Federal Supreme Court Rules That It Cannot Dissolve Parliament

Federal Supreme Court Rules That It Cannot Dissolve Parliament


Federal Supreme Court Rules That It Cannot Dissolve Parliament

On Wednesday, Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court ruled that it could not dissolve parliament. This was a central demand by Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, whose bloc came in first in the last parliamentary elections, only to confront a worsening stalemate in government formation, which culminated in street protests in recent weeks. The Federal Supreme Court said parliament must dissolve itself if it determines it has not performed its duties.


Israel and the Palestinian Territories 

Concerns Grow of Escalation in the West Bank

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad issued a call to Palestinians to escalate “resistance” attacks on Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank. The call came as a response to the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) increased counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank. Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official ruled out the possibility that the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security forces would move to disarm the armed groups in the northern West Bank.  

The official told The Jerusalem Post that the PA leadership has come under pressure from Israel and some international parties to take action against the gunmen, most of whom belong to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the ruling Fatah faction headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. “If Israel wants the violence to stop, it should stop sending its soldiers every night to arrest and shoot young Palestinians,” said the official. “We can’t do anything while Israel is continuing to escalate its military operations.” Several Palestinian officials, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ deputy Hussein Al-Sheikh, said that Israel’s nightly incursions – even if meant to strengthen the PA – are actually weakening it. “They think the IDF will operate during the night and we will operate during the day? We can’t function when the Israeli military enters our cities every day arresting people and killing people. What do they expect?” al-Sheikh said.  

On the flipside, statements given by Israeli officials to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Barbara Leaf during her recent visit to Israel blamed the PA’s weakness for the increased violence. Shin Bet director Ronen Bar expressed his concerns to Leaf about the PA’s situation and lack of confidence in the ability of PA security forces to function. He claimed Israel didn’t want to send the military for incursions into Palestinian cities but had no choice due to increased violence. Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, the head of the IDF’s COGAT, painted a similarly dark picture. Maj. Gen. Alian told Leaf that he is doing everything in his power to stabilize the situation in the West Bank, but fears it might not be enough “to stop the snowball.” He added that more significant steps require political decisions.  

Relatedly, a particular video circulating on social media set off concerns in Israel, purporting to show, for the first time in years, fighters belonging to the Izzeldine al-Qassam Brigades – Hamas’ military arm – conducting training exercises in the northern West Bank. Israeli Channel 12’s Palestinian Affairs reporter Ohad Chemo remarked that the video was meant more for internal Palestinian consumption, to demonstrate that the group was active amidst the recent escalation in the West Bank, whereas Fatah’s Tanzim and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were responsible for most of the recent violence. Nevertheless, he expressed his concern that the video and general atmosphere, and escalating incidents of violence in the West Bank were reminiscent of the situation leading up to the Second Intifada.  


Hezbollah Awaiting Israel’s Response On Maritime Border Demarcation to Decide Next Steps 

A report in Asharq Al-Awsat stated that Hezbollah is awaiting Israel’s response to Lebanese maritime border demarcation proposals before it decides on its next steps regarding the matter. Next week, U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein will be carrying the Israeli position to officials in Beirut. Asharq Al-Awsat, quoting “sources following Hezbollah’s position,” said that if the Lebanese government finds the Israeli response acceptable, then Hezbollah will stand down. “But if the Lebanese government rejects the message carried by Hochstein, Hezbollah will take a stance,” in the form of a “movement or procedure,” but did not specify the nature of Hezbollah’s intended response.  

Lebanon to Send Delegation to Iran for Grant of Fuel 

The Lebanese government is reportedly preparing to send a technical team to Iran to negotiate a “free” grant of fuel from Tehran to Beirut, to help remedy some of Lebanon’s fuel and energy shortages. Lebanon is seeking to obtain the fuel for free, while, according to the report, remaining cognizant of avoiding U.S. sanctions. A government source told Reuters that Iran’s ambassador to Beirut extended the offer to Lebanon’s prime minister, who provided him with the specifications of fuel grade that would be needed to run Lebanese power plants. If the deal is signed, Iran will be sending fuel shipments directly to the Lebanese government, in a move that is the first of its kind, after it had done so previously through Hezbollah.  


Israel Conducts Airstrike in Syria 

Israel struck Aleppo International Airport, Syrian state media reported on Tuesday evening, marking the 24th reported strike since the beginning of the year, and the second time in a week that the Israel Air Force targeted Aleppo’s International Airport. There were no immediate reports of casualties, though state media reported damage to the runway at the airport. In addition, Syrian media says that air defenses intercepted Israeli missiles, downing several of them. A Syrian army official told state media that Israel launched missiles from the west, near the coastal city of Latakia, at 8:16 PM local time. The Syrian Defense Ministry noted that the strike damaged the runway and took the airport out of service. The Syrian transportation ministry said the airport was set to resume operations “days” after the Israeli strike. Reports on Friday indicated that operations would resume then.  

In a rare – albeit unofficial – comment, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday that Israel's alleged airstrikes in Syria are a signal to President Bashar Assad, but declined to say whether Israel had actually carried out the attacks. Ram Ben Barak, chairman of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, spoke with Ynet Radio on Wednesday about the recent airstrikes on Syria’s Aleppo International Airport. “The attack meant that certain planes would not be able to land, and that a message was relayed to Assad: If planes whose purpose is to encourage terrorism land, Syria’s transport capacity will be harmed,” he said.  

Blog Purports to Reveal Identity of Hezbollah Militants In Iran Air Defense Project in Syria 

The IntelliTimes Blog purported to reveal the identity of two Hezbollah militants helping build Iran’s air defense array in Syria. Citing an unnamed intelligence official, the Blog said the two were identified as Abbas Mohammad Al-Debs, 43, from the south Lebanon city of Al-Nabatieh, and Mohammad Mahmoud Zalzali, 55, from south Lebanon’s city of Tyre. The official also provided IntelliTimes with sketches of the two Hezbollah operatives. According to IntelliTimes, the two worked alongside the two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) members who were killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike near Damascus in March.