September 21/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

The Bulletin's Link on the lccc Site 

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Bible Quotations For Today
Freely you received, so freely give
Matthew 10/05-15/:"5 Jesus sent these twelve out, and commanded them, saying, “Don’t go among the Gentiles, and don’t enter into any city of the Samaritans. Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, preach, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers,† and cast out demons. Freely you received, so freely give. Don’t take any gold, silver, or brass in your money belts. Take no bag for your journey, neither two coats, nor sandals, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food. Into whatever city or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy; and stay there until you go on. As you enter into the household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come on it, but if it isn’t worthy, let your peace return to you. Whoever doesn’t receive you, nor hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Most certainly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 20-210/17
Lebanon explores potential roles with Russia/Marianna Belenkaya/Al Monitor/September 20/17
The full transcript of Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN General Assembly/Haaretz/September 20/17
FULL TEXT: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Address to UN General Assembly/Haaretz /September 20/17
FULL TEXT: Iran's Hassan Rohani's Address to UN General Assembly/Haaretz/September 20/17
The True Enemies of the Palestinians/ Bassam Tawil/ 2017 Gatestone Institute/September 20/17
Does the President Have the Right to Expect Loyalty from His Attorney General?
Alan M. Dershowitz/ 2017 Gatestone Institute/September 20/17
Common Sense on Campus/Denis MacEoin/ 2017 Gatestone Institute/September 20/17
Renewed hope in Qatar’s emerging oppositionAbdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/September 20/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 20-210/17
Aoun tells expats to spend summers in Lebanon
Aoun from NY: Military Aid for Lebanon Essential to Confront Terrorism
Report: As Syrian War Winds Down, Israel Sets Sights on Hizbullah
Israeli Warplanes Drop Missile-Deflecting Flares over al-Mansouri
Slain Troops' Families Urge Referring Cases to Judicial Council, Threaten Escalation
Berri: Lebanon Rejects All Forms of Settlement
Hariri Says No One in Lebanon Backs Refugee Naturalization
State Security Apprehends Culprit Involved in Terror Groups
Cyprus Pledges $10 Million Military Aid for Lebanon
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Visits Arsal and Army Posts
EU Supports Shelter and Infrastructure Works in Ain el-Hilweh
Othman, Turkish Ambassador tackle overall situation
Sarraf commences official visit to Turkey, meets with Canikli
ICRC repatriates two bodies of Lebanese nationals from occupied Palestine
Sleiman underlines need to activate refugees' return plan
Abi Khalil at Beirut 8th Energy Forum: Optimistic about achieving renewable energy goals
UNDP Disaster Risk Management organizes Training of trainers on Crisis Communications
Aoun, Islamic Cooperation head meet in New York
Lebanon explores potential roles with Russia

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 20-210/17
21 Children among Nearly 250 Dead in Powerful Mexico Quake
Trump Meets Qatari Emir, Predicts Quick End to Crisis
Saudi Arabia Urges Kurds to Scrap Independence Referendum
US-Backed Force Takes 90% of Syria's Raqa from IS
Dozens of states sign nuclear weapons ban treaty at United Nations
USAID disburses $1 million in grants to civil society organizations to help conserve water resources
Pope Francis, Muslim World League Secretary discuss interfaith coexistence
Solution to Qatar crisis will be from the Gulf, says Saudi FM
Trump denies warning Saudi Arabia over military action against Qatar
Bloomberg: Trump confronted Qatar over terrorism-related activity
A UN official refuses to Qatar’s use of his name at a seminar on terrorism
Saudi to create $2.7 bn entertainment investment firm

Latest Lebanese Related News published on September 20-210/17
Aoun tells expats to spend summers in Lebanon
The Daily Star/September 20, 2017/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Tuesday called on Lebanese expatriates to spend their summer vacations in Lebanon. “Normally, people go from one country to another to spend their annual holiday vacations. Nothing prevents you from spending your summers in Lebanon with friends and family,” Aoun told around 600 members of the Lebanese community in New York Tuesday evening. Aoun commended the Lebanese people and the country's leaders for preventing Lebanon from falling into chaos, as other countries had in the region. “Although political disagreements at times [reached high levels], we were able to maintain relative stability and not see any bloodshed,” Aoun said of recent years.Aoun is in the U.S. to attend the United Nations General Assembly and will address world leaders on Thursday afternoon.

Aoun from NY: Military Aid for Lebanon Essential to Confront Terrorism
Naharnet/September 20/17/President Michel Aoun stressed on Wednesday from New york that Lebanon's army is capable of confronting terrorism and that the “assistance it receives is an essential factor to enable it to fully carry out its tasks,” the National News Agency reported. “The Lebanese military is able to stand up to terrorism and terrorists. The assistance it receives is essential to enable it to carry out its tasks fully in the face of a difficult and experienced enemy who has succeeded in spreading fear and killing all over the world," said Aoun.
Aoun's remarks came during his meeting with a delegation of the American Task Force for Lebanon in New York on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the U.N. General Assembly. The meeting has also focused on the Lebanese-US relations and the role of the delegation in enhancing and activating them in various fields, NNA added.“The delegation also praised the Lebanese army's military achievement and the success of the Dawn of the Outskirts operation and its positive impact on political workers in the United States,” it said.
Earlier, Aoun had held separate talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization comprised primarily of dedicated Americans of Lebanese heritage and others who share a common interest in Lebanon and the goals of the ATFL.

Report: As Syrian War Winds Down, Israel Sets Sights on Hizbullah

Associated Press/Naharnet/September 20/17/With President Bashar Assad seemingly poised to survive the Syrian civil war, Israeli leaders are growing nervous about the intentions of his Iranian patrons and their emerging corridor of influence across the region, the Associated Press reported.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is agitating against Iran in global forums like this week's U.N. General Assembly. The Israeli military is holding war games targeting the Iran-backed Hizbullah, and generals are issuing tough threats in hopes of avoiding what could be another ruinous Israeli entanglement in Lebanon, this time with Iranian advisers and troops on Israel's doorstep. Israel has long identified Iran as its biggest threat, citing its suspect nuclear program, development of long-range missiles and hostile rhetoric. But gains by Syrian troops and their Iranian-backed allies have given those concerns new urgency. Israel fears the establishment of a Shiite "corridor," with land links from Iran to Lebanon, allowing the movement of fighters and weapons across the region. At the heart of those fears is Hizbullah that battled Israel to a stalemate in a monthlong war in 2006. The group has greatly beefed up its arsenal of rockets and missiles since then, and after years of fighting in Syria, is more battle-tested than ever. In his U.N. address Tuesday, Netanyahu warned that Iran was spreading a "curtain of tyranny and terror" across the region, and said Israel would defend itself. "We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria or in Lebanon for use against us. And we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border," he said. Israel last week wrapped up its largest military exercise in two decades — mobilizing some 30,000 troops to train for the next war against Hizbullah. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, the commander of the exercise, Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman, said that despite Hizbullah's gains, the balance of power has greatly shifted in favor of Israel since 2006. "If Hizbullah's capabilities have grown linearly, ours have grown exponentially, in intelligence, in targets and in the ability to attack," he said. If fighting resumes, "the damage to Hizbullah will be severe, mortal and comprehensive."
He said he was pleased with the performance of his troops, and said the two-week drill should send a powerful message of deterrence. "We have no intentions at this time to go out and defeat Hizbullah. Our goal is to maintain the quiet and stability in the north," said Hayman, the commander of the army's Northern Corps.Israeli forces on Tuesday shot down what Israel said was a Hizbullah surveillance drone that veered too close to the Syrian border with Israel. The military said the unmanned aircraft was Iranian-made and launched from a Damascus airport before it was shot down near the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan Heights. After six years of fighting that claimed at least 400,000 lives, Assad's forces appear to have finally gained the upper hand as they recapture territory from the Islamic State group and opposition fighters.
Russia, which is waging an air campaign on behalf of Assad, and Iran and Hizbullah, which have fighters on the ground, have provided crucial support and are expected to play a major role in postwar Syria. "The vector is quite clear right now, with the Syrian army, Hizbullah and the Shiite militias gradually regaining control of large swaths of the country," said Chagai Tzuriel, the director general of the Israeli Intelligence Ministry. Israel has said any permanent presence of Iranian or Hizbullah troops along the Syrian border with Israel would be crossing a "red line," hinting that it would be willing to take military action if needed. Tzuriel warned of a "regional conflagration." He said Russia could end up playing a positive role, because it wants to stabilize Syria. He said the Russians realize that Iran could create friction not only with Israel, but also with the Sunni majority in the region.
"I think there is a good chance that it will limit and restrain Iran, Hizbullah and the Shiite militias," he said. But that is far from clear. Netanyahu last month flew to Russia to discuss Syria with President Vladimir Putin, but apparently returned home emptyhanded. Israeli media last week said Russia had rejected an Israeli request to keep the Shiite forces at least 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the border. Neither side has commented on the reports.
Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz recently claimed at a security conference that Iran and Syria are working on an agreement that could bring an Iranian naval base, airport or army bases to Israel's doorstep, a major boost for Hiizbullah. "The Iranians may bring different kinds of missiles to Syria, and a large and well-equipped force of Shiite militias may settle there, including tens of thousands of Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis and Syrians whose goal is to threaten and battle Israel," Katz said. "Hizbullah will train and command the Shiite militias."Israel has attempted to stay on the sidelines throughout the Syrian war. But it has admitted to carrying out dozens of airstrikes on what are believed to be shipments of "game changing" weapons, such as guided missiles or anti-aircraft systems, bound for Hizbullah. Syria accused Israel of carrying out a recent airstrike against a Syrian military facility, possibly linked to either missile production or chemical weapons. Hayman said last week's drill was only focused on Lebanon, and that Israel would try to keep any future fighting from spreading beyond Lebanon.
After years of fighting in Syria, Hizbullah does not appear to be in a rush to battle Israel. The group has lost an estimated 1,500 fighters in Syria and is also suffering from low morale and financial pressure. But as it withdraws from Syria, it is expected to look south, to its main nemesis.
"Hizbullah now has a force similar to those of a conventional army without losing its experience in guerrilla warfare," said Qassim Qassir, a Lebanese expert on Hizbullah. "Hizbullah today is stronger than before and this is what made Israel carry out this drill to show their force."

Israeli Warplanes Drop Missile-Deflecting Flares over al-Mansouri
Naharnet/September 20/17/A number of Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace over the South on Wednesday evening and released several missile-deflecting flares, the National News Agency reported. NNA said the warplanes overflew the border region and dropped a number of missile-deflecting flares over the outskirts of the Tyre District town of al-Mansouri. The development comes after an Israeli airstrike Tuesday on the Lebanese-Syrian border east of the southern town of Shebaa. The strike followed Israel's downing of what it described as a Hizbullah-operated, Iranian-made drone near Syria's occupied Golan Heights. On September 10, Israeli warplanes flying at low altitude broke the sound barrier over the city of Sidon and the neighboring areas, causing minor material damage and sparking panic among residents.The development came days after Israeli warplanes bombed a military site in Syria from Lebanon’s airspace. The Foreign Ministry has filed an urgent complaint against Israel with the U.N. Security Council over the violations.

Slain Troops' Families Urge Referring Cases to Judicial Council, Threaten Escalation
Naharnet/September 20/17/The families of troops killed between the years 2012 and 2017 in the border towns of Arsal and Ras Baalbek on Wednesday urged the government to refer the investigation cases to the Judicial Council, Lebanon's highest national security court, and to launch an immediate probe. The lawyers of the families warned that “they might carry out escalatory steps if the government doesn't respond to their demands.” The father of slain Captain Ahmed Tabikh meanwhile called for “the execution of Bilal and Omar Miqati and others,” referring to detained Islamic State militants accused of executing a number of soldiers. “We will not accept the presence of any red lines seeking to obstruct the probe for anyone's favor,” the father added. He also called for the prosecution of “anyone who erred or incited against the army, colluded with the terrorists or paid money to buy arms, ammunition and explosives for the gangs, as well as anyone who supplied them with food, stolen cars or construction material for building military posts, trenches and barricades.” President Michel Aoun had recently ordered a probe into the 2014 kidnap and subsequent execution of a number of troops and policeman at the hands of the extremist Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups. The move came after the army ousted the IS group from the eastern border region and after a Hizbullah-led deal under which Lebanon recovered the bodies of ten executed troops. Some parties have accused ex-PM Tammam Salam and former army chief General Jean Qahwaji of misconduct during the army's 2014 battle against jihadists. Salam, Qahwaji and al-Mustaqbal Movement have slammed the accusations, arguing that a decision to agree to a ceasefire with the militants was necessary to avoid bloodshed in the town of Arsal and the stoking of sectarian tensions.

