March 18/15

Bible Quotation For Today/Rising the Widow's son from death
Luke 07/11-17: "Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us! ’ and ‘God has looked favourably on his people!’This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country."

Bible Quotation For Today/"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’ this is the first commandment with a promise
Letter to the Ephesians 06/01-09: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honour your father and mother’ this is the first commandment with a promise: ‘so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free. And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on March 17-18/15
Memo to the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki Moon Regarding the Ethnic Cleansing of Ethno-Religious Minorities in Iraq & Syria And Establishing Protected Zones/March 17/15
Abu Who/Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat/March 17/15

Lebanese Related News published on  March 17-18/15
Hezbollah, Iran excluded from terror report due to 'format change': US official
US denies softening position on Hezbollah, Iran 
Hezbollah and Iran excluded from US terror report
Change and Reform Lashes Out at March 14, Calls for 'Silencing Rogue Voices'
Bird strike forces emergency landing at Beirut airport 
Europol unit to tackle Mediterranean people smugglers
Jordan releases Al-Jazeera journalist Rula Amin 
Lebanon Health Ministry in fresh crackdown on hospitals, food vendors
2 workers suffer smoke inhalation in Beirut building fire
Amal Movement removes flags, banners from Beirut suburb
Lebanon probes controversial maid ad 
Private surveillance is governed by no laws at all 
Wage Scale Discussions Hit Snag before they Start  
Aoun Meets Jumblat in Beirut's Clemenceau
Berri Vows to Stop Collapse of Hizbullah-Mustaqbal Dialogue
Report: France Seeking to Establish Comprehensive Package to End Crises in Lebanon
Ministers Remain Mum over Extension of Security Officials Term as Deadline Closes
Consultative Gathering Urges Salam to 'Preserve Atmosphere of Consensus in Taking Cabinet Decisions'
Report: ISIL Mobilizing along Lebanon's Border, Preparing for 'Spring Battle'

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on  March 17-18/15
Israeli elections take dramatic turn as Likud opens up six-seat lead over Zionist Union
How it feels to win an election
Turkey Compares Talks with Assad to 'Shaking Hands with Hitler'
Iran, U.S. 'Resolve 90% of Nuclear Technical Issues'
Republicans seek State Dept documents on Clinton emails
As Israel’s leading parties reduce gap, Tzipi Livni cedes rotation to lift Zionist Union election chances
Turkey holds suspected Syria-bound UK woman
Five dead in new Turkey migrant boat tragedy
Libya's recognized govt says oil sales must go through east
Top conductor who quit Ahmadinejad's Iran ends exile
NATO: Syria must ensure chemical weapons program fully dismantle
Egypt tightening visa rule for individual visitors
Greece seeking joint Merkel-Hollande talks on bailout
German increases probes into suspected ISIS jihadis
Tikrit offensive stalled by ISIS bombs
U.S. warns Russia on sticking to Ukraine ceasefire accord
Pakistani among 3 Beheaded in Saudi

Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Raymond Ibrahim: CIA Chief John Brennan’s Deceptions About Islam

Grand Mufti of Egypt: No place for terror in Islam
Islamic State relied on Egyptian-Salafi book to behead 21 Copts in Libya
Even Democrats won’t back Obama’s Iran nuclear deal
UK: Muslim gangs raped non-Muslim girls on “industrial scale”
Man screaming “jihad, jihad” is wrestled to ground on DC to Denver flight
Islamic State destroys churches, smashing crosses and icons
At Our Expense and Without Our Consent
Australia: Each day, over 400 Muslims try to join the Islamic State
U.S. Air Force veteran charged with trying to join the Islamic State
NYC subway motorman calls for Islamic State attack on subways

