How Obama and Biden will lead us to nuclear war: Revelation 16

Biden’s Foreign Policy: New Administration, Old Missteps

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 2,006, April 25, 2021

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Three months after Joe Biden entered the White House, his administration is exhibiting symptoms of naiveté, misunderstanding, and disregard for past failures in its foreign policy. These issues are of particular concern to Israel. 

To stop the Iranian race to nuclear weapons, the Obama administration made mistakes in both the negotiation process and the nuclear deal it ultimately reached with Iran in 2015. Barack Obama was overly eager to reach an agreement, and though he repeatedly warned Iran that all options were on the table, it was clear he had no intention of taking military steps. This hardened Iran’s positions and eventually yielded a compromise that worked to the advantage of the Islamic regime.

The same problems have emerged again today. President Biden is going out of his way to appease Iran in an effort to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement, which imposed restrictions on the Iranian regime’s program to develop nuclear weapons.

Biden removed the Houthis (Iran-backed Shiite forces fighting the Saudi-backed Yemeni government) from a list of countries and organizations supporting terrorism. He assumed this move would reduce the violence inside Yemen and against Saudi Arabia so the severe humanitarian crisis caused by the civil war could be addressed. The result was exactly the opposite. Encouraged by Tehran, the Houthis intensified their attacks, especially on Saudi Arabia.

In February, Biden gave the go-ahead for a measured attack on a pro-Iranian militia base on the Syria-Iraq border in retaliation for an attack on a US base in Iraq. He also, however, reduced American forces in the Gulf.

Biden’s spokesmen leaked a claim to the American media that Israel attacked Iranian ships smuggling oil and weapons into Syria. More recently, they leaked information on an alleged Israeli attack on the Saviz, an intelligence ship owned and operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in retaliation for Iranian attacks on two Israeli-owned commercial ships. In doing this, Biden signaled that even if negotiations fail, he will not countenance an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities and opposes an Israeli military strike. As it did in 2015, the US administration is tacitly reassuring Iran that it need have no fear of a military attack. Because it has received this reassurance, Tehran will feel free to take tougher positions in the negotiations.

Democrats often tout human rights as a central value in their foreign policy decision-making, but their highly selective application of this principle raises questions. When Secretary of State Antony Blinken presented the 2020 State Department Report on Human Rights, he named countries seriously violating human rights such as Myanmar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Syria, but omitted Iran. The report also significantly reduced the number of Iranian citizens who were murdered, wounded, and detained by the IRGC during the 2019 mass protests against the regime. A similar phenomenon occurred in 2009, when the Obama administration refrained from condemning the Iranian Islamic regime for brutally suppressing mass protests against the rigging of the presidential elections. The motivation in both cases was to avoid enraging the Islamist regime and undermining the nuclear negotiations.

All these missteps have only toughened Iran’s positions. The regime has agreed not to direct talks but to indirect pre-negotiation talks with the US in Vienna, with the other powers that signed the 2015 deal acting as mediators. This tactic is designed to prevent the US and its European allies from forming a united front. Iran has also begun enriching uranium with state-of-the-art rapid centrifuges, a move that is driving it closer toward the bomb. This is hardly a gesture in the direction of compromise and agreement; it is exactly the opposite.

Iran is insisting on two preconditions for negotiations with the US. First, it wants all sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump to be lifted, including those related to issues other than the nuclear program, such as violations of human rights. Second, it demands a return to the terms of the 2015 agreement without any changes or amendments. Iran is thus signaling to the US that it expects concessions before it agrees to begin negotiations. In a timid response, the Biden administration said Iran doesn’t have to be the first side to make a concession.

Vis-à-vis international organizations, President Biden is reversing US policy. Secretary of State Blinken announced that the US will rejoin the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and lift the personal sanctions Trump imposed on Fatou Bensouda, the outgoing prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC). Trump imposed sanctions on Bensouda and her team over her decisions to investigate the US and Israel for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, respectively.

Trump rightly withdrew the US from the UNHRC because it is a ludicrous, highly politicized body dominated by countries that are among the world’s worst violators of human rights, such as China, Russia, Cuba, Pakistan, Libya, Venezuela, and Somalia. The UNHRC is also an antisemitic body. It has one agenda item just for Israel and another for the rest of the world. It often publishes biased and false reports on Israel—and it is upon these reports, among other things, that Bensouda based her decision to investigate Israel.

Secretary of State Blinken explained that the return of the US to the UNHRC is intended to fix its poor performance and deficiencies from within. This is a waste of time. Blinken has clearly learned nothing from similar policy failures in the past. The current UNHRC was formed in 2006 after its predecessor, the Human Rights Committee, was dismantled because it was highly politicized and constantly failed to deal with the issues for which it had been founded. The Bush administration was unimpressed with the name change and demanded significant reforms of the UNHRC’s structure and conduct. The Council refused, and Bush decided to keep the US out of it.

The Obama administration reversed this policy, claiming that the US was joining the Council to repair it from the inside. But nothing changed. Trump demanded changes in the Council’s functioning, was rebuffed, and withdrew the US from its ranks in 2018. The Biden administration’s return to the Council indicates the resurrection of naive assumptions that have been proven wrong time and again.

When lifting the sanctions imposed on ICC Prosecutor Bensouda, Blinken reiterated Washington’s criticism of her decision to investigate the US and Israel but argued that the way to deal with it is through talks and persuasion rather than sanctions. This, too, is a self-deluding belief. Blinken ignored Bensouda’s endemic hostility to the US and Israel and her clear attempt to force the investigations on her successor, Karim Khan, two months before her retirement.