Berri: Lebanon Rejects All Forms of Settlement
Naharnet/September 20/17/After calls voiced by US President Donald Trump for seeking an approach for refugees settlement in their home region, Lebanon's parliament rejected on Wednesday the approach assuring that “there will be no settlement for refugees in Lebanon.”“In the name of lawmakers, and according to Lebanon's constitution, Lebanon's land is one for all the Lebanese and 'there shall be ... no settlement of non-Lebanese in Lebanon'” Speaker Nabih Berri said after a parliament meeting in Nejmeh Square.The lawmakers stressed that “permanent settlement violates the Constitution,” they said: “In accordance with the Constitution, the land of Lebanon is one for all Lebanese. There will be no classification of people or land and there will be no settlement of non-Lebanese.”At the UN General Assembly in New York, Trump had called on countries hosting refugees to “seek an approach to refugee resettlement,” to “enable their eventual return to their home countries to be part of the rebuilding process.”Lebanon hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees, who amount to more than a quarter of the country's population not to mention undocumented individuals, many of whom live in informal tented settlements. The Syria refugee influx into Lebanon has strained the country's infrastructure, and has also sparked accusations that refugee camps are harboring militants from the war. The World Bank says the Syrian crisis has pushed an estimated 200,000 Lebanese into poverty, adding to the nation's one million poor.

Hariri Says No One in Lebanon Backs Refugee Naturalization
Naharnet/September 20/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed Wednesday that no one in Lebanon is in favor of naturalizing Syrian refugees in the country, after U.S. President Donald Trump called for resettling the displaced Syrians “as close to their home countries as possible.”“Everyone knows our stance that rejects this issue,” said Hariri after talks with Speaker Nabih Berri that followed a legislative session. “What has been said at the United Nations is a political stance that is not binding for anyone or for us,” Hariri added. In his first speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Trump had on Tuesday noted that "for the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States," Washington can assist "more than 10 in their home region.""Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible. This is the safe, responsible and humanitarian approach," Trump added. Trump's suggestion has angered many in Lebanon, a tiny country hosting more than 1.5 million refugees. The country of just 4 million is officially hosting more than 1 million Syrian refugees and some 500,000 Palestinians. The real numbers are likely higher as many don't register with the U.N.Lebanese MPs on Wednesday demanded a formal response to Trump. Speaker Berri said it was no "joking matter," and invoked Lebanon's Constitution, which he said rejects resettlement.

State Security Apprehends Culprit Involved in Terror Groups

Naharnet/September 20/State Security elements arrested a suspect with connections to the Islamic State extremist group in the northeastern border town of Arsal, the General Directorate of State Security said in a statement on Wednesday.The Directorate noted that its elements have detained a Syrian national, identified as Ali R., in Arsal over engaging in fighting alongside terrorist organizations, said the statement. The suspect confessed during interrogations of having participated in the 2014 and 2015 battles in the outskirts of Arsal and Nahle. The suspect was handed over to the Military Court

Cyprus Pledges $10 Million Military Aid for Lebanon
Naharnet/September 20/17/Cyprus announced that it will provide Lebanon's military with ammunition worth $10 million, media reports said Wednesday. Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides announced after meeting his Lebanese counterpart Jebran Bassil in New York that his country would provide 10 million dollars worth of ammunition to the Lebanese army, media reports said. The two men met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Cypriot media reports said that “bilateral relations as well as the trilateral cooperation between Cyprus-Greece-Lebanon were discussed.” In June, Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf announced during an official visit to Cyprus that Lebanon will receive 15M euro in military aid from Cyprus.

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Visits Arsal and Army Posts
Naharnet/September 20/17/U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag visited Wednesday the northeastern border towns of Arsal and al-Labweh, her office said. Kaag visited army positions in the outskirts of Arsal and met with Brigadier General Sami Hoayek and other representatives of the Lebanese army.The Special Coordinator commended the army in “their efforts and enduring commitment to safeguard Lebanon’s security and stability,” her office said. Recalling the U.N. Secretary-General’s statement of September 13, Kaag stressed that reinforcing Lebanese national institutions and the Lebanese army is “the best preventive measure we can have in relation to the risk of conflict." She said the U.N. would continue encouraging international support to the Lebanese army and security institutions, including through the International Support Group for Lebanon. The Special Coordinator also met with the head of Arsal Municipality, Bassel al-Hujeiri, to discuss the development needs of Arsal. Kaag praised “the generosity of heart and spirit of the citizens of Arsal towards the Syrian refugees,” her office said.

EU Supports Shelter and Infrastructure Works in Ain el-Hilweh
Naharnet/September 20/17/The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Wednesday held a closing ceremony of infrastructure projects funded by the European Union at the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp in Sidon.
It also celebrated the closure of complementary projects funded by other donors. The closing ceremony was held under the patronage of the Director of UNRWA Affairs, Claudio Cordone, and in the presence of the Head of the Delegation of the European to Lebanon, Ambassador Christina Lassen.
The EU contributed EUR10.5 million to rehabilitate shelters and a health center, as well as to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure in the camp. “The EU support contributed to the improvement of infrastructure in Ain el-Hilweh, and to the reduction of the negative environmental effects of the deteriorated infrastructure systems, and directly improved the quality of life of refugees, as well as their health conditions,” said a statement issued by the EU Delegation to Lebanon. The Saudi Fund for Development and Japan International Cooperation Agency also contributed around US$7 million and US$2 million respectively to infrastructure works in the camp. Before these contributions, and as a result of lack of funding, the infrastructure of the camp was neglected and the inhabitants were constantly suffering from water shortage, flooded streets during winter and dysfunctional sewage systems. Speaking at the event, Cordone said: “This project is a testament to what can be achieved collectively in support of the Palestine refugees.” “I was concerned to see the impact of the recurrent clashes in Ain el-Hilweh on civilians’ lives, their homes and especially on children. But UNRWA will continue to support them and stand by their side,” he added. The Director also thanked Ambassador Lassen for her presence during the event and the continuous support of the EU. Lassen for her part showed her solidarity with the inhabitants of the camp who have “lived for months in an extremely difficult situation due to violence costing lives, injuries, displacement and destruction,” the EU Delegation statement said. She pointed out that the European Union stands with them. She said: "As you know, for many years, the European Union has been supporting Palestine refugees in Lebanon. And we continue to do so. With Palestinians affected by the war in Syria seeking refuge in Lebanon, our support is needed more than ever. And that is why the European Union and its Member States, is the largest donor to UNRWA."''Through the projects that we close now, more than 206 families had access to shelters, 8 health clinics were fully rehabilitated and furnished, and new water supply and drainage system have been completed,'' Lassen added.

Othman, Turkish Ambassador tackle overall situation
Wed 20 Sep 2017/NNA - Internal Security Forces chief, Imad Othman, received today at his Barracks office the Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon, اagatay Erciyes, with talks between the pair reportedly touching on the general situation in the country. Major General Othman also met with State Minister for Human Rights, Aymand Choucair, and MP Wael Abu Faour, where they discussed the overall situation on the local arena. Othman also met with head of the Maronite General Council, former Minister, Wadih Khazen, on top of a delegation, during which they expressed their support and appreciation for the national role performed by the ISF and hailed the Institution's achievements in fighting various kinds of crimes.

Sarraf commences official visit to Turkey, meets with Canikli

Wed 20 Sep 2017/NNA - National Defense Minister, Yacoub Riad Sarraf, on Wednesday arrived in Turkey on an official visit, whereby he met with his Turkish counterpart Nurettin Canikli. Talks between the pair reportedly touched on the general situation in the region and the bilateral ties between Lebanon and Turkey.

ICRC repatriates two bodies of Lebanese nationals from occupied Palestine
Wed 20 Sep 2017/NNA - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) handed over the bodies of two Lebanese nationals to the Lebanese Red Cross from the occupied Palestine via the border Naqoura gateway, NNA reporter said on Wednesday. The two bodies belong to the Lebanese nationals namely Youssef Selim al-Khoury (50 years old from Shouf) and Selim Wajih Abu Ayyoub (56 years old from Merje'youn). The Lebanese Red Cross, for its part, transported the two bodies to their families in their respective hometowns.

Sleiman underlines need to activate refugees' return plan

Wed 20 Sep 2017 /NNA - Former President, Michel Sleiman, on Wednesday categorically stressed the paramount need to activate the plan for the return of the Syrian refugees to their homeland, deprecating the political power's discounting of constitutional deadlines. Sleiman stressed that the Lebanese consensus forms the strongest weapon in the face of any "fait accompli" attempt to be imposed on Lebanon by various means. "Such a consensus must be endorsed and fortified to secure the safe return of Syrians to their homeland," Sleiman said.
The former President met today respectively with British Ambassador to Lebanon, Hugo Shorter, and Moroccan Ambassador, Mohammed Karin.

Abi Khalil at Beirut 8th Energy Forum: Optimistic about achieving renewable energy goals

Wed 20 Sep 2017/NNA - Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Cesar Abi Khalil, on Wednesday chaired a session within the framework of Beirut 8th Forum on Energy and Sustainable Development, at Le Royal Hotel, Dbayeh. The session was attended by European Union's Ambassador to Lebanon Christina Lassen, and UNDP Residing Representative in Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini. "It gives me a real pleasure to attend this session today with our friends and partners from the EU and UNDP, and in company of Minister of Environment. As you might all know, the support of the EU and UNDP to both the Ministry of Energy and Water and the Ministry of Environment is not new; in fact, it goes back as far as 15 years or even more," Abi Khalil said in his word. "The positive impact that the EU and UNDP has done in Lebanon is clear to everybody, and this support is notably positive in the field of climate change and sustainable energy. Today, we are witnessing a new page in the long-lasting cooperation between the EU and UNDP on one side, and the Lebanese ministries of Environment and Energy on the other," he added.
"This session today is an integral part of the 8th edition of the International Beirut Energy Forum 2017. The contents of this session are an essential milestone in the path that the Government of Lebanon is following to reach its 2020 objectives in renewable energy, and later our 2030 targets as part of Lebanon's INDC. At the Ministry of Energy and Water, we confidently believe that Lebanon will meet its objectives for the year 2020, and we also believe that now is the time to start planning the next decade 2020-2030," he continued.
"Thanks to EU and UNDP projects and initiatives, the sustainable energy sector is developing based on robust and solid cornerstones. The ministry counts on the activities undertaken by these two projects to support and enhance the national momentum in the sustainable energy sector," he said.
"The three subjects that will be discussed during this session are of major importance to the development of the renewable energy sector in Lebanon. While the Lebanese government is in the last stages of awarding three wind farms with a total capacity of 200 MW, the de-risking study is yet another stepping stone in measures that need to be undertaken at the national level in promoting a cost-effective investment atmosphere for the renewable energy sector. In addition, the investments in wind energy cannot be completed without a clear energy grid code, another main brick in the wall that we will witness during this session," he explained. "Finally, to know how good we are doing, we are looking forward to see the results of the market survey of the solar photovoltaic market done by the DREG project. In the National Renewable Energy Action Plan 2016-2020, the Ministry has set a target to reach 100 MW of solar rooftop installations by 2020. The market survey to be presented in a moment will let us know how far we are from achieving this target. Personally, I am optimistic!" he stressed.
"Allow me to seize the opportunity while we are gathered here, to reaffirm the commitment of the Ministry of Energy and Water to achieving our national targets. We are optimistic that Lebanon will reach its objectives in renewable energy. We are committed to do so," he concluded.

UNDP Disaster Risk Management organizes Training of trainers on Crisis Communications

Wed 20 Sep 2017/NNA - "Responding correctly in a crisis can save lives, which is why good communications and coordination between government, the emergency services and the media are so crucial" UK Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter said at the opening session of a three days training of trainers on Crisis Communications, organized by the UNDP Disaster Risk Management (DRM) project at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in collaboration with the UK embassy to Lebanon. In addition to Shorter, Mrs. Celine Moyroud, UNDP Country Director, Major General Saadallah al-Hamad, Secretary General of the Higher Defense Council, and Mrs. Karma Ekmekji, International affairs adviser to the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri also participated in the opening session. Stressing the importance of communication in disaster risk management, Mrs. Celine Moyroud, said that the Crisis Communications training is part of UNDP DRM project efforts during the last couple of years, to build up the crisis managing capabilities of DRM committees in key ministries and in all governorates. Through this training of trainers, participants will gain new expertise in crises communications, as well as training capacities, to share their gained knowledge with other colleagues. To ensure sustainability, Mrs. Moryroud pointed out that the DRM project will use the valuable material provided by British experts during this training to develop a curriculum on crisis communication adapted to the Lebanese context. The training aimed at developing and strengthening the skills of key government DRM communication professionals, at the national and regional levels in crisis communications preparedness, coordination and response. A number of journalists and reporters also participated in the training in an effort to improve information management approaches during times of crisis. Mrs. Karma Ekmekji thanked the United Kingdom and its embassy in Beirut for their support to the government on many levels, hoping that this support and collaboration will be further developed in the future. She added that enhancing Disaster Risk Management in Lebanon is among the priorities of PM Saad Hariri's government. On the other hand, Major General Hamad reiterated the government's commitments to make Lebanon more resilient to disaster risk, by developing an effecting management of disaster risk and reducing disaster's impact. He also commended the support of UNDP, European Union, The Netherlands, and Kuwait for their generous support to this project.

