Administration grants Iran exemptions to new visa rules


On Thursday the administration announced that it would waive new visa requirements, on a case-by-case basis, for individuals who traveled to Iran and Iraq for “legitimate business-related purposes.” Congress passed a law in December that requires visas for visitors to the US who are dual citizens of or who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan since 2011. The bill, signed by President Barack Obama, grants the Secretary of Homeland Security the power to waive the visa requirement on the basis of US national security interests. On Thursday, when pressed by a reporter, Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner acknowledged that the new exception for Iran is not based on US national security interests, but on the desire not to impede business. Secretary of State John Kerry first brought up the possibility of bypassing new congressional regulations by granting Iran business-related exceptions after the Iranian regime warned that the new law would violate the nuclear agreement reached last July.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and other lawmakers have decried the administration’s decision to grant Iran an exception to the new rules, arguing it is an illegitimate use of the national security waiver authority. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) accused the administration of “blatantly breaking the law, a law the President himself signed… He cannot rewrite the law to appease foreign governments.” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) argued that the changes “prioritize the business interests of Iran – the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism – over the safety of the American people.”


A senior member of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party has said that a two-state solution with a Palestinian state in the West Bank with Jerusalem as its capital would just be a “phase” ultimately resulting in a single Palestinian state.“Palestine stretches from the river to the sea,” Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said in an interview Tuesday with the Palestinian news agency Ma’an. “A Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, is just a phase, as far as I am concerned.”“Don’t think that there can be a solution to the Palestinian issue by establishing a state the borders of which are limited to the West Bank and Gaza,” he went on to say. “I challenge any Palestinian to say that the map of Palestine is limited to the West Bank and Gaza.”

In the same interview, Tirawi expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, calling the Nazi leader “daring.” The view that the Palestinians should accept a state in the West Bank and Gaza with an eye towards eventually capturing all of Israel is referred to as the “phased plan” or “phased strategy.”In a 2004 article in Middle East Quarterly, Efraim Karsh, a leading Middle East scholar, explained this strategy:

 This strategy, dating from June 1974, has served as the PLO’s guiding principle ever since. It stipulates that the Palestinians seize whatever territory Israel is prepared or compelled to cede to them and use it as a springboard for further territorial gains until achieving the “complete liberation of Palestine.”

From the very outset of the Oslo process, [PLO leader Yasser] Arafat and his lieutenants viewed the agreements as an implementation of this strategy, not as its abandonment. Arafat said just that as early as September 13, 1993, when he addressed the Palestinians in a pre-recorded Arabic-language message broadcast by Jordanian television, even as he shook Yitzhak Rabin’s hand on the White House lawn. He informed the Palestinians that the Israeli-Palestinian declaration of principles (DOP) was merely the implementation of the PLO’s “phased strategy.” “O my beloved ones,” he explained,

Do not forget that our Palestine National Council accepted the decision in 1974. It called for the establishment of a national authority on any part of Palestinian land that is liberated or from which the Israelis withdrew. This is the fruit of your struggle, your sacrifices, and your jihad … This is the moment of return, the moment of gaining a foothold on the first liberated Palestinian land … Long live Palestine, liberated and Arab.

Arafat wasn’t always so careful to hide his intentions. In a 1994 speech in South Africa, Arafat compared the Oslo Accords to the ten-year agreement Mohammed made with the Quraysh tribe in Mecca. After only two years, Mohammed conquered Mecca, claiming the Quraysh violated the agreement. Tirawi was implicated by Israeli authorities twenty years ago for the murders of several Palestinians who sold land to Jews. (via


Israeli actress Gal Gadot is looking tough and bad-ass in the new teaser for upcoming superheroine film Wonder Woman, set to hit the silver screen in 2017. The Warner Bros. Pictures film is the first in its DC Comics franchise to have a female lead and the first superhero movie directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. The film will tell the story of Amazon princess Diana Prince and how she became a legendary superhero. “Wonder Woman is one of the greatest superheroes out there, but people don’t know her origin like they know Superman’s origin or Batman’s origin,” DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns says on the trailer release. “What we want to do in this film is tell people who she is, where she comes from and why she does what she does.” This short trailer shows Wonder Woman riding horses, battling with a sword and shield, in disguise, and her first introduction to Batman. Jenkins says on the trailer that the “greatest thing about Wonder Woman is how good, and kind, and loving she is; yet none of that negates any of her power.” Wonder Woman is set for release in July 2017. In the meantime, comics fans will get to judge Gadot’s acting abilities as Wonder Woman in the film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, scheduled for release in March. (via Israel21c)


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