IDF Blog: 70 Years of Defending Israel
On May 1948, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officially began acting as Israel’s military organization, rather than the assortment of separate groups that had preceded it. Led by the first Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Yaakov Dori, the IDF took on the role of the official defender of the State of Israel and its citizens.
Since its founding, the IDF has fought in seven wars, sent humanitarian delegations to more than 25 countries around the world, began a large effort to help Syrians in need, and created revolutionary technology.
The Givati Brigade participating in a parade. Pictured from right to left: IDF Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Yaakov Dori, Ben-Gurion, Major General Yigael Yadin, and Major General Yigal Allon – 1948
The War of Independence:
The IDF was established at a time when the entire country was at war for its very survival. The IDF drew its forces and weapons from the various Jewish paramilitary organizations that were active prior to the founding of the state, and began as a hastily cobbled together, ill-equipped army. By the end of the 1948 War of Independence, the IDF had defeated five invading Arab armies and became what it is today.
In keeping with Palestinian Authority policy to honor terrorists and glorify terrorist attacks, PA Chairman Abbas himself met with Um Nasser Abu Hmeid – a Palestinian woman who is famous and admired in the PA for being the mother of 4 terrorist prisoners serving multiple life sentences. In total they are serving 18 life sentences for murdering 8 people and carrying out numerous terror attacks. The PA refers to her fifth son, a terrorist who was killed by Israel, as “a Martyr.”
Abbas welcomed Abu Hmeid in his personal headquarters. She is also known in the PA as “Khansa of Palestine,” – a name that refers to the woman Al-Khansa from early Islam, who sent her four sons to battle and rejoiced when they all died as Martyrs.
Official PA TV newsreader: “President Abbas welcomed in the [PA] presidential headquarters in Ramallah Um Nasser [Abu] Hmeid ”Khansa of Palestine,” mother of five (sic) prisoners.”
[Official PA TV News, April 25, 2018]
Palestinian Media Watch exposed that the PA chose Abu Hmeid to launch the PA’s statehood campaign with the UN in 2011, and also honored her in 2010 and again in 2015. Recently, the official PA daily singled her out in a report on an event for mothers of “Martyrs.”
In its report, official PA TV News also included a statement by Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki who, while standing with Abu Hmeid, praised her and her terrorist sons:
Last Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed a vast repository of over 100,000 documents and files that Israeli intelligence obtained from Iran’s secret nuclear archive in Tehran.
The documents all attest to the Iranian regime’s clandestine plans to build nuclear weapons. One document proclaimed the ominous mission: to “design, produce and test five warheads, each with ten kiloton TNT yield for integration on a missile.” That is like five Hiroshima bombs.
Under the terms of the nuclear deal, Iran committed to coming clean about all prior military nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The material that Israel has uncovered provides overwhelming documentary proof that Iran lied to the IAEA, deliberately concealing its true intentions and activities.
As it stands, the Iranian nuclear deal does not prevent proliferation. On the contrary, the deal paves a clear path for the regime to build nuclear weapons. The deal also allows Iran to continue to develop ballistic missiles, enabling them to reach cities in Europe.
The inspection mechanism is wholly inadequate. Iran has never declared its enrichment facilities voluntarily. This was true of the uranium enrichment sites revealed by another source in Natanz in 2002 and Fordow in 2009.
The deal’s restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities expire in just a few short years. Then, Iran will be free to enrich unlimited quantities of uranium, using thousands of centrifuges. This sunset clause will reward the regime for its deceit.
Iran’s continued encroachment and aggression in the region, along with the major pitfalls in the 2015 agreement, and the dramatic new revelations from Iran’s nuclear archive, all attest to the folly of basing our common security upon Iranian duplicity and mendacity.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that while Israel is not interested in a military escalation with Iran, if there has to be a fight he would prefer it be now rather than later.
The comments came amid escalating tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran as the Islamic Republic has sought to expand its foothold in neighboring Syria, raising fears it could use bases for attacking Israel.
“We are determined to block the Iranian entrenchment, even at the cost of confrontation,” Netanyahu said at the start of his government’s weekly cabinet meeting. “We don’t want an escalation, but we are prepared for every scenario. We don’t want confrontation, but if there needs to be one, it is better now than later.”
