Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jewish community bears impact of Hurricane Sandy

Less than a year into her job at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, N.Y., Rabbi Debbie Bravo sounded remarkably poised as she and her community face one of their most powerful challenges together: Hurricane Sandy.
Bravo’s land line was dead. When she picked up her cell phone Tuesday, she had just returned from the local police station.
“I have a child who takes medication that has to be refrigerated,” she said calmly.
According to figures released by The Long Island Power Authority on Tuesday, more than 930,000 families -- 90 percent of all island residents -- are without power after Hurricane Sandy wrought havoc Monday night across the northeastern United States. Among those 930,000 are an estimated 139,000 Jewish househoolds.
Hurricane Sandy, which washed ashore Monday evening just south of Atlantic City, N.J., took dead aim at the most populous region of the country, home as well to the majority of the country's Jews. In its wake, it left a trail of devastation that may take weeks to restore, if not longer.
“I went over to the synagogue a few hours ago, which is right next to a woodsy area," Bravo said. "Ten plus trees are down, including a huge one down on the front law. Everyone’s saying this is a hundred times worse” than previous natural disasters that hit the island.
The greater New York area, home to the largest population of Jews in North America, took a harsh hit as severe winds and flooding toppled trees, triggered electrical fires and flooded public transportation systems. The result: mass evacuations of apartments and dormitories, widespread school closings and damaged homes and community institutions.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hamas men nabbed 'for founding Ramallah branch'

Security forces announce recent arrests of 30 terrorists who set up student cells in universities, used couriers, held secret meetings.

Some 30 Hamas activists have been arrested in recent months on suspicion of establishing a branch of the Islamist organization in the Ramallah area, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Monday.
The men set up a headquarters for Hamas in the West Bank city traditionally seen as a Fatah stronghold, and operated in the areas of the Binyamin region of the West Bank, according to security forces.
“During questioning of suspects by the Shin Bet it emerged that the headquarters sought to renew Hamas’s activities and rebuild the organization in the Ramallah area... ahead of the future elections in the Palestinian Authority,” security forces said.
The Shin Bet identified Murad Muhammad Khaled Abu Baha as head of the cell, naming several regional subordinates.
Maher Ayoub Abd Dalashiya was alleged to be the money man, and Matzav Muhammad Ahmed Sarur was responsible for recruiting students.
The recruitment drive involved the establishment of student cells at West Bank universities in the Ramallah and Abu Dis areas. Hamas transferred large funds through student bodies, and some of the money was earmarked for Hamas prisoners and their families, according to the Shin Bet.
The suspects also tried to set up student cells in Hebron and Bethlehem, although these efforts were interrupted by the arrests.
“The investigation also revealed that members of the headquarters were in touch with the Hamas leadership abroad in order to exchange information and bring money into the area,” the Shin Bet added.
According to investigators, the communications were hidden with great care and involved the use of couriers, nicknames, memory sticks and secret meetings.
In addition, two of the suspects confessed to having taken part in the October 2000 lynch of two IDF reservists who mistakenly entered Ramallah and were beaten to death by a frenzied Palestinian mob.
The IDF’s West Bank prosecutor charged the suspects with a number of crimes at the Judea Military Court.
Some of the accused were indicted for filling leadership roles in an illegal organization, while others were indicted for being members of, participating in or carrying out operations on behalf of an illegal organization.
Additional charges included contact with the enemy and providing funding to the enemy. All of those involved were remanded to police custody until the end of the proceedings.
Hamas is getting stronger in the West Bank, but is focusing its activities on indoctrinating Palestinians in its extremist ideology and creating social assistance programs, an IDF source from the Judea and Samaria Division said last week.
The West Bank branch of Hamas is focused on Da’wa – social aid programs mixed with indoctrination – in order to build up its base of supporters, the source added. It is also preoccupied with a program called Kutla, which entails the recruitment of university students through the spread of jihadist ideology.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A jihadist group prospers in Syria