Bravo MP, Alain Aoun, You did a great striptease job.
Elias Bejjani/17 March/15
Dear, MP, Alain Aoun, Hezbollah's closet ally and supporter; despite my 100% full opposition to all your political affiliations, choices, thinking and practice, I would like personally and with no hesitation what so ever, to commend you loudly on a very well done striptease task in Canada. Quietly and smartly you were able to expose all the 14Th of March Lebanese Parties and show their political actual naivety, ostentation and ignorance. You fully succeeded and without any effort in unveiling their real personal agendas and priorities that have nothing to do specifically with Sheik Bachir Gyemaly's Convictions of resistance. You easily stripteased  their derailment from the ABC's of Lebanon's independence, sovereignty and freedom. You proved clearly that their priorities are mere vocal bragging,  boasting, empty slogans, attending social events etc. And most importantly you practically proved that they have no clue about the Canadian anti Terrorism Act, or about the parliamentary on going proposed changed on this act (Bill C51), or about the seriousness and requirements of the  global war on terrorism. Bravo Alain, you did a great striptease job.
Hezbollah is a terrorist, as well as those who are allied with it
Micheal Aoun's party, The Free Patriotic Movement, (FPM) is an ally and supporter of the terrorist Hezbollah. Accordingly he who deals with this party in Lebanon or Diaspora in any form or at any level is a terrorist too. In this realm the March 14th parties in Diaspora are committing a sin in receiving MP, Alain Aoun in Canada and are playing a very dangerous and stupid game.

Change and Reform Lashes Out at March 14, Calls for 'Silencing Rogue Voices'
Naharnet /The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday called for continuing the dialogues that are underway between a number of parties away from some “rogue voices,” noting the rival March 14 camp is trying to make up for its “losses” through the formation of a national council. “Any remarks that take us backwards under various alibis are not beneficial and all rogue voices must be silenced,” the bloc said after its weekly meeting in Rabieh in a statement recited by former minister Salim Jreissati. The bloc's call is an apparent jab at the March 14 forces, which on Saturday strongly criticized Iran and Hizbullah, accusing them of “seeking to prolong the presidential vacuum” and implicating Lebanon in the region's conflicts. March 14 also declared the formation of a National Council comprising political parties, independents and civil society activists. The coalition's statement, however, did not mention the Change and Reform bloc or the Free Patriotic Movement. But the bloc launched a vehement verbal attack on Tuesday, saying the March 14 forces “are establishing general secretariats and national councils in vain as if they are trying to resurrect the dead.”  It also called on the coalition to show “openness,” urging it to “revamp its boring rhetoric.”“They cannot limit their losses through forming national councils over the ruins of general secretariats,” the bloc added, referring to March 14's National Council and General Secretariat. Separately, Change and Reform said it insists on the so-called "legislation of necessity" to “serve the state's higher interests and approve the draft laws and legitimate financial bills, such as the Eurobonds and certainly the new wage scale.”“The obstruction of the renaturalization law is purely political and Speaker Nabih Berri told us that he will put it on the agenda of the parliament's general assembly, and this law can be definitely labeled as necessary legislation,” the bloc noted. As for the presidential crisis, the bloc underlined that it is not awaiting a “regional signal.”“Confidence has been placed in (FPM chief) General (Michel) Aoun and his project aims to preserve the National Pact,” Change and Reform added. The 1943 National Pact is an unwritten agreement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multi-confessional state. The country has been without a president since Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25, 2014. Political disputes and electoral rivalry between Aoun and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea have prevented the election of a successor.

Hezbollah, Iran excluded from terror report due to 'format change': US official
The Daily Star/Mar. 17, 2015
BEIRUT: A U.S. official Tuesday dismissed speculation that Washington was softening its position towards Hezbollah and Iran after the two were excluded from an annual terror threat report. “Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. national interests [sic] because of its support to the Assad regime in Syria, promulgation of anti-Israeli policies, development of advanced military capabilities, and pursuit of its nuclear program,” the official said, according to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon. The official attributed the exclusion of Iran and Hezbollah from its 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community report to "a format change." The report, released on Feb. 26, excluded the two from its list of terror threats despite being named as threats in previous years. In a 2014 report the National Intelligence director said that Iran and Hezbollah continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. The report claimed that Hezbollah had increased its “global terrorist activity.”
In the latest report, the terrorism section focuses exclusively on the rise of militant groups like ISIS and the Nusra Front.

