March 11/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Curing the centurion's Slave
Luke 07/01-10/: "After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us. ’And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, ‘Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, "Go", and he goes, and to another, "Come", and he comes, and to my slave, "Do this", and the slave does it.’ When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.’When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health."

Bible Quotation For Today/ As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God
Letter to the Romans 14/01-13/"Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Some judge one day to be better than another, while others judge all days to be alike. Let all be fully convinced in their own minds. Those who observe the day, observe it in honour of the Lord. Also those who eat, eat in honour of the Lord, since they give thanks to God; while those who abstain, abstain in honour of the Lord and give thanks to God. We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, so that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living. Why do you pass judgement on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’So then, each of us will be accountable to God. Let us therefore no longer pass judgement on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March 10-11/15
What next for Iran/Mehdi Amini/J.Post/March 10/15
Obama's 'lame duck' status looms large in Iran nuclear negotiations/Herb Keinon/J.Post/March 10/15

What Went Wrong Between the U.S. and Israel -- and How to Fix the Alliance/
Brian Katulis and Michael Singh/Wall Street Journal/March 10/15
Palestinian forces detain 500 Hamas West Bankers, to thwart coup and Abbas assassination plot/DEBKAfile/March 10/15
Let them steal our artifacts, we do not deserve them/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/March 10/15

Lebanese Related News published on March 10-11/15
MP Ghazi Youssef to the STL: Rafik Hariri was planning a peaceful coup
Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh: No money laundering in Lebanon
Jumblatt says to handover parliamentary seat to his son
Mustaqbal Urges End to 'Obstruction': Clear Dialogue Prelude to Any National Agreement
FPM-LF dialogue collapses over presidential vote
Aoun Says No Concessions Made, Claims to be Part of Resistance Axis against IS and Israel
No assurances over Lebanese hostages
Berri to call session on urgent draft legislation
Hariri was planning a peaceful coup, STL hear
Tripoli on edge as youths join extremist groups
Lebanese ISIS recruits to train in Syria
No money laundering in Lebanon: BDL
Malpractice: more than meets the public eye
Palestinians risk life and limb to escape Lebanon
Tripoli on edge as youths join extremist groups
Alarming levels of toxins found in spices: Abu Faour
Change and Reform Says Presidential Vacancy Should Not Hinder Work at State Institutions
Court Approves Request to Release Higher Relief Council Chief on Bail
Israeli Troops Cross Blue Line, Toss Smoke Bombs near Bastra Farm
Report: March 14 National Council Met with Kataeb Veto
Report: Endeavors to Safely Store Radioactive Material Away from Adloun

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on March 10-11/15
Hillary Clinton blasts Senate Republicans over Iran nuclear letter
ISIS releases video purporting to show execution of 'Israeli spy'
Joint Arab List spokesman: ISIS learned its crimes from Zionism
Jordan's Abdullah likens ISIS to Nazis in speech to European Parliament
Iran selects new head of body in charge of 'Supreme Leader' position
Netanyahu: 'Worldwide' effort to topple me
Israeli parties enter final stretch of campaign
Poll: Zionist Union leads Likud by 3 seats
Herzog: I want to unite, while Netanyahu divides
Poll shows Herzog edging Netanyahu
IDF officer lightly wounded by gunfire on Golan
95 prisoners escape Islamic State jail in Syria
Iraq seizes town on outskirts of Tikrit
Yemen factions welcome Riyadh talks, Houthis rebuff peace efforts
Bombs kill two, wound dozens in Egypt’s North Sinai
King Salman vows development, stability

Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Jordan’s King Abdullah: “Islamophobia” helps strengthen Islamic State
Drone spotted over Jewish school in Toulouse, site of 2012 jihad murders
Just-released video: Boston Marathon jihad murderers at the Marathon
Iranian FM Zarif to 47 GOP Senators: You’re ignorant of international law
UK Muslim group seeks to brand depictions of Muhammad as “hate speech”
UK cops: Muslimas who joined Islamic State won’t be charged with terrorism if they return
Islamic State kills three for homosexuality, blasphemy
A Cow In the Garden
Australian convert to Islam: “We’ll make 9/11 look like child’s play”
Finland’s national radio airs readings of complete Quran

Mustaqbal Urges End to 'Obstruction': Clear Dialogue Prelude to Any National Agreement
Naharnet/Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday called on the “boycotters” of parliamentary sessions to end “obstruction” and elect a new president, as it stressed its commitment to the ongoing dialogue with Hizbullah. In a statement issued after its weekly meeting, the bloc also underlined “the need for the state to regain its sovereignty and full authority across all Lebanese regions,” urging “full commitment to the Baabda Declaration and the international resolutions.” Welcoming the resumption of cabinet sessions after a dispute over its work mechanism, Mustaqbal emphasized the importance of “overcoming the presidential vacuum quickly and immediately restoring normalcy at state institutions.”“Basic political action in this period must be focused on serious, strenuous and committed efforts to elect a new president,” the bloc added. Accordingly, it called for “ending the obstruction that is being practiced by the boycotters of the successive parliamentary sessions,” noting that “they alone are to blame for paralysis and the continued vacuum in the country's top post.”It urged them to “attend the session scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday.”Turning to the talks between al-Mustaqbal movement and Hizbullah, the bloc asserted “commitment to serious dialogue,” describing it as “a gateway that can contribute to resolving two main problems – the continued presidential void and sectarian tensions.” “Brave and clear dialogue, which must be based on preserving principles and being frank about naked realities, represents the prelude to any real national agreement,” Mustaqbal added. Lebanon has been without a head of state since president Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ended in May last year. The rival blocs have so far failed to elect a successor despite more than a dozen electoral rounds. Separately, the bloc highlighted “the importance of building a sound relation with Iran that would be based on reciprocity, mutual respect and the enhancement of common interests.” But it pointed out that such a relation must not involve any “interference in the domestic affairs of the other, away from any form of hegemony, control or submission.”Mustaqbal also voiced support for a call by Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi to create a joint military Arab force that would confront “all forms of terrorism and illegitimate interference.”

