- The Daily Beast: Iranian-American fashion designer imprisoned, flogged for attending mixed-gender party
Former peace negotiator Aaron David Miller revealed the real obstacles to a two-state solution in a Wall Street Journal piece Tuesday—debunking the myth that settlements are the sole roadblock. Higher priority issues include lack of leadership and lack of appetite for another failed state in the Middle East.
Miller cast Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “weak and constrained,” and noted that Abbas “asserts positions in negotiations that few Israeli governments could accept and presides over a Palestinian Authority that rewards terror and violence.” The Palestinian Authority also does not control Gaza—an unavoidable sticking point given that one of the tenants of statehood is being able to hold a monopoly over violence. But no Palestinian power can successfully police a state.
“Regional circumstances have rarely been worse for a deal. Three Arab states – Syria, Libya and Yemen – are now melting down, and a fourth, Iraq, is severely challenged,” he wrote, adding that “a weak or failing Palestinian state would carry negative security implications for Egypt and Jordan as well as Israel.”
While the veteran peace negotiator also pointed to Israel’s flaws, he made clear that no peace can be achieved prior to holding the Palestinians accountable for their own actions and society.
The terrorist group Hamas boasted on its website Tuesday that its operatives had killed 17 Israelis and wounded 437 more in a total of 332 attacks in 2016.
The leader of the Islamist group, Khaled Meshaal, said in Istanbul last week that Hamas “is smuggling weapons and digging tunnels in Gaza to prepare for a confrontation with [Israel], which will taste its woes on the edge of the Gaza Strip.” Meshaal also praised the anti-Israel United Nations Security Council resolution passed on December 23, which called Israel’s presence in territory beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including the Old City of Jerusalem, a “flagrant violation of international law.” He thanked “everyone who condemned Israeli settlements,” but said that the resolution alone was “not enough.”
The Israel Defense Forces said last month that Hamas is intensifying efforts to surveil Israeli communities by the Gaza border, which the military believes will be targeted for kidnapping attacks in the event of a future conflict.
Hamas spends some $40 million of its $100 million military budget on building tunnel construction, according to Israeli and Palestinian sources. An Israeli official estimated in July that Hamas digs some six miles of tunnels every month.
Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, formerly the head of the research division of Israeli military intelligence and later the director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told reporters in May of last year that the tunnels were a sign that Hamas is preparing for another war against Israel. “They definitely invest a lot in making the necessary preparations so that in the next round, when they decide to start it, they will be able to inflict the heaviest damage on Israel, including through those tunnels,” he said.
When Tala Raassi, an Iranian-American fashion designer, attended a mixed-sex party in Tehran where American music was played in 1998, she was imprisoned and flogged by the Iranian regime, journalist Miranda Frum wrote in The Daily Beast on Monday. For her “crime,” Raassi received 40 lashes and was imprisoned for five days in a rat- and cockroach-infested cell.
Raassi told Frum of a torture chamber at the prison: “We would hear screams coming out of there all day. During the call to prayer, which happens five times a day, the guards would line us up. They would tell us we were about to be lashed and then make us sit down and wait. Then nothing would happen. It was mental torture. You had no idea what was going on. At night time you would hear the sounds of women being raped. Sometimes they were raped with glass Coca Cola bottles.”
Rassii, whose designs include bikinis for the Miss Universe competition, affirmed, “Freedom is not about the amount of clothing you put on or take off, but about having the choice to do either.”
Such strict laws still apply in Iran, where 120 people were arrested last month during a raid on a mixed-gender party. More than 30 people people were arrested at a graduation ceremony last year in northern Iran and sentenced to 99 lashes each.
Iran arrested several “Instagram models” around the same time in May for posting photos to social media without headscarves. The previous October, two Iranian poets were also sentenced to 99 lashes each in addition to jail sentences for shaking hands with the opposite sex.
Politico reported Tuesday that lawmakers in both chambers are advancing plans to denounce the United Nations Security Council’s recent vote—a one-sided measure which condemned all Israeli presence past the 1949 armistice lines, including Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall. The measure drew criticism for thwarting peace negotiations from top gurus such as former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren and famed legal expert Alan Dershowitz.