Blinken should have conditioned the lifting of sanctions on Bensouda on her refraining from opening the investigation of Israel and leaving the decision to her successor. He didn’t do this. If Khan decides to continue the investigation of Israel, equal treatment of states requires that he either open an investigation of the US as well or prove the saying “might is right,” which would cause even more damage to the dysfunctional ICC.

Biden is reversing Trump’s decisions to stop several hundred million dollars’ worth of annual US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees. Here, too, opportunities for necessary and long overdue reforms have been missed. Biden could have conditioned the resumption of aid on the PA’s setting up transparency procedures that would clearly verify where the money goes. A significant portion of international aid to the Palestinians lands in the pockets of their leaders. Since Biden opposes the ICC’s preoccupation with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he could have demanded that the Palestinians withdraw their complaint to the ICC, which was filed in flagrant violation of the Oslo Accords and was behind the ICC’s decision to investigate Israel.

As a recent investigation showed, UNRWA is a corrupt institution that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem and allows its institutions to conduct antisemitic incitement against Israel. Biden could have demanded the abolition of UNRWA and the transfer of treatment of the Palestinians to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the agency that handles refugees from everywhere else in the world.

Biden’s policies follow the values and principles of the Democratic Party—but for the most part, appeasement of foreign actors achieves exactly the opposite results from those intended. This is not how a superpower should project influence and deterrence against extremist authoritarian regimes like Iran and corrupt international organizations like the UNHRC and the ICC. Trump left Biden with leverage in terms of pressure and influence, but instead of using it to achieve US foreign policy goals, Biden has been giving it away for free. Biden’s missteps on Iran, the Palestinians, and international organizations are jeopardizing Israel’s key national interests and will therefore require a calculated and cautious approach.

Eytan Gilboa has been a professor of political science and communication and is a senior research associate at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

Hamas threatens escalation and encourages terrorist attacks outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Blurred picture of Marwan Issa attached to statements made to al-Aqsa TV (Hamas website, March 15, 2023)

