Preliminary police investigation shows that some attendees at festivities on Mount Meron had slipped on the steps, creating a ‘human avalanche’ that crushed members of the crowd; police say all wounded had been evacuated to hospitals
Opinion: While seems public dissatisfaction with the state of the country is rising, factual data proves that not only are we stronger and more prosperous than ever and we are able to overcome any political crisis
There is no point in denying that after four consecutive election rounds in two years, the atmosphere in the country is tough and even irritating.
And while the public discourse, as filled with discontent as it is, paints a seemingly gloomy picture, the people of Israel are actually pretty pleased with their country – as they should be.
This is not due to blind optimism spurred by the festivities of the 73rd Independence Day. No, it is an actual fact solidified by concrete data.
Israel is placed fourth among OECD countries in the sphere of healthcare. And while the average happiness index score among OECD countries is hovering around 6.5 out of 10, in Israel the score is 8.5.
Indeed, the people of Israel are stronger than the eroding influence of its political system.
And while the voices of discontent among Israelis are indeed loud, they do not, in fact, represent the majority.
Israel’s Gini index – a measure of the distribution of income across a population – reached a 20-year low in 2018, which means inequality gap is narrowing.
That is without mentioning the fact that Israel is ranked fifth in the world in intergenerational mobility – which means that an individual’s wellbeing is less dependent on the socioeconomic status of his or her parents. In that respect, we have beaten countries such as New Zealand, Sweden, Germany and Japan.
According to one survey, however, as least 48% of Israelis are considering emigrating to another country. In reality though, Israelis tend to emigrate much less, at least compared to other OECD countries.
In fact, emigration from Israel has declined. In 1990, according to a study by Uri Altman, the rate of those leaving Israel was 5.3 people per 1,000. After about a decade, it dropped to 4.2 per 1,000 and by 2017 it stood at about 1.6 per 1,000.
It seems that despite warnings about people leaving the country en mass, the majority of Israelis have actually decided to put down roots in the Jewish State.
There is, of course, also talk about how Israel’s democracy is being eroded. But this argument has been reduced to nothing but a flimsy conjecture according the not-so Zionist “The Economist” weekly newspaper, which ranked Israel 27th in its Democracy Index (the highest Israel has ever been ranked).
Israel’s media as a whole is mostly preoccupied with criticizing the country’s politics as well as its politicians and that’s Democracy at its finest. The day the media praises the country’s leadership is the day we should all be worried.
And while criticism is an important part of change and growth, we must remember to zoom out once in a while to see the bigger picture.
Independence Day is the perfect day to do exactly that. To look back at where we started, be amazed at the changes and progress we’ve made throughout these 73 years.
Now, of all days, is the time to be a proud Israeli.
To those of you who sat up all night like we did, a fraternal tip of the hat. To those of you that didn’t, we don’t blame you. In either case, here are the very latest figures:
According to the updated seat map as of now (9.30 am, Wednesday): Likud gets 30 seats; Yesh Atid 17; Shas 9; Blue and White 8; Labor 7; Yamina 7; United Torah Judaism 7; Yisrael Beytenu 7; Joint List 6; Religious Zionism 6; New Hope 6; Meretz 5; and Ra’am 5.
What does all that mean? In our previous pre-poll newsletter we said that this election had little to do with political ideology but whether you were for Prime Minister or against him.
And we also said that Naftali Bennett and his Yamina Party could be the Kingmakers.
Well, we didn’t do too badly, but on the second it wasn’t so clear.
Let’s analyse a bit. Using our ‘visceral’ metric of pro-Bibi or anti-Bibi blocs, the pro bloc appears to have secured 52 seats, the anti 56. That leaves Yamina with 7 and Ra’am – an Arab Party – with 5. To remind you, the magic number for forming a government is 61 seats (there are 120 seats in the Knesset). So, even if Yamina went into the pro-Bloc (which is not certain given the mercurial qualities of both Bennett and Ayelet Shaked), that still leaves the pro-bloc short (as we can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that Ra’am would find it difficult to join this bloc for a myriad of reasons).
Arguably the arithmetic looks slightly more favourable for the Anti-Bloc, but Yamina – a right-wing party, would find itself in coalition with very strange bed-fellows ideologically. This is less complicated for Ra’am, but taking Yamina out of the equation, that bloc stops short too.
Still with us? Good. Let’s summarise this as follows, what the Israeli electorate did (whose turnout dropped down from 70 to 67% this time around compared to last), was take an already fiendishly complicated Ravensburger puzzle, throw it in the air and say to the political parties “You put it back together again”.
That is no easy task. The result, in short, is as divided as the electorate. Whilst there will be lots of noise in the next few days and possibly weeks ahead, reaching 61 at present look intractable for either bloc.
But, and this is important, there are around 400,000 absentee ballots still to be counted, which is much higher than usual given the Covid pandemic. We should know more about these votes by Friday…
Right now the question on everyone’s lips is “Fifth time lucky?” It is certainly looking this morning like the puzzle might need one more toss to see if the pieces can be put together.
Central Election Committee says the turnout at hospitals and coronavirus has so far been extremely low despite praise from the patients, who thank hospitals’ staff for helping them exercise their democratic right
Millions of Israelis headed to the polls on Tuesday in the country’s fourth election in two years, but special arrangements had to be made in order to accommodate patients hospitalized in coronavirus wards across Israel and allow them to exercise their right.
Israelis began voting at 7am, with exit polls expected at 10pm, when polling stations close. By 12pm, 25.4% of Israelis cast their votes, much lower than the same figure reported during the previous national vote.
In order to avoid the spread of infection, the Central Election Committee had instructed the hospitals ahead of Election Day on how to stage the vote at their respective coronavirus wards, which includes setting up dedicated polling stations.
As per the committee’s instructions, the staff in these mobile stations – made up of various hospital employees – must be Green Pass holders and must be required to wear full protective gear throughout the Election Day.
In addition, members of the election committee will watch the voting process in these wards through closed-circuit screens, in order to verify the integrity of the unusual voting process.
“I’m saluting them for bringing the ballot boxes to us,” said 45-year-old coronavirus patient, Jalal
Masrawa, who cast his vote at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera. “The staff members came into my room and asked me if I wanted to vote, I told them I did, showed them my ID and voted. There’s a good team that saw to it that patients could vote as well,” Masrawa added.
“I am very happy the patients are being given the chance to fulfill this important democratic duty,” said Dr. Tatiana Mikhalov, director of Hillel Yaffe Medical Center’s coronavirus ward. “The logistics are very complex, and I applaud the hospital staff who enlisted for this important mission.”
The dedicated polling stations are also open to inpatients from other wards, as well as hospital staff who cannot go out and vote due to their job.
“The voting process is working well,” said Shavi Shmelo, vice president of human resources at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital. “In our coronavirus ward, three people have so far voted. In past elections, around 1,100 people voted at Ichilov. So far, I think our voting trend looks promising.”
At Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, four polling stations have been set up, one of which intended for coronavirus patients only.
The first in line to vote there was 29-year-old Ismail Bahuti, who contracted coronavirus after receiving the first vaccine shot. The second in line was 80-year-old Allegra Israel from Haifa. Surprisingly, she arrived at the ballot box with a Green Pass. She said she had contracted the virus and became ill despite being fully vaccinated.
Despite the praise from the hospital staff and patients for their efforts to enable those confined in coronavirus wards to vote, the Central Election Committee said the number of actual voters in these dedicated polling stations is still very low, and are therefore calling on all those who have yet to cast their votes to do so.
Palestinians on receiving the coronavirus vaccines needed to be able to cross and work in Israel.
Edelstein then traveled to the nearby city of Ariel to inaugurate another vaccination center with Mayor Eli Shaviro.
Israel, Austria and Denmark said on Thursday they would set up a joint research and development fund and possibly production facilities for COVID-19 vaccines to ensure they had long-term supplies for booster shots or to contend with virus mutations.
European Union members Austria and Denmark have been chafing at delays in ordering, approving and distributing vaccines within here 27-member bloc that have left it trailing far behind Israel’s world-beating vaccination campaign.
After hosting his Austrian and Danish counterparts for talks and a tour of an Israeli gym open to those documented as having been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 with presumed immunity, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the pact.
“Once we get over this cycle of the disease we have no guarantee that it won’t come back. We don’t know how long – nobody knows – how long these vaccines will hold up,” he said at a joint news conference. “And therefore we have to protect our people against the reemergence of this pandemic or mutations.”
Austria’s Sebastian Kurz said he was “very happy” about an EU vaccine initiative “but we also need to cooperate worldwide”.
The European Commission has said member states were free to strike separate deals should they wish to.
The trilateral pact, Kurz said, would include investment in production plants in Europe and Israel, and each country contributing where it best can to the manufacturing cycle.
“In Austria, for example, lipid production necessary for many vaccines is already taking place,” the chancellor said.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her country was looking to expand its production capacity. “We would like in common also to explore possible cooperation on clinical trials” with Israel and Austria, she said.
Netanyahu, who said 90% of eligible Israelis have either received at least one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or recovered from the virus, has made the programme a showcase of his campaign for a March 23 election.
“We will be, together, ‘Vaccination Nations’,” he said of the deal with Austria and Denmark. “And we agreed that if other nations want to join us, we will discuss this among ourselves and welcome others to come in as well.”
A month and a half after launching its world-leading coronavirus vaccination campaign, the Jewish state allows all its citizens aged 16 and over to get vaccinated against the pathogen, having already vaccinated 3.3 million citizens with the first vaccine dose and 1.9 million with the second booster shot
So far, the Jewish state has only allowed Israelis over the age of 35 to get the vaccine, later adding high school students between the ages of 16–18 to enable them to attend their matriculation exams later in the year.
Clalit Health Services CEO Ehud Davidson congratulated on the expansion of the country’s inoculation campaign and joined Edelstein’s call.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel will begin gradually lifting lockdown restrictions next week while urging citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as the more infectious British variant of the disease spreads nationwide.
Meanwhile, the government is scheduled to meet later on Thursday to discuss extending the nationwide lockdown and an exit strategy.
Blue & White will demand lifting restrictions starting Friday morning.
Israel welcomed the publication of the ‘Handbook for the Practical Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism’ by the European Commission as “a highly important document” that will help combat anti-Semitism on the Continent.
Israel welcomed the publication of the ‘Handbook for the Practical Use of the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism’ by the European Commission as “a highly important document” that will help combat anti-Semitism on the Continent.
The document was commissioned by the European Commission and published jointly with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), with support from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Lior Haiat, the spokesperson for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated Sunday that Israel expresses its appreciation to Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU’s Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism and fostering Jewish life, her team, and to the European Commission for “the uncompromising commitment to fight against the ugly and dangerous phenomenon of anti-Semitism, which is only growing.”
“The Handbook is a highly important document that will assist in supporting the implementation of the IHRA definition as a central instrument in the fight against anti-Semitism,” he added.
The IHRA has 34 member countries and seven observer countries. Acceptance to the IHRA depends on the counties’ adherence to the Stockholm Declaration on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research of January 28, 2000, as well as several other conditions.
Several countries adopted the IHRA definition in 2020, including Muslim countries for the first time, Bahrain and Albania, and Muslim institutions, the Global Council of Imams and King Hamad Global Center for Peaceful Coexistence.
The IHRA adopted in 2016 the working-definition of anti-Semitism, according to which anti-Semitism is “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The IHRA states that anti-Semitic examples include denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and leveling accusations against Jewish citizens of various countries that they are more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.
The United Kingdom, Austria, Scotland, Romania, Canada, Germany, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Moldova, Macedonia, the US, Greece, Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden, Holland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxemburg, France, Cyprus, Italy, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Serbia and Argentina, Kosovo, Albania and Spain are all members.
The IHRA working definition for anti-Semitism, while not legally binding, has become a widely used tool around the world to educate people about anti-Semitism, as well as recognize and counter its manifestations.
Based on the comprehensive research carried out by the Federal Association of Departments for Research and Information on Antisemitism, the newly published handbook provides an overview of good practices by international organizations, national administrations, civil society and Jewish communities from across Europe.
The European Commission Vice President for “Protecting our European Way of Life” Margaritis Schinas stated that “we need to fight anti-Semitism whenever we encounter it. Jewish life is part of our societies and we are determined to protect it.”
“The handbook will become another valuable tool for Member States to effectively implement the landmark Council Declaration on combating antisemitism,” he added.
DUBAI: Israel has appointed Eitan Naeh to set up a temporary mission in the United Arab Emirates, newspaper The Times of Israel reported.
The news of Naeh’s appointment was first carried by Israel’s Kan public broadcaster. The diplomat served as an ambassador in Turkey from 2016 until 2018, when he was expelled by Ankara.
He will be the first Israeli to receive a full diplomatic status in the UAE and his temporary mission will help establish a permanent embassy.
The UAE and Bahrain in August became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to normalize relations and establish formal ties with Israel. The “Abraham Accords” were brokered by US President Donald Trump and signed during a ceremony at the White House.
Security forces alerted after Esther Horgan fails to return home from jog on Sunday evening near her home in settlement of Tal Menashe; her body found with marks of violent attack; manhunt launched to find perpetrator
“A full life of wonderful works, of home and family, of creativity and care have been cut short by a beast in human guise. I have full faith that our security forces will get to the despicable murders and that justice will be done. I embrace Esther’s family, her children and their father. We are with you in this time of such deep grief.”
Medical personnel to be vaccinated first, with general population possibly facing winter with no immunization
Israel is expected to receive up to half a million doses of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine against the coronavirus as early as December, one month earlier than originally hoped for, Channel 12 reported Monday.
According to the unsourced report, the country would receive anywhere between 200,000 and 500,000 doses of the vaccine and will devote them primarily to those working in the medical field, while the general population would not be vaccinated this winter.
The report also quoted a senior Health Ministry official as saying that the early arrival of the vaccine would have a “positive” effect on Israel’s battle against COVID-19 this winter.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel had signed a deal with Pfizer to purchase coronavirus vaccine shots, days after the US pharmaceutical firm said data suggested its vaccine was 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19.
As part of the agreement with Pfizer, Netanyahu said Israel would receive 8 million doses of the vaccine, enough to inoculate 4 million Israelis. Netanyahu expressed hope that Pfizer would begin supplying the vaccine in January, pending authorization from health officials in the United States and Israel.
Last Friday, Pfizer announced that it was asking US regulators to allow emergency use of its vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could end in limited first shots being administered as early as next month.
The request came days after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech updated its data on the effectiveness of the vaccine, announcing that it appeared to be 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19.
Pursuing another avenue to procure vaccines, Netanyahu announced Friday that Israel was also close to signing a deal with AstraZeneca to purchase “millions” of doses of its vaccine.
If signed, it would be the third deal signed by Israel to receive vaccinations, following similar deals with Pfizer and Moderna. Israel has also been in talks with Russia to receive its Sputnik V vaccine, though some experts have questioned its opaque certification process.
However, none of the deals guarantees a deadline for the arrival of the vaccines, and with mass global demand, it is still not clear how many doses Israel will get, and when.
Israel has also been working on a home-grown vaccine, though it is currently only in phase 1 trials and its development is expected to take months longer than the foreign candidates. Channel 12 reported Friday that it will likely be available to the public this summer.
The consignment of lung ventilators, presented by Ambassador Daniel Meron, arrived in Prague from Israel on Friday
Analysis: Both candidates are committed to Israel’s security, but will act differently; Biden is unlikely to reverse recognition of Jerusalem but will likely reinstate settlement policies, while Trump could flip on Iran if he sees chance for deal
A trial of the test last month involving some 400 people at Sheba showed about 95% accuracy.
The foreign minister pressed Germany to prevent Iranian arms embargo from running down in October
Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi flew to Berlin Wednesday on his first official visit overseas where he is set to meet with his EU counterparts.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas invited Ashkenazi to Thursday’s conference of EU foreign ministers.
Shortly after his arrival, Ashkenazi met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, thanking him for his country’s stance in designating the entirety of Hezbollah – both the political and military wing – as a terrorist organization.
In addition to updating the president on the recent deal to normalize ties between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, Ashkenazi also implored Germany’s head of state to prevent the United Nations’ arms embargo against Iran from running down in October.
Ashkenazi spoke at a ceremony at “Platform 17 in Berlin’s Grunewald Station, where there is a memorial marking Nazi Germany’s deportation of more than 55,000 Jews. He was joined by Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff, Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz and representatives of the German Jewish community,” according to The Jerusalem Post.
“I stand here as the foreign minister of the government of Israel and the former IDF chief of staff,” Ashkenazi said. “Jews will never again be sent to their death because they are Jewish. Never again.”
The foreign minister will visit Wannsee, the villa in a Berlin suburb where the architects of the Nazi “Final solution” met – under the direction of Reinhardt Heydrich – to iron out details for the attempted slaughter of Europe’s 11 million Jews.
The article was published on the i24
In-depth: Agreement between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem comes as little surprise to those closely following the nuances of Mideast politics, with Trump almost single-mindedly pushing deal without resolution first to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Secret talks and quiet ties: That’s what paved the way for last week’s deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalize relations.
From an Austrian Member of Parliament: The EU could play a supporting role – recognizing Israeli concerns, and encouraging Palestinian compromise
Regarding the Middle East, the EU has so far played the role of the two old men in the “Muppet Show”: observing the course of events from the box and bitching about it. The Europeans could do well as mediators though.
The United States presented the Trump Peace Plan a few months ago to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The new Israeli government under Prime Minister Netanyahu is preparing to extend Israeli sovereignty to parts of the West Bank based on this plan. In these developments, the European Union have so far only been grumpy bystanders. But Europe could become a player in the Middle East again. Here’s how.
First, a sober inventory should be taken: the Middle East is and remains an immediate neighborhood region of Europe. Events there can quickly have an impact on Europe — see the refugee crisis of 2015. Therefore we cannot be indifferent to what is happening there.
Second, the EU has not made a constructive contribution to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for many years. The engagement usually ends with a condemnation of Israel. Financial support for the Palestinians to maintain the — actually undesirable — status quo continues. What remains is the ritualized lip service to a (not defined) two-state solution.
Third, it should also be noted in the EU that the status of the West Bank under international law is not that clear. The last legal sovereign was Britain. When the United Kingdom ended the League of Nations’ mandate in 1948, Jordan occupied the West Bank, without any legal claim, and held it until the Six Day War in 1967 without establishing a Palestinian state there.
The pioneering UN Security Council Resolution 242 adopted after the 1967 arms movement, laid down two things: Every State (note: specifically Israel was meant) had the right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats and acts of force. And furthermore, Israel had to withdraw from territories occupied in the recent conflict.
It is of critical importance here that the wording deliberately chosen was the indefinite designation “from territories” and not “from the territories.” This left open which parts of the West Bank Israel would have to withdraw from, especially with regard to the establishment of secure borders. And the pre-1967 armistice lines were certainly not such safe limits.
This is exactly what the narrative of Israel is based on, that in the case of the West Bank they are “disputed territories.” The US government recently joined this position.
Fourth, it is about an effective negotiation strategy. The Austrian courts could serve as an excellent example: Here, judges and mediators are more and more successful in bringing the parties to the dispute to a reasonable compromise. The recipe? They make it very clear to both parties that the issue is not black and white, that the outcome will ultimately always be an arrangement, but by then the two parties will have lost so much time, energy and money that it makes a lot more sense to find a compromise right now. It’s amazing to see how well this works.
What happens now in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? The United States and, finally, some Arab countries are increasingly making it clear to the Palestinians that sticking to maximal demands (such as receiving the entire West Bank, dividing Jerusalem, retaining the right of return for refugees, including those who have not lived in Israel for generations, etc.) doesn’t bring the Palestinians a step closer to a solution. Rather, the Palestinians would have to return to the negotiating table with Israel which they left in 2010.
However, some EU countries such as France, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland etc. do exactly the opposite: metaphorically speaking, they threaten and sanction one party to the dispute (Israel) again and again, while constantly assuring the other party to the dispute (the Palestinians) that their claim is justified. And they also support the latter politically and financially so that they just don’t give up their narrative.
Fifth, the EU can therefore only play a role in the Middle East if it does not leave Israel policy in the hands of notorious critics of Israel such as the EU’s foreign minister Josep Borrell. Its predecessor, Federica Mogherini was not even received in Israel, and Borrell will probably be no different.
Some European countries such as the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia as well as Austria are breaking new ground. With a greater understanding of Israel’s difficult security situation and willingness to signal to the Palestinians that they too must be willing to compromise. With the clear message — as with the Austrian courts — that time is not on their side.
The Palestinians never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban said many years ago. It was exactly 100 years ago that the Sévres Treaty provided for an autonomous state for the Kurds. Today hardly anyone knows that, and the Kurds are now considered one of the largest peoples without their own nation-state.
If the Palestinians are not to suffer the same fate as the Kurds, then there could be another historical chance of obtaining one at the negotiating table. Of course, involving a cut in their previous expectations.
This is exactly where the Europeans could support the Palestinians and thus play a supporting role in the Middle East. This is certainly not possible with threats and sanctions against Israel, but rather by demanding the principle of reality, understanding the narratives of both sides, pushing for a willingness to compromise and last but not least: the promise to Israel and the emerging Palestinian state structure that they both can expect generous economic support from the EU and maximum integration into Europe.
This could form a viable bridge from Europe to the Middle East, which could become an alliance for peace, freedom and prosperity.
The Op-Ed was written by Austrian MP, Martin Engelberg and was published in The Times of Israel
President Rivlin tweets in Arabic: ‘We sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time’
Israel has offered humanitarian assistance to Lebanon after a massive explosion rocked its capital Beirut on Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.
“Israel has approached Lebanon through international security and diplomatic channels and has offered the Lebanese government medical and humanitarian assistance,” a written statement from Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said.
The international mediators Israel employed were the United Nations’ peacekeeping force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, and France.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister asked National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to reach out to the UN envoy to the region, Nickolay Mladenov, on this matter.
President Reuven Rivlin also offered his assistance, tweeting: “We share the pain of the Lebanese people and sincerely reach out to offer our aid at this difficult time.”
The Israeli army’s spokesman in Arabic, Avichay Adraee, tweeted in Arabic about the Israeli offer, adding: “This is the time to transcend conflict.”
Several Israeli lawmakers also posted messages of support on social media after Lebanese authorities reported thousands of casulaties in the blast.
Dr. Salman Zarka, director of the Ziv Medical Center, near Israel’s border with Lebanon, said in a Facebook message in Arabic: “We are ready to provide medical assistance as we did before with the people of south [Lebanon] and the people of Syria.”
An Israeli political source denied that the country had any connection to the incident, which came amid tensions with Hezbollah. Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said they had used international mediators UNIFIL and France to offer humanitarian and medical assistance to Lebanon.
The blast flattened much of the city’s port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Hours later, ambulances were still carrying away the wounded and officials said Beirut’s hospitals were full. Army helicopters helped battle fires raging at the port.
Abbas Ibrahim, chief of Lebanese General Security, said the blast might have been caused by highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship some time ago and stored at the port. Local television channel LBC said the material was sodium nitrate.
Beirut governor Marwan Abboud said the city was a “disaster area” and the scale of the damage was “enormous.”
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab declared Wednesday would be a national day of mourning for the victims, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Other countries, including the U.S., U.K., Turkey, Jordan and Iran have all also offered their assistance to Lebanon in the aftermath of the blast.
The article was published on Haaretz
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it exchanged fire with fighters from the Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah along the Israeli-Lebanese frontier on Monday.
The Israeli army said troops foiled a Hezbollah attack by 3 or 4 men who infiltrated a few metres over the Blue Line that separates Israel and Lebanon. It added there were no casualties among Israeli forces.
“Hezbollah should know it is playing with fire”, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. Both Netanyahu and defence minister Benny Gantz warned the governments of Syria and Lebanon that they would be held responsible for any attacks against Israel coming from their territory.
Hezbollah carried out the operation against Israeli soldiers in the disputed Shebaa Farms area, media quoted a witness as saying. The area is occupied by Israel and claimed by Lebanon. The United Nations regards it as part of Syrian territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Israeli forces have been on alert along the border in anticipation of Hezbollah retaliation for the killing of one of its members in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria last week.
In a statement on Monday, Hezbollah denied its forces had tried to infiltrate the Lebanese-Israeli frontier or that it had engaged in clashes in the Shebaa Farms area. The group said that the incident was “one-sided” and that Israeli forces had “moved nervously on the ground” due to a heightened state of alert.
“If Israel decides to go to war with us, then we will confront them, and the 2006 War will be the model for our response”, Hezbollah’s deputy chief Naim Qasim said in response.
The article was published on New Europe
Ichilov Hospital chief Prof. Roni Gamzu says he’s received the phone call about taking on the role late in the evening, shortly after Prof. Gabriel Barbash relinquished appointment over disagreements about authority
More new diagnoses in Tel Aviv than Jerusalem since Friday, despite more testing in capital; death toll rises as three more people succumb to COVID; 2,474 people currently infected with disease, including 111 new cases
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz made history on Thursday, when he told MK Pnina Tamano-Shata that she will become the first Ethiopian-born minister in Israel’s history.
Tamano-Shata, who will be minister of immigrant absorption, came to Israel in Operation Moses when she was three years old. Gantz was one of the commanders of the operation.
The highest-ranking woman in Blue and White, MK Miki Haimovich, will not be a minister at the start of the government being formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz on Thursday night.
Gantz met with Haimovich on Thursday morning and offered her ministerial posts, but she told him she preferred to head the Knesset’s Interior and Environmental Affairs Committee.
Haimovich, a former news anchor, has focused on environmental issues, but the Likud insisted on keeping the Environmental Protection portfolio because of the Likud’s opposition to Haimovich’s views.
Gantz appointed MK Alon Schuster as Agriculture Minister on Thursday morning. Schuster is a farmer from Kibbutz Mefalsim and former mayor of the Shaar Hanegev regional council.
MK Chili Tropper was appointed by Gantz as the minister of culture and sports in the upcoming government.
As expected, when Gantz met with MK Gabi Ashkenazi, he officially gave him the Foreign Affairs portfolio, and when meeting MK Avi Nisenkorn, he gave him the Justice Ministry.
Gantz gave the Science and Technology portfolio to MK Izhar Shai, a former hi-tech executive.
EIPA welcomes Germany’s Hizbollah ban, urges other EU states to follow
Germany has banned Iran-backed Hezbollah activity on its soil and designated it a terrorist organisation, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, arrests of suspected members then followed across the country early this morning.
“Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has banned the Shiite terrorist organisation Hezbollah in Germany,” tweeted a ministry spokesman. “Even in times of crisis, the rule of law is capable of acting,” he added.
The German move follows similar moves taken by the United States first, and then Britain in February. It marks the first significant move on continental European soil.
A spokesman for Europe Israel Public Affairs, a Brussels based Pro-Israel advocacy group, responded to the move this morning:
“We welcome the decisive move taken by the German government. The separation of Hizbollah into political and military wings was not only a fiction but also an absurdity, like trying to hold the arm less responsible for the actions of the hand.
Hizbollah are one and the same, an Iran backed terror organisation that not only threatens Israel, but the middle East as a whole. Conferring upon them a semblance of legitimacy by separating politics from ‘military’ actions has been a mistake that many countries are waking up to. In the weeks and months ahead we will be actively convincing other European States from our base here in Brussels, to follow Germany and end this distinction that Hizbollah have used everyone’s detriment.”
