US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, during a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, accused Iran of pursuing a policy of aggressive, destabilizing and unlawful behavior, which violated several UN Security Council resolutions. Ambassador Haley further pointed to the incompetence of the international body, which she declared “turns a blind eye” to the outrageous conduct of the Islamic Republic, allowing Tehran to “play the council.” Ambassador Haley further warned that Iran’s conduct continues to indicate that it will soon become “another North Korea,” stressing that “it cannot consistently violate international law and still be considered “a fit and trusted members of the international community.” She said, “When a rogue regime starts down the path of ballistic missiles, it tells us that we will soon have another North Korea on our hands. If it is wrong for North Korea to do this, why doesn’t that same mentality apply to Iran. With our decision to take a comprehensive approach to confronting the Iranian regime, the United States will not turn a blind eye to these violations. We have made it clear the regime cannot have it both ways. It cannot consistently violate international law and still be considered a fit and trusted member of the international community,” Haley asserted.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia came to the aid of Moscow’s regional ally, accusing his American counterpart of changing the subject of the council’s intended discussion topics, ‘including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’, to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which is the nuclear agreement with Iran. He said, “Mr. President, the agenda for the meeting today is the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question. Well at least this is what the paper I have in front of me states. At the same time the statements made by some of the delegations today so far make me question that. Perhaps they did confuse the agenda item they were speaking on and they thought what we were discussing today is the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 5+1. We are ready to address this issue and I think we and not just us, we have questions to other delegations about how they implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the Russian ambassador stressed, voicing his dissatisfaction of the council’s shift of focus to Iran’s ongoing violations.
While the council provided a platform for international and regional powers to voice their position on the allegations against Iran, no council members have proposed taking any action against the Islamic Republic as diplomats explained to TV7 that Russia and China, which are veto-power-members of the powerful council, were unlikely to agree to any additional measures against the regime in Tehran.
Syria’s military chief of staff Ali Ayoub, in a meeting in Damascus with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Baqeri, praised the “efforts and sacrifices” made by the Islamic Republic, which among other international players, helped President Bashar Assad’s regime remain in power. General Ayoub said, “The great efforts and sacrifices made by them (Iran) are honored and appreciated,” he declared. With regard to the skirmish that took place earlier this week between Syrian and Israeli forces, when a Syrian SA-5 anti-aircraft battery was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force, that after the battery launched a missile toward Israeli fighter-jets on a reconnaissance mission over neighboring Lebanon, Syria’s military Chief declared that anyone who attacks Syria’s sovereignty will be confronted with an iron fist no matter who they are or whoever their supporters might be. He said, “We will not allow anyone, whoever they are and whoever their supporters are, to mess with these principles,” the Syrian Chief of staff warned.
During the joint press conference, the Iranian top military official declared that the Islamic Republic of Iran would not accept Israel’s violations of Syrian sovereignty, emphasizing that Iran’s military will stand by the Syrian armed forces to confront such threats. General Baqeri said, “It’s not acceptable for the Zionist regime to violate the land and airspace of Syria anytime it wants. We, in Iran, share the same feeling with the Syrian military and people who get frustrated and upset with such aggression and we will stand side by Syrian military and nation against such threats,” the Iranian military chief of staff declared.
In response to the Iranian threat directed at the Jewish state, the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman indicated that the IDF would not be deterred from continuing its policy of thwarting Iranian attempts to transport sophisticated weapons in Syria to its proxies, including the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. Lieberman noted, during a tour of the West Bank region of Binyamin, that Iran was undoubtedly attempting to spread its control into Syria and establish a military presence in a quest to become the dominant regional power – an aspiration the Israeli top defense official emphasized “is unacceptable to Israel.”
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced that he intends to encourage Israeli citizens to carry weapons for their personal safety, stressing that the move is necessary in light of the recent Palestinian reconciliation agreement between the West Bank-based Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas. Minister Erdan, who inaugurated a new firearms licensing bureau in central Israel, went on to underline that the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been inciting to violence by paying the families of Palestinians who commit acts of terror against Israelis, has now shown his true face by seeking unity with an outright and armed terrorist group that openly calls for Israel’s destruction. With regard to the Israeli security cabinet’s decision not to negotiate with the Palestinian unity government, which Hamas is a part of, Minister Erdan declared that so long as the Islamist Hamas organization continues to promote terror against Israel, the Jewish state cannot, and will not, negotiate with a terrorist government.
