Caroline Glick: Europe Wants Unity on Iran but Undermines Trump on Jerusalem
While there is nothing new today about the EU’s practice of using the unchecked power of Israel’s Supreme Court, it is remarkable that they are exploiting it to try to subvert U.S. foreign policy.
As Prof. Eugene Kontorvich from Northwestern University, who directs the International Law Department at Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem, explains, “In this absurd lawsuit, an EU-funded organization is trying to use Israeli courts to block the U.S.’s exercise of its core sovereign prerogatives. In essense, EU agents are using the imperiousness of the Israeli judicial system to block U.S. foreign policy with which it happens to disagree.”
Kontorovich noted that “Ir Amin is almost certain to lose even in Israeli courts.” But as Steinberg points out, the purpose of the petition isn’t to block the embassy move, per se.
It is to embarrass the U.S.
“Let’s assume that the Court is wise enough to dismiss their petition, Steinberg begins, “Ir Amim still gets the publicity.
“This is about controlling the discourse about Jerusalem. Ir Amim gets publicity that presents it as an Israeli NGO whose positions are more legitimate than those of the Israeli government and, in this case, more legitimate than the U.S. government,” he explains.
On Tuesday it was reported that European pressure on the Trump administration to suffice with symbolic changes to the nuclear deal with Iran while keeping the substance of the agreement unchanged is making headway. President Trump is now weighing good relations with Europe over the need to block Iran from acquiring the means to wage nuclear war.
As he does so, the president should bear in mind that the same European leaders that are calling for “unity” on Iran are carrying out a multilayered campaign across several continents to undermine his most significant foreign policy achievement since entering office. They are seeking to undermine President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The PA [should] be responsible for the Palestinians within its own territories as well as those who reside in other Arab states. It would [thus] be forced to act like a state and defend the rights and interests of its own citizens. Externally, foreign aid to a state can also—in theory—be subject to more rigorous donor oversight. Unlike UNRWA’s internal assessments, which rarely find problems except in the allegedly inadequate scale of aid and programs, external review by donor countries would examine metrics and efficiencies, spot corruption, determine the success or failure of programs, and assess the overall level of need. External review is designed to encourage self-sufficiency, not dependency. . . .
UNRWA is an iconic and sacrosanct entity. Without it, aid to the Palestinians would no longer be a sacralized demonstration of support for their narratives of displacement and return, or of support for the international system itself and for the UN. The Palestinian issue would be put into proportion while other needs and issues, like the genuine refugee crises in Syria and Yemen, would receive proper attention and resources.
Finally, by transferring responsibility, two cultural-political requirements would be addressed. First, a final-status issue would be at least partially taken off the table [of Israel-Palestinian negotiations]: that of who bears responsibilities for Palestinian “refugees.” It is the PA. Even without formally repudiating the “right of return,” which UNRWA supports and the PA cannot at this point conceivably abandon, the issue would be incrementally quashed in theoretical and practical terms.
The PA’s taking responsibility, and the end of UNRWA, would also go a long way toward forcing Palestinians to give up the centrality of refugee-ness in their own culture. They are not refugees, much less internationally supported ones. They are a people with their own nascent state.
Isi Leibler: Storm clouds threaten the region
Early this month, Hamas initiated a campaign in which it enlisted thousands of Gaza residents to breach the Israeli border. Hamas gunmen and fighters hurling Molotov cocktails were interspersed among the demonstrators. The IDF took defensive action, using live gunfire only where necessary. Thousands were injured and dozens, primarily of identifiable Hamas terrorists, were killed.
The atmosphere is extremely tense and Israel is girding itself for the possibility that war could erupt at any moment.
We are fortunate that Netanyahu heads the nation at this crucial time. But he faces three major challenges:
1. Preparing for war, if necessary, to prevent the Iranians from setting up bases in Syria that threaten Israel.
2. Confronting attempts by Hamas to breach Gaza’s borders while limiting the casualties.
3. Employing his diplomatic talents both to maintaining the alliance with Trump and retaining the fragile relationship with Putin.
To deal with these challenges and avoid being dragged into the U.S.-Russia conflict is an extremely tough balancing act. Despite Russian reprimands and warnings that it intends to provide the Syrians with more sophisticated air defenses, Israel’s lines of communication with the Kremlin, though fragile, are still open. Efforts are being made to retain maximum coordination, but Netanyahu must exert all his diplomatic skills to achieve this.