Change and Reform Says Presidential Vacancy Should Not Hinder Work at State Institutions
Naharnet/The Change and Reform bloc welcomed on Tuesday the resumption of cabinet sessions, hoping that normal operations would resume at other constitutional institutions. Former Minister Salim Jreissati said: “The vacancy in the presidency should not hinder state institutions from functioning.”He made his remarks after the parliamentary bloc's weekly meeting. Speaker Nabih Berri had recently announced that he will resume legislative sessions at parliament, media reports said. “Several draft-laws need to be addressed during these meetings,” added Jreissati. Parliament convenes twice a year in two ordinary sessions -- the first starts mid-march until the end of May and the second from the middle of October through the end of December. Article 33 of the Constitution confirms that extraordinary sessions can be held at the request of "an absolute majority" of the parliament. Among the first to react to Berri's plans on Tuesday was Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra. “We reject holding legislative sessions in the absence of a president,” he said at a press conference he held at the parliament. “The constitutions stipulates that the legislature would be transformed into an electoral body in the absence of a president,” he added. Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ended in May last year.
The rival blocs have so far failed to elect a successor despite more than a dozen rounds of sessions.

 Aoun Says No Concessions Made, Claims to be Part of Resistance Axis against IS and Israel
Naharnet /Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun has promised to hold accountable corrupt officials if he were elected a president, denying that he has made certain political concessions and stressing that he is part of the resistance axis against jihadists and Israel.
“If I were elected president, I would deploy the accountability system and consolidate judicial inspection,” Aoun told al-Akhbar newspaper in a lengthy interview published on Tuesday. “I hold everyone accountable on what they say. They all want to change the system,” he said. Asked about accusations that he has backed down from huge proposals in return for reaching the presidential palace, he said: “This is not true.”“We propose things to awaken the people and make them a source of discussion. In a democratic system, you cannot clap your hands on your own. I never back down,” he added. The FPM chief also denied that he has made concessions for his rapprochement with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.
He stressed that reaching the country's top Christian post has never become his ultimate objective. “It is the means to achieve what we aspire for … The country is moving like a lost ship that needs a compass,” he said. “We fought to adopt working mechanisms in the ministries that we took charge of. But there were always obstacles,” added Aoun, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday. The lawmaker stressed, however, that “no one will be able to paralyze” his work if he reaches Baabda Palace. “Everyone would need my signature.”
Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May 2014. The rivalry between Aoun and Geagea, two Maronite candidates, is partly to blame for the vacuum in the country's top Christian post.
Asked about his ties with Hizbullah, the FPM leader, said: “The smartest are those who fight outside their land.” Hizbullah has sent its fighters to Syria to help President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to topple him. Aoun defended this move by saying “the Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front have reached our border and infiltrated our territories.” The threat of the terrorist groups rose in August last year when they overran the northeastern border town of Arsal and took with them hostages from the Lebanese army and police.
There are fears that the Syrian-based jihadists would carry out another large scale attack after the snow melts in the hills on Lebanon's eastern mountain range where they are handing. “I am definitely in the axis of the resistance against the IS and Israel,” Aoun told al-Akhbar.
Fighting the IS is a “priority” because “the danger is heading towards us,” he said.

Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh: No money laundering in Lebanon:
Mar. 11, 2015/The Daily Star/BEIRUT: Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh dismissed allegations of money laundering activities in Lebanon as nothing more than psychological warfare against the banking sector. “I totally refute these allegations. If anyone who has information then the Lebanese law allows him to provide this information to the Special Investigation Commission, which will conduct an investigation. Any violator of the Lebanese law will be punished accordingly. These reports are part of a psychological warfare against Lebanon because its banking and financial sectors are vital in Lebanese life,” Salameh told LBC TV in an interview Monday. He added that coordination with Americans, Europeans and Arabs in the fight against money laundering and terrorist funding is continuing. Salameh has been keen to update regularly all the money-laundering resolutions. Banks are obliged by the law to freeze or reject the account of any individual or group that is mentioned on the U.S. and European blacklists. The Association of Banks in Lebanon last week called on Parliament to ratify three draft laws to combat money laundering that the Cabinet already approved three years ago. It also called for approving Lebanon’s adherence to the United Nations’ 1999 International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. Lebanon also created the SIC over 10 years ago to investigate any complaint of suspicious money laundering, terrorist funding and financial embezzlement. In 2013, the Lebanese financial authorities lifted banking secrecy rules on 17 bank accounts suspected of involvement in money laundering, embezzlement and terrorist funding in 2013, according to a report by the SIC. The SIC said it had received 301 cases in 2013, 189 of which came from local sources and 112 from foreign sources. Out of the 301 cases, 255 were investigated, 17 saw banking secrecy lifted and 46 remain pending.