“In recent months,” Netanyahu further noted, “the Iranian Revolutionary Guards organization has transferred to Syria advanced weaponry in order to attack us both on the battlefield and on the home front, including weaponized UAVs, ground-to-ground missiles and Iranian anti-aircraft batteries that would threaten air force jets.”
His comments came a week after a strike on an Iranian base in Syria, attributed to Israel, which reportedly destroyed hundreds of surface-to-surface missiles and killed over 30 people, including many Iranian military officials. Iran denied that any of its soldiers were killed in the attacks and that any of its bases in Syria were targeted.
Seth J. Frantzman: Analysis: Iran’s missile threat and Israel’s message to Russia and Assad
As far as Israel is concerned, it wants to create more daylight between Assad and Russia on one hand and Iran on the other.
The problem is that Iran is a key player in Syria, attending meetings frequently with Turkish and Russian officials as part of the Astana peace process. Israel is not present in those meetings and neither is the United States. So Israel can only really rely on Moscow to voice its concerns.
This is the dilemma facing Jerusalem. Israel has threatened Iran and Assad with retaliation. “If Assad allows Iran to turn Syria into a military vanguard against us, to attack us from Syrian territory, he should know that would be the end of him, the end of his regime,” Energy Minister and cabinet member Yuval Steinitz told the Ynet news site Monday.
There have also been more than 100 air strikes launched against Syria over the last five years according to a report last year by Amir Eshel, the former Israel Air Force commander.
A third method of warning Tehran comes via media reports that reveal Iranian bases or Iranian strategy, or bring Iran’s missile threat to light.
Tehran understands that these verbal messages are part of a wider strategy.
Opposition forces in southern Syria arrested a number of suspected Hezbollah members in the past week, including one man who said he was awaiting orders to fire rockets at Israel, a rebel commander told The Times of Israel late Sunday night.
News of the arrest raids came as defense officials warned that Iran, through its proxies, was apparently planning to carry out a missile attack against military bases in northern Israel in retaliation for a number of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, which were attributed to Israel.
“Israel has recently identified with certainty Iranian preparations to fire at the north,” Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Sunday. “We are not on the eve of war with Iran… but Iran is very determined to carry out an attack” to avenge the T-4 strike and the deaths of its military personnel, it said.
It was unclear if the arrests of the suspected Hezbollah members in southern Syria were directly connected to the Israeli defense officials’ warnings of an impending Iranian strike. While relatively simple Grad missiles were said to be in the possession of the suspects arrested in southern Syria, Israeli defense officials said they were concerned about attacks from the longer-range, heavier and far more advanced Fateh-110 missiles.
Israeli officials reacted with concern as early results in Lebanon’s first parliamentary elections in nine years indicated that the militant Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah and its allies had won more than half the seats.
“Hezbollah equals Lebanon,” tweeted Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
Bennett said Hezbollah’s gains in Sunday’s election show that Hezbollah is now indistinguishable from the state and the two should be viewed as one. He suggested that in any future war, Israel would not distinguish between actions by the Lebanese army, viewed until now as the country’s legitimate military, and Hezbollah, which was viewed as a rogue terrorist organization.
“The State of Israel will not differentiate between the sovereign State of Lebanon and Hezbollah, and will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory,” Bennett said.
If the initial election results are confirmed in the final count, this spells a significant political boost for heavily armed Hezbollah, with parties and individuals aligned with it securing a simple parliamentary majority.
An Israeli minister on Monday threatened that the Jewish state could kill Syrian President Bashar Assad if his regime doesn’t prevent Iranian forces from launching attacks against Israel from his territory.
The warning came amid reports that Tehran is planning a revenge missile strike against Israel.
Officials in the Islamic Republic have vowed to respond to several alleged Israeli attacks in Syria that targeted Iranian facilities and killed at least seven members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Israeli defense officials warned on Sunday that Iran was planning to retaliate by having its proxies fire missiles at military targets in northern Israel in the near future.
“If Assad continues to let the Iranians operate from Syrian soil, he should know that he signed his own death warrant and that it will be his end. We will topple his regime,” Yuval Steinitz, the minister of national infrastructure, energy and water resources, told the Ynet website.