Aoun, Islamic Cooperation head meet in New York
Hassan Lakkis| The Daily Star/September 20, 2017
The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Wednesday assured President Michel Aoun that the body would do its utmost to make Lebanon the center of religious and cultural dialogue.
"I came here to hear [Aoun's] thoughts on global issues ... and we discussed these matters and the organization's role in combatting these problems," the organization's secretary-general Yousef bin Ahmad al-Othaimeen told reporters after the meeting. He and Aoun met in New York where the Islamic cooperation body head congratulated the Lebanese leader for the recent victory over Daesh (ISIS) and other militant groups. Othaimeen added that he looked forward to Aoun's speech at the U.N. General Assembly Thursday and said that Lebanon was truly a society of moderation. When asked if discussions revolved around Lebanon becoming a center for interfaith dialogue and cultural dialogue, Othaimeen said yes. "God created us differently in religion ... and dialogue is important for us to coexist," he said, adding that Aoun assured him no problems could be solved without dialogue.For his part, Aoun welcomed Othaimeen and his accompanying delegation's calls for battling terrorism. Aoun also commended the group for attempting to portray the true image of Islam as an open-minded and moderate faith.

Lebanon explores potential roles with Russia
Marianna Belenkaya/Al Monitor/September 19, 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calendar has been full lately. On Sept. 13, both Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Putin at his summer residence in Sochi.
That’s not surprising, though. Now that the full-scale Syrian peace settlement is underway, we’re seeing a flurry of negotiations. Everyone wants a smooth ride without anyone taking advantage of anyone else. Top-level assurances are necessary.
Putin’s meetings came just a day before the latest round of Syrian talks began in Astana, Kazakhstan, where Russian, Turkish, Iranian and Syrian delegations settled the remaining issues concerning de-escalation zones. The agenda included delineating the Idlib zone and finalizing monitoring mechanisms. It will also be important to launch a joint campaign against Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, militants based in Idlib. Should this work out well, the parties can move to the next stage, which is political resolution.
In a surprise move just before the Sept. 14-15 talks, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu flew to Damascus to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Following hot on the heels of the minister’s trip, Iran’s Zarif arrived in Sochi to compare notes.
Zarif’s arrival also coincided with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's return from a trip to Saudi Arabia, where he reiterated that Moscow doesn’t intend to mediate a boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt.
At this point, Russia is only interested in keeping a potential confrontation between enemies Saudi Arabia and Iran from harming the peace settlement in Syria. Iran, in its turn, needs to make sure its interests will be respected in Syria and that Russia will not change sides. This is particularly important in light of preparations for Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s visit to Russia slated for early October.
One can say the Lebanese prime minister’s arrival in Sochi has emerged as part of such preparatory work.
Russia has always given Hariri a red-carpet welcome. This is not conditional upon the importance of Lebanon to Russia. Hariri is the key to Saudi Arabia, and Russia considers Saudi Arabia the key to the Middle East.
Hariri is the key to Saudi Arabia, and Russia considers Saudi Arabia the key to the Middle East.
“King Salman is certain to visit Moscow, and we firmly believe that his trip will positively impact upon the Arab and Muslim world,” Hariri said when asked about the outcomes of his talks with Putin.
The Lebanese prime minister benefits directly from fence-mending between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which Russia does at the possible expense of offending Iran. The Sochi talks between Hariri and Putin focused on military and technical cooperation, a major sticking point in bilateral relations. A 2015 deal for Russia to supply Kornet anti-tank missiles and T-72 tanks — a contract worth $500 million — has yet to materialize. In Moscow, rumors have it that money is the issue; other talk suggests that intra-Lebanese differences are blocking the deal. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive.
Moreover, Washington, Lebanon’s leading military supplier, would hardly approve of Beirut cooperating with Moscow. Beirut receives its required military assistance gratis, but in the spring there was speculation that the program could be curbed or a credit line could be set up instead. Though the United States still supplies military hardware, there are concerns that US equipment is ending up in Hezbollah’s hands. Gen. Michel Aoun, who became Lebanon’s president in October, maintains strong links with the organization.
Lebanon received relatively little in the way of international aid, compared with some other countries, when the Islamic State (IS) infiltrated its borders, teaching the Lebanese army a bitter lesson: It cannot rely on anyone but itself in protecting its people.
Hariri’s visit to Russia followed the successful campaign of the Lebanese to drive IS out of the country. This is a triumph for the army that regional actors have not taken seriously so far. Yet the success wouldn’t have been possible without Hezbollah, which is claiming the biggest share of credit for defeating IS. The group stole the limelight, stripping the prime minister of a possibility to reap political dividends. Still, if Hariri manages to clinch the agreement with Moscow on military supplies from Russia, it would be a major boost for him.
In addition to the Kornet missiles and T-72 tanks that Russian media reported, Lebanon is eager to buy Kalashnikov assault rifles and machine guns; sniper rifles, including full-bore target ones; disposable rocket launchers; and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
Hariri’s meeting with Putin addressed financial details of the future deal, Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper reported: “Lebanon hopes that Russia will agree to cut prices or give a loan to pay for the supplies, as the parties jointly engage in the fight against terrorism.”
In fact, there is one more option. Saudi Arabia could agree to foot the bill. From this perspective, it is peculiar that talks are being held ahead of Salman’s visit to Russia. What would matter in this case is that Saudis do not concern themselves — like some in the United States do — with whether Russian military hardware will fall into Hezbollah’s hands. Israel does have such fears and will go out of its way to secure US assistance to downscale Russian-Lebanese military-technical cooperation.
Apart from the weapons deal, Hariri has other interests in Russia. He seeks to attract Russian investment to build railways and motorways, power stations, dams and airports. He also needs access to the Russian market for Lebanese agricultural products. Russian oil and gas companies are already quite enthusiastic about potential deals. They actively submit bids to develop Lebanese deposits (Novatek and Lukoil) and contemplate new projects (Gazprom).
Post-conflict Syria is another field for cooperation. Hariri has suggested that the territory of Lebanon — the port in Tripoli in particular — could be used for deploying materials for post-war reconstruction of Syria. China has already gone down that road. Whether Russia really needs it — given its direct access to Syrian ports — is an open question, but why should it waste a chance to gain a foothold in neighb
So far, Russia has not ensured its presence in the country. Federal Customs Service data show trade between Russia and Lebanon amounted to $539 million in 2016. There have been numerous bold statements about plans to step up trade and economic ties to the level of political cooperation, but there has been only one attempt to improve the situation over the recent years. We shall see whether both parties manage to convert rhetoric into action this time.
Found in: Defense/Security cooperation
**Marianna Belenkaya is an Arab studies scholar and independent journalist with almost 20 years of experience covering the Middle East region. She served in the Russian Foreign Ministry’s press pool from 2000 to 2007 as a RIA Novosti political commentator and was later the first editor of the RT-Arabic Service (Rusiya Al-Yaum) website until 2013. She has written for the Nezavisimaya azeta, the Russian Profile Magazine and Al-Hayat and is now a regular contributor to the Carnegie Moscow Center.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 20-210/17
21 Children among Nearly 250 Dead in Powerful Mexico Quake
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 20/17/At least 248 people were killed when a powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday, including 21 children crushed beneath an elementary school that was reduced to rubble. The destruction revived horrific memories in Mexico on the anniversary of another massive quake in 1985, the disaster-prone country's deadliest ever. One of the most gut-wrenching scenes was at the Enrique Rebsamen primary school on Mexico City's south side, whose three floors collapsed into one, trapping students and teachers inside. Twenty-one children and five adults were killed, said Major Jose Luis Vergara of the Mexican navy, who was coordinating a rescue effort that involved hundreds of soldiers, police, civilian volunteers and rescue dogs. He said another 30 to 40 people remained trapped inside, while 11 children have been rescued so far. Emergency workers found a teacher and a student alive beneath the rubble and are trying to get them out, he said. But the situation was precarious. Late into the night, part of the wreckage collapsed as rescuers continued their search. Local media reports said soldiers had administered oxygen to one trapped child through a tube. President Enrique Pena Nieto, who rushed to the site, warned the death toll could rise. "Unfortunately, many people have lost their lives, including children, in schools, buildings and homes," he said in a national address. The devastation struck across a swath of central states and the death toll as of early Wednesday was 248, the head of the national disaster response agency, Luis Felipe Puente, said on Twitter. In addition to Mexico City, people were also killed in Puebla, Morelos, Mexico state and Guerrero, said Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong. - 'Nightmare' -Well after nightfall, rescue crews and volunteers in Mexico City -- home to 20 million people -- were still clawing through the rubble of dozens of collapsed buildings looking for survivors and bodies. Local media reported that families were getting WhatsApp messages pleading for help from desperate relatives trapped under debris. Memories of the devastating 1985 earthquake, which killed at least 10,000 people, surged to the surface on what was meant to be a low-key 32nd anniversary. Adding to the national sense of vulnerability, the quake also came just 12 days after another temblor that killed nearly 100 people and left more than 200 injured, mainly in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. Many in the capital ran outdoors when walls around them swayed and cracked. "I'm so worried. I can't stop crying. It's the same nightmare as in 1985," Georgina Sanchez, 52, sobbed to AFP in a plaza in the capital. The quake -- which occurred in the early afternoon, hours after city authorities had conducted an earthquake drill -- caused massive damage in the bustling center of the city. "It was horrible," said resident Leiza Visaj Herrera, 27. "I had to hold on to the ground."Scenes of chaos erupted in the quake's aftermath. Traffic jammed to a standstill before blanked-out stop lights, and anxious people ran between vehicles as ambulances tried to make headway, sirens blaring. In several locations, large crowds of people clambered on buildings that were now piles of stone and tangled metal, trying to pull people out. Emergency workers held up signs commanding "Silence" so crews could listen for the sounds of any survivors.
- 'Everyone was frantic' -Jorge Lopez, a 49-year-old Spaniard living in Mexico City, said he raced to his children's school in the central Roma district, to find it collapsed but his offspring safe but terrified. "We arrived at the school and everyone was crying, everyone was frantic, and the kids were holding on to a rope," he said. Patients were evacuated from a nearby hospital, wheeled out on beds and wheelchairs. Pena Neto said on Twitter he had ordered the evacuation of damaged hospitals. At one collapsed building in the Roma district, dozens of people dug through rubble as they waited for the arrival of heavy machinery to move the massive chunks of stone. Officials called out for more volunteers, and for water. A woman standing and watching the efforts with her husband, a doctor, turned to him and said, "Darling, if you want to help, go ahead. Just give me your glasses, and be careful." Mexico City's international airport closed for more than three hours following the quake. The stock market was forced to shut. Fearful residents whose homes were damaged were preparing to spend the night on the street or in parks. On the clogged and darkened roads, muggers came out at night to assault motorists.
- Trump's prayers -Officials in several other countries responded to the quake with offers of help. Honduras sent a 36-strong rescue team. US President Donald Trump, who has forged an antagonistic relationship with Mexico, tweeted: "God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you."Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "Devastating news from Mexico City. My thoughts are with those affected by today's earthquake -- Canada will be ready to help our friends."

Trump Meets Qatari Emir, Predicts Quick End to Crisis
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 20/17/President Donald Trump predicted a rapid end to the diplomatic and economic standoff between Qatar and its neighbors Tuesday, during a meeting with the country's emir at UN headquarters. "We are right now in a situation where we're trying to solve a problem in the Middle East and I think we’ll get it solved," Trump said, describing Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani​ as a long-time friend. "I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly." For more than 100 days Qatar has been subject to a Saudi-led boycott that shuttered Qatar's only land border, denied air space to its national airline and suspended maritime links. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of bankrolling Islamist extremists and being too close to Iran. The White House has been sympathetic to allegations that Doha has been too cozy with proscribed groups, but has been wary that Gulf disunity has only created an opening for Iran to expand its influence in the region. The emir welcomed Trump's involvement. "As you said, Mr President, we have a problem with our neighbors and your interference will help a lot and I'm sure we can find a solution for this problem." Earlier, he addressed the UN General Assembly, accusing his neighbors of terrorism and made a plea for dialogue. "I stand here while my country and my people are subjected to a continuing and unjust blockade imposed since June 5th by neighboring countries," he said. "It seems that those who planned and implemented it had envisaged that their move would cause a shocking and direct impact that will bring the State of Qatar to its knees and to capitulate to a total tutelage to be imposed on it," he said.

Saudi Arabia Urges Kurds to Scrap Independence Referendum
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 20/17/Saudi Arabia on Wednesday urged Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani to call off to planned referendum on independence for his autonomous region to avoid further "crises" in Iraq and the region. A Saudi government official said Barzani should drop plans to hold a referendum "in light." He called on the Kurdish leader to make use of his "wisdom and experience," the state-run Saudi Press Agency said. Holding the referendum as planned on September 25 could have "negative consequences on the political, security and humanitarian fronts." It could also "affect efforts to establish security and stability in the region, as well as efforts to fight against terrorist organizations and their activities," the official added. Regional kingpin Saudi Arabia is the latest country to voice its opposition to the referendum in oil-rich Iraqi Kurdistan. But Barzani has so far resisted pressure from Baghdad and Iraq's neighbors Turkey and Iran, as well as from the United States and its Western allies, to call off the vote. Iraq's supreme court has ordered the suspension of the referendum to examine claims made by the federal government that it was unconstitutional. The Saudi official called on "all concerned parties to engage in a dialogue that would serve the interests of the entire Iraqi people."

