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Hamas official says Yarmouk camp bombed again

Terror group reports casualties in Tuesday’s bombardment; PLO said to be in talks with Assad regime to provide refugees safe passage

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 2, 2015. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 2, 2015. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)
  • US President Barack Obama being interviewed by NPR, in a video posted online on April 7, 2015. (screen capture: YouTube)
    US President Barack Obama being interviewed by NPR, in a video posted online on April 7, 2015. (screen capture: YouTube)
  • Israelis hike in the Nahal Arugot valley, in the Dead Sea region, during the 8-day long vacation of the Jewish holiday of Passover, April 5, 2015. (Photo credit: Edi Israel/FLASH90)
    Israelis hike in the Nahal Arugot valley, in the Dead Sea region, during the 8-day long vacation of the Jewish holiday of Passover, April 5, 2015. (Photo credit: Edi Israel/FLASH90)
  • Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari holds a press conference in Tehran (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)
    Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari holds a press conference in Tehran (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)
  • Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky (photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak/File)
    Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky (photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak/File)
  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) holds hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) as they walk during an official welcoming ceremony following the latter's arrival at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran on April 7, 2015 (Photo credit: Atta Kenare/AFP)
    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) holds hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) as they walk during an official welcoming ceremony following the latter's arrival at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran on April 7, 2015 (Photo credit: Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Tuesday told members of parliament that the country will not allow world powers to monitor its nuclear installations through cameras.

Meanwhile the Lausanne agreement won an expression of support from Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of Iran’s hard-line Revolutionary Guards. Jafari said the deal “defends the rights” of the Iranian nation.

In Syria, the refugees remaining in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp suffered bombings again on Tuesday afternoon, according to Hamas officials.

The Times of Israel blogged events as they unfolded.

Obama: If Iran tries to develop nukes under deal, US ‘will have more insight’ and will be able to act

US President Barack Obama says in an interview with NPR that the nuclear deal with Iran would “purchase” for the US assurances that Iran cannot break out to a bomb within less than a year.

His main concern, however, is that “in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero,” adds Obama.

By that time, however, “we will have much better ideas about what it is that their program involves. We will have much more insight into their capabilities.

“The option of a future president to take action if, in fact, they try to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Obama continues, would be “undiminished.”

‘World better with Iran deal even if regime does not reform’

Ideally, the US would like to see the Iranian regime change its behavior with the reduction of sanctions under a future deal, says Obama in an interview with NPR, “but if it doesn’t change, we are so much better if we have this deal in place than if we don’t.

“It is possible,” continues Obama, “that if we sign this nuclear deal, we strengthen the hand of [the] more moderate forces inside of Iran,” and not the hardliners.

“The deal,” he adds, “is not dependent on anticipating” that the ayatollah regime reform. “If they don’t change at all, we’re still better off having the deal.”

‘Zarif says Iran won’t allow cameras in nuke facilities’

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and head of Iran’s atomic agency Ali Akbar Salehi held a closed discussion with Iranian parliament members this week, where they presented the details of the framework nuclear agreement reached in Lausanne last week.

According to NRG, one of the members of parliament revealed that Zarif clarified that Tehran will allow no security cameras in any of its nuclear facilities. Zarif reportedly explained this as the need to protect the identity of its nuclear scientists, after a chief researcher was assassinated last year.

Another participant in the discussion, NRG reports, said that Zarif was planning to publish an Iranian version of the Lausanne understandings following Iran’s displeasure with US statements regarding the deal, and especially the question of sanctions.

Iraqi MP says peshmerga ‘took revenge’ against farmers

An Iraqi member of parliament accuses Kurdish forces of acts of revenge in areas retaken from the Islamic State in the region of Nineveh, Israel Radio reports.

Abdel Rahman a-Shumari says Kurdish peshmerga forces destroyed 7,000 homes and heavily damaged the property of residents of approximately 40 villages. Shumari also says Kurdish fighters are preventing farmers from returning to their land.

