attitude is precisely what has recently angered Qatar’s much larger neighbors and plunged the Middle East into one of its most dramatic diplomatic showdowns. For more than a month, four Arab countries have imposed a sweeping air, sea and land blockade against Qatarthat, in a nutshell, boils down to a demand that Doha abandon its adventurist foreign policy, and that it stop giving shelter to such a broad range of agents in its capital.
So far, the blockade is not working, and the crisis looks set to worsen. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson flew back to Washington on Thursday after days of apparently fruitless shuttle diplomacy in the region. The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain have also intervened, without success.
The blockading nations — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emiratesand Bahrain — insist that Qatar is using an open-door policy to destabilize its neighbors. They say that Doha, rather than the benign meeting ground described by Qataris, is a city where terrorism is bankrolled, not battled against.
Qatar’s self-identity as a center of refuge dates to the 19th century, when its desolate and semilawless territory offered sanctuary to outlaws, pirates and people fleeing persecution across the Arabian Peninsula.
“It’s always been this place where waifs and strays and unwanted people ended up,” said David Robert, the author of “Qatar: Securing the Global Ambitions of a City-State” and an assistant professor at King’s College in London. “There was no overarching power on the peninsula, so if you were wanted by a sheikh, you could escape to Qatar and nobody would bother you.”
In the 19th century, Qatar’s founding leader, Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, called it the “Kaaba of the dispossessed” — a reference to the revered black cube at the Great Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, and a figurative way of describing Qatar as a lodestar for those seeking refuge.
That national trait turned into a policy for Al Thani’s descendants, who since the mid-1990s have thrown open Qatar’s doors to dissidents and exiles of every stripe. Doha has welcomed Saddam Hussein’s family, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, the iconoclastic Indian painter M. F. Husain and the Chechen warlord Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, who was assassinated in the city by Russian secret agents in 2004. (The agents were caught and later extradited to Russia.)
A QatarGas offshore drilling rig in the Persian Gulf. Qatar shares the world’s third-largest gas field with Iran.CreditUllstein Bild, via Getty Images
Qatar can afford to be generous. It shares the world’s third-largest gas field with Iran, yet has just 300,000 citizens, making it the richest country per capita. In recent decades, Doha has transformed into a gleaming metropolis of global ambition where luxury cars crowd the streets and world-renowned architects have traced its futuristic skyline. An army of imported laborers is building stadiums and subway lines for the 2022 World Cup.
But among fellow Arab states, Qatar’s image has been shaped by its contentious policy of come one, come all.
In Doha, wealthy Qataris and Western expatriates mingle with Syrian exiles, Sudanese commanders and Libyan Islamist’s, many of them funded by the Qatari state. The Qataris sometimes play peacemaker: Their diplomats brokered a peace deal in Lebanon in 2008 and negotiated the release of numerous hostages, including Peter Theo Curtis, an American journalist being held in Syria, in 2014.
But critics say that, often as not, rather than acting as a neutral peacemaker, Qatar takes sides in conflicts — helping oust Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya in 2011, or turning a blind eye to wealthy citizens who funnel cash to extremist Islamist groups in Syria.
And what infuriates the Saudis, Emiratis, Egyptians and Bahrainis most of all is that Doha has also provided shelter to Islamist dissidents from their own countries — and given them a voice on the Qatar-owned television station, Al Jazeera.
The Egyptian cleric seen at a wedding recently, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is a prominent booster for the Muslim Brotherhood and once had an influential show on Al Jazeera, where he dispensed teachings on matters from suicide bombings to personal sexuality.
“We have the ‘children bomb,’ and these human bombs must continue until liberation,” he told his audience in 2002.
Even though Mr. Qaradawi is now 91 and stopped his TV show four years ago, his presence in Qatar is an irritant for Egypt, and his name is featured prominently on a list of 59 people that the blockading countries want deported from Qatar. They have also demanded the closing of Al Jazeera.
This and many of the demands from the blockading countries are seen as impossibly broad, leading to widespread pessimism that the standoff will end anytime soon.
“The Emiratis and the Saudis seem to have miscalculated their position,” said Mehran Kamrava, the author of “Qatar: Small State, Big Politics” and a professor at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. “They thought that if they went all-out with a blockade, the Qataris would balk. But they haven’t.”
Doha’s Taliban residents do not figure on the list of demands from the blockaders, but their presence does embody the wider debate around the merits of Qatar’s open-door approach.
Peace talks between the militants and Afghan officials, initiated by the United States in 2013, quickly collapsed. Yet a Taliban contingent stayed on, and Doha is now is home to about 100 Taliban officials and their relatives, who live comfortably at Qatari state expense, one Afghan official said.
