Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was a KGB agent in 1983, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 1 News which presented Soviet-era documents from the archive of Vasili Mitrokhin, a former Soviet intelligence archivist who defected to the UK with a treasure trove of historic documents after the fall of the USSR. Mitrokhin died in 2004. The report was broadcast Wednesday night, during a week that had seen Russian President Vladimir Putin pushing for a prestigious peace summit in Moscow between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Tuesday, Abbas told reporters in Poland that he had been on his way to a preliminary meeting in Moscow with the Israelis September 9, when Jerusalem issued a call for a delay.
The timing of the revelation did not escape PA Arab representatives, who have been flooding Israeli media Thursday morning with profuse denials of the charges, as well as accusations that the Netanyahu government is trying to torpedo the peace efforts.
The document, which lists people the KGB was recruiting in 1983, names “Abbas, Mahmoud,” born 1935 in Palestine, as “Krotov,” or mole, in Damascus, Syria. Abbas was born in 1935 in British Palestine, and after 1948 fled with his family to Damascus, where he grew up.
And, in the clandestine spy world John le Carré books are made of, where being together at the same place and time is proof for plots and conspiracies, the following has to be a fine nugget: Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian deputy foreign minister who has been Putin’s envoy pushing Abbas and Netanyahu to meet in Moscow, was stationed in Damascus from 1983-89 and from 1991-94. Put that in your hookah and smoke it.
Dr. Isabella Ginor of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, who together with Gideon Remez, an Israeli journalist and analyst of post-Soviet affairs, researched the Mitrokhin documents, rejected the claims by senior PA Arabs saying she and her colleague have no ties to the Israeli government and they certainly do not receive their orders from Netanyahu. As to the Timing of the revelation, Ginor told Israel Radio on Thursday morning that there has always been tension between Netanyahu and Abbas, meaning that whenever her team’s revelations were to be publicized it would have boosted Israel’s case against the PA Chairman.
Ginor added that the KGB also had an agent in the Israeli government, starting in 1972, a relatively unknown person who came to Israel from Moldova.
The PA officials argued that there was no need for the Soviets to recruit Abbas as a Soviet agent because the PLO was openly collaborating with Moscow. Indeed, Abbas was the head of a Palestinian-Soviet friendship foundation and as such served as a liaison to Moscow for PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The documents are now in storage at the Churchill Archives Center of Cambridge University and have been open to the public for the past two years. Ginor and Remez came across the document naming Abbas while researching the Soviet involvement in the Middle East.
David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, and his co-author, senior policy analyst Andrea Stricker, issued a report on Thursday saying the US and other world powers have secretly allowed Iran to exceed the nuclear deal’s limits on stockpiles of enriched uranium and other dangerous materials. Albright cited key secret exemptions which were made in secret meetings of the Joint Commission that was composed of Iran, the US, the UK, France, China, Russia, and the European Union.
Albright is a physicist who took part in UN weapons inspections in Iraq, and has been a self-appointed watchdog over the Iran nuclear deal. He has repeatedly raised doubts that the deal is being implemented honestly.
Albright’s report claims Iran would not have been able to meet its compliance requirements by January 16, 2016—the deal’s Implementation Day: “The exemptions and in one case, a loophole, involved the low enriched uranium (LEU) cap of 300 kilograms, some of the near 20 percent LEU, the heavy water cap, and the number of large hot cells allowed to remain in Iran,” the report reveals, citing a senior knowledgeable official who stated that “if the Joint Commission had not acted to create these exemptions, some of Iran’s nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance with the JCPOA by Implementation Day.”
The report also suggests “the Joint Commission allowed Iran to store large amounts of heavy water in Oman that remained under Iran’s control, effectively allowing Iran to exceed its cap of 130 tons of heavy water as it continues to produce heavy water at its Arak facility.”
“Any rationale for keeping these exemptions secret appears unjustified,” the report said, noting that “these decisions, which are written down, amount to additional secret or confidential documents linked to the JCPOA.” The report also claims that “the Joint Commission’s secretive decision-making process risks advantaging Iran by allowing it to try to systematically weaken the JCPOA. It appears to be succeeding in several key areas.”