Even though Israel is stronger and more independent than ever before, there are clear storm clouds on the horizon. Keeping the 1973 Yom Kippur War in mind, we should never be overconfident.
Professor Eugene Kontorovich is the head of the international law department of the Kohelet Policy Forum and a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He answers the question, “how can the legal position of Judea and Samaria [West Bank] be defined?”, in Israeli rule in the ‘West Bank’ is legal under International Law .
“The question that should be asked is: What were the borders of Israel when it was first established? What defines this are the borders at the moment of independence. Israel was created, like most countries, after a successful war where no one came to its aid. In international law, there is a clear rule regarding the establishment of new countries: the country’s borders are determined in accordance with the borders of the previous political entity in that area. So, what was here before? The British Mandate. And what were the borders of the British Mandate? From the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.”
Thus, he argued, Israel liberated its own territory in 1967. Therefor the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) does not apply and the settlements are legal. And if the FGC doesn’t apply then Israel has the right to expel Arabs from these territories just as the victors expelled Germans from the land they conquered.
The international community chose not to see it that way and passed UNSC Res 242 at the end of the Six Day War in 1967. It began with a misstatement of the law, when it recited; “Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war…” In fact, International law holds that victors, in a defensive war, can keep the land acquired.
Nevertheless, the resolution did not demand that Israel withdraw from all territories but gave her permission to remain in the territories until the following conditions were met:
“Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;”
Clearly these conditions are far from being met.
Describing the problem of the spread of marijuana nurseries in the Palestinian Authority, the chief of Tulkarem Police, Azzam Jabara, claimed “Israel is the number one cause of the spread of drugs in the Palestinian areas” and that this is done deliberately to destroy the Palestinian future:
“Tulkarem Police Chief Azzam Jabara said that Israel is the main cause of the spread of the [marijuana] nurseries and [its] distribution in Palestinian society…
He explained that the occupation (i.e., PA euphemism for Israel) intentionally does not pursue those who distribute drugs in the Palestinian territories, despite it knowing who they are, and this is while those who distribute them among the Jews are arrested and severe measures are taken against them. He added that this proves that the occupation is the number one cause of the spread of drugs in the Palestinian areas, in order to destroy the young generations and thus destroy the whole society.” [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 23, 2018]
This allegation is often made by the PA. Palestinian Media Watch reported earlier this year that PA Chairman Abbas said that “Israel is exporting drugs to us in frightening amounts.”
The PA’s Coordinator of the Project of the War on Drugs in Jerusalem Issam Jweihan similarly said last year:
“A war is being waged [by Israel] against Jerusalem. This is an unconventional war in which unconventional weapons are being used. The goal of the war is clear – to Judaize the city and empty it of its [Arab] residents. They are using unconventional weapons. The weapon that brings the best results for the Israelis is drugs.” [Official PA TV, Palestine This Morning, June 21, 2017
There is a long history of anti-Israel bias among many in the Western world. This has led Palestinian leaders to conclude that provocations against Israel can be productive, because they have important public relations value. Such action often leads to condemnations from sources like the United Nations, Arab countries, the European Union, NGOs, as well as some radical Jewish organizations. These reactions then provide a further incentive for more Palestinian provocations.
The recent Hamas-conducted “March of Return” protests along the Gaza border were not peaceful. They included rock throwing, Molotov cocktails, and shooting at IDF soldiers. There were also repeated attempts by Palestinians to cross the Israeli border in order to launch violent attacks on Israelis. Eleven of the first Palestinian casualties in the protests were proven to be terrorists, including those from Hamas.
During the second march, there was new violence, including the burning of what may have been 10,000 tires. There were also further attempts to both attack IDF soldiers and infiltrate Israel under the resulting smokescreen. Since then, burning kites have been launched against the Jewish state. But these kites are far from innocent; at least one had a firebomb attached to it.
Many Western anti-Israel statements were issued after Israel responded to this rampant Palestinian violence. A number of these statements were of four types. On the surface, they seem reasonable. But even superficial analysis shows that all of these kinds of statements involve hypocrisy and bias.
The Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center is seeking International Criminal Court action against Hamas over the terrorist group’s use of children as human shields in the riots that have taken place over the past month on the Israel-Gaza Strip border.
The lawsuit is based on a clause in the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC’s work, which says that recruiting children under the age of 15 to any militant organization is a war crime.