“Assad cannot sit calmly in his palace and rehabilitate his regime while letting Syria be turned into a base for attacks against the State of Israel. It’s very simple,” said Steinitz who is a member of Israel’s security cabinet.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appealed once more on Monday to Donald Trump not to scrap the Iran nuclear deal, saying that while the US president has a “legitimate point” over “flaws” in the accord, the global community has no better alternative.
Speaking to US network Fox News ahead of meetings meeting in Washington with US administration officials, Johnson said Trump was “right to see flaws” in the deal but “Plan B does not seem to be to me particularly well-developed at this stage.”
Trump has threatened to withdraw from the agreement when it comes up for renewal on May 12, demanding US allies “fix the terrible flaws” in it or he will re-impose sanctions on Iran that were eased under the historic accord.
“The president has a legitimate point,” Johnson told Fox, a favorite among US conservatives. “He set a challenge for the world.”
“We think you can be tougher on Iran, address the concerns of the president and not throw the baby out with the bathwater, not junk a deal.”
US President Donald Trump blasted former secretary of state John Kerry on Twitter Monday for interfering in the Administration’s foreign policy.
“The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal. He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!,” the president tweeted.
The condemnation came days after reports emerged that Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif two weeks ago in a bid to salvage the 2015 nuclear agreement signed between Iran and world powers.
According to the Boston Globe, Kerry met Zarif at the United Nations in New York for a second meeting in as many months amid Trump’s threats to withdraw from the agreement by May 12.
Former Senator Joe Lieberman criticized John Kerry on Sunday for engaging in shadow diplomacy to try to save the Iran Deal.
A new Boston Globe report explained that Kerry, former secretary of state, has been using contacts he developed at the State Department to meet with foreign leaders who are favorable to the Iran Deal. Kerry’s moves fly in the face of official American foreign policy, as the Trump administration has expressed desires to back out of the deal.
During an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, Lieberman said Kerry is acting inappropriately by negotiating without being in an official government position.
“John Kerry is not negotiating on behalf of the U.S. government — I hope everybody he’s talking to knows that,” Lieberman said. “But, in my opinion, what he’s doing is inappropriate and he shouldn’t be doing it.”
Lieberman noted that Kerry is being uniquely uncouth because former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton haven’t gone around talking to the Iranians or Europeans since leaving office.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Netanyahu Staff Now Using Iranian Nuke CDs As Coasters (satire)
Employees at Israel’s Office of the Prime Minister found a creative use for the otherwise obsolete magnetic storage media containing Iran’s nuclear weapons development archive, some personnel report, and have taken to placing the discs under beverage holders to reduce the risk of any liquid spilled or dripped from the cups staining the surface on which they have been placed.
Following Mr. Netanyahu’s live broadcast Monday evening in which he unveiled several shelves of binders and 183 CDs that Israel had obtained by clandestine means, staffers found themselves at a loss what to do about the plastic discs, which use obsolete data storage technology, until an enterprising administrative assistant suggested using them as coasters.
“Thank God for Maya,” breathed a secretary in the Diaspora Affairs Department, referring to the coworker who devised the inspired solution. “It would be a shame to have so many CDs go to waste. My children’s preschool can only use so many of the things in crafts projects. This is a good use – they’re not quite disposable, since they can just be rinsed off, but no one will raise too much of a fuss if they slowly disappear. I just hope the guys don’t start throwing them around like frisbees.”
“If this were an office such as the Chief Rabbinate or the Motor Vehicle Licensing Bureau I could understand trying to make technological use of the CDs,” remarked Roni, who works in Human Resources. “That might actually be pushing it, because from what I understand even a fax machine is cutting-edge technology to them, but certainly here we’ve progressed to other things.”
Palestinian demonstrators continued to launch kites fitted with firebombs from the Gaza Strip into Israel on Thursday in the hopes of sparking fires.
The incendiary kites caused blazes in several locations near Kibbutz Be’eri and Kibbutz Kissufim in southern Israel. A large contingent of firefighters was deployed to the area.
