- Palestinian President Abbas: Future Palestinian state to be cleansed of all Israelis; Analysts: He means "Jews"
- NYT: Obama: Weapons transfers to Hezbollah "unusual and extraordinary threat" to U.S. national security
- Iranian Brigadier General blames Israel for violence in Muslim world, declares Israel should be destroyed to create peace
- Hamas holds secret meetings to strengthen ties with Iran and Hezbollah
What we’re watching today:
- Reuters reports on statements made by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas committing to cleansing a future Palestinian state of any Israelis living there. Speaking to a crowd of journalists in Egypt, Abbas declared that "In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands." The comments have received a poor reception in Israel, with Israeli politicians, according to the Jerusalem Post, "inferring Israel's negotiating partner is anti-Semitic." Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Monday began preliminary peace talks, after a series of Israeli concessions proved sufficient to bring the Palestinians back to the table. Abbas's comments regarding evicting Israelis come in the aftermath of comments made by President Barack Obama calling on both sides to negotiate "in good faith." They echo nearly identical statements Abbas has made as far back as 2010. Analysts have emphasized that "the term 'Israeli' used by Abbas means 'Jew,' as the PA sees Israeli Arabs, Muslims and Christians alike as an integral part of the Palestinian people."
- President Barack Obama on Monday described weapons transfers to Hezbollah as an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." The evaluation came as part of a letter sent to Congress in which the president extended for one additional year a freeze on the assets of individuals who are linked to activities that undermine Lebanese stability. Israel has committed to acting militarily in order to block weapons transfers to the Iran-backed terror group, and Obama has backed the Jewish state in enforcing those commitments. U.S. counterterrorism officials have been increasingly explicit in accusing the Iran-backed terror group of destabilizing Lebanon. Hezbollah's activities in Syria - where its assistance has enabled the Bashar al-Assad regime to steadily erode two years of rebel gains - have been blasted by U.S. officials for "exacerbating instability... and creating spillover into Lebanon, causing instability there as well."
- Iranian state media reported yesterday on statements made by Iranian Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi in which the powerful Iranian official - Naqdi is the commander of the Basij paramilitary force - 'noted that regional tranquility is achieved only by the destruction of Israel.'Specifically, FARS quoted Naqdi declaring that "the Zionist regime will also become a part of history" and that "plots hatched in the Muslim countries are masterminded and directed by Israel." Lame duck Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad often calls for the eradication of the Jewish state, as do other Iranian officials. Last March the regime held anniversary celebrations for the first "Beit al Moghaddas" operation, which saw Iran take the city of Khorramshahr from Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. Esmail Kowsari, a member of the National Security and Foreign Policy Parliamentary Commission, spoke on the occasion and explained that the purpose of the operation was actually to "destroy Israel" and that "the operation continues... [with] Israel's destruction as the goal." Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last year that Israel is a "cancerous tumor that should be cut and will be cut."
- Hamas is moving to restore its relations with Iran and with the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, according to reports published today in Arabic and Russian media outlets. High-level delegates from the Palestinian terror organization reportedly met last month in Beirut with Iranian and Hezbollah officials. The meetings were aimed at rebuilding ties, which have been strained by sectarian violence in Syria that has pitted the Shiite-backed Bashar al-Assad regime against Sunni groups and states. Recent months have seen a steep decline in Hamas's strategic and diplomatic standing. The slide was accelerated by the removal from power of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-linked government, the empowerment of which had been seen as a boon to Hamas. An article published early last week by Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, concluded that Hamas was "at the most vulnerable point it has been in years."
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