The suit names former Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, current deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri, and moneyman Zahar Jabarin as guilty of war crimes, saying that as all three are nationals of Jordan, which is a signatory to the Rome Statute, they are subject to the court’s jurisdiction.
“The death of a 15-year-old boy near the Gaza border last week was a direct result of the war crimes committed by Hamas leaders against their own people,” said Shurat Hadin Director Nitzana Darshan-Leitner.
A Palestinian journalist shot two weeks ago by Israeli forces on the Gaza border has died in an Israeli hospital, Israeli and Palestinian sources said Wednesday, the second journalist killed in a month of unrest.
Ahmed Abu Hussein, 25, was shot on April 13 while covering protests along the Gaza border for a local radio station.
The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry announced he had died after receiving treatment inside Israel, which the Sheba hospital near Tel Aviv confirmed.
His brother Diaa said they were preparing to transfer the body to Gaza for the funeral.
Abu Hussein worked for Radio Shaab, a Gazan radio station, and was a photographer for another local news agency.
He was shot in the stomach while covering protests near Jabalia in northern Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said.
Israel said after he was shot that he was a Hamas member, but offered no proof.
Ha’aretz’s Amira Hass has done her usual job of taking a press release from Hamas and turning it into anti-Israel agitprop. And of course, because Ha’aretz is Israel’s premier far-left newspaper, with a vanishingly small circulation but the reputation as Israel’s New York Times, every anti-Israel thing they print goes world wide via syndication and quotation.
Amira Hass’s latest is all about the horrific injuries and deaths amongst the obviously innocent, civilian, peaceful protesters at the March of Return. There’s even a funky Infographic and we all know that all facts presented in an Infographic must be true.
The headline number: 1700 wounded by “live fire” and 37 killed. That means 1 out of every 45 shot by the ruthlessly efficient Israeli Defence Forces died. Last year in Chicago 3,561 people were shot by a wide array of hoodlums and criminals yielding 625 dead. That’s 1 in 6 killed by bullets. So either the IDF has the least lethal bullets in the world, or “Doctors at Gaza’s Shifra Hospital” (the one directly above the control bunkers Hamas leaders hide in) are lying.
France and the United States also agree that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, and that regime must end its support for terrorism all over. No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems.
I also want to thank President Macron for France’s vital contribution to our very successful campaign against ISIS. As we drive these ISIS killers from Syria, it is essential that the responsible nations of the Middle East step up their own contributions to prevent Iran from profiting off the success of our anti-ISIS effort. Very rich countries are in the Middle East. They have to make major contributions. They have not been doing it as they should. A major topic that we discussed a little while ago: They have to step up tremendously — not a little bit, but tremendously — their financial effort.
Mr. President, on behalf of the American people, I again express our solidarity in the wake of the terrorist attack in Southern France last month. I share the confidence you conveyed at the memorial service for the heroic Colonel Beltrame that, in time, we will achieve the ultimate triumph of right and of justice.
In the fight against terrorism, we both know that we must be strong from within to defend ourselves from threats outside. We will do what we must to protect our countries. You are our oldest ally and you are truly one of our great allies, and we appreciate it. We will always be there for you.
U.S. Sec of State: U.S. “Will Not Leave a Vacuum” in Syria
Syria was another prominent topic of discussion. On April 13th, the United States, France, and the UK launched strikes on three targets in Syria. These military actions taken together with our allies were a response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons to kill and injure hundreds of its own people. The images of dead and dying children following the Syrian regime’s most recent chemical attack represented a call to action among the world’s civilized nations. The response of the United States and our key partners was not simply to hold Assad and other Syrian regime officials accountable for the atrocities committed, but also to degrade the regime’s capability to commit them and to deter the use of chemical weapons in the future.
We want to ensure that malicious regimes and terrorists understand this message of deterrence. We’re committed to completing the fight against ISIS and rooting out its remaining havens. The U.S. will remain committed in Syria until ISIS is defeated and the so-called caliphate completely eliminated. We will work to ensure global forces enabled by our regional partners and allies will consolidate these gains, stabilize liberated territories, and prevent the return of ISIS. We will not leave a vacuum that can be exploited by the Assad regime and its supporters.
In parallel, we will work with our partners to invigorate the Geneva political process pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2254, and to mobilize the resources needed to address Syria’s urgent humanitarian and stabilization needs. We will seek further contributions in forces, materiel, and money from regional partners and allies in order to sustain the effort in Syria and stabilize liberated territories.