Hamas threatens escalation and encourages terrorist attacks during Ramadan

Published: 23/03/2023

  • Ramadan will officially begin on March 23, 2023 and end on April 21, 2023. Given the current tension in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem and the events of past years, Palestinian sources, especially in the Hamas leadership, reiterate that the situation is unstable and likely to deteriorate sharply. They threaten escalation and worse if Israel continues its “activities against the Palestinians and al-Aqsa mosque,” for them the red line which could ignite the region. Marwan Issa, the deputy head of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, gave a rare interview where he claimed that any change in the status quo of al-Aqsa would cause “a regional earthquake.” The security prisoners in Israeli jails also claimed they would go on hunger strikes throughout the month.
  • International and Arab efforts are being made behind the scenes to prevent escalation and increased tension during Ramadan. Two security summit meetings were held, one in February 2023 in Aqaba and the other in March in Sharm el-Sheikh, where representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), the United States, Egypt and Jordan tried to reach understandings and reduce tensions. In the meantime, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced measures to ease the Palestinians’ lives during the month. The police in Jerusalem will increase their forces, especially in the eastern part of the city and the holy sites.
  • In recent years Ramadan has become a time for rising tension and an increase in violent clashes between the Palestinians and the Israeli security forces. The violence spread to the Gaza Strip and, after Operation Breaking Dawn in May 2021, caused Hamas, which regards itself as the “defender of the holy sites,” to predicate a “new equation:” any activity they choose to interpret as an attempt to “attack” east Jerusalem and al-Aqsa will be met with escalation in the south and rocket fire into Israel.
  • Statements from Hamas spokesmen and especially from Marwan Issa are essentially strategic messages from the Hamas military-terrorist hierarchy and may indicate Hamas’ intentions for the coming month. They are also a message meant to inform Israel that any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount or an increase in the presence of Jews or Jewish prayers will be met with a “response.” However, most of the spokesmen, including Marwan Issa, note that the ball is in Israel’s court, and if Israel does not cross what they have defined as their red lines, Hamas will not be “forced” to respond and for the time being will leave the battle to the terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
The Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem decorated for Ramadan (Shehab Twitter account, March 14, 2023; Wafa, March 21, 2023)
The Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem decorated for Ramadan (Shehab Twitter account, March 14, 2023; Wafa, March 21, 2023) 
Further Information
  • On March 23, 2023, Ramadan will officially begin and will end on April 21, 2023. Given the current tension in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, Palestinian sources have reiterated that the situation is unstable and likely to deteriorate sharply. They threaten escalation and worse if Israel continues its activities against the Palestinians and al-Aqsa mosque, for them the red line which could ignite the region.
  • In the meantime, the media office of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails announced that the leaders of the Fatah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) prisoners would begin a hunger strike on the first day of Ramadan. The office also called on the Palestinian public to participate in protest marches in the various cities. According to reports, six prisoners representing the Palestinian organizations have already begun the hunger strike and are supposed to be joined by 2,000 more (prisoners’ media office Telegram channel, March 21, 2023). The announcement was disseminated by the Palestinian organizations’ media.
Statements from Hamas leaders
  • For some time the Hamas leadership has been warning that given the current situation on the ground they expect an “explosion” during Ramadan and that their patience is running out. The threats come in the wake the recent terrorist attacks, which they supported, praised, and celebrated, and Israeli threats of counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria. However, Hamas spokesmen claim escalation will only occur if Israel changes the status quo (“crosses the red lines”) in Jerusalem, and for the time being they leave confrontations to the terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
  • A particularly important statement was made by Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, who does not often appear in public. Interviewed by Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV, he said that the political program in Judea and Samaria had come to an end because Israel had destroyed the Oslo Accords, and promised that “the coming days will be full of events.” He warned that any change in the status quo of al-Aqsa would lead to a “regional earthquake.”However, he claimed, they would give an opportunity to the “resistance” [anti-Israeli terrorist activities] in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, since at this point in time those were the locations for action with strategic influence. He claimed giving the “resistance” in Judea and Samaria an opportunity did not mean Hamas was abandoning them or that the Gaza Strip would be silent. He claimed they would defend the Palestinians with all their forces should the need for intervention arise. He added that the Palestinians’ “spirit of martyrdom [for the sake of Allah]” in Judea and Samaria was unprecedented, and that the Palestinians and their “struggle” in Judea and Samaria were in excellent condition. They had a high level of awareness for the “resistance project” and national unity for dealing with Israel. He also claimed “resistance activity” in all “Palestine” was necessary and had to be supported materially, and its morale and media also needed support to keep the Palestinians from having to “struggle” alone. He added that in the meantime the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades [Hamas’ military-terrorist wing] would increase its strength and construct a “resistance strategy” (Safa, March 15, 2023).
Blurred picture of Marwan Issa attached to statements made to al-Aqsa TV (Hamas website, March 15, 2023)
Blurred picture of Marwan Issa attached to statements made to al-Aqsa TV 
(Hamas website, March 15, 2023)
  • Other statements were the following:
    • Khaled Mashaal, chairman of the Hamas leadership abroad, said the Palestinians were going to “escalate” during Ramadan and the days in the shadow of Israel’s aggression would be intense. He claimed the Palestinians understood they could not restore their homeland by any means except “resistance.” He called on the Palestinians to unite as the “resistance” had already united in Nablus, Jenin and Gaza (Shehab, March 4, 2023).
    • Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, who directs Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria, said in an interview that the “resistance” in Judea and Samaria would continue because they had no other option, and Israel had to know that the future “would be more difficult.” He said Hamas closely monitored Israel’s activities in Jerusalem, and its attempts to exploit Ramadan to enforce its polices and allow the settlers to hold religious ceremonies would be met with a Palestinian response (Hamas website, March 14, 2023). On a later occasion, during a ceremony in Gaza City to launch a book about Amad Aqal,[1] a former Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades commander, al-‘Arouri gave a speech in which he called on every armed Palestinian to use his gun in clashes with Israel, the settlers and Israel’s security forces (Hamas website, March 20, 2023). He made no specific mention of Ramadan.
Saleh al-'Arouri (Hamas website, March 20, 2023)
Saleh al-‘Arouri (Hamas website, March 20, 2023)
  • Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, claimed they were in an ongoing confrontation with “the occupation” and might begin a new battle during Ramadan. He said the “resistance” was improving its organized activity against the “occupation” in various locations, among them Nablus, Jenin and Jericho. He added that while the PA was “unpatriotic,” Hamas would not condemn its security services because they were part of the Palestinian people’s “resistance” (al-Aqsa TV Telegram channel, March 19, 2023).
  • Muhammad Hamada, Hamas spokesman for Jerusalem affairs, interviewed by al-Aqsa TV, said Israel was worried about everything related to Ramadan, and that the area in front of the Western Wall was one of the most sensitive and dangerous sites for Israel. He said the Palestinian people would now allow the “occupation” to attack al-Aqsa, and aggression against it would be a ticking time-bomb. He claimed Israel was pushing for a religious war against al-Aqsa and Jerusalem, and was delusional if it thought aggression against al-Aqsa would not have a price [sic] (al-Aqsa TV Telegram channel, March 18, 2023). 
Muhammad Hamada interview on al-Aqsa TV (al-Aqsa TV Facebook page, March 18, 2023)   Muhammad Hamada interview on al-Aqsa TV (al-Aqsa TV Facebook page, March 18, 2023)Muhammad Hamada interview on al-Aqsa TV (al-Aqsa TV Facebook page, March 18, 2023)

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem claimed an increase in Israel’s aggressive activities against al-Aqsa, particularly during Ramadan, was liable to open the door to a dangerous escalation. He added that al-Aqsa was a place of great sanctity, and any attack on its worshippers or its holy nature would ignite the entire region. He also said Marwan Issa’s statement that any attempt to divide al-Aqsa [i.e., the times of prayers] would be met with an “unprecedented reaction” from the “resistance” (sabaq24, March 16, 2023). Hamas also organized a march in Khan Yunis in support of al-Aqsa, Judea and Samaria and the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. During the march he warned Israel not to engage in dangerous escalation in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem during Ramadan. He said Israel was playing with a burning fuse, noting the “equation” [attack in response to “attack”] determined by Hamas during Operation Guardian of the Walls was still in place (Hamas website, March 17, 2023).

Hazem Qassem speaking during a march in Khan Yunis (Hamas website, March 17, 2023)
Hazem Qassem speaking during a march in Khan Yunis (Hamas website, March 17, 2023)
Political commentary on Marwan Issa’s statements
  • Palestinian political commentators discussed Marwan Issa’s interview, most of them regarding it as a call for escalation or even confrontation in the Gaza Strip during Ramadan. The more prominent were the following:
    • Husam al-Dajani, a political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said Marwan Issa’s statements had reflected the regional political situation, and that the situation was “explosive.” He said they were a message for the mediators, because if they did not restrain Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu there would be an upheaval, especially in the Gaza Strip. However, in his opinion the existing tense atmosphere in the Gaza Strip would not allow for a confrontation during Ramadan (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
    • Iyad al-Qaraa political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said the statements made by Saleh al-‘Arouri and Marwan Issa were a warning to Israel regarding Judea and Samaria and the situation in the Gaza Strip in general and al-Aqsa in particular (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
    • Taysir Muheisena political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said Marwan Issa’s statements had come at a very important time because they had been made close to Ramadan, and might lead the Palestinians to a confrontation with Israel (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
    • Mustafa al-Sawaf, a Hamas-affiliated political commentator, said Marwan Issa’s statements indicated they were on the brink of an extensive, comprehensive confrontation. He claimed the statements were meant to inform Israel that any damage done to al-Aqsa was a red line that would ignite the region and turn it into an earthquake [sic] (Shehab, March 15, 2023).