Hezbollah and Iran excluded from US terror report
The Daily Star/Mar. 16, 2015
BEIRUT: The U.S. has omitted Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terror threats, according to an annual security assessment published by the Times of Israel Monday. The unclassified report, titled ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community’ was presented to the U.S. Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence on February 26. The report has excluded Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terror threats to U.S. interests, after both had been included as threats in previous years. In a 2014 report the National Intelligence director said that Iran and Hezbollah continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. The report claimed that Hezbollah had increased its “global terrorist activity.” In the latest report, the terrorism section focuses exclusively on the rise of militant groups like ISIS and The Nusra Front. “Sunni violent extremists are gaining momentum and the number of Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens is greater than at any other point in history,” read the report. “These groups challenge local and regional governance and threaten US allies, partners, and interests.” Hezbollah, labeled as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and the European Union, was mentioned once. “Sunni extremists are trying to establish networks in Lebanon and have increased attacks against Lebanese army and Hezbollah positions along the Lebanese-Syrian border,” the report said. Hezbollah and the U.S. have become de-facto allies in Syria, with the common objective of combating ISIS and preventing its spread into Lebanon.
In a rare interview with the New York Times Last September, Hezbollah’s newly appointed public relations chief, Mohammed Afif, implicitly acknowledged the rise of an indirect coordination in the fight against terror between the party and Washington, though their broader goals and views sharply diverge. “All have an interest to keep the peace” in Lebanon, Afifi told the NYT, but added that each had its own ways to combat their common enemy. The U.S. paper suggested that American intelligence had indirectly shared information with Hezbollah that helped the party stop suicide attacks in its stronghold in the southern suburb of Beirut. Meanwhile, The United States and Iran are getting closer to a political deal that would set the stage for a landmark nuclear agreement.
The sides have twice extended the talks on a long-term accord. They signed an interim deal in November 2013 that gave Iran limited sanctions relief in exchange for some limitations on sensitive nuclear work.

Report: ISIL Mobilizing along Lebanon's Border, Preparing for 'Spring Battle'
Naharnet /Fighters linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Syrian al-Qalamoun are reportedly mobilizing and moving closer to the border with Lebanon ahead of a battle along the country's eastern border. Lebanese and Syrian security sources said in comments published on Tuesday in al-Akhbar newspaper that ISIL fighters are moving “from eastern al-Qalamoun to its west” in preparation for a battle in the area in the spring after the snow melts. Information obtained by the daily pointed out that “militants assaulted a Syrian army post two weeks ago in Deir Attiya (in eastern al-Qalamoun) as a camouflage to smuggle around 1,000 fighters to west al-Qalamoun” near the Lebanese border. The newspaper elaborated that “ISIL fighters' performance in the latest battles with the Lebanese army indicates that the militants are saving ammunition and rockets.” The report estimated that either ISIL fighters are facing shortage in supply of weaponry, or saving their munition for the upcoming battle against the Lebanese army in the country's east. The Lebanese army frequently clashes with the militants in their hideouts near the Syria border. The IS, which controls several areas in Syria and Iraq, aims to spread to Lebanon as its fighters position in the outskirts of Bekaa towns bordering Syria and the Lebanese army is in adamant efforts to stop their efforts to infiltrate the country. ISIL and al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front are battling in Qalamoun the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizbullah forces alongside each other, with support from some smaller Islamist rebel groups.
Al-Akhbar reported that the first battle is expected to erupt on the outskirts of the Bekaa town of al-Qaa and another on the outskirts of Brital.

Bird strike forces emergency landing at Beirut airport
The Daily Star/Mar. 17, 2015 /BEIRUT: A Lufthansa passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing early Tuesday, minutes after taking off from Beirut's airport after its left engine devoured a flock of birds. Sources at the airport told The Daily Star the Airbus A321 safely landed after the pilot reported an engine failure due to a bird strike three minutes after its 4:48 a.m. departure. The plane, which was carrying 148 passengers, was flying over the sea at the time of the incident. The pilot returned to the airport and landed the aircraft at 5:04 a.m. Daniel al-Haiby, director general of Lebanon’s Civil Aviation Organization, said that bird strikes are common during this time of the year due to the increase in bird migration. Haiby said the airport is equipped with devices that keep birds out of the area, but those flying at high altitudes are not affected by the device. The plane is currently undergoing maintenance.

Lebanon Health Ministry in fresh crackdown on hospitals, food vendors

The Daily Star/Mar. 17, 2015/BEIRUT: The Health Ministry Tuesday filed a slew of complaints against hospitals, a pharmaceutical company and street vendors over reports of violations. In the Beirut suburb of Hadath, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour referred the case of Sainte Thérèse Hospital where an infant died during treatment to the Order of Physicians. A ministry statement said the father of the child who died at the hospital four months ago had issued a complaint against it and called for investigations into the child's death.
Separately, Abu Faour referred a complaint issued against the Bchamoun Specialty Hospital after a patient claimed that he was unnecessarily hospitalized for 18 days. Abu Faour also referred other complaints filed against the Al-Sayiddah hospital in Zghorta. The reasons behind the complaint were not mentioned. And in the Beirut suburb of Dekweneh, the ministry issued a warning against Tamer pharmaceuticals, which was accused of selling unlicensed medication purchased from the Richa Dental Store in Hazmieh. The Health Ministry also raided a market in the Bekaa town of Saadneyel and seized unidentified quantities of spices and Arabic sweets. The ministry also issued warnings to vendors in the market who were selling food from open carts. The ministry gave vendors one week to address their violations.