As we work to advance the political process, the United States is committed to ensuring that all Syrians, including the Sunni Arabs, Kurds, Christians, Turkmen, and other minorities in northeast Syria, have a full seat at the table and an appropriate say in their future pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
The Trump administration’s Mideast envoy Jason Greeblatt lambasted the Palestinians before a Jewish audience on Tuesday, casting both Hamas’s “hostile actions” at the Israel-Gaza border and the Palestinian Authority’s support for terrorism as detrimental to peacemaking efforts.
“You can’t make peace in an environment where violence is practiced and celebrated,” he said to an American Jewish Committee luncheon reception in New York.
Over the last month, tens of thousands of Gazans, with the encouragement of the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza, have been undertaking weekly protests at the border. Some rioters have tried to damage the security fence and infiltrate Israel, while others have thrown Molotov cocktails and rocks, and burned tires.
The Israel Defense Forces has so far killed at least 40 Palestinians in the border clashes, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. Israel does not confirm the numbers.
In his remarks, Greenblatt firmly blamed Hamas for the chaos and violence. He did not direct any criticism toward Israel, which much of the international community claims has responded disproportionately to the protests.
When the Stars and Stripes is hoisted over the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem next month it will be a physical milestone in a broader, striking shift by the Trump administration away from a half-century of traditional U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.
For decades, Washington has tried to position itself as a neutral party in the conflict. Yet the May 14 move of the embassy from Tel Aviv will be just the latest in a series of steps the administration has taken that have delighted Israelis and angered Palestinians.
President Donald Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital over Palestinian objections and slashed American aid to the Palestinians. Just last week, the administration signaled it may be moving away from describing the West Bank as “occupied,” and has steadfastly avoided any public comments critical of Israel related to the mass protests along the Israel-Gaza border.
Taken together, the moves indicate that Trump intends to make good on his pro-Israel campaign promises. Whereas previous administrations have gone out of their way to appear evenhanded, Trump has made no secret of his affinity for Israeli positions.
The White House pushes back on criticism that the administration has been unfair to the Palestinians. A senior official pointed to Trump himself having made an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a priority and assigned some of his most trusted advisers to the task. The official also noted that the White House last month convened an international conference to discuss humanitarian assistance in Gaza.
Mike Pompeo, the incumbent CIA director and nominated US Secretary of State, is slated to lead the delegation of some 250 American officials and Jewish leaders at a ceremony inaugurating the United States Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.
It was previously reported that United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would head the delegation.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Vice President Mike Pence had both indicated they might attend. The earlier report did not say whether Haley would be coming.
Some 40 senators are expected to join the delegation, along with congressmen and the heads of major American Jewish organizations.
Trump announced with great fanfare on December 6 that he would relocate the embassy, which will temporarily be located in the current American consulate in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood.
United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has been seeking to adopt the Israeli name for the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, in his official remarks and statements, but has so far been prevented from doing so by the Trump administration, officials told the Associated Press.
The territory, captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967 and regarded as occupied by most of the international community, is referred to in internal Israeli discourse primarily by its biblical name. Its southern part is known as Judea, while the northern part is called Samaria.
It is known internationally as the West Bank due to its location west of the Jordan River, which separates the territory from Jordan.
Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s envoy for international negotiations, have also led internal administration opposition to criticism of Israel for its response to recent Palestinian protests organized by Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, the administration officials said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked his Romanian counterpart Viorica Dancila for her efforts to relocate her country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
He spoke with her at his office in Jerusalem on Wednesday at the start of her two-day visit to Israel, her first since taking office in January 2018.
Dancila is in Israel to bolster bilateral ties with Israel and to prepare for a joint Israeli-Romanian governmental meeting that will take place in Romania later this year.
In advance of her visit, Dancila announced that her country plans to follow US President Donald Trump’s lead by relocating its embassy and submitted a proposal to do so to the cabinet.
But approval will be needed from Romanian President Klaus Johannis, who has opposed the move.
The German Foreign Ministry refused to name Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state on Friday in a written letter to a question from a member of the parliament.
When asked by MP Petr Bystron, from the populist far-Right Alternative for Germany party, “What is the name of the capital of Israel (please only answer with location name)?” Niels Annen, a State Minister in the Foreign Ministry, declined to name Jerusalem.
Annen dodged the question and said: “As a matter of principle, every state has the right to determine a city within its territory to be its capital.” Bystron is the foreign policy spokesman for the Alternative for Germany.
