SINCE THE RAPTURE OCCURS BEFORE THE FUTURE 7 YR TREATY IS SIGNED, I WONT BE AROUND TO HAVE THE ACTUAL TREATY SIGNING. BUT UNTIL THEN THIS SITE IS DEDICATED TO THE BEGININGS OF THE ISRAELI / ARAB PEACE PROCESS. AND AS CLOSE TO THE 7 YEAR SIGNING THAT WE GET BEFORE THE RAPTURE OF THE SAVED TO HEAVEN. UNTIL WE MEET JESUS IN THE CLOUDS BODILY, AND COME TO EARTH 7 YRS LATER.

Friday, December 29, 2017

TILLERSON OMITS JERUSALEM FROM YEAR END FOREIGN POLICY REVIEW.WHAT IS TILLERSON THINKING.

JEWISH KING JESUS IS COMING AT THE RAPTURE FOR US IN THE CLOUDS-DON'T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD.THE BIBLE TAKEN LITERALLY- WHEN THE PLAIN SENSE MAKES GOOD SENSE-SEEK NO OTHER SENSE-LEST YOU END UP IN NONSENSE.GET SAVED NOW- CALL ON JESUS TODAY.THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WHOLE EARTH - NO OTHER. 1 COR 15:23-JESUS THE FIRST FRUITS-CHRISTIANS RAPTURED TO JESUS-FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT-23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.ROMANS 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.(THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE)

LUKE 21:28-29
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)

JOEL 2:3,30
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)

ZECHARIAH 14:12-13
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)

EZEKIEL 20:47
47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.

ZEPHANIAH 1:18
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

MALACHI 4:1
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE

Tillerson omits Jerusalem from year-end foreign policy review-White House touts recognition of Israel's capital, but country's top diplomat focuses on North Korea, Russia and Iran-By AFP and TOI staff-DEC 28,17

The United States’ top diplomat failed to mention US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or his plan to move the embassy, as he defended his country’s foreign policy record on Wednesday, saying progress had been made in the last year to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and counter the “immense challenges” posed by Russia and Iran.Jerusalem took the lead position in a White House tweet of the president’s accomplishments in 2017.“President Trump followed through on his campaign promise and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. Read more about the President’s first year accomplishments,” the tweet read.President Trump followed through on his campaign promise and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. Read more about the President's first year accomplishments: https://t.co/MmTiv2ssv5 pic.twitter.com/63NCaokbTO— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 26, 2017-In an address earlier this month from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue. He described his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum, but was condemned worldwide. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.In an opinion piece in The New York Times on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ignored the matter entirely and didn’t mention Jerusalem at all.He said some 90 percent of Pyongyang’s export earnings had been cut off by a series of international sanctions after the Trump administration “abandoned the failed policy of strategic patience.”Tensions have escalated dramatically on the Korean peninsula this year after the isolated but nuclear-armed regime staged a series of atomic and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests — and as Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un traded personal insults.Washington wants North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and has spearheaded three rounds of UN sanctions against the isolated regime, restricting crucial exports of coal, iron, seafood and textiles from the cash-starved state.Pyongyang has hit out at those sanctions, calling the latest round “an act of war,” and has vowed to never give up its nuclear program.In his piece, Tillerson said “a door to dialogue remains open” for Pyongyang but warned “until denuclearization occurs, the pressure will continue.”At the same time he called on China — Pyongyang’s only major ally — to “do more” to pressure North Korea.Trump’s administration has been dogged by allegations his campaign team colluded with Russia to help him win last year’s election.Addressing relations with Moscow, Tillerson said the Trump administration had “no illusions about the regime we are dealing with” and that they were “on guard against Russian aggression.”But he added that Washington needed to “recognize the need to work with Russia where mutual interests intersect,” citing Syria civil war where the two countries have backed opposing sides but pushed for peace talks.On Iran, he struck a less conciliatory tone.“The flawed nuclear deal is no longer the focal point of our policy toward Iran,” he warned. “We are now confronting the totality of Iranian threats.”He also defended his cuts to the State Department and USAID budget, saying they were designed to “address root problems that lead to inefficiencies and frustrations.”Critics say Tillerson’s first year in office has seen scores of key diplomatic posts go unfilled, embassies hampered by cuts and many veteran staff leave the foreign service altogether.