2 workers suffer smoke inhalation in Beirut building fire
The Daily Star/Mar. 17, 2015 /BEIRUT: Two Syrian workers were hospitalized Tuesday after suffering from smoke inhalation when a fire erupted on the 17th floor of a building under construction in Beirut’s Ashrafieh district. A statement by the Beirut Fire Department said a large fire engulfed a floor of the Sioufi High construction site in the Sioufi neighborhood of Ashrafieh. The fire was catalyzed by the presence of highly flammable cork boards used for isolation purposes, the statement added. The two workers were treated at Hotel Dieu Hospital.

Amal Movement removes flags, banners from Beirut suburb
The Daily Star/Mar. 17, 2015 /BEIRUT: The Amal Movement in coordination with municipal workers removed for the first time Tuesday political signs and banners from the Beirut southern district of Shiyah. Huge Amal flags, posters of fallen party members and other party signs were torn down along the old Sidon road stretching from Mar Mikhael Church in the Galerie Semaan area near Hadath until Msharafieh. “We removed about 80 percent of the posters and banners today from areas inhabited by diverse Lebanese and where geographical areas overlap like Shiyah - Ain al-Rummaneh,” Amal official Hajj Hani told The Daily Star. Hani suggested that there was no need for similar measures to be adopted deep in the capital’s southern suburbs, given the alliance between the Amal Movement and Hezbollah, both Shiite parties. The move comes weeks after the government decided to remove political signage and party banners in Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon in line with an agreement reached during dialogue sessions between the Future Movement and Hezbollah to defuse sectarian tensions.

Wage Scale Discussions Hit Snag before they Start
Naharnet/ for the joint parliamentary committees on Tuesday to protest a decision for Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan to chair the session. There was no lack of quorum despite the boycott. Speaker Nabih Berri had tasked Kanaan to chair the meeting over the absence of his deputy MP Farid Makari, who is currently abroad. According to the parliament's by-laws, the meeting of the joint committees should be chaired by the speaker or his deputy. The MPs discussed the controversial wage scale on Tuesday. The parliament in October returned a draft-law on the raise to the joint committees for further discussions after it failed in several rounds to approve it. The MPs are bickering on the value of the pay hike and ways to fund it. Al-Mustaqbal MP Jamal al-Jarrah told a press conference at the parliament that his bloc did not have a personal problem with Kanaan. “We just want the by-laws to be respected,” he said. Another controversy linked to the wage scale erupted after several lawmakers rejected its endorsement in the absence of a state budget for 2015.
Al-Jarrah said that he asked Kanaan to adjourn Tuesday's meeting and call on the government to refer the budget to parliament to discuss pending issues. “Al-Mustaqbal is ready to adopt the wage scale and the budget as soon as possible,” he said. But Kanaan said that the lawmakers, who attended the meeting, considered the joint committees as the only party entitled to discuss the wage scale. Kanaan said that MPs agreed that the current meeting was a continuation of the past meetings on the raise, which allowed him to chair the talks if Berri failed to do so. "We need a state budget but the mission of the joint committees currently is to discuss the wage scale," he added. Hizbullah MP Ali Fayyad also told reporters at the parliament that the meetings of the joint parliamentary committees should remain open.
Fayyad rejected linking the wage scale with the state budge although Jarrah claimed that the move was made by Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil. “This is unacceptable,” he said, adding “I am afraid the intention is to obstruct (the adoption) of the pay hike.”

Aoun Meets Jumblat in Beirut's Clemenceau
Naharnet /Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun held talks on Tuesday with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat at his residence in Clemenceau. The two officials held a bilateral meeting behind closed doors. A statement is expected to be issued at the end of their meeting. Aoun's unannounced visit came as the country is struggling with an almost year-long presidential vacuum in light of the parliament's failure to elect a successor for Michel Suleiman, which is having repercussions on the country's economy and political life.