The Jerusalem Post obtained a copy of the letter in which Annen denied Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
Annen, a member of the Social Democratic Party, wrote in the letter to Bystron that Israel declared in 1980 in its Basic Law that Jerusalem is the “completed and united” capital city of the Jewish state. He said Germany along with the international community does not recognize Israel’s absorption of Jerusalem into its territory after the 1967 Six Day War. Annen cited the United Nations General Assembly resolution 478 from 1980 that said Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a “violation of international law.”
The Knesset Ethics Committee will hold a hearing on anti-Israel statements made by Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi in speeches in Berkeley, California and in an interview with Jewish News of Northern California editor Sue Fishkoff, sources on the ethics committee said.
The sources on the committee said on Wednesday that it had authorized her trip and received information about it in advance.
Two MKs from “two very different parties, who are not extremists” submitted the complaints, which will be dealt with in the next two weeks, the sources said. The sources said the MKs did not want their names revealed because it would hurt their case if they talk to the press.
Fishkoff, a writer for The Jerusalem Post for six years, revealed that Zoabi was feted by the Berkeley City Council and delivered a series of public lectures on the evils of the State of Israel.
“We must liberate Americans from the Zionist lobby,” she told Fishkoff, in what she said was her first interview with an American Jewish publication. “People are very misinformed. Raising awareness for Americans is very important.”
Zoabi blasted American left-wing, progressive Jews in the interview for not completely giving up their support for Israel.
Seven individuals of African origin were sentenced on Monday by a criminal court in Algeria for “spying for a foreign power [Israel], and forming a criminal gang in the country,” Algerian media reported on Tuesday.
One Lebanese-born Liberian man was sentenced to death, while six other African nationals were sentenced to ten years in prison and fined sums of some 20 million Algerian dinar. They were charged with espionage, “possession and dissemination of documents that glorified terrorism,” and undermining state security.
According to Observ’Algerie, the defendants pleaded not guilty. Ynet reported that Algeria’s interior minister called the arrest “proof” that the Mossad and other foreign bodies are trying to hurt Algeria’s security and stability.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu solved Israel’s African asylum-seeker crisis. Twice over. And yet it is now utterly unresolved — with negative consequences for the migrants themselves, for the veteran residents of south Tel Aviv where most of the Africans live, for Israel’s moral choices and its reputation, for the well-being of the Supreme Court, and even for the standing of Netanyahu himself, who has managed to snatch defeat in every aspect of the crisis from the jaws of his own victory.
The current farcical and abysmal situation cries out for the adoption of an arrangement that Netanyahu himself rightly and proudly endorsed, but then immediately rejected. This article represents something of a plea to the prime minister: Rethink that ill-judged rejection.
The first of Netanyahu’s two successes came when he oversaw a major upgrade of Israel’s border fence with Egypt. Israel is the only First World country reachable over land from Africa, and tens of thousands of would-be refugees, asylum-seekers, economic migrants and/or infiltrators (depending on who’s talking) were making the arduous trek — notably from Eritrea and Sudan — in Israel’s direction, as word spread that this country was accessible to them. When Netanyahu warned — and he has warned often — that Israel could have faced a seven-figure influx, the concern was credible. Israel’s population of a little less than 9 million has a Jewish/non-Jewish ratio of 75 percent to 25 percent; the entry of a million African asylum-seekers would have shifted that balance, and profoundly remade it over time. As of five years ago, however, Netanyahu’s upgraded border fence (which is also a far more robust defense against Islamic State-linked terrorism) halted the flow of illegal entrants.
A Border Police officer who shot dead a teenage Palestinian protester in the West Bank in 2014 was sentenced to nine months in prison on Wednesday after reaching a plea deal with the prosecution.
A Jerusalem court found the officer, Ben Deri, guilty of causing death by negligence for using live ammunition, instead of rubber bullets, when he was ordered to disperse a crowd of protesters during Nakba Day demonstrations in the West Bank village of Beitunia, near Ramallah, on May 15, 2014.
The presiding judge, Daniel Teperberg, noted that Deri’s actions represented “serious and severe harm” to the Israeli social values of “sanctity of life and the human right to wellbeing.”
Deri had initially been charged with manslaughter, with prosecutors arguing that he had deliberately used live rounds. The charge was later reduced to the lesser crime of causing death by negligence, as part of a plea deal, under which Deri admitted to using the bullets accidentally.