French ex-mayor commits suicide before trial

The former French mayor of Tours, due to take the stand in a corruption case involving fake Chinese wedding trips in the picturesque Loire valley city, killed himself before the trial opened, authorities said Tuesday.

Jean Germain, 67, seen as a close ally of President Francois Hollande, was found dead near his house, according to a police source.

He left a suicide note, saying he was being prosecuted “for political reasons,” something he found “unbearable.

“You can be sure that I never embezzled a centime, that I did not take any money, that I always worked for what I believed to be in the best interests of the people of Tours,” the note read.

A visibly moved Hollande described the suicide as a “terrible tragedy” and hailed Germain as a “great elected official.”

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was “overwhelmed” by the news, adding: “I have lost a friend.”

— AFP

Dutch soccer fans chant about burning Jews

A Dutch soccer club is working to identify fans who chanted anti-Semitic slogans about the Holocaust during a match with a rival team from Amsterdam.

The chants were documented on Sunday at Galgenwaard Stadium in Utrecht, a city situated 40 miles southeast of the Dutch capital Amsterdam, during an honor division match between Amsterdam’s Ajax team and FC Utrecht, the De Telegraaf daily reported.

Utrecht supporters chanted the slogans to insult rival fans, whom they often call “Jews” because of the historical Jewish presence in Amsterdam, which is sometimes colloquially called “Mokum” after the Yiddish word for “place.”

During the match, dozens could be seen and heard chanting: “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews cause Jews burn the best” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” The chanting went on for several minutes, according to The Post Online news website.

Ronny Naftaniel, a prominent Dutch Jewish anti-discrimination activist, called on Ajax to stop future matches featuring anti-Semitic chants.

“When will Ajax players walk off the field? Take action against anti-Semitism,” wrote Naftaniel, who is the executive vice chairperson of CEJI, a Brussels-based Jewish organization promoting tolerance through education.

The song about the SS was authored by hardcore FC Utrecht fans who are known as the Bunnikside, the daily newspaper Het Parool reported.

FC Utrecht said in a statement it is investigating suspected chanters and vowed to punish those identified.

— JTA

New IS clip shows beheading of four robbers

Islamic State decapitated four people accused of robbery and murder, in front of a large crowd in Nineveh, AFP reports.

The undated video is presumably intended to prove that the Sunni group is still capable of imposing its rule in northern Iraq despite recent military setbacks. IS was recently driven from Tikrit by Iraqi government forces and their allies.

The video shows a masked man reading, facing a crowd gathered on the square of a city, the verdict of the “Islamic court of the State of Nineveh.” A masked executioner then decapitates the four convicts, and their bodies are piled into the back of a pick-up vehicle.

AFP contributed to this report.

 

Report: Revolutionary Guards chief backs nuclear talks

Iranian state television is reporting that the chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards has offered his support to Iranian nuclear negotiators.

The reported comments by Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari come as some 200 hardliners protested Tuesday against the framework deal struck last week between Iran and six world powers.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammad Al Jafari (photo credit: screen capture, YouTube)

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari (screen capture: YouTube)

State TV’s website quoted Jafari as saying: “With God’s grace, the revolutionary children of Islamic Iran have succeeded in defending the rights of the Iranian nation and the Iranian nation and the Guard appreciate their honest political efforts.”

He also said Iran as a nation supported the diplomatic efforts.

The Revolutionary Guards is the single-most powerful institution in Iran. It exerts a strong behind-the-scenes role in Iranian affairs.

— AP

Baseej commander reportedly says ‘someone lying about Iran deal’

Journalist Amir Taheri quotes the commander of the Baseej as saying ‘someone is lying’ about the Lausanne understandings:

https://twitter.com/AmirTaheri4/status/585427758618120192

The Baseej is a paramilitary organization formed after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. General Naqdi has been commander of the Baseej since October 2009.

Iran approved to join China-backed bank

Iran has been approved as a founding member of the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China’s finance ministry says, just days after Tehran sealed a historic framework agreement on its nuclear program.

