The Israel Victory Project: “25 Years Since Oslo, Time for New Thinking”
Launched by the Middle East Forum in Fall 2016, the Israel Victory Project maintains that peace can only be reached when the Palestinians are forced to concede the futility of their century-long rejectionism and accept Israel’s right to exist. To advance this goal, the Forum created an Israel Victory Caucus in both the U.S. Congress and the Knesset, as well as apprised key members of the Trump administration of the concept, in order to promote legislation and policies that will supplant the failed Oslo “peace process” with persistent pressure on the Palestinians to come to terms with Israel’s existence. Such measures can range from stopping financial support to the Palestinian Authority so long as it continues to pay lifetime allowances to families of killed and/or jailed terrorists, to ending the “Palestine refugee” farce, to harnessing the widest international backing behind Israel’s political stance and sustained military effort to defeat Palestinian terrorism.
Gregg Roman, director of the Middle East Forum, was interviewed by Land of Israel podcast host Eve Harrow on July 3rd’s Knesset meeting of the joint US-Israel program, the Israel Victory Caucus.
Palestinian rejectionism is two parts Palestinian, one part international community, and one part lack of Israeli strategy. Palestinian’s rejectionist Waqf-Fiqh mentality (“waqf” is the Islamic holy trust, and “fiqh” is Islamic legal doctrine), with its Islamic concept of never relinquishing lands that were once in Muslim hands, can be challenged by citing the precedent of the Balkans, and ancient Andalusia, now Spain, where Muslims gave up lands in 1492. The second rejectionist idea, “samud,” (steadfastness), encourages Palestinians to wait millenia, if need be, to defeat the Israelis, but Palestinians want to better their lives now and partake in the benefits of Israeli innovation. Third, the international community (and far left) indulge Palestinian “no’s” with donations that perpetuate the rejectionist cycle, but there are organizations working to separate monies for strictly humanitarian concerns apart from the political ones. Fourth and final is the Israeli security apparatus, fearing escalation or increased risk, which prefers keeping the status quo, instead of bringing about a resolution to the conflict on Israel’s terms.
Palestinian Commentator Tawfiq Abu Shomar on PA TV: The Israelis Portray Their Fallen Soldiers as Civilians, Whereas We Portray Our Innocent Children as Fighters pic.twitter.com/yD2hnFo63W
— MEMRI (@MEMRIReports) July 17, 2018
A falcon was discovered near the Gaza border on Monday with strings attached that contained flammable material.
The falcon was found dead, hanging by the attached string from a burned tree near the Nahal Habesor riverbed.
It was not immediately clear if the bird was launched from Gaza to spark fires in Israel, as Gazans have done hundreds of time in recent weeks with kites and balloons, or if the predatory animal attempted to attack a balloon or kite carrying an incendiary device and became ensnared in its attached strings.
The falcon was found on a day when firefighters battled 15 separate fires started by Gazan kites and balloons in the border region.
Nature and Parks Authority officials who examined the bird said it wore a harness, suggesting it was a trained hunting bird, and strengthening speculation that it was deliberately sent to start fires, the Ynet news site reported.
Congress is renewing efforts to press the Trump administration into recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the contested Golan Heights region on Israel’s northern border with Syria, bucking efforts by GOP leadership to kill the effort, according to conversations with lawmakers.
The House’s National Security Subcommittee, led by chairman Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) will hold a hearing Tuesday to examine how recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the territory could bolster U.S. national security efforts to stem the flow of terrorists in the Jewish state and elsewhere in the region by giving the Jewish state unilateral control over the Syrian territory, where Iranian-backed fighters and other jihadists have been spotted since the start of a bloody civil war.
The push to have the Trump administration formally recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territory comes following a Monday afternoon press conference between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladamir Putin, where the two leaders discussed efforts to decrease tension in Syria.
When DeSantis and other Republicans pushed a congressional resolution recognizing Israeli control over the Golan Heights in May, it was nixed by GOP leadership who were seeking to prevent such a vote on the heels of the Trump administration’s successful effort to relocate the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The resolution had won support from Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and others.
Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Security, July 17, 2018.
U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would constitute the fulfillment of a series of previous diplomatic assurances given to Israel by past administrations regarding the international status of Israel’s position on that strategic plateau.
Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War, after years during which the Syrian armed forces positioned there bombarded Israel’s farms and towns, situated roughly 1,700 feet below, with artillery fire. The Syrians also sought to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River that flowed through the Golan Heights.
President Gerald Ford wrote to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on September 1, 1975, that with respect to the Syrian front: “The US…will give great weight to Israel’s position that any peace agreement be predicated on Israel’s remaining on the Golan Heights.”