The Kingdom of Jordan began the process of revoking the Jordanian citizenship of about 30 Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials and their families, London-based Arabic language newspaper Raialyoum reported Wednesday.
The officials who are slated to lose their citizenship include Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Authority negotiator Ahmed Qurei (“Abu Ala”).
The also stated that there would be major changes in the visa arrangements for entry into Jordan of the senior officials, granting them only temporary visitor’s rights.
Many Senior Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials, including Abbas and his two sons, were given Jordanian citizenship over a decade ago, a Jordanian official disclosed in early 2011.
They received Jordanian passports despite the fact that, at the time, the authorities in Amman were revoking the Jordanian citizenship of thousands of other Palestinians in order to “consolidate their Palestinian identity,” as the Jordanian government justified the process then.
With a population of 9.5 million, out of which more than two million are Palestinian refugees, the Jordanians long saw the Palestinian majority in the kingdom as a demographic threat. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
Hamas officials on Tuesday demanded that their leaders open a debate on a potential prisoner exchange deal with Israel that has been rejected by the terrorist group’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh.
Hamas is believed to be holding the bodies of Israeli soldiers Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul and Lt. Hadar Goldin, both killed in the 2014 conflict in the Gaza Strip. In addition, Ethiopian Israeli Avera Mengistu and Bedouin Hisham al-Sayed, both with mental health issues, crossed into Gaza voluntarily in 2014 and 2015 and are believed to have been captured by Hamas.
Haniyeh’s decision to snub an Egyptian effort to broker a deal has reportedly caused a rift between him and Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar. News of the rift between the group’s two strongmen, reported by Israel Hayom, has sparked controversy in the Gaza Strip, Egypt and Israel.
Egyptian media quoted a government official as saying, “Cairo is investing tremendous efforts to bring about a deal to return the bodies of the Israelis held by Hamas to burial in Israel, and it is committed to this effort.”
Q: In what ways does Iran’s entrenchment in Syria pose a danger for Israel?
Kuperwasser: What the Iranians are trying to do is to turn Syria into a base from which they can threaten Israel in a much easier way than they can from far away in Iran. Even if they are trying to have nuclear weapons, they know it’s going to take time. Meanwhile, they have to build their capabilities, and they are trying to bring in elements to make it possible for them to threaten Israel in three ways:
The first is by improving the capabilities of Hizbullah. The main focus in this respect is to try to enable Hizbullah to have weapons that are more precisely guided. Israel is trying to prevent that from happening.
Second, they were trying to build, until recently, a base for carrying out terror attacks against Israel from the areas adjacent to the border in the Golan Heights.
Third, the Iranians are trying to build a base inside Syria itself from which they can attack Israel using their various military capabilities, and use Syria as a place for the production of weapons that they cannot produce in Iran.
All of these are direct threats for Israel, and we saw that on February 10, when they tried to carry out an attack against Israel directly from Syria.
Q: It is said that an Iranian retaliatory strike against Israel is likely in the works. Do you agree with that assessment?
Kuperwasser: They have many options. They may consider carrying out terror attacks against Israeli targets outside the region. They did that in the past in Buenos Aires, so everything is possible. We should be on the alert, and yes, the Iranians will try to find a way to retaliate. But it’s not retaliation because they started it by launching an attack on Israel.
Russia plans to deliver an anti-aircraft missile system, known as the S-300, to Syria in the near future, Russian Defense Ministry’s Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi told reporters on Wednesday.
“Russian experts will continue to train Syrian military servicemen, particularly teaching them to use the new missile defense systems that are planned to be delivered to Syria in the near future,” he said, according to the Russian news agency TASS.
Russia’s sale and pending delivery of these weapons to the Syrian government has been a source of tension between Moscow and Jerusalem. Israel fears the S-300 would hamper its ability to attack military sites in Syria that are dangerous to the Jewish State and would therefore allow Iran to strengthen its military foothold in that country.
“This is by far the most advanced weapons system in air defense in Syrian hands so far,” said Brig. Gen. (res.) Assaf Orion, “so theoretically it is an entrenchment to the apparent freedom of action that the Israeli air force enjoys over Syria’s sky.”
“I can’t rule out striking them [the S-300 systems] at some point in time… so you can’t say it’s totally out of the Israeli option book, and a lot depends on the strategic level,” he said.
US intelligence is monitoring shipments of weapons systems from Iran into Syria that might be used by Bashar Assad or Iranian forces, CNN reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, the United States and Israel fear the cargo could contain arms that may eventually be directed against Israel. The flights were tracked in the days following the US’s April 14 strike on Syrian regime targets.