For more than a year, the Obama administration has been assuring the world that the downfall of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is “a matter of time.” Yes, its own Middle East experts warned, but how much time matters. The longer the fighting goes on, they said, the more likely it is that what began as a peaceful mass opposition movement would behijacked by extremists, including allies of al-Qaeda.
President Obama ignored that advice, ruling out measures that could have quickly brought down the regime — such as a no-fly zone — in favor of a year of feckless diplomacy. But it turned out the experts were right. So now the consequence of Obama’s passivity has a name, one that will surely haunt the occupant of the White House in 2013: Jabhat al-Nusra.
Actually, the full name of the Middle East’s latest jihadist terror movement, announced on an al-Qaeda-linked Web site last January, is Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahl al-Sham Min Mujaheddin al Sham fi Sahat al Jihad, which means “Support Front for the People of Syria from the Mujaheddin of Syria in the places of Jihad.” It was dismissed at first as a hoax, or maybe as a concoction of Assad’s intelligence service. Now its black flag is recognized, and often cheered, across Syria, and its bearded, baggy-pantalooned fightersare at the forefront of the critical battle for the city of Aleppo.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Anat Hoffman’s arrest at Western Wall galvanizing liberal Jewish groups

TEL AVIV (JTA) -- Last week’s episode was hardly the first time Israeli police stopped activist Anat Hoffman while she was leading a women’s prayer service at the Western Wall in violation of Israeli law.
But this time, police actually arrested Hoffman -- a first, she says -- and the incident appears to be galvanizing liberal Jewish groups in the United States and Israel.
In the United States, the Union for Reform Judaism called for a police investigation and expressed its dismay to Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador in Washington. The United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism announced a global “Shema flash mob” for Monday -- a nod to the prayer Hoffman was reciting when she was arrested.
In Israel, the Israel Religious Action Center, which Hoffman leads, launched a petition to the Supreme Court requesting that the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which runs the holy site also known as the Kotel, change its decision-making process to include non-Orthodox Jews.
“There is no voice around that table for women, for the paratroopers who liberated the Wall, for the variety of pluralist voices,” Hoffman, who is also chairwoman of Women of the Wall, told JTA. “We want to dismantle this body. If the Wall belongs to the Jewish people, where are the Reform, Conservative, secular?”
For now, however, there is no grand coordinated strategy to challenge the laws governing Israel’s holy site, which bar women from praying while wearing a tallit prayer shawl or tefillin, or from reading aloud from the Torah. In a 2003 Israeli Supreme Court decision, those rules were upheld on the ground that “local custom” at the Wall did not allow for such practices.
So with Women of the Wall intent on continuing its practice of organizing a women’s prayer service at the site every Rosh Chodesh -- the beginning of the Hebrew month -- another incident likely is not far off.
Hoffman’s arrest during last week’s Rosh Chodesh service on the evening of Oct. 16 garnered more attention than previous incidents in which Hoffman was detained but not arrested. Hadassah, which was holding its centennial celebrations in Jerusalem, had sent some 200 women to pray with Hoffman, giving a significant boost in numbers to the service, which totaled about 250 women.
After Hoffman was arrested, she claims Israeli police chained her legs and dragged her across the floor of a police station, leaving bruises. She also claims that police ordered her to strip naked, and that she spent the night in a cell without a bed. She was released the following morning after agreeing to stay away from the Kotel for 30 days.
Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said Hoffman’s claims about her treatment are “not accurate and not right.”
As the incident received wide coverage in the American Jewish media, the condemnations of Hoffman’s arrest poured in, particularly from women’s groups such as the Women’s Rabbinic Network and the National Council for Jewish Women. Hadassah’s national president, Marcie Natan, told JTA that Hadassah “strongly supports the right of women to pray at the Wall.”
Yizhar Hess, executive director of Israel’s Conservative movement, said that if Hoffman actually is charged with a crime, it would force a reexamination of the rules governing the Western Wall.
“It’s not an easy experience to be accused in criminal law, but it will take this debate to a different phase: What can be done and what cannot be done in the Western Wall plaza,” Hess said.