No assurances over Lebanese hostages
The Daily Star/ Mar. 11, 2015 /BEIRUT: The families of the Lebanese servicemen being held hostage by jihadis said Tuesday that they had not yet received any assurances from authorities in recent days that negotiations with the captors are moving forward. “There are no final assurances about the quick advancement of negotiations,” a spokesperson for the families said after a meeting with Health Minister Wael Abu Faour, who is tasked with briefing the families on developments in the case. “We have been suffering for eight months and so far we haven’t been updated or told anything assuring.”Speaking to The Daily Star over the weekend, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said that while negotiations with the Nusra Front have reached “advanced stages,” talks with ISIS are completely stalled due to internal divisions within the jihadi militant group. Families called on premier Tammam Salam, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to speed up the progress in the file, “because we are no longer able to stand.”
They also expressed optimism about the current Qatari mediator carrying out the talks, describing him as “stronger that his predecessors.”At least 25 servicemen have been held captive since last August on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal. The soldiers and policemen were captured by Islamist militants from ISIS and the Nusra Front during the five-day clashes with the Lebanese Army in Arsal. Last week, the Lebanese Army said it arrested key ISIS militant Hasan Ghorli, nicknamed Abu Hareth al-Ansari who admitted that he would take the place of other guards protecting the kidnapped Lebanese servicemen and moving them from one place to another. He also witnessed the murder of Lebanese Corp. Ali al-Ali and revealed the identity of the ISIS militant who beheaded soldiers Ali al-Sayyed and Abbas Medlej, an Army statement added. The Army said Ghorli had been referred to judicial authorities for further interrogation.

MP Ghazi Youssef to the STL: Rafik Hariri was planning a peaceful coup
Daily Star/Mar. 11, 2015
Elise Knutsen|/BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was planning a “peaceful coup” against Syrian influence in Lebanon prior to his assassination, his economic adviser and political ally MP Ghazi Youssef told the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Tuesday.
Following his resignation as prime minister in October 2004, Hariri began to mobilize a massive electoral campaign which he hoped would give him and his allies a parliamentary majority after elections in spring 2005.
“He was convinced that he would achieve a major victory, that he would be able to impose a government on President Lahoud himself.
“He felt that he would have a parliamentary majority from all sections, all factions, all confessions, that would express the will of the Lebanese people ... [to achieve] relative liberalization from the Syrian stronghold,” Youssef said.
“He wanted to achieve a great victory, to have a peaceful coup and return to government,” he added.
Peaceful or not, the Syrian authorities considered Hariri’s plan to be an attempted coup, Youssef told the court.
In the winter of 2004, Hariri, Youssef and former Culture Minister Ghassan Salame, who was at the time an adviser to the then Untied Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, were in Paris discussing an attempted assassination of MP Marwan Hamade.
Salame, who Youssef described as having “ a lot of contacts,” warned that if Hariri were to return to Beirut, the Syrians would seek to either end his political career or worse.
“If you are going back to Lebanon to resist [Syrian political pressure] ... they will kill you,’” Youssef recalled Salame telling Hariri.
Hariri, however, would not be swayed. “Mr Hariri said, ‘That’s impossible ... I’m going back to Beirut and I will not compromise,’” Youssef testified.
Salame, Youssef recalled, pled with Hariri to be careful and to assume the threat against him was credible. “He was more careful, but not enough,” Youssef lamented.
Youssef’s testimony is part of the “political evidence” being presented before the U.N.-backed tribunal tasked with prosecuting those responsible for killing Hariri and 21 others. Through the testimony of a number of Hariri’s political allies and confidantes, the prosecution has sought to highlight the increasingly strained relations between the former prime minister and the pro-Syrian security apparatus in Lebanon in the months leading up to his assassination.
The court is expected to hear Wednesday a taped recording of a meeting between Charles Ayoub, the editor of the Ad-Diyar newspaper, Rustom Ghazzali, a leading Syrian intelligence official in Lebanon, and Hariri.
Also Tuesday, Walid Jumblatt announced that he would testify before the Special Tribunal in June of this year.
He insisted that he would “avoid a protracted testimony.”
Separately, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon released its sixth annual report.
While highlighting the achievements made by the tribunal over the past year, it noted that “contempt cases remain a challenge.” Contempt cases filed by the court against two Lebanese journalists and their parent companies have drawn sharp criticism from a number of Lebanese politicians and activists. The report touched on the tension.
“On the one hand, the Tribunal must maintain the restraint that is required of a judicial institution, while on the other it faces a sustained media campaign from some quarters against the charges and the court itself,” the report noted.
A third alleged case of contempt “remains under investigation” the report noted.

Special court on assassination of former Lebanese PM Hariri files annual progress report