US-Backed Force Takes 90% of Syria's Raqa from IS
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 20/17/US-backed fighters have captured 90 percent of the Syrian city of Raqa from the Islamic State group after overrunning five strategic neighbourhoods, a monitor said on Wednesday. "Because of the heavy (US-led) coalition air strikes, IS withdrew from at least five key neighbourhoods over the past 48 hours," said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman. "This allowed the Syrian Democratic Forces to control 90 percent of the city." IS has pulled out of the north of the city and abandoned its grain silos and mills. "IS is now confined to the city centre," Abdel Rahman said. "The difficulty in advancing and fully clearing these neighbourhoods is linked to the mines that IS has left behind." IS seized Raqa in early 2014, transforming the city into the de facto Syrian capital of its self-declared caliphate. It quickly became synonomous with the group's most gruesome atrocities, including public beheadings. Backed by US-led coalition air strikes, the SDF spent months encircling the city before entering it in early June.  Tens of thousands of civilians have fled the fighting in recent months. Estimates of the number still inside the city range from fewer than 10,000 to as many as 25,000.

Dozens of states sign nuclear weapons ban treaty at United Nations
Wed 20 Sep 2017/NNA - Dozens of countries signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons Wednesday amid tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, although the United States, Britain, France and others boycotted the event at the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders. The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons will enter into force 90 days after 50 countries have ratified it. Only a few states were due to deposit their ratification Wednesday. "There remain some fifteen thousand nuclear weapons in existence. We cannot allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our children's future," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said as he opened the treaty for signing. The treaty was adopted in July by two-thirds of the 193 U.N. member states after months of talks, which the United States, Britain, France and others skipped. They instead pledged commitment to a decades-old Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology.--Reuters

USAID disburses $1 million in grants to civil society organizations to help conserve water resources

Wed 20 Sep 2017/NNA - In a press release by USAID, it said: "The USAID-funded Lebanon Water Project (LWP) has signed grants with seven organizations from the civil society and the private sector to implement projects that will help improve access to water, protect water resources, and spread awareness about water conservation. The seven grantees are the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, Safadi, Atayeb el-Rif, LebRelief Council, Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Zahle, World Vision, and Engineer and Educate (E2)."
The ceremony highlighting the partnership with the CSOs was held on September 20 in the presence of USAID and grantee representatives. The $1 million will also help water utilities better manage available their resources and spread a culture of efficient water use in industries.
"USAID is proud to have granted over $ 1million to provide citizens with the opportunity to support the development of quality services that enhance both public health and promote inclusive economic growth," said William Butterfield, Economic Growth Office Director at USAID.
Release concluded: "The Lebanon Water Project is a five-year project whose overarching objective is to increase access to clean, reliable, and sustainable sources of drinking water for Lebanese citizens. LWP focuses on improving Lebanon's capacity in the management of water resources, enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of the public water utilities, and addressing water challenges arising from the impact of the Syrian refugee influx to Lebanon. LWP also partners with the private sector, while engaging citizens to become responsible consumers, all for the purpose of creating a culture of water conservation."

Pope Francis, Muslim World League Secretary discuss interfaith coexistence
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 20 September 2017/Pope Francis received the Secretary General of the Muslim World League Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, who is currently visiting the Vatican. During the meeting, both exchanged views on a number of issues of common interest, which are in the interest of peace and global harmony, and “cooperation in issues of peace, coexistence and the spread of love”. For his part, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League expressed appreciation of the Muslim world for the pope's fair positions on the false claims that link extremism and violence to Islam, and that these acts have nothing to do with Islam and that in all religions, some followers have extremism. At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis and Al-Issa exchanged commemorative gifts. Al-Issa presented the pope with a symbolic gift representing Islamic civilization, expressing its interaction with other civilizations, especially the civilizational communication with the Vatican and its universal religious symbolism. The Pope also presentative a commemorative pen represents the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the construction of the St. Peter Basilica, as well as a commemorative medal commemorating the fifth year of his sitting at the Holy See.

Solution to Qatar crisis will be from the Gulf, says Saudi FM

Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishThursday, 21 September 2017/Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Thursday that the solution to the ongoing Qatari crisis would be a Gulf one. Jubeir also said that Qatar should stop its support for terrorism and extremism, pointing out that Doha must stop the rhetoric of hatred, incitement and interference in the internal affairs of other countries. “Qatar must adhere to the principles of combating terrorism,” Jubeir said.

Trump denies warning Saudi Arabia over military action against Qatar
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 20 September 2017/US President Donald Trump on Tuesday denied warning Saudi Arabia on taking military action against Qatar. It’s been more than 100 days since the Arab quartet’s boycott against Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting and funding terrorist groups.
Trump predicted that the Gulf conflict with Qatar would come to an end quickly. “We are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East and I think we’ll get it solved. I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly,” Trump said during his meeting with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in New York. Meanwhile, a number people from Arab communities in New York organized a protest rally to condemn Qatar’s support for terrorist organizations. The event took place in light of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. During the protest, participants held posters with statements accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, while many others demanded that the international community to put an end to Qatar’s funding of terrorism. Similarly, other protestors demanded that Qatar be held accountable for attempting to break apart Arab communities.

Bloomberg: Trump confronted Qatar over terrorism-related activity

Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 20 September 2017/Bloomberg’s white house correspondent Jennifer Jacobs tweeted on Wednesday that “after Trump praised the emir Tues., he privately confronted him with evidence Qatar still engaged in terrorism-related activity, I'm told.”

A UN official refuses to Qatar’s use of his name at a seminar on terrorism
Staff writer, Al Arabiya EnglishWednesday, 20 September 2017/Jahangir Khan, Director of the United Nations Center for Counter-Terrorism, rejected the participation of the Qatari delegation in the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly at a seminar on combating terrorism without his knowledge or consent. The Qatari delegation had been in contact with the International Peace Institute in New York to request an understanding on the organization of a seminar on counter-terrorism on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
The Director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center was surprised to find his name on the agenda of the symposium without prior approval or approval of the Center. Mr. Khan expressed his deep dissatisfaction with the Qatari delegation for putting his name and the name of the center on the agenda, stressing that he would not participate in the effectiveness of the symposium.

Saudi to create $2.7 bn entertainment investment firm
Wed 20 Sep 2017 at 19:29 Regional/NNA - Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is set to create a $2.7 billion entertainment investment company, state media said Wednesday, as the ultra-conservative kingdom opens up avenues for leisure. The country seeks to increase domestic spending on entertainment and launch hundreds of recreation centres across the kingdom as part of its Vision 2030 plan to reduce its dependence on oil. "The Public Investment Fund is in the process of developing a new company to act as its investment arm in Saudi Arabia's growing entertainment sector," the Saudi Press Agency said.
"The company, which will have an initial capitalisation of SAR 10 billion, will play an active investment role in various areas of the entertainment sector." The unnamed company will invest in a variety of projects, including an entertainment complex that will be launched by 2019, SPA said, adding that it aims to create more than 22,000 jobs by 2030. SPA did not give further details about the projects. Alcohol, cinemas and theatres are currently banned in the kingdom, an absolute monarchy and one of the world's most conservative countries.Vision 2030, an ambitious economic diversification plan unveiled in April 2016, aims to broaden its investment base to make citizens reliant on private sector jobs rather than on government largesse. The largest Arab economy is suffering from a sharp slide in oil revenues since crude prices plummeted in mid-2014, forcing Riyadh to cut subsidies and delay projects. ---AFP

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 20-210/17
The full transcript of Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN General Assembly
Haaretz/September 20/17
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we're in the midst of a great revolution. A revolution in Israel's standing among the nations. This is happening because so many countries around the world have finally woken up to what Israel can do for them. Those countries now recognize what brilliant investors, like Warren Buffet, and great companies, like Google and Intel, what they've recognized and known for years: that Israel is THE innovation nation. THE place for cutting-edge technology and agriculture, in water, in cybersecurity, in medicine, in autonomous vehicles. You name it, we've got it.
Those countries now also recognize Israel's exceptional capabilities in fighting terrorism. In recent years, Israel has provided intelligence that has prevented dozens of major terrorist attacks around the world. We have saved countless lives. Now, you may not know this, but your governments do, and they're working closely together with Israel to keep your countries safe and your citizens safe. I stood here last year on this podium, and I spoke about this profound change in Israel's standing around the world. And just look at what has happened since, in one year.
Hundreds of presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other leaders have visited Israel, many for the first time. Of these many visits, two were truly historic. In May, President Trump became the first American president to include Israel in his first visit abroad. President Trump stood at the Western Wall, at the foot of the Temple Mount, where the Jewish people - or rather the Jewish people's temples stood for nearly 1,000 years, and when the president touched those ancient stones, he touched our hearts forever.
In July, Prime Minister Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. You may have seen ten pictures. We were on a beach in Hadera, we rode together in a Jeep outfitted with a portable desalination device that some thriving Israeli entrepreneur invented. We took off our shoes, waded into the Mediterranean, and drank seawater that had been purified only a few minutes earlier. We imagined the endless possibilities for India, for Israel, for all of humanity.
In the past year, Israel has hosted so many world leaders, and I had the honor of representing my country on six different continents. One year, six continents. I went to Africa, where I saw Israeli innovators increasing crop yields, turning air into water, fighting AIDS. I went to Asia, where we deepened our relations with China and with Singapore and expanded our cooperation with our Muslim friends in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. I went to Europe, where in London and Paris, Saloniki and Budapest, we enhanced our security and economic ties. I went to Australia, becoming the first Israeli prime minister to visit our great allies down under, and just last week, I went to South America, visiting Argentina and Colombia, and then I went on to Mexico, becoming, if you can believe it, the first Israeli prime minister ever to visit Latin America.
After 70 years, the world is embracing Israel, and Israel is embracing the world.
One year, six continents. Now, it's true: I haven't yet visited Antarctica, but one day, I hope to go there. I want to go there, too, because I heard that penguins are also enthusiastic supporters of Israel. Now, you laugh, but penguins have no difficulty recognizing that some things are black and white, are right and wrong, and unfortunately, when it comes to UN decisions about Israel, that simple recognition is too often absent.
It was absent last December when the Security Council passed an anti-Israel resolution that set back the cause of peace. It was absent last May when the World Health Organization adopted - you have to listen to this - the World Health Organization adopted a Syrian-sponsored resolution that criticized Israel for health conditions on the Golan Heights. As the great John McEnroe would say, you cannot be serious. I mean, this is preposterous. Syria has barrel-bombed, starved, gassed and murdered hundreds of thousands of its own citizens and wounded millions more, while Israel has provided life-saving medical care to thousands of Syrian victims of that very same carnage. Yet who does the World Health Organization? Israel.
So is there no limit to the UN's absurdities when it comes to Israel? Well, apparently not. Because in July, UNESCO declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron a Palestinian World Heritage Site. That's worse than fake news; that's fake history. Mind you, it's true that Abraham, the father of both Ishmael and Isaac, is buried there, but so, too, are Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca - Sarah's a Jewish name, by the way - Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, who just happened to be patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. Well, you won't read about that in the latest UNESCO report, but if you want to, you can read about it in a somewhat weightier publication. It's called "the Bible." I highly recommend it. I hear it even got four and a half out of five stars on Amazon. And it's a great read. I read it every week.
Ladies and gentlemen, a moment to be serious. Despite the absurdities, despite the repetition of these farcical events, there is change, slowly but surely. There are signs of positive change, even at the United Nations.
Mr. Secretary-General, I very much appreciate your statement that denying Israel's right to exist is anti-Semitism, pure and simple. Now that's important because for too long, the epicenter of global anti-Semitism has been right here at the UN, and while it may take many years, I'm absolutely confident that the revolution in Israel's ties with individual nations will ultimately be reflected here in this hall of nations.
I say that because there's also a marked change in the positions of some of our key friends. Thanks to President Trump's unequivocal support for Israel in this body, that positive change is gathering force. So thank you, President Trump. Thank you for supporting Israel at the UN, and thank you for your support, Ambassador Nikki Haley. Thank you for speaking the truth about Israel.
But ladies and gentlemen, here at the UN, we must also speak the truth about Iran, as President Trump did so powerfully this morning. Now, as you know, I've been ambassador to the UN, and I'm a long-serving Israeli prime minister, so I've listened to countless speeches in this hall, but I can say this: None were bolder, none were more courageous and forthright than the one delivered by President Trump today. President Trump rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran - he called it "an embarrassment." Well, I couldn't agree with him more. And here's why: Iran vows to destroy my country. Every day, including by its chief of staff the other day.
Iran is conducting a campaign of conquest across the Middle East, and Iran is developing ballistic missiles to threaten the entire world.
Two years ago, I stood here and explained why the Iranian nuclear deal not only doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb, but actually paves it. Because the restrictions placed on Iran's nuclear program have what's called "a sunset clause." Now let me explain what that term means. It means that in a few years, those restrictions will be automatically removed, not by a change in Iran's behavior, not by a lessening of its terror or its aggression: they'll just be removed by a mere change in the calendar. And I warned that when that sunset comes, a dark shadow will be cast over the entire Middle East and the world because Iran will then be free to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, placing it on the threshold of a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons. That's why I said two years ago that the greater danger is not that Iran will rush to a single bomb by breaking the deal, but that Iran will be able to build many bombs by keeping the deal.
Now, in the last few months, we've all seen how dangerous even a few nuclear weapons can be in the hands of a small rogue regime. Now imagine the danger of hundreds of nuclear weapons in the hands of a vast Iranian-Islamist empire with the missiles to deliver them anywhere on earth. I know there are those who still defend the dangerous deal with Iran, arguing that it will block Iran's path to the bomb. Ladies and gentlemen, that's exactly what they said about the nuclear deal with North Korea, and we all know how that turned out.
Unfortunately, if nothing changes, this deal will turn out exactly the same way. That's why Israel's policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it. Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability. Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is a suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation. But above all, fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause. And beyond fixing this bad deal, we must also stop Iran's development of ballistic missiles and roll back its growing aggression in the region.
I remember when we had these debates. As you know, I took a fairly active role in them - and many supporters of the deal naively believed that it would somehow moderate Iran. It would make it a responsible member, so they said, of the international community. Well, you know, I strongly disagreed. I warned that when the sanctions on Iran would be removed, Iran would behave like a hungry tiger unleashed, not joining the community of nations, but devouring nations one after the other. And that's precisely what Iran is doing today.
From the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, from Tehran to Tartus, an Iranian curtain is descending across the Middle East. Iran spreads this curtain of tyranny and terror over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere, and it pledges to extinguish the light of Israel. Today, I have a simple message to Ayatollah Khamenei, the dictator of Iran: The light of Israel will never be extinguished.
Those who threaten us with annihilation put themselves in mortal peril. Israel will defend itself with the full force of our arms and the full power of our convictions. We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria or in Lebanon for use against us. And we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border. As long as Iran's regime seeks the destruction of Israel, Iran will face no fiercer enemy than Israel.
But I also have a message today for the people of Iran: You are not our enemy. You are our friends. (Farsi: Shoma duste ma hesteed.) One day, my Iranian friends, you will be free from the evil regime that terrorizes you, hangs gays, jails journalists, tortures political prisoners and shoots innocent women like Neda Soltan, leaving her choking on her own blood on the streets of Tehran. I have not forgotten Neda. I'm sure you haven't, too. And so, the people of Iran, when your day of liberation finally comes, the friendship between our two ancient peoples will surely flourish once again.
Ladies and gentlemen, Israel knows that in confronting the Iranian regime, we are not alone. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those in the Arab world who share our hopes for a brighter future. We've made peace with Jordan and Egypt, whose courageous president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi I met here last night. I appreciate President al-Sissi's support for peace, and I hope to work closely with him and other leaders in the region to advance peace.
Israel is committed to achieving peace with all our Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. Yesterday, President Trump and I discussed this, all of this, at great length. I appreciate President Trump's leadership, his commitment to stand by Israel's side, his commitment to advance a peaceful future for all. Together, we can seize the opportunities for peace, and together we can confront the great dangers of Iran.
The remarkable alliance between the United States and Israel has never been stronger, never been deeper. And Israel is deeply grateful for the support of the Trump administration, the American Congress and the American people.
Ladies and gentlemen, in this year of historic visits and historic anniversaries, Israel has so much to be grateful for. One hundred and twenty years ago, Theodore Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress to transform our tragic past into a brilliant future by establishing the Jewish state. One hundred years ago, the Balfour Declaration advanced Herzl's vision by recognizing the right of the Jewish people to a national home in our ancestral homeland. Seventy years ago, the United Nations further advanced that vision by adopting a resolution supporting the establishment of a Jewish state. And 50 years ago, we reunited our eternal capital, Jerusalem, achieving a miraculous victory against those who sought to destroy our state.
Theodore Herzl was our modern Moses, and his dream has come true. We've returned to the Promised Land, revived our language, ingathered our exiles, and build a modern, thriving democracy. Tomorrow evening, Jews around the world will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of our new year. It's a time of reflection, and we look back with wonder at the remarkable, the miraculous rebirth of our nation, and we look ahead with pride to the remarkable contributions Israel will continue to make to all nations.
You look around you, and you will see these contributions every day. In the food you eat, the water you drink, the medicines you take, the cars you drive, the cell phones you use, and in so many other ways that are transforming our world. You see it in the smile of an African mother in a remote village who, thanks to an Israeli innovation, no longer must walk eight hours a day to bring water to her children. You see it in the eyes of an Arab child who was flown to Israel to undergo a life-saving heart operation. And you see it in the faces of the people in earthquake-stricken Haiti and Nepal who were rescued from the rubble and given new life by Israeli doctors. As the prophet Isaiah said, (says in Hebrew first) "I've made you alight onto the nations, bringing salvation to the ends of the earth."
Today, 27 hundred years after Isaiah spoke those prophetic words, Israel is becoming a rising power among the nations, and at long last, its light is shining across the continents, bringing hope and salvation to the ends of the earth.
Happy new year. Shanah tovah from Israel. Thank you