Consultative Gathering Urges Salam to 'Preserve Atmosphere of Consensus in Taking Cabinet Decisions'
Naharnet /A number of ministers noted on Tuesday that the role of the cabinet “will remain crippled” in light of the presidential vacuum. The so-called “consultative gathering” urged after talks at former President Michel Suleiman's residence Prime Minister Tammam Salam “to continue with his methodology in taking government decisions.”Tuesday's meeting was the third for the consultative gathering and it included head of the Kataeb Party Amin Gemayel and a number of ministers. The gatherers said: “The government must run the affairs of the state and people and some parties should not try to usurp the presidency's powers while other parties must not take advantage of them to paralyze its work.” They therefore called on Salam to continue on “preserving the atmosphere of consensus in taking decisions at cabinet, resolving disputes, and approving decrees.”They also stressed the need to cease “demanding the election of a president and instead work on staging the polls as soon as possible.”They held those “obstructing quorum at parliament during the presidential elections sessions” responsible for the vacuum, “which is threatening Lebanon's future and political system.”Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Suleiman ended without the election of a successor. On Monday, Kataeb Ministers Sejaan Qazzi, Alain Hakim and Ramzi Jreij met with Salam to brief him on Gemayel's keenness on the work of the government. The ministers also inquired the PM on the latest amendments to the cabinet's working mechanism, it added. This is the third meeting that the grouping holds. It had previously rejected the amendments called for by Salam over fears they would erode the president's powers amid a vacuum at Baabda Palace. The government held its first session last Thursday after a three-week standstill caused by the differences on the mechanism. Salam had suspended the sessions pending a deal among the cabinet ministers to amend the formula. The cabinet finally convened after the ministers agreed that regular decisions would be made by consensus, but would not necessarily require the consent of all the ministers. This removed the veto power that the ministers had been exercising under the previous mechanism. As for the cabinet decrees, they will be presented to all the ministers for signature. They become effective after 15 days as stipulated by the constitution if one or several ministers refuse to sign them.

Turkey Compares Talks with Assad to 'Shaking Hands with Hitler'
Naharnet /Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday rubbished suggestions that talks should be held with President Bashar Assad, saying negotiating with the Syrian leader was no different to shaking hands with Nazi tyrant Adolf Hitler. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in a weekend interview that Washington would have to talk with Assad eventually if peace was to be forged, in comments that drew a strong rebuke from Ankara which said there was nothing to negotiate with Assad. "If you sit down and shake hands with Assad after all those massacres and despite the chemical weapons that you (the United States) declared a red line, then your hand will be never be erased from history," Davutoglu told his ruling AKP party's lawmakers in the parliament. Davutoglu drew parallels between the Syrian president and Nazi leader Hitler, late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and Iraq's toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.  "It makes no difference to shake hands with Hitler or Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic, Saddam, or Assad," he said. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday moved to clarify Kerry's assertion, saying that Assad would never be part of peace negotiations, a statement which was welcomed by the Turkish prime minister. "We welcome that denial," he said. Turkey, a former ally of Assad, has cut off ties with Damascus after the civil war in 2011 and supported rebellion against the regime in Damascus. Ankara has repeatedly called for removal of Assad from power. Agence France Presse