By YONAH JEREMY BOB/03/10/2015
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon trying senior members of Hezbollah for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri announced on Tuesday that it had published its sixth annual report.
Harari was assassinated in an audacious and massive bombing on February 14, 2005, which also killed 21 others and left the area covered in smoke and debris.
Prosecutors have focused mostly on five indicted senior Hezbollah operatives being tried in absentia, without indicting any Syrian officials.
An initial investigation alleged Syrian involvement. The prosecution’s explanation for why it says the Hezbollah agents assassinated Hariri relates to orders they allegedly got from Syria because of Hariri’s tendency to overdo it in seeking independent action from Syria.
The latest report was filed last week with the United Nations secretary-general and the government of Lebanon. It only became publicly available on Wednesday.
Covering the activities of the tribunal from March 2014 through February 2015, as well as its objectives in the coming year, the report highlights both judicial and non-judicial developments.
Proceedings had been delayed until June 2014. The report calls the smooth “resumption of proceedings” a “successful step toward the completion of a trial and fulfilling the tribunal’s primary mandate” of addressing the legal issues and conspiracy underlying the assassination.
As of mid-February, the tribunal had heard oral testimony from 47 witnesses and admitted into evidence written statements by 56 others. It has admitted into the record 579 exhibits totaling 27,582 pages, ruling around 500 more pages to be admissible. It has maintained a policy that all the witness evidence be heard in open session “to maximize publicity and public scrutiny.”
The tribunal considered two cases of alleged contempt and obstruction of justice during the reporting period. They concern making public the identities of individuals alleged to be confidential witnesses. The spin-off trials are set to take place later this year.
“The first mandate was a period of investigations and preparations.
The second saw the opening of the first trial on 16 January 2014. The third mandate will include the completion of the current trial,” said Judge David Baragwanath, a former tribunal president.
Baragwanath said the tribunal was “uniquely placed to make a contribution to the rule of law.
In our new mandate, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that our legacy is one of significant and enduring value for Lebanon primarily, but also for the region and beyond.”
The ongoing trial has seen major leaders and personalities testify, with one of the highlights coming in November 2014 when Lebanese lawmaker Marwan Hamade told the tribunal that Syria had blocked Lebanon from engaging in peace talks with Israel. A former minister and close ally of Hariri, he made the statement in the case against Hariri’s alleged assassins.
Speaking alternately in English and Arabic, Hamade explained that as part of trying to take control of Lebanese foreign policy and governance, Syria “forbade” Lebanon from negotiating with Israel “before Syria was done” negotiating with Israel. He added that “although Lebanon had hot topics” to talk to Israel about, including Palestinian refugees in the country, Syria blocked all dialogue.
The main reason for his testimony was to help prosecutors build their case for the motive in assassinating Hariri.
Until November 2014, the prosecution had carefully steered clear of accusations against Syria, trying to avoid further controversy and diplomatic opposition from Syria’s supporters. It did not explain the reason for the timing of the change in strategy.
Initially, the trial involved four defendants – Mustafa Amine Badreddine (a relative of assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh), Salim Ayyash, Hussein Hassab Oneissi and Sassad Hassan Sabra. Eventually, Hassan Habib Merhi was added.
Because the case is against five senior Hezbollah operatives, it essentially pits the country’s Shiites against its Sunnis in a region where the two sides have been at loggerheads or outright war. Hariri was a Sunni.

Jordan's Abdullah likens ISIS to Nazis in speech to European Parliament
By REUTERS/03/10/2015/STRASBOURG - King Abdullah of Jordan urged Europeans on Tuesday to fight hostility toward Islam that he said was fuelling extremism among Muslims, including those drawn from Europe to fight in the Middle East. Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Abdullah praised Europe's "unbeatable courage" in responding to attacks such as those in Paris in January and likened Islamic State to Nazism -- "an expansionist ideology based on hatred". But in calling for cooperation to combat Islamist violence, the king, who attended commemorations for the slain French satirists of Charlie Hebdo but criticized the paper's use of cartoons of the Prophet Mohmmad, said that European governments must promote "mutual respect" and an "inclusive society".
"Insulting other peoples and their faiths and their convictions, this is no way forward," he told a chamber that includes dozens of far-right members critical of Muslim immigration. "Europe is an important partner in this effort, especially in helping to stop the global rise in Islamophobia."

Joint Arab List spokesman: ISIS learned its crimes from Zionism
Joint List spokesman compares ISIS to Zionism; Zionist Union candidate boycotts panel due to participation of Kahanist Knesset candidate Baruch Marzel. The head of the Joint List campaign team compared Israeli actions in the War of Independence in 1948 to those of the brutal Islamist militia ISIS, generating furious denunciations from right-wing parties. In response to a question from the audience during an election panel discussion on security and diplomatic issues at Bar Ilan University on Tuesday, the head of the Joint List Arab unity party campaign team Raja Zaatra said that Hamas was not a terrorist group and made his comparison between Israel and ISIS. “Where did ISIS learn these crimes? Look at what the Zionist movement did in 1948, the rape, the looting, the murder, the massacre, that was carried out in these areas in this region." Zaatra’s comments aroused fury among right-wing parties, and also merited denunciation across the political spectrum.
Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said that Zaetrah's remarks were proof that the High Court made a mistake in not banning MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) from running for the next Knesset. "High Court judges authorized the horrible things that Zoabi did and said in recent years, leading Zaatrah to allow himself to say things that in any other country would have his citizenship taken away and he would be deported," he stated. Liberman vowed that in the next Knesset, Yisrael Beytenu will make sure that the court cannot cancel Knesset and Central Elections Committee decisions. Last month, the committee voted to disqualify Zoabi from running, but the High Court overturned the decision. The Yahad party said that the “true face of the has been fully exposed,” saying that all members of the Joint List “agree either openly or secretly with [MK Haneen] Zoabi who opposes the existence of the State of Israel,” and called on the Attorney General to investigate Zaatra’s comments. The Joint List said in response that Zaatrah was responding to "a provocation from one of the participants in the panel, who claimed the ISIS learned its actions from a member of The Joint List.
"The Joint List released an official, determined stance against ISIS's crimes and condemns them without any connection to other historic events," the list added. In addition to Zaatra’s outburst, Amos Yadlin, the Zionist Union’s fourth placed candidate and former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate refused to participate in the debate due to the presence of Baruch Marzel, who used to belong to the far-right Kach party of Rabbi Meir Kahane. Marzel is a member of the Otzma Yehudit ultranationalist party which is running with the new Yahad haredi-national religious hybrid party and is its fourth placed candidate. Yadlin arrived at the event but when he realized that Marzel would be participating he decided to abandon the debate. According to Yadlin’s office, the Knesset candidate and former general had initially agreed to take part in the panel but when he became aware several days ago that Marzel would also be in attendance Yadlin informed the organizers that he would not participate if Marzel was involved, who Yadlin accused of “preaching racism and incitement.”
“To Yadlin’s surprise, when he arrived at the panel it became clear that not only was Marzel present but that he was also a member of the political panel, in contravention of the previous agreements. Amos Yadlin relinquished his place on the important public platform since he does not intend to grant a kashrut certificate to Baruch Marzel and to the anti-democratic values he represents,” Yadlin’s office said. Marzel accused Yadlin of hypocrisy in response, saying that Yadlin had not problem sitting in a debate with “the haters of Israel like Ahmed Tibi or [Jamal] Zahalka, but when he sees someone loyal to the Jewish people and its land he folds.”