Israelis stood in silence — many on the balconies of their homes due to coronavirus restrictions — on Monday night as a one-minute siren sounded nationwide to mark the start of the annual Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.
A total of 23,816 soldiers have died defending Israel, while 3,153 civilians have lost their lives in terrorist attacks throughout the country’s history.
Another siren — two minutes in length — will be heard in the morning on Tuesday morning.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, family members and friends of the fallen will not be able to visit their graves in military cemeteries across the country, as is the usual custom.
At an official state ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, which was held without an audience, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in remarks addressed to the bereaved, “This year, we can’t cry together. This year, we can’t look into your eyes.”
Nevertheless, he vowed, Israelis would remember the “unfathomable price” paid for the country’s ongoing existence.
At the same event, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said, “Bereaved families, even now, despite the distance, all of Israel is with you, through all kinds of screens. Every person in their home is stopping, sympathizing [and] dedicating time to the memory of your sons and daughters.”
“These are complicated times, which bring worry and concern from the lingering danger,” he added. “A time of crisis is like a time of war. It pushes aside the trivial and minor and makes the important things, the ethical things and the sanctity of life stand out.”
The article was published on The Algemeiner
Agreement leaves Netanyahu in PM’s chair for next 18 months when he will be replaced by Gantz, who will serve as defense minister in interim; Blue & White gets 16 ministries in 32-member government, the largest in Israel’s history
PM and Blue & white leader say they’ve made ‘significant progress’ following an overnight meeting, prompting the president to extend Gantz’s 28- days mandate to form coalition by 2 extra days
Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Health Itamar Grotto stressed that the country remain vigilant
A top Health Ministry official said Tuesday that steps the Israeli government has taken to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus are succeeding, but cautioned against relaxing any measures until more testing is complete.
In a public statement, Deputy Director-General of the Health Ministry Prof. Itamar Grotto said that “the rate of increase in patients is relatively moderate and lower than we feared, meaning that the steps we have taken so far against the coronavirus have been successful.”
At the same time, Grotto added, “We mustn’t stop, we have the difficult period of Passover, and we must by the end of [Passover] follow the instructions.”
On Monday,incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that a nationwide lockdown would take effect Tuesday evening until the end of the weekend in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during Passover when families traditionally gather together to celebrate the holiday.
Netanyahu stressed that the upcoming week would determine whether the situation in the country deteriorates or takes a turn for the better, and added that the upcoming holiday will not be like Purim, which saw an uptick in transmissions.
“It is important for us to continue doing tests, which will also be carried out during the holiday, the labs will work as normal. It is essential to go out and be tested.”
Updated figures released by the Health Ministry Tuesday showed that the country has suffered 59 fatalities due to the coronavirus epidemic, with another 9,006 confirmed cases.
The article was published on I24 news
Israeli innovation has been enlisted in the battle against Covid-19. Here are six technological inventions helping health personnel in their fight against the pandemic
In Israel, both industry veterans and young startups have jumped into the fray, allocating resources and manpower in an effort to find new solutions that could ease the strain on the overburdened healthcare system. Calcalist has taken a closer look at some of the most prominent ones.
Discover the virus in seconds: the AI that identifies the virus with a simple CT scan
Israeli-American RADLogics Inc. is a software analytics company that specializes in visual analysis of medical scans using AI and has a research and development center in Tel Aviv. The company’s products were one of the first in its category to receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Its tools are used to detect early signs of medical issues such as lung cancer.Around two months ago, use of RADLogics’ products in China started revealing novel findings; something small and patch-like in the lungs of patients. Very quickly, medical professionals identified the patch as a phenomenon unique to coronavirus patients. More surprising was the fact that it was also found in asymptomatic carriers. The findings echoed a study published in China, which looked at around 1,000 patients and found that CT scans indicated the presence of the virus in 48% of people who were found negative in the regular test.
Blood tests in seclusion: a portable, AI-based device can perform a full blood count in minutes
Tel Aviv-based Sight Diagnostics Ltd. developed a device that enables quick blood tests and blood counts—a required part of the diagnosis protocol for every fever illness. While current technologies require the sample to be sent to a lab and processed by a technician, Sight’s device, which uses AI and machine processing tools, is portable and does not require prior knowledge to operate. It also provides results in minutes rather than hours or days.
To treat severe cases: developing antibodies from patients who have recovered
Veteran biopharmaceutical company Kamada Ltd. has in recent days turned its attention to developing coronavirus antibodies. The company is collecting blood and plasma from Israelis who have recovered from the virus, and using a purification process to achieve a specific concentration of antibodies for treating serious coronavirus cases. The company emphasizes that it is not a vaccine, but rather an expensive, one-off treatment for severe cases.
Predictive care startup Clew Medical Ltd. developed an algorithm that collects data from emergency care monitoring devices and alerts the medical team to any deterioration in a patient’s condition. As the healthcare system becomes more and more burdened, Clew’s technology could point out a patient in danger 6-12 hours before their condition starts to worsen, enabling caregivers to prepare in advance.
Israel-based company EarlySense Ltd. has developed a non-invasive patient-monitoring system already in use in nursing homes and hospitals. The system has been approved in both the U.S. and Europe. The company’s contactless monitoring platform, which looks like a cutting board, is placed under the mattress and takes stock of a patient’s /vitals around the clock, 100 times a minute.
Tel Aviv-based Geneyx Genomex Ltd. developed a cloud-based genetic data bank that is used by universities and research institutes to identify genetic risk or resistance factors for various medical conditions. The company is now conducting a study that will compare severe and mild coronavirus cases to find out whether certain genetic mutations increase or decrease response to the virus.
‘Give this people a government,’ pleads president in speech to near- empty chamber; Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi arrives to take oath despite exposure to suspected COVID-19 patient
In a surreal ceremony, the 23rd Knesset convened on Monday in the shadow of the COVID-19 outbreak, with its 120 lawmakers inducted in batches of three to avoid the spread of the virus and its leaders giving their usually festive opening remarks to an empty hall.
President Reuven Rivlin opened the parliament swearing-in with an address to the only three lawmakers present — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
In his speech, Rivlin implored the political parties to resolve their differences and form a coalition, putting an end to the deadlock that has left the country without a functioning government since December 2018.
Earlier in the day, Rivlin had given Gantz first shot at forming a government, after the Blue and White leader picked up recommendations from 61 of the Knesset’s 120 lawmakers. But it remained unclear whether Gantz could successfully do so without Netanyahu’s Likud.
After three consecutive elections, Rivlin said Israelis are “exhausted” by politics.
“We are looking forward to the day-to-day, the routine, when we will all return to what we have in common, our shared fate that is expressed so clearly in the current crisis,” he said, referring to the outbreak of the virus.
The president pleaded with the political leaders to compromise.
“Politics is far from perfect. But politics is meant to be the art of the possible. Often, politics needs to be the art of compromise… At the heart of democracy lies the understanding that what often creates the requirement for compromise, to make deep and painful concessions, is the will of the people itself,” he said.
Rivlin continued: “The current political crisis is very real, very deep and is breaking us in two. And we still have no other choice, because we have no other people and no other country. In democracy, we may be able to replace the leadership, but we cannot replace the people. Not some of it, not one half of it and not the other half of it. We were destined to live together.”
“The plenum is empty, but with us are the millions of citizens who badly need an emergency government,” said Edelstein.
After Edelstein, Netanyahu and Gantz took their oaths, the other lawmakers were brought in, three at a time and in alphabetical order, to be sworn in.
The Knesset guard administered fever checks for those entering parliament.
According to Channel 12, Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi was asked not to attend after being exposed to the husband of a coronavirus patient, who is also suspected of having contracted the virus.
But Hanegbi entered parliament nonetheless. Hanegbi later said he stayed in his office after arriving at the Knesset and kept a distance from other people when he was sworn in. After taking his oath, he left the Knesset.
Along with Blue and White MKs Ram Ben-Barak and Alon Shuster, Hanegbi had been at an agricultural conference where a man whose wife is confirmed to have the virus was present. Neither Ben-Barak or Shuster was at the swearing-in ceremony.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
Call for EU to reassess how to deal with terrorist entity regarding security of Israel
BERLIN – All political parties in Austria’s federal parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution calling on Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s government to exhaust all legal methods to stop Hezbollah’s criminal and terrorist activities.
However, the parliament measure stopped short of urging a total ban of Hezbollah’s entire movement within the EU and the central European country.
Austria’s National Council—the formal name of the country’s parliament—asked the federal government to “to take suitable and effective measures to continue to take decisive action against terrorist and criminal activities by Hezbollah supporters in Austria using the entire rule of law; to prevent Hezbollah from being financed through money laundering activities; to re-asses the question of how to deal with Hezbollah within the European Union.”
Reinhold Lopatka, an MP for Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party and Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic, an MP for the conservative chancellor’s coalition partner, the Green Party, announced in connection with the anti-Hezbollah resolution that they “recognize the historical responsibility of Austria toward the State of Israel. The existence of Israel should never be questioned.
In order to guarantee the security of the State of Israel in the future, the European Union must once again deal with Hezbollah.”
The resolution was titled “Effective action against Hezbollah.”
Hezbollah demanded in its 1985 manifesto Israel’s “obliteration from existence.”
Austria and the European Union have merely classified Hezbollah’s so-called “military wing” a terrorist entity. The US, England, the Netherlands, the Arab League, Israel and a number of Latin American countries designated Hezbollah’s entire movement a terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s leadership admits this, declaring itself a unified organization without political and military wings.
The Austrian parliament rejected on Tuesday an initiative of the NEOS party to consider a full ban of Hezbollah.
The Jerusalem Post reported in December that Austrian NEOS MP Helmut Brandstätter introduced a parliamentary initiative to with respect to a government ban of the entire Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in Austria.
“The Federal Government, in particular the Foreign Minister, is asked to examine whether it is appropriate and productive to classify the whole of Hezbollah in Austria a terrorist organization and implement the same on the EU level,” wrote Brandstätter.
On Saturday, the Post reported that prosecutors in the Austrian state of Carinthia have started a trial against an alleged Hezbollah commander who spent 13 years in Austria while reportedly being involved in financing terrorism.
The article was published on The JPost
As votes cast in so-called double envelopes in the Knesset elections were being tallied, the Central Election Committee updated the count Wednesday morning, giving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the centrist rival Blue and White led by Benny Gantz an extra seat apiece, leaving the premier’s bloc of right-wing supporters at 58 seats.
After 99% of the votes were tallied, Likud gained a seat for a total of 36, with the rival Blue and White party also increasing its power from 32 to 33.
The Joint List of predominantly Arab parties dropped from 16 seats to 15, while the ultra-Orthodox Shas party dropped from 10 seats to 9.
The rest of the parties’ seat totals remained the same: seven for United Torah Judaism (UTJ), seven for Yisrael Beytenu, seven for Labor-Gesher-Meretz and six for Yamina.
Based on those seat totals, Likud and its allies would have 58 seats combined. The right-wing religious bloc supporting Netanyahu — consisting of Likud, Shas, UTJ and Yamina — though, falls short of the 61 seats needed to form a government.
The counting of the “double envelope” ballots of soldiers, police staff, diplomats, handicapped citizens, hospital patients and staff, and prisoners began overnight and was expected to conclude later in the day.
Final but unofficial results were likely to be published Wednesday night. The official results will only be published on March 10.
The Central Elections Committee announced late Tuesday that almost all of the votes cast in the elections had been tallied, with votes from 10,552 polling places across the country counted — 99% of the voting stations that were open during Monday’s elections, accounting for about 93% of the total vote.
Late Tuesday, hazmat-clad officials also unsealed and counted ballots cast by Israelis who could be carrying the coronavirus.
Some 4,076 Israelis under quarantine cast votes Monday in specially constructed isolation voting booths manned by medics in protective gear doubling as election officials.
Before the tally began, the Blue and White party claimed Netanyahu had ordered observers from his Likud party at the committee to interfere in the count. Gantz ordered his own party’s representatives to the committee to intensify their observation efforts as a result, according to the party.
“MK Avi Nissenkorn, the faction chairman, has now been called to oversee from up close the work of the Central Elections Committee to ensure the counting is carried out properly and without intentional disruptions,” Blue and White said in a statement.
Blue and White did not provide any evidence to back up its claim against Netanyahu.
Monday’s election was largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who will go on trial later this month for bribery, fraud and breach of trust but is thought to be seeking support for a legislative mechanism to grant him immunity.
Despite a jubilant victory party and proclamations of victory from supporters, exit polling and the non-final result numbers showed he would likely come up shy of a needed 61-seat majority.
Gantz admitted to supporters early Tuesday that the party’s showing was disappointing, but refused to concede. He later appeared to rule out joining a unity government led by Netanyahu, narrowing the premier’s options to form a coalition.
Netanyahu could attempt to bring in the secularist Yisrael Beytenu, which looks set to once again play kingmaker. He’ll be helped by the prospect of continued deadlock and a fourth election, seen as a doomsday scenario, but one that is increasingly realistic.
Party head Avigdor Liberman vowed Monday he would not join a Likud-led government that includes ultra-Orthodox parties, but he has also refused to join a coalition with the Arab-led Joint List.
“We won’t move a millimeter from what we promised our voters,” he said.
Likud lawmakers and Netanyahu’s spokesman said Tuesday they would be looking to bring in “deserters” from other parties to make up the shortfall.
Likud spokesman Yonatan Urich told Channel 13 of contacts with “four to six” MKs from “the other side” and predicted that Netanyahu would be able to form a majority coalition with the support of some of them “within a few days.”
MK Miki Zohar admitted that if Likud was left needing to bring more than two lawmakers from other parties, it would be far more difficult for Netanyahu to form a coalition; however, he said he remained confident of forming a government even in that scenario and preventing a fourth round of elections.
Blue and White MKs Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, both former aides to Netanyahu and members of the Telem faction within the party, have denied reports they were mulling joining Likud.
However Hendel told Channel 12 news that he thought the country needed a unity government to move forward. When asked if that included joining a prime minister on trial, he said no.
Blue and White MK Omer Yankelevich also denied she could jump ship after a report said Likud threatened to publish embarrassing recordings of her if she doesn’t defect.
MK Orly Levy-Abekasis, who heads the Gesher faction in the Labor-Gesher-Meretz alliance, has also been tipped as a possibility to switch sides in return for a cabinet portfolio.
The article was published on Times of Israel
They grumbled, they mumbled, and they complained. They voted before a family outing, and after shopping at the mall; after breakfast, and before dinner. Once again they shlepped in babies in carriages, and brought along small children on their way to an excursion.
They kvetched, but they voted. And they came out in numbers that put other countries – such as America, which hasn’t had more than 60% of the population vote in a presidential election since 1968 — to shame.
Why? Because the bottom line is that most people here do care – despite all the cynicism – who governs the land, even though they might loudly declare that they don’t really care, that all the politicians are the same, and that it doesn’t matter who forms the government.
And they voted because most people want their voice to be heard.
It’s a small country, Israel. Decisions made at the top are felt intimately by people below – for instance, whether to attack in the Gaza Strip and send ground troops there, whether to uproot an illegal outpost in Samaria, whether to extract gas from the ocean floor and process it near the Haifa coast. People want to have some kind of minimal impact on how those decisions will be made, as those decisions may impact them in a very personal and immediate way.
So they vote. This time not happily, not with great enthusiasm, not eagerly, but they vote.
Although much has been written about how these back-to-back-to-back elections are chipping away at the belief of Israelis in the system, the fact that well over 66% of the people continue to vote here election after election shows that – deep down – they still believe in the process. Otherwise they would not participate. People vote if they care. And most people in this country do care.
Which doesn’t mean that things didn’t feel a bit different this time in the country’s polling places. They did. The conversation and jokes among those waiting in lines were different than in the past.
First there were the jokes and conversations about the coronavirus. “The special places for people quarantined to vote won’t help, since all the voting slips are contaminated,” one man quipped at a polling place outside of Jerusalem. Another noted that the son of someone in quarantine was waiting in line, and said to take cover if he sneezes.
But most of the chatter had to do with the seemingly endless election loop.
“Here we go again,” one woman said to a neighbor standing in line. “Yes,” the neighbor replied, adding sardonically – in reference to the possibility of a fourth round of voting in a few months time – “See you back here in September.”
Trump’s 80- page peace p;an calls for Palestinian state with parts of East Jerusalem as capital; major Jewish settlements in West Bank to remain under Israeli control; demilitarization of Hamas in Gaza
President Donald Trump called for the creation of a State of Palestine, ending speculation as to whether his administration, in preparing the Middle East peace plan without input from Palestinian leaders, would abandon a “two-state resolution” to the conflict. The potential future state will include parts East Jerusalem as its capital but only if the Palestinians take steps to become self-governing.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his key rival within Likud party ranks, former Education and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, are set to face off in Likud primaries on Thursday.
Czech Republic is acquiring Israel’s famed ‘Iron Dome” Multi-Mission Radar in an agreement signed earlier this month. The agreement between the Israel Ministry of Defense and Czech Ministry of Defense will see at least eight ELM-2084 radars operational in Czech Republic in coming years as part of the country’s enhanced Mobile Air Defense Radar program.
This is an important $125 million sale because it represents Israel’s inroads into eastern Europe, especially the Visegrad Group of countries that are becoming increasing allies of Jerusalem. This includes Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. The radars will be delivered between 2021 and 2023 ad they will be interoperable with NATO command and control. The deal was in the works for years.
Prague joined NATO in 1999 and the Bush administration wanted to base interceptors and missile defense radar in Czech Republic. The deal was signed in 2008 but cancelled by the Obama administration as part of the administration’s reset with Russia in 2009 and other changes in policy. Czech Republic refused an offer to base early warning radar in the country in 2011 and went looking elsewhere.
By 2016 it appeared to have signaled that Israel’s radar was its favored choice. Although media reports had indicated that the previous negotiations with the US were about fears of Russian missiles, the larger picture was that Prague needed to modernize its air defense.
Israel’s Iron Dome, which uses the radar Czech Republic is acquiring, has been key to defending the country successfully since the 2012 war and been racking up more successes in the last two years as more than 2,600 rockets were fired by militants in Gaza. The US has even looked at the system for short range air defense (SHORAD).
Iron Dome is one of Israel’s multi-layered radar that was developed with US support, including the David’s Sling and the Arrow. David’s Sling is similar to the Patriot system. The radars have air surveillance and air defense capabilities. Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries in Israel makes the radar which was sold to Czech Republic.
Czech industries will conduct thirty percent of the procurement locally.
In Israel the agreement is seen as part of a close and strong relationship between the countries. Director of Israel’s International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT), Brig. Gen. (Ret.), Yair Kulas said he applauded the agreement.
“Today is monumental for the State of Israel due to the history of Czech support for the State of Israel, since its establishment 70 years ago. This agreement will deepen and strengthen the cooperation and relations with our Czech partners. It is an expression of confidence in the capabilities of the Israeli defense establishment and defense industries and highlights the significance of Israeli technology in the face of the threats shared by the international community. We hope to see this agreement opening the door for further cooperation with our Czech partners and with additional NATO states.”
IAI VP and CEO of ELTA, Yoav Tourgeman said that the “MADR program expands the global use of the ELM- 2084, known as the ‘Iron Dome’ system radar, which currently includes over 100 systems contracted worldwide (including NATO countries). We are proud and honored to supply the best combat proven multi-mission radar to the Czech armed forces. These radars will propel forward the Czech Air-force capabilities and enable to confront the most advanced aerial threats. We believe that the MADR program will pave the path to additional cooperation between the Israeli and Czech defense industries.”
Seth J. Frantzman is a Jerusalem-based journalist who holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a writing fellow at Middle East Forum. He is the author of After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East (forthcoming Gefen Publishing). Follow him on Twitter at @sfrantzman.
The article was published on The national Interest
Leaders to meet at 5:30 P.M. as Liberman openly talks about joining narrow right-wing government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz will meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Kirya in Tel Aviv.
Earlier Tuesday, Blue and White officials said their negotiating team would not meet again with Likud until they were ready for Gantz to go first in a rotation in the Prime Minister’s office.
Likud responded that while Netanyahu has conceded in agreeing to serve for only five months, Blue and White had not conceded on anything.
Gantz has said that instead of Netanyahu going first as prime minister, he could be vice prime minister and laws could be passed enabling him to deal with his legal situation.
Next Wednesday is the last day for an MK to draft the support of 61 MKs and avoid a third election in under a year.
Yisrael Beytenu leader and possible coalition kingmaker Avigdor Liberman appeared to reconsider the formation of a right-wing government on Tuesday.
“I don’t know what is worse- a narrow government or election,” Liberman said.
Yisrael Beytenu MKs Oded Forer and Hamed Amar approached Liberman earlier Tuesday and told him they favored a right-wing government. Forer was apparently angry at Blue and White for conceding to United Torah Judaism MKs at a meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee
The article was published on The JPost
Dutch government, which gives several millions of dollars a year to PA, says talks to end wages to those who carried out attacks on Israelis ‘did not lead to the desired outcome”
The Dutch government has cut funding for the Palestinian Authority over its salaries to terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.
The aid ministry announced the move Wednesday during annual budget talks.
In 2017, the Palestinian Authority paid about $198 million to a fund for the families of terrorists killed during their attacks and about $160 million to Palestinians being held in Israeli jails, according to Israeli Defense Ministry figures.
The Netherlands spends several million dollars each year on aid to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian populations elsewhere in the Middle East but most of that money is given to agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
The country had given about $1.6 million directly to the Palestinian Authority annually to pay the salaries of justice ministry employees.
The aid ministry said that talks with the Palestinian body “did not lead to the desired outcome.”
Israel has long complained that the salaries encourage terror attacks.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
The Iranian-backed Palestinian group confirmed Tuesday morning that Abu al-Atta, its northern Gaza Strip commander had been killed and vowed to avenge his death.
The response was quick to come as dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza at southern and central Israel.
By 9am, the IDF said, 50 rockets had been fired from Gaza, of which the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted approximately 20.
This is the first incident of targeted killing by Israel since the end of the 2014 Gaza conflict, Operation Protective Edge.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Islamic Jihad commander was poised to launch imminent attacks against Israel.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said in a tweet Tuesday morning that he supported the decision to target Abu al-Atta and that Israel’s security transcended politics.
“The battle against terrorism requires difficult decisions,” the former IDF chief said. “Blue and White places every proper action taken for the safety of Israel above politics. Every terrorist who endangers our security knows he is marked for death.”
The IDF released a statement confirming the attack was a coordinated effort by the military and the Shin Bet security service.
Gaza’s Health Ministry says a man and a woman were killed in the blast and two other people were wounded.
The airstrike damaged the half of the second and most of the third floors of a house in the Shejaeya neighborhood east of the city.
Israel media reported lately that Abu el-Atta was responsible for recent rocket attacks against southern Israel communities, instructed by Tehran.
The article was published on Ynet
The Czech parliament voted on Tuesday that it will act against antisemitism and any attempt to promote boycotting the Jewish State.
The resolution passed by 120 votes to 20.Israeli ambassador to the Czech Republic Daniel Miron lauded the decision.
The News was published on The JPost
Samer Arbid, a Palestinian from Ramallah arrested for allegedly leading a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist cell responsible for the murder of 17-year-old Rina Shnerb had worked in a European-funded NGO linked to BDS, NGO Monitor reported on Wednesday.
44-year-old Arbid, who is one of PFLP’s officials in Ramallah, was previously arrested for involvement in terror activity during the Second Intifada under the direct command of the PFLP leadership, preparing explosive devices.
IDF and Border Police forces arrested Arbid on Sunday for allegedly setting up and detonating the improvised explosive device that killed Shnerb, wounding her father Eitan and her brother Dvir near the settlement of Dolev.
Party leaders turned out early Tuesday to cast their votes in Israel’s second national election of the year.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara arrived at their Jerusalem polling station to cast their vote in the Israeli elections Tuesday.
Vying for a fifth term the prime minister said this is a very close election and called on citizens to come out and vote.
This is the second election held in Israel in less than six months after Netanyahu, who is hoping for an unprecedented fifth term in office, failed to form a coalition government after the April ballot.
His Likud party then pushed through a law to dissolve the Knesset, thereby avoiding a situation in which President Reuven Rivlin could task another party leader with coalition building.
The head of the Blue and White Party Benny Gantz voted close to his home in Rosh Haayin, near Tel Aviv.
The former army chief wished Israelis good luck in the elections as he arrived at the polling station flanked by supporters.
Avigdor Liberman, the leader of the right-wing, secular Yisrael Beytenu party – who could emerge as the kingmaker of the elections – voted with his wife at his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim.
Liberman urges all Israelis to vote, calling it “a civic duty.”
Shaked also called on citizens to vote and claimed there are up to 30% voters still undecided.
In the city of Sderot, near the Gaza border, Labor-Gesher chief Amir Peretz told supporters as he arrived to cast his ballot, that every vote counts and everyone should vote.
Voter turnout may be the deciding factor in these elections though it is expected to be low.
The article was published on Ynet
Most Israelis think that Israel has succeeded in its diplomatic activities in the US, Europe and the Arab countries.
A public opinion poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute ahead of the elections to the 22nd Knesset examined how the public sees the outgoing government’s performance on major foreign policy issues.
77% of respondents thought that the State of Israel was successful in its relations with the US, while only 12% thought it failed. 47% of respondents said that relations with Europe are also successful and 33% thought that the policy vis-à-vis the EU has failed.
On the issue of relations between Israel and Arab states, 46% of respondents say that government policy was successful and only 35% think it failed.
When asked about Israeli-Palestinian Arab relations, only 17% think government policy was successful and 65% thought it was unsuccessful.
The poll also found that 12% of those surveyed preferred to see Yair Lapid as Foreign Minister. He is followed by Binyamin Netanyahu with 9% and far behind them is Naftali Bennett with 4%, Gideon Sa’ar with 4%, Avigdor Liberman with 3.5%, and Yisrael Katz with 3%. However, 40% of the respondents replied that they did not have a clear opinion as to who should serve in that role.
Another question that arose in the survey was about the decline in the status of the Foreign Ministry and whether it was detrimental to Israel’s national security. 26% answered that there was no decline in the status of the ministry, and 9% claimed that there was a decline, but this did not compromise national security. A similar number stated that even if there was a decline in the status of the ministry, it has done very little damage to national security. Another 30% opined that alongside the decline in status, there has also been a great deal of devaluation of national security.
The article was published on Arutz 7
The International Atomic Energy Agency is investigating the particles’ origin and has asked Iran to explain the traces. But Tehran has not done so, according to the diplomats.
Sunday, September 8
Traces of uranium found at secret warehouse
Samples taken by the UN nuclear watchdog at what Israel’s prime minister called a “secret atomic warehouse” in Tehran showed traces of uranium that Iran has yet to explain, two diplomats who follow the agency’s inspections work closely say.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is investigating the particles’ origin and has asked Iran to explain the traces. But Tehran has not done so, according to the diplomats, stoking tensions between Washington and Tehran.
In a speech a year ago Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vehemently opposed the deal, called on the IAEA to visit the site immediately, saying it had housed 15 kg (33 lb) of unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed.
Reuters first reported in April that the IAEA, which is policing the nuclear deal, had inspected the site – a step it had said it takes “only when necessary” – and environmental samples taken there were sent off for analysis.
Israeli and US media have since reported that the samples turned up traces of radioactive material or matter – the same vague language used by Netanyahu.