[1] Amad Aqal was the commander of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. He died in a targeted killing in November 1993 after he had been pursued by the Israeli security forces for two years, during which he carried out a series of shooting attacks against IDF soldiers. ↑

Military: rocket fired from outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

This is a locator map of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
This is a locator map of Israel and the Palestinian Territories.AP

Military: rocket fired from Gaza lands on southern Israel

March 18, 2023

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket toward southern Israel Saturday evening.

The rocket fell and exploded in an open area, triggering warning sirens in the Nahal Oz community to the east of Gaza City.

There were no reports of casualties or damage. The Israeli military usually responds to such rocket fire with airstrikes in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, raising the possibility of further violence just ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


The rocket attack comes a day before Israeli and Palestinian officials are set to meet in Egypt in a U.S.-backed effort to defuse violence that has soared especially in the West Bank and east Jerusalem for nearly a year.

The meeting in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh is a follow-up to last month’s meeting in Jordan for the same purpose. However, deadly Israeli raids in the West Bank and Palestinian attacks continued since the Feb. 26 meeting in Aqaba. Twenty-three Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed in the ongoing bloodshed since then.

More News

Since the start of this year, 85 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed 14 people in the same period.

According to an Associated Press tally, about half of the Palestinians killed this year were affiliated with militant groups. Israel says most of the dead were militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions, some in their early teens, and others not involved in confrontations, including three men over 60, have also been killed.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those areas since 2004, according to the leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that same time killed 30 people.

Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their future independent state.

Israeli forces kill Palestinian outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli forces gather during a Palestinian protest demanding Israel to reopen closed roads leading to Nablus.
Israeli forces gather during a Palestinian protest in the occupied West Bank [File: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters]

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank as Ramadan begins

Amir Abu Khadijeh, 25, was shot in the head in the city of Tulkarem, says the Palestinian health ministry.

Published On 23 Mar 202323 Mar 2023

Israeli forces have killed a Palestinian man during a raid in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials and the Israeli police said, as Israeli incursions into the territory show no signs of letting up during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Palestinian health ministry said 25-year-old Amir Abu Khadijeh was shot in the head in the city of Tulkarem on Thursday. Large crowds took to the streets to protest Abu Khadijeh’s killing when his body reached hospital, Palestinian media outlets reported.

A statement from the Israeli border police said its undercover unit was involved in a raid in the early hours of Thursday to arrest a Palestinian man it suspected of involvement in several shooting attacks. The forces surrounded the house he was in and fired at the man after he aimed a weapon at them, the border police claimed.

The Tulkarem Brigade, one of several new armed groups to emerge in the West Bank over the past year, said Abu Khadijeh was one of its founders and described the killing as an “assassination”.

An activist from the Palestinian Fatah movement, Murad Droubi, told local media that Israeli forces stormed Shufa, an area in Tulkarem, and closed off its main entrance to vehicles and residents, before surrounding the house where Abu Khadija was hiding.

Israeli forces also arrested the owner of the flat where Abu Khadijeh was killed, according to Palestinian media.

Thursday marked the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Palestinian territories.

In previous years, Ramadan has seen Israeli police attack Palestinians gathered around Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site. Ramadan coincides this year with Judaism’s Passover and Christian Easter.

In 2021, the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem was the catalyst for widespread Palestinian protests across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

Raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli security forces during Ramadan heightened tensions further and, four days later, an 11-day Israeli assault on Gaza began, ostensibly in response to rockets fired by Hamas towards Israel.

On Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian officials made commitments to de-escalate violence at a meeting attended by US, Egyptian and Jordanian delegations in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Israeli-occupied West Bank has seen a surge of confrontations in recent months, with near-daily Israeli military raids and escalating violence by Jewish settlers, amid a spate of attacks by Palestinians.

Over the past year, Israeli forces have killed more than 250 Palestinians in the West Bank, including fighters and civilians. More than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians have died in Palestinian attacks in the same period.

Israeli Shot Outside The Temple Walls Dies Of Wounds: Revelation 11

Israeli Shot In Tel Aviv Attack Dies Of Wounds

By AFP – Agence France PresseMarch 20, 2023

An Israeli man shot by a Palestinian militant in a Tel Aviv attack earlier this month has died of his wounds, the hospital treating him said Monday.

He is the latest victim in worsening Israeli-Palestinian violence which has now claimed 101 lives this year.

Ichilov hospital announced “the death of Or Eshkar, who was critically wounded in the attack on Dizengoff Street,” a statement from the hospital said.

Eshkar, 32, was one of three Israelis shot by Mutaz Khawaja, 23, a member of the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas, who opened fire outside a restaurant in the centre of Tel Aviv on March 9.

Security forces shot Khawaja dead at the scene.

One of the other Israeli men wounded in the attack remains hospitalised at Ichilov in serious condition, while the other has been released to his home, an Ichilov spokesman told AFP.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 86 Palestinian adults and children this year, including militants and civilians.