ISIS releases video purporting to show execution of 'Israeli spy'
By REUTERS/03/10/2015/The Islamic State claimed Musallam was a Mossad member. A video posted online by Islamic State militants on Tuesday showed a boy killing Muhammad Musallam, an Israeli Arab accused by the group of having signed up as a jihadi to spy for Mossad, with a bullet to the head. The video, published by the group's Furqan media outlet, showed Musallam sitting in a room wearing an orange jumpsuit, talking about how he had been recruited and trained by the Israeli intelligence service. He said his father and elder brother had encouraged him. After that, it showed Musallam being escorted to a field and executed by a boy, described by an older, French-speaking fighter as one of the "cubs of the caliphate". Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the footage, which also appeared on Twitter feeds used by Islamic State supporters. Israeli security officials said they were aware of the video but could not confirm that it was authentic. The video, which was about 13 minutes long, showed Musallam on his knees as he listened to the older fighter speaking the verdict in French. Then the boy, wearing a military uniform and armed with a pistol, stands face to face with Musallam and fires one bullet into his forehead. Musallam crumbles, then the child shoots him three more times and chants "Allahu Akbar!" (God is Greatest). In the video, Musallam repeated what he said last month in an interview published by the group's English language magazine Dabiq, in which he said he had joined Islamic State to report to the Israelis on weapons caches, bases and Palestinian recruits. Israel and his family denied that he was an Israeli spy. "I tell my father and my son: Repent to God. I say to the spies who spy on Islamic State: You will not be successful, they will expose you," Musallam said in the latest video, in Arabic. Musallam's family have said he went missing while on a tourist trip to Turkey and an Israeli security official has said he went to Syria to fight for Islamic State in October last year.

Hillary Clinton blasts Senate Republicans over Iran nuclear letter
By REUTERS/03/11/2015/Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday excoriated Republican senators for their letter warning Iran against a nuclear deal with President Barack Obama, saying they either were trying to help Tehran or harm the US commander-in-chief. Monday's open letter to Iran's leaders, signed by 47 Republican senators, sparked a political firestorm. Vice President Joe Biden also sharply criticized the lawmakers while three potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, threw their support behind the letter. Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate, said the Obama administration is in the midst of intense negotiations for a diplomatic solution to close off Iran's pathway to a nuclear bomb and provide unprecedented access to its nuclear program. "And one has to ask, what was the purpose of this letter?" Clinton said in an appearance at the United Nations. "There appear to be two logical answers. Either these senators were trying to be helpful to the Iranians or harmful to the commander-in-chief in the midst of high-stakes international diplomacy. Either answer does discredit to the letters' signatories," Clinton added. Biden said in a statement on Monday night the letter was "expressly designed to undercut a sitting president in the midst of sensitive international negotiations" and was "beneath the dignity" of the Senate. "This letter, in the guise of a constitutional lesson, ignores two centuries of precedent and threatens to undermine the ability of any future American president, whether Democrat or Republican, to negotiate with other nations on behalf of the United States," Biden wrote. Biden said he could not recall another instance in which senators wrote such a letter to advise another country, much less a longtime adversary. In the letter, the Republicans told Iran's leaders any nuclear deal with Obama could last only while he remains in office. Senator Tom Cotton, who spearheaded the letter, on Tuesday defended it and questioned Biden's foreign policy wisdom. "The only thing unprecedented is an American president negotiating a nuclear weapons deal with the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism without seeking congressional approval at the end of that deal," Cotton told CNN. Jindal said on Twitter that anyone thinking of running for president from either party should sign the letter to make clear Iran is negotiating with a "lame duck" president. Jindal said Biden owes an apology to Cotton, a first-term senator from Arkansas who served in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. "He wore the boots in Iraq. He's earned our attention, not your insults," Jindal said. Many Republicans contend Obama is so eager for a nuclear deal that he would sign off on an agreement leaving Iran able to easily make a nuclear weapon. World powers and Iran are trying to reach a framework agreement this month and a final deal by June to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions. Iran says the program is for peaceful purposes only.

Iran selects new head of body in charge of 'Supreme Leader' position
By JPOST.COM STAFF/03/10/2015/Iran has selected a new figure to head its national Assembly of Experts, a body that governs the tenure of the Supreme leader, state news agency FARS reported on Tuesday. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a cleric who had served as the head of Iran's Judiciary branch between 1989 and 1999, was among other candidates considered for the position, both of whom are senior clerics in the Islamic Republic's regime and hold the title of Ayatollah. Yazdi's selection to this new position comes in light of reports that the current Supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who suffers from stage four prostate cancer, was hospitalized last week after his health began deteriorating rapidly. Last week, western experts observing the top cleric's medical condition from afar suggested that Khamenei's disease has reached terminal levels and that he has about two years to live, an assertion that Tehran denies vehemently, regarding such postulations as "Israeli driven lies" and refuting them by showcasing the Supreme Leader's apparent recent attendance of a meeting with environmentalists this week in order to address the issue of Iran's natural resources. "He carries about his work very normally. His business is as usual, work as usual," said Mohammad Marandi, the Ayatollah's chief surgeon. Iran has been fending off accusations that Khamenei is on his death-bed amid foreign speculation of who might replace him. The country, an Islamic Republic at whose helm is an Islamic scholar who prescribes law according to his expertise, would be left with a gap in its leadership if the current leader were to die without a clear replacement. Such a development would create a difficult situation at a time when Iran is vying for regional and international influence. Tehran is currently involved in the fight against both the Islamic State group in Iraq and anti-Assad rebel forces, including the al-Qaida affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, in Syria. Meanwhile, it has also been engaged in a diplomatic process with the United States aimed at reaching a deal concerning its nuclear energy program, which many countries, including Israel, consider to be covertly geared toward developing a nuclear weapon.