In the context of preparations for the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, Secretary of State James Baker wrote a new letter of assurances to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, which included a clause reconfirming President Ford’s 1975 written commitment to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. During the Clinton administration, Secretary of State Warren Christopher wrote a letter of assurances to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on September 19, 1996, committing the U.S. to the Ford Letter.
While Syrian ground forces were severely degraded in the recent civil war, the eventual recovery of the Syrian army must be anticipated. Massive Russian arms transfers to the Syrian armed forces will likely provide the basis for the renewal of Syrian military power.
A new focus of concern involves the role of Iran in converting Syria into a satellite state that will host Iranian forces and Shiite proxy militias, some of which have been integrated into the Syrian army in its campaign to take control of south Syria.
Winds of war have blown across the Gaza frontier, undoing the four years of relative quiet since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Truth be told, both sides could find themselves mired in a war despite their lack of interest in one and despite the fact that both know they will end up in the same place after another round of fighting.
One factor pushing Hamas toward an escalation is, of course, its state of crisis; more specifically, the economic crisis afflicting the population in Gaza under its rule. Hamas has failed in its attempts to break the physical and diplomatic blockades imposed by Israel and Egypt along with other Arab countries.
Its hopes of securing financial aid for the Strip, without providing anything of substance in return, have been dashed. Consequently, the terrorist organization would rather charge into the unknown, in the assumption that anything, even a military skirmish or war, is preferable to the current dead-end – which could turn the population against it.
There are other reasons behind Hamas’ completely illogical decision to play with fire. They apparently pertain to the sense within the terrorist group that it has convinced Israel it is prepared to go all the way, as it has nothing to lose. As a result, Israel has been careful not to pressure Hamas or to get entangled in a military conflict with it.
The Israeli military and Hamas have been in a stand-off for months, as the so-called “March of Return” protests along the Gaza Strip border morphed into ongoing incidents of kite arson which, in turn, has led to the familiar pattern of tit-for-tat exchanges of Palestinian rocket fire and retaliatory strikes by the Israeli air force. The unending tension heralded by frequent air raid sirens and palpable frustration at the seeming inability to stem the violence has the civilian population and its army demanding that its vastly stronger fighting force eliminate what it defines as a terrorist organization and what Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman calls a bunch of “cannibals.”
If the Israeli government decided to overthrow Hamas a power vacuum would necessarily emerge and it is uncertain which group would move in to fill it, according to security analysts who spoke to The Media Line. In such an eventuality, the fear is that an even greater foe or threat could fill the void. Moreover, according to this line of thought, if the Israel Defense Forces eliminated Hamas, Israel would lose an effective way of policing the Gaza Strip. Additionally, when organizations in the enclave attack Israel, the IDF holds Hamas accountable, a policy that forces Gaza’s rulers to rein in those actors.
Nevertheless, following Sunday’s strikes by the IDF of some 40 Hamas targets in Gaza, the question naturally arises: why does the government not immediately green-light the destruction of such terror infrastructure if it is aware of its existence?
“[It is] better for Hamas to have a command structure,” Dr. Eran Lerman, a faculty member at Shalem College and Vice President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, told The Media Line. A retired IDF colonel, he contends that without this formal apparatus Israeli deterrence would be reduced as Hamas would have little to lose. Furthermore, without assets, it is possible that the terror group would quickly disintegrate or be overtaken by a competing entity that might be more anathema to Israel.
On Saturday, July 14, Hamas fired approximately 200 rockets and mortar shells at Israel from the Gaza Strip. Here are the events that took place this past weekend, from Hamas’ attacks to the IDF’s response.
Friday, July 13
Throughout the day, thousands of Palestinians violently rioted in several locations along the Gaza Strip. The rioters hurled grenades, explosive devices, firebombs, and burning tires towards the security fence and IDF troops. An IDF officer was injured and taken to a hospital when a grenade was hurled at him by terrorists in the northern Gaza Strip. IDF troops responded with riot dispersal means and fired towards the terrorists according to the rules of engagement.
During the violent riots, an attempt was made to breach the security fence and infiltrate Israel from the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF responded according to the rules of engagement in order to stop the infiltration.
Saturday morning, July 14
After three months of intense violence at the Gaza border, IAF fighter jets targeted a Hamas terror tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip in the southern Gaza Strip. In additional, a Hamas terror training facility and several terror sites where arson attacks are prepared were attacked.