Fourteen Israeli adults and children, including members of the security forces and civilians, and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides

The Threat of the Australian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles speaks at a press conference in front of the USS Asheville, a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, during a tour of HMAS Stirling in Perth. The prospect of Australia acquiring nuclear submarines via the Aukus agreement has raised concerns around regional stability and global non-proliferation efforts. Photo: AAP / dpa

Why Australia’s Aukus submarine deal is a clear threat to nuclear non-proliferation

The way the submarine deal is structured sets a bad precedent of supplying a non-nuclear weapon state and NPT member with weapons-grade fuelIf the Aukus partners want to set good standards for non-proliferation, they should expand IAEA safeguards or abandon using nuclear submarine technology

Riaz Khokhar

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles speaks at a press conference in front of the USS Asheville, a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine, during a tour of HMAS Stirling in Perth. The prospect of Australia acquiring nuclear submarines via the Aukus agreement has raised concerns around regional stability and global non-proliferation efforts. Photo: AAP / dpa

The recently announced Aukus submarine deal between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States faces two major challenges.

First, the supply of a conventionally armed nuclear submarine to a non-nuclear weapon state and member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is not only unprecedented but threatens the international non-proliferation regime.

Second, the trilateral deal could deepen geopolitical tensions in the region, setting the Australian navy against Chinese maritime forces in ways that would increase the nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean region and could violate Australia’s own pledge of a nuclear weapons-free zone.

The Aukus partners have said their trilateral partnership to provide Australia with a conventionally armed nuclear submarine would set “the highest possible non-proliferation standards” in ways that “strengthen the global non-proliferation regime”. To ensure this, the US and the UK would provide Australia with complete, welded power units, from which “removal or diversion of any nuclear material would be extremely difficult”.

Additionally, the nuclear material would not be in a form to produce nuclear weapons directly and instead would need further processing in nuclear facilities that Canberra does not have.

On top of that, Australia has been negotiating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to develop a “suitable verification arrangement” against the diversion of nuclear fuel.

China warns Aukus against going down ‘dangerous road’ over nuclear-powered submarine pact


China warns Aukus against going down ‘dangerous road’ over nuclear-powered submarine pact

China warns Aukus against going down ‘dangerous road’ over nuclear-powered submarine pact

But nuclear experts have warned that instead of the highest possible non-proliferation standard, the US was on its way to setting a bad precedent of supplying a non-nuclear weapon state and a member of the NPT with weapons-grade fuel. The nuclear material could remain outside IAEA safeguards for as long as the nuclear submarine remains on patrol.

During that period, it would be impossible for the IAEA to ensure the nuclear material is not removed or diverted for military applications. Some members of the IAEA such as China and Indonesia have argued that the Aukus partners have been less transparent and kept their negotiations with the IAEA private.

Some experts have said the IAEA needs to involve interested member states in these negotiations to reach uniform, non-discriminatory principles regarding the application of safeguards on nuclear submarines.

Another problem is that the IAEA is bound by its statutory obligations to ensure its assistance “is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose”, but the definition of “non-proscribed military activity” or “non-peaceful activities” is unclear. The Aukus partners cannot themselves assume the connotations of these terms and privately negotiate the application of safeguards without the input of other interested IAEA members.

Indonesian political and military officials see the Australian nuclear submarine capability as meant for war and the Aukus pact as a smaller Nato. Since a nuclear submarine could use weapons-grade fissile material, they suggest its use of Indonesian sea lanes could be blocked as it could violate the Asean nuclear-free zone.

What to know about Australia’s Aukus subs and why it’s causing anxiety in Asia16 Mar 2023

The US is expected to provide three of its Virginia class fast-attack nuclear submarines to Australia by the early 2030s. One of the pillars of the Aukus agreement is to provide Australia with a range of defence capabilities, including hypersonic and counter-hypersonic weapons systems to increase interoperability among the US allies.

It would be the first time the US provided a conventionally armed nuclear submarine to a non-nuclear member state of the NPT. Worse, in terms of damaging the global non-proliferation regime, Washington would follow an earlier precedent of Russia’s provision of nuclear submarines to India.

These plans appear to show that Australia could provide US forces with a “protective screen” to attack Chinese targets in the event of conflict and reinforce the US Navy’s strategy to deter Chinese nuclear capability in the region.

For a non-nuclear weapon state and member of the NPT, acquiring or developing an armed nuclear submarine is not the right way to go about doing that. China is not the only country with nuclear submarine capability in the Indo-Pacific. The US and India also operate submarines in the region.

Two Chinese nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarines are seen during a military display in the South China Sea on April 12, 2018. Photo: Reuters

While China and the US are NPT member states and nuclear powers, India is a non-NPT state. This would be the first time a non-nuclear weapon state and a member of the NPT would operate a nuclear submarine utilising what have been called “grey areas” around IAEA safeguards.

In addition, the US is planning to deploy its B-52 bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons on a rotational basis at the Royal Australian Air Force base at Tindal in the Northern Territory. There are concerns this move could have severe implications for the Treaty of Rarotonga that establishes the South Pacific nuclear-free zone.

Australia faces tough task soothing Asia anxieties over Aukus subs: analysts17 Mar 2023

If the Aukus partners want to set the best standards for the global non-proliferation regime, they would be better served to extend the IAEA safeguards to any submarines on patrol to ensure that the agency’s oversight does not stray from the nuclear material at any point. Alternatively, they could shelve the nuclear submarine technology and explore other options with similar military capabilities and features.

The IAEA would also have to address these issues and ensure the transparency and participation of all member states in these negotiations.

The concerned member states would do well to provide solutions to these problems in general terms, not just those specific to Australia, and sideline geopolitics to set a uniform, non-discriminatory criteria for all non-nuclear weapon states and members of the NPT.