What next for Iran?
03/10/2015 20:23
As the deadline looms to reach a nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1 nations, the question remains: what should the democratic opposition forces to the Islamic Republic of Iran do? Should they wish for the failure of these talks in hope of an all-out war with Iran that potentially could rid Iran of the theocratic regime that has been in power for the past 36 years, destroying Iran and killing and maiming thousands along with it? Or push for a success in negotiations that could potentially extend the Islamic Republic’s existence even longer? Should we not push the negotiators to discuss the abysmal human rights condition in Iran, fearing it may derail the negotiations, or push even harder that they be included at every chance? Certainly, those Iranians who were forced to leave Iran, some deciding to move on with their daily lives and others who are actively engaged to see change in their country, would like to see this regime go. But the main point is, at what cost? And what guarantee is there that Iran will move in the right direction? Are we forgetting Iraq, Syria and Libya? No one believes that democracy can prevail overnight. The mindset of the people needs to change. The society has to change. And certainly, last but not least the government has to be under enough pressure to accept that change. The benefit to a potential deal on the nuclear issue is to encourage Iran to move away from isolation, ending Iran’s harsh rhetoric toward the West and its neighbors and in turn allow the middle class to prosper and the civil society to grow and become stronger.
Only then will we be on the right track to democratic values and principles in Iran.
We have no illusions about the fact that there are elements in opposition to the Islamic Republic that prefer the status quo, i.e. the Revolutionary Guards and their cohorts, who have major investments in and control over Iranian economic institutions.
Then on the other hand there are those who want the Islamic Republic gone at all costs, by any means necessary.
Iranian society and its civil movement are very vibrant and active.
They have shown throughout the years in many shapes and forms their opposition to the current status quo, and want change. For those of us who believe in a peaceful transition from the current despotic Islamic state to a secular republic believing in human rights, the role is to encourage dialogue and openness, while at the same time pushing the Islamic Republic of Iran to respect the people and give them the right to work, dissent, participate and to vote for their own candidates.
The author is a human rights and political activist living in Washington, DC. He is also the international relations coordinator for “Union for Secular Republic and Human Rights in Iran.”

Obama's 'lame duck' status looms large in Iran nuclear negotiations
By HERB KEINON/03/10/2015/J.Post
In a briefing with Israeli journalists on Sunday, a senior US official was asked how the reported ill health of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was impacting the dynamic of the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.
“I can’t speak to the supreme leader’s health,” the official said. “We have to deal with what is in the negotiation room.”
Foreign news sources have reported in recent days that Khamenei was hospitalized in critical condition last week, though the 75-year-old – who underwent prostate surgery in September – was seen in public on Sunday.
The senior US official said while there was information from “lots of different places and voices” about Khamenei’s health, it was important to “try to stay focused on the real issues” in the negotiating room and deal with those problems.
“I don’t expect Iran to deal with American politics, and we don’t deal with Iranian politics,” she said.
Maybe so, but that memo was definitely not passed on to a group of 47 Republican senators who on Monday – just a few days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress against the Iran deal – sent an open letter to the leaders of Iran informing them that while US President Barack Obama will be leaving the White House on January 20, 2017, many of them will be hanging on a lot longer and can undo any agreement that is not brought to Congress for ratification.
“Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement” between Obama and Khamenei, the letter read.
“The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
The unprecedented letter served the Iranians notice that what they sign with Obama today may – if not approved by Congress – be annulled in less than two years’ time.
The question about whether an agreement will need to be brought to Congress is a loaded one. The administration is seemingly holding the position that what is being negotiated with Iran is not a treaty that needs to be ratified by Congress. But many congressmen and senators – mostly Republican ones – are saying they must sign off on it.
The subtext of the letter to the Iranians is: Think twice before signing a deal with a lame-duck president.
Had the Iranians had any contact with Israel, particularly with Netanyahu, they might have asked him about executive agreements.
Back in 2009, Netanyahu thought Israel had executive agreements in the form of a letter from George W. Bush to prime minister Ariel Sharon, as well as informal agreed principles with the Bush administration, specifying where and how settlement construction could take place.
But those agreements were not honored by the Obama administration, which pressed Netanyahu to declare a settlement freeze.
In fact, then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton said of the matter: “In looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements. That has been verified by the official record of the administration and by the personnel in the positions of responsibility.”
Elliott Abrams, a senior Bush staffer who was involved in drawing up some of those principles and the Bush letter to Sharon, disputed Clinton’s account.
But never mind, these turned out to be little more than nonbinding understandings.
While the senior US official who briefed Israeli journalists tried to take politics out of the negotiating room – both American politics and Iranian succession politics that will certainly be rough and tumble once Khamenei dies – the US senators were very much introducing American politics into the equation.
US Secretary of State John Kerry indicated over the weekend that there was no certainty the Iranians will make the tough political decisions they need to complete an agreement on the potential parameters of a nuclear accord by the self-imposed March 31 deadline.
Perhaps one of the reasons is because the Iranians are wondering whether if they sign an agreement, something that will entail far-reaching concessions on their part, they might wake up the day after Obama leaves office with a Congress – and perhaps a new president – interested in imposing new restrictions.
Perhaps the Iranians are asking themselves – or the Republicans want them to ask themselves – “why sign an agreement, if the US might in less than two years change its terms?” The letter and the dynamics it brings out into the open also highlight something else drowned out in all the recent noise over Netanyahu’s speech to Congress last week. Many speculated if it was wise for Netanyahu to risk poisoning relations with Obama since the US president does have some 22 months left in office, and could choose to make life very difficult for Netanyahu and Israel.
That coin, however, has a reverse side as well: Obama has an expiration date. The senators rammed that point home in their letter to the Iranians, hoping it would perhaps get them to think twice. But it is a message that everyone in the region has already internalized.
While 22 months is a long time, it is not forever. If Obama had enormous difficulty forcing the actors in the region – including Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – to submit to his will when they knew he had seven, six, five and four years remaining in office, how much more so will they be willing to say “no” to him knowing that his weeks in office are numbered, and getting less day by day.