FULL TEXT: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Address to UN General Assembly

Haaretz Sep 20, 2017
Abbas tells world leaders Israel continues to obstruct peace efforts, warns of an approaching one-state reality and of a Palestinian Authority 'without any authority'
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, twenty-four years have passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords, an interim agreement that set a five-year period for bringing an end to the Israeli occupation, granting hope to the Palestinian people that they would soon achieve independence within their state and achieve peace between Palestinians and Israelis. What is left of this hope today?
We recognized the state of Israel on the 1967 borders. But Israel’s continuous refusal to recognize these borders has put into question the mutual recognition we signed in Oslo in 1993.
Since my speech before your august Assembly last year, when I appealed for 2017 to be the year for ending the Israeli occupation of the territory of the state of Palestine, the Israeli government has relentlessly pursued its settlement campaign on our land, in contravention of all international conventions and the relevant resolutions on the question of Palestine. It has persisted with its flagrant disregard for the two-state solution, resorting to delay policies and tactics and devising pretexts to evade its responsibility to end its occupation of the territory of the state of Palestine.
Instead of addressing the underlying issues and resolving the root causes of the conflict, it has tried to misdirect international attention to the secondary issues actually caused by its colonial policies. While we call – just as the international community continues to call – for an end of the Israeli occupation of the territory of our state, it incites and makes false accusations, pretends there is no Palestinian partner, and imposes unreasonable, obstructive conditions. Israel is well aware, as you all are, that its occupation breeds incitement and violence, and this Israeli military occupation of our land has now lasted for over half a century. It is thus very strange to hear some of those who hold the responsibility to end this occupation referring to it as an “alleged occupation”. Such perceptions are totally disconnected from reality.
Israel bares first and foremost the shame for continuation of this occupation, but so does the international community. The United Nations bears a legal, political, moral and humanitarian obligation to end this occupation and enable the Palestinian people to live in freedom and prosperity in their independent state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the June 4, 1967 borders.
Beyond any doubt, draining the swamp of colonial occupation of our land and ending its unjust, oppressive and illegal practices against our people would greatly affect the fight against terrorism, depriving terrorist groups of one of the key rallying cries they exploit to promote their repugnant ideas. We must thus reiterate that ending the Israeli occupation of our land is of urgency and an integral part of the efforts that must be undertaken to confront such groups.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we have explored every avenue and exerted far-reaching efforts to achieve peace with our Israeli neighbors, and together, with the Arab and Islamic States, have adopted an invaluable initiative – the Arab Peace Initiative – aimed at resolving the Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict. According to this initiative, upon Israel’s withdrawal from the Palestinian and Arab territories occupied in 1967, the Arab and Islamic States would recognize Israel and normalize relations with it. What was the Israeli response to this initiative?
There was also the 2003 Quartet roadmap for peace, endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and accepted by the Palestinian side. It too was rejected by the Israeli Government.
Indeed, there have been countless initiatives seeking to break the deadlock in the peace process and ensure the success of peace efforts. The French Initiative – aimed at salvaging the peace process and the two-state solution – led to the convening of the Paris Conference earlier this year, which was attended by seventy states and four international organizations.
Israel not only rejected this initiative, but boycotted the Conference. In addition, President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China, have launched initiatives for peace. And the latest of these peace efforts, all of which we are thankful for, is being led by United States President Donald Trump.
On our part, we have also repeatedly tried to revive the peace process and called on the Israeli Prime Minister to affirm his commitment to the two-State solution and sit with us at the negotiations table to delineate the borders between Israel and the State of Palestine in order to open a path for meaningful negotiations to resolve all other final status issues. Unfortunately, he rejected this offer.
Even as we continue our genuine efforts for success of the peace process and the achievement of its ultimate goals, Israel continues to breach its commitments and to obstruct efforts, guaranteeing the process’ failure by its relentless settlement activities and undermining of the two-State solution. This represents a real threat to both peoples, Palestinians and Israelis, and compels us to undertake a comprehensive, strategic review of the entire process.
Excellencies, ladies and gentleman, a commitment by one side to peace is never enough to achieve peace. We have warned in the past and continue to warn of Israeli policies aimed at entrenching the occupation and colonial facts on the ground in East Jerusalem. These policies stir religious animosity and may lead to a violent religious conflict. We have called on the Israeli government to uphold the historic and legal status quo of the holy sites in the city.
However, the Israeli Government, since its occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, has repeatedly acted to consolidate its unilateral annexation of the city, a decision we rejected then and still reject today alongside the whole international community, including the Security Council. Al-Quds is an occupied city and Israel’s decisions and practices there are null and void and illegal in their entirety. The same applies to all Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Israel’s attempts to change the historic status quo in Al-Quds and in particular vis-à-vis the status and integrity of Al Aqsa Mosque can only be described as playing with fire and an infringement upon our responsibilities as well as those of brotherly Jordan. We caution the Israeli government of the implications of such an aggression and hold it fully responsible for the consequences.
Mr. President, ladies and gentleman, despite this ongoing occupation and its oppressive policies and practices, we have been able to build the institutions of our state, which has been recognized by a majority of member states of this organization.
Here, I seize the opportunity to once again thank all of those countries that have recognized the state of Palestine and that have voted for upgrading its status at the United Nations. These steps certainly constitute contributions to remedying the historic injustice that has befallen our people and are steps in favor of the principles of justice and the vision of peace between Palestinians and Israelis and in the Middle East region and the world.
I further stressed in my speech last year before your august Assembly that the status quo in the occupied territory of the state of Palestine is not sustainable. As the situation has only deteriorated due to Israel’s insistence on pursuing its occupation, aggressive policies and unending violations of international law, we must once again call on Israel, as the occupying power, to fully respect and uphold all obligations stemming from this occupation and to bear its consequences. We cannot continue to be an Authority without any authority, or to allow this occupation to continue without cost. We are fast approaching this point.
The two-state solution is today in jeopardy. We cannot as Palestinians stand still in the face of this threat targeting our national, political and social existence on our land, and endangering regional and international peace and security. We will have to take steps or look for alternatives to preserve our national existence and to keep open the horizons for peace and security.
In such a situation, it is our right to search for alternatives that preserve our rights and protect our land and our people from an entrenching system of apartheid. We have called on the International Criminal Court to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people, and we will continue to pursue our accessions to international conventions, protocols and organizations, as Palestine has acquired observer state status in accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 67/19 of 2012. I will call for the convening of the Palestinian National Council in the near future to operationalize this strategic review.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, the path we have chosen as Palestinians and Arabs, and the path chosen by the world is that of international law and international legitimacy. Our choice is the two-state solution on the 1967 borders, and we will grant every chance for the efforts being undertaken by President Donald Trump and the Quartet and international community as a whole to achieve an historic agreement that brings the two-state solution to reality, enabling the state of Palestine with its capital East Jerusalem to live in peace and security side by side with Israel.
But if the two-state solution were to be destroyed due to the creation of a one-state reality with two systems – apartheid – from the unchecked imposition of this occupation that is rejected by our people and the world, this would be a failure, and neither you, nor we, will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine. This is not a threat, but a warning of the realities before us as a result of ongoing Israeli policies that are gravely undermining the two-state solution.
From here, I address the Israeli people, across the spectrum of their society, and tell them: We want to live in peace. Do not listen to those who try to convince you that peace between us is not possible.
Our problem is with the Israeli colonial occupation and not with Judaism as a religion. Judaism for us Palestinians – Christians and Muslims – will never be considered a threat. It is a monotheistic religion like Islam and Christianity. The Creator says in the Quran: In the name of God the merciful “we do not distinguish between his prophets”. Almighty God spoke the truth.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, we have dutifully upheld our responsibilities towards our people in the Gaza Strip in spite of the division since 2007. From then until now, we have provided all forms of support on our own to our people in Gaza, who are gravely suffering the cruel Israeli blockade. Further, we have repeatedly affirmed the need for protection for our people in Gaza. We have also repeatedly affirmed that Gaza will not be the Palestinian state, and that there can be no Palestinian state without Gaza.
Today, I must express my relief at the agreement reached in Cairo as a result of Egyptian efforts. We are thankful for these efforts aimed at nullifying the measures undertaken by Hamas following the division, including the formation of a government; enabling the national consensus government to fully carry out its mandate in the Gaza Strip; and allowing for general elections to be held.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, also in my speech before this Assembly last year, I appealed to the British Government to rectify the grave injustice it inflicted upon the Palestinian people when it issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917, promising Jews a national homeland in Palestine, despite the fact that Palestine was inhabited by the Palestinian people and was among the most progressive and prosperous countries, and should not have been colonized or placed under the mandate of a great power.
Until this moment, the British government has not taken any step to correct this historical injustice and has neither apologized to the Palestinian people nor compensated them, nor has it recognized the state of Palestine.
The impunity that continues to be granted by the international community with regard to Israel’s aggressive policies has clearly only emboldened its pursuit of these policies. Let me remind you that Israel has violated international resolutions since its establishment. It has violated the United Nations Charter and continues to do so, as well as resolutions 181 (II), 194 (III), 242 (1967), 338 (1973), all the way to Security Council resolution 2334 of 2016.
Has the international community surrendered itself to the fact that Israel is a country above the law? Why does it deal with states according to double standards?
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, to save the peace process and the two-state solution, I urge this organization and your honorable states to do the following:
First: Actively pursue efforts to bring an end to the Israeli occupation of the state of Palestine within a set timeframe. It is no longer enough to issue generic, endless statements calling for an end to the occupation and the achievement of peace without a deadline. Efforts must be made to implement the Arab Peace Initiative, including a just solution for the Palestine refugee question in accordance with resolution 194 (III).
Second: Act to bring a halt to all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as demanded in numerous United Nations resolutions, including the most recent resolution 2334 (2016), and in compliance with the 4th Geneva Convention.
Third: Ensure international protection to the land and people of the State of Palestine, until the end of the occupation, as we are unable to provide protection to our people, land and holy sites from this abhorrent occupation.
The actions of this occupation cannot be met with silence; ensuring protection to the Palestinian people is a moral imperative before being a political or legal matter, in line with Security Council resolutions 605 (1987), 672 (1990), 673 (1990) and 904 (1994), which were based on the Geneva Conventions and stressed their applicability to the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.
Fourth: Demand that Israel endorse and commit to the borders of 1967 as basis for the two-state solution and set such borders in line with international resolutions. Once we delineate the borders, each party can act in its territory as it pleases without affecting the rights of the other party.
Fifth: I must ask you, what are the borders of the state of Israel that many states in this assembly have recognized? I urge all member states of the United Nations that have recognized Israel to proclaim that their recognition is based on the 1967 borders, thus aligning themselves with international resolutions and reaffirming their commitment to these resolutions and the requirements of a peaceful solution founded upon them.
Sixth: I call on all states to end all forms of direct and indirect involvement with, and support to, the illegal Israeli colonial settlement regime in the land of the occupied state of Palestine, in accordance with UN resolutions and with the affirmed positions of states in this regard, and similar to the international community’s approach towards the apartheid regime in South Africa.
Seventh: I urge those states that have not recognized the state of Palestine yet to do so, in fulfillment of the principle of equality, which can enhance the chances of peace. I do not understand how recognizing the state of Palestine harms the chances of peace, especially since we Palestinians have recognized Israel on the 1967 borders.
Eighth: We look to the Security Council to approve our application for full membership of the State of Palestine to the United Nations. All those who support the two-state solution should recognize the other state, the state of Palestine.
Ninth: We urge the international community to continue providing economic and financial support to the Palestinian people to achieve self-reliance. We also urge you to continue providing support to UNRWA to enable it to continue its vital humanitarian assistance and services to the Palestine refugees in all areas of operation. We warn in this regard against the attempts to change the mandate of UNRWA and its statutes. We also warn against attempts at eliminating item 7 on the agenda of the Human Rights Council or obstructing issuance of the list of companies operating in Israeli settlements in the territory of the occupied state of Palestine.
Tenth: We once again affirm our commitment to respect human rights and international conventions and to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and all other treaties and conventions that we have acceded to.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, the state of Palestine will reflect on these imperatives in draft resolutions, as appropriate, to be presented to the UN General Assembly. We call upon you to vote in favor of these resolutions with the clear aim of preserving the two-state solution and salvaging and promoting the chances for achieving peace. Your support would most certainly be in line with your expressed concerns for, and commitments to, ensuring security, stability and prosperity for Palestinians and Israelis alike, and for the peoples and states of the region.
In conclusion, allow me ladies and gentlemen, to salute our great people who remain steadfast in their homeland and continue to struggle against foreign occupation and for the achievement of their freedom and independence and for the preservation of their national and human dignity.
I salute our people in Jerusalem who gave one of the most shining examples of peaceful popular resistance against the Israeli colonial occupation.
I salute our people in exile and in the Diaspora.
I salute our people who remain steadfast in the West Bank. I salute our people who remain patiently steadfast in besieged Gaza.
I salute our glorious martyrs and our courageous prisoners in Israeli jails.
I tell them all that freedom is coming and is inevitable, and that occupation shall come to an end. It will either be the independence of the state of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel on the 1967 borders, or equal rights for all of the inhabitants of the land of historic Palestine from the river to the sea.
I thank you. Peace be upon you.

