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De verkligt illegala bosättningarna

The Real Illegal Settlements

by Bassam Tawil

December 5, 2016 at 5:00 am

Source: The Real Illegal Settlements

  • While construction in Jewish settlements of the West Bank and neighborhoods of Jerusalem has long been carried out within the frame of the law and in accordance with proper licenses issued by the relevant authorities, the Palestinian construction is illegal in every respect.
  • The Palestinian goal is to create irreversible facts on the ground. The sheer enormity of the project raises the question: Who has been funding these massive cities-within-cities? And why? There is good reason to believe that the PLO and some Arabs and Muslims, and especially the European Union, are behind the Palestinian initiative.
  • The Jewish outpost of Amona, home to 42 families, is currently the subject of fiery controversy both in Israel and in the international arena. Apparently, settlements are only a “major obstacle to peace” when they are constructed by Jews.
  • The EU and some Islamic governments and organizations are paying for the construction of illegal Palestinian settlements, while demanding that Israel halt building new homes for Jewish families in Jerusalem neighborhoods or existing settlements in the West Bank.
  • The hypocrisy and raw malice of the EU and the rest of the international community toward the issue of Israeli settlements is blindingly transparent. Yet we are also witnessing the hypocrisy of many in the Western mainstream media, who see with their own eyes the Palestinian settlements rising on every side of Jerusalem, but choose to report only about Jewish building.

As the international community continues to slam Israel for construction in Jewish settlement communities, Palestinians are quietly engaging in massive construction of entire neighborhoods in many parts of the West Bank and Jerusalem. In addition to overlooking the Palestinian building project, the West has clearly been neglecting a crucial difference between the two efforts: while the construction in the Jewish settlements of the West Bank and neighborhoods of Jerusalem has long been carried out within the frame of the law and in accordance with proper licenses issued by the relevant authorities, the Palestinian construction is illegal in every respect.

In this behind-the-scenes endeavor, which does not meet even the most minimum standards required by engineers, architects and housing planners, the Palestinian goal is to create irreversible facts on the ground.

A quick tour of the areas surrounding Jerusalem from the north, east and south easily exposes the colossal construction that is taking place there. In most cases, these high-rise buildings are slapped together without licenses or any adequate planning or safety concerns.

An example of massive illegal Palestinian construction near Shufat and Anata, on the northeastern outskirts of Jerusalem.

The Jewish outpost of Amona in the central West Bank, home to 42 families, is currently the subject of fiery controversy both in Israel and in the international arena. In 2006, the High Court of Israel ruled that the outpost is illegal under Israeli law because it lies on private Palestinian land. In 2014, the High Court ordered the government to evacuate and demolish the entire outpost within two years.

In Israel, as Amona demonstrates, no one is above the law. Israel boasts an independent judiciary system that is second to none.

Yet as the debate in Israel intensifies over the fate of Amona, the Palestinians are making a mockery of laws and building regulations by embarking on massive construction of illegal neighborhoods and buildings. Apparently, settlements are only a “major obstacle to peace” when they are constructed by Jews.

In recent years and continuing to the present, the Palestinians, with the aid of Western donors for whom only Jewish construction is anathema, are working night and day to create irreversible facts in the form of not just single-family houses, but masses of giant high-rise buildings. The sheer enormity of the project raises the question: Who has been funding these massive cities-within-cities? And why? There is good reason to believe that the PLO and some Arabs and Muslims, and especially the European Union are behind the Palestinian initiative.

Ironically, this has been taking place even when it means that the Palestinians have been stealing land from our own people.

The Palestinian building is taking place mostly in what is called Area C of the West Bank, which, under the terms of the Oslo Accords, is supposed to be under exclusive Israeli control. The building has also been mushrooming in many neighborhoods — even in entire villages — surrounding Jerusalem from the north, east and south, leaving the city with only one option: to expand towards the west, thereby building a giant collar of cement effectively to surround and choke off Jerusalem from the Jews.

Recently, entire Arab neighborhoods with crowded high-rises have shot up around Jerusalem. Only a handful of steps separate some of the buildings, and most lack proper sewage systems. Apartment prices range from $25,000 to $50,000 USD. These are ridiculous prices compared with the real costs of apartments in both Arab and Jewish (legal) neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Today, it is almost impossible to purchase a three-room apartment in the city for less than $250,000 USD.

The new neighborhoods are located in Kufr Akab, Samiramis, Kalandya, Beit Hanina, Shufat, Ras Khamis and Anata in the north of Jerusalem.