Early Saturday morning, Hamas fired the first of many rockets and mortar shells at Israel. They continued during the day with more than 141 red alert signals in 15 hours. These projectiles hit an Israeli playground and synagogue as they were indiscriminately fired towards multiple cities. In response to the rockets, the IAF attacked another terror tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip.
Israel’s weekend in 60 seconds pic.twitter.com/9mvWSkYmlN
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 16, 2018
An Israeli army drone struck a Palestinian cell launching incendiary balloons from the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon.
According to local reports in Gaza, two youth were injured in the strike near the city of Jabalya.
Earlier in the day, two incendiary balloons landed in schoolyards in southern Israel. The first, a condom with an arson device attached to it, landed in the yard of an empty elementary school in the Eshkol Regional Council and was neutralized by local security forces.
A second one landed in the yard of a kindergarten in a community in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. Although the schoolyard was full of students at the time there were no injuries and the device was also safely neutralized.
Tensions have risen significantly following a flare-up of violence over the weekend when Hamas launched 200 mortars and rockets into southern Israel and Israel retaliated by striking over 40 Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip.
A balloon from Gaza carrying flaming materials landed in the yard of a preschool in an Israeli community near the border Tuesday as children played outside. A teacher managed to get the children inside and there were no injuries.
“We went out to the yard with the kids in the afternoon to play,” teacher Batsheva Baruchi told Channel 10 news. “After five minutes something burning and smoking fell on us from the sky. I immediately understood it was an incendiary balloon.”
Baruchi said she and other workers at the school in the Sdot Negev Regional Council herded the children into a safe room. “We were saved,” she said. “What if it had fallen next to one of the children?”
Police sappers were called to the scene. No damage was caused by the balloon.
While most kites and balloons flown into Israel in recent weeks have carried incendiary devices meant to burn Israeli fields and property, some have been attached to makeshift bombs.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday toured the army’s Gaza Division following a violent flareup with the Gaza-based Hamas terror group over the weekend, declaring that Israel was in the midst of a “military campaign,”
“We are in a military campaign in which there have been exchanges of blows. I am prepared to say that the Israel Defense Forces is prepared for any scenario,” Netanyahu said.
Over the weekend, Hamas fired some 200 rockets and mortar shells at Israel and the IDF carried out multiple strikes inside the Palestinian enclave.
On Saturday night, a ceasefire of sorts was brokered by Egypt and other international bodies, though Israel was not directly involved in the talks. The violence has abated, but tensions endured and cross-border attacks continued.
Asked if Israel was working to prevent a military conflict with Hamas, Netanyahu defended the government’s actions.
“I believe that we are doing the right things. It would be worthwhile to pay attention not only to what we are saying, but to what we are doing,” he said.
The Defense Ministry on Monday announced it was temporarily suspending the delivery of petroleum fuels and natural gas to the Gaza Strip through the main cargo crossing linking Israel with the coastal enclave.
Last week, Israel imposed sanctions on Gaza over Hamas-backed arson terrorism and ongoing border riots, announcing the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing to anything by humanitarian cases and aid deliveries.
Kerem Shalom is Gaza’s only cargo terminal. The coastal enclave has been under a maritime blockade since 2007, when Hamas ousted the Fatah government from Gaza in a military coup. Israel maintains that the blockade is vital to prevent Hamas from smuggling terrorists and weapons into Gaza.
A Defense Ministry statement said Monday that the delivery of fuel and gas will be suspended until next Sunday, stressing the move will not impact the deliveries of food and medical supplies.
The ministry also said it would reduce the fishing zone in southern Gaza to 3 nautical miles.
The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday called on the international community to intervene to stop Israel from carrying out a military operation in the Gaza Strip.
The PA government, which held its weekly meeting in Ramallah, also repeated its call for providing “immediate and urgent international protection” for the Palestinians.
The PA, however, did not address the issue of the economic sanctions it has imposed on the Gaza Strip. The sanctions include, among other things, halting payment of salaries to thousands of PA employees and forcing thousands of others into early retirement, as well as suspending social welfare assistance to hundreds of families.
Hamas and other Palestinian factions have held the PA responsible for the continued “humanitarian and economic crisis” in the Gaza Strip.
Condemning what it called the “Israeli escalation and threats to launch an aggression on the Gaza Strip,” the PA said that residents of the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave were still suffering from the effects of three “brutal wars waged by Israel and which resulted in the martyrdom and wounding of thousands and the destruction of all aspects of life there.”
The PA also condemned what it termed the “silence” of the international community toward Israel’s “flagrant violation of international and humanitarian laws.” It claimed that Israel was perpetrating “crimes and racist measures against the defenseless Palestinian people.”