Palestinian arrested trying to enter West Bank military court with pipe bomb-Police seal area as bomb disposal team works to defuse explosive in Samaria Military Court in second such incident this month-By Jacob Magid-TOI-DEC 28,17

Border Police arrested a 16-year-old Palestinian teen who tried to enter  a military court in the northern West Bank with a pipe bomb.Forces immediately closed the entrance to the Samaria Military Court, clearing the area before bomb disposal experts arrived, a police spokesman said.Earlier this month, police arrested a Palestinian man who tried to enter the same military court with two pipe bombs. Security forces used sappers to defuse the explosives, which were found in the suspect’s coat along with a knife.

Turkish president ‘laughs off’ demand to arrest Sudan leader-Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes, leaves Istanbul after attending summit of Islamic nations convened to denounce Trump's Jerusalem recognition-By AFP-DEC 28,17-TOI

ISTANBUL — Turkey “laughed off” a demand from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest Sudan’s wanted leader when he attended a summit in Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying Thursday.Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes, on December 13 attended a summit of Islamic nations called by Erdogan to denounce US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.Erdogan told Turkish reporters in an interview that the ICC wrote a letter to Turkey saying it had information Bashir was in Istanbul for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit and he should be arrested and handed over to the court.There was no immediate confirmation from the ICC, which is currently in recess, that it made such a demand.“Something like this just makes you laugh,” Erdogan was quoted Thursday as saying on his presidential plane as he rounded off a four-day trip to Africa.“Are we going to just go and hand over to you someone who is a member of the OIC and is taking part in such a summit? “What kind of understanding is this? It’s impossible to understand it. We just laughed it off,” Erdogan said.He noted that Turkey is not a signatory to the treaty which set up the Hague-based ICC.Erdogan’s defiant comments came after holding talks with Bashir in Sudan on his Africa trip, which also took in Chad and Tunisia and underlined his ambition for a strategic foothold in the continent.On the trip, Erdogan said Sudan had agreed to let Turkey restore the Red Sea port of Suakin Island, which thrived during the era of the Ottomans but has fallen into disrepair. He denied, however, that there was any plan to build a military base there.Bashir is wanted by the ICC for genocide and war crimes — charges he rejects — over the conflict that broke out in Darfur in 2003 when ethnic minority groups took up arms against his government, which launched a brutal counter-insurgency.The UN says at least 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million displaced.While serving as prime minister in 2009, Erdogan defended Bashir, saying “a Muslim could not commit genocide, he is not capable of it.”The ICC has previously rebuked countries including Jordan and South Africa for failing to arrest Bashir when he visited for summits.

Netanyahu to Arab demonstrators: ‘Why protest? We believe in progress’-Prime minister slams protesters outside ceremony honoring his contribution to Galilee town, says they should direct anger at atrocities across the Middle East-By Raoul Wootliff-TOI-DEC 28,17