Those traces were, however, of uranium, the diplomats said – the same element Iran is enriching and one of only two fissile elements with which one can make the core of a nuclear bomb.
One diplomat said the uranium was not highly enriched, meaning it was not purified to a level anywhere close to that needed for weapons.
“There are lots of possible explanations,” that diplomat said. But since Iran has not yet given any to the IAEA it is hard to verify the particles’ origin, and it is also not clear whether the traces are remnants of material or activities that predate the landmark 2015 deal or more recent, diplomats say.
The IAEA did not respond to a request for comment.
Iranian officials were not available to comment.
US will continue to impose sanctions
The United States will continue to impose sanctions on whoever purchases Iran’s oil or conducts business with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and no oil waivers will be re-issued, a US official told Reuters on Sunday.
“We will continue to put pressure on Iran and as President (Trump) said there will be no waivers of any kind for Iran’s oil,” said Sigal Mandelker, US Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
Mandelker added that Iranian oil sales have taken a “serious nose dive” because of US pressure.
Detained British tanker may be released ‘soon’
Iran may soon release a detained British tanker after the completion of legal steps, state television reported on Sunday.
“I hope the procedures will be completed soon and this tanker will be released,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told the station.
The state television also reported that Mousavi said an Iranian tanker “has gone to its destination” and “the oil has been sold.
“The Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked on the Mediterranean coast ..and unloaded its cargo,” IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, as saying.
Iran says Europe failing to save nuclear deal
The head of Iran’s nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, said the European Union has so far failed to carry out its commitments under the 2015 deal, which promised relief from trade sanctions in return for curbing the country’s nuclear program.
Salehi said the EU “was supposed to fill the vacuum” in enforcing the deal, but “unfortunately they could not.” He said compliance with the deal is not a “one-way road.
“Unfortunately the European parties have failed to fulfil their commitments…The deal is not a one-way street and Iran will act accordingly as we have done so far by gradually downgrading our commitments,” said Salehi said, speaking after meeting the acting head of the US nuclear watchdog (IAEA), Cornel Feruta.
“Iran will continue to reduce its nuclear commitments as long as the other parties fail to carry out their commitments.”
Feruta, Zarif meet
Feruta, also met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday who said Iran’s reduction of commitments under its 2015 nuclear deal were allowed under the accord, according to reports by the semi-official Fars news agency.
Zarif said that Iran was acting under paragraph 36 of the accord, Fars reported. Iranian officials say the paragraph allows one party to the deal to cut its commitments if others do not live up to theirs.
Feruta reiterated that IAEA would carry out its verification activities in a “professional and impartial” manner, Fars added.
The IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors will discuss Iran at a quarterly meeting that begins on Monday.
The article was posted on TRT world
The 27-year-old is the first Israeli male to win the prestigious title. This is his first world title after having won gold twice at the European Championships in 2015 and 2018.
The Netanya-born athlete faced six opponents on his journey to the gold medal and showed complete dominance after beating most of them by Ippon. His Egyptian quarter-final opponent Mohammed Abdelaal refused to shake his hand after having lost their match.
After the competition, the new world champion told reporters in Tokyo that he never lost faith he could win, but conceded that his semi-final bout “was a very hard fight.”
“I came close to losing but I gave it everything and I never stopped believing. I’m glad I managed to keep up the pressure,” he said.
“This is my first time (as world champion) and it’s a very special moment for me,” he said. “I finally did it. It was a tough day.”
Muki also paid tribute to his fellow Israelis who travelled to the compeition to support him and his teammates.
“Judo is the most successful sport in Israel and every medal creates a great fuss,” he said.
“A lot of Israelis came to Tokyo to encourage the team and I’m glad I could them happy.”
A delighted President Reuven Rivlin took to Twitter to congratulate Muki, writing: “Your achievement makes us so proud and teaches us that hard work, humanity and a hand always extended in peace can conquer the greatest heights.
“Congratulations on your gold medal and thank you for the pride you bring us all as Israelis,” he wrote.
The article was published on Ynet
EU Ambassador to Israel sends condolences to family of terror victim as MKs from across the spectrum express outrage.
Knesset members from across the political spectrum responded Friday to a terror attack which left a young woman dead and her father and brother wounded.
In the attack, terrorists threw a homemade explosive device thrown at Israelis hiking near the Ein Bubin spring near the Binyamin-region town of Dolev.
MK Nir Barkat (Likud), said: “The attack near Dolev is further proof of the Palestinian Authority’s policy of hate-filled incitement that causes this continued downward spiral. I pray for a speedy recovery for the wounded and trust that our security forces will quickly capture those responsible.”
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) said that he is praying for the recovery of those injured, adding: “This criminal terror attack demands a harsh response. I am convinced that our security forces will reach those who committed this attack. They will try to hurt us and we will build, develop, and strengthen the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.”
Har Hevron Regional Council Head Yochai Demeri said: “The escalation in the security situation demands an appropriate response. This chain of events shows a trend, and dragging our feet is not a solution. Deporting the murderers’ families together with applying sovereignty in Area C are the first steps and we are obligated to take them.”
“Terror draws encouragement from its successes and anyone who does not stop the terror attacks in Gaza, Judea, and Samaria should not be surprised by incidents occurring in city centers. Terror will not deter us, and we will continue to hike everywhere – in Jerusalem, Dolev, Nahal Oz, the Golan, and Tel Aviv, because their motivation to murder Jews needs no reason. Our hearts and prayers are with the victims.”
Yisrael Beytenu Chairman MK Avigdor Liberman said: “The terror attack in Binyamin is a stinging slap on the face for the Netanyahu government of submission, which continues to abandon the security of the State of Israel’s citizens in favor of paying bribes to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority so that there will be quiet until the elections.”
“A government which stops repairs on the dangerous road near the Gaza border because it’s out of money, but on the other hand begs Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to accept 2 billion shekels ($569,180,000), is not worthy of the public’s trust. At this difficult time, my heart is with the victims and their families, and I support the IDF and security forces, who are currently hunting the terrorists.”
Tzachi Dickstein, chairman of the Samaria Settlers’ Committee, said: “This is the second terror attack in the past twenty-four hours which has harmed innocent civilians. The facts speak for themselves: Removing the checkpoints is an ongoing mistake. We must immediately replace the road checkpoints and the security around the villages in order to give residents back their security and in order to prevent the next attack.”
“The lives of Israeli citizens in Judea and Samaria are a thousand times more important than the convenience of terrorists on the road and later in the Israeli vacation houses they are jailed in.”
Binyamin Regional Council Head Yisrael Gantz, aho arrived at the scene of the attack together with the Council’s professional staffs, said: “We will not allow terror organizations to deter us from hiking in nature and enjoying the views and springs of our land. It’s time the government of Israel woke up and initiated, instead of just being dragged, and send a message of strength, courage, and security, so that those attackers know that they can no longer easily attack hikers who are coming to relax at springs.”
“I expect the Prime Minister to ensure the safety and security of Judea and Samaria’s residents and stop promising to apply sovereignty, and do it instead.”
In addition, European Union Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret tweeted: “Appalled by the news of the heinous attack on a father and his children in the West Bank this morning. My thoughts and condolences are with victims of this despicable act.”
The article was published on Arutz 7
Off-duty soldier remembered as talented musician who always thought of others; father mourns ‘kid with light in his eyes’ who would befriend the marginalized
Dvir Sorek, a yeshiva student enrolled in a program combining Torah study with military service, left his seminary in the West Bank settlement of Migdal Oz Wednesday to head to Jerusalem to buy books — a gift for a teacher.
The 18-year-old, whose birthday is next week, never returned.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, his body was discovered on the side of a road leading into the settlement, riddled with stab wounds. He was not in uniform at the time of his death, the army said. Authorities were treating the killing as a terror attack.
“He was found clutching the books that he’d bought,” Rabbi Shlomo Wilk, the head of the Migdal Oz seminary Machanayim, said Thursday morning, as word of Sorek’s murder was met with shock and sadness by those who knew him.
“He was an amazing man, very sensitive, smart, modest, who fused wisdom and quiet… This is a man who at the beginning of the year saw an Arab walking around the area with a donkey that looked unwell, sick, so he offered to buy the donkey. He bought it, treated it, and sent it away,” Rabbi Sarel Rosenblatt, who taught Sorek, told Channel 12 news.
“I wanted him to be a man of standing in Israel, who would contribute a lot of his light to Israeli society, and his light was taken from us,” he added, describing him as a “sensitive man with a heart of gold.”
Another teacher, Rabbi Yossi Fruman, said his trip to Jerusalem to buy a gift for his teacher “very much defined him.”
“He always thought about how he can express his gratitude. He returned to Jerusalem with the books on him,” he told the Kan public broadcaster. Some media outlets identified the book as Israeli author David Grossman’s latest novel.
He was the son of Yoav Sorek, the editor of the conservative HaShiloach journal, published by the Tikvah Fund.
On Thursday afternoon, Sorek described his son as “a kid with light in his eyes,” adding that “whoever didn’t know him missed out, he used to help the weak around him who were in need of a friend.”
“Our Dvir was sweet,” a tearful Sorek told reporters outside his home. “Two months ago he had a karate exam and he didn’t get a high grade because his teacher said he performs the movements well, but lacks ‘murder’ in his eyes. Now someone with murder in his eyes has taken him.
“We received a gift for almost 19 years — for that gift we are grateful, we will carry the pain from now on,” he said.
“He loved everyone and everyone loved him. He was a symbol of the love of mankind,” his uncle, Menachem Borenstein, told Army Radio, describing his nephew as a “tzaddik,” or righteous man.
Sorek’s grandfather, Rabbi Binyamin Herling, an educator and Holocaust survivor, was killed in a terrorist attack on Mount Ebal in the West Bank in October 2000.
A resident of Ofra, Sorek’s hometown, described him as a “good kid” and “talented musician” who loved nature, in an interview with Army Radio.
Authorities have launched a wide-scale manhunt for the attackers.
Initial findings indicated that Sorek was not killed where his body was found, but may have been abducted elsewhere, stabbed to death and then left along the road outside Migdal Oz.
A boot-camp for 50 young European activists aimed at fighting antisemitism and anti-Zionism was hosted earlier this week in Brussels by the European Jewish Association (EJA).
Partnering on the event with the Europe Israel Public Affairs and the European Center for Jewish Students, the boot-camp was the first step in “building a Europe-wide network of young and engaged activists,” the EJA said in a statement on Tuesday.
Activists and budding activists who attended came from countries as far as the Ukraine and Iceland, as well as the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.
“The participants represent the first draft of a new ‘officer corps’ of young activists, who will go back to their countries and advocate for Israel, build local armies and effectively counter anti-Zionist and antisemitic narratives, and will be regularly briefed and trained on best practice and campaigns from Brussels and from Israel, as well as sharing knowledge and supporting each other,” it explained.
EJA chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, said in a statement following the event that the boot-camp “was an intensive course in advocacy.”
“Across Europe, with rising antisemitism directly linked to rising anti-Zionism, the stakes have rarely been higher,” he explained. “We wanted to inspire, to show these brave young activists that they are not alone, that there is support and to help them build networks, not only for mutual support, but for best practice in countering these antisemitic narratives.”
He added that this boot-camp “is the start of a long journey for these young ‘soldiers,’ and one that will help them lead, encourage and inspire others in the months and years ahead.”
The boot-camp included engagement and classes with experts in these fields, including speakers from StandWithUs, the Strategic Affairs Ministry and the media, including experts from The Guardian newspaper and Euronews.
According to the EJA, “participants got stuck into the basics of lobbying and media relations, whilst Swedish Israel advocate Saskia Pantell shared top tips on best practice and winning on social media.”
Participants also took part in a gala dinner event, in which they heard from Holocaust survivor and president of the Jewish Forum in Antwerp, Regina Suchowolski-Sluzny.
They also viewed videos that highlighted both good and bad interviews, and segments from Palestinian children’s television shows.
The article was published on The JPost
Mrs. Rivlin underwent lung transplant in March after suffering from pulmonary fibrosis for many years; family thanks people of Israel for their ongoing concern for her health after her operation
Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin, died Tuesday at the age of 73, a day before her 74th birthday.
A statement from the family Tuesday said: “The Rivlin family wishes to thank the people of Israel and religious leaders who have continued to be concerned about Nechama’s welfare, who have sent letters and children’s drawings to the hospital and the President’s Residence and who have prayed for her recovery every day, every hour.”
Details of the funeral have yet to be released.
She was a popular first lady who focused on the arts, the environment and children with special needs, and was a trusted adviser to her husband throughout his long political career as a Likud lawmaker and later president.
Nechama Rivlin was born in 1945 in Tel Mond, a farming community. She began studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1964, and in 1970 met her husband at a party. They were married a year later, and have three children.
Mrs. Rivlin suffered from pulmonary fibrosis for years. In the past year, her condition deteriorated to the extent that she required an oxygen tank at all times.
In March, she underwent a lung transplant at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, receiving the organ of 19-year-old Yair Yechezkel Halbali, who drowned in Eilat days earlier. Nine days after the transplant, she underwent another surgical procedure to support the transplant.
The president did not leave his wife’s bedside during her stay in hospital. In great pain, Mrs. Rivlin had to learn to breathe again. During the rehabilitation process, the medical team created the illusion of her still being attached to an oxygen tank, while in reality she was spending several hours breathing on her own. When she learned of their trick, she was incredulous.
At the beginning of May, Mrs. Rivlin’s condition worsened, leaving her suffering from severe shortness of breath and exhaustion. The president, who was on a state visit to Canada at the time, immediately decided to cut short his trip and retu
the article was published on Ynet
With the European elections results coming in overnight there are some surprises, but many predictable outcomes. The elections have ramifications for Europe’s position in the world because the more Europe is unstable and fractured by infighting, the less it will play a role in world affairs. In addition, the more extreme parties in Europe will fuel the continued cycle of the instability, likely exacerbating the inability of the continent to act as a whole on policies, leaving such issues as immigration and security in the hands of states that have deepening societal divisions.
Here is a quick glance at what we know so far on Monday.
Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party remakes map of UK politics
The pro-Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who appeared to leave politics after the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016, led a new party to a surprising thirty percent of the votes in the UK European elections. These elections weren’t supposed to even happen because the UK was already supposed to have left the EU. His message was that his party wants to take responsibility for leaving the EU and that if the ruling Conservatives don’t act then they will be crushed at the next polls.
The Conservatives already were humiliated in the EU elections in the UK, receiving less than ten percent. The Liberal Democrats performed well with almost 20 percent of the vote while Labour slipped to 14% and the Greens grabbed 11%. It’s clear that a coalition of Labour, the Greens and Liberal-Democrats, with the Scottish Nationalists, likely could run the UK after the next general election. For now it is the EU that will be getting Farage back.
Germany goes Green
In Germany the centrist and historically dominant Christian Democrats and Social Democrats lost votes to the Green Party. The Greens took twenty percent of the vote while the right wing AfD took ten percent. For Germany, any notion that right wing parties might do well always conjures up comparisons to the past. But the reality is that there is no massive swing to the far-right in Germany, yet. Instead the major parties are simply being weakened. The smaller leftist Die Linke party, for instance, took five percent of the vote. Liberals took another five percent.
Le Pen wins, again, in France
Marine Le Pen’s National Rally defeated President Emmanuel Macron’s party by a whopping 23.3% to 22.4%. This is supposed to make us all gasp that Lep Pen has “won,” but she hasn’t really won anything. Macron has been beset by massive protests by the “yellow vests” and French politics is fickle. They tend to dislike their presidents. The Le Pen phenomenon has continued for twenty years in France. In 2002 Jean-Marie Le Pen received 17% in the presidential election. Marine Le Pen got 33% of the vote in 2017. So her 23% isn’t a win, it’s a loss for her party. It just looks good in comparison to Macron’s failure. The real winners, in a sense, in France were the Greens with 13% of the vote, an increase from last time. See a pattern here with the Greens doing better in Germany and the UK?
Italy’s one third
A third of Italians voted for the Lega, Matteo Salvini’s party that is popular in the north of the country. Another 23% voted for the social democrats while only 16% chose the Five Star Movement, a new party that had got around a third of the vote in the 2018 elections. It appears that Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia got 7% of the vote. One supposes that means former Italian leader Mr. Berlusconi is back in politics, something he has been trying to achieve for the last few years. The end result in Italy is that although the right wing is doing well, they are still divided and kept at a third of the votes.
Sweden’s moderate politics
Not so long ago Sweden thought that it might be swept up in populist politics with the rise of the Sweden Democrats. The wave appears to be cresting as they now have 15% of the vote, a continual rise from 2018 when they had 13% in national elections. But the rest of Sweden’s politics is predictable. The Moderate party got 16% and the center-left took 23%. The Greens now have 11%.
Flemish Nationalism rises in Belgium
The new Flemish Alliance, which had 20% in the 2014 vote got only 13% in the EU elections, but its more far-right Vlaams Belang got 11%. On the left the socialists took 10%, the French speaking Greens 7% and the Flemish speaking Greens another 7%. Flemish socialists also got 6%. All in all the politics in Belgium is so divided that it’s hard to make any real conclusions, besides the obvious fact that the Flemish right is rising. Previously the the Vlaams Belang had only around 3% of the vote. But a previous incarnation of the far-right, the Vlams Blok, once got 12% of the vote in 1994 and 15% in 1999. So the new far-right Flemish speakers have merely gone back to what they used to have.
Puigdemont gets a seat in Spain
The Catalan separatist Carles Puigdemont secured a seat in Spain while another group supporting local regions, Ahora Republicas, got 5% of the votes. Its leader Oriol Junqueras has been in imprisoned on charges of “rebellion.” The populist Vox party got 6% of the vote in Spain. Overall Spain’s politics are largely dominated by the normal parties with the socialists getting 32% and the center-right People’s Party getting 20%. Another center-right Citizens party got 12%.
Viktor Orban continued his dominance of Hungarian politics, taking more than 50% of the vote in the EU elections there. He has been the leader of the Fidesz party for years and a dominant figure since the late 1990s. It is the only European country where a party got over 50% of the vote.
Poland goes for two big parties
Poland looks the way western European countries used to look in its voting pattern for two large parties. Forty-three percent chose a right wing conservative party called Law and Justice, while 38% chose the European Coalition. In general Poland’s politics have not fractured like many other countries in Europe.
Austria’s Greens and Freedom Party
Austrian politics also looks relatively normal in the EU election, with the People’s Party taking 34% and the Social Democrats taking 23%. The Freedom Party, with is more right wing, has 17% and the Greens 14%. This looks like the 2017 Austrian legislative elections in which the Freedom Party got 20% and the Greens got 12%. Basically there is no news from Vienna.
Romania’s socialists lose out
In Romania the center-right National Liberal Party got 27% of the vote while the Social Democrats got only 24%. A centrist party called USR-PLUS got another 18%. The Social Democrats had 45% of the vote as recently as 2016. They now have been handed a major defeat. Romania matters to the Eu because it has 32 seats in the 751 parliament, making it one of the larger members in the 28 member block. Germany, Italy, France and the UK are the largest, followed by France and Poland.
Ireland also goes Green a bit
Ireland largely voted for the parties one would expect, Fine Gail got 29% and Fianna Fail got 15%. This represented a defeat for Fianna Fail while the Green Party grabbed 15%, much more than in the 2016 elections in Ireland. Sinn Fein got 13%, which is exactly what it got in 2016. No big surprises here, except for the Greens.
Netherlands says goodbye to populism
The Party for Freedom (PVV) once had 16% and 13% in EU elections in 2009 and 2014. But it slipped to a dismal failure in the 2019 elections, illustrating the far-right nationalism may not be on the march. It came in second with 13% of the vote in the 2017 general elections in Holland. But the Dutch decided on more traditional politics this election, sending Labour to the EU with 19% of the vote and the People’s Party with 14%. The Greens got 10% of the vote. The surprising failure of the populists and nationalists in Netherlands may point to a turning point in that country and others. After almost two decades, since the days of the Pim Fortuyn List, politics in the low country seem a bit more traditional.
The article was published on The JPost
The nonbinding vote said the campaign to boycott Israeli products, along with the movement’s “Don’t Buy” stickers, recalled “the most terrible chapter in German history” and revived memories of the Nazi motto “Don’t buy from Jews.”“The pattern of argument and methods of the B.D.S. movement are anti-Semitic,” the resolution stated, vowing not to fund any organizations that question Israel’s right to exist, call for a boycott of Israel or actively support B.D.S.B.D.S., which was inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, has had several recent successes. In 2018, nearly two dozen artists pulled out of a music festival in Israel. Most recently, the B.D.S. movement has called on artists and fans to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest because Israel is the host.The resolution, which mentioned “growing unease” in the German Jewish community as anti-Semitism has increased, was brought to Parliament by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union party and its Social Democratic coalition partner, as well as the liberal party and the Greens.Crime statistics published by the German Interior Ministry on Tuesday showed that anti-Semitic crime and hate crime rose by 20 percent last year. The report found that nine in 10 anti-Semitic offenses were committed by people on the far-right.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel congratulated Parliament, known as the Bundestag, on its “important decision to recognize B.D.S. as an anti-Semitic movement and that it is forbidden to support it.”“I particularly appreciate the Bundestag’s call on Germany to stop funding organizations that work against the existence of the State of Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu said, “I hope this decision will lead to concrete action, and I call on other countries to adopt similar legislation.”Yuli Edelstein, the speaker of the Israeli Parliament, tweeted: “Thank you #Bundestag! For the courageous and important decision! BDS is a dangerous, antisemitic movement. You are the first, but many others will follow in your footsteps.”Germany’s Jewish organizations also welcomed the vote.The far-right Alternative für Deutschland had put forward a separate motion on Friday that called for a ban of the B.D.S. movement.One of its lawmakers, Jürgen Braun, said his party was the real friend of Israel in the German Parliament. “Anti-Semitism comes from the left and from Islam,” he said.The AfD abstained in the vote.The Left Party also said it rejected the B.D.S. movement, but it refused to back Friday’s motion. In its own motion, the party called on the government to support efforts to find a peaceful two-state solution in the Middle East.
Ther article was published on The New York Times
“The ceasefire understanding will begin Monday 04:30,” a Palestinian official familiar with the agreement said. A second Palestinian official confirmed that a deal was reached, as well a TV station belonging to Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist rulers.
The Israeli military confirmed its decision Monday morning, saying: “As of 7 a.m., all protective restrictions in the home front will be lifted.” Schools and roads had been closed, and residents had been encouraged to remain indoors and near bomb shelters as intense rocket fire pounded the area.
Sources in the Gaza Strip say the Palestinian factions are committed to the ceasefire as long as Israel fulfils its part of the agreement reached. Sources added that Hamas has received guarantees from the Egyptian mediators that Israel will transfer to Gaza millions of Qatari financial aid and open the border crossing for entrance of goods and humanitarian aid to the Strip. Israel, for the their part, apparently said the renewal of any type of border violence will affect the term of the agreement.
Egyptian mediators had been working with the United Nations to broker a ceasefire. Under past Egyptian-brokered deals, Israel has agreed to ease a blockade of Gaza in exchange for a halt to rocket fire.
The latest fighting broke out after Palestinian militants accused Israel of not honoring an earlier ceasefire deal from March.
The president called on MKs to put political strategy behind and ‘clean the dirt’ after elections season; with traditional ceremonies, 120 Knesset members declared their commitment to the State of Israel
Israel’s 21st Knesset was ceremoniously sworn in on Tuesday afternoon, including its 49 new members, while President Reuven Rivlin urged for unity and mutual respect.
Rivlin spoke at the opening ceremony and criticized the heated campaigns that preceded the April 9 elections, and pleaded MKs to put aside all differences, stop slamming their political rivals and have clean and honest debates which he called “the only thing that gives this home (of ours) a right to exist, and its status as a Jewish and democratic country a strong base.”
“We’ve been through a rough campaign season. We’ve slammed others and got slammed ourselves,” said the president. “Enough now. We must rise above, put our swords aside and clean the dirt. Political strategy can no longer be the only the sole compass.”
Rivlin addressed both the coalition and the opposition and shared from his experience on both sides. “It is a great right to serve the people from the opposition, as much as it is a great responsibility,” said the president.
Rivlin cited Menahem Begin, who was the opposition leader for several terms before he became prime minister, and told the crowd that during the swearing in of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in 1963, Begin gave everybody a lesson about the important role of the opposition.
“He (Eshkol) must know that we aspire to move him and his colleagues to the opposition, and it isn’t only our right — it is our duty,” cited the president.
To the opposition Rivlin said they must be “honorable winners.”
“You are not in the opposition, you have been holding the reins of power and leadership for a long time now,” said the president, referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 5th term in office.
“It is your duty to stop trying to finish off you rivals, let go of the victimhood, and reign with respect and love over all the different kind of citizens who live here,” Rivlin concluded.
After all 120 MKs stood up and declared their commitment to serve, the national anthem, Hatikva, was sung by all but the Arab parties, who did not participate and left the hall.
The article was published on Ynet
The right-wing bloc is expected to consist of the Likud, Kulanu, Yisrael Beitenu, Shas and United Torah Judaism parties – a 65-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin officially tapped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday to form a governing coalition.
Netanyahu will have 28 days to form a new government. Rivlin may grant a 14-day extension, if necessary.
The right-wing bloc is expected to consist of the Likud, Kulanu, Yisrael Beitenu, Shas and United Torah Judaism parties – a 65-seat majority in the 120-seat Knesset.
“This was a tough election campaign. Things were said that should not have been said, from all sides. Not in a democratic state and not in the Jewish state,” said Rivlin. “The iron wall should be between us and our enemies, not inside our own home, not between us.”
Additionally, the president lamented that less women will serve in the upcoming government than the previous one.
“Unfortunately, this Knesset will have far fewer women than the previous Knesset. We have lost vital women’s representation in the Knesset and the government,” said Rivlin. “I hope that the new Knesset and government will include women ministers and committee chairs, and ensure that the voice of women is present and clearly heard, on the issues themselves and as a message to the public.”
Netanyahu’s re-election to his fifth term last week will make him Israel’s longest-serving prime minister since the founding father and first leader of the Jewish nation, David Ben-Gurion.
The article was published on JNS
THE HAGUE—The Dutch Parliament has voted a motion calling on the government to cut 7% of Dutch funding to the Palestinian Authority.
MP Kees van der Staaij, from the Christian Reformed Political Party (SGP), had submitted a proposal to stop the financial contributions to the Palestinian Authority (PA), as long as it continues to reward terrorists.
The cut of 7% was chosen after monitoring group Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) provided the parliament with documentation showing that the PA spends 7% of its budget on payments to terrorists in jail and to families of killed terrorists (“Martyrs”).
The Dutch motion is binding unless the PA stops these payments.
Van der Staaij came to this motion after a conversation with terror survivor Kay Wilson. She pointed out that the Palestinian Authority indoctrinates Palestinians with hatred and that terrorists are rewarded by the PA for their crimes.
In July 2014 following a previous presentation by PMW to Dutch MPs, the parliament voted 148-2 to cut funding to the PA if it continued paying salaries to terrorists. However, the cut never happened because the PA deceived Western donors by closing the Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs and claiming the payments were made by the PLO from non-donor money.