Last Tuesday, as a punitive measure against incendiary balloons and kites terrorism, Israel announced that the Kerem Shalom border crossing is closing its doors.
Only humanitarian goods will be allowed into the Gaza Strip. In fact, Israel only allows the entry of fuel, food, fruit, flour, and other necessities to Gaza, and bans entry of electrical appliances, electronic equipment and construction supplies intended for international real estate developments in the strip.
Some people in Gaza criticized Hamas’s handling of the situation. Critics say that in the final analysis, after a long, publicized and bloodstained campaign called the “Great March of Return”, which has raised awareness on the Palestinian issue in Israel and world-wide, Hamas’s actions only intensified the siege on Gaza.
As a result, Palestinians suddenly finds themselves in a dead-end road. The “Great March of Return” demonstrations have since lost momentum and reached a point of exhaustion. The only people who confront the IDF are Hamas members wearing civilian clothes, and poor young Palestinians who receive pocket money for their participation.
Gazans were disappointed on Monday after a highlight of what was dubbed the “Wet Gunpowder Festival” was wrecked by a technical failure after a live speech broadcast from Tehran by Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, was cut short.
Hamas commander in Gaza Yahya Sinwar also failed to show up to the festival, citing security considerations, while Mahmoud al-Zahr, another senior Hamas member, also cancelled his speech at the last minute.
A few minutes into Soleimani’s broadcast, a technical malfunction caused his speech to be interrupted and teams were unable to reestablish the connection. The event’s emcee blamed Israel for letdown.
Being the mastermind behind many of Iran’s attacks around the world, Soleimani is on the wanted list of several countries. He has been seen regularly in Syria and Iraq in the past, where he has closely monitored Iranian’s military activity.
Ahead of the event, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Major General Kamil Abu Rokon, published a post on his Facebook page in which he addressed the residents of Gaza about Soleimani’s speech.
“I wonder what he’s going to talk about: developing the Gaza Strip, rebuilding structures, providing electricity, water, helping the needy,” Rokon wrote in his post.
The Hamas terrorist group on Monday warned Israel of “dangerous consequences” over its fresh restrictions at a commercial crossing with the Gaza Strip, as the administrators of the Rafah passage linking Egypt to the Palestinian enclave announced its crossing would also be shuttered in both directions on Tuesday.
“The Israeli occupation’s closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing and depriving Gaza from the most simple necessities of life is a crime against humanity that will be added to its list of crimes at the expense of the Palestinian people including those living in the Strip,” said Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum in a statement posted on the organization’s official website.
“These vengeful measures reflect the degree of the oppression and the ugliness of the crime that Gaza is facing, that will have dangerous consequences for which the occupation will bear full responsibility,” the terrorist group said.
The head of the Coordination and Liaison Administration in Gaza, Col. Iyad Sarhan, addressed the residents of the Gaza Strip in a post published on the Arabic page of the Coordination Unit for Government Activities in the Territories.
In a video filmed at the Kerem Shalom crossing, Sarhan stressed Hamas’ responsibility for harming trade in the Gaza Strip. “We ask every merchant and every citizen who is interested in calm and wants to see the goods enter [Gaza], turn to the Hamas terrorist organization and demand that they stop their terror activities such as firebombs and incendiary balloons.”
“The heavy price you are paying is the result of the balloon terrorism and incendiary kites, which we consider to be terrorism in the full sense of the word and therefore the response will be more difficult,” he added/
He noted that the reality in Gaza can be different. ” As long as terror continues with the launching of the balloons, the IDF will not sit idly by, will not be silent about the situation, and will respond strongly to the continued firing of balloons and other terrorist acts that are burning the southern region.”
Egypt has warned Hamas to significantly reduce or completely end within a few days the launching of incendiary balloons and kites into Israeli territory from Gaza, Ynet learned on Tuesday morning, giving the terror group an extended deadline to restore calm to the border.
The ultimatum came after Israel announced on Monday evening that it would be closing the commercial Kerem Shalom crossing to gas and fuel supplies after a ceasefire agreement was violated earlier in the afternoon when a rocket was fired into southern Israel.
Before the Israeli announcement, the Egyptians also announced the same evening that they were temporarily closing the Rafah crossing due to a technical malfunction. However, it was not immediately clear whether the Rafah closure was incidental or coordinated with Israel in a bid to pressurize Hamas to cease its terror activities that threaten to escalate the conflict on the border.
Ynet also learned that Hamas reiterated a message it had already conveyed to Cairo this week that it is unable to end the phenomenon.
However, Hamas has insisted to Egyptian intelligence officials, who are mediating between the sides, that its men are indeed working to reduce the number of incendiary balloons.