7:07 pm-Roadside bomb kills senior army officer in Egypt’s Sinai-Egyptian security and hospital officials say a roadside bomb planted by Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula has hit a military vehicle, killing a senior army officer.They say the colonel, who was the military commander of the town of Bir al-Abd, was killed while patrolling in an armored vehicle in an area just outside the town.Bir al-Abd was the scene of deadliest terrorist attack against civilians on Nov. 24, when militants killed 311 worshippers in a mosque. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has vowed to use “brute force” to crush the long-running insurgency in northern Sinai and given the military and police three months to restore “security and stability” there.The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.— AP-6:59 pm-Explosion hits near police station in southern Turkey-Turkish media reports say a powerful explosion has occurred near a police station in a town in southern Turkey.The private Dogan news agency says the blast happened in the town of Seyhan, in Adana province on Thursday.There was no information immediately available on possible casualties or injuries. Dogan says police have been sent to the area.— AP-6:55 pm-Netanyahu to Arab demonstrators: ‘Why protest? We believe in progress’-Speaking at a ceremony in the Galilee town of Ein Mahil honoring his contribution to the community, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slams the some 600 Arab Israeli protesters demonstrating against the event.“At the entrance, I saw a protest. They are holding signs of Fatah of the PLO. Against my visit here? Against what?” he says.“What are they protesting against? Against the millions who were slaughtered or kicked out of their homes in Syria, Iraq or Libya? Who are you protesting against?” he repeats.Netanyahu says the protesters should not be demonstrating against Israel, “the only state that protects human rights,” but against atrocities in the region.“Why protest? We believe in progress, we believe in coexistence, we are working for it, we will continue working for it,” he concludes. “Shame on you!”-6:29 pm-Putin says terror suspects can be killed ‘on the spot’-Russian President Vladimir Putin says that armed terrorists should be “liquidated on the spot,” calling the blast that tore through a Saint Petersburg supermarket and wounded 14 people an “act of terror.”Yesterday, a homemade bomb placed in a locker at the supermarket in northwestern Saint Petersburg went off sowing panic among customers and wounding 14 people including a pregnant woman.“As you know, an act of terror took place in Saint Petersburg yesterday,” Putin says, speaking at a ceremony to award officers who took part in Russia’s Syria campaign.He says he had ordered the nation’s security services to “act decisively” and “liquidate bandits on the spot” if armed militants put up resistance.His spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters later that the Russian leader was referring to all those “who harbor plans to carry out acts of terror in our country.”— AFP-6:28 pm-Tehran police: No more arrests for flouting dress code-Police in Iran’s capital say they will no longer arrest women for failing to observe the Islamic dress code imposed since the 1979 revolution.The reformist daily Sharq quotes Gen. Hossein Rahimi, the Tehran police chief, as saying “those who do not observe the Islamic dress code will no longer be taken to detention centers, nor will judicial cases be filed against them.”The semi-official Tasnim news agency says violators will instead be made to attend classes given by police. It says repeat offenders could still be subject to legal action.Younger and more liberal-minded Iranian woman have long pushed the boundaries of the official dress code, wearing loose headscarves that don’t fully cover their hair and painting their nails, drawing the ire of conservatives.— AP-5:35 pm-Thousands pray for rain at Western Wall amid ongoing drought-Thousands of people are gathering at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s old City to pray for rain at an event organized by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel in light of a nationwide drought.The mass prayer service coincides with the end of the 10th of Tevet fast marking, among other tragedies, the beginning of the Babylonian siege on Jerusalem which led to the destruction of the First Temple.Since last winter the Sea of Galilee has received just 10% of its annual average inflow, and by February had reached its lowest level in nearly a hundred years.Israeli meteorologists predicted in early December that the coming months would be drier than an average winter, prolonging an already troubling drought. As of the last reckoning, the water level in the Sea of Galilee stood at 703 feet (214 meters) below sea level, several feet (about a meter) below the point at which ecologists predict damage to the ecosystem and water quality.-4:33 pm-Netanyahu thanks US public for saying he is one of their ten most admired men-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posts a video message thanking the American public for putting him in the top ten of a most admired men list.In the video, posted to his official Twitter feed, Netanyahu is seen affecting surprise at being told the result of the Gallup poll, released yesterday.“Really,” he says. “Well, I appreciate that, not merely for me, but first and foremost for my country, Israel. Thank you America.”The Gallup poll found that the prime minister placed ninth in the list of most admired men, with one percent of Americans naming him as their first or second choice.Former US president Barack Obama, President Donald Trump and Pope Francis placed first, second and third, with 17, 14 and two percent, respectively, citing them as their first or second choice. Senator Bernie Sanders placed as the highest Jew on the list, coming in at seventh.-4:25 pm-Justice Ministry concludes investigation of Abu Al-Qia’an shooting-The Justice Ministry probe by the Police Investigations Department concludes its reexamination into the police shooting of a Bedouin teacher during an operation to demolish homes in his unrecognized village at the beginning of the year and hands its report to the state prosecutor.The state now has to decided whether to close the case or to continue the investigation.In November, in light of evidence, the ministry’s Police Investigations Department was told to take another look at the events surrounding the death of Yaqoub Mousa Abu Al-Qia’an, who was slain by police in Umm al-Hiran during a nighttime incident in which his car drove into officers, killing one of them.The incident was initially ruled terrorism, but authorities have indicated since that Abu Al-Qia’an likely lost control of the vehicle after being shot and did not intentionally hit the officers.-4:13 pm-Last of 3,633 North American olim for 2017 arrives in Israel-With the arrival of a flight carrying 93 new immigrants, a total of 3,633 people from North America made aliyah in 2017, Nefesh B’Nefesh reports.The group flight that landed at Ben Gurion International Airport on Wednesday included 15 future lone soldiers and a soon-to-be bride, according to the organization which, in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA, helps facilitate aliyah from North America and the United Kingdom.Another 103 Americans and Canadians already living or studying in Israel made aliyah on Wednesday at the Nefesh B’Nefesh offices in Jerusalem.Many of the 3,633 new immigrants arrived on 19 special aliyah flights from North America, bringing 377 families with 677 children, and an additional 1,677 singles. The oldest immigrant in 2017 was 102, and the youngest five weeks old, according to NBN. Most of the new immigrants settled in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ra’anana, and Netanya.Nearly 29,000 immigrants from around the world arrived in Israel in 2017.— JTA-2:21 pm-Turkey’s Erdogan holds out olive branch to Germany, EU-Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expresses hope for a better relationship with Germany and the EU after a fractious 2017, saying Ankara needs to reduce its enemies and increase its friends.“Of course, we want to have good relations with the EU and with EU countries,” Erdogan tells Turkish journalists on his presidential plane while on a visit to Africa.“I always say this. We must reduce the number of enemies and increase the number of friends,” he said, in comments published in Turkish newspapers including the Hurriyet daily.The past year has seen Turkey’s long-running bid to join the EU grind to a virtual halt and a crisis in relations with Germany over the crackdown that followed the failed July 15, 2016 coup.— AP-2:20 pm-State archives release details of pre-state Israelis-The Israeli State Archives releases a new online archive made public and searchable of the names of over 206,000 Jews who lived in the country before the founding of the State of Israel.The archive spans ten years, from 1937 to 1947, and is made up of about 67,000 requests for citizenship in British Mandatory Palestine. Some of the requests came from famous future Israelis like the late president Shimon Peres.Each request includes the names of family members, dates and places of birth and a treasure trove of other information. The documents themselves – requests could reach 20 pages each – also include the names of two sponsors for each aspiring citizen.The project is a collaboration of the State Archives and the ancestry startup MyHeritage, whose staff has worked for the past year to scan and index the 67,000 requests.