The Israel Defense Forces is exploring more intensive measures to combat the threat, reported Kan Public Broadcasting. Among the measures being considered is the deployment of multi-rotor drones to intercept the kites before they cross into Israel. The army is also weighing the option of shooting at those who launch the kites, according to the report.
Kibbutz Kissufim spokesman Benny Hasson told Israel Hayom that the incendiary kite phenomenon must be stopped.
“There was a huge fire next to the kibbutz, which erupted in two separate spots. The whole kibbutz was covered in smoke,” he said. “The arson is disrupting the residents’ daily lives, and the wave of fires caused by the incendiary kites is causing a great deal of damage to our fields. We thank the firefighters for the job they are doing day and night, and everyone else who is involved in making sure the fires don’t spread into the communities themselves.”
Jordanian MP Yahya Al-Saud Incites to Violence at the Palestinian National Council Session: I Am a Slave to Whoever Teaches Me the Path of Martyrdom pic.twitter.com/hOT6MLCFNq
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) May 7, 2018
The Supreme National Council of the March of the Return has announced the start of preparations for this coming Friday’s march, which will be a general rehearsal for a large-scale march on May 14 along the border with Israel.
“We are calling on all Palestinians to turn the coming Friday into a date for preparations for the May 14 march with the participation of millions,” it said. The May 14 march coincides with the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and is also Nakba Day, meaning the day of the catastrophe, which is marked by Arabs on the date on which the State of Israel was founded in 1948.
The statement emphasized that the large-scale march is intended to convey a firm message to U.S. President Donald Trump that his planned “deal of the century” for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would not pass, but that “we (the Palestinians) will trample it by the feet of the millions who return to the homeland.”
The Council also called on the Arab and Islamic peoples and on liberals around the world to mobilize their forces to assist the Palestinian people in implementing their goals, primarily the liberation of the land and holy places and the end of the siege.
Hot on the heels of the BBC using its cycling report on the Israeli stage of the Giro d’Italia to quote Amnesty International’s accusation that Israel is “trying to ‘sportwash’ its reputation” comes the Guardian’s equally vindictive journalism care of Martha Kelner in Jerusalem.
In her Giro d’Italia report of May 3rd headlined Team Sky accused of deceiving Giro d’Italia organisers over Froome’s status Kelner writes:
As you can see no link, no evidence at all, just “Amnesty International suggesting”.
Here is how Amnesty has also “suggested”. At its London offices it allowed to be displayed this presumably faked photograph which manipulated a Jewish symbol, with additional Holocaust equivalence, to demonise Israelis (I say “presumably” because I have still to see anything proving it’s real):
Disgusting anti-Semitic statements from the Palestinian leadership obviously undermine the prospects for Middle East peace. When the Security Council cannot reach consensus on denouncing such actions, it only further undermines the UN’s credibility in addressing this critical issue.
Question: In 2005, Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a four-year term as president of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Thirteen years later he remains in the position without having held any further elections. While the date of his departure cannot be predicted, scenarios for the new leadership of the PA are already being examined.
Respondents: Ido Zelkovitz, Hillel Frisch, Amir Tibon, Asaf Romirowsky, Gregg Roman, Jonathan Rynhold
Ido Zelkovitz, Head of the Middle Eastern Studies program at Yezreel Valley College, policy fellow at Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, and research fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa
The Fatah movement and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Movement) leadership are experiencing a deep internal and external crisis. In retrospect, Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has failed to lead the establishment of a vital and sovereign Palestinian independent state according to the 1967 borders.
Chairman Abbas, who is now in the final stretch of his term of office, has three goals: to leave a legacy, to put policy guidelines in place for the future, and to select his political heir. In order that the issue of succession will not generate internal warfare in Fatah, the leadership must create a mechanism that will help the movement stabilize inner rivals in its high commend. We can assume that Abbas will do everything he can to influence the choice of his successor.
A second important point: it seems that in the new, post-Abbas Fatah, the leadership is going to be more focused on Palestinian domestic affairs. After the election of Abbas’s successor, one can expect Fatah leaders to try to find an answer to Hamas’s challenge of historical birthright as leaders of the Palestinian national movement.
Hamas would like to see reforms and elections take place in PLO institutions that would allow it to integrate into the PLO and take it over from within. This would allow Hamas to replace Fatah as leader of the Palestinian national movement and gain inter-Arab and international legitimacy.