Riaz Khokhar is a research associate at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and a former Asia Studies visiting fellow at the East-West Centre in Washington

The Iran-led ‘axis of resistance’ is gearing up outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

The Iran-led ‘axis of resistance’ is gearing up for a Ramadan terror offensive

Israel, too, is seriously preparing for a scenario exceeding in scope the military conflict with Gaza in May 2021.

(March 19, 2023 / JNS) Sometime on March 11 or 12, a terrorist infiltrated in Israel from Lebanon, and planted a sophisticated bomb near the Megiddo Junction, some 37 miles south of the Israel-Lebanon border. The bomb detonated on March 13, seriously wounding Israeli Arab Shareef ad-Din, 21, as he drove along Highway 65.

The incident marks major intelligence and operational failures on the part of the Israel Defense Forces. The political echelon should have ordered a military response; its failure to do so further erodes Israel’s deterrence.

It is believed that the terrorist was a Palestinian member of Hamas in southern Lebanon who was trained by Hezbollah to operate the shaped charge. Hamas recruits in the Tyre and Sidon refugee camps.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah knew about and approved the joint operation with Hamas, which left no fingerprints and for which neither organizations has taken responsibility.

According to intelligence data from various sources, Israeli security officials believe that in the runup to Ramadan there will be an unprecedented conflict with the Palestinian terrorist factions on several fronts, that may deteriorate into a military conflict more acute than the conflict in the Gaza Strip in May 2021.

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Visible signs also testify to this: The Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organizations have increased the incitement against Israel in recent weeks, and launched a campaign of psychological warfare to weaken Israel morale.

Saleh al-Arouri, the vice chairman of the Hamas movement and head of its military wing in the West Bank, the man who coordinates in Beirut the activity with Hezbollah, said in an interview by the official Hamas website on March 14, 2023, that the events to come will be very difficult for the “occupation and its settlers.” The “resistance” in the West Bank is in a state of escalation, and it is diversifying its weapons.

Marwan Issa, the shadowy deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip, hinted at the possibility of massive rocket fire from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. He told the Al-Aqsa channel on March 15, 2023, that the “political project in the West Bank has ended; the enemy brought the Oslo Accords to an end; and the coming days will be eventful.”

Issa continued: A political solution in the West Bank “is a thing of the past…. Any escalation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque area will result in a reaction in the Gaza Strip; Hamas in Gaza will not [just] be an observer to events in Jerusalem.”

“The desire to commit suicide among the [Muslim] residents of the West Bank is unprecedented, and the state of resistance in the West Bank is excellent. So is the state of national unity in the face of the occupation,” the Hamas official claimed.

A spokesman for the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad threatened Israel with a new intifada and an unprecedented conflict.

The accumulation of these statements by the heads of terrorist organizations in the media, in combination with intelligence information, indicate an impending escalation. The security summit in Aqaba on Feb. 26 initiated by the United States has failed, and the fate of the next meeting, scheduled to take place in Sinai on March 19, is uncertain. It is very doubtful whether Israel will be able to stop the approaching tsunami of terrorism, since this is a strategic decision by the terrorist organizations in coordination with Iran.

The terrorist cells are showing an increased use of explosive devices in Judea and Samaria, and are attempting to activate them within Israel proper as well. The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) has recently foiled several attempted bombings by Palestinians from Judea and Samaria who were recruited by Hamas from the Gaza Strip through social networks.

According to Hamas officials, the attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv on March 9, 2023 marks the organization’s decision to resume attacks within the Green Line.

According to security sources, Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah increased his coordination meetings in Beirut’s al-Dahiya neighborhood with PIJ secretary general Ziad al-Nakhala and Hamas military chief Saleh al-Arouri, toward the beginning of Ramadan. An agreement was reportedly reached between Hezbollah, Hamas, PIJ00 and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to step up terrorist activities in the coming days.

Nasrallah said last week that Israel would collapse even before it marks the 80th year of its founding. The internal dispute in Israel and the wave of protests over the government’s judicial reform have increased the feeling among the terrorist organizations that Israel is on the verge of disintegration and that this is the time to increase the pressure.

Despite the hoopla at the time, the agreement regarding the division of Lebanon’s economic territorial waters designed by the United States, signed on October 27, 2022, did not reduce Hezbollah’s motivation for terrorism against Israel. Moreover, it allows Hamas to strengthen its military infrastructure in southern Lebanon and in the refugee camps in Tyre and Sidon.

Hamas officials say that the attacks on Israel in the coming days will be from all directions according to the doctrine of unification of the fronts, including rocket fire from southern Lebanon and infiltration operations from southern Lebanon into Israeli territory.

According to security officials in Israel, behind all this malevolent activity is Iran, which in the past year has smuggled arms and funds through Jordan to the northern West Bank into the hands of the terrorist organizations.

The axis of resistance led by Iran is preparing for a major escalation in the month of Ramadan. Israel is also seriously preparing for a scenario that may be bigger than the military conflict that took place in May 2021.

Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israeli radio and television, is a senior Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Obama’s Nuclear Fallacy: Daniel 8

Obama’s Non-Nuclear Memoir

Barack Obama, A Promised Land (New York: Crown, 2020)

“Whatever you do won’t be enough. … Try anyway.”

— President Barack Obama

It was December 2009 and the still-new president was in his hotel room in Oslo getting dressed in the tuxedo he would wear for the ceremony to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. An aide knocked on the door and urged him to look out the window. Pulling back the shades, Barack Obama saw several thousand people in the narrow street below holding lit candles over their heads to celebrate him. “[O]n some level,” he notes in his excellent new 700-page memoir, “the crowds below were cheering an illusion … The idea that I, or any one person, could bring order to [this chaotic world] seemed laughable.” (p. 446)

Obama famously had questioned how he deserved this prize so early in his presidency. One answer was the “Prague speech” he had given that April, stating “clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Now, 11 years later, Obama devotes more words in his memoir to describing the scene on the streets through which his motorcade lumbered en route to the speech site than he does to the content of the speech. (p. 348)

The reticence clearly is not an accident. Throughout the book he barely mentions and never explores in depth what had been hailed earlier as the Prague Agenda.