Ontario minimum wage rises, youth pharmacare takes effect Jan. 1-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-December 28, 2017

TORONTO — The minimum wage in Ontario rises to $14 an hour and people younger than 25 can get free prescription medications as of Jan. 1, when a host of other legal and regulatory changes in the province take effect.The new minimum wage is part of a Liberal government promise to boost it further to $15 in 2019, though if the Progressive Conservatives win the June election, the increase to $15 will be spread out over several years.It's the main plank of a series of major labour reforms announced this year by the government. Jan. 1 will also see all employees get 10 days of personal emergency leave per year — two of them paid — for which they won't be required to show their employers a doctor's note.All employees will get three weeks of paid vacation after they have been with a company for five years, and can get up to 17 weeks off — one week paid — when they or their child has experienced or is threatened with domestic or sexual violence.If an employee needs to care for a family member, unpaid family medical leave is increasing to 28 weeks a year, up from eight weeks in half a year. And parents whose children die can take two years of job-protected, unpaid leave. It was previously only offered to parents when a child's death was related to a crime.The labour changes also increase fines under the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act.Youth pharmacare will mean that anyone under 25 in Ontario will have free access to more than 4,400 prescription medications with no co-pay or deductible.Other health changes taking effect Jan. 1 include banning smoking on the outdoor grounds of hospitals, psychiatric facilities and certain Ontario government properties, and allowing long-term care homes to designate "reunification priority access beds" to ensure spouses or partners can stay together.The age of protection is also being raised to 18, meaning 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to receive the full range of child protection services.On Jan. 1 rewards points will no longer expire solely based on how much time has passed since they were earned, deposit protections for people who buy newly built homes will be expanded, and municipalities will be able to restrict where payday loan shops can open and how many can operate in a given area.Ontario's cap-and-trade market, the system aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions, will be linked with Quebec and California's joint carbon market as of Jan. 1, though the first joint auction isn't expected until the end of February.As a way to further try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all new commercial office buildings or workplaces with indoor parking will be required to install electric vehicle charging stations.Small businesses will see their corporate income tax rate cut from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent. The government has also placed a new requirement on itself, to remove $1.25 in regulatory costs to businesses for every $1 in new administrative costs that are added. As well, businesses will be able to electronically submit any required document to the government instead of doing it by paper.The City of Toronto will be able to impose a vacant homes property tax and the finance minister will be able to allow other municipalities to do so as well.Allison Jones, The Canadian Press.