When PMW exposed the PA fraud, in 2016, the international community was outraged. This led to the US Taylor Force Act, in March 2018, which conditions most of US aid to the PA, and to the Australian government’s decision, in July 2018, to cut all its direct aid to the PA. This is the first time since PMW exposed the PA’s deception in 2016 that a European country has legislated to cut funding because of the PA’s payments to terrorists.
The article was published on EJP
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Florida on Thursday night carrying Israel’s first lunar lander on a mission that if successful will make the Jewish state only the fourth nation to achieve a controlled touchdown on the moon’s surface.
The unmanned robotic lander dubbed Beresheet – Hebrew for the biblical phrase “in the beginning” – soared into space from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at about 8:45 p.m. EST (0145 GMT Friday) atop the 23-story-tall rocket.
Beresheet, about the size of a dish-washing machine, was one of three sets of cargo carried aloft by the Falcon 9, part of the private rocket fleet of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s California-based company SpaceX.
The rocket’s two other payloads were a telecommunications satellite for Indonesia and an experimental satellite for the U.S. Air Force.
Beresheet was jettisoned into Earth orbit about 34 minutes after launch, followed 15 minutes later by the release of the two satellites, according to a SpaceX webcast of the event.
In addition to a textbook launch and payload deployments, SpaceX scored yet another success in its pioneering technology for recycling its own rockets.
Just minutes after blastoff, the Falcon 9’s nine-engine suborbital main-stage booster separated from the upper stage, flew back to Earth and landed safely on a drone ship floating in the Atlantic Ocean more than 300 miles (483 km) off the Florida coast.
As seen from the launch site, the distant glow of the returning booster rocket was visible in the sky just as the moon appeared over the horizon. The spectacle drew cheers from mission control engineers.
The encouraging moment came on the eve of a key hurdle for SpaceX to clear in the company’s quest to help NASA revive its human spaceflight program.
On Friday, NASA is expected to decide whether to give its final go-ahead to SpaceX for a first, unmanned test flight on March 2 of a new capsule the company designed for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
FROM EARTH TO THE MOON
Beresheet is slated to reach its destination on the near-side of the moon in mid-April following a two-month journey through 4 million miles (6.5 million km) of space.
A flight path directly from Earth to the moon would cover roughly 240,000 miles (386,242 km), but Beresheet will follow a more circuitous route.
If all goes according to plan, the spacecraft’s gradually widening Earth orbit will eventually bring the probe within the moon’s gravitational pull, setting the stage for a series of additional maneuvers leading to an automated touchdown.
So far, only three other nations have carried out controlled “soft” landings on the moon – the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.
Spacecraft from several countries, including India’s Moon Impact Probe, Japan’s SELENE orbiter and a European Space Agency orbital probe called SMART 1, have intentionally crashed on the lunar surface.
The U.S. Apollo program tallied six manned missions to the moon – the only ones yet achieved – between 1969 and 1972, with about a dozen more robotic landings combined by the Americans and Soviets. China made history in January with its Chang’e 4, the first to touch down on the dark side of the moon.
Beresheet would mark the first non-government lunar landing. The 1,290-pound (585-kg) spacecraft was built by Israeli nonprofit space venture SpaceIL and state-owned defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) with $100 million furnished almost entirely by private donors.A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Israel’s first spacecraft designed to land on the moon lifts off on the first privately-funded lunar mission at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Beresheet is designed to spend just two to three days using on-board instruments to photograph its landing site and measure the moon’s magnetic field. Data will be relayed via the U.S. space agency NASA’s Deep Space Network to SpaceIL’s Israel-based ground station Yehud.
At the end of its brief mission, mission controllers plan to simply shut down the spacecraft, according to SpaceIL officials, leaving Beresheet as the latest piece of human hardware to litter the lunar landscape.
The article was published on Reuters
Leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland will meet in Jerusalem in February for the next Visegrad Group summit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a bid to strengthen their alliance with Israel.
This will be the first time that a Visegrad Group summit is held outside of Europe.
The four leaders—Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, Slovakia’s Peter Pellegrini, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán and the Czech Republic’s Andrej Babis—will meet on Feb. 18-19 in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu already attended the Visegrad Group summit in Budapest in 2017, during which he criticized the EU’s policy towards Israel.
The Israeli premier has been fostering closer ties with the Visegrad Group countries in order to advance pro-Israel issues at the EU level.
“The Visegrad Group is one of the sub-alliances that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is developing in the EU to neutralize what he views as an anti-Israel bias from Brussels,” wrote The Jerurusalem Post.
Both the Czech Republic and Hungary blocked any EU resolution to condemn the controversial move decided by US President Donald Trump.
The Visegrad Group (also known as the “Visegrad Four,” or simply “V4”) reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in a number of fields of common interest within the all-European integration.
Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have always been part of a single civilization sharing cultural and intellectual values and common roots in diverse religious traditions, which they wish to preserve and further strengthen.
The article was published by the Algemeiner
Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi becomes the Israel Defense Forces’ 22nd commander; ‘To defend our national home, we need a sobered outlook, a fit military force, the willingness to use that force, discretion and determination,’ says Kochavi.
Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi entered the office of the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff on Tuesday morning in the beginning of a new era.
The 22nd IDF chief started his day with a ceremony at the Kirya IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, where he received the rank of lieutenant general from Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“‘I swear.’ This is what I called out alongside my fellow soldiers in front of the Western Wall, which was for us a wall of support and protection. It has been 2,000 years, and this wall of protection has expanded and become the Israel Defense Force. I swore in front of generations of soldiers and became another link in the chain of generations that come each in turn to defend the state,” the new IDF chief Kochavi said.
“‘I swear,’ every soldier calls out, and packs into these two words the relinquishing of the private for the national. The national home is a wonderful creation like no other in the history of nations, but it is planted in a region that for religious and national reasons is trying to reject its natural roots. To defend our national home, we need a sobered outlook, a fit military force, the willingness to use that force, discretion and determination,” he said.
To his predecessor Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Kochavi said, “In this spirit, Gadi, the IDF acted under your leadership and has repeatedly proven its abilities as the defender of the borders and the interior, using its long arm to destroy any threats. During your tenure, the IDF bolstered its units and increased its preparedness. I stand at the head of the military and on behalf of all of its soldiers and commanders, I thank and salute you.”
Concluding his remarks, Kochavi went back to his sworn oath at the beginning of his service in the IDF. “Like every soldier in his swear-in ceremony, I vowed at the time to dedicate all of my efforts to defending the homeland. Now, as the head of the General Staff, while I have national security and the good of the state before me, I make a new vow. There is much work to be done, good luck to us all,” Kochavi said.
Eisenkot summed up his own service in his remarks. “At the end of 40 years of service and four years as the IDF chief, I conclude a path that became my life’s mission,” he said.
Describing his objectives as IDF chief, Eisenkot said he sought to leave behind “a fit, prepared and powerful military that bolstered its strength with wisdom and determination.”
To Kochavi, Eisenkot said, “Proudly I seek to pass on to you the command over the most precious asset of our nation—the Israel Defense Forces. The command over the military is passed on today to you, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, a commander worthy like no other to stand at the head of the Israel Defense Forces.”
“The military I give to you today is advanced and remains true to its roots and spirit. Over the many years in which we worked together in the field and in the General Staff, it has been my privilege to get to know you as a commander with immense fortitude and leadership and command abilities. Your determination and extensive experience will be dedicated in full to bolstering the IDF’s preparedness and strength, maintaining its character and values, and nurturing the pride in the heart of its soldiers.”
Prime Minister and Defense Minister Netanyahu began his remarks by thanking Eisenkot for his 40 years of service.
“Over the past four years, we have dealt with great challenges: the changing fronts in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and other places. But there has also been on main element facing us: Iran and its terror proxies. We acted responsibly and with discretion to stop those who seek to harm us from growing stronger,” Netanyahu said.
“All of the actions we’ve taken in recent years to build up the IDF’s power were meant to bolster the military’s readiness and achieve one goal: victory in war. And the stronger we are, the more we increase the chances of peace,” he said.
Netanyahu boasted about the warming ties with Muslim nations, saying that “Thanks to our intelligence, operational and technological capabilities, our ties with the Arab world are growing stronger than ever before. Leading Muslim nations are getting closer to us. They realize we’re not their enemy, but a vital ally to lean on. By growing our military, our economy and our diplomacy, we have turned Israel into a rising world power.”
Eisenkot, he said, was a part of it as he met with his counterparts from Arab nations.
“Lt. Gen. Kochavi, you have a red beret on your shoulder, which symbolizes the special spirit of the Paratroopers: the steadfastness, the order ‘after me,’ and constantly striving for excellence,” he said.
“As an experienced military leader, you will now carry the grave responsibility of ensuring that the IDF fulfills its missions,” Netanyahu said. “The objective is clear: To ensure our superiority over our enemies and to increase the qualitative edge we have over them. First, we’ll work to bolster our offensive capabilities even more. We will ensure we have a crushing fist to attack our enemies with, both close and far.”
Concluding his remarks, the prime minister said that “if we are prepared to defend our country with all of our might, we might not have to fight an all-out war. And if we do, the IDF will handle this challenge, as will the citizens of Israel who will be united, and together we will ensure Israel’s eternal existence.”
Kochavi and Eisenkot will later travel to Jerusalem to visit the National Hall of Remembrance on Mount Herzl and the Western Wall, and then have lunch at the President’s Residence. After that, Kochavi will join the IDF’s General Staff for a toast and a goodbye from Eisenkot at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv, including an honorary guard for the outgoing IDF chief.
Kochavi, who was born in 1964, grew up in Kiryat Bialik. He is the second of the three children of the late Riba, who was a physical education teacher, and Shaul, a shop owner.
He began his IDF service in the Paratroopers’ Brigade, excelled at infantry officers’ course and went on to serve as the commander of the 101st Battalion, the commander of the Paratroopers’ Brigade, the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate (MID), the GOC Northern Command, and the deputy IDF chief. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a master’s from Harvard University.
The article was published on Ynet
Lawmakers expected to pass law in all three readings on Wednesday, setting the stage for a three-month campaign leading up to the national poll
Three and a half years after its first sitting following the 2015 elections, the 20th Knesset is set to come to an end on Wednesday as lawmakers vote on a bill to dissolve parliament and set new elections for April 9.
A day after government ministers approved pushing ahead with the move, the Knesset will be host to a frantic series of committee debates and votes on the bill to dissolve parliament in an attempt to complete work on the move by the end of the day and officially start the election campaign for the 2019 election.
According to the decision of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, the bill — which is expected to pass by a large margin — will face all three plenary readings on Wednesday in an accelerated legislative move reserved for emergency measures.
The first business of the day therefore began at 9.30 when members of the Knesset House Committee gathered to pass a motion allowing the dissolution bill to be pushed through the Knesset in one day and not be subject to the six-week waiting period that regular legislation normally faces after being proposed
Following the unanimous vote in favor of the motion, the bill now faces a first plenary debate and vote currently scheduled for 11 a.m. If the vote passes, the bill will return to the House Committee for final deliberations before once again being sent back to the plenum.
In the plenary’s second session, the bill faces two separate votes: the first on each of the two clauses in the bill, and the second on the bill as a whole. If the final vote passes with even a simple majority of 1-0, the Knesset will automatically disperse.
The first clause of the no-frills bill states the 20th Knesset will “dissolve itself ahead of elections,” and the second sets the date, agreed upon by coalition and opposition parties, for April 9th.
While the bill is not expected to face opposition, it could be held up by the head of the Knesset House Committee, MK Miki Zohar, who on Tuesday called for delaying the dissolution of the Knesset, arguing that lawmakers need more time to pass essential legislation before the elections and suggesting that he will use his position to block the bill.
Zohar cited two laws he said needed to be passed before the Knesset dissolves — his own bill to limit access to pornography online and a proposal by Likud MK Amir Ohana to ease access to the Israeli bar exam.
While elections have traditionally been held at least 90 days after the dissolution of the Knesset, by law, there is no minimum waiting period. If the Knesset votes to dissolve Wednesday, it will leave 105 days until elections, while immediately freezing any bills working their way through the Knesset.
Given the 15-day cushion, Zohar said there was no need to rush the bill to dissolve parliament and prevent legislative work from continuing.
“The Knesset must serve the State of Israel and not the politicians,” he said, telling his colleagues to “open up your calendars and set the date accordingly.”
Zohar, an acolyte of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has proposed and overseen a number of controversial pieces of legislation. said that the parliament should remain in full swing until the last possible opportunity, which falls on January 9.
According to Knesset bylaws, as chairman of the committee which would oversee the preparation of the bill, Zohar could in theory hold up the proposal indefinitely with no obligation to hold a vote within any specified time frame.
Speaking at Wednesday morning’s committee meeting, Zohar said that he agrees with the date of the national poll, but thinks the Knesset should wait to officially call elections.
“The date has been agreed upon by all factions and I support it,” he said at the opening of the debate. “But there are tax laws that are very important to those who sent us here and we can finalize the legislation on a number key issues.”
Coalition chairman David Amsalem, however, said that the bill to dissolve parliament would be passed in all three readings Wednesday and other legislation would be passed during special recess sessions that can be called during the election campaign.
Netanyahu on Monday called the early elections for April, setting the stage for a campaign clouded by a series of corruption investigations against the long-serving Israeli leader.
With the Likud leader holding a commanding lead in the polls, all eyes are on Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and whether he will decide before the elections on whether to press charges against the longtime leader on a series of corruption allegations.
A first major round of polls on Tuesday found that Netanyahu is the strong favorite to win the upcoming race, though he is not hugely popular among voters.
The polls found that most Israelis do not think Netanyahu should be the next prime minister, though even fewer think any one of his rivals should be. In Israel’s multi-party system, however, even middling support is usually enough to win the premiership.
The article was published on The Times of Israel
Another drone sighting forced London’s Gatwick airport runway to close again on Friday, as the 3-day long saga continues.
Police were still unsuccessfully looking for perpetrators in a disturbance that grounded flights in the second-busiest airport in the United Kingdom on Wednesday and Thursday, although British media favored the option of a lone-wolf environmentalist attack.
The airport has been in an ongoing dispute with its neighbors and environmental groups about expansion.
Planes were suspended on Wednesday night after a member of staff spotted an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) above the runway.
More than 110,000 had been affected by the closure, in one of the busiest weeks of the year.
Gatwick was only able to re-open after military reinforcements were brought in on Thursday.
They came with technology that was used to defeat ISIS in Syria, which the Daily Mail identified as the Israeli-made Drone Dome.
It uses radar technology to spot a drone, and a frequency jammer in order to cut the vehicle from its pilot, and bring it down to the ground softly.
The UK purchased six of the system, unveiled in 2016, in August for Middle-East operations, at a cost of close to US$ 3.3 million each.
Drone Dome is manufactured by government-owned Rafael Systems, which has specialized in cutting-edge weapon interception systems.
– Potential catastrophe –
Aviation chiefs are going to be on a steep learning curve to counter the security threat posed by drones after the costly and humiliating shutdown of Gatwick.
The fear is that if a drone smashed into a passenger plane or was sucked up into one of its engines, its highly flammable lithium battery could cause a catastrophe.
In 2016, the European Aviation Safety Agency logged 1,400 drone incidents in Europe, up from 606 between 2011 and 2015.
Deputies in the European Parliament approved EU-wide regulations on the use of drones, but still need formal approval from European ministers before taking effect.
But finding high-tech solutions to the drone threat in airport presents particular challenges, says Lucas Le Bell, founder of the start-up Cerbair that specialises in tackling the drone problem.
The noise levels at airports, the security requirements and the saturated level of communications make the task much harder.
His team is working on isolating the frequencies used to control drones, so they can not only detect and locate the devices but take control of them.
Elsewhere in France meanwhile, Mont-de Marsan airbase in the southwest has been working on a more low-tech solution.
The airforce, inspired by a similar experiment in the Netherlands, has been training golden eagles to search and destroy the intruders.
But that system still needs work: earlier this year, one of the eagles attacked a girl after mistaking her vest for the enemy.
The article was published on I24 website
Man disembarks from vehicle, opens fire and flees scene, witnesses say ■ Israeli forces search for assailant ■ Hamas, Islamic Jihad praise ‘heroic’ attack ■ Israel seals off Ramallah
Two Israeli soldiers were killed and another soldier and a civilian woman were seriously wounded Thursday in a shooting in the West Bank, near the settlement of Ofra.
Israeli army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said a man disembarked from a vehicle on Route 60, opened fire and fled the scene.
Manelis added that soldiers are canvassing the area in search of several assailants as well as setting up checkpoints, and that the army has sealed off roads leading Ramallah.
One of the fatalities was identified as 20-year-old Staff Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, originally from Ashkelon. He served in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion in the Kfir Brigade and is survived by his parents and three sisters. The other fatality was identified as 19-year-old Sgt. Yosef Cohen, originally from Beit Shemesh.
The wounded, a male soldier and a woman, were treated by emergency services and evacuated to hospitals in Jerusalem for further treatment. The man suffered a gunshot wound to the head and is in severe condition, the hospital said. The woman’s condition remains serious but has stabilized, doctors said, adding that as of now, her life is no longer in danger.
Later on Thursday, the Israeli army reported two suspected car-ramming attacks in the West Bank, one near Ramallah and one near the settlement of Kochav Yaakov.
The IDF is focusing mostly on Ramallah in its search efforts. An abandoned vehicle has been located and the military is inspecting whether it was used by the shooters.
In addition, the Shin Bet security service is using its field agents and technological tools in its investigation in order to trace the shooters’ tracks and their escape route.
The defense establishment had no intelligence pointing to a planned terrorist attack. This is yet another shooting attack that the security forces did not manage to prevent.
“There was massive fire, bullet after bullet, but not in bursts,” said one witness, adding that the shooting lasted several seconds.
The deaths extend a violent week that began with a shooting outside a West Bank settlement on Sunday, resulting in the death of a baby who was delivered prematurely after the attack, and continued with the killing of two Palestinians wanted in that and another attack on Israelis in the West Bank.
The military’s West Bank Division is currently better staffed than usual due to the security situation, with 14 battalions in the West Bank alongside special units such as Duvdevan, border police’s Arab-speaking undercover counterterror unit and the police’s special anti-terror unit that has been working in the area in the past few days.
Habayit Hayehudi member and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel along with MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) threatened to leave Netanyahu’s fragile coalition, calling for a meeting to discuss immediate security measures to protect West Bank residents.
At the same time, the regional councils of Mateh Binyamin, Samaria and Beit El called for a strike, demonstrating in front of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem to demand that the government take additional steps against acts of terror. The local councils will close road in the West Bank in addition to demonstrations by dozens of people that already took place on Thursday near the Kerem Shalom junction off Route 60.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the latest round of violence in the West Bank, criticizing both militant attacks and the tough Israeli response.
Abbas’ office issued a statement on Thursday accusing Israel of creating a “climate” conducive to violence through its frequent military operations in Palestinian cities. Abbas also accused Israel of incitement against him.
His statement says that “the absence of the horizon of peace is what led to this series of violence, which we condemn and reject, and for which both sides pay a price.”
The statement also added: “Our permanent policy is to reject violence, incursions and terror of the settlers, and the need to stop incitement and not to create an atmosphere that contributes to the aggravation of the situation.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman took to Twitter, condemning the attacks, asserting that the PA “maintains laws that will compensate these terrorists and their families for their heinous acts. The PA can be a political body OR a sponsor of terror, not both.”
A paramedic at the scene, Shalom Galil, said: “When we arrived at the location we saw four young people with gunshot wounds near the hitchhiking stop.” According to Galil, a man and a woman in their 20’s, were evacuated to the hospital in serious condition. Two others in critical were left at the scene and treated by Israeli army paramedics.
A senior Israeli army officer told Haaretz “Hamas is investing a lot of effort into establishing terror infrastructures and units for attack in the West Bank. We’re dealing with this in Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus and other places. We often succeed, but some events end harshly.”
“I don’t know to confirm nor refute” the possibility that members of the group involved in Thursday’s attack weren’t also part of the one that exacted the one on Sunday, Manelis said, referring to the incident as a “copycat” of the drive-by shooting near Ofra.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack, with the former’s spokesman saying the organization welcomed “the heroic action which is a response to the crimes of the occupation and its behavior,” adding that “the youth of the West Bank will continue to fight.”
Hamas’ political wing chief Ismail Haniyeh said that “what happened today in the West Bank means the situation is starting to change and a new chapter has opened with the occupier through bloody resistance. The blood of Barghouthi and Na’alwa are a point of light for the next generations.”
Haniyeh was referring to Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti whom Israel sentenced to five consecutive life sentences for involvementin terror attacks and Ashraf Walid Saliman Na’alwa, who carried out the shooting attack in the Barkan industrial area in October.
On Wednesday night, Israeli troops shot a Palestinian man near the West Bank city of Ramallah as part of an ongoing manhunt for the assailants beind Sunday’s drive-by shooting near Ofra. The man later died of his wounds at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
The site of the incident is south of the settlement of Ofra, where six Israelis were wounded and a baby, who was delivered after his mother was shot in the attack, died.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces killed Salah Barghouti, a Palestinian suspect wanted in the drive-by shooting in a bus stop near Ofra.
Thursday’s shooting came hours after Israeli security forces tracked down and killed a Palestinian accused of killing two Israelis.
Early on Thursday, Israeli security forces said Ashraf Saliman Na’alwa was killed after he was located armed near the West Bank city of Nablus. Na’alwa was said to be behind the attack that took the lives of Kim Yehezkel-Levengrond and Ziv Hajbi on October.
The article was published in Haaretz
The recent discovery of Hezbollah’s invasion tunnels has removed a critical component of the organization’s — and Iran’s — plan for war against Israel. The discovery robbed them of the ability to surprise Israel through an offensive (under)ground assault into Israeli territory, which was to be a central element in creating a shock to the Israeli psyche and challenge to the country’s security. Israel’s aggressive measures are compelling Hezbollah and Iran to reassess their perception of the entire conflict.
In addition, the raids have again embarrassed Iran and its proxies because they exhibit Israel’s superior level of intelligence, following the exposure of Iran’s nuclear archive.
The question right now is to what extent Israel will succeed in leveraging this intelligence disclosure to turn the situation on the northern border to its advantage, with an emphasis on the following objectives:
1. Teaching Lebanon and the international arena that Hezbollah, as an Iranian proxy, is not the “shield of Lebanon,” but in reality a huge danger to that country. Hezbollah is developing strong offensive capabilities against Israel from within Lebanese civilian facilities, and is even working beyond the international border (inside Israeli territory) to serve Iranian interests only. Hezbollah acts in a manner that is a clear violation of Israeli sovereignty and justifies a sharp Israeli response that will cause harm to the country of Lebanon and its citizens. Israel’s recent activity should also be presented as an Israeli effort to prevent damage to Lebanon. The ones putting Lebanon in danger are Hezbollah and Iran, while the one who is looking after it is Israel.
3. Educating Europe that any attempt to differentiate between the military wing and the political wing of Hezbollah is ridiculous. Does anyone really believe that a handful of rebellious, diligent Hezbollah terrorists decided independently to dig a complex system of tunnels, which demanded so many resources and extended into Israeli territory? It is amazing to see how the Europeans have confirmed the existence of the tunnels and expressed their support for Israel’s right to destroy them, yet refuse to blame Hezbollah and acknowledge that there is no distinction between the military and political wings of the organization. A change in the European position would lead to a significant shift in Hezbollah’s ability to manipulate the Lebanese system, and would penalize it with the heavy and appropriate price they should pay for their violation of Israeli sovereignty.
4. Encouraging UNIFIL to finally implement UN Resolution 1701, asserting that only the Lebanese army is allowed to operate in southern Lebanon, and to make use of the extension of its mandate that it received in 2016. So far, UNIFIL has confirmed the existence of the tunnels, but it has refrained from asserting that Hezbollah has thereby significantly violated Israel’s sovereignty.
5. Intensifying focus on Iran’s role as the master dictating Hezbollah’s activities. It is clear that the buildup of Hezbollah’s forces, especially since the Second Lebanon War, including the invasion tunnels, is intended to serve Iranian purposes and enable Iran to strike at Israel.
The high media profile that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot have given to this operation is intended to influence international, Israeli, Arab, Lebanese, and Iranian opinion. However, it needs to be accompanied by diplomatic activity to achieve these objectives. The problem is that European cynicism is creating a significant obstacle to realizing these goals, and the tense relationship between the United States and Europe is eroding the power of American leverage in this regard.
The article was published on The Algemeiner
European Union condemns sentencing of six Gazans to death for “collaborating” with Israel.
The European Union (EU) on Tuesday condemned the sentencing of six Gazans to death for “collaborating” with Israel.
A military court in Hamas-run Gaza on Monday sentenced six people, including a woman, to death by hanging over the alleged spying for Israel. In total 14 people were sentenced for “collaborating with the occupation”.
The heads of EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah said in a statement quoted by the Xinhua news agency that they strongly reject the death penalty, no matter what the circumstances are.
“The abolition of the death penalty contributes to the protection of human dignity and to the progress and development of human rights,” said the statement, which denounced the death sentences as “cruel and inhumane.”
The EU statement added that “death penalty does not constitute a deterrent to criminal conduct and constitutes an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.”
It called on Hamas rulers in Gaza “to refrain from executing any death sentence against the prisoners.”
Hamas regularly claims to have captured “Israeli spies”, and many times it tries them and sentences them to death.
In theory all execution orders in the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) territories must be approved by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in Ramallah and who imposed a moratorium on executions several years ago.
Hamas no longer recognizes Abbas’ legitimacy, and has in the past emphatically declared that the death penalty in Gaza can be carried out without his consent.
In October, the group claimed to have exposed and arrested a Palestinian Arab who had worked as an intelligence agent for Israel for 15 years.
In March, the group claimed it had arrested a local man who had been working as a “spy” for Israel and who intended to convince Gazans not to take part in a violent protest march along the Gaza-Israel border.
Last April, the group hanged three men accused of collaborating with Israel in the killing of senior Hamas commander Mazen Faqha.
The article was published on Arutz 7
The European Union slammed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s reference to Israel as a “cancerous tumor,” calling the description “totally unacceptable,” The Times of Israel reported Monday.
“President Rouhani’s remarks bringing into question Israel’s legitimacy are totally unacceptable,” a spokesperson for the EU said in an official statement. “They are also incompatible with the need to address international disputes through dialogue and international law.”
The statement further said that the EU “reiterates its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel, including with regard to current and emerging threats in the region.”
Similarly, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz tweeted, “I strongly condemn the recent unacceptable statements by President Rouhani relating to Israel. It is absolutely unacceptable when Israel’s right to exist is questioned or Israel’s destruction is being urged.”
“Because of our historical responsibility, the decisive combat against all forms of anti-Semitism and the support for Israel are especially important to us. For Austria, Israel’s security is non-negotiable,” Kurz added.
Rouhani had made the remarks in a speech Saturday addressing the 32nd annual International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran. Throughout the speech, the Iranian president inveighed against the United States and Israel, saying, “We will win against Zionism and the US if we become united.”
In an early section of the speech, Rouhani said, “One of the most important effects of World War II was the formation of a cancerous tumour in the region.”
He then elaborated, “They deployed a power in the region that completely obeys the West in regional matters,” and added, “They formed the fake Israeli regime and killed and displaced the historical nation of Palestine.”
Germany’s Foreign Office also issued a statement rejecting Rouhani’s remarks and condemned them “in the strongest possible terms.” The statement further asserted that “Israel’s right to exist cannot be called into question and is non-negotiable.”