Tehran’s application was backed by other founding members on Friday, China’s Ministry of Finance says in a statement on its website. The United Arab Emirates’ bid was also approved.

More than 50 countries, plus Taiwan, have now applied to join the bank in a diplomatic coup for Beijing after Washington initially opposed its allies becoming members.

The United States and its Asian ally Japan have not sought to join.

— AFP

Rand Paul ready to join 2016 US presidential campaign

Senator Rand Paul, a favorite of the ultraconservative Tea Party movement and frequent antagonist of Republican Party leaders, is ready to declare his candidacy for US president.

Paul, a first-term senator for Kentucky, is set to begin his White House campaign on Tuesday, kicking off the presidential run with a rally in his home state. Paul begins the 2016 race as the second fully declared candidate, behind Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but he could face as many as 20 rivals for the Republican nomination before the primary process starts in January.

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky (photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak/File)

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky (photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak, File)

Two other Republicans considered early front-runners — former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker — are expected to soon enter the race. Whoever becomes the Republican nominee is widely expected to face Hillary Rodham Clinton, the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination, in the general election. The former secretary of state is expected to announce her candidacy in the next two weeks.

— AP

Saudi envoy to US: If Houthis won’t surrender, we’ll destroy them

Saudi Arabia says the military operation against Houthi rebels in Yemen is going well and that many strategically important Houthi bases were destroyed, including ones containing ballistic missiles that were aimed at Saudi Arabia, Israel Radio reports.

Earlier, Saudi Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir told CNN that if the Iran-backed Shiite rebels do not surrender they will be emaciated. Jubeir insisted that the fight in Yemen is not a war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, but confirmed that Iran was supporting the rebels financially and with arms shipments.

The Saudi envoy added that the kingdom was still weighing the possibility of a ground incursion into Yemen and that his country will do whatever is necessary to defend itself.

Open petition calls on Iran to ‘keep the right’ to annul deal

Not only US lawmakers want oversight of any future Iran deal.

Journalist Amir Taheri tweets that Iranian academics published an open petition calling on the country to “keep the right” to cancel the deal if it fails to protect Iran’s “national interests”:

Steinitz says US backing won’t help if Iran gets nukes

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz tells Channel 2 that the US president’s statements of support for Israel “sound good and are pleasing,” but added that “no assistance and no backing up will help if Iran acquires nuclear weapons.”

Obama told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in a video interview on Sunday that he would consider it a “fundamental failure” of his presidency if Israel emerges weakened from an agreement between world powers and Iran.

Prisoner commits suicide in Ayalon Prison

A 24-year-old prisoner who was serving a six-year prison term for sexual offenses committed suicide by jumping from the second floor of Ayalon Prison.

Israel Prison Service guards and Magen David Adom paramedics tried to resuscitate him but were forced to pronounce him dead. The man began serving out his sentence in 2011.

A commission to examine the incident was established at the IPS, Ynet reports.

More bombings on Yarmouk, say Hamas officials

Hamas officials say the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus was bombed again this afternoon and that there are casualties on the scene, Israel Radio reports.

PLO officials continue discussions with Syrian authorities to create a safe passage allowing refugees to escape the camp, the station reports.

Iran, Turkey agree on need to stop Yemen war

Turkey and Iran agree on the need for a political solution to Yemen’s civil war, which has raised tensions between them, Iran’s president says after talks with his visiting Turkish counterpart.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) holds hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) as they walk during an official welcoming ceremony following the latter's arrival at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran on April 7, 2015 (Photo credit: Atta Kenare/AFP)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (R) holds hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) as they walk during an official welcoming ceremony following the latter’s arrival at the Saadabad Palace in Tehran on April 7, 2015 (Photo credit: Atta Kenare/AFP)

The two countries are at odds over Yemen. Ankara has accused Tehran of backing Shiite Houthi rebels there and, in turn, was charged with fueling tensions in the region.