Canadian citizenship applications surge after government relaxes language, residency rules-[CBC]-YAHOONEWS-December 28, 2017

There was a spike in applications for Canadian citizenship after the government relaxed the rules around residency requirements and language proficiency this fall.Figures from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship provided to CBC News show there was an average of 3,653 applications a week in the six months before changed were brought in Oct. 11.The number shot up to 17,500 applications the week after the new requirements kicked in. There were 12,530 applications submitted the week after that, but data for subsequent weeks is not yet available."Reducing the physical presence requirement gives more flexibility to applicants to meet the requirements for citizenship and encourages more immigrants to take the path to citizenship," said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship spokeswoman Nancy Caron. "This helps individuals who have already begun building lives in Canada achieve citizenship faster."In recent years, there has been an average of 200,000 citizenship applications submitted each year.Fluctuations in application rates are expected after rule changes, so the department put resources in place to handle "surge capacity" and keep processing times below the 12-month service standard, Caron said.Andrew Griffith, a former senior immigration official, author and fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said it's too early to tell if the jump in numbers represents a blip or part of a longer-term trend. But he believes an increased rate of citizenship fosters social cohesion and eases community tensions as immigrants have a deeper connection to the country and to Canadian society."We want people to become citizens because we believe that's part of the integration journey," he said. "That helps them feel part of Canada and ultimately should improve all the economic, social and political outcomes of the country."The new rules include:-The required length of physical presence in Canada is reduced to three out of five years, from four out of six years.- A portion of time spent in Canada before permanent resident status will count toward residency requirements, which will give credit to temporary workers and students. - The age range for language and knowledge requirements is reduced to 18 to 54 years old, from the previous requirement of 14 to 64. But Griffith said high fees remain a barrier for some to apply for citizenship, especially those in the family reunification or refugee categories with stretched finances.The processing fee jumped to $630 in 2014-2015, which includes a $100 "right of citizenship" fee. That is still much lower than the fees in the U.K., the U.S. and the Netherlands, but is higher than New Zealand, Germany, Australia and France.Griffith said reducing costs would reflect the fact that promoting citizenship provides not just personal benefit, but a benefit to the greater Canadian society when people can fully participate, including in the political process.Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who marked the changes taking effect at an event in October, said they will make the path to join the "Canadian family" easier and more flexible."As a country that's committed to the settlement and integration of newcomers successfully so they can restart their lives and make contributions to our society, we have to ensure the path to citizenship for permanent residents," he said at the time.People can be deemed ineligible for Canadian citizenship if they have a criminal record or are facing charges in or outside Canada, or if they have had citizenship refused or revoked in past.

Syrian rebels say discussing evacuation from territory near Israel-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-December 28, 2017

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels in a pocket of land near where the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli borders meet are negotiating a deal with the government to leave for other insurgent-held areas, rebel officials there said.The Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, Shi'ite militias supported by Iran and local fighters from the Druze sect have besieged the rebel enclave around Beit Jin for weeks. In recent days it captured various positions, leaving the rebels trapped inside the town itself."There is now negotiation on the departure of fighters and those who wish to leave with them," said Abu Kanaan, an official in a local rebel group."The militias are trying to convince them to evacuate to Idlib... There has been no agreement reached yet," said Ibrahim al-Jebawi, an official with a Free Syrian Army faction familiar with the situation.Syria's army and its allies have increasingly pushed for such evacuation deals for rebel enclaves near big cities or in other strategic locations after long periods of siege and bombardment.The area around Beit Jin is sensitive because of its location next to the Israel-controlled Golan Heights.Israel wants to keep Lebanon's Hezbollah, the most powerful of the Iran-backed militias aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against the rebel groups, far away from its border with Syria.It has repeatedly targeted military positions in Syria near the border after stray projectiles crossed into Israeli-controlled areas, and it has struck Hezbollah convoys and weapons caches inside Syria.(Reporting By Suleiman al-Khalidi; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Islamic State kills 41 in attack on Afghan cultural centre-[The Canadian Press]-YAHOONEWS-December 28, 2017