The Palestinian Authority is expected to pay the terrorist who slaughtered three members of the Salomon family NIS 12,604,000 ($3,478,015) over the course of his lifetime.
Omar al-Abed murdered Yosef Salomon and two of his children, Elad and Chaya, and wounded Yosef’s wife, Tovah, when they were celebrating the birth of a grandson in their home. Elad’s wife hid their children in a nearby room in the house, where they heard the massacre take place. Abed was given four life sentences.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman released the calculations of how much the terrorists in several recent attacks are expected to be paid by the Palestinian Authority ahead of Monday’s scheduled first vote on a bill that would deduct the amount of funding for terrorists from the taxes and tariffs Israel collects for the PA.
The PA paid terrorists over a billion shekels ($347 million) in 2017, and upped the amount to over NIS 1.4 billion ($403 million) in its 2018 budget.
“I call on all MKs to join us and vote in favor of the law and put an end to this theater of the absurd,” Liberman said. “Every shekel sent to the murderers will be deducted from the PA tax money. We will stop funding terrorism.”
The Israeli private intelligence agency allegedly hired to dig up dirt on Obama officials in order to discredit the Iran nuclear deal negotiated during his tenure is the same firm hired by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, according to a report in The New Yorker magazine.
Black Cube, which has branches in Tel Aviv, London and Paris, and offers its clients the skills of operatives “highly experienced and trained in Israel’s elite military and governmental intelligence units,” was the firm hired by aides to US President Donald Trump to handle the operation, The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow reported late Sunday, citing two sources familiar with the effort. The agency denies any involvement in the latest affair.
Farrow wrote about the Weinstein investigation in November 2017. Black Cube later apologized for helping Weinstein in his efforts to suppress accusations of sexual assault against him.
The existence of the operation against Obama officials was first reported on Sunday morning by the London-based newspaper The Guardian and its sister newspaper The Observer, which said that aides to Trump contacted the private investigators in May 2017.
The revelations came ahead of a May 12 deadline by which Trump said he will decide whether the United States will remain part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal signed between Iran and the world powers in 2015.
Hamas has in recent months repeatedly expressed willingness through several channels to enter into talks with Israel over a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, highlighting the Palestinian terror group’s “dire” strategic situation, according to a report Monday.
According to the Haaretz newspaper, in return for the years-long ceasefire, Hamas wants the agreement to include Israel significantly easing the blockade over Gaza, approving large-scale infrastructure projects and possibly a prisoner swap deal.
Top Israeli security officials have recently presented the political leadership with intelligence indicating that Hamas, finding itself in an “unprecedented” crisis, is currently open to discussing issues that it had rejected in the past, Haaretz reported.
It appeared Israel had not responded to Hamas’ overtures, the report said.
Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, has made similar proposals in the past.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh claimed on Sunday that the terrorist group in recent years exposed “hundreds” of Israeli security and intelligence operations.
His comments came after six Hamas operatives were killed in a mysterious explosion in Gaza on Saturday night. Hamas accused Israel of being responsible for the explosion, claiming it took place as the operatives were dealing with a booby-trapped Israeli intelligence device.
Israeli officials believe the explosion was the result of a work accident, and that those who were killed were attempting to take apart an old missile, possibly from the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge.
“The Palestinian resistance organizations are waging an open campaign against the Zionist enemy,” Haniyeh said on Sunday during a funeral for members of Hamas in Deir Al-Balah. He pledged to retaliate against Israel “until the moment when we will fly the flags of victory and liberation on the land of Palestine.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the international community to show more solidarity with the Palestinian cause during a speech in Istanbul on Monday, the Anadolu Agency reported.
“The indifference of the international community towards the Palestinians, who have had tens of martyrs and thousands of injured people during these [Israeli] attacks, is the sign of a future in which no society and individual will be safe,” he said.
“Palestinians are the symbol of all the oppressed people in the world because of the persecution, massacres and injustices they have been subjected to.”
He also called the international bodies responsible for the well-being of the Palestinian people “hypocrites.”
The Western media have ignored the fate of the Kurds, the people who defeated ISIS for us.