For example, in an insightful 12-page discussion of Russian politics and U.S. efforts to “reset” relations with Moscow, Obama writes merely that his initial meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev produced “an agreed-upon framework for the new strategic arms treaty, which would reduce each side’s allowable nuclear warheads and delivery systems by up to one-third.” (p. 462)

Nowhere in the text does he mention the considerable labor that he personally devoted to shaping his administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, which was completed in 2010. His signature nuclear policy innovation, a “forty-seven-nation nuclear security summit” to strengthen international efforts to keep nuclear materials away from terrorists, gets no more mention than these four hyphenated words. North Korea receives two glancing comments.

Why does Obama — who was deeply engaged in nuclear policy issues throughout his presidency — devote so little to the topic in his memoir? What does this omission reveal about the politics of nuclear weapons in the United States? And finally, what should those working to reduce nuclear risks around the world learn from Obama’s attempts to grapple with his own legacy on nuclear matters?

There are many ways to interpret Obama’s nuclear reticence. He paid more personal attention to nuclear policy than any president since Ronald Reagan, and he was more knowledgeable about details than any predecessor, except perhaps Jimmy Carter. Disappointment over the results are surely a factor. Although this memoir covers only the first 18 months of his presidency, it is informed by knowledge of what happened later, including the near collapse of arms control with Russia, renewed qualitative arms racing with Russia and China, North Korea’s burgeoning arsenal, and the impossibility of winning Republican support for a nuclear deal with Iran.

But Obama faced lots of other disappointments that he discusses at length. He writes 30 pages on climate change policy and his diplomatic intervention to save the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009. You can imagine him saying of New START nuclear policy what he writes wryly about the Copenhagen effort:

All that for an interim agreement that — even if it worked entirely as planned — would be at best a preliminary, halting step toward solving a possible planetary tragedy, a pail of water thrown on a raging fire. I realized that for all the power inherent in the seat I now occupied, there would always be a chasm between what I knew should be done to achieve a better world and what in a day, week, or year I found myself actually able to accomplish. (p. 516)

An earlier passage may partially answer why nuclear issues barely register in the book. In recounting the 2009 press conference in Moscow with Medvedev where Obama had described the framework for what became the New START Treaty, Obama wryly (as usual) notes that Robert Gibbs, his press secretary, “was more excited by Russia’s agreement to lift restrictions on certain U.S. livestock exports, a change worth more than $1 billion to American farmers and ranchers.” This, Gibbs said, was “[s]omething folks back home actually care about.” (p. 462) Later, Obama bemoans the absence of a strong domestic constituency “clamoring” for the treaty’s ratification by the Senate, which left him no choice but to make “a devil’s bargain” with Republican leaders to boost funding to modernize the nuclear weapons infrastructure. (p. 608)

To sell books or political candidates today, the less said about nuclear policy the better. The public and media don’t follow the details. They can’t reasonably assess the pros and cons of policy options. Until there is a nuclear war — or a real scare that one is imminent — busy people are unlikely to demand big changes.

One could say that the public doesn’t care or follow what’s going on in Afghanistan, either, yet Obama writes much more about it. The difference is that Afghanistan was a war and topic of necessity — as Obama insisted in the 2008 campaign. He had to deal with it. Nuclear policy is an issue of choice so long as deterrence seems to be working. When the political payoff is negligible, it is better to turn to other things. People do get alarmed by Iranian or North Korean proliferation. The president should try to address those challenges. But neither the public nor Congress and the defense establishment see how stopping proliferation requires fidelity to nuclear disarmament, as Obama argued.

Public inattention means that Republican leaders could have relatively free hands to pursue arms control and disarmament measures if they wanted to. Their supporters will not protest, and Democrats by and large will go along. Democratic leaders face a much tougher challenge. The more public their arms control-related initiatives, the more that nativist Republican forces will counter them with narratives of weakness, naivete, and indulgence of evil Iranian Ayatollahs, Chinese Communists, or Russian cheaters. Those narratives win in cable news and internet combat in swing states and districts. To counter them and buy the necessary Republican votes, Democrats are compelled to fund new or different military capabilities that signify strength and revenue to defense contractors and host states. This says more about the public and the political-psychology of enmity than it does about Democrats, but the reader imagines that the Obama of the Prague speech underestimated the challenge.

For Democrats, the most plausible way around the mass constituency problem is to appoint motivated experts to key administration positions and to team them with military leaders who share the view that nuclear deterrence can be maintained between the United States and Russia and China with much leaner arsenals. Obama had a few such officials (e.g., Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller) but neither Secretary of Defense Robert Gates nor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared his nuclear policy predilections or exerted themselves against domestic and international resistance to them.

The political logic of selecting and working with military leaders who share a president’s view on the relative importance of conventional versus nuclear forces for securing the United States and allies is affirmed, indirectly, in another line from Gibbs. Talking about what became the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Obama wonders if the public would understand the arcane rule changes involved. Gibbs assures him, “They don’t need to understand it. … If the banks hate it, they’ll figure it must be a good thing.” (p. 553) In nuclear policy, the equivalent line might be, “If the military hates it, the public will figure it’s a bad thing.” In general, Obama stays shy of arguing with the military. Indeed, the memoir’s discussions of Gen. David Petraeus, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and Adm. Mike Mullen are sugarcoated compared to Bob Woodward’s account of White House-military relations in Obama’s Wars.