FULL TEXT: Iran's Hassan Rohani's Address to UN General Assembly

Haaretz Sep 20, 2017
General ral Assembly: It would be a great pity if rogue newcomers to politics destroyed nuclear deal
The full transcript of Iranian President Hassan Rohani's speech to the UN General Assembly:
Mr. Secretary General, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I wish at the outset to congratulate you on your election to the presidency of the General Assembly and secretary general Guterres’ election to this high office and wish him every success in his crucial responsibilities. Four months ago, over 41 million people constituting 73 percent of Iran’s total eligible voters came to the polls in the country’s 12th presidential election and once again expressed confidence in my platform, which calls for moderation in respect for human rights and prosperity and economic revitalization at home and constructive engagement around the world.
Their vote manifested the maturity of the electorate in a society that has experienced free and democratic governance for only four decades. This was not merely a vote for a president but a huge political investment by our population, a resilient people who truly constitute our most reliable asset.
Human and citizens’ rights along with the quest for justice and Islamic values have constituted the most pivotal demands of the Iranian people in over 150 years of struggle and particularly in the Islamic revolution of 1979. In its first term, while pursuing nuclear negotiations internationally, my government focused at home on the deliberation and articulation of citizens' rights leading to the promulgation of the charter of citizens' rights and its issuance for implementation.
Adoption of this charter conformed to the demands of a people who rose against dictatorial regimes aspiring to restore their rights and human dignity 111 years ago in the constitutional revolution and again in the Islamic revolution 39 years ago.
Ladies and gentleman, I declare before this global assembly that moderation is the inclination as well as the chosen path of the great Iranian people. Moderation seeks neither isolation nor hegemony. It implies neither indifference nor intransigence. The path of moderation is the path of peace. But a just and inclusive peace, not peace for one nation, and war and turmoil for others.
Top Democrats ask Trump administration for proof Iran is not complying with nuclear deal
Moderation is freedom and democracy, but in an inclusive and comprehensive manner. Not purporting to promote freedom in one place while supporting dictators elsewhere. Moderation is the synergy of ideas and not the dance of swords. And finally, the path of moderation nurtures beauty. Deadly weapons exports are not beautiful. Rather, peace is beautiful. We in Iran strive to build peace and promote the human rights of peoples and nations. We never condone tyranny and we always defend the voiceless. We never threaten anyone but we do not tolerate threats from anyone. Our discourse is one of dignity and respect. And we are unmoved by threats and intimidation. We believe in dialogue and negotiation based on equal footing and mutual respect.
In today’s globalized world, peace, security, stability and the progress of all nations are intertwined. It is not possible that a rogue and racist regime tramples upon the most basic rights of the Palestinians and the reserves of this land ... It is simply impossible for anyone to aspire to attain long-term prosperity, peace and development while those in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and elsewhere live in misery, war and poverty. Mr. President, throughout its history, Iran has been the bastion of tolerance for various religions and ethnicities. We are the same people who rescued the Jews from Babylonian servitude, opened our arms to welcome Armenian Christians in our midst, and created the Iranian cultural continent with a unique mix of diverse religions and ethnicities.
I represent the same Iran that has historically assisted the oppressed. Centuries ago we supported the rights of the Jewish people and today we insist on the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. Iran is still the same country supporting justice and seeking tranquility. Today were on the front lines of fighting terror and religious extremism in the Middle East. Not for sectarian and political reasons, but for humanitarian and strategic ones.
Iran does not seek to restore its ancient empire, impose its official religion on others, or export its revolution through the force of arms. We are so confident in the depth of our culture, the truth of our face, and tenacity and longevity of our revolution that we will never seek to export any of them in the way neocolonialists do with the heavy boots of soldiers.
To promote our culture, civilization, religion and revolution, we enter hearts and engage minds. We recite our poetry and engage in discourse on our philosophy. Our ambassadors are our poets our mystics and our philosophers. We have reached the shores of this side of the Atlantic through Rumi, and spread our influence throughout Asia with Saadi. We have already captured with Hafez. We therefore are in no need of conquests. Excellencies, the call of moderation is from a nation that has been committed to it. We are not preaching it but practicing it. The JCPOA is a case in point. The deal is the outcome of two years of intensive multilateral negotiations overwhelmingly applauded by the international community and endorsed by the Security Council as a part of Resolution 2231. As such, it belongs to the international community in its entirety and not only to one or two countries. The JCPOA can become a new model for global interactions, based on mutual constructive engagement between all of us. We have opened our doors to engagement and cooperation. We have concluded scores of development agreements with advanced countries of both East and West.
Unfortunately, some deprived themselves of this unique opportunity. They have imposed sanctions really against themselves and now they feel betrayed. We were not deceived nor did we cheat or deceive anyone. We have ourselves determined the extent of our nuclear program. We never sought to achieve deterrence through nuclear weapons. We have immunized ourselves through our knowledge and more importantly the resilience of our people. This is our talent and our approach. Some have claimed to have wanted to deprive Iran of nuclear weapons, weapons that we have continuously and vociferously rejected. And of course, we are not and were not distressed to be thwarted from an action that we never sought. It is reprehensible that the rogue Zionist regime that threatens global security with its nuclear arsenal and is not responsible to any international safeguard is preaching to peaceful nations.
Ladies and gentlemen, just imagine for a moment how the Middle East would look had the JCPOA not been concluded. Imagine that along with civil wars, terror, humanitarian nightmares and complex sociopolitical crises in West Asia that there was a manufactured nuclear crisis. How would we all fare?
I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party. It will be a great pity if this agreement would be destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics. The world will have lost an opportunity but such behavior will never impede Iran’s course of progress and advancement. By violating its international commitments, the new U.S. administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it. Not accepting its word or promise.
Ladies and gentlemen, four years ago the Islamic Republic of Iran sponsored the initiative of the world against violence and extremism in this assembly. We considered dialogue and negotiations based on a positive-sum paradigm as the only pass towards global crises. We have made a conscious decision to strengthen ties with our neighbors and enhance cooperation with all friendly countries. It is impossible to navigate through complexities and dangerous challenges in this turbulent and transitional global phase without expanding international exchanges and institutionalizing dialogue between nations and states. The ignorant, absurd, and hateful rhetoric filled with ridiculously baseless allegations that was uttered before this body yesterday was not only unfit to be heard at the UN, which was established to promote peace and respect between nations, but indeed also contradicted the demands of our nations from this world body to bring governments together to combat war and terror.
I wish to underscore here that the defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran including our missiles are solely defensive deterrence for the maintenance of regional peace and stability and the prevention of adventurous tendencies of irrational aspirants. We cannot forget that civilians in many of our cities became the targets of long range missile attacks by Saddam Hussein during his eight-year war of aggression against us. We will never allow our people to become victims of such catastrophic delusions again. Divisions have only been expanded in our region by the hands of outside actors and powers that try to sell evermore of their deadly weapons to other states by accusing Iran of fomenting instability. I want to emphasize that foreign intervention and the imposition of alien wishes on the people of the region will only widen and deepen the crises in our region. The crises in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain do not have military solutions and can only be solved through cessation of hostilities and the through following the wills of the populaces. The U.S. government should explain to its own people why after spending millions of dollars of the assets of the people of America and of our region instead of contributing to peace and stability, it has only brought war, misery, poverty and the rise of terrorism and extremism to the region.
Ladies and gentlemen, over the past four years, Iran’s economy demonstrated that it has unparalleled potential for expansion and growth. Economic sanctions not only did not impede Iran but instead solidified popular resolve to enhance domestic production. Achieving the highest global growth rate proved the Iranian economy can become the most vibrant emerging economy within the next 20 years with a trillion dollar growth potential. Our strategic choice for achieving such sustainable balanced growth is extensive global partnership. We are of the firm belief that development and security can only grow together and common interests can bind us regionally and globally to guarantee both regional and global security. Iran enjoying the world’s largest gas and oil reserves, and is prepared to engage in long term cooperation to advance long term global security. We are eager to expand international transit corridors and expand global infrastructure projects.
With a conducive legal environment, many foreign delegations have come to Iran, leading to an ever increasing number of investments, joint ventures and financing agreements in various fields. It is the policy of my government to continue to steadily enhance the entrepreneurial environment, protect intellectual property rights, continuously improve cooperative governance and engage in a robust effort against money laundering, particularly in knowledge-based enterprises. The Iranian nation is resolutely determined to build an economically advanced Iran, secure and stable region based on ethics and respect for international law. In this endeavor, we welcome participation of all investors across the globe. From this global podium and as the representative of the people of Iran, who are world famous for their hospitality and cooperation among nations, to visit Iran and join us in building this future of hope.
Ladies and gentlemen, if we truly believe in our collective decision, four years ago here in this general assembly to make a world against violence and extremism, we can turn the discourse of imposition, unilateralism, intimidation and war into the logic of dialogue, synergy and peace, so that moderation can become the dominant voice across the globe. I thank you for your attention.