According to the CNN report, at least two flights by Syrian Air Force IL-76 cargo jets, as well as one Iranian cargo jet, “caught US attention.”
Weapons shipments from Iran to Syria are not uncommon. The US Treasury Department has already blacklisted Iran Air, Mayan Air and Yas Air for supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In 2013, Reuters reported that Iran had been smuggling weapons into Syria through Turkish airspace to Beirut, and from there to Syria by truck. Once there, the arms would be distributed to government troops and pro-regime militias such as Hezbollah.
A Western intelligence report seen by Reuters in 2013 states that the equipment transferred from Iran to Syria “included light arms and advanced strategic weapons.”
The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic will definitely punish Israel for the air strike on the Syrian T-4 airbase near Homs, in which several Iranian officers were killed, Iranian affiliated PressTV boadcasting agency reported.
“The Israeli regime’s aggression against Syria is a breach of this country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and runs counter to all international regulations and principles,” he said in a news conference which was broadcast on state television.
“When a regime assumes the right to violate another country’s airspace in a planned move and also to target forces fighting with terrorism, it should have definitely considered its consequences and retaliatory reactions before,” Shamkhani emphasized.
However, the timing and other specifics were unclear as of yet, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council added. “The punitive measures of the Islamic Republic of Iran are definite but when, how and under what circumstances this will happen is in the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Reiterating the Iranian regime’s stance that through its actions it is pursuing peace and stability in the region, Shamkhani added that “The Islamic Republic of Iran has paid a considerable price in order to establish regional stability and fight against Takfiri [inter-Muslim] terrorism. Therefore, it cannot remain indifferent to the worrying increase of destabilizing measures by the US, the Zionist regime [Israel] and some of their regional allies.”
Tensions between the Islamic Republic and Israel started rising after the infiltration of an armed Iranian drone into northern Israel in February and the April 9 air strike on a Syrian T-4 airbase that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members, something that Israel has not confirmed or denied but was blamed for by Iran as well as Russia.
I have seen Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif speak in person three times. To his credit, I guess, he waxed agnostic on the historicity of the Holocaust on only one of those occasions, nearly 12 years ago. Perhaps his thinking on the topic has evolved since then, in which case it would be maybe the only sign of moral or intellectual growth Zarif has ever betrayed. His appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations Monday evening was almost indistinguishable from his discussion at the Asia Society back in September, which was itself reminiscent of his New America Foundation-sponsored talk at NYU in April of 2015. (I was unfortunately waitlisted for Zarif’s talk at CFR and had to watch a webcast of the event, but what’s just as well—others should get the chance to bask in the foreign minister’s presence.)
Zarif is still a dissembler and a double-speaker, and he still spent seemingly a third of his talk stewing over the particularities of the Iran-Iraq War, a conflict that concluded 30 years ago. This time around, the biggest howlers included: “In Iran, the judiciary is independent from the executive,” “We are in Syria to prevent a takeover of Syria by the extremists,” and “our economic indicators are good.” Orwellian is an overused descriptor these days, but what other adjective to use here? “Only in the Middle Ages could you have wars with winners and losers. In the war of the 20th and 21st century there are no winners,” said Zarif, whose government has behaved in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq as if wars are very much winnable or losable. He let a detectable anti-Arab chauvinism slip through: “We need to have a strong region, not to be the strongest in the region,” Zarif claimed, drawing a supposed contrast between Iran and its Gulf neighbors. “We are big enough, old enough, mature enough to appreciate this reality.”
It’s dumb to expect absolute candor out of any official of any government—the best thing that can be said about Zarif is that he’s an effective diplomat who has advanced the interests of the regime that employs him. One should keep one’s expectations reasonable regarding the Zarifs of the world, but as a purely factual matter, no, Iran’s economic indicators are not good. Something closer to the opposite is true. And no, there isn’t much ambiguity as to who’s repeatedly dropped chlorine canisters on Syrian civilians from helicopters for the past few years. “Usually the culprit used chemical weapons in desperation, when they are desperate. Saddam Hussein did not use chemical weapons when he was advancing, he used them when he was being defeated,” Zarif lectured. “The two times Syria had been accused of using chemicals was when they were advancing, or even after they had won.” This is trutherism, regardless of who’s saying it and why.