In the southern and eastern parts of the city, new neighborhoods have emerged with noticeable suddenness in Ras Al-Amoud, A-Tur, Al-Zaim, Jabal Mukaber, Um Tuba and Jabal Mukaber. These areas fall within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. However, failing to halt the illegal construction and leaving the city besieged from north, east and south, Jerusalem Municipality officials admit that Israel will have lost the war against illegal Palestinian construction unless immediate action is taken.

Alarmed by the ongoing illegal construction, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat recently took the unprecedented measure of petitioning the High Court to allow the city to demolish 14 illegally built structures in east Jerusalem.

Most importantly, there is no housing crisis for the Arab population; it is not an Arab housing crisis that is prompting this spree of illegal Palestinian construction. Rather, the goal is political: to show the world that Jerusalem is an Arab, and not a Jewish, city. By and large, the apartments remain empty: there is simply no real demand.

Who is behind the unprecedented wave of illegal construction? According to Arab residents of Jerusalem, many of the “contractors” are actually land-thieves and thugs who lay their hands on private Palestinian-owned land or on lands whose owners are living abroad. But they also point out that the EU, the PLO and some Arab and Islamic governments are funding the project.

“They spot an empty plot of land and quickly move in to seize control over it,” said a resident whose land was “confiscated” by the illegal contractors.

“They tell you if you don’t like it, go to court, knowing that by the time the legal procedures are over they would have succeeded in building another tall building and even selling some of the apartments.

“Many Arab land owners feel helpless. They tell us that it is their national duty to build as much as they can on any empty land, otherwise the Jews would be building there.”

Palestinians estimate that in the past few years they have managed to build more than 15,000 illegal housing units in areas surrounding Jerusalem as part of a plan to encircle the city. The construction continues to this moment, unabated. Partial funding comes from the Palestinian Authority (PA) and some Arab and Islamic countries These countries include Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and other oil-rich countries in the Gulf. However, the Palestinians continue to complain that the Arab and Islamic funding is below expectations.

In Area C, a stretch of land accounting for 60% of the West Bank, the European Union, which bitterly condemns construction in Jewish settlements as illegal, openly funds illegal construction carried out by Palestinians. The EU argues that its support for Palestinian construction falls under the category of “humanitarian relief” and is permissible under international law.

The EU’s real goal is to help the Palestinians create these irreversible facts on the ground ahead of any possible future peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel. It is aimed at facilitating the mission of the Palestinians to seize as much land as possible, even if that means funding illegal construction or providing mobile homes to Palestinian communities in this area.

In short, it is the EU and some Arabs and Muslims who are paying for the construction of illegal Palestinian settlements, while demanding that Israel halt building new homes for Jewish families in Jerusalem neighborhoods or existing settlements in the West Bank.

The hypocrisy and raw malice of the EU and the rest of the international community toward the issue of Israeli settlements is blindingly transparent. Yet we are also witnessing the hypocrisy of many in the Western mainstream media — those dozens of correspondents who see with their own eyes the Palestinian settlements rising on every side of Jerusalem, but choose to report only about Jewish building.

Forty-two Jewish families in Amona have the world riveted, but what does the world think about the Palestinian land-grab? It is time to call out this treachery, this illegality and this double-standard, and demand that the Palestinians also cease the construction of illegal settlements, which are designed with one aim in mind: to pre-determine the outcome of any future peace deal.

Bassam Tawil is based in the Middle East.

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei kommer att fortsätta ”Död till Amerika”

Iran to Trump: Death to America Will Live On

by Majid Rafizadeh

December 5, 2016 at 4:00 am

Source: Iran to Trump: Death to America Will Live On

  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made it clear that Trump’s presidency causes “no difference” to Iran-US relationships. He called the Americans’ election “a spectacle for exposing their crimes and debacles.”
  • “Thank God, we are prepared to confront any possible incident.” — Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
  • From the perspective of Iranian moderates, reformists and hardliners, the US is not a superpower anymore; but a weak actor in the Middle East and on the global stage.
  • Iranian leaders also made it clear that Tehran will continue supporting Hezbollah and other groups that have been designated as terrorist groups by the US Department of State. These groups pursue anti-American and anti-Israeli agendas.

Ideologically speaking, Iran’s hardliners, primarily Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior officials of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who enjoy the final say in Iran’s domestic and foreign policies, have made it clear that Iran will not change the core pillars of its religious and revolutionary establishment: Anti-Americanism and hatred towards the “Great Satan” and the “Little Satan”, Israel.

Supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei and the IRGC enthusiastically shouted“Death to America” in response to a recent speech that Khamenei gave, applauding the 1979 hostage-taking and takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran.