In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that Rouhani “has once again called for Israel’s destruction.” Referring to Rouhani’s references to Israel as a “cancerous tumor,” and a “fake regime,” Pompeo charged that “such statements inflame tensions in the region by seemingly calling for war.”
“At an international conference on Islamic unity, Rouhani also encouraged Muslims worldwide to unite against the United States,” Pompeo continued. “This is a dangerous and irresponsible step that will further deepen Iran’s isolation.”
The secretary also observed that the current Iranian regime “has badly represented” the people of Iran, and that “the people have suffered under this tyranny for far too long.”
The article was published in The Tower
In the middle of the last night of January 2018, Mossad agents broke into a secret vault on the outskirts of Tehran, while their commanders watched from afar. The agents encountered an unexpected problem, a “rich people problems,” according to a person familiar with the details of the operation.
The large room contained 32 huge Iranian-made safes, each 2.7 meters in height. The safes were loaded onto heavy container-like installations, on wheels that can carry massive weight.
The documents were secreted behind two different doors—a heavy iron door inside the facility and another iron door equipped with an alarm system and cameras at the facility’s exterior wall.
This is where the Iranian Ministry of Defense decided to keep one of the greatest secrets of the Islamic Republic. In fact, only a handful of people in Iran even knew that the Iranian nuclear archive was inside this warehouse, in the heart of a sleepy suburb in the capital.
But it did not remain a secret.
The agents knew how to disable the alarm system and break through the iron doors, but they also knew they did not have time to break into all the safes. They would have to make do with less than ten, and look for three types of folders: those containing Iran’s correspondence with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); those detailing the construction of nuclear sites and acquisition of nuclear equipment; and most importantly, those detailing the design and production of the nuclear warhead (which has never been completed).
But then, inside the safes’ room, agents found something else, besides folders: CDs, piles of them—a massive amount of DVDs and computer discs, most of them unmarked.
So what the hell were they going to do now? Should they ignore the potential secrets these CDs may hold? Or take a calculated risk with a new variable that might complicate the operation? The agents received an explicit order from the command room: take everything, including the CDs.
At one minute to five in the morning, the agents left the warehouse. When the break-in was discovered, about 12,000 Iranian security personnel went on the pursuit in an attempt to figure out who stole the nuclear archive from under their noses.
In the end, despite the unexpected piles of CDs, all of the material was extracted from Iran, and no one got caught. The Iranians could only guess who was behind the heist, but until Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s famous press conference on April 30, they didn’t know for sure what really happened to “the filthy secrets of the Iranian regime,” as dubbed by Mossad director Yossi Cohen.
A few weeks later, when the material arrived in Israel, dozens of translators, experts and analysts—assisted by Persian speakers from Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate’s (MID) Unit 8200—started digging through the piles of material. It was then that it became clear how important was the decision to risk everything and take the CDs.
The written material comprises of 114 folders, containing more than 55,000 pages, of which 8,500 were handwritten documents, many of them authored by senior government officials, and some by nuclear personnel who died in operations attributed to the Mossad.
But the biggest surprise was the massive amount of information stored in the 182 disks. A Mossad case officer told me he would have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for one CD like this.
The Iranians documented everything: the equipment, the construction of secret plants and sites, the experiments, detailed presentations on the project’s progress, goals and stages, and even themselves, during nuclear experiments.
The bottom line is clear: it was a mega-scam, a state-level deception, in which senior Iranian officials and hundreds of others have taken part for years.
For two decades, Iran denied having a military nuclear program. But the contents of the safes tell a different story, a completely different and undeniable account: for years, Iran has been engaged in a covert nuclear project aimed at producing five nuclear bombs, with a yield of 10 kilotons each. And this was only stage one.
According to a Western intelligence source, “over the years, we have seen all sorts of programs, but we have not always understood their overall context. Until we saw these documents, we didn’t really understand how projects that were part of AMAD (the secret project’s code name—RB) were translated into secret projects under the Ministry of Defense, or open projects with a hidden agenda within SPAND (the later, public name, of the project—RB). The material Israel had obtained solved these mysteries.”
“The sweeping Iranian denial “is really comical at this point,” the source added.
The documents don’t just expose the Iranians’ deceit. It also demonstrates the weakness of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which Iran signed and the IAEA failed to enforce.
The archives show that under the UN agency’s nose—despite repeat warnings, the information obtained by the Mossad and other espionage agencies, and media exposés—Iran has succeeded in conducting a secret military nuclear program over a long period of time (and Israel claims Tehran continues to do so even today).
Iran continues to deny everything even now; claiming the entire story of the seized archive is fabricated and serves an Israeli-American agenda aimed at canceling the nuclear agreement. This response was to be expected. What might have been less predictable is the lukewarm international response to the material uncovered in the Israeli operation.
The reactions ranged from claims the material was “old news” to assertions it does not uncover any “smoking guns” to prove Iran is currently violating the nuclear agreement.
But if the Islamic Republic is not violating or planning to violate the agreement, why keep such a detailed archive allowing Iran to resume its nuclear effort from where it left off (assuming they actually stopped)?
For many years Israel, the United States, France, Britain and Germany have been collecting intelligence about the Iranian nuclear project. Some of this material has been handed to the IAEA over time in the hopes it would provoke an appropriate response. The intelligence gathered was classified by the IAEA into 12 different topics— referred to as “the PMD,” the acronym for “Possible Military Dimensions”— each depicting research, production or other experiments related to the bomb.
Over the years, Iran has vehemently denied dealing with any of these topics. The condition for signing the nuclear agreement was that Iran would make a full disclosure of its progress in each of the 12 PMD issues. Before signing the agreement, Yukiya Amano, the Japanese diplomat who heads the IAEA, promised senior Israeli officials, according to their testimony, that “he will never sign the deal” before receiving satisfactory answers on all 12 topics.
At the end of 2015, Amano published a report practically accepting the Iranian denial of ever having a military nuclear project. Now, in light of the material discovered by the Mossad, it appears his report was based on false information.
The intelligence uncovered in the operation was revealed to the Americans, the Chinese, the Russians, the French, the British, the Germans, and of course to IAEA officials.
With the exception of the US (and, of course, Israel), it seems the world wasn’t floored by the discoveries, and Amano himself has kept quiet.
This is despite the fact that the sensitive material includes documentation of advanced stages of practical field research, experiments and timetables for the production of an atomic bomb and its adaptation to the warhead of the long-range Shahab ballistic missile.
Holger Stark, the deputy editor of the German Die Zeit newspaper, contacted the IAEA in Vienna for a response. The agency refused to comment.
Quite a lot has been written about the Mossad operation. However, media reports in Israel and abroad dealt less with the archive itself, and more with the difficult questions it poses.
Here is a glimpse into the secret intelligence gathered from Iran’s safes room. These are the facts; the questions they raise are for the world to answer.
So what is this “Iranian nuclear archive” that Mossad agents managed to transport thousands of kilometers, all the way to Israel?
Iran’s secret military nuclear program began to take shape in 1992 or 1993, when the Iranians became interested in acquiring technologies for the production and operation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Tehran acquired much of its knowledge from Pakistan’s nuclear project director, Abdul Qadeer Khan, and later from other elements, some of them Chinese.
The first centrifuges were designed at a site called Damāwand. Israel warned the international community about the construction of the nuclear enrichment facility, so Iran decided to dismantle it and build another one in its stead.
This was the site that would later become well known, the Natanz nuclear facility. In internal Iranian documents, the site was called “Kashan,” and it houses an increasing number of centrifuges.
At first, Israel was alone in its intelligence campaign against Iran. The intelligence it brought to the attention of IAEA and Western countries was greeted with indifference. Even the United States failed to act at first, and didn’t recognize the authenticity or the importance of the material the Mossad collected on Iran. Only at a later stage, when intelligence ties with Israel strengthened and additional information about Kashan was brought to their attention did the Americans start to act.
Meanwhile, the Iranians secretly set up their military program to produce an atomic bomb, entitled “The AMAD Project.”
Who gave the orders? This is one question the archive answers unequivocally: the Iranian leadership. The material does not include direct instructions from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who, after strongly denying that Iran has a nuclear program, apparently made sure his name will not be tied to the project. Nevertheless, the archive contains, without doubt, documents signed by the defense minister at the time and current Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani.
And he’s not alone. “The plan was approved by the Cognitive Sciences and Technologies Council,” the header of one document states. This is a codename for the senior group of executives who manage Project AMAD, which included the president at the time, Mohammad Khatami; then-head of the Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rouhani (the current Iranian president); then-Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani; and the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) at the time, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh.
So what is the purpose of the AMAD Project? The answer to this question too can be found in the archive. According to the material obtained in the Mossad operation, the Iranian plan is to produce five warheads with a yield of 10 kilotons each, and develop the ability to assemble these warheads on the Iranian-made Shahab 3 missile.
Incidentally, nuclear experts who examined the documents say that the Iranian leaders’ plan lays out far more extensive infrastructure than what is needed to produce “only” five bombs.
The making of a nuclear bomb and the ability to launch it is a very complex project that requires a state effort and coordination between all Iranian army and intelligence forces.
One particularly colorful presentation, which was discovered in one of the CDs, shows the complexity of the Iranian nuclear project. According to the presentation, the plan is based on a joint effort of various Iranian bodies: the Intelligence Ministry, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (including its Aerospace Force), and the Quds Force—the Guards’ secret unit, which is currently waging war with Israel at the Syrian border.
The documents mention time and again the person who is both the manager and the brains behind the nuclear program—Prof. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. The nuclear archive includes countless documents with Fakhrizadeh’s signature, including documents addressed to him, or approved by him.
For example, one letter addressed to Fakhrizadeh, dated January 19, 2001, and written by the director of the explosive mechanism developing team, delineates a long list of features needed to fit the mechanism to the rest of the nuclear bomb (which is comprised of numerous parts). Fakhrizadeh thanked the director at the bottom of his letter and gave him further instructions.
According to foreign media reports, Israel considered Fakhrizadeh as a preferred target for intelligence gathering, and even seriously considered harming him, especially during the tenure of former prime minister Ehud Olmert and the late Mossad director Meir Dagan. Since Fakhrizadeh is still alive, the assassination plan has yet to materialize. It appears Olmert decided to halt the operation, and so Fakhrizadeh’s life was spared. If the former prime minister is indeed behind such a decision, there are those who to this day believe it was a mistake.
However, someone—Iranian intelligence sure it was the Mossad—was able to reach various Iranian nuclear scientists whose names appear in the seized documents.
In his handwriting, Dr. Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, a senior nuclear program official, inscribes a long technical document to Fakhrizadeh, who replied at length.
Dr. Abbasi-Davani is the Chair of the physics department at Tehran’s Imam Hossein University and a key figure in Iran’s nuclear program. On November 29, 2010, his colleague Majid Shahriari was assassinated.
An assassin on a motorbike tried to kill Davani as well by attaching a bomb to his car window while he was driving, but Davani managed to escape at the last minute and survived. Iran’s president at the time, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appointed Davani as his deputy to show his appreciation for the doctor’s “contribution to the Islamic Republic and for his courage.”
One may feel some discomfort when diving into the piles of Iranian documents, since there’s something eerie about them. For example, the radical state’s dream of creating weapons of mass destruction becomes an orderly and meticulous timeline in Microsoft Project, including information on the program’s budgets, personnel, experiments, and more.
At times, the nuclear documents receive a more personal flair. For instance, in one of the archive’s CDs, agents found “selfie” photos of an Iranian nuclear expert, the heavyset Dr. Mahdi Tranchi, wearing protective goggles and posing for the camera at the “Taleqan 1” nuclear test site.
What happened to all this effort? All those people, information, and experience gathered? Did they all just disappear?
The nuclear sites
It was not only the people who worked on the Iranian nuclear project that the documents expose. They also expose the places and sites where the nuclear plot was devised, some of which were new discoveries for the Israeli intelligence community (“I wish I had this information in real time,” said a former Israeli intelligence chief when exposed to the material), including nuclear experiment sites, uranium mines located across the country, tunnels (dug to cover up their real purpose), and more.
According to the material, the Iranians were looking for an underground nuclear testing site. It goes without saying that to conduct such an experiment, they needed to first build a bomb, which the Iranians have not yet done.
Furthermore, a nuclear experiment does not depend solely on scientific ability, but mostly on the decision of the political leadership. An underground experiment would have certainly been detected by the West. Such a test would essentially constitute a declaration by Tehran that it had indeed developed a bomb.
In the meantime, until the Iranians develop a nuclear bomb, the Iranians are getting ready, and according to the documents they have already examined various possible sites and even attempted to detonate small explosives deep underground to test the ground, its durability and their own ability to record the measurements of the explosion at that location.
The Israeli intelligence community also discovered new information about some known nuclear sites. For example, the site in Fordow, near the city of Qom, is well hidden at the heart of the mountain, and is extremely resistant to bombs.
The Israeli, French, and American intelligence communities exposed it in 2010, but the archive’s documents established its importance as part of the Ghadir Project (another code name for the Iranian secret nuclear program).
Another example of the scale of the Iranian fraud can be found in the Taleqan testing facility, located in an area called Parchin. IAEA reports raised serious suspicions about the site, but Iran’s denials made it difficult to substantiate these suspicions.
The IAEA demanded that its inspectors be allowed to visit the site, but the agency’s requests have been repeatedly denied. When the IAEA threatened to accuse Iran of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its inspectors were allowed to enter Parchin months later, only to discover that the site had been cleared, and everything in it was carefully removed from the area.
What was there before? One of the crucial steps to building a nuclear bomb is the development of an explosion mechanism that will create critical mass. In the past, Western intelligence agencies circulated sketches of the experiment sites used to build the explosion mechanism. Photos of the site taken by the Iranian scientists look exactly like the sketches.
The Iranian nuclear archive proved how much these sketches were in line with reality: it was an accurate record of the sites, bunkers, test tanks, and equipment that Iran has denied, and still denies using in Parchin / Taleqan, or anywhere else in Iran for that matter.
The archive material contains many drawings, presentations, written documents, and photographs. Not just technical images, but also photographs of the nuclear scientists themselves. The scientists must have felt they were a part of Iranian history. Most probably none of them imagined that his pictures would ever find their way to Israel.
Many of these photographs record the nuclear experiments. Iran has denied for years that it is conducting experiments on all PMD topics. For instance, Iran has claimed it did not have any neutron detection equipment, but an archive presentation shows otherwise (with colorful text explaining its uses). Apparently the equipment is located next to the Parchin explosives test site.
In the next slide, dated February 2002, there is a description of the nuclear experiment with an exact record of the DU3, the scientific term for the neutrons’ source, whose collision with nuclear fuel atoms creates a chain reaction that ends with an atomic explosion.
The archive’s documents also reveal that at a nearby site, the Iranians built another tank for testing high explosives; this time with flash X-ray equipment surrounding it. This equipment made up of a sophisticated camera of sorts that can record, with a precision of nanoseconds, the moment of detonation to guarantee that all explosives go off at the same time. This is critical for making explosive lens: a simultaneous explosion of several charges around the fissile material—for example, enriched uranium at a level of 90%—will start a nuclear fission chain reaction.
A special contract signed by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and Tehran’s Defense Ministry lays out the transfer of part of the enrichment project from the organization to the ministry, in order to produce highly-enriched uranium at a military level of 90%.
The cover-up: the Dark Side of SPND
In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, and Tehran feared they were next in line; at the same time, the “National Council of Resistance of Iran,” an Iranian opposition group, published material on the Natanz nuclear facility that led to harsh criticism and sanctions against Iran.
The Iranians were worried and so the Scientific Council decided to make some changes and close the AMAD Project, only to reopen it under a different name. This development was interpreted differently by Israel and the United States. The latter determined that closing the AMAD Project brought the nuclear program to a halt. Israel, on the other hand, claimed that it’s an Iranian scam, and that the two projects are one and the same.
The documents from the archive show that Israel was right. These documents record how the general decision to close one project and reopen another became a complex bureaucratic process in August and September 2003.
The purpose of all this was to deceive the world and develop a project that will continue where the AMAD Project left off. The new project was titled “the SPND Project,” and unlike its father, AMAD, which was entirely secret, SPND has two sides: the overt and public side, which allows the Iranians to claim the nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes (medicine, etc.), and the covert side, which allows Iran to continue developing nuclear weapons.
SPND, by the way, is still active today.
“Following new instruction by the honorable Minister of Defense (Ali Shamkhani—RB), intensive meetings of Project 110 technical committee (one of the main projects of AMAD—RB) were held in order to accommodate the activities to the instructions. In the new outline, the work would be divided in two: covert (secret structure and goals) and overt (regular structure),” reads one Iranian document.
What would the covert part include? For example, the documents show that the secret SPND project will include the nuclear testing facility Sareb-1, the warhead integration facility Sareb-2, and Sareb-3, the facility for the production of a nuclear warhead for Shahab 3 missiles.
According to the documents, all management personnel and 70% of the entire workforce are to transfer from “AMAD” to “SPND.” The scheme was meticulously planned: the documents include a letter written by Abbasi-Davani, to the project’s chief, Fakhrizadeh, on March 3, 2003: “We must make a distinction between overt and covert activities.”
One of their colleagues wrote on January 9, 2003: “Overt activities are those that can be explained as part of something else, and not as part of the project (to produce an atomic bomb) itself, so we have an excuse to do them.”
Dr. Masoud wrote in March 2003: “Neutron research cannot be considered ‘overt’ and must be covert. We have no way of rationalizing this activity (neutron research) as related to defensive measures. Neutron operations are very sensitive and we cannot explain them.”
Dr. Mahdi Tranchi, the ‘selfie’ enthusiast, wrote: “Let there be no mistake—the manpower of the overt and covert parts will not be reduced. The whole operation will not be reduced, and every sub-project will oversee both the overt and covert parts.”
And so the Iranian project continued from 2004, under SPND, until the signing of the nuclear agreement in the summer of 2015.
At some point, a senior American source told Yedioth Ahronoth, the countries negotiating the nuclear agreement with Tehran decided to “let the past go, even though everyone knew very well that the Iranians were lying, and focus on the future. It was clear to everyone that after the spiritual leader said there was no military project, he would never take it back and admit he lied. The risk was losing the entire deal because insisting on the 12 PMD topics would have led to the collapse of the negotiations.”
After the nuclear agreement was signed, two parallel axes were in play. In one, Iran submitted some material, which led to an IAEA report on the PMD in December 2015. This report, which in effect ignores the questions left open, enables implementation of the nuclear agreement.
In the other, Tehran began to do everything in its power to hide everything it had on its nuclear program. This was unlike other cases of complete nuclear disarmament. Both South Africa and Libya, for example, truly ended their nuclear programs: they either destroyed all the information, so there was nothing left of their archives, or deposited everything they had—their knowledge, documents, and experience, to IAEA inspectors.
The Iranians did the exact opposite: they collected information from countless sites, including private archives and all the material of the AMAD Project, and gathered it it in the Defense Ministry’s archive.
Since the agreement gives the IAEA the right to visit any suspicious site (Tehran currently denies that they have agreed to visits at military sites), the Iranians feared the Defense Ministry archive might also be a target for inspection. So in February 2016, the Iranians moved the archive to an obscure site in a remote suburb of Tehran. The facility is almost entirely unguarded, and therefore does not attract attention. Even the people guarding the facility don’t know what it is that they are protecting.
Israeli intelligence had been tracked the “AMAD archive” closely, and had been meticulously planning the operation since early 2017. One Mossad agent responsible for planning the operation said it was “Ocean’s Eleven Style.”
In most Mossad operations of this type, the agents usually infiltrate a building, photograph the material inside, and leave unnoticed. This time, Mossad Director Yossi Cohen decided the material must be physically seized. The reason is twofold: to limit the time agents had to spend inside the building, and to prevent Iran from spreading disinformation and claiming the documents are forged. In this manner, Israel could expose the documents to the scrutiny of the international community.
Over the course of two years, hundreds of people from all branches of the Mossad participated in the operation, and fewer than two dozen agents took part in the break-in itself.
The operation team in Israel did not sleep for several nights, during which the agents gathered inside Iran to prepare the equipment and scope out the area.
Then, on the evening of January 31, the agents entered the vault. When the operation ended and all agents were out of danger, Cohen called Netanyahu and informed him of the operation’s success.
And it was, indeed, a success: The agents retrieved about half a ton of intelligence material that is worth its weight in gold. There has been very few times in the history of intelligence services since World War II when one agency has been able to obtain so much of the enemy’s secret intelligence material at once.
“Israel didn’t sign the JCPOA. The Mossad didn’t sign the nuclear agreement,” Mossad Director Cohen said in a closed forum. “I have one agreement, with the people of Israel, in which I commit not to allow the Iranians to have a nuclear bomb. That’s it.”
But like everything else, politics got in the way here as well. Since the operation, various claims were made in Israel and abroad against the way the material was presented.
Some believe the documents from the archive justify Netanyahu’s claim that the nuclear agreement is a bad deal based on lies.
A Western intelligence source that was exposed to the material summed it up thus: “The nuclear archive is in fact an effort made by the Iranian Ministry of Defense to preserve the knowledge achieved in the ‘AMAD Project’ from 1998 to 2003, and to hide it from the international community, especially from the IAEA, for possible future use.”
Others, on the other hand, claim these documents prove how close Iran was to producing a nuclear bomb, and so the existence of an agreement that freezes the program and puts the SPND Project under close supervision is a good idea.
The article was published on Ynet
Proportionality. I have come to loathe this word. It’s so sterile. It’s devoid of emotion, it’s not human. How many arguments do you have, or conversations where the dialogue is entirely ‘proportional’? Most of all who gets to decide? Who gets to sit in the armchair and say that, well Alex, your response to your colleague, wife, aggressor was not proportionate?
The amount of arguments I’ve had with Israel haters in the past when it comes to Gaza. The times I’ve had put up with this utterly bullsh%t word. Then you have the various political Institutions: statements, emergency sessions, condemnatory resolutions, commissions of inquiry…Israel acted with disproportionality.
Yesterday, on the back of one dead Hamas commander over 400 rockets were fired – completely indiscriminately – towards Israel civilian centres. As I write, there are 67 casualties on the Israeli side, one dead soldier, a bus hit, and one dead Arab migrant who was trying to protect his home. And I’m still trying to get the various sounds of screaming kids and terrified parents running for shelter that I was sent last night by friends and families, out of my head.
Is that proportional? I’ve been met with stony silence from the Israel haters and Palestinian lovers. Yep, those same people, those same political institutions with their commissions, statements and press releases, are silent.
I can almost already hear the keyboards typing their anodyne statements from here, ”we condemn the escalation of tensions and urge a ceasefire. We urge both sides to use restraint and work towards a de-escalation.”
Puke. ‘Restraint’ is almost as bad as proportionality in the pantheon of banal vocabulary. Kick me where it hurts repeatedly, target my daughter and my wife, my brother, sister, nephews and nieces, my best friend and I can assure you, restraint will be the last word on my mind, well maybe not the last, top spot goes to ‘proportional’.
But let me tell you about restraint. Restraint is knowing that in two minutes you could turn every Hamas home into a car park, but you don’t. Restraint is taking the repeated kicks and not lashing out in righteous fury as your family narrowly walk the thin line between life and death as a result of some coward hiding in the bushes. The coward who invokes g-d as he launches a rocket that he hopes will kill (who? it doesn’t matter, its one dead Jew!), then will gloat and cheer, and be lifted on shoulders, called a hero while someone random in Israel, maybe an accountant, or a supermarket worker, maybe a teacher or a schoolkid, lies bleeding, dismembered or dead. Israelis know all this. But those calling for restraint and proportionality don’t.
But if it was Amiens instead of Ashkelon? if it was Prague not Petah-Tikvah? or Nuremberg instead of Netivot? If, while they and their family were a home, and they had seconds to take shelter at the sheer randomness of a rain of rockets, would they feel restraint? Would they ask themselves, are my feelings proportional to the threat? I mean maybe that rocket wasn’t meant for me? What made the poor man want to fire it in the first place? Maybe he’s having a tough time? Of course they bloody well wouldn’t!
And yet this is the kind of self-effacing language and acts that are expected of nobody else in the world except for Israel when it comes to dealing with Gaza. We feel your pain but restrain yourselves, your life is a living hell but hey, put it into proportion.
My esteemed colleague asked me why today, what’s so different about this barrage, to the recent ones. Why am I angry today? Because today I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of restraining my language to please the target audience and their commissions of inquiry and press releases. I’ve had enough of the silence of the pro-Hamas human rights activists who pick and choose what proportional is, what it means and who preach restraint but act differently when it comes to Palestinian terror. There’s a line in a movie that I’m going to paraphrase: “For every action, there’s a reaction. And an Israeli reaction is quite a (expletive) thing.”
Now is the time for such a reaction. To the one-sided Institutions, to the haters, the Palestinian activists I say this: Today you can keep your proportionality and restraint.
And if I have to take your outrage and finger wagging knowing that my friends, families and fellow Jews (and indeed Israeli arabs) are safe in their houses, I will gladly do so.
How can I respect any self-righteous position taken by you from the comfort of your impersonal gilded office armchairs? Where those two vomit-inducing words flow so easily because you don’t know any friends or family who live there?
I have no idea what proportional means to you. And right now, at this precise moment, I really don’t care. Because through your silence, or your sterile words, you show you don’t care about me, about the people I care about it, or the country I love.
Alex Benjamin, Director of Europe Israel Public Affairs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to fly to Vienna later this month to meet with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, in what will be the first official visit to Austria by an Israeli premier in more than two decades.
“It is my distinct pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu for an official visit to Austria!,” Kurz tweeted Wednesday.
Netanyahu will hold a bilateral meeting with the Austrian leader and attend a “conference on the fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism” hosted by Kurz on November 21-22.
Netanyahu’s forthcoming visit to Vienna will be the first trip to Austria by an Israeli prime minister since 1997, when Netanyahu visited the country during his first term.
Member of parliament Martin Engelberg, a member of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s center-right Austrian People’s Party (OVP), announced the Israeli premier’s planned visit earlier Wednesday during a pan-European conference on anti-Semitism in Brussels.
“[Netanyahu] is going to come to Vienna in two weeks, and there will be a summit, a quite high-ranking summit…on fighting anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, also including BDS [the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement] and protecting and securing Jewish life in Austria and in Europe,” Engelberg told i24NEWS.
Ties between Israel and Austria have strengthened over the past year, despite the inclusion in Kurz’s coalition government of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), which has a past stained by frequent anti-Semitic incidents and instances of Nazi propaganda.
Israel’s foreign ministry has maintained a “boycott” of the Freedom Party ministers, who preside over the foreign and defense ministries, since they joined Kurz’s government late last year government, instead conducting all governmental matters through lower-level civil servants.
But it appears the Israeli government is eager to maintain good relations with Austria, as the reaction paled in comparison with that in 2000, when the Freedom Party first joined a coalition government and Israeli authorities withdrew the Ambassador from Vienna.
The Austrian chancellor visited Israel in June and met with Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.
“It’s a very clear sign of the close friendship not only between Israel and Austria, but also on a personal level between the Israeli prime minister and our Austrian chancellor,” Engelberg said of Netanyahu’s planned reciprocal visit.
Engelberg told i24NEWS that it was the “right” of the Jewish community to decide to boycott ministers of the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), but noted that nonetheless, “the relationship between Austria and Israel has never been as close as it is now.”