Following communication from CAMERA’s Israel office, the Associated Press today corrected a headline which incorrectly stated that Israel shuttered the Kerem Shalom cargo crossing, despite the fact that crossing is still open for food and medication. About Israel’s decision today to suspend the transfer of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip until Sunday, following Hamas’ ongoing air-borne arson attacks, the original headline had erred: “Israel shuts down cargo crossing into Gaza to punish Hamas.”
The article’s first sentence also repeated the erroneous claim that Israel closed the crossing, stating: “Israel shut down its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in response to continued Hamas hostilities, even after it agreed to a cease-fire ending 24 hours of intense fighting.”
But as the next paragraph of the article explained, the crossing remains open for food and medicine: “Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel will cease transferring gas and fuel through the Kerem Shalom crossing until next Sunday but will allow food and essential medication to cross.” (Israel suspended the shipment of commercial cargo last week in light of the persistent arson attacks which have destroyed some 35,000 acres of land.)
After CAMERA contacted AP, editors changed the headline to accurately state: “Israel places new limitations on cargo crossing into Israel.” Likewise, the amended first sentence also no longer contains the inaccuracy about Israel shutting down the crossing. The updated story states: “Israel placed new restrictions on its only cargo crossing with the Gaza Strip on Tuesday in response to continued Hamas hostilities, even after it agreed to a cease-fire ending 24 hours of intense fighting.“
Yet again, some media failed to note the proper order of events that led up to a violent weekend in the region. To recall, Palestinians have been violently demonstrating at the Gaza border for many weeks, including efforts to sabotage or breach the security fence. Hundreds of incendiary terror kites and balloons have been launched from Gaza causing widespread destruction of Israeli farmland and nature reserves. In the space of 100 days, some 7,500 acres have been scorched – the equivalent of 5,000 soccer fields.
When an IDF officer was moderately wounded by a grenade during a Gaza border riot and with kites and balloons continuing to cause havoc, it was hardly a surprise that Israel reacted to Palestinian violence by launching precise airstrikes at Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
While Israel targeted terrorist infrastructure, the response of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups was to indiscriminately launch over 200 mortars and rockets at Israeli towns and villages in the border region. Four residents of Sderot were injured and tens of thousands of Israeli civilians were forced to hunker down in bomb shelters and reinforced safe rooms over the weekend.
But for some media, it all started when Israel fired back.
Where were the Canadian media headlines to explain the true chronology of the recent flare up in violence between Israel and Hamas?
As HonestReporting.com points out in its primer of recent hostilities, news coverage commenced only when Israel fired back. As Simon Plosker, HR.com’s Managing Editor notes: “How many times have we witnessed the media falsely portray Israel as an aggressor when it responds to Palestinian violence and terror?”
Indeed, untold to Canadian news consumers is that the Hamas terror organization recently fired over 200 rockets and mortars (aimed at killing Israeli civilians) hitting synagogues, parks, civilians homes, kindergartens and wounding four Israelis and sending thousands to flee and live in bomb shelters. For several months now, Palestinians have carried out a campaign of terror and have committed arson attacks with kite and balloon bombs which have set fire to thousands of acres of Israeli land, causing environmental damage and danger to the lives of civilians.
It seems that all major news outlets (some examples can be seen below) have a condition of limited blindness. It also seems that the world has no problems equating the self defence military actions of a sovereign state with those of a terrorist organization bent on killing innocents.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Israel, Syria and Iran at their meeting in Helsinki on Monday and in subsequent comments to the press. The public comments provide some insight into their view of the future Middle East. With the Syrian regime conducting a major offensive in the south, the US deeply involved in eastern Syria and Israel demanding that the Iranians leave, these were central topics of concern.
Trump spoke first with a discussion of Israel. “We’ve worked with Israel long and hard for many years,” he said, adding that the US has never been closer to Israel than it is today. “President Putin also is helping Israel, and we both spoke with ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu and they would like to do certain things with respect to Syria, having to do with the safety of Israel.”
Trump said “we,” which apparently indicated that Moscow and Washington are both working with Israel and “Israel working with us.” He continued, “I think their working with Israel is a great thing – and creating safety for Israel is something both President Putin and I would like to see very much.”
Putin argued that Russia was helping to “crush terrorists in the southwest of Syria.” He mentioned the 1974 cease-fire lines on the Golan. “This will bring peace to the Golan Heights and bring a more peaceful relationship between Syria and Israel – and also provide security for the State of Israel.” Putin said he paid “special attention” to the issue when sitting with Trump.