As Israel’s leading parties reduce gap, Tzipi Livni cedes rotation to lift Zionist Union election chances
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis March 16, 2015
Monday night, in the final hours before Israel’s fiercely contested general election Tuesday, March 17, the four-seat margin the polls had awarded Yitzhak Herzog’s opposition left-of-center Zionist Union against Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-of-center Likud was shrinking fast.
debkafile’s sources, which tapped into some of the inside estimates, found these two frontrunners frantically crunching numbers in a race that might well turn out to be too close to call.
Whaever happens, neither of the two biggest parties can expect to form a government without coalition partners. According to last-minute estimates, the Zionist Union expected 26 (out of 120) Knesset seats compared with Likud’s 23, while Likud confirmed its rival’s 26 seats, but awarded itself 24.
The gap had closed from four to two seats between them.
Barring surprise upsets – to which Israeli elections are often prone - the figures had enhanced the Likud leader’s chances of forming the next government compared with Herzog.
The latter would have to depend on Yair Lapid’s centrist Future party, a partnership that would automatically cut the religious parties out of the equation.
Herzog in recent days fought against this calculus with an intense last-ditch effort to peel voters away from Future so as to leave open the alternative option of inviting two or three of the religious factions to eke out his administration.
The second hurdle in Herzog’s path to the prime minister’s office was the falling fortunes of the far-left Meretz, headed by Zahava Galon, which faces the danger of not making it past the new threshold limit. This would leave the Zionist Union bereft of its safest partner.
It was this potential setback which brought the Zionist Union’s co-leader Tzipi Livni rushing into the breach. The deal for the merger of her party with the Zionist Union entailed a promise to rotate the premiership between Herzog and herself – two years each – if the party was able to form a government.
In the past week, Zionist Union strategists estimated that this deal would cost the party valuable votes. Ceding her turn at the premiership on behald of the party of which she is co-leader, would be worth another two or three Knesset seats - enough for a game-changer.
Netanyahu is saddled with his own problems. Two factions which he counted on to eke out his coalition, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu and Ellie Yishai’s Yahad (breakaway from the ultra-religious Shas), may like Mertz fall at the threshold barrier.
Livni’s eve-of-election gesture made it easier for Herzog either to form a cabinet or more likely join Netanyahu in a unity government with Likud, an option that would depend on the way the electorate votes Tuesday.
Balloting stations open at 7 am Tuesday. The first exit polls are promised seconds after 2200.

Iran, U.S. 'Resolve 90% of Nuclear Technical Issues'
Naharnet/Uncertainty reigned at crunch U.S.-Iran nuclear talks Tuesday as U.S. officials warned that key differences remained but Tehran said that almost all technical issues were resolved ahead of a March 31 deadline for the outlines of a deal. "We have agreed on 90% of the technical issues," Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by state television as saying from the marathon negotiations inside a plush hotel in the Swiss lakeside city of Lausanne. "In most of the issues we have come to mutual agreements -- we have differences only in one major issue which we will try to solve in this evening's meeting" between Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Salehi said.
The deal being sought by Kerry, Zarif and other negotiators including Salehi and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will, they hope, convince the world that Iran will not develop nuclear weapons under the guise of its civilian program. The accord, due to be finalized by July, would involve Iran, which denies wanting the bomb, agreeing to scale down its nuclear activities to within strict limits in return for relief from sanctions suffocating its economy.
If they manage it and the accord holds, both sides hope it will end a 12-year standoff and potentially help normalize Iran's international relations at a particularly volatile time in the Middle East.
But it is highly complex, with both sides haggling over the adjustments to Iran's facilities needed to extend the "breakout" time to at least a year that Tehran would -- in theory -- need to process a bomb's worth of nuclear material. At the same time both sides need to agree a timetable of relief from the spider's web of U.N., U.S. and EU sanctions imposed in recent years, tied to certain "milestones" and staggered over whatever duration the accord will have. As a result U.S. negotiators in the marathon talks were more downbeat, with one senior administration official -- involved in the technical side of the negotiations -- saying Tuesday there was still "a ways to go".
The official said on condition of anonymity that, specifically concerning technical dimensions, "even in this space we still have some tough issues to address." A second U.S. official said Monday that "this is a Rubik's Cube or a puzzle ... and until all the pieces click into place, you don’t have the whole picture, since this is all interlocking elements that affect each other."
Zarif and Kerry held almost five hours of talks on Monday before Zarif went to and from Brussels -- while Kerry went for a bike ride -- to meet European foreign ministers and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Zarif and Kerry were met again on Tuesday. Political directors from the other five powers involved -- Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- began arriving in Lausanne on Tuesday and were due to meet on Wednesday, the EU said. Critics in the United States and in Iran's arch foe Israel, widely assumed to have nuclear weapons itself, fear that the mooted restrictions on Iran's nuclear program won't go far enough.
In Washington 47 Republican senators last week wrote an open letter to Iran's leaders telling them that Congress could alter any deal and that a future president could tear it up. U.S. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is also fighting to stop the Republicans bringing new legislation that would force him to submit any deal to Congress for approval.
In Iran though, parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said Monday that lawmakers would not block any deal as long as it is approved by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "We don't have problems like those in the United States," Larijani said. Two deadlines to get a deal in July and November were missed but the Obama administration can hardly afford to extend yet again. What might emerge in Lausanne by the end of the month -- or possibly this week -- is unclear, but a "concrete understanding" is crucial, expert Ali Vaez from the International Crisis Group told AFP.
"If there is an agreement (this month) I don't see how it can be meaningful without some quantitative measures," the first U.S. official said.
Agence France Presse