A senior Palestinian official rejected the decision by Israel’s security cabinet, accusing Prime Minister Netanyahu of seeking “new excuses meant to lead negotiations to a deadlock, since Israel has never wanted the West Bank to reconnect with Gaza.” That said, while the Israeli security cabinet announced its decision about practically boycotting the Palestinian unity government, the Palestinian official stressed that all political negotiations and signed agreements were always conducted with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which the official stressed was “the Palestinian people’s only recognized and legitimate representative.” That is why, the Palestinian official declared the Israeli security cabinet’s decision as “populist by nature, which does not have any basis for delaying the US-brokered peace process,” aimed at ending the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, during which Netanyahu emphasized Israel’s position, in which it will not tolerate an Iranian military presence in its northern neighbor, Syria. The meeting with the Russian Defense Minister came just one day after the Israeli air force destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft SA-5 battery that Israel said had fired a missile at its fighter-jets while they were on a reconnaissance mission over neighboring Lebanon. Russia, which is the key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, intervened in the Syrian civil war in 2015, joining a de facto alliance with Iranian forces, the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, as well as other Shi’ite Muslim militias assisting Damascus in its efforts to defeat the Islamic State and other Sunni Muslim insurgent groups. Meanwhile, Israel fears an anticipated victory by the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad could leave Iran with a permanent garrison in Syria, extending a threat posed from neighboring Lebanon by the Iranian-proxy Hezbollah.
Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official told TV7 that the reason behind Israel’s continuous attempts to receive Russian assurances with regard to the future of Syria resides in the fact that the United States, Israel’s closest ally, has not established a strategy with regard to the Iranian threat in the war-torn-country, continuing to maintain its position – even after President Trump announced a strategy on the Islamic Republic – that its only focus in Syria is to eradicate the Islamic State. The official’s statement was confirmed by both American and Russian sources who referred to a phone conversation that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held with his Russian Counterpart Sergei Lavrov some nine days ago, in which the American top diplomat provided Moscow with assurances that Washington’s only goal in Syria, begins and ends with the aim of eradicating the Islamic State. Lavrov said with regard to the conversation, “The last time we talked over the phone, on October 9, Rex Tillerson has once again given assurances that Washington’s only goal in Syria is fighting Islamic State, nothing else. If that’s the case then it won’t be difficult to dispel doubts of our military staff and I hope concrete answers to concrete questions will be professionally presented,” the Russian top diplomat said during a press conference.
Israel’s security cabinet passed a resolution declaring that Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations would not resume so long as the Islamist Hamas organization did not disarm, recognize Israel, forswore terror as stated in the conditions of the Quartet, return the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers and return Israeli civilians who are currently held captive in the Gaza Strip. The security cabinet resolution was made in response to the reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo last week. According to the security cabinet resolution, “The Israeli government will not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a Palestinian government that relies on Hamas, a terror organization that calls for Israel’s destruction, as long as the (Israeli) conditions are not met.”
In the course of the meetings, the security cabinet heard briefings from representatives of the IDF, the Internal Security Services and the Mossad Intelligence Agency, during which the security officials made it clear to the ministers that despite the Palestinian reconciliation agreement, which determined that administrative and civilian responsibility for the Gaza Strip would be turned over to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, the chances of genuine reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas were very slim.