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted, “Turkey is right to want to keep its borders secure”. The West gave the Turks a green light to massacre the Kurds.
The Kurds today, like the Czechs in 1938, were sacrificed in vain. The West has betrayed the Kurds three times in the last three years. They were our ideal allies. They opened their cities, such as Erbil, to tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians expelled by ISIS from Mosul. Iraqi Kurdistan is today the only place in the Middle East, along with the State of Israel, that harbors and protects all religions and minorities.
A new “Munich Syndrome” is now looming over the West. The Kurds, if they did not deserve a state, were at least worthy of our protection, especially after helping us to stop those who slit our throats on the boulevards of Paris.
The United States has hammered another nail into the “coffin” of the 1947 UN Partition Resolution that called for the internationalization of Jerusalem.
The Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, the Philippines, Guatemala, Honduras, Bolivia, and various other countries are considering to follow in the footsteps of the United States.
The Christian evangelical sector of American voters was what finally clinched Trump’s resolve to transfer the embassy from Tel Aviv and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The “price” Israel will pay appears to be continued restraint in construction and an occasional building freeze in Jerusalem.
The embassy will open in west Jerusalem, with an “overflow” to the 1967 seam-line, which used to be no-mans The United States is effectively saying that there will be no future negotiations over west Jerusalem, but this is not the case with regard to the east.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan will not be rushing to demonstrate against this move. The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Turkey, however, will attempt to provoke protests.
The most likely potential for conflagration is on the Temple Mount. Israeli security forces will attempt to prevent any outbreaks of violence.
As anticipation builds for the May 14 relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday night raised the prospect of the White House exacting a price from the Israeli government for the move. “There is no free lunch,” he explained in an interview with local television, before qualifying that Israel is open to a quid pro quo paradigm when it serves to further “the national ambition and the realization of a vision.”
Indeed, President Donald Trump has publicly implied that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be expected to make concessions to the Palestinians as part of a year-in-the-making American peace push, with a formal plan purportedly set to be unveiled shortly after the mission’s transfer. In this respect, Liberman reportedly was presented with parts of the proposal during his trip to Washington last month, including an alleged U.S. demand that four Arab neighborhoods in the eastern section of Jerusalem—which Israel has vowed to maintain united—be ear-marked for the capital of a future Palestinian state.
But the issue may anyways be moot given that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas imposed a boycott on the White House following its recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and has since repeatedly reiterated his refusal to engage in any U.S.-led peace initiative. Instead, Abbas has been lobbying foreign powers to devise an international mechanism for jump-starting negotiations, a model that Israel disapproves of.
Dr. Yossi Beilin, an architect of the 1993 Oslo Accords signed between then-Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and former Palestinian chief Yassir Arafat, believes it is a mistake to attribute negative connotations to concessions made to the Palestinians because, in his estimation, any such reasonable action benefits Israel. “It is land-for-democracy even before land-for-peace,” he stressed to The Media Line, “as Israel is doomed in the near future unless it defines a border between itself and the Palestinians. So this is not something that the nation has to ‘pay’ for, but what is badly needed in order to ensure it retains a Jewish majority.”
Officials in Jerusalem believe President Donald Trump will most likely not make it to Israel for the unveiling of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, slated for May 14th, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment according to the Gregorian calendar.
A senior Israeli Foreign Minister official informed Arutz Sheva that with just seven days left before the embassy opening ceremony, the White House has not notified Israel of any plans by the president to visit.
While the president has hinted in the past that he may indeed attend the opening ceremony for the new embassy, which he ordered as part of the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December, the significant security precautions required for the president to visit likely preclude a surprise trip with only a few days’ notification.
“Given the fact that until now we have not received any notice from [the White House], Trump won’t be coming,” a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official told Arutz Sheva. “We are, of course, prepared for every possibility, but the chances of him coming at this point are exceedingly low.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Monday hung a road sign directing traffic to the US Embassy.
“It’s not a dream, it’s reality,” Barkat said. “This morning, I am proud and excited to hang the first signs for the US Embassy, which will open next week in Jerusalem.”
“This is an historic event, and I thank US President Donald Trump for it.
“Jerusalem is the Jewish nation’s eternal capital, and now, the world is beginning to recognize that. Happy Jerusalem holiday.”