“Given the technical complexity and public importance of the various JCPOA exemptions and loopholes, the administration’s policy to maintain secrecy interferes in the process of establishing adequate Congressional and public oversight of the JCPOA,” the report said, stressing that “this is particularly true concerning potentially agreement-weakening decisions by the Joint Commission. As a matter of policy, the United States should agree to any exemptions or loopholes in the JCPOA only if the decisions are simultaneously made public.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that “the Joint Commission has not and will not loosen any of the commitments and has not provided any exceptions that would allow Iran to retain or process material In excess of its (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) limits that it could use in a breakout scenario,” adding his assurance that “there’s been no cutting of slack.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest expressed the administration’s “significant objections” to the Albright report, assuring reporters that “Iran is in compliance with the agreement. That’s not my opinion. That’s not rhetoric. That is not a conjecture. That is a fact that is verified by independent international experts who, because of the agreement, now have the kind of access that is required to verify it.”
The Trump campaigned quickly took advantage of the report, with a statement by retired Army General Michael Flynn, a top Trump adviser, who said, “The deeply flawed nuclear deal Hillary Clinton secretly spearheaded with Iran looks worse and worse by the day. It’s now clear President Obama gave away the store to secure a weak agreement that is full of loopholes.”
Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition released a statement saying,
“This latest report further confirms that the Obama Administration has consistently misled the American people on the Iran nuclear deal. First we learned about a secret side deal that allows Iran to upgrade its centrifuges, then it was the secret $400 million ransom payment, and now these secret exemptions that allow Iran to evade restrictions on their nuclear capabilities. Simply put, President Obama and his fellow Democrats have never been straightforward with the American people about Iran. It’s clear this is a dangerous and reckless deal with the largest state sponsor of terrorism, and no one who is serious about our national security could support it.”
If you’re reading this and flying to Europe on British Airways, you may want to pack yourself a little something to eat.
The national British carrier has just cut its food service in the wake of Brexit, the separation of the United Kingdom from the rest of the European Union.
British Airways is down to to one meal only for economy passengers on flights under eight and a half hours. This includes flights between the UK to the United States and Canada.
The same belt-tightening measure has been applied to premium economy passengers on flights under seven hours.
“We offer customers on all of our trans-Atlantic flights a three-course meal, bar service and snacks, and on our longer trans-Atlantic flights, including to the West Coast, customers are offered an extra meal during the flight,” said a spokesperson for the airline.
The above does not necessarily apply to passengers who order kosher and/or glatt kosher pre-packaged meals.
Jewish Labour Peer of the Realm Parry Mitchell is threatening to quit the party if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as leader.
Mitchell, a member of the House of Lords and former frontbencher under Ed Miliband, slammed the recent internal Labour inquiry into racisim and anti-Semitism led by Shami Chakrabarti.
In a letter to the editor of The Times of London published Wednesday morning, Mitchell called the inquiry — which concluded the party was not “overrun” by anti-Semitism — “insipid whitewash.”
The report found an “occasionally toxic atmosphere” against Jewish members of the party, but that anti-Semitism is not prevalent among the rank and file. British Jews have harshly criticized the report.
Mitchell wrote: “As a Jew, I find the allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party very distressing. Even more upsetting is the way Jeremy Corbyn dismisses what he has permitted to fester at the highest levels of our party.
“I had hoped that the Chakrabarti Report commissioned by Corbyn would get to the bottom of allegations of antisemitism: sadly Ms. Chakrabarti produced an insipid whitewash. Indeed, she seems to have done her master’s bidding to absolve the party of blame. Her prize? The only Labour peerage awarded by Mr. Corbyn.
“Anti-Semitism has no part in a progressive party. I have come to the painful conclusion that were Mr. Corbyn to be re-elected next month, then I will have to resign my membership of the Labour party. I cannot remain a member of a party that goes against such a crucial issue that I hold dear.”
The IDF Appeals Committee in Judea and Samaria has ruled recently that the 2013 declaration of an area of some 55 acres in the vicinity of Kokhav Ya’akov, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as state land is null and void, because the process of making the acquisition was improper, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The military panel was also critical of the lack of transparency in making the declaration public — meaning that it was being kept out of PA Arabs’ earshot.
The panel’s ruling on an appeal by NGO Yesh Din on behalf of alleged Arab land owners, is more a judicial recommendation to the IDF in the area than a compelling decision, but should the declaration of state land be appealed in the Israeli Supreme court — as it surely will be — the panel’s decision would influence the justices’ ruling.
The grounds for dismissing the government acquisition of the land has to do with its failure to adequately comply with Ottoman Law — a remnant of the Turkish government’s rule over these lands before 1918, which continues to be the law of the land; and will continue to be so as long as Israel fails to impose Israeli law on Area C, where Jews live.