“We talked about Iraq, Syria, Palestine… We had a long discussion about Yemen. We both think war and bloodshed must stop in this area immediately and a complete ceasefire must be established and the strikes must stop” in Yemen, Iran’s Hassan Rouhani says during a joint press conference broadcast by state television.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan made no remarks about Yemen, but talked at length about bilateral relations with Iran.

Netanyahu tweet echoes Zarif’s dilemmas

When will sanctions on Iran be lifted, and how?

On this question, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Iranian foreign minister find themselves in a rare moment of agreement:

https://twitter.com/IsraeliPM/status/585479735897010177

Jewish graves vandalized in Polish town

Several tombstones were desecrated at a Jewish cemetery in southern Poland.

The vandalism occurred recently in Olkusz, a town located 25 miles northwest of Krakow, according to a report released Monday on the Facebook page of the Monitoring Centre for Racist and Xenophobic Behavior, a Polish nongovernmental watchdog.

The group presented three photos of the desecrated headstones on its page. One showed a pentagram — a five-pointed star that is a Christian symbol sometimes associated with Satanism — painted on a gravestone. Smashed headstones can be seen in the background.
In its report on the incident, the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism said dozens of headstones were destroyed in Olkusz.

Another headstone had the name Jan Pawel — the Polish name of Pope John Paul II — spray-painted on it.
There are no suspects in the case.

The Jews of Olkusz were deported to Auschwitz in 1942, and most perished there, according to the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Two years earlier, German troops gathered all the men in the town square and murdered one of them after humiliating and beating the rest. The July 31 incident in 1940 was known locally as “Bloody Wednesday.”

The troops posed to have their pictures taken with local Jewish men, including Rabbi Moshe Yitzchak Hagerman, who is seen standing barefoot while donning a prayer shawl upon which the soldiers had urinated. In the photograph, he is seen standing over at least six Jews who were forced to lie on the pavement at the feet of the smiling German troops.

Hagerman was murdered in 1942 in Majdanek.

— JTA

WH issues clarification on Iran breakout time

Channel 2 reports that the White House issued a correction to clarify President Obama’s comments during an interview with NPR, in which he said Iran could break out to nuclear weapons almost immediately 13-15 years from when an agreement is signed.

In the interview, the president said that in “13, 14, 15” years from a moment a deal is signed the breakout time would be reduced “almost to zero.”

Later on in the interview, Obama said “Keep in mind, though, currently, the breakout times are only about two to three months… so essentially, we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year… that — that if they decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we’d have over a year to respond.”

According to Channel 2 foreign affairs analyst Arad Nir, who asked the White House for a clarification, “if a deal is not signed, at the end of the period of 13-14-15 years, Iran will be able to build a bomb any time it wants.

“Thanks to the deal, it will take Iran another year. And the US president at the time will be able to decide how to react,” he added.

French minister backs Muslim demand for more mosques

A French minister echoes the words of a French Muslim leader calling to build more mosques in the republic.

Thierry Mandon, a minister in charge of implementing reforms, says that the lack of “decent” places of worship is partly to blame for the radicalization among some of France’s Muslims.

“There aren’t enough mosques in France,” Mandon says on a news broadcast. “There are still too many towns where the Muslim religion is practiced in conditions that are not decent.”

Read the full story here.

Khamenei says Erdogan ‘doesn’t see ISIS as Muslims’

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei tweets a picture of him sitting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from their meeting today. Shi’ite Khamenei claims Sunni Erdogan told him he does not “see ISIS,” the older acronym for Islamic State, as real Muslims.

https://twitter.com/khamenei_ir/status/585502743030341632

France declassifies Rwanda genocide documents

France on Tuesday declassified documents in the presidential archives relating to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which Kigali accuses Paris of having an indirect role.

A decision to declassify the papers was signed on Tuesday and concern “documents in the Elysee relating to Rwanda between 1990 and 1995,” a source in President Francois Hollande’s entourage said.

— AFP

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