The Palestinian Authority has called on foreign diplomats and religious leaders to boycott the opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem, scheduled to take place next Monday in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood.
Senior Palestinian Authority spokesman and Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee Saeb Erekat claimed that the relocation of America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem violated international law, and flouted United Nations Security Council decisions.
“By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy thereto, the Trump administration is violating its obligations under international law, including UNSCR 478, and the U.S. own commitments towards the peace process,” Erekat said, according to the PLO mouthpiece WAFA.
Calling President Trump’s December 6th declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing plans to relocate the embassy “international anarchy”, Erekat lobbied religious leaders and representatives of foreign governments not to attend the unveiling ceremony.
The Israeli embassy in Egypt’s planned 70th Independence Day gala is arousing controversy, with attempts made to cancel the event and antisemitism in the press, Hebrew newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported on Sunday.
According to the report, the event will be the first of its kind in a decade. It is planned to include a large gala at the Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo with top Israeli chef Shaul Ben Aderet providing the food.
But there is widespread opposition to “normalization” with the Jewish state in Egypt and Egyptian authorities reportedly initially canceled the event. Officially, this was for security reasons, but according to Yediot the real reason was likely fear of the reaction of “the street.”
What followed is described as a “diplomatic drama.” Israeli government and military officials reportedly pressured the Egyptian government to reverse the cancellation. The Egyptians ultimately acquiesced and the celebration will take place as planned.
Apparently in response, the Egyptian weekly political magazine Rose al–Yūsuf published a copy of the official invitation to the gala, including the address and time of the event. Its cover included an antisemitic image showing a hook-nosed Orthodox Jew. The headline read: “The Israeli embassy celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Nakba at the Ritz.”
A Saudi body seems to have backtracked on a new initiative calling to end prayer-time store closures and gender segregation in public places – potentially divisive reforms for the deeply conservative kingdom.
Arabic-language newspaper Okaz reported that the Quality of Life program to improve life in Saudi Arabia had cited both practices as requiring “immediate change” in order to increase the public’s participation in its activities and boost investor confidence.
The article, published on Friday, was later removed. Reuters saw a copy of the document it cited, but a different version posted on an official website did not mention gender segregation or store closures among needed reforms. No timeframe was specified.
Loai Bafaqeeh, chief executive of the Quality of Life program, refused to comment on the apparent discrepancy.
“We are looking into all things that relate to the citizen and resident, including things that involve improving the quality of life, such as families entering sports stadiums and women driving,” he told Reuters by phone on Saturday.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Archaeologists Excited That Syria Now Almost All Ruins (satire)
Researchers of the distant past expressed their thrill today that the Republic of Syria will soon consist of little more than destroyed buildings, abandoned cities, and the evidence of a once-proud civilization, which represent the profession’s bread and butter.
Academics and field personnel specializing in the ancient Middle East confessed excitement at a weekend event for members of the profession to help keep apprised of developments in scholarship and field study in the arena, where they learned that at the current rate of destruction, the Syrian Civil War will reduce 95% of the country to rubble by the year 2030, providing archaeologists with all the ruins they need for the foreseeable future.
The Association of Scientists and Scholars of Archaeology and Debris (ASSAD) convened in the Syrian capital this past Saturday and Sunday for a close-up look at the pace of ruins production in the failed Levantine state, following years of anticipation that the warring factions in the conflict – the Syrian regime, Russia, Iran, Iran-backed Shiite militias such as Hezbollah, the Islamic State, the Nusra Front, the Free Syrian Army, Turkish militants, Kurdish fighters, and others – would yield new stocks of cataclysm-produced materials that the researchers spend their careers examining.
“These are exciting times for archaeology,” gushed Dr. Alois Brünner of the University of Berlin. “There hasn’t been such a massive output of ruins for us to study in years, even decades. The Balkan civil wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Lebanese Civil War of the 1970’s ad 80’s were small potatoes compared to this conflict, and I would say you have to go back almost to the Second World War if you want to see anything comparative or bigger. We all know what a boon to the study of history that war became, so we have all the various parties to the Syrian Civil War to thank for our impending good fortune.”
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