Hoffman says she wants the courts to allow her group to pray for one hour per month at the Wall, and ideally wants the Wall’s council to allocate some time for prayers without mechitzah -- the divider that separates men and women. She sees an opening in the Supreme Court’s reliance on “local custom” as the basis for upholding the current rules. The Israel Religious Action Center's petition aims to change who defines “local custom.”
Alternative services, like those of the Reform and Conservative movements, are allowed at Robinson's Arch, at the Kotel's southern corner and not adjacent to the plaza.
Shari Eshet, director of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Israel office, said legal initiatives are the best way to effect change on the issue.
“With all of the screaming and yelling and American Jews banging on the table, at the end of the day this is a land with a court system,” Eshet said. “We need to find another way to bring this back into the court system.”
Leaders of some religiously pluralistic American Jewish groups admit that their efforts to date on this issue have not worked. Some hope that Hoffman’s arrest will galvanize their constituents anew.
“This is a moment for us to think differently,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. He said his organization was considering an array of options and that more details would be forthcoming in a matter of weeks.
Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive vice president and CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, said a new strategy is needed.
“We’ve been very reactive thus far to these circumstances when they come,” he said. “Whatever strategies that we’ve been doing previously are not enough because this issue in recent years is getting progressively more difficult and troublesome.”
In Israel, groups working for religious pluralism face a dual challenge: They are fighting legal and legislative battles on a range of issues, and most Israelis are not motivated to join the fights -- especially when it comes to the Western Wall.
“Israelis view the Wall as something not relevant to day-to-day life,” Hess said. “What could have been a national symbol to connect Jews from all over the world is now only an Orthodox synagogue.”
Women of the Wall could attract more of an Israeli following if it linked its cause to other religious freedom issues, said Rabbi Uri Regev, president and CEO of the Israeli pluralism organization Hiddush. “As emotionally attractive and justified as Women of the Wall is, there are bigger and more compelling issues,” like legalizing non-Orthodox Jewish marriage in Israel or funding non-Orthodox Jewish rabbis, he said.
Hoffman says she hopes Diaspora Jews will push the issue with Israeli leaders. Wernick says he wants the Jewish Agency for Israel’s board of governors to put the issue of women praying at the Western Wall on its agenda. He also is pushing for a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about it. USCJ, however, will not press for a new Israeli law on the matter, he said.
“We’re not Israeli citizens and we respect Israel’s right to determine its own course,” Wernick said.
Hoffman says, “The Western Wall is way too important to be left to the Israelis.”

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Informal ceasefire between Israel and Gaza, brokered by Egypt, holding

JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel and Hamas reportedly were observing an informal ceasefire, brokered by Egypt.
The ceasefire reportedly went into effect at midnight on Thursday morning, though a lone mortar shell was fired at southern Israel at about 9 a.m. Thursday, several hours after the unofficial truce was scheduled to begin.
"The contacts Cairo made resulted in a verbal promise by Hamas to calm the situation down and Israel said it was monitoring calm on the ground and would refrain from attacks unless it was subject to rocket fire from Gaza,"  an unnamed Palestinian official told reporters.
Israel denied that there was any agreement.
The cease-fire came after two days of rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza on Southern Israel, and Israeli strikes against rocket launching sites. Some 79 rockets hit Israel on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
At least five private homes were hit directly by the rockets and three foreign workers were injured, two seriously.
The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted at least seven rockets aimed at Ashkelon.
Schools that were closed in much of southern Israel opened on Thursday, with the Home Front Command still recommending that residents living within 10 miles of Gaza remain near bomb shelters.
Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and the Popular Resistance Committees both have claimed responsibility for the rockets.
The escalation on Israel's southern border follows a border attack Tuesday on an Israeli patrol near the security fence with Gaza that seriously injured an Israeli soldier, who lost his arm in the explosion.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the radius for communities to be reinforced against rocket attacks would be expanded at a cost of about $65 million.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Netanyahu: No Limits on Building in Jerusalem!