Ottoman law says that a man can establish claim to his land if he can show that he has been tilling it for the previous ten years. The state tried to comply with the law by providing aerial photographs of the area from 1969, showing clearly that the land was not being cultivated.
However, the dissemination of lands to local Arabs by King Hussein, who ruled the area from 1949 to 1967, took place in 1961. So the panel ruled that the aerial photos proving the land was not being cultivated had to be from before 1961, and, according to the state, such photographs could not be found.
There are photographs from 1944 showing that some of the land was being tilled then.
The judges wrote that they were not convinced the state had made the full effort to discover those 1956 aerial photographs, and that without them the panel must rule that the situation back in 1944 continued uninterrupted through 1961. Of course, the decision to require a photograph from before 1961 assumes that when King Hussein handed over lands to the heads of local Arab clans (whom he viewed as a source of potential rebellion) — he had the right to give those lands away. But Hussein was never recognized universally as the sovereign of the “West Bank,” which was considered an occupied territory, along the 1949 armistice border with Israel.
Local residents of Kokhav Ya’akov say they have also purchased the land, but regardless of the ownership papers they would present to the high court, organizations like Yesh Din will rustle up a group of Arab claimants to the land, with papers freshly minted by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah showing the land belongs to them.
According to NGO Monitor, Yesh Din operates on an annual budget of $1.58 million, provided by the EU, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).
Officials are calling it a “spontaneous attack” but a Somali national with Norwegian citizenship stabbed to death a 60-year-old American woman Wednesday night and wounded five others, including one Israeli in a high-end section of central London.
The unidentified killer launched his rampage at about 10:30 pm in London’s elegant Russell Square, a park located close to the site of a July 2005 bombing by radical Islamist terrorists. One of the bombs in the coordinated bombing attack that killed 52 people detonated on a bus close to Russell Square.
The injured included an Israeli woman as well as a second U.S. citizen, an Australian national, and a local British citizen.
The killer, a Somali with Norwegian citizenship emigrated from the Scandinavian country in 2002. But it’s not clear whether he headed straight to the UK or made any other stops along the way, according to Norway’s National Criminal Service, CNN reported.
London Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters, “So far we have found no evidence of radicalization,” Reuters reported. Rowley added the investigation is focusing on mental health issues at present.
Police arrived within six minutes of being called to the scene and used a taser to bring the 19-year-old killer under control. He was taken into custody and subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder.
The site is also located in the heart of the university area, and is close to the British Museum and other famous landmarks.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged residents in the capital to report anything suspicious to the police.
“The safety of all Londoners is my number one priority, and my heart goes out to the victims of the incident in Russell Square and their loved ones,” Khan said.
Officials meanwhile increased the security presence around the city by some 600 armed police.
London counter-terror police officials warned the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization has been attempting to radicalize those with mental health issues, with the goal of using them as operatives in terror attacks.
On Wednesday, Christian Today reported that Mohammad El Halabi, an employee of World Vision (WV), the world’s largest evangelical Christian charity, had been detained on June 15 at the Erez crossing “on his way home from routine meetings” and was being held “without access to legal counsel or family visits,” which is normal fare in Israel with regards to security prisoners.
Last Friday, when El Halabi’s detention had been extended until August Tuesday, Aug. 2, WV’s eastern Jerusalem office released a statement saying, “World Vision stands by Mohammad who is a widely respected and well-regarded humanitarian, field manager and trusted colleague of over a decade. He has displayed compassionate leadership on behalf of the children and communities of Gaza through difficult and challenging times, and has always worked diligently and professionally in fulfilling his duties.”
It should be interesting to see the charity’s response to the charges submitted against El Halabi by the Southern District Prosecution in Beer Sheva District Court Thursday, describing him as Hamas activist who has been using his high position in the charity organization to systematically divert millions of dollars to the military arm of Hamas, financing, among other things, the digging of terror tunnels. The monies, according to Thursday’s indictment, was taken out of funds and resources that had been dedicated to humanitarian assistance to Gaza Strip residents. The indictment includes 12 counts of security violations of passing information to the enemy, membership in a terror organization, funding terrorism, participation in an unlawful association, and contact with foreign agents.
The facts included in the indictment describe El Halabi as having a master’s degree in engineering. A member of Hamas since 1995, in 2004 he joined the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas. In 2005 he was hired by WV to carry out administrative assignments at the charity’s Gaza branch. His job provided him with an entry permit into Israel. El Halabi exploited his visits to Israel to locate and mark [via GPS] sites near the Erez Crossing that potentially could be used as egress points for Hamas attack tunnels.