Memo to the Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki Moon Regarding the Ethnic Cleansing of Ethno-Religious Minorities in Iraq & SyriaAnd Establishing Protected Zones
The Honorable Ban Ki Moon
Secretary General of the United Nations
New York, NY 10017
13th of March 2015
We, the representatives of the below co-signing organizations, representing the aspirations of the Yezidi and Christian (Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac) communities in Iraq, and following the systematic acts of ethnic cleansing, massacres, assassinations, abduction, rape, and kidnapping perpetrated by the “Islamic State” (known as Daesh) against these communities since June 2014, urge you to request an immediate meeting of the UN Security Council to issue a UNSCR in order to address the following urgent issues
1) In view of the fact that the international terror organization known as “Islamic State” (Daesh) has seized large portions of Iraq and of Syria, including cities such as Mosul and Reqqa, has accumulated quantities of weapons and cash to use in pursuing their genocidal action against Iraq’s ethnic minorities, particularly in the north, and in Northern Syria as well;
2) In view of the fact that the Iraqi state wasn’t able to yet to defeat this organization and thus the threat by IS (Daesh) against the aforementioned communities continues;
3) In view of the fact that large scale killing and ethnic cleansing of Yezidis in the Sinjar area and Iraqi Christians, particularly Assyrians in the Nineveh Plain area as well as in the Al-Hassakeh province in Syria, have taken place and threaten these communities with eradication;
4) And in view of the fact that the direct threat against the Iraqi and Syrian ethnic minorities at the hands of Jihadists is part of a global threat and pattern in the region against minorities in general, particularly in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt and most recently in Libya;
5) In view of the fact that ethnic cleansing and genocidal acts have been committed against a civilian population, breaching human and humanitarian rights as well as international law, threatening Peace and Security;
We urge you to draw the immediate attention of the Security Council to this threat to Peace and Security and request the following actions to be taken via a UNSCR Resolution:
In Iraq
1. The UN and all concerned nations, including the U.S., Canada, the EU, Russia and the Arab League members should make a concerted effort to liberate more than 7,000 Yazidi women, girls and boys detained by ISIS in several locations in Iraq and Syria
2. We ask the United Nations, US, UK, Turkey, EU, NATO, Russia and other members of the international community to establish interim safe haven zones for the Yezidis, Assyrians and other minorities in the Sinjar region and the Nineveh Plain as well as in the Hasaka region in Syria. Put simply, the world cannot stand by and acquiesce to ethnic cleansing and genocide.
3. Provide arms and weapons to the Yezidis and Assyrian- (Sinjar protection Forces; Sinjar Administrative Units and the Nineveh Plain Protection Units) as well as to the Syriac Military Council and Assyrians in Hasaka area in north Eastern part of Syria that have been established since IS began marauding across Nineveh and in Hasaka. There are men and women under unified command structures who are capable and willing to defend their ancient homelands, religion, culture and ancient history. They need their equal rights as people to be able to defend their nations form Jihadi Terrorists
5. Humanitarian aid must be sent directly to those minority groups internally displaced in Northern Iraq on an urgent basis.
6. We ask the UN and all sympathetic governments around the world to develop refugee policies that can work quickly and effectively to provide new homes for needy and traumatized refugees, particularly Yezidis, Assyrians, Shebak, Mandean, Turkmen, Syriac, Chaldeans and others who urgently need help
7. Identify the crimes committed by ISIS against Christians and Yezidis as ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide and begin the legal process of holding the terrorist group accountable.
Urgency In Syria
1. Assisting in the efforts to free the Assyrian hostages of Al-Hasakeh province taken by IS on Feb 23
2. Humanitarian aid to the displaced Assyrian and Yezidi villagers of the Assyrian and Yezidi villages in Al- Hasakeh that were attacked and captured by IS on Feb 23
3. International protection (UN) for Syriac Assyrian and Yezidi communities in Al-Hasakeh province.
4. Logistical assistance to local Syriac police (Sutoro) whose task is to protect villages and residential areas of Syriac Assyrians and Yezidis in Al-Hasakeh.
In Egypt
1. Condemn the atrocious slaughter by ISIS (Daesh) of 21 Coptic Egyptian workers in Libya and the killings by Jihadists of migrant Coptic Egyptian workers in Libya. Intervene to release hundreds of Coptic Egyptians held by ISIS and its allies in Libya.
2. Mount a UN operation in Libya to evacuate Egyptian Copts, and any Egyptian worker who have been cut off from their mother country
3. Support the partnership between the Coptic Pope and the Grand Imam of al Azhar aiming at protecting minorities from Terror violence in Egypt
We the undersigned organizations commit to assist you in all of these efforts.
Best regards
Mr. William Youmaran, President of Assyrian American National Federation
Mr. David William Lazar, Chairman, American Mesopotamian Organization (AMO)
Mr. Bassam Ishak , President of Council of Syriac Organizations
Mr. Loay Mikhael, Director Foreign Relation, The Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council
Mr. Magdi Khalil, Coptic Solidarity International
Ms Caroline Doss, Coptic Solidarity International
Mr. Mirza Ismail, Chairman, Yezidi Human Rights Organization International
Mr. John Hajjar, Melkite Committee
Tom Harb,General Secretary MECHRIC and President of American Maronite Union
Dr. Walid Phares, Special Advisor