Iran’s major state newspapers carried anti-American headlines this week, quoting the Supreme Leader. In his latest public speech to thousands of people, which was televised via Iran’s state TV, Khamenei made it clear that Trump’s presidency will cause “no difference” to Iran-US relationships. Khamenei pointed out that, “We have no judgment on this election because America is the same America”. In his speech, Khamenei attacked President-elect Donald Trump and the American people. The Ayatollah called the US election “a spectacle for exposing their crimes and debacles.”

Other hardliners echoed the same message that there would be no change in Iran’s revolutionary principles and ideals against the US and its allies. The deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Hossein Salami, told Iran’s Fars news agency: “When the Republicans were in power, they threatened us and showed their hostility… and when the Democrats were in power, the policies of the United States were the same.”

Khamenei also remarked that the US will remain the evil, or the “Great Satan,” saying:

“In the past 37 years, neither of the two parties who were in charge did us any good and their evil has always been directed toward us….We neither mourn nor celebrate, because it makes no difference to us… We have no concerns. Thank God, we are prepared to confront any possible incident.”

He added that the remarks made by Donald Trump “over the last few weeks on immoral issues — which are, for the most part, not baseless accusations — are enough to disgrace America.”

Militarily, strategically and geopolitically, Tehran’s core pillars of damaging US national interests, and scuttling US foreign policy objectives will remain intact.

Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported that Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri, has heavily criticized Donald Trump for stating that the US will confront Iranian boats in the Gulf if they harass US Navy ships. In the last year, Iran has increasingly harassed and provoked US Navy ships, and detained 11 American sailors.

General Bagheri stated out that, “The person [Trump] who has recently achieved power, has talked off the top of his head! Threatening Iran in the Persian Gulf is just a joke.”

In 2016, the number of incidents of boats from Iran’s navy and Revolutionary Guards provoking and harassing the US Navy ships rose significantly to 31 incidents, highlighting that the IRGC evidently feels sufficiently emboldened to damage US national security publicly and on a regular basis. From the perspective of Iranian moderates, reformists and hardliners, the US is not a superpower anymore; but a weak actor in the Middle East and on the global stage.

In addition, Iran, with underlying anti-American objectives, is aggressively expanding its military presence and naval bases in foreign nations and international waters. Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqheri said, as cited by the Iranian Tasnim news agency, that the expanding presence in international waters and naval bases in foreign countries “could be ten times more efficient than nuclear power.” For the first time, the Iranian Navy’s 44th flotilla, comprised of a Bushehr logistic warship and an Alvand destroyer, has now sailed into the Atlantic Ocean as well.

Tehran is also considering having naval bases on the coasts of Yemen and Syria to support the Assad government and the Houthis. As Iran’s Chief of the General Staff told a gathering of senior naval commanders, “One day, we may need bases on the coasts of Yemen and Syria, and we need the necessary infrastructures for them under international maritime law.”

Iran’s naval commander, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, also told the gathering of senior naval commanders that boosting military presence in international waters reflects Iran’s power.

According to the Tasnim news agency, Iran’s navy has already deployed 49 flotillas to various maritime zones. Sayyari added that the flotillas showcased Iran’s symbol of power.”

Iranian leaders also made it clear that Tehran will continue supporting Hezbollah and other groups that are designated as terrorist groups by the US Department of State.

These groups pursue anti-American and anti-Israel agendas.

Khamenei and IRGC are sending a strong message that Iran will neither alter its core religious and revolutionary pillar of anti-Americanism, nor change its foreign policy and military objectives of damaging US interests. Iran’s policy towards the “Great Satan” will remain as it has been since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, political scientist and Harvard University scholar is president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He can be reached atDr.rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu.

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Andra flyget på en månad som Admiral Kuznetsov förlorat i Medelhavet

Russian Su-33 crashed in the Mediterranean while attempting to land on Kuznetsov aircraft carrier

Dec 05 20165 Comments

Less than three weeks after losing a MiG-29, it looks like the Russian Navy has lost another aircraft during Admiral Kuznetsov operations: a Su-33 Flanker.

Military sources close to The Aviationist report that a Russian Navy Su-33 Flanker carrier-based multirole aircraft has crashed during flight operations from Admiral Kuznetsov on Saturday, Dec. 3.

According to the report, the combat plane crashed at its second attempt to land on the aircraft carrier in good weather conditions (visibility +10 kilometers, Sea State 4, wind at 12 knots): it seems that it missed the wires and failed to go around falling short of the bow of the warship.