What Went Wrong Between the U.S. and Israel -- and How to Fix the Alliance
Brian Katulis and Michael Singh/Wall Street Journal
March 10, 2015
Repair efforts should focus on shaping a worthwhile Iran agreement, addressing the growing instability and terrorist threats on Israel's borders, and rebuilding trust in the peace process.
U.S.-Israel relations hit their lowest point in decades in the fracas that enveloped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress. Yet the foundation for bilateral ties is still stable. It includes a long list of shared security goals, continuous and deep engagement across government and society, and strong public support in both countries for working together. These features are in short supply among U.S. partners in the Middle East, and Israel needs all the help it can get -- which is why U.S. and Israeli leaders should take steps to repair relations after Israel forms its new government, no matter who leads it.
The crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations is often attributed to an ideological or personal conflict between President Barack Obama and Mr. Netanyahu. But the roots of the crisis run deeper.
The United States and Israel have struggled to adapt their national security strategies to a changed regional landscape. Strategic shocks to the Middle East in the past decade include the rise of Iran's regional influence after the 2003 Iraq war; growing threats from Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL); and the 2011 uprisings that opened the door to a series of transitions in Egypt and Syria's civil war.
Israel and the United States reacted to these shocks differently. President Obama prioritized diplomacy toward Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but otherwise sought distance from regional issues. Israel, having no option to withdraw, hunkered down. Mr. Netanyahu saw U.S. policy as imposing burdens on allies while relieving pressure on adversaries, and paving the way for a deeper disengagement that would leave Israel to fend for itself. Mr. Obama saw Israel as resisting U.S. ideas without offering viable alternatives.
Despite these dynamics, the cliche that the relationship is "indispensable" is true. Israel is a rare sort of ally in today's Middle East: It not only shares U.S. interests but also is willing and able to advance them, easing our burden. For Israel, the U.S. alliance is a national security pillar, conveying strength and support to adversaries that might otherwise be tempted to try to take advantage of Israel's small size and isolation.
This makes repairing the U.S.-Israel relationship a security priority as well as a political matter. Repair efforts should happen in a channel of empowered aides trusted by each side, much as French ambassador Jean-David Levitte and U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley were able to repair Franco-American relations in the wake of the Iraq war. Efforts should focus on three key fronts:
1. Iran. The White House must recognize that while Mr. Netanyahu may be the most vociferous critic of U.S. diplomacy with Iran, Israeli concerns are shared by other allies in the region -- and this is not the only issue that divides us from allies. A nuclear deal is not assured, nor would one resolve our concerns about Iranian support for terrorism or other destabilizing activities. In addition to securing a worthwhile agreement, we need to reassure allies about continuing U.S. commitment to address these threats. Devising joint strategies for doing so and bolstering our allies' capacity to contribute is a start. The United States has lacked a broader regional strategy for a long time and would benefit from one, regardless of the outcome with Iran.
2. Counterterrorism on Israel's borders. The panoply of terrorist networks operating in Syria, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, southern Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza pose a threat to Israel and to the U.S. Israel used to worry about Arab strength; now, it fears Arab disarray and weakness. We should not only confront these groups directly but also offer to mutual partners such as Jordan support in the form of military and intelligence cooperation as well as close and early consultation on a shared regional agenda.
3. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A steadier approach is needed. Washington's ability to advance peace is a function of the extent to which it enjoys the trust of all sides -- Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab states -- and influence in the region. That trust and influence have receded on every front as each party despairs of reaching a negotiated two-state solution. The U.S. must be willing to engage in the incremental, unglamorous work of restoring trust -- among all sides -- to halt the regression of the peace process and rebuild its foundation. For its part, Israel must recognize that bad ideas will continue to fill the diplomatic vacuum as long as it neglects to put forward a plan to resolve the conflict. Hanging over our agenda is doubt among U.S. allies about our commitment to the region, to our allies and their interests, and to action. The U.S.-Israel alliance is a leading indicator of this commitment and is of surpassing value to U.S. security. Repair efforts will require leaders in both countries to take constructive steps together.
**Brian Katulis is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Michael Singh is the managing director and Lane-Swig Senior Fellow at The Washington Institute. This article originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal blog "Think Tank."