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came out swinging on Sunday after the European Union criticized approval for 800 new homes in the southern neighborhood of Gilo, and he told the Cabinet,” We are not imposing any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem. It is our capital.”
Last week’s approval for new building in Jerusalem includes construction of a military college on land that the EU, as well as the United States, considers to be Jewish “settlements” that they consider illegal.

A recent report authored by three Israeli legal experts, headed by former High Court Justice Edmund Levy, concluded that Jews have a legal right to live in all of the land restored to the country in the Six-Day War in 1967. It said the term “occupied territory” is wrong.
The Prime Minister’s comments to the Cabinet had a ring of electioneering, following his surprising announcement earlier this month that he would recommend that the Cabinet adopt part of the Levy Report.
Netanyahu’s stand was far different than the one he took several weeks ago, before elections were evident, when he put aside the report.

However, after the elections were announced and the Prime Minister suddenly suggested that the Cabinet adopt part of the Levy Report, his attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, conveniently followed up with a statement that saying he opposes the report, effectively shelving it.

Weinstein’s action was a carbon copy of previous rulings that contradicted ostensibly nationalist positions from Netanyahu, allowing him to please nationalists and then letting the Obama administration relax by knowing that no action would take place that might ruffle its feathers.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman paved the way for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks, stating that “Jerusalem is not a settlement” and that Israel has set a “red line” that strikes the capital from any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hamas vows to kidnap more Israeli soldiers

At a Gaza event marking one year since the prisoner swap deal that secured Gilad Shalit's return home, military wing of Hamas announces the video will be released later Thursday.

Hamas vowed Thursday to abduct more Israeli soldiers and hold them as bargaining chips for militants in Israeli jails, on the anniversary of the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
A Hamas spokesman said that "soldiers of the enemy can be a target anytime, they can be killed, wounded or held captive by militants."
The comments came as Hamas marked one year since the prisoner swap which saw Israel free 1,027 jailed Palestinians in two stages, in return for Shalit, an Israeli soldier held largely incommunicado in the Gaza Strip for over five years.
"The prisoners that Israel refused to release in the last exchange deal will be considered in any swap deal in the future," Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas' Qassam Brigades, told a news conference near the border between Gaza and Egypt on Thursday morning.
Also, the spokesman said that Hamas will release video footage that documents the 2006 abduction of Gilad Shalit, including preparations for his kidnapping and release.
The video, called "The Dispersion of Illusion," is said to reveal new information relating to the prisoner exchange deal, the abduction, and the conditions of Shalit's captivity.
Senior Hamas official Saleh Al-Aruri has also announced that some 18 prisoners who were transferred to Gaza after their release in the prisoner swap deal will soon return to their homes in the West Bank.
Their return was postponed by one month, Al-Aruri said, in the wake of difficulties imposed by the "Zionist occupation." Some of the prisoners have started new families in Gaza, and it is necessary to coordinate their return with them to the West Bank, he added, while others are currently in Saudi Arabia making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
In his first television interview aired on Wednesday, Shalit described his life after his return from Hamas captivity in Gaza. "It's difficult coming back to normal life. It's difficult socially. People have changed, have grown up, you feel as if you were left behind," he told Channel 10.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Egyptian ambassador brings Israel ‘message of peace’

Incoming ambassadors from Egypt and Jordan presented their credentials to President Shimon Peres on Wednesday, both of them affirming their governments’ desires to maintain their respective peace treaties with Israel and to further peace in the Middle East.
“I came with the message of peace and I came to confirm that we are really working for mutual trust and transparency,” Ambassador Atef Salem of Egypt told Peres at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. “We are committed to all the agreements we signed with Israel and we’re also committed to the peace treaty with Israel.”
The arrival of the two new envoys — both career diplomats — appeared to mark a rare and significant positive step amid Israel’s complex relations with its Arab neighbors. While Jerusalem’s ties with Amman and Cairo are formally intact, relations between the governments and citizens have of late been frosty at best, and the two appointments come after a prolonged period in which both posts were vacant.