The pilot successfully ejected and was picked up by a Russian Navy search and rescue helicopter.

Considered that on Nov. 14 a MiG-29K crashed while recovering to the aircraft carrier, if confirmed this would be the second loss for the air wing embarked on Admiral Kuznetsov in less than three weeks and a significant blow for the Russian Naval Aviation during its combat deployment off Syria.

Image credit: Russian MoD

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Saudiska kungen stänger ner kritiska röster mot Trump eftersom Saudierna alltid föredragit republikaner framom demokrater

Jamal Khashoggi’s weekly column in Al Hayat newspaper was not published this week, after appearing every Saturday for almost 5 years

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (AFP/file photo)
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Saudi authorities banned journalist Jamal Khashoggi from writing in newspapers, appearing on TV and attending conferences, the Alkhalij Aljadid reported in Arabic.

This came after Khashoggi’s remarks during a presentation he made at a Washington think-tank on 10 November in which he was critical of Donald Trump’s ascension to the US presidency.

Two weeks ago, an official Saudi source was cited by the Saudi News Agency as saying that Khashoggi did not represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in his interviews or statements.

“The author Jamal Khashoggi does not represent the government of Saudi Arabia or its positions at any level, and … his opinions only represent his personal views not that of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said a ministry source quoted by the Saudi Press Agency.

The official Saudi position on Trump’s election was perhaps more accurately reflected by a former Saudi diplomat in mid-November who told the Washington Post: “Certainly, we are not expecting Mr Trump to be worse than Mr Obama was,” said Abdullah al-Shamri. Most members of the royal family, he said, “are happy with the result. We are closer to Republicans psychologically.”

Khashoggi’s remarks last month at the Washington Institute, the Breaking Energy website reported, indicated that in his view Trump’s Middle East stances were often contradictory, especially regarding Iran. While Trump is vocally anti-Iranian, he supports President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian conflict, which ultimately bolsters Iranian regional control and rightfully makes Saudi Arabia nervous, Khashoggi was reported as saying.

Khashoggi said that Saudi Arabia should be ready for some surprises, and ought to create an alliance of Sunni countries to serve as a bulwark against a potentially anti-Sunni Trump, according to Breaking Energy.

In a Washington Post article on potential changes in the Middle East in light of Trump’s victory, Khashoggi described hopes for a broader regional reconciliation as “wishful thinking,” at odds with Trump’s apparent determination to ally more closely with Russia. He was quoted as saying: “When his advisers show him the map, will he realise supporting Putin means supporting the Iranian agenda? And this is what Saudi Arabia is concerned about, to stop Iranian hegemony.”

The Post went on to say that perhaps the biggest losers in the Middle East will be ordinary people who have been agitating for more democracy in the region. “For us, Trump’s election feels like a winter wind,” said Ahmed Saleh, an engineer who joined in the 2011 uprising in Egypt. “How can you hope for freedom when the most powerful man in the world doesn’t believe in our democracy?”

Khashoggi is a well-established Saudi writer and journalist. He has extensive political and media experience and held the position of editor in chief of a number of Saudi newspapers, including the Arab Times and Al-Watan.

Khashoggi has not commented on these reports, although Saudi sources close to him, based in the western Saudi city of Jedda, have said that he has been going through shock and is currently talking about writing a book, Alkhalij Aljadid reported.

Some media outlets said the ban extends to Saudi-funded Al-Arabiyah, Al-Hadath and Al-Ikhbariyah channels. Al Jazeera TV channel was also alerted to the ban, along with other Gulf channels.

Khashoggi’s weekly column in Al Hayat newspaper was not published this week, although it has appeared every Saturday for almost five years. His last tweet appeared on 18 November.

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Bra analys av OPEC:s nya avtal

How the OPEC deal breaks down for 3 big producers

opec-barrel.gifOPEC got what it wanted with Wednesday’s agreement to cut oil production: higher prices.

But that is a double-edged sword, as those higher prices could lead to a surge in production by U.S. shale producers and others outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. And if those producers exacerbate the supply glut that has plagued the market, it will be much more difficult to reach another deal when this one expires in six months.

OPEC producers need higher oil prices to solve their own budget woes. But if they start losing market share, their resolve to prop up prices by squeezing supply could rapidly disappear.

For now, though, the deal to cut output from 33.7 million barrels a day to 32.5 million barrels a day is likely to stick. Saudi Arabia’s targeted production of 10mbd in 2017 is in line with its sustainable production capacity. Iran cannot add much more oil to its October output, as it has already added its maximum short-term capacity; to raise its production beyond 50-90kbd, it needs international investment and technology.