KABUL — An Islamic State suicide bomber struck a Shiite cultural centre in Kabul on Thursday, killing at least 41 people and underscoring the extremist group's growing reach in Afghanistan even as its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria has been dismantled.The attack may have targeted the pro-Iran Afghan Voice news agency housed in the two-story building. The Sunni extremists of IS view Shiite Muslims as apostates and have repeatedly attacked Afghanistan's Shiite minority and targets linked to neighbouring Iran.The attack wounded more than 80 people, many of whom suffered severe burns.Local Shiite leader Abdul Hussain Ramazandada said the bomber slipped into an academic seminar at the centre and blew himself up among the participants. More bombs went off just outside the centre as people fled.The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said four bombs were used in the assault, one strapped to the suicide attacker. It said the centre was funded by Iran and used to propagate Shiite beliefs.Ali Reza Ahmadi, a journalist with Afghan Voice, said he leaped from the window of his second-floor office after the first bomb went off and saw flames pouring from the basement."I jumped from the roof toward the basement, yelling at people to get water to put out the fire," he said.At nearby Istiqlal Hospital, Director Mohammed Sabir Nasib said the emergency room was overwhelmed. Additional doctors and nurses were called in to help. At the height of the crisis, more than 50 medics were working to save the wounded.By late afternoon, Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Mujro said 41 people were dead and 84 others wounded.The cultural centre was housed in a simple building surrounded by mud-brick homes in the Shiite-dominated neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, home to some of Kabul's poorest residents.A senior member of the local Shiite clerical council, Mohammad Asif Mesbah, said the centre may have been targeted because it houses Afghan Voice. The news agency's owner, Sayed Eissa Hussaini Mazari, is a strong proponent of Iran, and the agency's output is dominated by Iranian news.On Thursday, the centre was marking the anniversary of the 1979 Soviet invasion with a seminar about the event's impact on the country. Mesbah said the invasion, which led to decades of war and unrest that continue to the present day, was the "beginning of all of Afghanistan's disasters."Iran, a Shiite-majority country bordering Iraq and Afghanistan, has provided heavy military and financial aid to the Syrian government as well as regional Shiite militias battling IS in recent years.The extremist group is now largely confined to a few remote patches of territory in Syria, but it retains the ability to inspire and carry out attacks further afield. Powerful affiliates in Afghanistan and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula continue to launch regular assaults against security forces and civilians.The IS affiliate in Afghanistan, which emerged in 2014 at around the same time the group declared a caliphate in large parts of Syria and Iraq, has vowed to target Shiites. The militants attacked the Iraqi Embassy and two Shiite mosques in Kabul earlier this year, killing dozens of people. A suicide attack on the largest Shiite mosque in the western Herat province last summer killed at least 90 people.Afghanistan's IS affiliate largely consists of displaced Uzbek militants and disgruntled former members of the much larger and more entrenched Taliban movement. The Taliban and IS share the goal of overthrowing Afghanistan's Western-backed government and imposing a harsh version of Islamic law, but they are fiercely divided over leadership, tactics and ideology, and have clashed on a number of occasions. The Taliban denied any involvement in Thursday's attack.Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called the attack a "crime against humanity." The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, John R. Bass, said, "We remain confident the Afghan government and people, supported by their friends and partners, will defeat those behind these terrible acts."Pakistan, which Afghan and U.S. officials have long accused of harbouring militants, condemned the "dastardly" attack in Kabul and vowed to stand with Afghanistan in its fight against terrorism. Pakistan has denied that it shelters militants and has in turn accused Afghanistan of failing to crack down on extremist groups.Toby Lanzer, the acting head of the United Nations mission to Afghanistan, said the bombing was "another truly despicable crime in a year already marked by unspeakable atrocities."Afghan forces have struggled to combat both the Taliban and IS since U.S. and international forces officially concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014 and shifted to a support and counterterrorism role more than a decade after the American-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.President Donald Trump has ordered an additional 3,800 U.S. troops to Afghanistan since announcing a new strategy in August aimed at ending America's longest war, bringing the total U.S. forces there to at least 15,000.Amir Shah, The Associated Press.

Russia says Tokyo's deployment of U.S. missiles a blow to relations-[Reuters]-YAHOONEWS-December 28, 2017

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A decision by Japan to deploy a U.S. missile defense system will damage Moscow's relations with Tokyo and is a breach by Washington of a landmark arms control treaty, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.Japan formally decided this month it would expand its ballistic missile defense system with U.S.-made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors in response to a growing threat from North Korean rockets."Actions like these are in direct contradiction to the priority of building military and political trust between Russia and Japan, and, unfortunately, will impact in a negative way on the whole atmosphere in bilateral relations, including negotiations over the peace treaty problem," Zakharova told a weekly briefing."In practice it will mean one more breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by the Americans with, in fact, Japan's assistance", she said.Russia and Japan never formally ended their hostilities after World War Two because of a dispute over a chain of islands in the Pacific.Concluding a peace treaty between Russia and Japan would involve Moscow examining how it could be affected by Tokyo's security commitments to its allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month.(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Denis Pinchuk; Editing by Alison Williams)