There were further, unofficial talks in 2015 and 2016. But as the fight in Afghanistan grinds on, some experts question whether the supposed Taliban peace advocates might be quietly facilitating more war.
Michael Semple, a Taliban scholar at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, said that until the blockade, Taliban leaders in Qatar were known to frequently travel by road from Qatar, through Saudi Arabia, to the United Arab Emirates, where they have investments, and to fund-raise there among the Afghan communities in the cities of Sharjah and Dubai.
“Clearly they are using their foothold in the gulf to try and fund-raise and legitimize,” he said. “If they haven’t broached the substantive issues around peace, and the other gains are modest, then you could argue that that Qatar initiative makes things worse.”
In recent years, Doha has been home to Khaled Mishal, who stepped down this year as leader of Hamas, and the country provided the group a site for talks with the former British prime minister and Mideast peace envoy Tony Blair, in 2015.
Although former Secretary of State John F. Kerry publicly criticized the Hamas presence, American officials privately say they would prefer Hamas was based in Doha rather than in a hostile capital like Tehran.
The promenade known locally as the Doha Corniche in Doha.CreditNaseem Zeitoon/Reuters
In keeping with its open-door approach, Doha was home to an Israeli trade office from 1996 to 2008. Although relations have soured, Qatar promises that Israel will be allowed to participate in the 2022 World Cup.
In the current crisis, Qatar is leveraging the wide range of ties its foreign policy has fostered. Food supplies and a few dozen soldiers from Turkey arrived in Doha after the embargo started on June 5. Turkish news reports say the military contingent could swell to 1,000 troops, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Doha in the coming days.
Late one night last weekend, revelers were spilling from a trendy hotel nightclub in Doha as two athletic Turkish men checked in. Entering the elevator with their bags, they declared themselves glad to be in Doha, and described themselves as working in the “defense sector,” then with a smile declined to say any more.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash. Reuters
Abu Dhabi- UAE has accused al-Jazeera TV station of spreading sectarianism and promoting violence and anti-Semitism in response to UN’s refusal to call on the Arab countries that have boycotted Doha to shut the channel.
UAE Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, addressing his country’s concerns that the Doha-based network promotes extremist ideologies.
The letter highlighted how al-Jazeera has promoted anti-Semitic violence by broadcasting sermons by spiritual leader of Muslim Brotherhood Yusuf al-Qaradawi in which he praised Hitler, described the Holocaust as “divine punishment” and called on Allah to “take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people and kill them, down to the very last one.”
“While the protection of the right of freedom of expression is of fundamental importance, this protection is not absolute, and restrictions on the right are permitted under the international law to protect national security and public order,” said Gargash in his letter sent.
“Freedom of expression cannot be used to justify and shield the promotion of extremist narratives,” the letter notes.
The minister recalled UN Security Council Resolution 1624 (2005), a historic resolution that focused on messages that often precede acts of terrorism and called on states to prohibit and prevent incitement to commit terrorist acts.
The letter referred to the Joint Declaration on Freedom of Expression and Countering Violent Extremism adopted by the special rapporteur and several regional and human rights bodies.
It recognized that states may restrict reporting that is intended to incite imminent violence, and there is a direct and immediate connection between the reporting and the likelihood or occurrence of such violence.
In this regard, the letter makes clear that al-Jazeera’s reporting has repeatedly crossed the threshold of incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination, and lists several examples of such content.
For instance, on February 18, 2008, following the re-publication of a blasphemous cartoon, al-Jazeera TV broadcast a speech by the spokesman of the Salah al-Din brigades in Gaza that called on Muslims to “burn down the offices of the newspapers that affronted our Prophet, and bomb them so that body parts go flying.”
Also included in the letter are numerous examples of the ongoing editorial support for terrorist groups and on-air promotion of sectarianism by the Qatari channel’s journalists.
The letter mentioned that, over the years, “the Qatari-owned and controlled al-Jazeera Arabic has provided a platform to Osama bin Laden (al-Qaeda), Abu Mohammed al-Jolani (al-Nusra), Khaled Mashal (Hamas), Mohammed Deif (Hamas), Anwar al-Awlaki (al-Qaeda), Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah), Ramadan Shallah (Palestinian Islamic Jihad), and Abdel Hakim Belhadj (Libyan ISIS Group), among others.
The letter explained that these interviews gave terrorist groups opportunities to threaten, recruit and incite, without challenge or restraint.
The minister reiterated that the UAE’s strong objections to al-Jazeera are not a matter of disagreement on its editorial standpoints but are a direct and necessary response to its persistent and dangerous incitement to hostility, violence and discrimination.
In light of the alarming examples quoted in the letter, these objections are legitimate, well founded and reasonable.