Carrying out his assignments, according to the prosecution, El Halabi usurped millions of dollars in donations that arrived from foreign countries such as the US, Australia, Germany and the UK, and were slated for humanitarian needs, agricultural, education, and psychological support.
According to El Halabi, the humanitarian aid donated for the residents of the Gaza Strip was in actual fact given almost exclusively to Hamas terrorists and their families. Non-Hamas members almost never received any benefit from the aid, despite their relative level of need. Needless to say, this is in contradiction to the accepted practice of the humanitarian aid organizations. Every month, El Halabi distributed thousands of packages of food, basic commodities and medical supplies to Hamas terrorists and their families, commodities that World Vision had intended to go to the needy.
Over his many years working for WV, El Halabi transferred to Hamas’s possession thousands of tons of iron rods, digging equipment and plastic hoses, originally intended for agricultural use but in reality utilized by the Hamas tunnel builders and for building military bases such as the “Palestine” military base which was built in 2015 entirely from British aid money. Some of the money went to pay the salaries of Hamas terrorists and, in some cases, senior Hamas terrorists took large sums of money for their own personal use. During the war of 2014, Hamas terrorists received WV food packages to sustain them above and below ground, including in terror tunnels.
El Halabi also provided plastic sheets bearing the WV emblem to cover the openings of tunnels, making them look like agricultural hothouses.
According to the indictment, around the year 2012, El Halabi was engaged by Hamas to initiate a greenhouse project, to use greenhouses to hide the sites where terror tunnels were being dug. In addition, a project for the rehabilitation of (fictitious) fishermen was actually used to provide motor boats and diving suits for Hamas’s military marine unit.
The Shabak investigation revealed that the main method El Halabi used to divert money to Hamas was to put out fictitious tenders for WV-sponsored projects in the Gaza Strip. The “winning” company was simply informed that 60% of the project’s funds were to be designated for Hamas.
El Halabi told his interrogators that a regular method of acquiring equipment for Hamas was to disguise Hamas warehouses as WV warehouses. Trucks bringing supplies to the Kerem Shalom Crossing between Israel and Gaza would then unload their goods at Hamas warehouses instead of legitimate WV warehouses. Hamas operatives would pick up the supplies in the dead of night.
According to Shabak, the El Halabi investigation revealed much information concerning additional figures in the Gaza Strip who exploited their work for humanitarian aid organizations and UN institutions, on behalf of Hamas. El Halabi’s statements portray a troubling picture in which UN institutions in Gaza are in fact controlled by Hamas.
How the Money Was Transferred to Hamas
Some of the money raised to support injured children in Gaza was diverted to the families of Hamas terrorists, by fraudulently listing their children as wounded.
Money designated for psychological support, education and health in Gaza ($2 million/year) was used to pay the families of Hamas terrorists.
Part of the WV donations was transferred in cash and recorded fraudulently as aid to needy children.
Monies were paid out as salaries to Hamas terrorists and activists, who were registered as employees of the aid organization when in fact they never worked for WV.
Costs for legitimate infrastructure projects were inflated, with the difference going to Hamas.
Straw companies — two farmers’ associations and a fake charity for the benefit of the injured — were established with false registers to launder money.
Unemployment payments were diverted to Hamas terrorists. El Halabi arranged for one-third of the allowances WV transfers to Gaza for the unemployed to go to members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. The terrorists received a larger allowance ($392 instead of $300).
Using lists of fictitious beneficiaries, $2 million a year were designated as aid for farmers and diverted to Hamas activists. El Halabi reported a larger sum than what was actually transferred to the farmers to World Vision. The difference was diverted to Hamas.
Project costs were inflated. For example, WV invested in the construction of 500 greenhouses and the preparation of land (495 acres) for agriculture. El Halabi reported to the charity that the cost was $1,000 per quarter acre, while the real cost was $700. The difference – $300 per quarter acre – was transferred to Hamas.
In their 2014 report titled “Filling in the Blanks — Documenting Missing Dimensions in UN and NGO Investigations of the Gaza Conflict,” NGO Monitor and UN Watch have cautioned: “The willingness of World Vision workers to openly discuss these issues is exceptional; however, the answers leave little doubt as to World Vision’s willingness to negotiate and coordinate with armed groups. This raises questions as to whether the group would prevent components of its aid from being misappropriated by terrorist organizations, if it felt that taking a stand would jeopardize the organization’s ability to continue its operations in a given area.”