He added that “nobody is pressing” Israel to change its policy regarding FPO ministers.
“Austria is a member of the European Union…and whether or not the Israeli government has contact with Austrian ministers of the Freedom Party does not really bother us,” he said.
“I’m more interested that the Freedom Party really takes the right steps and we will charge them by their deeds, as we say,” Engelberg said.
During his visit to Israel this summer, Kurz expressed remorse at the American Jewish Committee’s conference in Jerusalem for Austrian participation in Nazi crimes during the Holocaust.
Engelberg said that over the past 30 years there has been a “strong decline” in what he called “classical anti-Semitism” in Austria, meanwhile claiming that levels of anti-Semitism in the country’s Muslim population were much higher than in the general population.
“We are talking about, according to the polls, a level of anti-Semitism [within the Muslim population] of 40, 50, or 60 percent sometimes, whereas in the general population we tend to come down from 30 percent to 10 percent,” he said, without citing from which polls he had drawn the figures.
Founded in 1956, the FPOe emerged from the short-lived Federation of Independents, launched after World War II by former Nazis who had been stripped of their voting rights.
The party, whose first chief was an ex-officer from the Waffen SS, also drew pan-Germanists — believers in unifying with Germany like in the Third Reich — and liberals fed up with the ruling centrist establishment.
The party rose to prominence in the late 1980’s under Joerg Haider, the charismatic but controversial son of a former Nazi party official, positioning itself as a formidable populist force thriving on xenophobic and anti-EU slogans.
Today, the part is led by Heinz-Christian Strache, a former member of a radical student fraternity who has a past stained by frequent anti-Semitic incidents and instances of Nazi propaganda.
Strache has dismissed former associations with neo-Nazi groups as youthful dalliance and has attempted to position himself as a vocal advocate and friend of Israel.
Strache has traveled to Israel a number of times and developed ties with representatives of the Israeli right. In one of his last trips, however, late Israeli President Shimon Peres had refused to meet him.
i24NEWS correspondent Polina Garaev contributed to this report.
The article was published on I24
Germany’s long-term Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel yesterday evening, ahead of several meetings between her and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their respective country’s ministers.
Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, hosted the German chancellor at their official Jerusalem residence yesterday and have held inter-governmental meetings (G2G) today. This is the seventh such meeting between the German chancellor and Israel’s prime minister – and ministers each of their countries – in the last decade.
Chancellor Merkel had threatened to cancel her long-planned trip if Israel went ahead with its planned evacuation of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar – a claim denied by both Israeli and German officials. This government-to-government meeting, supposed to be an annual event to showcase the closeness of ties between the two countries, was postponed from May 2017 because of German displeasure at Israel’s settlement policies and its position on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
The inter-governmental consultations will focus – inter alia – on security, scientific, economic, cultural and cyber cooperation. There will also be a series of discussions and the signing of MOUs the goal of which is to strengthen bilateral relations.
The expected presence of Meir Ben-Shabbat, Israel’s National Security Council at the meeting between the two leaders was a hint that the discussions were likely to focus on Iran and the developing situation in Syria.
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that since the February 15, 2016 inter-governmental (G2G) consultations in Jerusalem there has been significant progress in various fields including security, trade, culture and community affairs.
In addition to her meetings with Netanyahu, Chancellor Merkel visited Yad Vashem, the world Holocuast memorial center. She laid a wreath in the hall of remembrance, where an eternal flame burns and where the names of all the Nazi-run labor, concentration and extermination camps are etched. She also visited the hall of names, in which Yad Vashem holds as much information as they can find about Holocaust victims – and she signed the visitors’ book.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul. Many of us know this expression, but not its origin from 16th-century England, when part of the estate of Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Westminster was appropriated to pay for repairs to Saint Paul’s in London. That brief trivia titbit aside, the expression fits very well when it comes to EU funding of the Palestinians.
On Thursday afternoon, after much advocacy work from us at EIPA, and other groups such as the excellent Impact SE, the European Parliament budgets committee recommended a 15 Million Euro freeze in funding to the Palestinian Authority until it changes its school textbooks. Regular readers of mine will know that we at EIPA have done a lot of raising on this issue. It’s bad enough that many schools under Palestinian Authority control are named after terrorists who committed terrible atrocities, and that encourage pupils to emulate their life, but textbooks, funded in part by EU taxpayers, refer to Jews as liars, sinful, apes and pigs and utterly refuse to countenance the existence of the State of Israel. It doesn’t take much head scratching to figure out why the Palestinian population is completely unprepared for peace. How can they be when they teach their children, as part of the school curriculum to hate, and to believe in the falsehood that Israel is a fabrication, it doesn’t exist, and that martyrdom and resistance to the ‘occupation’ is the way forward?
So, when the news came out yesterday, our phones at EIPA HQ and whatsapp were running red. Is this true? Will the Commission accept the parliament’s recommendations? Finally, is the EU is starting to wake up?
Yes. Most likely (as under the co-decision procedure on budgets it can’t ignore parliament) And lastly, sadly no.
Sadly no? that’s a bit defeatist isn’t it? You and others actually got one of the EU institutions to put pressure on the PA and introduced conditionality on Aid, something that you have been banging on about for years now? Where’s the beef, Benjamin?
All fair questions dear reader. By the time you read this, it will be Strasbourg week (when the European Parliament decamps beside the Rhine to vote in plenary). On the agenda is UNWRA. As most of you know, the American administration cut its funding to the UN agency, which is unique as a refugee agency for exacerbating the very problem it is tasked to solve. Under its tenure UNWRA has seen refugee numbers rise from some half a million at its inception, to roughly 5 Million today. Think about it. That’s a bit like having a food aid programme that actually contributes to famine isn’t it?
Anyway, long story short, we knew what was coming. Late on Thursday, once the 15 Million had had its few hours in the news cycle, the office of Federica Mogherini announced that it was giving UNWRA 40 Million Euro to help bridge the gap in US funding to UNWRA.
Robbing Peter to Pay Paul. We might be stretching the analogy a bit here equating ourselves to the parishioners of St. Peters (and our Rabbis would probably have something to say about it too), but what sense does it make to cut PA funding in half on textbooks (good by the way, and long, long overdue), whilst simultaneously funding a UN body that keeps Palestinians trapped in a spiral of permanent refugee status, with little prospect of quality of life, under a terrorist dictatorship and which only underlines and compliments the very narratives that are expressed in the textbooks, and lead year after year to needless deaths, more hatred and more entrenchment?
Answers on a postcard please to EEAS HQ at Schuman Roundabout in Brussels if you figure that one out. Oh and post your answer in comments below please and spare my already raw scalp from further self-inflicted scratching abuse.
The Op-Ed was written by our director, Alex Benjamin and was also published in The Times of Israel
PM meets with his Egyptian counterpart al-Sisi on sidelines of UN General Assembly to discuss regional developments and the situation in Gaza; only an Egyptian flag was put in the room; Egyptian spokesman: ‘the two stressed the importance of renewing cease-fire talks with Hamas.’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The two leaders met amid continued efforts of Egyptian intelligence to mediate a possible long-term ceasefire arrangement between Israel and Hamas.
Netanyahu’s talks with Sisi late on Wednesday focused on “regional developments”, the Israeli Prime Minister wrote on Twitter without elaborating.
A spokesman for the Egyptian president issued a statement saying that the two leaders “discussed the peace process, and stressed the importance of renewing negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis in order to form a comprehensive and just solution to the Palestinian problem.”
He added that resolving the problem would create a new reality in the Middle East, one “in which all peoples enjoy stability.” According to the spokesman, Netanyahu thanked al-Sisi for his efforts in fighting terrorism.
Netanyahu and al-Sisi met publicly for the first time in September of last year, also in New York. Last month, Ynet learned that the prime minister held a secret meeting with al-Sisi.
The information came from a foreign diplomatic source, but the Prime Minister’s Office refused to comment on the matter.
According to Channel 10 News, the meeting took place on May 22 when Netanyahu flew with a small delegation of advisors and security guards. He stayed in Egypt for a few hours and participated in the breaking of the Ramadan fast before returning to Israel late at night.
Egypt plays an important role in a cease-fire talk between Israel and Hamas.
Last Saturday a delegation of senior Egyptian intelligence officials arrived in the Gaza Strip for a brief visit as part of Egypt’s effort to renew the internal reconciliation talks in Gaza as well as ceasefire negotiations with Israel.
The Egyptian intelligence officials who entered Gaza through the Erez Crossing met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh for a “significant and crucial” meeting, Palestinian sources said.
“Egypt’s main interest is to reach an intra-Palestinian reconciliation in accordance with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’s demand that he is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinians with whom any understandings can be reached.
“Hamas, however, is interested in promoting a ceasefire agreement with Israel before an intra-Palestinian reconciliation is achieved, in order to take credit for easing the Israeli blockade over Gaza,” the Palestinian sources elaborated.
“Egypt views the dead end (in ceasefire talks with Israel) as pushing Gaza towards a dangerous military escalation on the border fence. Nevertheless, Egypt is not willing to promote calm only to please Hamas since it has bigger international and intra-Arab interests. Egypt will need to decide how to overcome this obstacle” the sources explained.
According to The Associated Press, after the Egyptian delegation left Gaza, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said their indirect cease-fire talks with Israel have halted. Abu Zuhri added that his Islamic militant group is escalating its protests in new locations along Gaza’s border with Israel.
Egypt has been working to broker a long-term ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s dominant Hamas Islamist movement amid frequent violence along the Israel-Gaza border.
Since March, thousands swarmed the security fence as part of “The Great March of Return,” weekly protests.
Egypt and the United Nations have been working to mediate in order to avoid another large-scale round of violence.
Egypt was the first of a handful of Arab countries to recognize Israel under a 1979 peace treaty and the two countries maintain close co-ordination on security as well as energy ties.
On Thursday Israeli and Egyptian companies announced that they would buy into a pipeline that would enable a landmark $15 billion natural gas export deal to begin next year.
Netanyahu and Sisi convened for their previously announced talks several hours after US President Donald Trump said he wanted a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in what had appeared to be the clearest expression yet of his administration’s support for such an outcome.
But later on Wednesday Trump told a news conference that he would be open to a one-state solution if that was the preference of the parties themselves, a position he had previously stated.
The article was published on Ynet
As the world marks 17 years since the 9/11 attacks in the United States, the time has come for Western governments to join in “the strong and clear effort by the Trump administration against the terrorist regime in Tehran,”Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu took European leaders to task for “appeasing Iran,” something he said “helps the relentless assault on the values and security of free societies.”
Netanyahu again noted the irony that during the same week in June when an Iranian terrorist cell tried to carry out an attack against an Iranian opposition group in Paris – an attack that Israeli intelligence helped to thwart – European leaders were trying to “appease” Iran and looking for ways to reconcile with it, and soften the fallout from the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.
Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks, has “passed the torch” of radical Sunni terrorism on to Islamic State, while the radical Shia variety of terrorism is being led by Iran, the premier said.
It is doing so to a certain degree against Islamic State, but it is not doing so against Iran – the opposite is the case,” he said.
Netanyahu also used the start of the weekly cabinet meeting to once again praise the Trump administration for its decision on Monday to close the PLO office in Washington.
Netanyahu called this the “correct decision,” saying that at a time when the Palestinians refuse to negotiate with Israel and are attacking it with false claims in international forums, Israel “very much appreciates” American actions designed to make clear to the Palestinians that their tactics not only fail to promote peace, “but are also certainly not making things better for the Palestinians.”
The article was published on The JPost
European Commission Director General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Christian Danielsson, and the Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa at the European External Action Service, Fernando Gentilini, will hold consultations this week with the representatives of the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the on-going review of modalities of EU engagement on the ground in support of a two-state solution.
The objective of the review is to ensure that all the modalities of the European Union’s engagement are as efficient and as effective as possible to advance the goal of a two-state solution, including in Gaza which, together with the West Bank, is an integral part of a future Palestinian state.
The EU remains firmly committed to the two-state solution as the only realistic and viable way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The EU has a close partnership with Palestine as its largest and most reliable donor, and with Israel as its biggest trading partner. The EU wishes to hear the views and perspectives on the review from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, both of which benefit from the EU’s active engagement, and to raise and discuss with them any obstacles to peace and to the viability of the two-state solution.
Click here for the Press release
JERUSALEM, Israel – The Israeli Security Agency known as the Shin Bet reports that it prevented 250 major terror attacks since the beginning of the year.
At the first International Homeland Security Forum in Jerusalem, Israel shared its expertise with security leaders from around the world, teaching them how to prepare and prevent these attacks.
On the last day of the forum, ministers from some 20 countries witnessed a counter-terrorism demonstration at Israel’s National Police Academy.
At a colorful simulated outdoor market complete with fake fruit, café tables and mannequins on one side and actors at a street festival on the other side, participants watched as a truck rammed the crowed street (on the side with the mannequins) and terrorists jumped out and began shooting at the revelers.
A police officer narrated as Israeli commandos took charge.
“The warriors [are] in a firefight with the terrorists,” he said. “It’s a sad event, but we train [the policemen] day and night [so] that when we need them we can use them.
“Because this happened in mass attack is not our imagination, it [has] happened in Israel, it [has] the world and this is our job as a counter-terrorism unit to save and protect,” he said.
For Israel, terrorism has been a reality for more than 70 years.
In a January 2017 attack modeled in the simulation, a terrorist in a truck ran up over the curb into a park and plowed into a group of soldiers, killing four. Later, Israel installed cement pillars in the area to prevent such attacks in the future.
“We’re sharing intelligence strategies, how we deal with preventing those attacks, what are the global threats that exist here in Israel, which, of course, are global threats that exist in Europe and other countries around the world,” Israel Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CBN News. “[We’re focusing on] how we can improve transferring intelligence – because when you have strong intelligence, you can prevent a terrorist attack from taking place.”
Israeli Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan organized the event.
“The goal we’ve set before us – enhancing our cooperation in fighting terror, incitement, radicalization and cyber threats – is extremely, extremely complex,” he explained.
According to Erdan, two defining characteristics make up the current terror wave in Israel: online incitement and radicalization combined with easily accessible weapons.
Erdan calls it, “hi-tech communications and low-tech operations.”
US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilson said defeating terrorism will require international teamwork.
“What this means is that a terrorist in your country is virtually in mine. And we have to really think about what that means as this threat evolves. So your risk is very much my risk. My risk is yours,” Neilson said.
Other government ministers who attended the event said they wanted to see the cooperation that began at the forum continue, and other such events planned for the future.
“If we prepare individually, we will fail collectively,” she added.
Erdan said he doesn’t believe that democracies are doomed to suffer from terrorism forever. By working together countries can meet the challenges to protect their citizens and make their countries safe, he said.
The article was published on CBN News
We are proud to invite you to take part in one of the most exciting events of the year!
Jerusalem Hi-Tech Day is a day of celebrating Jerusalem’s innovation, new start ups and technology as well as culture, food and good beer.
We will start the day in the European Parliament, hearing about how JLM transformed into an advanced and inspiring innovation hub in the last few years. Then we go on to a twinnovation lunch, in which we will exchange views and ideas with local European companies and start-ups and then finish the day at place Lux where we will see some of this new and amazing technology in action and enjoy some JLM food and drinks.
For more info go HERE
To register (for free) for the EP event go HERE
You can find the full agenda HERE
Envoys for international bodies highlight mortar shell that fell outside kindergarten; UN urges restraint by ‘all parties’
Representatives from the European Union and United Nations on Tuesday condemned the firing of more than two dozen mortar shells from the Gaza Strip at southern Israel, both calling it “unacceptable.”
The EU’s ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, as well as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, both focused on one of the shells striking a tree in the yard of a kindergarten in the Eshkol region, less than an hour before students were due to arrive.
“As kids were preparing for school this morning a barrage of rockets from Gaza fell on southern Israel,” the EU envoy tweeted. “One landed outside a kindergarten. I know the resilience of communities in southern Israel but indiscriminate attacks are totally unacceptable and to be condemned unreservedly.”
Mladenov said in a statement that he was “deeply concerned by the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian militants from Gaza towards communities in Southern Israel, at least one of which hit in the immediate vicinity of a kindergarten and could have killed or injured children.”
“Such attacks are unacceptable and undermine the serious efforts by the international community to improve the situation in Gaza,” the UN envoy added. “All parties must exercise restraint, avoid escalation and prevent incidents that jeopardize the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.”
The kindergarten that was hit by a mortar shell — along with all other schools in the area — opened as usual on Tuesday, despite the attack.
“At this point, there are no special instructions for residents of the Gaza periphery. Please continue to listen to the instructions of the Home Front Command,” the army said in a statement.
The attack, which triggered three rounds of sirens in as many hours in the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions, was claimed by the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, apparently as revenge for the IDF killing three of its members in a cross-border exchange earlier in the week.
It appeared to be the largest attack from the Gaza Strip, in terms of the number of projectiles fired, since the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.
Most of the projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. One person was lightly injured.
The initial, larger bombardment came at 7 a.m., when approximately 25 mortar shells were fired toward the Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions, the army said.
Exactly an hour later, incoming sirens were triggered for a second time in the Eshkol region, but not in Sha’ar Hanegev, as at least two mortar shells struck an open field in the area, the army said.
The second attack caused neither injuries nor damage.
Sirens in southern Israel were triggered by a mortar shell for a third time shortly after 9:30 a.m., the army said.
That projectile struck an open field outside a community in the Eshkol region, causing no injury or damage, local officials said.
The military responded to the early morning attack by shelling a number of positions belonging to terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian media reported. The army would not immediately confirm it had conducted retaliatory strikes. Additional reprisal raids were expected, in accordance with Israel’s standard policies regarding attacks from Gaza.
Pictures and videos were quickly shared on social media apparently showing the launches of the mortar shells and the interceptions by the Iron Dome.
In the latest round of violence, unlike previous ones, Gazan terrorists had until Tuesday generally refrained from shooting rockets, instead using small arms fire directed at troops, planting bombs, flying incendiary kites, and sneaking across the border to cause minor damage.
Since March 30, tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in weekly protests that Israel says are orchestrated by Hamas and used as cover for attempted terror attacks and breaches of the border fence.
The violent demonstrations were meant to end on May 15, but Hamas leaders have said they want them to continue. Over 10,000 Gazans took part in the demonstrations in the course of Friday and Saturday, the army said.
The demonstrations came to a head on May 14 when the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem and at least 60 Palestinians were killed in clashes — almost all of them Hamas members, the terror group has acknowledged.
Judah Ari Gross and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
BREAKING NEWS SPECIAL – REPORT SHOWS HOW EU FUNDS ARE DIRECTLY SUPPORTING BOYCOTTS OF ISRAEL, AND WORSE…
The EU’s official position on Boycotting the State of Israel demonstrates in technicolour the murky side of consensus decision making. How do you reconcile the breadth of the political spectrum on this issue whilst keeping as many as possible in the tent? You concoct a phrase straight out of the newspeak playbook as a catch all. We paraphrase, but here is it:
“The EU is against all forms of boycott that seek to delegitimise, but BDS represents freedom of speech.”
Yes. It is an absolute crock of a sentence. With all the backbone of a jellyfish. But if you are going to construct such a crock, then it should at least be stuck to.
In breaking news this morning, solid and concrete data revealed for the first time in a detailed paper by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic affairs HERE:The Money Trail_English , shows that despite the catch-all lip service, the EU is directly and indirectly funding organizations – to the tune of over 5 million Euros, that promote, support and call for BDS activities. The paper list in detail where the millions were transferred to, directly from the European Union in 2016, to a number of organizations that promote delegitimization and boycotts against Israel. The information, sourced and freely available in publications and report on the websites of the EU and the recipient organizations themselves, also reveal that millions of Euros are coming to organizations through indirect financing through third parties.
According to the Ministry, “there is concern that European taxpayers’ money is finding its way also to those who maintain ties with terrorist organizations.”
As an example, one of the bodies that states that it enjoys direct EU funding is the Norwegian NPA (Norwegian People’s Aid). According to their own reports, in 2016 the organization received financial assistance from the EU amounting to 1.76 million euros. That same year, the organization published a report calling on financial institutions to withdraw their investments from companies operating in Israel.
The report also states that an American authorities investigation found that the NPA, which has also received American funding over the years, has links with terrorist elements. In 2012 and 2012, for example, the organization supported an empowerment project for Gaza youth, in which Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – which, ironically, were recognized as terrorist organizations by the EU itself – took part.
The study also shows that EU funds also come indirectly to PCHR (the Palestinian Center for Human Rights). Linked to the PLO, the organization calls on the international community to impose “sanctions on Israeli settlements,” to incriminate those with whom it maintains trade relations and to terminate the special wage agreements between the EU and Israel.
There isn’t space here to list all the organisations involved, suffice to say what we have listed is the tip of a particularly embarrassing iceberg for the ‘good’ ship EU.
“It is inconceivable that taxpayers’ money in Europe comes to organizations that promote boycotts against Israel, some of which are connected to terror organizations,” said Israel’s Minister for Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan.
We at EIPA fully understand the Minister’s incredulity at the findings. However, as regular readers will know, the issue of conditionality has been a central theme of ours, and we long suspected that the opaque EU funding structures were open to misuse and were not being managed properly. Yes, that is quite an accusation to make. But this ground-breaking report allows us to repeat it with even more certainty. And the trouble with newspeak, is that it only works when everybody believes it….
On Tuesday Daniel Sugarman wrote an article on the clashes at the Gaza border. Today he acknowledges that he was wrong.
It’s never easy to say you’re sorry.
To admit you’re wrong. To announce publicly, “I made a mistake”.
But to apologise when that apology comes bound up with what is, perhaps, the most intractable conflict on earth, makes it a thousand times harder.
But that is what I am. Sorry.
A few days ago I wrote a column about the latest round of violence on the border with Gaza.
It was a cry from the heart. I love Israel. I have always loved it, and cannot envision a time when I will not love it.
But in my office, I sit near a television set. And on Monday, I saw the following, side by side.
On the left, in Jerusalem, I saw happy faces. Self-congratulatory faces. I saw the Prime Minister of Israel talking about how the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem was a big step towards peace.
And on the right, simultaneously, in Gaza, I saw tear gas, and smoke, and bullets.
And it was in this context that I wrote my piece, which was an extremely personal one. I wrote it in anguish. I wrote it making clear that I despised Hamas and all it stood for. But I also wrote the following:
“Every bullet Israel fires, every life Israel takes, makes this situation worse. There are ways to disperse crowds which do not include live fire. But the IDF has made an active choice to fire live rounds and kill scores of people. You cannot tell me that Israel, a land of technological miracles which have to be seen to be truly believed, is incapable of coming up with a way of incapacitating protestors that does not include gunning dozens of them down. But no. In front of the entire world, Israel keeps shooting, and protestors, including very young protestors, keep dying. You may tell me that Hamas wants these deaths, wants to create martyrs, wants to fill the hearts of the people of Gaza with rage against Israel because the alternative is for people to look at their lives in Gaza and rage against Hamas. But if you tell me that, why are you not asking yourselves why Israel is so willingly giving Hamas exactly what it wishes?”
I received a lot of praise for my piece, from people I admire greatly, as well as from a great many unexpected sources, including from within the Jewish community.
I also received a lot of criticism. I got called a traitor, and that most vile of all insults a Jew can bestow or receive, a “Kapo”.
People also wrote pieces in response. I was told that, as a Jew not currently living in Israel, my greatest worry was whether Starbucks would have almond-soya milk for my latte.
But the criticism I paid more attention to was from people who pointed out that it was absurd to deal in hypotheticals. I’d said that surely there must be a way the protestors could be stopped without shooting live ammunition at them – that Israel, with its incredible technological capabilities, must be capable of developing a way. That was a cry of anguish, but it was not an argument. If no such technology currently exists, then it was absurd of me to blame the IDF for not magically willing it into existence. The traditional crowd stopping technology would not have worked effectively. Rubber bullets are only short range. The same with water cannons. And with tens of thousands of people rushing the border, this would have been extremely unlikely to work effectively. The border would have been broken through. And then, without much of a doubt, a lot of people in Israel would have died. That was, after all, Hamas’s stated aim.
But what really affected me the most was yesterday, when a Hamas operative went on television and claimed that, of the 62 people killed in the last two days, fifty were Hamas operatives. Islamic Jihad claimed three more, meaning that over 80 percent of the people who were killed while trying to breach the border were members of terrorist organisations whose direct aim is to bring death and suffering into Israel.
And I opened my eyes and saw what I had done.
I had fallen into the trap I had always been convinced I would not fall into. I had condemned Israel for defending itself.
There are things one can write about how Israel could have acted differently in the run-up to these attempts to charge the border. But I did not write about those in my original piece. I wrote that, by killing the Palestinians running towards them, the IDF was giving Hamas exactly what it wished for – martyrs for the cause.
I failed to acknowledge that, either way, Israel would be giving Hamas what it wanted. Shoot at those charging at you and Hamas would have its martyrs. Fail to shoot and Hamas would break through the barrier and bring suffering and death – its stated aim – to Israelis living only a few hundred metres away from that barrier. The march may have originally been, as it was declared to be, about Palestinians returning to the homes they had to leave 70 years before. But Hamas’s aim was far more straightforward – “We will take down the border and we will tear out their hearts from their bodies.”
I wrote in my previous article that Israel was a regional powerhouse, and that it was strong enough to take criticism from Jews in the Diaspora.
I still believe it is strong enough to do so. I just don’t believe that my criticism of it was valid. Given the circumstances, and the situation on the ground, I am at a loss in terms of coming up with a better solution. The choice was, quite literally, shoot at people running at you with the stated aim of killing you and your families, or fail to shoot and let them do it.
A few days ago I said I could not and would not defend Israel’s actions. Now, in the cold light of day, I could not and would not see how I would fail to defend them.
I said that Israel should be ashamed of its actions. But today I am the one ashamed.
The article was published in the Jewish Chronicle
Many questions remain about what led to the deaths of up to 58 Palestinians on Monday. One of the key issues surrounds how the protests are organized. Based on observation and discussions with sources close to the protests, the following presents a clearer picture of what has occurred over the last weeks, and attempts to paint a picture of how the May 14 protests unfolded.
Since the end of March, there have been mass protests along the Gaza border. These protests have been well organized and planned as part of an eight week “Great March of Return,” from the Palestinian Land Day on March 30, to the “Nakba Day” on May 15.
On May 14, the mass protests, which coincided with the US opening its embassy in Jerusalem and came a day before what was supposed to be the last day of the protests, resulted in 58 Palestinians killed and up to 2,700 wounded, according to Gaza-based Palestinian reports.
The protests have been organized around five locations next to Israel’s security fence. Over the eight weeks of demonstrations, protesters used a variety of different tactics and methods. For instance, protesters began lighting massive fires and burning tires during the second Friday, in early April. Then they began launching burning kites to ignite Israeli farmland. They also tore down a section of barbed wire of one of the fences between Israel and Gaza on April 27. It was during this protest that a reliable source provided some insight into the methods employed by Hamas and the protesters.
The protesters have gathered every Friday with tens of thousands participating. At the very back of the protest, hundreds of meters from the fence, are tents and field hospitals, prayer areas and families. This is where some of the Hamas officials will show up in the morning or early afternoon to rouse the people and encourage them in their protest. Speeches will be made and prayers offered. It is well organized. Buses bring people to the protests. There are people selling food. There is even a macabre element of this, with protesters saying they’ll have a meal before they become “shahid” or a martyr at the front.