According to the Constitution, civilians should direct the military, of course. But the public trusts military leaders more when it comes to national security, especially compared to Democrats. To shift national nuclear policies in the current environment, the president needs to win 60 votes in the Senate to advance legislation — 67 to ratify treaties. This requires persuading senators from swing states to support the agenda. If the military joins opponents against a Democratic president, that president and his or her policies will lose. (This logic may, in part, be reflected in President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of retired Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III as secretary of defense. Due to the public’s trust in the armed forces, Austin’s military experience is likely to be a political asset. His impact on potential nuclear policy is unclear. Austin comes from the Army, a service that is less invested in the nuclear enterprise, as they and the Marines don’t have any nuclear weapons. As former commander of U.S. Central Command, he will have the best possible credibility for arguing in favor of returning to the Iran nuclear deal — credibility that Biden will need in front of the Congress and the public.)

To win military leaders’ support for new nuclear policies, or at least their politically useful nonresistance, experts and civilian officials will need to offer the military better alternatives for deterring or defeating threats. The best such alternatives would be dialing down Russian and Chinese coercion of their neighbors, and negotiating verifiable reductions of Russian nuclear forces and limitations on China’s military buildup. The United States, of course, will have to provide reciprocal reassurance to Moscow and Beijing, which is easier said than done. The other, not mutually exclusive, need is to improve U.S. and allied non-nuclear capabilities to prevent Russia or China from taking small bits of disputed territory and then leaving Washington with the dreadful choice of capitulation or major conflict that could escalate — purposefully or inadvertently — to nuclear war. To allay concerns of arms racing, Washington should make clear to Moscow and Beijing that it prefers to negotiate confidence-building and arms control mechanisms with them if they want to.

Rather than the audacious hope of Senator Obama, President Obama’s experience suggests that people seeking the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons need an attitude more like Albert Camus’ Sisyphus, whom “we must imagine happy” as he repeatedly pushes the rock up the hill. This is the Obama that comes through the superb memoir: patient, ironic, steadily trying, and grinning even as he knows that whatever we can accomplish may not be enough.

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George Perkovich is the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Chair and vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Rocket launched from outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

 Streaks of light are seen from Ashkelon as the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel on August 5. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Rocket launched from Gaza after Hamas vows revenge for slain terrorists

Rocket fire comes just two days after two commanders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas were killed in clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin.

A rocket fell in an open area in southern Israel on Saturday evening, setting off sirens in Nahal Oz near the Gaza Strip.

The rocket fire comes just two days after two commanders of local branches of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist groups in Jenin were killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

The two commanders were identified as Nidal Hazem, a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement’s al-Quds Brigades and the commander of the Baha Force unit, and Youssef Shreim, a member of Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades.

A third individual identified as Omar Awadin and a fourth individual identified as Louay Khalil Al-Zaghair were killed amid the clashes as well and 23 others were wounded.

The IDF, Shin Bet and Border Police announced after the raid that they had assassinated Hazem and an additional member of the Islamic Jihad movement named Youssef Abu Ashrin.

According to the IDF, Hazem was involved in “significant terrorist activity” and Abu Ashrin was involved in producing explosives and firing at IDF soldiers, among other terrorist activity.

One of the other Palestinians killed was shot by Israeli forces after attacking the forces with a sledgehammer, according to the IDF. Israeli forces fired at a number of Palestinians who shot at them during the raid as well. No Israeli personnel were injured.

Hamas: Israeli crimes will not go unanswered

After the raid on Thursday, Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou warned that “The crime of assassinating the heroes of the resistance in Jenin will not go unanswered, and our people and its resistance are capable of striking the occupation and making it pay the price for its crimes.”

“The Palestinian resistance in the West Bank will remain present and escalating, and no one will be able to stop its expansion or prevent it from responding to the crimes of the occupation.”

Israel and the Palestinian Authority are set to hold a meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday in an attempt to lower tensions ahead of the month of Ramadan which is set to begin in the middle of the week.

Late last month, Israel and the PA held talks to reduce tensions in Aqaba.

On Friday evening, a Palestinian identified as Yazan Omar Khasib was shot and killed after attempting to stab an IDF soldier near Beitin.

This is a developing story.

Hamas supports escalating resistance outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

UAE Pavilion advertises the 2023 conference in Dubai on the final day of the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference, held by UNFCCC in Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center [Dominika Zarzycka/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

Sharm El-Sheikh summit: Hamas supports escalating resistance against occupation

March 18, 2023 at 11:09 am | Published in: Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas announced on Friday that it advocates escalating resistance against the Israeli occupation, which has intensified its crimes against Palestinians, Al-Resalah newspaper reported.

This came in press remarks delivered by senior Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouq, who stressed that the Sharm El-Sheikh meeting plans to rein in Palestinian resistance.

Regarding European and US efforts to de-escalate Israeli violations against Palestinians, Abu Marzouq criticised: “The Europeans do not take practical measures to pressure the Israeli occupation to stop its crimes.”

He commented on the security coordination between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Israeli occupation: “The security coordination is based on passing information about the Palestinian resistance to the occupation. The Palestinian Authority should know that coordination with the Palestinians is more important than security coordination with the Israeli occupation.”

Abu Marzouq indicated that his movement supports hunger striker Khader Adnan, who has been under illegal administrative detention inside Israeli jails.

Regarding his visit to Moscow, Abu Marzouq said the two sides discussed the latest developments concerning Palestine and the Israeli occupation forces, as well as the escalating crimes of colonial settlers in the occupied West Bank under the cover of the extremist Israeli government.