‘I came to confirm that we are really working for mutual trust and transparency,’ Atef Salem tells Peres in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In Mecca, Hamas and Fatah fight over pilgrims’ hearts and minds

Saudi Arabian intransigence leads rival Palestinian governments to join forces in facilitating Hajj

The Saudi government has refused to work with Hamas’s ministry of endowments in registering pilgrims from Gaza, forcing the ministries of Hamas and Fatah to cooperate ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage, which begins October 24.

Hamas and Fatah were forced to cooperate “not through the willingness of the ministries or governments to unite, but due to Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow two [separate] delegations of Palestinian pilgrims, and the insistence of Riyadh on cooperating [only] with the Palestinian Authority’s ministry of endowments,” Palestinian sources told the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi Monday.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj provides travel visas to Muslims worldwide through local licensed travel agencies, with the Saudi government setting quotas for each country.
Because of the Saudi intransigence regarding Hamas, the Palestinian Authority’s ministry found itself responsible for processing pilgrims from Gaza as well.
Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of five basic tenets of the Islamic faith and is normally performed at least once in a believer’s lifetime, subject to his financial capabilities.
Visiting Gazan pilgrims in Mecca, PA minister of endowments Mahmoud Habbash pointed out the irony of being able to meet them only in Saudi Arabia. Habbash took advantage of the moment to score political points at Hamas’s expense, highlighting the supremacy of the PLO and its leader Mahmoud Abbas over Hamas.
“It is a historic moment for us pilgrims, coming from all districts of the nation, to meet in this sacred land,” Habbash told the men from Gaza. “Pilgrims have only one address and one representative: the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which represents the Palestinian collective.”
“We will meet and unite soon in Gaza very soon,” he was quoted by Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying.
But Hamas’s minister of endowments, Ismail Radwan, did not clear the field for his West Bank equivalent. Radwan also visited Palestinian pilgrims in Mecca, promising to solve any technical problems that may arise during their stay in Saudi Arabia.
Radwan said that for the first time this year, his ministry has provided shuttle services from the pilgrims’ hotels to the Kaaba, the central place of worship in Mecca.
Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, and the sides have been unable to finalize a political reconciliation agreement.
From The Times of Israel TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Israel Is Not Our Enemy

The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of education and freedom, and the Arab dictators who suppress their own people.

by Abdulateef Al-Mulhia retired Saudi Navy Commodore who lives in Saudi Arabia.

Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, in 1948 and 1967.
The 1967 War lasted only six days. But, these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations. From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people? And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars? But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.
I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and the reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Israeli Vaccine: Stops Cancer from Coming Back

(Nes Ziona, ISRAEL) An Israeli company is developing a new cancer drug which aims to stop cancer from coming back.
Every year millions of people are diagnosed with cancer worldwide. Although modern medicine has made huge progress in treating this disease, what often happens is that the cancer is treated and the patient goes into remission or is even “cured” – but then it becomes a waiting game to see if the cancer comes back.