The letter concluded with an invitation to the High Commissioner to discuss additional cases of al-Jazeera’s promotion of extremist ideologies and ways to protect the right of freedom of expression in the face of such egregious abuses.
Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.
The United States will quietly try to calm the waters between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, current and former U.S. officials said on Monday, arguing that the small Gulf state was too important to U.S. military and diplomatic interests to be isolated.
U.S. officials were blindsided by Saudi Arabia’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar in a coordinated move with Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the current and former officials said.
In announcing the decision to cut ties, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of providing support to Shi’ite Iran, which is in a tussle for regional supremacy with Riyadh, and to Islamist militants. [nL8N1J252R]
Washington has many reasons to want to promote comity within the region. Qatar is host to the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East at Al Udeid, a staging ground for U.S.-led strikes on the Islamic State militant group that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq. U.S. Donald Trump has made defeating Islamic State a priority of his presidency.
Further, Qatar’s willingness to welcome organizations such as Hamas, which Washington brands a terrorist group, and the Taliban, which has fought U.S. forces in Afghanistan for more than 15 years, allows contacts with such groups when needed.
“There is a certain utility,” one U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. “There’s got to be a place for us to meet the Taliban. The Hamas (folks) have to have a place to go where they can be simultaneously isolated and talked to.”
The current and former U.S. officials said they were unable to identify precisely what may have triggered the four countries’ coordinated decision to cut ties, which was later followed by Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives.
They said the Saudis may have felt empowered by the warm embrace that Trump gave them when he visited Riyadh in May and adopted a harsh anti-Iran stance.
“My suspicion is (they felt) emboldened by what Trump said on his visit and … that they feel they have got some kind of backing,” said a former U.S. official. “I don’t know that they needed any more of a green light than they got in public.”
A senior administration official told Reuters the United States got no indication from the Saudis or Emiratis in Riyadh that the action was about to happen. The White House said on Monday it was committed to working to de-escalate tensions in the Gulf.
In Riyadh, Trump made an impassioned appeal to Arab and Islamic leaders to “drive out” terrorists, while singling out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups.
U.S. officials in multiple agencies stressed their desire to promote a reconciliation between the Saudi-led group and Qatar, a state of 2.5 million people with vast natural gas reserves.
“We don’t want to see some kind of permanent rift and I suspect we won’t,” said the senior Trump administration official on condition of anonymity, adding the United States would send a representative if the Gulf Cooperation Council nations met to discuss the rift with Qatar. [nL1N1J21IX]
The GCC includes six wealthy Arab nations: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
“There’s an acknowledgement that a lot of Qatari behavior is quite worrisome not just to our Gulf neighbors but to the U.S.,” said the senior administration official. “We want to bring them in the right direction.”
Marcelle Wahba, a former U.S. ambassador to the UAE and the president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington think tank, said the United States had leverage but would use it discreetly.
“The U.S. will step up to the plate. How we will do it? I think it will be very quiet and very much in the background,” she said. “I doubt very much we will sit on the sidelines and let this crisis get more serious.”
Qatar’s backing of Islamists dates to a decision by the current ruling emir’s father to end a tradition of automatic deference to Saudi Arabia, the dominant Gulf Arab power, and forge the widest possible array of allies.
Qatar has for years presented itself as a mediator and power broker for the region’s many disputes. But Egypt and the Gulf Arab states resent Qatar’s support for Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which they see as a political enemy.
“We are engaging with all of our partners … to find a way to reassemble some GCC unity to support regional security,” said another U.S. official, saying it was critical to “maintain the fight against terrorism and extremist ideology.”
(Additional reporting by Yara Bayoumy, Mark Hosenball, Phil Stewart and Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Peter Cooney)
Negotiations around a settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whether within a framework of one state or two states, have historically tended towards what is commonly referred to as ‘zero sum’ game – where the gains of one party are directly proportional to the losses of the other. A one-state solution would provide stability, civil rights, equality, and recognition for Palestinians, but in light of their rising population it threatens the very existence of a “Jewish State”; similarly, the establishment of a sovereign Palestine along 1967 lines neighboring Israel would require the eviction of over 600,000 Israeli settlers currently in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today, in the words of Palestinian Ambassador to the UK Manuel Hassassian, “both Palestinians and Israelis are stuck between the historically inevitable and the politically impossible”.
Yet the struggle for peace seems rooted in the false premise that “a solution” exists and that we need only decide which to choose. In reality, however, the failure to resolve the conflict to date comes about not primarily as a result of the content of the plans, but rather the need for a shift in attitudes. Throughout over 70 years of conflict, three perpetual obstacles have lain on the path to peace: trust, security, and justice. Complicating matters, the longer these remain issues, the more difficult they become to resolve.