Iraq and other members are also hoping for higher income due to the higher oil prices. Hence we could expect that the deal stay in place at least for the first quarter of 2017. Prices for Brent which jumped nearly 13% this week, now should stay above $50 for at least the first quarter of the next year.

Here’s how the deal shakes out for three big oil producers:

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia was the big winner of the November deal. The country’s two-year-old strategy of tolerating low oil prices, sparked by an unwillingness of OPEC and non-OPEC producers in 2014 to reduce production in the face of a supply glut, clearly paid off. By not reducing production then, the Saudis gained market share, filling much of the void left by Iran’s sanctions-related supply cut of 1mbd.

The November deal means the Saudis must reduce output by 486,000 barrels a day, to 10.05 million barrels a day. But this number is only 123,000 barrels below its 2015 average daily production and, indeed, higher than in previous years. This means the Kingdom’s output is remaining at its sustainable production level of around 10mbd, or nearly one-third of overall OPEC output.

Iran
Since 2012, Iran has lost more than 1 million barrels a day of production and export as sanctions tied to its nuclear program have hit. Losing its status of second-largest OPEC producer to Iraq was, in an understatement, not an easy adjustment for the country. Iranian officials insisted in recent OPEC gatherings that the country would neither freeze nor cut its production, given the hit output has taken in the last four years.

On Wednesday, OPEC agreed to use the country’s production of 3.97mbd in the final quarter of 2015 — the highest level in 16 years — as the base for calculating any cuts. This was a nod to Iran’s historically high production and of extreme sentimental importance to the country. Like other contributing members, Iran was asked to cut 4.5% of its production. But since Iran’s oil output has already fallen by more than that, to 3.7 mbd in October, it actually can increase production by 90,000 barrels a day and still comply with the November accord. By carefully spelling this out, OPEC is trying to prevent oil traders from being surprised by an uptick in Iranian output.

Russia
Losing market share to Russia and non-OPEC producers in general has always been a major fear for the OPEC producers. As part of this deal, Russia, the largest non-OPEC producer in 2016, agreed to cut 300,000 barrels a day of its production “based on its technical capacity.”

Even though Russia’s support for the deal was encouraging for the market, there is no evidence that Russia has actually supported any OPEC decisions to cut production in the past beyond official statements.

Moreover, it isn’t clear what technical capacity actually means: “not add” 300kbd of new production, or an actual cut from its production today?

At the moment, however, there is no sign that Russia is seeking to offset any of OPEC’s reduced output.
Source: The MarketWatch

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Iran tror sig ha vunnit över OPEC – Saudierna stryper oljeproduktionen

Iranian MPs declared victory with OPEC deal

Iran the only non-exempt member state not obligated to cut production.

By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Dec. 5, 2016 at 6:19 AM

Iranian members of parliament said last week’s production agreement from OPEC was a victory. File Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI

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TEHRAN, Dec. 5 (UPI) — Members of the Iranian parliament said Monday they signed a letter of appreciation that, in effect, declared victory with last week’s OPEC production deal.

Iran under the terms of an agreement signed last week in Vienna will cap oil production at 3.79 million barrels per day. That’s 123,000 bpd less than what the government reported to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in October, but 107,000 bpd less than reported by secondary sources.

Of the countries agreeing to limits, Iran is the only one that has room for more production. Saudi Arabia, one of Iran’s main adversaries, cuts the most by volume with 486,000 bpd starting in January.

Members of the Iranian parliament on Monday signed a letter of appreciation, with the official Islamic Republic News Agency reporting the members were declaring victory with the new quota.

”It was a difficult task for the Iranian officials [in Vienna] to persuade OPEC members to agree with the increase in the Iranian oil production rate,” the report read.

Libya and Nigeria are exempt for the agreement and any contribution from Indonesia was moot because its OPEC membership was suspended.

OPEC’s agreement is meant to erase the surplus of oil on the market that was blamed for lower crude oil prices during most of 2016. The agreement signed in Vienna said there is a ”firm and common ground” among member states that collaboration between members, as well as non-member states like Russia, to restore balance in the market.

Iran did not report its production levels for September directly to OPEC. Iran in the past has expressed reservations about cooperating with any production cap proposals, saying it needed to regain a market share lost to sanctions. Two years ago, Iran was producing closer to 2.7 million bpd.

The OPEC agreement was followed by a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for another 10 years. The measure targets energy and other Iranian industries, though the U.S. president can ease restrictions. Many of the measures were suspended when the United Nations verified this year that Iran was complying with the terms of the multilateral agreement.

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