The two also discussed the future of Syria. Trump claimed the US military was successfully coordinating with Russia in Syria. “Our military do [sic] get along very well,” he said. Putin then remarked that Russia was working to establish peace and reconciliation. “Russia and the United States apparently can act proactively and take leadership on this issue,” he said, emphasizing that coordination between the US and Russian militaries in Syria had helped avoid “dangerous incidents and unintentional collisions.”
US President Donald Trump on Monday said his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday was good for Israel, seemingly referring to efforts to remove Iran-backed fighters from Syria’s Golan border.
Trump also said Putin was a strong supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but did not offer any specifics on what was discussed that related to Israel at the meeting in Helsinki, where Iran’s presence in Syria had been widely expected to be a main topic of conversation between the two world leaders.
“We came to a lot of good conclusions. A really good conclusion for Israel. Something very strong,” Trump told Fox News, without going into detail.
Trump said Putin was “a believer in Israel.
“He’s a fan of Bibi,” he said, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Really helping him a lot and will help him a lot, which is good for all of us.”
The Democrats hated Monday’s news conference between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin; even some Republicans cringed when Trump said he believed Putin’s denial of involvement in the 2016 US election over what his own intelligence agencies maintain; and many Europeans leaders surely recoiled at the US president appearing so cozy with a man they view as a real and present threat.
But one man who was definitely pleased at what he saw at that extraordinary news conference in Helsinki on Monday was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
No, his pleasure had nothing to do with the two leaders’ answers to the questions about the alleged election collusion, or their discussion about how they will deal with their competition in the field of gas and oil.
Netanyahu was pleased because his full-court diplomatic press leading up to this meeting – a diplomatic campaign that brought him to Moscow last week for less than 24 hours, and included a phone conversation with Trump on Saturday – paid off.
There, at a news conference being watched by the whole world, both leaders – both! – acknowledged Israel’s security concerns in Syria and the need to address them.
And Netanyahu did nothing to try to conceal his satisfaction. On the contrary: he issued a statement after the news conference “commending” the abiding commitment to Israel’s security that Trump articulated during that address to the media.
“The friendship between Israel and the US has never been stronger,” he said.
Why has Russia under Putin acknowledged Israeli red lines aimed at preventing the buildup of an Iranian military presence in Syria? To fully understand Putin’s acceptance of Israeli involvement in Syria, one must consider the balance of power that existed between Czarist Russia and its southern neighbors, Ottoman Turkey and imperial Iran, at the turn of the 20th century. At that time, Russia’s population was 100 million compared to 24 million for the Ottoman Empire and half that number in impoverished and divided Persia.
One hundred years later, a massive change in the balance of power has occurred. Today the combined populations of Persia and the Ottoman Empire (165 million) exceed the number of Russian citizens (142 million). Within Russia, the birthrates of Russian Slavs, Putin’s core group, are declining much more quickly than those of its sizeable Muslim Turkic populations. Moreover, the huge economic advantage Russia once enjoyed over the Ottoman Empire and imperial Persia has almost entirely disappeared, with the combined GDP of Iran and Turkey equaling Russia’s.
Israel is the only Middle Eastern country with an increasing non-Muslim population and increasing power. Moreover, Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a shared culture exemplified by Russian-born and native Russian-speaking politicians in positions of power. Thus, an understanding with Israel is important to Putin and the Russian leadership.
Fox Senior Anchor Sean Hannity argued interference in foreign election campaigns is a very common practice and that “everyone does it”. Moreover, he said Hillary Clinton was also assisted by foreign elements to collect “dirt” on Trump and get the FBI to open an investigation against him before the 2016 election.
The same case against Trump – including rumors about Trump’s embarrassing photographs taken in Moscow – contained “Russian propaganda,” Hannity said.
Hannity reminded viewers that President Barack Obama did not hesitate to intervene in the Israeli election campaign against Binyamin Netanyahu. This is despite the fact that Israel is “America’s number one ally in the Middle East.”
In the United States a special investigation has been going on for a year-and-a-half to determine whether there was a conspiracy between Trump and Putin in which Putin intervened to help Trump win.
John McLaughlin, an American who served as Netanyahu’s pollster in the 2015 elections, said after Obama’s election to the US media that Obama had intervened in the Israeli election campaign, accusing him of uniting the Arab parties and contributing to the V15 that worked to replace the government.
In a sign of burgeoning diplomatic ties, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will arrive in Israel on Wednesday for an official visit as a guest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Orbán is expected to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem and meet with the country’s chief rabbis.
Orbán, whose country is a member of the European Union, is spearheading a contrarian line within the organization – which is one reason for the warming relations between Israel and Hungary and the respective leaders.