Fostering trust is an integral key to any peace negotiations; without this all efforts are wasted energy on fruitless diplomacy; central to the trust-building exercise is the dispelling of myths, prejudices, and misinformation. Over the decades and throughout numerous Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, positions have become entrenched based upon what each group thinks about “the other”: today, many Israelis believe Palestinians do not want peace, or at a stretch the borders of 1948 Palestine; on the other side, many Palestinians believe that Israel wants all the territory from the Nile to the Euphrates. Conversely, the truth is both sides actually have similar desires: stability, peace, prosperity, and a viable deal to facilitate these.
Such misunderstandings are, naturally, politically useful for scapegoating both among an increasingly right-wing Israeli government and within the militant Gazan leadership. Moreover, they are perpetuated by the daily lives of both peoples: unlike Arab Israelis in Haifa or Jaafa, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are not permitted to mingle freely with their Israeli neighbors. Beyond entire generations that have grown up under occupation, the result is that a majority of Palestinians have never had personal contact with an Israeli outside of IDF uniform – one must question what psychological impact of such limited experience has upon a people; likewise, many Israelis have rare personal interactions with Palestinians, who are generally tarred with the same brush as not only personal threats – bombers, terrorists, knife-wielders – but also existential ones – anti-Zionists and revolutionaries. Against this backdrop, it becomes evident that there is simply no environment or opportunity for the necessary trust-building: economic, cultural, and even political.
In this respect, there are lessons that can be learnt from Northern Ireland, where a fundamental part of success was the refusal to concede to binary narratives of Catholics or Protestants. Leadership on both sides in Israel and Palestine must be willing to move closer – a Trimble for every Paisley, a De Klerk to each Mandela, a contemporary Rabin to every Arafat. Leadership on both sides are responsible for building bridges; it is only through this that communication can improve and a sense of solidarity can be built. The intellectual wherewithal to disbelieve propaganda about a group in a vacuum is a difficult task, yet it becomes easier through the lived experience of interaction with them and seeing firsthand that information being spread is erroneous. As US President Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”
One of the by-products of this misinformation has been the Israeli focus on security, resulting in much despair: a security wall deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice; checkpoints that exacerbate already prohibitive employment opportunities for Palestinians; and a policy of “defensive borders” that is a thinly veiled cover for further appropriation of Palestinian land, despite its failure to end rocket and mortar attacks by Hamas. Gaza has, since Israeli exit, been used as justification that Palestinians cannot be left to their own devices and to underline the need for a continued, hard military presence. To focus on Gaza, however, belies the reality that intricately-woven security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has been a continuing success for many years. Ultimately, the Israeli government must heed the bottom line recognized by its own military: nothing will provide lasting security for Israel, Iron Dome included, more than peace.
Finally, the issue of justice – a matter that can only begin to take shape once ongoing crimes come to an end and with the recognition of historical wrongs; history, however, teaches us that it is rarely swift. Over a century passed between the beginning of the practice of the Stolen Generations in Australia and an acknowledgement of government wrongdoing by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; following the lengthy Saville Report in the UK, former Prime Minister David Cameron issued a formal apology for the actions of the British Forces on Bloody Sunday, over 40 years after the massacre; and, only weeks ago, France’s President Emmanuel Macron referred to French colonization of Algeria – which gained independence in 1962 – as a “crime against humanity”. The day will come, also, when a future Israeli government must apologize for wholesale crimes: forced evictions, extra-judicial killings, land grabs, severe curtailment of human rights, and economic suffocation of the Palestinian people – the reconciliation of Palestinians and Israelis depends upon it.
Incidents such as the free BBQ organised by Ichud Leumi outside Ofer military prison to taunt detained Palestinians on hunger strike highlight not only a visceral lack of humanity shown by some Israelis towards their fellow human beings but the chasm that is yet to be overcome between parties. Extremist views are held on both side in the vain hope that hammering can fix what requires a screwdriver. Such behavior ignores a core fact all-too-often neglected for its inconvenience and unpalatability to some: Israel and Palestine, for better or worse, are in a symbiotic relationship; neither state can ever achieve peace or security without the assistance, cooperation, and complicity of the other the assistance and complicity of the other.
Breaking the cycle of a ‘zero-sum’ game requires that Israel and Hamas realize that the promotion of rights for one party does not lessen those of the others – there is no finite quantity of rights or privileges that must be apportioned between the two sides. Searching for deep-rooted trust, lasting security, and meaningful justice are key to peace for all citizens, whether in one state or two. The sooner this is realized by both the general public and politicians in Israel and Palestine, the sooner they can begin the transition towards a much-needed more inclusive, constructive type of national and personal politics.
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