Palestinian forces detain 500 Hamas West Bankers, to thwart coup and Abbas assassination plot
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 10, 2015
Acting on direct orders from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian special forces raided the nine PA-ruled towns of the West Bank in the past 48 hours and detained 500 Hamas suspects, debkafile’s military sources report. Abbas ordered the operation after discovering that Hamas had been hatching a plot for some weeks to stage an armed insurrection against the Palestinian Authority, starting in one of the Palestinian towns – possibly even the PA capital of Ramallah. They would assassinate him in the process of the coup.
Of late, Abbas has kept his distance from Ramallah and his seat of government and spends most of his time traveling in foreign countries, especially Arab capitals, where he feels safer under the protection of foreign security services than he does at home.
The wave of detentions from Sunday to Tuesday (March 9-10) is the most extensive the Palestinian Authority has ever conducted against Hamas' West Bank cells. Not only prominent figures and known terror activists were taken into custody but also new figures.
Abbas ordered the operation amid a serious dilemma over his personal security.
Before him were reports presented by Palestinian Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Majed Faraj revealing the preparations in train for his assassination, an event that would signal mass riots orchestrated by Hamas and Jihad Islami, leading up to the seizure of government from the Palestinian Authority – much as they did in the Gaza Strip.
At the same time, Abbas does not entirely trust Palestinian security services or their ability to safeguard him and his regime in Ramallah.
He therefore turned to Israel, touching off an IDF response that had nothing to do with Israel’s forthcoming general election on March 17 – as government opponents have claimed.
The 3,000 IDF soldiers plus 10,000 reservists called up this week were not posted on the West Bank to practice anti-riot tactics for putting down Palestinians disturbances against Jewish settlements – as reported. They were placed on the ready in case it was necessary to go into Palestinian towns and save them from being overrun by the radical Hamas and Jihad Islami.
The Israeli troops also rehearsed a possible scenario that might ensue from the murder of Mahmoud Abbas.
In view of the highly sensitive security situation on the West Bank, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accompanied by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, paid a rare visit to the IDF’s Judea-Samaria command headquarters Tuesday, March 10, to inspect these preparations.
It was the Hamas conspiracy to seize power in Ramallah that prompted Ya’alon’s enigmatic remark that were it not for preemptive military operations, central Israel might now be under missile and mortar attack.
debkafile’s military sources add that way the Palestinian issue has become a football for kicking around Israel’s election campaign, making it hard to penetrate the fog of anti-government propaganda and establish what is really going on.
For example, Netanyahu is being presented by his rivals as having agreed at a former stage in US-brokered peace negotiations with the Palestinians to withdraw to behind the 1967 lines. They have picked out one of the many papers drawn up by the Americans and discarded in the course of the negotiations – this one was written by a Shiite Iraqi academic in Oxford University and was never approved either by Israel or the Palestinians.
Turning to the real events afoot today, our sources also reveal that the PA chairman has asked Netanyahu through back-channels for a secret rendezvous somewhere in Europe. He proposed avoiding prominent capitals like London, Paris or Berlin, but meeting at a smaller venue for the sake of confidentiality. Abbas also insisted that this meeting must be concealed from Washington, especially from Secretary of State John Kerry. The Israeli prime minister has turned him down - and not just because the Palestinian request finds him in the middle of a tough race for re-election.

Let them steal our artifacts, we do not deserve them
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Tuesday, 10 March 2015
What the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has done in Iraq shows that we do not deserve the historical treasures that fill our museums and are buried beneath our sands. We live on top of great heritage, and fail to understand its value to ourselves and the rest of the world.
This is why monuments were destroyed as if they were mere obsolete toys. In order to protect the artifacts of our ancient grandparents and those who built civilizations, we must lend them to those who know their value and can maintain them until the day comes when we mature and can bear this historical responsibility. Only then do we have the right to ask for them back.
We have a long history of ignorance regarding the importance and preservation of monuments and historic treasures
Neither ancient nor modern history have witnessed such barbarism and destruction as what ISIS recently did in Babylon, Nimrud and Mosul’s museum. It joyfully destroyed monuments that were more than 3,000 years old. Extremists previously destroyed such monuments in Syria, while Al-Qaeda did so in Afghanistan. The same applies to extremists in Libya.
ISIS’s destruction
This is in addition to ISIS’s destruction in stable countries under the pretext that it is fighting polytheism and its manifestations. In light of these crimes, we should reconsider our rights to historical monuments and artifacts, and admit that we do not deserve them.
What happened in Iraq is not a fleeting crisis. It is a deep-rooted issue that exposes us. Instead of blaming the few extremists, we must admit that we are an underdeveloped nation that lives in an era of darkness and decadence due to the presence of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and similar groups that impose their will on those around them. Therefore, we cannot say we have any rights to historical artifacts. The duty is to smuggle them to where they can be preserved, looked after and studied at the world’s prominent museums.
We have a long history of ignorance regarding the importance and preservation of monuments and historic treasures. Earlier this year, an Egyptian museum admitted that Tutankhamen’s chin, one of the greatest artifacts, was broken off during an ordinary cleaning job. Late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein displayed statues of himself among Nebuchadnezzar’s.
Late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser almost buried a whole city of relics when he decided to build the Aswan dam, and would have succeeded had foreign countries not worked to get the relics to safety. In the Arabian peninsula, many archaeological sites and murals were destroyed because people thought they were prohibited drawings.
Fortunately for us, Western scientists and traders transferred and smuggled relics from Egypt, Iraq, Yemen and other countries. They are now preserved in the museums of France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and other countries. Although many demand the return of what was transferred and stolen, some of us know that transferring these relics to these countries was a good move because we do not deserve them.
We have not yet reached a mature phase of awareness regarding the importance of relics. We lack the ability to preserve them, and the developed scientific means to maintain, look after and study them.
Imagine if Muslim extremists come to possess great treasures such as the statue of Nefertiti, which was smuggled to Germany at the beginning of the last century, or the statue of Queen Hatshepsut, or the head of Djedefre, or the towering obelisks, or the rest of the 5,000 Egyptians relics. Imagine if Babylonian relics, which narrate Iraqi history and are currently on show in Britain, had stayed in Iraq. We all know they would have ended up just like the monuments that ISIS jubilantly destroyed.
Fortunately for us, some four million Arabic and Islamic manuscripts are stored in Western museums and universities. Otherwise, they would have been destroyed by the madmen of ISIS, or eaten by the mice that run rampant in abandoned storehouses in Arab museums.