Israel Hayom has learned that unlike other EU leaders who have visited Israel, Orbán will not visit the Palestinian Authority. As a small diplomatic token, however, he will send his deputy, Zsolt Semjén, to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in Judea and Samaria.
This will not be Hungary’s first gesture toward Israel under Orbán. In late 2017, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini pushed for an EU resolution to condemn the American decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mogherini attempted to pass the resolution through the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU, but Orbán instructed Hungary’s representative to oppose it, essentially torpedoing the initiative.
Some 200 displaced Syrians approached the Israeli border on Tuesday, some of them waving white flags, in an apparent effort to reach out to the Jewish state for assistance as forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad moved into the area as part of a military operation against rebel-held areas in the country’s southwest.
The refugees fled toward the border as a Russian airstrike on a nearby school being used as a shelter killed at least 10 civilians, according to a search and rescue team.
The Israel Defense Forces said it was aware of the situation on the border, but had not yet determined a need to take direct action.
Soldiers were seen calling for the approaching Syrians to move away from the border, in footage filmed by the Reuters news service.
The family of the late Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed in Gaza in 2014 and whose remains Hamas refuses to return to Israel for burial, sailed from Ashdod to Ashkelon on Monday as part of a new campaign to have Goldin’s remains, as well as those of Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, brought home.
The Goldin family’s rallying cry is “No deal without our boys.”
Goldin’s mother, Leah, said, “When we were children, the words ‘Go to Gaza’ were a curse. Today, we are sailing in the direction of Gaza to put pressure on the government and decision makers, and force them to act.”
His father, Simcha, said, “Our children stayed behind the Rafah [border] crossing, and four years on, the leadership has not brought them home and continues to feed the monster known as Hamas.
“Our leadership isn’t using all the tools at its disposal to bring our children home,” he said.
A number of Knesset members were on board the boat.
The mufti’s position parallels that of a US Supreme Court judge. If the mufti issues a legal opinion or religious decree, his people and leaders are expected to abide by it.
With the new fatwa, Abbas can go to President Trump and other world leaders and tell them, “I would truly like to make peace with the Jews; however, I am prevented from doing so by this fatwa, which bans Muslims from doing real estate transactions with Jews. Sorry!”
One can only imagine the response of the international community had the Chief Rabbi of Israel issued a decree banning Jews from doing business with Muslims. But in the instance of the Palestinian mufti and his superiors in Ramallah, everything seems to be fine — once again, the international community turns a blind eye to the Palestinian leaders’ apartheid and their terrorizing of their own people.
The PA “foreign ministry” issued a statement denouncing the intention to hold a Tisha B’Av march around the walls of the Old City, a tradition that the “Women in Green” organization has been carrying out for 24 years.
In its statement, the PA said that this was a “provocative step” aimed at “realizing sovereignty over Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, and uniting the city as the capital of Israel, under the auspices and with participation of a number of Israeli public figures.”
“This march is a continuation of the radical policy prevailing in the political arena in Israel and among the settlers, especially since Trump’s ominous statement about Jerusalem, the transfer of the American embassy to the city, the ongoing Judaization of the holy city and its separation from its Palestinian surroundings.” According to the statement, the move “prevents the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, sovereign and territorial, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The PA called on the international community “to act immediately to defend what remains of its credibility, to implement the relevant UN resolutions and to take measures to force the State of Israel to comply with international law and the international desire for peace.”
“The fact that Israel is not obligated to account for its aggressive and provocative conduct encourages it to continue to commit further violations and crimes and to continue the violent isolation of occupied Jerusalem and its holy places,” the statement said.
Riots broke out as IDF troops arrested terror suspects in eastern Jerusalem and just outside the city in Kafr Bidu, with Arab residents throwing objects and rocks at soldiers, who responded with riot dispersal equipment. No injuries were reported on either side.
During raids in Hebron, the IDF confiscated an M-4 assault rifle, an air pistol, ammunition, magazines and gun parts, according to officials.
Border Police arrested one man who was part of a group attempting to cross the security fence from Samaria into Israel by climbing over it with a ladder. Forces chased them on foot, but some of the men managed to enter Israel, whereas others turn back and fled towards Samaria.
During the chase, one of the men threw away a pink backpack featuring a picture of Barbie, which was found to contain a Carlo-style, locally made submachine gun, a cellphone and a bolt-cutter for cutting through metal fencing.
Border Police detectives and IDF forces operating last night near the PA village of Al-Funduq in western Samaria found an FN pistol hidden in a wheelchair.