The True Enemies of the Palestinians
 Bassam Tawil/ 2017 Gatestone Institute/September 20/17
The agreement makes no reference to Hamas's security control over the Gaza Strip. This means that Hamas and its armed wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam, will remain the main "law-enforcers" in the Gaza Strip. The idea that Hamas would allow Mahmoud Abbas's security forces to return to the Gaza Strip is pure illusion.
There is no mention in the agreement of Hamas's political and ideological agenda. The agreement does not require Hamas to abandon its charter, which calls for the elimination of Israel. Nor does it require Hamas to lay down its arms and accept Israel's right to exist.
The agreement absolves Hamas of its financial responsibilities towards its constituents in the Gaza Strip. The resumption of Palestinian Authority (PA) funds to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will allow Hamas to redirect its resources and energies to building up its military capabilities in preparation for war with Israel. Hamas will no longer have to worry about salaries and electricity and medical supplies to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip because Abbas will be taking care of that.
The agreement facilitates Hamas's effort to project itself as a legitimate player in the Palestinian arena and win international recognition and sympathy. Hamas will now be able to market itself as a legitimate partner in Abbas's Western-funded PA governments.
Since 2007, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have announced at least four "reconciliation" agreements to end their rivalry, which began a year earlier when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections. This week, under the auspices of the Egyptian authorities, the two rival Palestinian parties announced yet another deal to patch up their differences and achieve "national unity."
The latest agreement between Hamas and the PA requires the Islamist movement to dismantle its shadow government in the Gaza Strip -- known as the Administrative Committee. It was this shadow government that prompted PA President Mahmoud Abbas to impose a number of punitive measures against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including cutting off salaries to civil servants, forcing thousands of employees into early retirement, halting payments for electricity supplied by Israel and reducing medicine supplies to hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian-engineered "reconciliation" agreement is being described by some Palestinians as a "historic" deal and a "positive development" toward ending the schisms and discord among the Palestinians. But judging from the reactions of Palestinians, the agreement holds little promise. Only the non-skeptical few think that the agreement will differ from all the previous, non-implemented ones.
Abbas's sanctions appear to have hit Hamas where it hurts. With electricity supplies for 3-4 hours a day and thousands of civil servants who lost salaries or were forced into early retirement, Hamas has been feeling the heat and feels forced to seek a solution.
A beleaguered and isolated Hamas turned to Abbas's number one enemy, former Fatah strongman Mohamed Dahlan. In the past few weeks, reports surfaced that Hamas was close to reaching a deal with Dahlan that would see him return to the Gaza Strip as the "savior." Dahlan is based in the United Arab Emirates and enjoys the political backing of a number of key Arab countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Hamas was hoping that the return of Dahlan to the Gaza Strip would bring with it funds from the United Arab Emirates and a lifting of the Egyptian blockade -- by reopening the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Alarmed by the apparent rapprochement between Hamas and Dahlan, Abbas has recently been urging the Egyptians to resume their efforts as mediators between his Palestinian Authority and Hamas. He has also appealed to the Americans and other Western and Arab counties to put pressure on Egypt to refrain from backing any deal between Hamas and Dahlan. Dahlan is Abbas' nemesis, a mortal threat to his rule.
For the past six years, Abbas has been waging a relentless campaign against Dahlan, whom he suspects of conspiring to overthrow his regime and succeed him as PA president.
Abbas is not only trying to save himself and his regime, but he has also provided Hamas with another and badly needed lifeline. Hamas has good reason to be satisfied with the latest agreement.
According to Palestinian political analyst Hasan Salim:
"Since 2006, when Hamas agreed to participate in the Palestinian legislative elections, President Abu Mazen (Abbas) has not ceased to provide it with a lifeline so that it could become a major player in the Palestinian political arena. He even fought to make Hamas like the other Palestinian political parties and to rid Hamas of the label of terrorism. Now the president is throwing Hamas another lifeline by allowing it to dismantle its Administrative Committee."
Salim, a political analyst affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, is attempting to market Abbas to the Palestinians as a leader who considers Hamas a legitimate Palestinian political "party" that can be an integral part of the Palestinian political landscape. Thus, we see that Abbas is prepared to deal with the devil -- in other words, join forces with and legitimize Hamas -- to keep his arch-rival, Dahlan, away from the Gaza Strip.
While it remains to be seen whether Abbas and Hamas will agree on a mechanism to translate their agreement into facts on the ground, what is certain is that Hamas alone stands to benefit from the Egyptian-sponsored deal. Nearly no Palestinian takes seriously the claim that Abbas's chief goal is to turn Hamas into a legitimate Palestinian political party. Abbas continues to view Hamas a major threat to himself and his regime. That explains why his security forces are continuing to arrest and harass Hamas members in the West Bank. He knows very well that Hamas will never give up its dream of removing him from power and extending its control to the West Bank.
Below are some facts concerning the new "reconciliation" agreement between Abbas and Hamas:
Hamas's decision to dismantle its shadow government does not mean that it will relinquish control over the Gaza Strip. The move is merely aimed at allowing the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah to restore its control over some ministries. In other words, Hamas wants Abbas's PA to resume funding of education and health services in the Gaza Strip, as was the case until a few months ago.
The agreement makes no reference to Hamas's security control over the Gaza Strip. This means that Hamas and its armed wing, Ezaddin Al-Qassam, will remain the main "law-enforcers" in the Gaza Strip. The idea that Hamas would allow Abbas's security forces to return to the Gaza Strip is pure illusion.
There is no mention in the agreement of Hamas's political and ideological agenda. The agreement does not require Hamas to abandon its charter, which calls for the elimination of Israel. Nor does it require Hamas to lay down its arms and accept Israel's right to exist.
The agreement absolves Hamas of its financial responsibilities towards its constituents in the Gaza Strip. The resumption of PA funds to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will allow Hamas to redirect its resources and energies to building up its military capabilities in preparation for war with Israel. Hamas will no longer have to worry about salaries and electricity and medical supplies to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip because Abbas will be taking care of that.
The agreement facilitates Hamas's effort to project itself as a legitimate player in the Palestinian arena and win international recognition and sympathy. Hamas will now be able to market itself as a legitimate partner in Abbas's Western-funded PA governments.
Abbas had been hoping that his recent draconian sanctions against the Gaza Strip would drive Palestinians there to revolt against their Hamas rulers. But when he realized that he was not even close to achieving his goal and that Hamas was about to form a partnership with Dahlan, he chose to play the "reconciliation" card once again, as he has done no fewer than four times in the past.
Instead of removing Hamas from power, Abbas appears to be moving towards emboldening his Islamist enemies, who continue to denounce him as a "traitor" and "puppet" in the hands of Israel and the US. Even if the new agreement is implemented, Hamas and Abbas's Palestinian Authority will continue to be at each other's throats. Yet the two do have something in common: both are true enemies of the Palestinians, who continue to pay a heavy price for corrupt leaders who only care only for their jobs and bank accounts.
--Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Does the President Have the Right to Expect Loyalty from His Attorney General?