Opinion: Abu Who?
Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Al Awsat
Wednesday, 18 Mar, 2015
One can only be shocked and surprised by the way the Arab media has been reporting on terrorism and terrorists. Most recently we had the story of the Australian teenager Jake Bilardi, aged 18, who is believed to have carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq’s central city of Ramadi on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
What is shocking to me is that the majority of Arab media used this teen’s chosen kunya (an Arabic teknonymic naming convention) of Abu Abdullah Al-Australi (meaning “Father of Abdullah the Australian” in Arabic) in their reports, rather than describing him as what he actually was, namely “the terrorist Jake Bilardi.” Here we must ask ourselves: Is it so important for the media to respect the protocols and naming conventions of terrorists and terrorist groups? Must we ensure that the chosen name of a terrorist is used and repeated again and again until it becomes infamous?
Should we allow terrorists and terrorist groups to promote themselves in our media in this manner? Doesn’t the media have a duty to take a position on this issue? The media, by its very nature, is biased to one degree or another—regardless of claims to neutrality. So a killer must be described as a killer; a criminal as a criminal; and the same applies to a terrorist, even a teenage one.
Today, for example, we find some media outlets describing ISIS as the “Islamic State” or the “Islamic State group.” While other news outlets describe them in the same manner, but make sure to add the term “militant” or “radical” to the mix. But, by adding this description—or shall we say classification—do these latter media outlets inadvertently stumble into the realm of propaganda?
What about the media outlets or governments that insist on using the Arabic acronym of the group and call them “Daesh”? Is this better or worse, particularly when we know that ISIS itself does not approve of this name?
More than this, how can media outlets call this terrorist group the “Islamic” anything, when all Islamic authorities across the world have condemned, rejected and disowned it outright?
Also, why has the West failed to clamp down on terrorist groups’ use of social media, particularly when they openly use these methods in such a brazen manner? At the same time, Western authorities are able to punish anyone who uses racist terms on social media, even when this heinous language is used in debates about something as innocuous as football.
I am not criticizing the West here, but rather directing my fire at certain Arab media outlets that serve the interests of these terrorists in their reporting, without realizing that their misplaced “neutrality” is actually harmful. The reality is that a crime is a crime, and there can be no bias towards terrorism and terrorists, whether they are Sunni, Shi’ite, or belong to any other denomination. There must be a clear media position towards terrorism and terrorists in order to ensure they cannot mislead our youth.
The media’s mission is to inform the public, and to help shape public opinion. So the media always has a position on any given issue, however much any media outlet might like to deny this. We have seen the way terrorists have been able to dupe our media in the past and present to project a more sympathetic portrayal of themselves. One past example saw some Arab media outlets going along with the usage of the Abu Abdullah for Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. These same media outlets came out years later to say that they had made a mistake. But what about those who were affected by this mistake? Mistakes such as this contribute to the radicalization of some of our youth. So what about them?
Our duty today is to ensure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. We must address this issue and cut off any and all means through which these terrorist organizations are able to justify themselves or present a more sympathetic version of their heinous actions.
As such, how can we name a deluded teenager like Jake Bilardi Abu anything? This is patently ridiculous