The masses of protesters who approach the actual fence are generally made up of young men and teenagers, including youth and children. There are very few women in the area closest to the fence. The protesters know how the Israeli security forces have been operating; they expect to be shot or are cognizant that this is a distinct possibility. There are ambulance teams and medics, as well as numerous spontaneous volunteers, ready to take away the injured, many of them shot in the legs.
As the young men burn tires, and others prepare Molotov cocktails or slingshots, some prepare kites to fly. The goal of the protesters is to get to the fence and, with select groups of young men who have brought wire cutters, to cut through. Most of them don’t make it this far, but some of them do.
Gazans who attempt to reach the main security fence first have to deal with other obstacles. There is a barbed-wire fence in sections to deter protesters from reaching the main fence. Israel has continuously warned since March that anyone approaching this kind of buffer zone would be shot. A section of barbed wire fence was torn down and dragged away in late April. The Palestinians cheered as they brought it back to the protest camp. A sign of victory.
According to reports, it takes about thirty seconds running between the barbed-wire fence and the main security fence.
But what happened in late April was not just the spontaneous chaos of rioters at the fence. Some of those wounded and killed by live fire, as shown on videos, have not been directly threatening the fence, but there are others groups whose sole purpose is to penetrate the fence.
The actual attempt to get closest to the fence and break through it has involved planning and coordination on the Palestinian side. Hamas members, unarmed but clearly directing some of the young men, are in the crowd. They watch for an area of burning tires and people, where the protesters have managed to get close to the fence or breach the first line of barbed wire.
Some of these professional activists are on motorcycles and they may come and go or drive along the line of protests or observe them from a high point. When they sense that a breach can be made, they gather together groups of young men, men who have prepared beforehand for the assault.
Like some kind of First World War charge of death, the young men then rush as a group toward the fence.
During the April 27 events, up to 700 men were reported by IDF spokesman Col. Jonathan Conricus to have assaulted the fence “in a way that we have not seen them assault it before,” according to a New York Times report.
An earlier Times report titled “300 Meters in Gaza: Snipers, Burning Tires and a Contested Fence,” summarized well the planning and details of the protests and confirmed later accounts.
Planning began ahead of the May 14 protests. Joe Dyke, the AFP correspondent in Gaza, wrote on May 10 that, at a “briefing to foreign media, Gaza head of Hamas told journalists today he would support thousands of Palestinians breaking through the border fence next week.”
On Sunday the IDF dropped leaflets on Gaza warning protesters to stay away from the fence. On May 14 Dyke, in Gaza, tweeted: “literally as the US embassy inauguration is beginning, loud speakers east of Gaza City are calling on protesters to prepare to seek to breach the border fence.”
By the end of the day, 58 had been killed.
The article was published in The JPost
EIPA welcomes US withdrawal from Iran accord as Sober, rational and game changing.
The decision this evening by President Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal is a courageous one. It takes maturity and sobriety to acknowledge that something is fundamentally flawed and beyond repair.
Tonight President Trump hit the reset button.
This withdrawal offers a game changing opportunity for a frank and rational re-assessment from all signatories of relations with Iran. As a starting point European leaders can and should impose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that ‘sunset’ under the agreement and tackle the Iranian ballistic missile program.
As an agitator, instigator and supporter of terror and violence across the Middle East, the Iranian regime has undoubtedly been emboldened by the deal. It has not been reined it – as the deal envisaged – but instead has expanded its influence, most notably in Syria, in its support of Hezbollah and as a key supporter of Hamas.
EIPA encourages the EU to face facts, put pride to one side and urgently and earnestly re-assess their commitment to what is, in essence, in practice, on the ground and on paper, a bad deal.
We are proud to invite you all to the biggest 70th anniversary celebration for the State of Israel in Brussels!
Come Join us and many other Pro-Israel organizations on the 13th of May, to show your support and to enjoy Israeli food, music and culture.
(for more info and registration please click on the picture)
Statement by Spokesperson on the remarks by Palestinian President Abbas on Holocaust
The speech Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivered on 30 April contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy. Such rhetoric will only play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated.
The Holocaust and World War Two have defined Europe’s modern history like no other event. Holocaust education remains central to building up resilience against all forms of hatred in our societies. Antisemitism is not only a threat for Jews but a fundamental menace to our open and liberal societies. The European Union remains committed to combat any form of anti-Semitism and any attempt to condone, justify or grossly trivialise the Holocaust.
rime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a massive cache of secret documents, obtained in an exceptional Israeli intelligence operation this year, showing that Iran had developed a secret nuclear weapons program and that it lied when it claimed otherwise.
“Iran lied big time,” Netanyahu said at a dramatic press conference on Monday night in Tel Aviv that involved props and a slide show.
Netanyahu held a microphone and walked back and forth on the stage as if conducting a class.
To catch international attention, Netanyahu spoke in English as he described a massive Israeli intelligence coup by which some 100,000 documents – weighing around half a ton – were brought from Tehran to the Jewish state.
“In 2017, Iran moved its nuclear-weapons files to the Shorabad district in southern Tehran. Few Iranians knew where it was, very few, and also a few Israelis,” Netanyahu said. “From the outside the vault looked like a dilapidated warehouse. It contained Iran’s secret atomic archives locked in massive files.”
“A few weeks ago, in a great intelligence achievement, Israel obtained half a ton of the material inside these vaults,” Netanyahu said.
He explained that these included 55,000 pages of documents and another 55,000 files on 183 CDs.
The documents focused on the secret Iranian nuclear program that was developed from 1999 to 2003 called Project Amad. When Iran entered the 2015 nuclear deal, it denied that such a program existed.
Netanyahu made the presentation as part of his continued campaign against the deal. He said the documents proved that the deal itself was based on falsehoods and that Iran continued with its nuclear program after the deal was signed.
He spoke less than two weeks before the May 12 deadline that US President Donald Trump had set to decide whether or not to scrap the deal, which the US signed along with five other world powers: Russia, Germany, China, the UK and France.
Meanwhile, the Knesset gave the power to declare war to the security cabinet, instead of the wider cabinet. Netanyahu and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have been pushing for the passage of the bill.
IN WASHINGTON, Trump lauded Netanyahu’s presentation.
“I don’t know if everybody has seen it, but I got to see a little bit of it, and that is just not an acceptable situation,” he said, referring to the nuclear deal.
“So we’ll see what happens, Trump said. “I’m not telling you what I’m doing. But a lot of people think they know, and on or before the 12th we’ll make a decision. That doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate a real agreement. It’s a horrible agreement for the US.”
Israel had known for years that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program from 1999 to 2003 called Project Amad, Netanyahu said.
“We can now prove that Project Amad was a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.
“Iran is secretly storing Project Amad material to use at a time of its choice to develop nuclear weapons.”
The project’s mission statement was to “design, product and test five warheads, each with 10-kiloton TNT yield for integration on a missile. You do not have to read Farsi to see ‘10 kiloton’ here,” he said.
“That is like five Hiroshima bombs to be put on ballistic missiles,” Netanyahu said.
He showed a spread sheet that spoke of yellowcake production, centrifuge enrichment process, warhead project, simulation project and tests.
“Project Amad had the five key elements of a nuclear weapons program,” said Netanyahu.
This included designs for enriched uranium as well as the development of nuclear cores and photographs of a secret underground facility to produce these cores.
Israel found photographs of a system to build a nuclear implosion system and a map with five key testing sites in eastern Iran, Netanyahu said.
“We have many more such documents,” said Netanyahu.
There were also documents that showed how to integrate nuclear warheads on missiles, including for Shahab-3 missiles.
“Here is the warhead, here is the bomb,” said Netanyahu, pointing to different points on a diagram.
Iran is continually expanding the range of its nuclear-capable missiles and can reach Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Moscow.
“But they are working on far greater ranges,” he said.
“These files conclusively prove that Iran is brazenly lying when it said it never had a nuclear weapons program,” Netanyahu said.
In 2003, Iran was forced to shelve Project Amad, but not its nuclear ambitions. It split its program into an overt program and a covert one that continued the nuclear work under the title of scientific knowhow development, Netanyahu said.
It continued this work in a series of organizations and in 2018 it is carried out by SPND, an organization inside Iran’s Defense Ministry led by the same person who led Project Amad – Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Netanyahu said.
Many of SPND’s key personnel worked with Fakhrizadeh on Project Amad, Netanyahu said.
The files Israel uncovered also dealt with the Fordow uranium enrichment facility, which Netanyahu said was designed from the start to be part of Project Amad.
“You will not be surprised that Iran insisted on keeping Fordow and the nuclear deal enabled it to do it. But Iran was required by the International Atomic Energy Agency to come clean about its nuclear program.
“This was an explicit condition for implementing the nuclear deal. In December 2015 the IAEA published its final assessment of the military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. This was Iran’s chance to fully come clean to the IAEA. They could tell the truth,” Netanyahu said.
But instead, Iran denied the existence of a coordinated program and specifically denied the existence of the Amad plan, Netanyahu said.
He also showed photographic evidence that Iran conducted metallurgical work specifically designed for a nuclear device.
“This is just a fraction of the total material that we have,” Netanyahu said.
One has to ask, he said, “Why would a terrorist regime hide and meticulously catalogue its secret files if not to use it at a later date?”
“Iran lied about never having a nuclear weapons program, it continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons knowhow for future use,” Netanyahu said.
He played a tape of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad
Javad Zarif stating that Iran had never had a nuclear weapons program.
“Yes you did,” Netanyahu said. “And the atomic archive proves it.”
“In a few days’ time, Trump will make a decision of what to do with the nuclear deal. I am sure he will do the right thing for the US, for Israel and for the peace of the world,” he said.
FOR HIS PART, the US president acknowledged growing expectations that he will pull out of the accord by May 12. If the European powers fail to come up with “substantial” fixes to some of the agreement’s most controversial provisions, Trump says he will allow for nuclear sanctions to snap back into place, effectively withdrawing the US from the 2015 agreement by default.
Trump said scrapping the non-proliferation agreement would send “the right message” to North Korea in upcoming negotiations over its own nuclear work, given “new information” that had
come to light on Monday.
But if Trump is indeed preparing for a withdrawal next month, not all of his cabinet members are yet on board. Asked on Monday after Netanyahu’s speech whether he is satisfied the JCPOA can handle incidents of Iranian cheating, James Mattis, the US defense secretary, said “yes.”
Mattis met with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman, last week in Washington, primarily on Iran policy, the two departments said.
The president also claimed the current deal “frees” Iran to develop nuclear weapons in seven years. The letter of the agreement commits Iran never to construct nuclear weapons – a pledge it originally made in joining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in the 1970s. But Netanyahu’s point was that Iran’s commitments were based on lies, raising questions over whether their weapons program had ever ceased and over what sort of agreement with Iran would ever be considered of good faith.
The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehen
sive Plan of Action, put caps on Tehran’s enrichment of uranium that phase out between 10 and 15 years. As those “sunset clauses” are reached, Iran will be allowed to grow the size and efficiency of its program, installing advanced models of uranium-enriching centrifuges in place of decades-old technology, in greater numbers and at more facilities.
That will shrink the “breakout time” Iran would need to develop fissile material for nuclear bombs, should it make the political decision to proceed.
Trump wants a deal that will grant UN inspectors snap access to Iran’s military facilities, where much of their past nuclear weapons work took place; an end to their program
on ballistic missiles, designed to deliver nuclear warheads; a permanent extension of the “sunset clauses”; and commitments from world powers to thwart Iran’s military ambitions across the Middle East.
NETANYAHU RECEIVED praise from coalition and opposition politicians after his presentation of Iran’s nuclear violations.
Deputy Minister Michael Oren (Kulanu) said Netanyahu presented impressive intelligence accomplishments for Israel. He said the international community must demand unlimited oversight over Iran’s nuclear program, including in closed military sites and prevent the development of Iranian ballistic missiles.
Former defense minister Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) said the evidence Netanyahu presented proved that Iran is obsessively seeking nuclear weapons. He said Israel must demand more inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites, the maintenance of Israel’s qualitative military edge, and immediately work to fix security flaws in the Israeli home front.
But Joint List MK Dov Henin called Netanyahu’s presentation an election speech.
“What were all of those empty binders, disks and English for?” Henin asked. “He merely warmed old noodles that were cooked years before the nuclear deal was signed.
A leader facing corruption charges was trying to persuade another leader facing corruption charges to inflame a conflagration whose price would be paid by the people who live here.”
Iran’s foreign minister said Israel’s accusations were “old allegations” that had been dealt with by the United Nations nuclear watchdog in the past.
“Pres. Trump is jumping on a rehash of old allegations already dealt with by the IAEA to “nix” the deal. How convenient. Coordinated timing of alleged intelligence revelations by the boy who cries wolf just days before May 12. But Trump’s impetuousness to celebrate blew the cover,” Zarif tweeted.
Iranian state TV said Netanyahu’s
accusations were propaganda.
“His remarks were not new… full of baseless accusations… and propaganda against Iran’s nuclear work,” state TV said.
Netanyahu spoke to Trump by telephone on Sunday and met in Tel Aviv with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Prior to the presentation, the security cabinet met.
On Monday, he spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about the cache of docume
nts and promised to send professional teams to their countries to explain the material. Netanyahu also held a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and he plans to update the British and Chinese leaders as soon as possible.
Over on Capitol Hill, response to the presentation was muted. Senator Bob Corker, the Republican from Tennessee who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who drafted the 2015 law that provides Congress with review powers over the nuclear deal, said Netanyahu revealed “nothing new” that was not known prior to the conclusion of the agreement.
The article was published on The JPost
Recunoaşterea Ierusalimului drept capitală a statului evreu ridică România din rândurile celei de 3-a Europa şi o plasează într-o sferă de influenţă şi de mediere atât între interesele americane şi Uniune, cât şi între Europa de Vest şi cea de Est.
România are şansa unică de a media cel mai spinos subiect de dialog, la ora actuală, dintre Uniunea Europeană si Statele Unite ale Americii printr-o înţelegere adecvată a provocărilor de securitate din Orientul Mijlociu, începând cu valul de proteste violente conduse de gruparea teroristă Hamas la graniţa cu Israel, şi dinamica generată de expansiunea agresivă a Rusiei în Siria, alianţa sa cu regimul de la Teheran, şi posibila retragere a trupelor americane din Siria.
Potrivit politicii externe a Uniunii, Ierusalimul, cel mai dificil subiect de negociat dintre cele 4, în urma unui acord final între cele două state, va deveni capitală atât a unui stat evreu, cât şi a unui stat palestinian.
Principiul de aur al procesului de pace de la Oslo, respectat şi mai târziu în celelalte runde de negocieri, „nimic nu este finalizat până când totul este finalizat“, respectiv cele 4 chestiuni (statutul Ierusalimului, graniţe – delimitarea unui teritoriu palestinian, refugiaţi şi securitatea statului Israel) au fost mereu luate la pachet. Această tehnică a fost utilizată cu precădere pentru a se încuraja negocierile directe, pentru a se evita unilateralismul şi internaţionalizarea conflictului prin acţiuni izolate ale celor două părţi beligerante.
Un sfert de secol mai târziu de la Oslo, cu precădere în ultimii ani, se manifestă una dintre consecinţele imediate ale eşecului comunităţii internaţionale de a facilita negocieri directe, unilateralismul palestinian, sub forma recunoaşterii statalităţii sale în forumurile internaţionale.
Recunoaşterea unui stat palestinian, potrivit cu rezoluţiile ONU 242 (1967), rezoluţia 338 (1973) si Acordurile de la Madrid şi Oslo, urma să fie rezultatul unor negocieri finale directe între cele două părţi. Cu toate acestea, în noiembrie 2012, Palestina obţine, în mod simbolic, recunoaştere prin acordarea statutului de stat observator non-membru al Naţiunilor Unite.
La rândul său, Parlamentul European în 2014 a votat o rezoluţie prin care recunoaşterea statului palestinian nu avea sa fie un rezultat al negocierilor directe cu Israel, ci în paralel cu acestea.
La fel de surprinzător, în anul 2016, iniţiativa Ministrului de Afaceri Externe francez, Laurent Fabius pentru procesul de pace include o clauză potrivit căreia, în urma celor trei ani de negocieri directe, comunitatea internaţională avea sa recunoască un stat palestinian independent de rezultatul negocierilor.
E important a se nota, prin adoptarea acestor poziţii cu privire la recunoaşterea statalităţii palestiniene în afara unui acord final cu statul evreu, parlamentele europene, şi state precum Suedia şi Slovenia în curând, sfidează în mod direct nu doar realitatea de facto dar şi politicile Înaltului Reprezentant Mogherini.
Deşi unii experţi au exprimat un grad ridicat de optimism potrivit căruia aceste „victorii“ ale Autorităţii Palestiniene pe plan intenţional vor conferi legitimitate domestică grupării din West Bank, aceasta continuă să eşueze în asumarea responsabilităţilor sale în Fâşia Gaza, unde Hamas a început vinerea aceasta a patra săptămână de atacuri şi infiltrări în Israel. Falimentul real al Autorităţii Palestiniene este cu precădere acela de a nu crea instituţii de stat care să sprijine şi educe o societate palestiniană pregătită pentru pace.
Urmărind să revigoreze procesul de pace israeliano-palestinian, Preşedintele Trump a optat pentru o strategie diferită de tradiţia negocierilor, şi anume pentru a oferi subiectului cel mai controversat, respectiv statutul Ierusalimului, o abordare treptată şi independentă de celelalte subiecte.
Urmărind modelul american, decizia de a muta ambasada romană la Ierusalim nu aduce nici un prejudiciu statului palestinian, nici o violare a principiului soluţiei celor două state, potrivit căreia Ierusalimul de Est poate fi în continuare, în urma unui acord final cu Israel, capitala unui stat palestinian. Aceasta este o recunoaştere a unei realităţi de facto, Ierusalimul a funcţionat drept capitală a statului evreu din anul 1949, centru al Knesset-ului, al Reşedinţei Prim Ministrului şi al tuturor ministerelor. Decizia nu aduce nici o modificare liniilor de armistiţiu de la 1967, deci nu stabileşte linii de demarcaţii între cele două parţi ale Ierusalimului.
În procesul de recunoaştere al Ierusalimului drept capitală a statului evreu, Preşedintele Klaus Iohannis trebuie sa coordoneze împreună cu liderul socialist Liviu Dragnea, şi diferiţi alţi decidenţi, într-o manieră care să nu aducă prejudiciu relaţiilor bilaterale cu Israel, dialogului transatlantic şi care să preconizeze un liderat eficient al Preşedinţiei Consiliului.
De altfel, „consensul european“ vine de multe ori pe coridoarele de la Justus Lipsius cu costuri mari pentru cea de-a treia Europa, în timp ce angrenajul decizional prezintă toate caracteristicile unui mamut greoi lipsit de agilitatea necesară în epoca revoluţilor digitale.
În urmă cu aproape jumătate de secol, România a luat decizia curajoasă de a sfida ordinele blocului soviet şi de a menţine relaţiile bilaterale cu statul evreu asaltat în acel moment de armatele a cinci state arabe vecine. Astăzi, României i s-a oferit încă odată oportunitatea de a lua o decizie care iese din tiparul prescripţiilor blocului comunitar şi de a-şi exprima suveranitatea prin mult aşteptata şi mult meritata recunoaştere a capitalei aliatului său Israel.
The article was published on Adevarul
Diplomatic pressure of the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs caused the EU Parliament to significantly alter the motion for resolution submitted against Israel; final resolution corresponds with Israel’s stance about Gaza and describes Hamas as a terror organization.
The European Parliament on Thursday, in an unprecedented move, condemned Hamas and called for the release of the Israeli citizens and for the retrieve of the Israeli soldiers’ bodies held by the organization.
The original motion for resolution included severe condemnation against Israel, as well as a request for investigation at the International Criminal Court of Justice in Hague, determination that the IDF didn’t use proportional force, a call to reexamine Israel’s ties in the EU and an immediate establishment of a EU investigation committee to review latest events in Gaza.
The resolution was completely altered and many provisions were added which unusually correspond with the Israeli stand regarding Gaza.
According to the resolution adopted today, Israel is still condemned for shooting Gaza’s citizens and is called to end the siege, however, the use of disproportional force was not determined. In the resolution, the European Parliament, housed in Strasbourg, France, called for an investigation, but added it will be executed by a special team assembled by its Chief of Staff.
The remaining provisions in the original notion for resolution were left out. However, the resolution calls for the immediate release of Avera Mangistu and Hisham al-Sayed and for the retrieve of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul.
The resolution also emphasizes that Hamas is a terror organization who transformed Gaza into an enclave focused on terror, withholds basic rights from its citizens, prevents the strip’s rehabilitation and continues to hinder the chance for reconciliation. It holds Hamas accountable for the assassination attempt of the Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and condemns the organization for acts of terror, rocket fire, infiltration attempts into Israel, tunnel diggings and use of citizens as human shields.
Moreover, the resolution determines that despite the Palestinians’ right to peaceful protests, the Gaza’s leaders must avoid incitement and ensure demonstrations wouldn’t be used for spreading terror.
Israel’s ambassador to the EU and NATO Aaron Lashno-Ya’ar expressed his content regarding the resolution. “Not only have we managed to extract outrageous and anti-Israeli elements from the resolution, but Hamas is also being criticized. The most important element for us is the explicit call for an immediate release of the Israeli citizen and the soldier’s bodies from Gaza.”
“The latter is a matter we continually raise to discussion with European bodies. It’s important that finally, for the first time, the European Parliament released a clear and unequivocal resolution regarding this matter,” he added.
Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee of the European Parliament Andres Wistesen said in a message to the press that he welcomes the decision, reiterating the parliament’s stance that that “Hamas is a terror organization” and called for the release of the Israeli citizens and return of the bodies held by it.
“Despite the resolution is not without flaws and that leftists continue in their struggle to blur the reality in Gaza, I’m pleased that the parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists group tirelessly acts to make the voice of reason heard,” added Wistesen, taking the opportunity to congratulate Israel on its 70th Independence Day.
The article was published on Ynet
Barcelona’s City Council is directly sponsoring the delegitimisation of the State of Israel in a BDS event featuring calls for the extinction of Israel.
‘Roger Waters hates Israel’ is hardly front-page news. The Pink Floyd musician has been at the forefront of efforts to delegitimize Israel and trying to pressure other musicians to do so. But when Barcelona City Hall throws it weight behind his BDS efforts and anti-Israel rhetoric, it is cause for serious concern.
Tonight a pro-BDS event is happening in Barcelona, where Mr Waters will speak, and where BDS are being given an unprecedented platform under the tacit endorsement of Barcelona City Council. As we write we are actively engaged in getting to the bottom of how this central organ of the city’s government allowed its name to be associated with a vile, anti-Semitic movement that denies Israel’s right to exist (see map picturing Israel’s annihilation) and stands against peace and the two-state solution.
You can help us. Please Register your dissatisfaction with City hall HERE
Gaza rioters prepare for additional mass protest this coming Friday, look for ways to neutralize IDF forces on the border.
Arab rioters in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip amassed materials along the border with Israel this week in preparation for yet another confrontation with Israeli security forces on the frontier, planned for this coming Friday.
Last Friday, some 30,000 rioters gathered at the Israeli border, kicking off six weeks of protests against the State of Israel and President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem.
The protests will culminate in a mass demonstration on May 15th, the day after Israel’s 70th Independence Day and the scheduled opening of the new US embassy.
Rioters hurled firebombs at Israeli security forces along the Gaza border, Friday, with thousands of demonstrators attempting to scale the security fence and enter Israel.
IDF sharpshooters opened fire on rioters attempting to enter Israeli territory, as well as terrorists hurling firebombs, as well as two gunmen.
Hospital officials in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip claimed that 17 people were killed by IDF fire, and more than 1,400 wounded by live-fire – a claim the IDF spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis disputed. Israeli officials noted that 10 of those killed on the border were members of the Hamas terror group.
The United Nations has demanded an “independent and transparent investigation” into Israel’s actions during the riots. Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, have rejected the UN’s position, arguing that Israel’s right to self-defense justified the IDF’s response.
“Israeli soldiers did what was necessary. I think all our soldiers deserve a medal,” Liberman told Army Radio Sunday. “As for a commission of inquiry – there won’t be one.”
Since last Friday’s riots, organizers have amassed stockpiles of material for the next mass confrontation.
While hundreds of rioters continue to protest along the border, Friday’s riots are expected to again draw thousands to the security fence on the Israel-Gaza frontier.
Along with firebombs and rocks, organizers of the protests have stockpiled tires, to be set on fire and hurled at the security fence.
Protesters are also exploring ways of neutralizing Israeli security forces on the border, including the use of mirrors to reflect sunlight into the eyes of IDF snipers.
According to a report by Israel Hayom, protest organizers are also looking to open a new front against IDF efforts to defend Israel from the rioters by pursuing charges against Israeli personnel in international courts.
The article was published on Arutz 7
President Reuven Rivlin meets German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who says: Our countries have very special ties.
“We always appreciate and remember the deep commitment of the German government to Israel and the Jewish people,” Rivlin told his guest.
Maas thanked the President for the warm welcome and added, “Our countries have very special ties and I want to clarify this at the beginning of my term. As Minister of Justice, I visited Israel many times and shared joint initiatives with my colleague Ayelet Shaked.”
The Minister continued, “I was very pleased to accept our embassy’s invitation to take part in Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations. Germany has a genuine desire to take part in and assist in all the major issues that plague the world, and part of the reason for my visit is the desire to know what is bothering the citizens of Israel.”
The President and the Minister discussed at length the expansion of the Iranian threat in the region and the various possibilities available to the free world to respond to this threat. The President reiterated that the State of Israel would not accept a reality of an Iranian presence on its border and that the regional armament led by Iran places the entire region under real danger.
Maas made it clear that Germany would not accept Iran’s position calling for the destruction of the State of Israel and that Germany would not accept the existence of an Iranian nuclear program. The Minister stressed that the State of Israel’s concerns are taken seriously and responsibly in the face of the existing threats.
Germany has several times in the past taken a harsh stance regarding Iran’s treatment of Israel.
The previous German Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said in 2016 that Iran could only have normal, friendly relations with Germany when it accepted the right of Israel to exist.
Following those remarks, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani both cancelled meetings with Gabriel.
Gabriel made similar remarks during a previous visit to Iran, when he said that “questioning [Israel’s] right to existence is something that we Germans cannot accept.”
The article was published on Arutz 7
The US online payment service PayPal on Thursday pulled the plug on the account of the French branch of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) – an organization that Israel has accused of aligning itself with pro-Palestinian terrorists who murdered three civilians in Tel Aviv in 2003 and injured over 50 people.
Israeli journalist Jean Patrick Grumberg, a reporter for the French-language American website Dreuz.info, notified PayPal that ISM-France supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. PayPal has terminated a total of four BDS accountssince 2016 in France due to likely violations of France’s anti-discrimination law barring bias against national origin.
When The Jerusalem Post attempted to access the donation PayPal section of the ISM-France website, the page stated: “This recipient is currently unable to receive money.”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on its website that the 2003 attack at the entrance to the Tel Aviv bar Mike’s Place was claimed by Hamas and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. According to the ministry, two British “terrorists were careful to establish their presence in Judea and Samaria by forging links with foreign left wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).”