Imagine if there was a new treatment option that would stop cancer from returning!
An Israeli medical team is attempting to do just that, to offer a new treatment with the potential for long-term maintenance – to stop the cancer from coming back.
Vaxil is a clinical stage biotechnology company based in Israel which develops therapeutic vaccines to treat cancer and infectious diseases. Therapeutic vaccines seek to harness the patient’s immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.
The therapeutic vaccine educates the immune system to seek out and destroy those cells which display cancer “markers” and to leave the healthy cells untouched. This means that the treatment hasvery few side effects, unlike other conventional treatments. This safety profile also means that it is suitable for long-term maintenance therapy.
Vaxil’s lead product, ImMucin, aims to teach the immune system of the cancer patient to attack those cancer cells which display the protein “MUC1″. Since MUC1 appears on 90% of all cancer cellss, ImMucin has a potentially broad application to many different strands of cancer such as lung, breast, kidney, prostate, ovarian, pancreatic and colon cancer – and even to hematological cancers such as leukemia, lymphomas and myeloma.
ImMucin is currently being evaluated in a Phase I/II clinical trial in patients with Multiple Myeloma (a blood cancer). All patients enrolled are in a stage process whereby the disease is coming back after a period of remission.
The clinical trial is being conducted at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem and at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.  Continue reading.

Report: Netanyahu agreed to give entire Golan to Syria

October 12, 2012

(JTA) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed in principle in 2010 to give back the Golan Heights to Syria, the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot reported.
The daily quotes unnamed American sources as saying that in 2010 “Netanyahu agreed to a full withdrawal from the Golan, to the shores of Lake Kinneret, in exchange for a peace agreement with Syria.” The initiative reportedly collapsed amid the outbreak of Syria's civil war.
In response to the report, the Prime Minister’s Office said the talk of withdrawal was “an American initiative, one of many discussed with Israel, which was not adopted at any stage," the newspaper said.
According to the account in Yediot, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, was supportive of the initiative. The Israelis “expected” a deal would mean the severing of ties between Iran and Syria, though this was not stated as an explicit demand, the report said.
The Americans quoted in the report said the talks about the proposed deal were at an advanced stage and that the American side was “surprised by the willingness shown by Netanyahu, who offered the Syrians more than his predecessors.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Iran's Khamenei: West won't lift sanctions if Tehran drops nuclear bid

The West is lying when it claims that harsh economic sanctions imposed on Iran will be lifted if the Islamic Republic halts its nuclear progress, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, adding that the "enemies" were exaggerating the extent of the sanctions' damage.

Khamenei's comments came amid heightened tension in Iran over the accelerated drop of the country's currency, the rial.

Last week, riot police fired tear gas, fought demonstrators and arrested money changers in and around the main bazaar in Tehran, with, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blaming speculators for the rial's slide, which is eating into living standards and destroying jobs in the industrial sector.

Referring to the reports of increased economic strain in the Islamic Republic, Iran's leader said in a speech in North Khorassan province on Wednesday that Tehran's "enemies and (their) media are magnifying the issue of sanctions and some (inside Iran) accompany them as well."

Cited by Iranian media, Khamenei said that embargoes and sanctions were imposed on Iran even before the world began protesting against its nuclear program, saying that the West says that if Iran "desists from its nuclear energy right, they will remove sanctions, but they lie."

"[The existence of] a relationship between the sanctions and Iran's nuclear issue is a lie, and it is the pride and rise and persistence of the Iranian nation which has angered them (the enemies)," Ayatollah Khamenei was cited by both the Fars news agency and Press TV as saying.

The Iranian Supreme Leader's speech came as, earlier in the day Iranian Mehr news agency reported that Iran was coordinating a planned visit by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano to Tehran in order to resume nuclear talks with Iranian officials, Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday.

Mehr cited Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi as saying that the Iranian IAEA mission in Vienna was in contact with Amano to arrange the visit. He did not give a date.

The aim of the visit is, like Amano's most recent trip to Tehran in May, to reach an agreement on an IAEA inspection of the military site Parchin near Tehran, where the UN nuclear watchdog wants to look for signs of possible nuclear warhead tests.

Iran says that it would allow access to the Parchin site and also suspend enriching uranium at 20 per cent for its Tehran medical reactor if the country's right for pursuing civil nuclear technology was acknowledged and sanctions lifted.