The detectives arrived after receiving intelligence information, set up an ambush and waited for the suspicious vehicle which, according to the information, carried weapons.
After several hours of activity, the suspicious vehicle appeared and was stopped by the police for a search. The vehicle carried three suspects. It quickly became clear that the driver suffered from a disability in his legs and that he was assisted by a wheelchair found in the trunk of the vehicle. It was also discovered that he was driving the vehicle with the assistance of a manual driving mechanism.
Upon searching the vehicle, police were surprised to find an FN pistol in the wheelchair found in the trunk, apparently used by the driver. The three suspects were arrested for further investigation by Border Police.
Information contained in the Iranian nuclear archives extracted by Israel in a daring January raid contain more detailed information about the extent of Iran’s nuclear weapons program including specifics “about which international inspectors were unaware,” The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.
The Journal report was based on a briefing given by Israeli security officials to selected reporters. The briefing contained more details than what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed in April, when he announced the raid and documentation that Israel had recovered.
The topics covered in the briefing included, “how the documents were removed from Iran; the existence within the documents of the warhead designs, for which Israel said Iran got unspecified foreign assistance; the operation of a secret explosives-testing facility that international inspectors had long searched for in vain; and a scramble by Iranian officials to keep their nuclear program alive after international inspectors concluded it had been suspended.”
While some of the information contained in the archive was already known by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is charged with assessing Iran’s compliance with the deal, it also included details “about which international inspectors were unaware.”
In a newly released report, the German intelligence agency in the state of Hesse singled out Iran as one of two states seeking to obtain weapons of mass destructions as the ultimate form of power.
Benjamin Weinthal reported for The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the report lists types of illegal proliferation technology that Iran and North Korea want for the production of weapons of mass destruction, including “equipment for the enrichment of uranium, nuclear reactors in connection with reprocessing plants, bioreactors, drying installation facilities, and the production process for precursor chemical products.”
According to the security agency, “Weapons of mass destruction are a continued instrument of power politics that also, in regional and international crises situations, can shatter the entire stability of state structures. States like Iran and North Korea attempt, in the context of proliferation, to acquire and spread such weapons by, for example, disguising the transportation ways through third countries.”
German intelligence officials further observed that the goal of Iran and North Korea was “to circumvent control mechanisms in countries that are not especially subject to embargo restrictions.”
The United States has rejected an appeal from Britain, France and Germany to grant broad exemptions to European firms doing business in Iran, saying it would press ahead with sanctions intended to exert “unprecedented” economic pressure on the Tehran regime, U.S. and Western officials told NBC News.
Replying to a June 4 letter from the European powers, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote that the Trump administration would not agree to wide-ranging protections for European companies operating in Iran and instead would grant only limited exceptions based on national security or humanitarian grounds, the officials said.
The stern message comes as the White House has ratcheted up its rhetoric toward Iran, accused Tehran of plotting terrorist attacks in Europe and vowed to hammer the country’s economy.
The United States is increasingly isolated in its move to reimpose sanctions on Tehran after quitting the international nuclear deal, President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday, vowing to resist American “plots.”
“The path chosen by the Islamic Republic of Iran is perseverance, resistance,” Rouhani said in televised remarks. “Each time that we were able to thwart the plots, the people and the government were side by side.”
Over the objections of allies, Trump in May pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in 2015.
He reimposed US sanctions that had been suspended in return for controls on Tehran’s nuclear program, effectively barring many multinational firms from doing business in Iran.
“The United States is more and more isolated on the subject of sanctions,” said Rouhani. “The illegal logic of the United States is not supported by any of the international organizations.”
Visitors to the Twitter feed of Iran’s “supreme leader”on Monday were treated to the incongruous sight of multicolored balloons floating above a series of incendiary anti-Israel tweets.
The celebratory mood on what is normally a rather somber feed marks Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s 79th birthday — which falls on Tuesday, July 17, in the Gregorian calendar.
But as the last balloon disappeared from the screen, so did the jollity — leaving only a thread of threatening messages warning of the Jewish state’s coming destruction.
Denouncing US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian peace as a “satanic, vicious plot,” Khamenei declared, “The turbulent dream that Al-Quds [Jerusalem] would be given to the Zionists will never come true.”
He continued: “The Palestinian nation will stand against it and Muslim nations will back the Palestinian nation, never letting that happen.”
As to his ultimate intentions towards Israel, Khamenei left little to the imagination in a further tweet.
“By God’s grace, the Palestinian nation will certainly gain victory over the enemies and will witness the day when the fabricated Zionist regime will be eradicated,” he vowed.
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