White House claims Palestinian deaths are ‘propaganda’

Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah claimed that Hamas was to blame for Israeli soldiers killing at least 55 Palestinian protesters.
Melanie Schmitz May 14, 2018, 4:28 pm
The White House this week claimed that Hamas was simply using Palestinian deaths for ‘propaganda’ purposes. (CREDIT: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah on Monday blamed Hamas for the scores of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers during protests along the border fence in Gaza, as the United States opened its new embassy in Jerusalem.“We’re aware of the reports of continued violence in Gaza today,” Shah said during Monday’s press briefing. “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas. Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response. As the secretary of state said, Israel has the right to defend itself.”Pressed on whether the White House believed Israel should “shoulder the blame” for the 55 Palestinians killed by Israeli snipers, or rein in its military’s response, Shah stated, “This is a propaganda attempt. This is a gruesome and unfortunate propaganda attempt. I think the Israeli government has spent weeks trying to handle this without violence. And we find it very unfortunate.”  Israeli soldiers on Monday killed at least 55 Palestinians and injured thousands more, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, marking the highest single-day death toll since 2014. Amnesty International noted that the fatalities include at least six children.The protests were part of the “March of Return” demonstrations, which began on March 30, and also occurred on the same day that the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israeli Defense Forces claimed the protesters were “leading a terrorist operation under the cover of masses of people,” and that “firebombs and explosive devices” were being hurled at Israeli soldiers.Palestinian protesters say that’s not the case.  “It is shocking. We didn’t expect this huge number of martyrs and injuries,” Hadeel Louz, 25, a Palestinian human rights activist in Gaza, told ThinkProgress. “Most of the martyrs who are killed are just normal citizens — we are not following Hamas party or Fatah party, [the two Palestinian factions]. Even those who follow those parties, they are not in an army — they don’t have guns.”The violence against Palestinian protesters comes one day prior to Nakba, or Catastrophe Day, which marks Palestinians’ expulsion from what is now modern-day Israel in 1948. During that eviction, 700,000 Palestinians were uprooted from their homeland and forced to flee.“…The Nakba is not just about the past, as Palestinians are still displaced and brutalised by Israeli authorities today,” The Independent’s Ben White wrote on Monday. “The Palestinians being gunned down by Israeli snipers in Gaza – including more than 250 children hit with live fire since 30 March, according to Save the Children – live under a devastating blockade.”  Israel kills at least 55 Palestinians for protesting in Gaza as new U.S. embassy opens
The decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem last December was met with criticism from foreign policy experts and human rights groups alike. Palestinian authorities have said the move constitutes a non-starter and crushes any hopes for a two-state solution, to which the Trump administration has claimed it is still dedicated.

“We will not accept for the U.S. to be a mediator, because after what they have done to us — a believer shall not be stung twice in the same place,” Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said in January, shortly after the decision was made. He accused Trump’s move of killing the 1993 Oslo Accords, a set of agreements meant to pave the way for a future peace.East Jerusalem is typically recognized as the future home of a Palestinian state, although it has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. Currently, some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and as Reuters reported in October, the Israeli government recently gave its approval for an additional 176 new housing units.




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The White House corrects its statement on Iran’s nuclear program, undercutting Israel’s claim Iran lied

12:04 a.m. ET  Thomas Coex
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a big show of unveiling what he called proof that Iran “lied” about its nuclear program, showing a wall of compact discs he said prove Iran had a nuclear weapons program, called Project Amad, that it shelved in 2003 — 12 years before Iran signed its nuclear deal with U.S. and five other world powers. Netanyahu, who fiercely opposed the deal, said Iran did not “shelve its nuclear ambitions,” but he offered no proof and took no questions.
The White House released a statement saying Israel’s intelligence confirms what the U.S. already knows, that “Iran has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program that it has tried and failed to hide from the world.” It then issued a second statement changing “has” to “had,” effectively confirming that Iran no longer has a nuclear weapons program. A White House official told NBC News that a “clerical error” was to blame for the wrong verb tense being used. James Fallows, who worked in the Carter White House, compared that “error” to “a surgeon amputating the wrong leg.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. has “known about this material for a while” and he had discussed it with Netanyahu, but when asked if it shows Iran violating the nuclear agreement, as Netanyahu claimed, he said, “I’ll leave that to the lawyers.” In his April 12 Senate confirmation hearing, Pompeo, then CIA director, had said he has “seen no evidence that they are not in compliance today.” Under the 2015 deal, Tehran cannot make nuclear fuel until 2030 and agreed to never make nuclear weapons. The U.S. and International Atomic Energy Agency have had similar proof that Iran used to have a nuclear weapons program since 2008.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi dismissed “Netanyahu’s show” as “a childish and ridiculous game” timed “to affect Trump’s decision on Iran’s nuclear deal,” by May 12. A senior Israeli official tells The New York Times that Israel believes Trump will pull out of the Iran deal so Netanyahu’s presentation was to “support” Trump, not “pressure” him. Peter Weber

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Stephen Bannon really wants the White House to accept his unsolicited advice on the Mueller probe

April 11, 2018

No, Stephen Bannon didn’t enroll in law school after being ousted from the White House last summer, but he is providing free legal advice to anyone in President Trump’s orbit who will listen.
Trump’s former chief strategist is still in contact with White House aides, and he wants them to pass along to Trump his plan to stop the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, several people with knowledge of the discussions told The Washington Post. Step one is to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s work and signed off on the search warrant to raid the home, office, and hotel room of Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Secondly, Trump must stop cooperating with Mueller’s team, and “immediately and retroactively” invoke executive privilege, Bannon told the Post. That way, any interview Mueller’s team has conducted with a White House official can be thrown out. Bannon also wants Trump’s lawyer Ty Cobb fired “immediately” because he’s the one who has urged Trump to work with the special counsel. Legal experts are dubious Trump can claim executive privilege for interviews given voluntarily.
Also unfortunately for Bannon, “if you say his name in front of the president, it’s not a pretty sight,” a senior administration official told the Post. “The president really goes off about him.” Bannon has been interviewed by Mueller, and is cautious to go straight to Trump to tell him to fire Rosenstein, the Post reports, and beyond that, several White House officials — including White House Counsel Don McGahn — are aghast at the idea of firing him. Read more about Bannon’s plot at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

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John Kelly reportedly wants to quit

11:03 a.m. ET

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly increasingly struggles to wrangle President Trump and has verbally threatened to quit his job, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing accounts from 16 unnamed administration officials.
“I’m out of here, guys,” Kelly reportedly said, though the Post’s sources differed on whether the remark should be interpreted as “a resignation threat” or an announcement that he was “leaving work an hour or two early to head home.” They agreed, however, that Kelly is frustrated with his position and resultant loss of credibility.
A separate story at Axios offered a similar account Saturday, reporting that “Kelly blew up at Trump in an Oval Office meeting” in late March, “and while walking back to his office muttered he was going to quit.” Kelly’s arrival in the West Wing was greeted as a shift toward order and normalcy, but Trump reportedly ignores his input on many issues.
Trump denied the Washington Post report on Twitter early Sunday, labeling it “just another hit job.” Bonnie Kristian

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