Alan M. Dershowitz/ 2017 Gatestone Institute/September 20/17
Under our constitutional structure there is no perfect cure for the mistake made by our founders in merging the two incompatible goals of the current Attorney General: that of political advisor to the president; and that of independent chief prosecutor.
We are one of the few western democracies that mistakenly merged these roles into one. Our Attorney General is supposed to both advise the president politically... But at the same time, the Attorney General is supposed to be the head law enforcement officer of the United States – the chief prosecutor.
The system should be changed. The Justice Department should be broken up into two completely separate agencies, with two separate heads: the Minister of Justice would be a loyal political advisor to the president and a member of his cabinet; and the Director of Public Prosecution would be completely independent, and not a member of the cabinet. This separation will not be easy to achieve. But it may be possible, without a constitutional amendment, if Congress and the courts have the will to do it.
Recent news reports describe the President chastising his Attorney General Jeff Sessions for disloyalty. According to the New York Times, after learning that a special counsel had been appointed, President Trump accused Sessions of "disloyalty." Critics insist that the President has the right to demand loyalty of every other member of his cabinet but not of the Attorney General. The Attorney General is different, these critics insist, because he is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. The Atlantic's David A. Graham, for example, criticized Trump's demand for unconditional "loyalty," saying that, "for Trump, there is only one loyalty: to the president himself. When his aides and staffers make the mistake of following any other principle—rule of law, standard ethics policies, U.S. alliances—that might conflict with the principle of loyalty to Trump, the president becomes enraged."
Well, the issue is far more complex, especially when it comes to the office of Attorney General. The complexity results from a fundamental mistake the framers of our Constitution and legal system made at the founding of our nation. Most democracies divide the role of our Attorney General into two distinct offices: the first, often called, the Minister of Justice, is an advisor to the Chief Executive. His or her role is to be loyal to the President or Prime Minister. He serves at their will, and is part of the governing executive. The president is absolutely entitled to demand complete loyalty from his Minister of Justice.
Then, there is a second office, sometimes called, Director of Public Prosecution, chief prosecutor, or attorney general. That office, and the person who holds it, is supposed to be completely independent of the executive. Indeed, it is supposed to serve as a check on the executive. No chief executive is entitled to expect loyalty from the chief prosecutor especially if that prosecutor is investigating him or his colleagues. The Chief Executive is entitled not to loyalty, but to independence, integrity and fairness.
US Constitution (Image source: Jonathan Thorne/Flickr)
We are one of the few western democracies that mistakenly merged these roles into one. Our Attorney General is supposed to both advise the president politically, as Sessions has done with regard to immigration reform and other matters. But at the same time, the Attorney General is supposed to be the head law enforcement officer of the United States – the chief prosecutor. This conflation of roles inevitably creates a schizophrenic Attorney General with conflicting loyalties and obligations. It is because of this inherent schizophrenia that our country has had to suffer the appointment of special counsel, independent prosecutors and the like. I say, "suffer" because even the strongest advocates of these artificial positions concede that they operate outside of the usual prosecutorial role. We wouldn't need them if we adopted the English or the Israeli approach, which totally separates the role of political advisor from the very different role of Chief Prosecutor. So don't blame Trump alone for demanding loyalty from his Attorney General. Every president expects that. John Kennedy appointed his brother; Ronald Reagan appointed his personal lawyer; Jimmy Carter appointed his close friend; and other presidents have appointed political loyalists precisely in order to be assured of complete loyalty.
The system should be changed. The Justice Department should be broken up into two completely separate agencies, with two separate heads: the Minister of Justice would be a loyal political advisor to the president and a member of his cabinet; and the Director of Public Prosecution would be completely independent, and not a member of the cabinet. This separation will not be easy to achieve. But it may be possible, without a constitutional amendment, if Congress and the courts have the will to do it.
The Supreme Court has held that the appointment of an independent prosecutor does not violate the constitutional separation of powers or infringe on the executive authority of the president. Under that controversial precedent, Congress may be empowered – though it is far from certain – to establish a permanent independent prosecutorial authority outside of the current Justice Department structure. The president would almost certainly still have to make the appointment of the permanent prosecutor, but it could be for a term of years that transcends any presidential incumbency. This was the idea behind the appointment and removal of the director of the FBI. Obviously that did not prevent President Trump from firing Director Comey, but he did have to pay a heavy political price for that decision. The same would be true if a president fired the permanent prosecutor in a situation where he was investigating the president or his associates.
Under our constitutional structure there is no perfect cure for the mistake made by our founders in merging the two incompatible goals of the current Attorney General: that of political advisor to the president; and that of independent chief prosecutor. But we can perhaps improve the situation.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Common Sense on Campus
Denis MacEoin/ 2017 Gatestone Institute/September 20/17
As the Hirsi Ali case demonstrated, many serious-minded people simply could not distinguish between genuine, often racist, hatred for Muslims and informed criticism of Islam as an ideology.
"[I]n relation to Ms Allman, I am confident [law student Robbie Travers's] actions were in response to her comments and her position, and unrelated to her race." — Catriona Elder, University of Edinburgh.
Let us hope that this will be the first of many more recognitions that it is improper, not least in a university setting, for one side to silence the other, especially by deceitful means.
When Esme Allman, a second-year law student at Edinburgh University, issued a maliciously-worded complaint to the university authorities concerning Robbie Travers on September 6, she must have been confident that her status as a black female politically correct activist would guarantee a listening ear. Her complaint (see below) was constructed in such a way that it seemed Mr Travers would find no way out of the predicament in which she had placed him. Had the university acted on her charges, there is little doubt that Travers's university career and future prospects would be damaged beyond repair. That certainly seems to have been her intent. The story was widely reported in the British press and here on Gatestone, for whom Travers had written. Her specific claim -- that Travers's calling Islamic State fighters "barbarians" and mocking their aspiration to marry 72 virgins in heaven should they die as martyrs in battle was racist and Islamophobic -- did not go down with members of the British public, who were only too aware of the multiple barbarities committed by IS terrorists abroad and in Europe, including in the UK.
Robbie Travers, falsely accused of "Islamophobia" for calling ISIS terrorists "barbarians." (Photo: Robbie Travers/Instagram)
However, even if this charge did seem no more than silly, her full complaint could not, on the face of it, be so readily dismissed. Here is the complaint as it was sent to Travers:
I am submitting a complaint about Robbie Travers due to his targeting of minority students and student spaces at the University of Edinburgh. While I have not met him personally, given my matriculation at the University of Edinburgh, my membership of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) liberation group [Liberation from what? Question by MacEoin] at the university, and how I identify personally, I take issue with this clear and persistent denigration and disparagement of protected characteristics and blatant Islamophobia.
While this has gone on for years as evidenced by his Facebook Page, his direct and unfair targeting of this year's outgoing BME convenor Esme Allman was irresponsible and dangerous. On Sunday, 14/05/17, Travers published a decontextualized quote by Allman from a privileged conversation generated by minority students in a safe space [If the conversation was public, how is it "privileged"? Question by MacEoin] he is neither subscribed to nor a member of without her consent. In this intentional effort to 'ruin her career', Travers disclosed Allman's full name, her position at the university, and (implicitly) the university she attends and the city she lives in to his 17,000+ followers some of whom have evidenced either in the past or within the comments of the status, aggression and discussed sensitive information regarding Allman's sexuality and identity.
Since then, Travers has stated that he intends to continue this inappropriate and irresponsible behaviour by advising that this is "phase 1," and he has many other "stings" planned.
In this 2016/2017 school year alone, Robbie Travers has consistently mocked, disparaged, and incited hatred against religious groups and protected characteristics on numerous occasions.
Not only do I believe this behaviour to be in breach of the student code of conduct, but his decision to target the BME liberation group at the University of Edinburgh, and how he has chosen to do so, puts minority students at risk and in a state of panic and fear while attending the University of Edinburgh.
His continual public disregard for other identities leaves me concerned for my safety and privacy as well as the safety of other students at the University of Edinburgh, given his willingness to remove statements from context and presenting them to a massive online audience, and the uninhibited and in some instances aggressive response of strangers to his statements.
This person has gone unchecked throughout their time at this university in their constant barrage against minority identities and religious groups and attacks of BME and other minority students on campus. There is ample evidence of his willingness and ability to incite hatred against students who belong to various identities at the University of Edinburgh. In lying about anti-Semitism, racism, and radicalisation among BME students, and subjecting students to his online following, Robbie Travers has put minority students, liberation group representatives, and the safe spaces they create and maintain at the University of Edinburgh at risk of harm, physical or otherwise.
Over the past two decades, many universities in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and parts of Europe have shown themselves to be supine when faced with disruptive, hate-filled, and at times violent behavior on the part of students and student groups that agitate on issues concerning racism, homophobia, or, above all else, efforts to demonize Israel to get it excised by the international community. From time to time student activists have been exerting pressure on university and college administrations to deny a platform to people with whose views they disagree.
In 2014, for instance, a heroic Somali-born best-selling author, former member of Parliament in the Netherlands, and womens' rights activist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, respected for her campaign against female genital mutilation and forced marriage, as a victim of both -- was blocked from visiting Brandeis University, where she had been invited to receive an honorary degree and deliver a commencement address. Students who disliked her criticisms of Islam (a religion which she had abandoned and about which she has serious human rights concerns) delivered a petition that called for her to be silenced.
Somali-born best-selling author, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who was blocked from delivering the 2014 commencement address at Brandeis, or from receiving an honorary degree, due to her criticism of Islam. (Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images)
George Leef, writing for Forbes magazine summed it up:
The pressure of an online petition with over 6,000 names was too much for Brandeis to bear. On April 8, the university released a statement announcing its cancellation of the honorary degree. In it, Brandeis said that although Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a "compelling public figure and advocate for women's rights" it could not grant the honorary degree because some of her statements "are inconsistent with Brandeis University's core values."
Encouraging a clash of different opinions, however, is the most central value of any university, and without it such an institution would cease to be worthy of the name. Despite that, student bullies continue to rant and make demands that only serve to destroy the reputations of the schools they attend. Administrators cave in, speakers are banned, and students across the board who disagree with what is regarded by some as the latest politically correct dogma are attacked, scorned, bombarded with threats, and sometimes death threats.
Why do administrators cave in so easily? It pays to take a step back. From the 1960s onwards, university heads learned to take positive action on genuine issues that arose on campus as part of wider social change. It was considered noble to act against racism, to support women's rights, to end discrimination against gay students, and to ensure that members of minority groups (Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Latinos, gays and so on) were protected and respected. Important steps were taken to end discrimination. Import codes of ethics were created, often in line with state or national legislation. It became difficult for college officials to appear to be weak when confronted by charges of racism, homophobia, and -- a new and ill-defined concept -- "Islamophobia". As the Hirsi Ali case demonstrated, many serious-minded people simply could not distinguish between genuine, often racist, hatred for Muslims and informed criticism of Islam as an ideology.
It was (and still generally is) only when things got out of hand that administrations stood up against angry narrow-minded students and faculty. Anti-Israel movements have been among the most unjust and prevalent. The best summary of the many incidents over the years can be read here. In addition to criticizing the only democracy in the Middle East that actually protects equality under law and the human rights of all its citizens, the most notable aspect of this assault is the extent to which genuinely anti-Semitic words and behavior have been allowed to pass with a lack of constraint tantamount to complicity.
It is only when things escalate to the point where protesters have to be dragged out by security guards or the police have to be called that administrators wake up to the fact that more is involved than polite disagreement. There are, however, small signs that some administrators are waking up to the wider issues. That was demonstrated recently when UC Irvine acted to clamp down heavily on its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), sanctioning it with "disciplinary probation" for two academic years after its use of extreme disruption at events organized by Students Supporting Israel. Positive though that this is, Edward Kunz has said:
"While the disciplinary probation at UCI will send a message that SJP's disruptive and uncivil activities will not be tolerated, it demonstrates a troubling trend of administrators refusing to take strong action against students violating their own policies until pushed to do so."
Which thought brings us to the extremely good news that officials at Edinburgh University have acted against that trend in a manner that gives cause for celebration. It took only days for two officials there, Catriona Elder and Gavin Douglas, to investigate the charges laid against Robbie Travers by Esme Allman. By the time they had finished, they dismissed the charges and wrote to Travers in clear and balanced terms giving their reasons for that dismissal. It may have been tempting for them to sanction Travers in order to avoid further protests from Allman and her supporters, but the investigators declined to do that in the interests of justice and the values of the university.
Here is the letter sent by Elder to Travers:
Dear Mr Travers,
I have now completed my investigation into allegations of misconduct that have been made against you under the Code of Student Conduct.
I have investigated potential breaches of the Code of Student Conduct, with specific reference to the following possible misconduct offences:
Complaint 1
12.3 Violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening or offensive behavior or language (whether expressed orally, in writing or electronically) including harassment of any Person whilst engaged in any University work, study or activity;
12.4 Conduct which unjustifiably infringes freedom of thought or expression whilst on University premises or engaged in University work, study or activity;
12.7 Harassing, victimizing, or discriminating against any Person on grounds of age, disability, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, marriage or civil partnership, colour or socio-economic background.
Complaint 2
12.3 Violent, indecent, disorderly, threatening or offensive behavior or language (whether expressed orally, in writing or electronically) including harassment of any Person whilst engaged in any University work, study or activity;
12.7 Harassing, victimizing, or discriminating against any Person on grounds of age, disability, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, marriage oir civil partnership, colour or socio-economic background.
My decision, following the investigation, is to:
44a. Dismiss the allegations of misconduct. In relation to both complaints, I found that the evidence presented did not support a finding that the code of Student Conduct had been breached.
Backing this up, one of the investigators provided further details as to the factors that led them to dismiss the allegations. It has been received in a private communication to this author.
In the course of my investigation, I have not seen any evidence that Mr Travers targeted Ms Allman or any other individual on the basis of their race or another protected characteristic as detailed in section 12.7. Mr Travers told me he planned to "expose" the BMELG in a series of posts, and described it elsewhere as a "sting". There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Travers planned to target the group before he became aware of the comments made by Ms Allman, or that he would have acted very differently had it been a different Students' Association group concerned. While I have seen rather controversial comments with the potential to cause offence made by Mr Travers on his Facebook page, I have also seen some evidence of Mr Travers actively disagreeing with others who have expressed racist or xenophobic comments in response to Mr Travers' (sic) posts. Mr Travers expresses frequent provocative opinions on Islam, however it is usually clear where he delineates between commentary on Islam, and more specifically political Islam, and condemnation of Islamic fundamentalism. I do not therefore believe that Mr Travers' online activity jeopardises the safety of Edinburgh University students. I have seen no evidence of individuals or groups being targeted based on their protected characteristics, and in relation to Ms Allman, I am confident his actions were in response to her comments and her position, and unrelated to her race. I find therefore that there has been no breach of section 12.7.
Let us breathe sighs of relief that, at least on this occasion, a vindictive accusation has been relegated to the obscurity in which it belongs. And let us hope that this will be the first of many more recognitions that it is improper, not least in a university setting, for one side to silence the other, especially by deceitful means.
Dr. Denis MacEoin took his second degree (in Persian, Arabic and Islamic History) from Edinburgh University in 1975 and has spent many years since then researching and writing on Islamic topics. He writes as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Renewed hope in Qatar’s emerging opposition
Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi/Al Arabiya/September 20/17
The Qatari opposition has found a new voice. This was evident at a conference held in London by Qatari opposition figures on Thursday. This new voice and vitality will enable the reinvigorated opposition to pursue its cause in all Qatar-related matters.
It’s been more than three months since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE boycotted Doha over its relentless 20-year long hostile policies against them. The time has come to increase pressure against Qatar at the international level.
Doha has done its best to hide its heavy handed excesses and executes them in secret. It interferes in internal affairs of other countries and sows seeds of terrorism and destruction. When its brothers asked it to stop indulging in seditious activities against them, it adopted an intransigent attitude and threw itself openly in the camp of Iran, the regional enemy of the Gulf and their people.
Qatar’s impudence
In spite of all the crimes Iran has perpetrated against Arab and Gulf countries, Qatar’s envoy had the impudence to call Iran an honourable country. This so-called honor which Qatar attributes to Iran is stained with the blood of Arabs in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. It is also stained with the blood of the people in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where Iran did not hesitate to plant its intelligence and terrorism cells.
Qatar has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to influence western media outlets in the US and Europe to spread news that are harmful to Arab countries, while overlooking its own violations against the Qatari people who are suffering gross injustice.
Nothing harms the regime in Qatar more than spreading the right information about its conspiracies and absolutist ways to the West
Doha did not only spend money on media outlets but it also spent millions to influence Western research centers, think tanks, human rights organizations and public relations companies. The voice of a Qatari opposition will help thwart all these plans and expose Doha’s practices against its people along with its several other devious conspiracies.
Uniting the Qatari opposition, as envisioned at the conference held last week, can be a significant step in the right direction as the opposition can then focus on reaching out to international Western decision-makers, think thanks and media outlets to provide a permanent platform for answering questions and providing information and analyses of Qatar’s political, economic and military decisions against the Qatari state or its people.
Human rights violations
Nothing harms the regime in Qatar more than spreading the right information about its conspiracies and absolutist ways to the West. For example two decades ago, Qatar revoked the citizenship of 6,000 families from Al-Ghafran clan from Al-Murraha tribe.
The expulsion of these families and confiscation of their property worsened the extent of the crime. Recently, Qatar revoked the citizenship of Sheikh Taleb bin Lahom bin Shreim along with 50 of his relatives.
This issue should be brought to notice of international human rights organizations in the West to demonstrate how Qatar violates the rights of its people and humiliates them just because they do not accept its political adventurism.
We hope the opposition’s conference is able to unify its ranks and that political, legal, media and human rights organizations are formed to tackle all the seditious and terrorism-supporting policies of the Qatari regime.