An Israeli official explained to TV7 that Israel could not accept a situation in which, on the one hand, Hamas were to join the Palestinian government while on the other hand, it would continue to hold weapons and manufacture rockets that would be used against the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, in response to the security cabinet resolution, the Islamist Hamas organization rejected the Israeli announcement accusing Jerusalem of meddling in a Palestinian domestic matter. Hamas officials stressed that all Palestinians, no matter who, must not accept the Israeli resolution and should respond by continuing to strengthen the internal Palestinian front and completing the reconciliation process.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, released a statement saying, “the Israeli distinctions will not change the official Palestinian position which seeks to move forward with the reconciliation efforts, so as to bring about the end of the occupation and establish a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces raised flags in Al-Naeem Square in what was the former capital of the Islamic State in Syria, the city of Raqqa. Even though war monitors declared the Islamic State as “completely cleared from the city,” the US military stated that there are about 100 Islamic State fighters still in the embattled city. US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon said, Specifically in Raqqa, with the number of those that have recently surrendered, we estimate there to be perhaps about a 100 ISIS fighters that, you know, could remain in Raqqa. We have not, you know, seen much or heard of much reports of contact since the SDF reassumed their advance into the city after the civilians came out. But we still expect there to be, you know, remnants of ISIS in the city. And we expect there to be pockets of ISIS fighters there, he said. Colonel Dillon further noted that the main challenge at the moment is to deal with clearing all of the explosives and booby traps that were left behind by the Islamic State, to assure a safe environment for Syrian families that are keen on returning to their abandoned homes.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, declared the fighting was over and that the alliance has begun clearing the city’s stadium of mines and remaining Islamic State militants.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman declared that the state of Israel occupies only two percent of the West Bank and that Israeli settlements on what the international community defines as disputed territories, are part of the Jewish state proper. The American diplomat further stated that there are important security considerations to those Jewish settlements, which have important nationalistic, historical and religious significance attached to them, while pointing to the fact that the Jewish settlers of those settlements view themselves as Israelis and Israel in-turn views the settlers as Israelis as well, which clearly establishes a permanent reality on the ground. That said, Ambassador Friedman – who earlier this month referred to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories as “alleged” – refrained from answering when asked if settlements would be removed in a final peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the statements by Ambassador Friedman angered the Palestinian leadership, declaring the American diplomat as “delusional.” Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat released a statement, calling Friedman’s comments “false and misleading.” Erekat further warned in his statement that “such positions undermine ongoing efforts toward achieving a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine,” based on 1967 borders.
Erekat’s statement was echoed by other top Palestinian officials, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ aide Nabil Shaath, accusing the ambassador of displaying “absolute ignorance of facts of law and of the position of the United States.”
It is important to note that the Palestinians, along with most of the international community including Washington, view Israel’s West Bank settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel, on the other hand, disputes the claim of illegal conduct, emphasizing that the fate of the Jewish settlements, which are located on Jewish biblical lands, must be resolved through direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the terror attack in the village of Har Adar earlier this week, stressing that violent acts of any kind were unacceptable. In an interview with the Voice of Palestine radio, President Abbas’ Bureau Chief Nabil Abu Rudeineh stressed that the Palestinian leader “condemns any act of violence, including the one a few days ago,” even though he stopped short from specifically mentioning Har Adar, where a Palestinian man shot and killed three Israelis, including one border police officer and two security guards. The comments by the Bureau Chief of President Abbas came two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the Palestinian leader to condemn the attack and avoid justifying the act of terror. Netanyahu also reiterated his accusation against the Palestinian leadership of ongoing incitement, which provides tail wind to Palestinians with murderous intent.
Ahead of the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur in Hebrew, orthodox and religious Jews performed their traditional rituals, which they believe replaced the biblical ones at the Temples, including the waving of chickens over their heads or emptying their pockets into a stream of water, which they believe would provide them atonement for their sins. The waving of a chicken over their heads is called ‘Kapparot’, in which orthodox Jews believe the act would pass their sins onto the animal. Itzhak Endavid, an ultra-orthodox Jewish worshiper said, “What we do is called Kapparot, why we do it is because we’ve sinned and because we’ve sinned, we give over our sins to the chickens and we slaughter the chickens and they go to poor people to tell us that what happened to the chickens, they slaughtered, should really happen to us, we should be slaughtered but we give it over to the chickens and we know then to repent,” he explained.
In Tel Aviv, some orthodox Jews performed a ceremony called ‘Tashlich’, where people empty their pockets into a running source of water, symbolically casting their sins out to the sea.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed, together with the Mexican Ambassador to Israel, the Israeli military delegation that returned from Mexico, where they assisted local rescue teams following the devastating earthquake that hit Mexico City. The Mexican Ambassador, in an address to the delegation, thanked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel’s immediate response to help the Mexican people, who showed their devotion and the true friendship between Mexico and Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the opportunity to stress that when the world faces cruelty of nature that leads to disasters, the time comes for humanity to join hands in helping one-another. The Prime Minister asserted, “We know that when nature becomes cruel comes a time for humanity. When facing natural disasters, the nations, or at least the enlightened nations, join hands and in this test the state of Israel and the IDF pass with great success,” he declared. Netanyahu hailed Israel’s quick response and dedication, pointing to the fact that the Israeli delegation was the first international rescue team to arrive in Mexico and the last to leave the disaster stricken area.