Zarif’s fluent dishonesty didn’t mean his talk at CJR was a totally pointless exercise. Sinister, yes—but not pointless. Lies from powerful people are valuable because they expose the thinking that produced the lie, which is often a more honest reflection of their states of mind than the truth would have been. When the truth itself slips out, it’s a nasty and astonishing thing to behold. On Monday, Zarif did something that this amateur Zarifologist has never seen him do in front of an American audience. He revealed, through a thought process more coherent and systematic than he likely intended, what he actually believes and why he believes it. For a moment, audiences got an explication of Zarif’s political philosophy, in English.
7) “Israel has continued its violations with international law.”
This statement was made in response to a question about whether Iran’s establishment of bases in Syria was a provocation. Zarif deflected the question by speaking of Israeli incursions into Syria. In addition to preventing Iran, whose leaders threaten Israel’s existence, from establishing bases in neighboring Syria, Israel also has struck in Syria to prevent Iran from giving Hezbollah “game-changing” weapons. (It is thought that one of the strikes was to keep illicit chemical weapons from the Lebanese terror group.)
But Zarif’s self-righteousness here is misplaced. Iran is forbidden from sending arms to Hezbollah by UN Security Council Resolution 1701. In the absence of any enforcement mechanism, Israel is forced to defend itself from Iran’s serial violations of international law and, specifically, its support of Hezbollah.
Zarif is aware of the threat Hezbollah presents to Israel, as he assured Hezollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah in August 2015 that the nuclear deal would present the terror group with “a historic opportunity” to threaten Israel. Iran’s financing of Hezbollah has allowed it to build a massive rocket arsenal with which to threaten Israel.
Zarif is quite adept at feigning indignation, but most of his responses in this interview were deflections of the questions about Iran’s record, not answers. He has no real answers for Iran’s aggressive and destabilizing behavior. But Zarif does possess the quality identified by Wotton: the ability to lie.
The Trump administration is poised to legitimize Iran’s ballistic missile program, granting the Islamic Republic the ability to produce and test a series of missiles capable of striking Israel, according to those familiar with U.S. concessions during ongoing talks over the future of the landmark Iran nuclear deal.
After weeks of pressure from European countries, senior Trump administration officials handling the talks are said to have conceded to a demand that Iran only restrict ballistic missile activity to its longer range missiles, leaving untouched its mammoth arsenal of short-range and medium-range missiles that could easily hit Israel and other Middle Eastern nations.
The concession, which comes after months of wrangling over the future of the nuclear deal ahead of a May deadline, has roiled congressional officials and administration insiders who have been pressuring the White House to stand firm against these European demands.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal who has been advocating in favor of tough new restrictions on Iran, told the Free Beacon that the fixes proposed by the Europeans and supposedly endorsed by the Trump administration do not go nearly far enough in addressing Iran’s contested missile program.
The deadline for President Donald Trump to re-certify the Iran nuclear deal is looming on May 12th. On Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver detailed the “long-term and potentially irreversible” damage of allowing that agreement to fall apart. The Israel Project identified Oliver’s main arguments in favor of the JCPOA and explained the shortcomings in his analysis.
6:04 Oliver is citing a tweet from Rouhani in which he wishes “all Jews” a Happy Rosh Hashana as a sign of his moderation.
Wrong: The accusation of having real or perceived ties to Israel is a powerful tool of oppression in the Islamic Republic and is frequently levelled against the country’s few remaining Jews. The regime denies the Holocaust and regularly calls for the elimination of the state of Israel. State-owned publications publish anti-Semitic cartoons that depict Jews as demonic and malevolent creatures.
12:17 Oliver suggests that Iran is in compliance because the IAEA didn’t find breaches of the agreement.
Wrong: First, that’s not relevant for certification: condition 1 of Corker-Cardin requires the president to certify Iran has implemented all parts of the agreement, not that Iran hasn’t been caught cheating on the parts they have implemented. Second, the IAEA hasn’t caught Iran cheating because they haven’t been able to look where Iran is cheating.
14:00 Oliver charges that the deal is a good deal because without it Iran could start building a bomb now.
Wrong: Oliver inadvertently admitted that the deal is not living up to what it promised. He acknowledges that Iran can sit out the terms of the agreement and re-launch its nuclear program. Yet President Obama said in a speech at the American University in Washington D.C. in August 2015:
“After two years of negotiations, we have achieved a detailed arrangement that permanently prohibits Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. It cuts off all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb. It contains the most comprehensive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program.”
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