The foreign ministry added that “ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their activity in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations. Foreign left-wing activists, especially ISM members, who seek entry into Israel, often do so under false pretenses, via cover stories – entry for matrimonial, tourist, religious and other purposes – which they coordinate prior to arriving in Israel.”
PayPal shuttered the account of the BDS entity Collectif 69 Palestine in March. In February, PayPal severed its business service with the BDS organization French Union for Peace (UJFP). In January, PayPal closed the account of the France-Palestine Solidarity Association .
The Jerusalem Post initiated an investigative series in 2016 into the funding streams of BDS organizations and the connections between BDS and terrorist entities. PayPal shut the account of BDS France in 2016.
The France Palestine Solidarity Association (AFPS) Executive Board issued a rambling statement on March 19, stating: “In lending a complacent ear to such mudslinging and to the lackeys that sling it; in closing accounts without even conferring with its customers; in leaving our requests for explanation and reparations unanswered; and by (in all likelihood) ‘leaking’ information that feeds propaganda and misinformation about our organizations, PayPal is manifestly on the side of the oppressors who flout international law, oppress the Palestinian people, and threaten freedom of speech around the world.”
France’s Lellouche Law, which outlaws discrimination based on national origin, has been applied to BDS organizations and activists.
The AFPS claims there is no law in France that bars a boycott of a foreign state.
Banks in France, Germany, Ireland, Austria and the United States have terminated scores of BDS accounts since 2016 because of the boycott campaign.
NGOs have been found to have connections to terrorism, spread antisemitism, or violate anti-hate and anti-bias laws and executive orders.
The Germany-based Bank for Social Economy is currently under fire from two organizations – Munich Citizens Against Antisemitism and Israel Hatred and the pro-Israel group Action Forum – for hosting four BDS accounts.
This article was published on The JPost
French driver and Palestinian guard employed by the consulate in east Jerusalem arrested on suspicion of using a vehicle with diplomatic plates to transfer weapons from Hamas in Gaza to the West Bank.
Two employees of the French Consulate in east Jerusalem—a driver and his security guard—were arrested by Israeli authorities last month on suspicion of using a vehicle with diplomatic plates to smuggle weapons from Hamas in Gaza to the West Bank, the Shin Bet said Monday.
The consulate’s driver, Romain Franck, a French national, is suspected of using his diplomatic vehicle to transport some 70 handguns and two assault rifles.
A Palestinian guard employed by French authorities, a resident of east Jerusalem, was also arrested in the case, as well as several Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were staying in the West Bank illegally.
Franck was part of a Palestinian network in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and east Jerusalem that smuggled weapons from Gaza to the West Bank through the Erez border crossing.
The French driver smuggled arms on several occasions over the past few months, while taking advantage of his diplomatic vehicle, which was subject to less stringent security checks at the crossing.
Franck received the weapons from a Palestinian resident of Gaza who works for the “French culture center” in the strip. Franck then took the arms to a Palestinian man in the West Bank, who in turn sold them to arms dealers.
The investigation found that Franck had a financial motive and was acting of his own volition and unbeknown to his superiors. The investigation also found that several of the Palestinians arrested in the case were also involved in the smuggling of money from Gaza to the West Bank.
The investigation was carried out in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and while keeping French authorities constantly updated.
A total of nine suspects have been arrested in the case so far. Indictments will be filed against six of them on Monday.
The French embassy in Israel said on Monday it was cooperating with Israel in the investigation. “We take very seriously this case … and we work very closely with the Israeli authorities on this matter,” said an embassy spokesman, who declined to comment further on the allegations against the staffer, a French citizen.
According to his Facebook page, Franck, who is from Lambersart in the north of France, arrived in Jerusalem in January 2017. “It’s the big day, starting to a new adventure.. Thank you for everything that accompanied me and supported in this new experience that begins!” he wrote at the time.
Later he posted many photos from the region, including from Petra and Aqaba in Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and the Jordan Valley.
An Israeli official called the incident “very grave,” but clarified it would not affect Israel’s ties with France. “We thank French authorities for the cooperation,” he said.
A senior Shin Bet official decried the “cynical exploitation of the immunity and privileges granted to foreign representatives in Israel to smuggle weapons… that could be used in terror attacks against Israeli citizens and security forces.”
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, also slammed the “cynical and never-ending exploitation of humanitarian aid and international aid by the terrorist infrastructure.”
“This event only clarifies the need for a strict policy on granting (entry) permits,” he continued. “International bodies are required to carry out internal inspections to ensure aid goes to the residents of Gaza and not to terror.”
French lawmaker Meyer Habib, who represents French nationals living in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, said, “Unfortunately, this isn’t the first problematic affair the French Consulate in Jerusalem has been involved in. And even if only junior staff were involved, there is a feeling, unfortunately, that the consulate has actually become the French Embassy to the Palestinian Authority.”
The article was published on Ynet
No, Mr. Barghouti – BDS is not a matter of freedom of speech, not when your misrepresentation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict imposes upon my social consciousness by demanding me to undertake actions that adhere to a set of lies, and ultimately boycott peace.
BDS leader Omar Barghouti was offered a platform at the European Parliament for the first time last Wednesday at an event organised by an S&D MEP Ana Gomes, despite protests from the S&D leadership who eventually distanced themselves publicly by ordering EP security forces, shortly into the panel, to enter the room and take down the socialist banner.
Seasoned politician, widely respected among her peers for her opinionated positions, MEP Ana Gomes has built for herself a reputation of a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause. While it is commendable for any politician to be consistent with one’s beliefs, MEP Ana Gomes exercised her hosting duties in a disquieting contradiction with her socialist values and her self-proclaimed “love for her Jewish friends” by calling “the Israeli settlements the real cancer of the international community”, while barely finding the strength to utter the word “Israel” by the end of the panel.
She was adamant to underline that as a result of “a very perverse lobbying” the Palestinian issue has not been discussed “that much”, however, she is happy to have overcome “the intimidating tactics” and “lies that misconstrue” that sought to prevent her from holding this event.
Leaving aside the inaccuracy of ascribing, yet again, everything that is wrong in the world to Israel, the use of such divisive language that resembles more of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” by an elected member of the House, though even by the looks of it an isolated one, should not be waved off as “misspeaking”. MEP Ana Gomez must be exhibiting forms of selective memory, since she expressed herself discontent on the recent visit to Iran, noting that “human rights questions were evaded by their counterparts”. How many times can one “misattribute” the word “cancer” to Israel during a one-sided panel that calls for boycotts of Israel; apparently, for this member of the House at least a dozen.
Europe Israel Public Affairs, where I head the Public Affairs department, has been part of the “perverse lobbying” MEP Ana Gomez was referring to by openly calling on the political leadership of the House not to give credibility to a voice that has gone on record, all the while yet again yesterday opposing EU policy on a number of issues, including the two-state solution.
Oddly enough, the only reason why Mr. Barghouti, now a charismatic leader with a poised demeanour, was in the position to deliver a message in the European House was because his alma mater, Tel Aviv University, has protected his freedom of speech and education, and awarded him a degree.
Mr. Barghouti addressed some of the questions raised by a couple of pro-Israel voices by clarifying from the start that he does not respond to questions that he finds demeaning to the debate on account of their personal nature.
As much as Mr. Barghouti enjoys taking the higher moral ground by claiming to embody the struggle for Palestinian self-determination, he knows very well that politics are personal, and his appeal to grassroots followers is a proof of his ability of making politics personal.
Ultimately, it is more convenient for the BDS agenda to complain to the international forums that do not hold them accountable than to put the Palestinian house in order.
Mr. Barghouti, your bid for boycotts of Israel, from the sanctity this House confers, is personal when you urge me to adopt a reductive narrative that focuses exclusively on the settlements, a misrepresentation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, withholding facts, denying Israel’s legitimacy and creating bias.
Mr. Barghouti, you are making it personal when I enter my supermarket in Belgium, and a BDS sticker placed on a product tells me that the only way I can express solidarity with the Palestinians is by boycotting the one partner they need to achieve peace.
Mr. Barghouti, it is personal when you ask me to defer my intellectual integrity by boycotting an agreement or academic exchange with the Hebrew University for the sake of a movement that does not even support the two-state solution.
Mr. Barghouti, your politics are personal as they seek to corrupt my very own freedom of choice and my integrity with lies.
And this is what the EU institutions and the EU leadership refuse to acknowledge – the expression of calls for boycotts fails to be protected under the freedom of speech and association the moment it starts to pre-condition the European citizen through a series of misrepresentations or lies to undertake an action that is not an expression of his/her freedom of choice as a consumer but that of propaganda.
Mrs. Ana Gomes, why does Mr. Barghouti’s freedom of speech have to come at the expense of my freedom of choice?
Teodora Coptil is a consultant specializing in the EU’s policy for the MENA region and head of institutional relations at Europe Israel Public Affairs, a Brussels-based NGO advocating for a strategic EU-Israel bilateral relation and accountability of EU aid going to the Palestinian Authority.
Resident of Gaza crosses border after being shot by Hamas forces, IDF treats him. ‘Israel cares more for Palestinian life than Hamas does.’
A Palestinian Arab resident of the Gaza Strip crossed into Israel yesterday, Wednesday, after being shot by Hamas forces patrolling the border. Upon entering Israeli territory, he was treated by IDF soldiers.
COGAT (“Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories”) head Yoav Mordechai uploaded a post about the incident, addressing Gaza residents on COGAT’s Arabic Facebook page.
“Nothing simpler: a Palestinian passed the security fence from the Gaza strip into Israel today after Hamas forces shot him. IDF soldiers helped him – this is a purely humanitarian issue.
“The State of Israel and its army care for Palestinian life more than Hamas does, and this is the issue.
“The more you internalize it, people of Gaza, you will understand that Hamas has nothing to offer. You deserve more!”
On that note, Mordechai said, “It is time to remind you of an important fact, that two Israeli soldiers [Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul] and Israeli citizens held in the Gaza strip are also a humanitarian issue of paramount importance!”
The Alticle was published on Arutz 7
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, brandished a piece of the Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle that Israel downed a week ago after it entered Israel’s airspace and warned Iran “not to test Israel’s resolve.”
Israel, Netanyahu said at the conference that was attended by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, “will act not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”
Zarif, who addressed the conference later in the day, dismissed Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response.”
Netanyahu, who said Zarif “lies with eloquence,” warned the conference participants that Zarif will “brazenly deny Iran’s nefarious involvement in Syria.”
“Iran also denies that it committed an act of aggression against Israel last week, that it sent a drone into our airspace to threaten our people,” Netanyahu said, pulling out the Iranian prop from behind the podium and holding it high up with one hand.
“Well, here’s a piece of that Iranian drone, or what’s left of it after we shot it down. I brought it here so you can see for yourself. Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should. It’s yours.”
Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister to have ever addressed this prestigious conference, and the overwhelming majority of his 15-minute speech and 15 minutes of Q and A, dealt with Iran.
With former US secretary of state John Kerry, one of the key architects of the Iranian nuclear deal, sitting in the front row, Netanyahu ripped into the accord as he has done many times in the past, saying that the inspection regimen is completely insufficient, and that when the sun sets on the agreement in some 10 years’ time, the Iranians will have an “open highway” to build not only one nuclear device, but an entire nuclear arsenal.
To have nuclear weapons, Netanyahu said, “you need a gun, bullets, and gunpowder.”
The gun is the ballistic missiles that the Iranians are developing, unchecked by the nuclear deal and undeterred by UN Security Council resolutions, he said.
“They should be stopped and slammed with the most crippling sanctions to prevent them from continuing the development of these [nuclear] delivery systems, these guns,” he said.
Furthermore, the Iranians are hiding the “casings for the bullets” in military sites, which the nuclear deal has placed out of bounds to inspectors, he said.
And the third element – the gunpowder – is the enriched uranium, “which is the toughest thing to make for a nuclear weapon, because it is the most difficult to manufacture, requires big plants and precision engineering.” When the sun sets on the agreement, he said, Iran will be given “free rein to enrich uranium without limitations.”
Lifting Iran’s limitations on uranium enrichment should not be linked to a calendar, Netanyahu said, but rather to Iran’s behavior, which as a result of the deal has gotten worse and more aggressive in the region, not better.
Netanyahu predicted that the Iranians would “do nothing” if the nuclear deal is not either “fixed or nixed.”
FURTHERMORE, he said, the countries of the world would have to decide whether they prefer dealing with the US or with Iran, which – despite the fact that it has some 80 million people as compared to Israel’s 8.5 million – has an economy about the size of Israel’s.
“I think the time to stop them is now,” he said.
Netanyahu said that Iran, through nefarious moves in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, is trying to change the status quo in the region.
If they do change the status quo, he said, the rule he will follow is one established by the early Zionists when dealing with problems: “They said nip things in the bud, stop them before they get big. That’s basically what our policy is.”
Netanyahu also conveyed a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad, stressing that Israel’s decision to stay out of the Syrian civil war for the last six years, except to grant humanitarian aid to thousands of Syrians in Israeli hospitals, could change.
Assad understands that if he invites Iran to entrench itself militarily inside his country, he is challenging Israel, he said. “If Mr. Assad invites Iran in militarily, that changes our position. So that is up to Iran and to Mr. Assad.”
Zarif, in addition to dismissing Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus,” said the recent shooting down of an Israeli F16 after it bombed an Iranian site in Syria had shattered Israel’s “so-called invincibility.”
“Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors,” Zarif said, accusing Israel of “mass reprisals against its neighbors and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon.”
“Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes, it’s as if a disaster has happened,” Zarif said.
“What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility [of Israel] has crumbled.”
He accused the United States of using the conference to “revive hysteria” against Iran and denied that Tehran was seeking “hegemony” in the Middle East.
Zarif also poked at Netanyahu for his legal problems, saying, “Israel’s major problems are its years-long criminal occupation policies, and I’m not even talking about its corruption.”
Kerry, meanwhile, said at the conference that it was wrong to assume that Iran would obtain a nuclear weapon as soon as the scope of the deal ends.
“If your house is on fire, are you going to refuse to put it out because you are concerned it will light on fire again in 15 years? Or are you going to put it out and use the intervening time to prevent to ever catching fire again?” he asked.
Before addressing the conference, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, visited a memorial to the 11 Israeli Olympic athletes killed in Munich in 1972.
“There is [a] special meaning to the fact that we are standing at the place where 11 of our athletes were murdered just because they were Jews and Israelis. Millions were slaughtered here just because they were Jews,” he said. “The great difference is that we have a state and this state has acted, and is acting today, against terrorism and those who would destroy us.”
Netanyahu then led the members of his delegation in singing “Hatikva.”
The Article was published on The JPost
One year after the State of Israel introduced a law that required supermarkets to charge customers for the use of plastic bags use of the bags has dropped by 80 per cent, and bag waste found in the sea has halved, according to government sources. Such a rewarding news for UN Environment’s EU-funded SwitchMed project and its Israeli partners who have contributed to this success.
Big supermarkets must charge their customers at least 0.10 Israeli new shekels (about $US 0.03) for each bag, and must show the cost of the bags on the customer’s bill. Additionally, supermarkets must report the number of bags distributed to the Government, and proceeds of the sale go to the government to fund projects to cut air pollution throughout the country.
The law comes in part as a result of UN Environment’s SwitchMed’s work with the country to set up a National Action Plan on sustainable consumption and production.
A two-day policy workshop run by UN Environment’s EU-funded SwitchMed project entitled “Policy Tools for Circular Economy” held in Jerusalem in 2014 highlighted facilitated the formulation of the legislation by highlighting the lessons learnt from similar laws internationally.
Israel’s Minister of Environmental Protection, MK Zeev Elkin, highlighted how successful the law has been by international standards. “We see 80 per cent reduction in plastic bags consumption in less than a year,” he said. “This is a success even in worldwide standards. For comparison, an 80 per cent reduction rate in the use of disposable bags at large retailers is the European Union’s target for 2020, for which five years of deployment have been given. I am proud of the Israeli public that understands the importance of reducing plastic bags waste and changed its behaviour so rapidly”.
The SwitchMed sustainable consumption and production programme aims to promote a switch by the Mediterranean economies towards sustainable consumption and production patterns and green economy, including low-emission development, through demonstration and dissemination of methods that improve resource and energy efficiency. It also seeks to minimise the environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of products and services and, where possible, to promote renewable energy.
The article was published at the EU Neighborhood Centre website
Cape Town 2018 is what happens when a city is more concerned about politics than people. Cape Town 2018 is what happens when national government wants to demonstrate to local government who is boss. Cape Town 2018 is what happens when local government is not equipped to deal with a real crisis. And Cape Town 2018 is what happens when communication falls apart to the point that the noise is so deafening, that no message can be heard.
Cape Town 2018 is also what happens when relevant lifesaving solutions are discarded because of BDS and anti-Semitism.
Cape Town is set to be the first major city to run out of water. The city is experiencing its worst drought in history. Residents are being asked to utilize less than 50 liters (13 gallons) per day and it is unlikely that it will avoid “Day Zero.” The day the taps run dry. It is unimaginable what contingencies can be put in place to deal with the series of events that will follow this day.
We all have that friend. Mine often sends me a WhatsApp simply saying “ITYS!” At first, I had no idea what he meant, until I realized he was saying “I told you so” (but was too busy to type out the sentence). It’s annoying and frustrating and infuriating. Especially when he is right. And maybe sometimes it’s not bad to hear it.
There is no satisfaction in the fact the residents of Cape Town are on the brink of a humanitarian crisis that could have and should have been avoided. Even if we saw it coming.
February 18, 2016, I wrote a blogpost for The Times Of Israel. The column was an angry one and followed the “success” of BDS when they managed to scupper the Mail & Guardian Water Conference. They did so because Israel was on the panel. And they were thrilled to have cancelled it. It was a feather in their bow. It was a gold medal in their media war against the Jewish state and they couldn’t wait to share their good tidings with anyone who would listen.
In the article I said as follows:
“Amidst one of the worst droughts in Southern Africa’s living memory, a water conference was to be hosted by the Mail & Guardian Africa. On the list of delegates was Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk. During his assignment to the country, Lenk has spent considerable effort in educating and assisting the region whenever possible.
“As a result of Israel’s participation, as well as the entrance fee, another delegate, Prof Lorenzo Fioramonti of the University of Pretoria, withdrew his participation. And although the conference was still set to go ahead, it has subsequently been canned. Needless to say promises of rescheduling have been made, but there is little chance of getting the whole program together on a new date.
“Radio Islam in South Africa celebrated the announcement by interviewing a Prof Patrick Bond, who stuck very closely to the hater’s handbook. Apparently what Israel has achieved in this area can be done by any child and all that Israel has done is practice “Water Apartheid” and steal Palestinian water. That is hardly an achievement at all. He spoke with authority and played to his interviewer who had as much interest in the plight of the local Africans as did the professor. His narrative dripped with hatred and the thin veneer of pretense of academic objectivity did little to mask his agenda. A lesson that the prof might learn is that just by conceding something positive about Israel’s achievement, he would have made the rest of his fiction more believable. He of course made no mention of desalination or the fact that Israeli cities recycle around 85% of their water. Nor did he mention any other achievement in Israel that has changed the ecology of the country for the better.
“The fact that Southern Africa is experiencing one of the worst droughts in living memory, and that the situation is critical, is not a concern for those who hate Israel. And this comes as no shock to those familiar with BDS standard operating procedure. What does come as a shock is the celebration and joy of the BDS at the cancellation of a conference designed for one purpose in might. To assist the suffering of the African people. And if that doesn’t send a message, then I don’t know what does.”
Former Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Arthur Lenk, current Ambassador Lior Keinan, and Israel’s economic attaches to South Africa have all made repeated overtures to the relevant bodies to assist with the Cape Town water crisis. Although they have not been formally rejected, no one has engaged on any real level.
Lord Peter Hein, known to South Africans for his fight against corruption, recently tweeted as follows: “The best desalination construction companies are Israeli and regardless of their government policies, they should be in my view; this is Cape Town withering or remaining the most beautiful city in the world.”
The people of Cape Town deserve better. They are facing a probable total collapse of their economy, infrastructure and daily life. They don’t deserve to be denied solutions because of a group of BDS supporters who have intimidated weak politicians into submission.
No one wants to say ITYS.
The Article was published on The Times of Israel
ATHENS, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) — Greek leaders and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin who started a three-day visit to Greece on Monday, called for steps to promote peace and security in the wider region.
“We seek to restore peace in the Middle East and combat the terrorist barbarity of ISIS which commits crimes against humanity. We seek and support a fair and sustainable solution to the Palestinian issue, which will ensure peace and security for both peoples,” Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos said receiving Rivlin at the presidential mansion in Athens.
“The entire world, all countries, should realize that we should say enough with wars. We have already been through two World Wars. Enough with conflicts. We must find a solution for security. We must find a solution based on respect and security,” the Israeli leader said on his part during their meeting which was broadcast on Greek national broadcaster ERT.
Both sides reiterated their commitment to strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation in many fields, from the economy and energy to security, despite diverging views on some issues.
The Greek president stressed that Greece is aligned with the EU position on the Jerusalem issue and with the implementation of the rules of international law, according to an e-mailed press statement released by the Greek presidency.
During their meeting, both leaders also sent a strong message against the revival of fascism and Nazism and the construction of a Holocaust museum in the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
On Tuesday, Rivlin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will attend a ceremony during which the foundation stone for the museum will be laid.
During their meeting at the Greek prime minister’s office on Monday, Tsipras noted that it was homage to the Greek Jewish community which suffered greatly during WWII.
Regarding the present, the Greek prime minister stressed that the region is facing great challenges.
“We have to take bold steps to promote peace and stability,” he stressed.
The piece was published on the Xinhua Net
It looks like the EU is anxious to try and fill the US’ role as a peace mediator. From the EU External Action website:
Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini have decided to convene an extraordinary session of the international donor group for Palestine, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC).
There is an urgent need to bring all parties together to discuss measures to speed up efforts that can underpin a negotiated two-state solution.
Furthermore it is necessary to enable the Palestinian Authority to execute full control over Gaza, based on the Cairo agreement from 12 October 2017.
The meeting will be held in Brussels on 31 January 2018 at Ministerial level, hosted by the European Union and chaired by Norway.
The impression one gets from this is not that the EU particularly expects to gain any more traction towards peace than it has in the past 69 years. Instead, it feels like the EU sees an apparent vacuum created by the US — and wants to fill that vacuum by giving Palestinians more money, and by tacitly agreeing with them that Jerusalem belongs to them as a basis for negotiations.
In this case, peace isn’t the goal. In reality, the EU is using the conflict to make itself look more relevant.
Because if the EU wanted peace, taking Jerusalem off the table and admitting that the city is Jewish is the single most effective move that the EU could make towards pushing Palestinians to compromise — rather than insisting on acting like a victor that can impose its terms on the region.
The Article was Published on The Algemeiner
The victim had several wounds to his neck and upper body, and was taken to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where doctors pronounced his death.
A resident of the Havat Gilad outpost in central Samaria was killed on Tuesday night close to his home, in a drive-by shooting attack on Route 60.
Rabbi Raziel Shevach, 35, a mohel, was married with six children, four daughters and two sons, ages 11 to eight months.
Shortly after 8 p.m., Magen David Adom received a report of the shooting and dispatched paramedics and an MDA team to the site of the attack. The victim had several wounds to his neck and upper body from a reported spray of 22 bullets, and was taken to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba.
The hospital said Shevach arrived without a pulse, was not breathing and showed no signs of life. Despite the efforts of the medical team, he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at the hospital.
MDA paramedic Elyashiv Reichenberg, one of the first at the scene, said he was dispatched from nearby Kedumim.
“I saw a private vehicle at the side of the road close to the safety barrier which had been shot; the driver… was in the driver’s seat and semi-conscious with gunfire wounds to the upper body,” said Reichenberg.
“Civilians who live in the [Havat Gilad] settlement and heard the gunfire came to help, while the IDF medical assistance team, which also arrived at the site, gave him life-saving medical treatment and he was taken to hospital in serious condition.”
Channel 1 played a tape of a man, apparently in shock, calling police immediately after the attack saying, “They shot me, they shot me.”
Route 60 was closed following the incident and IDF units began searching the area for the attackers.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi), who lives in Kedumim, was on Route 60 at the time of the shooting, and stopped and got out of his car to help at the site of the attack.
“Jewish blood is not cheap,” Smotrich declared following the incident. “This is an intolerable situation, when a subhuman comes to sow destruction,” he said, and called on Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to instruct the security services “to act with an iron fist” and to “clarify to the Palestinians that for every action like this they will pay a high price.”
Hananel Dorani, chairman of the Yesha Council, which represents Israeli settlements in the West Bank, said following the attack that “full and direct responsibility lies with the Palestinian Authority, which gives life to this terrorism and pays terrorists.”
Zionist Camp chairman Avi Gabbay had strong words for the terrorist.
“Rest assured that the security forces will catch the abominable terrorists and their agents. Wherever it is, terrorism will not achieve its goals and we will not surrender to it.”
Hamas issued a statement late Tuesday night praising the attack. “We bless the heroic Nablus operation which comes as a result of the Zionist occupation’s violations and crimes at the expense of our people in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”
The article was published on The JPost
Will Netanyahu come in like a lion and leave like a lamb?
They say that March, the third month of the year, comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.
This is the third New Year’s Day for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since his election to his fourth term as prime minister in March 2015. The year ahead for Netanyahu is expected to come in like a lion, continue like a lion, and go out like a lion.
The developments that will make this year particularly ferocious for the prime minister include the criminal investigations of Netanyahu and his wife Sara, controversial legislation in the Knesset, and diplomatic developments set to be advanced in the year ahead by US President Donald Trump.
Perhaps such challenges would be less problematic for Netanyahu if he still had capable former coalition chairman David Bitan at his side. But Bitan has been neutralized by his own criminal investigations, in which he is set to be questioned by police a dizzying three times this week.
Bitan’s replacement David Amsalem is as despised in the Knesset corridors as Bitan is beloved. His ability to defend Netanyahu from his powerful and sensitive post will be hindered by his lack of grace, charisma, and ability to work well with people of differing views.
After yet another delay, the police are expected to recommend in March to indict Netanyahu for breach of trust and perhaps bribery in Case 1000, the “Gifts Affair,” and Case 2000, the “Newspaper Collusion Scandal.”
As Netanyahu and his associates constantly remind people, the police recommendations have no legal significance. Only Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit will decide Netanyahu’s fate, and if the police do not ask for more time, that will happen sometime by the end of 2018.
But when the police recommendations are leaked to the press, there will be tremendous pressure on Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to remove his Kulanu party from the coalition, as Ehud Barak threatened to do with his Labor Party when police recommended indicting Ehud Olmert.
Chances are that Kahlon will stay, and Netanyahu will succeed in passing up David Ben-Gurion to become the country’s longest-serving prime minister on September 23, 2018.
But there is always a chance that Netanyahu himself could initiate an election before then if he decides it would serve him tactically.
What could throw everything off is if the police decide at any given point to declare Netanyahu a suspect in the much more serious Submarine Affair, Case 3000. With all due respect to newspapers and cigars, if Netanyahu traded Israel’s national security for money for his confidant, that would blow the other two cases out of the water.
The Jerusalem Post’s legal correspondent Yonah Jeremy Bob reported on Friday that the Police Recommendations Law, which passed last week, is completely unclear about whether the police could issue recommendations about Netanyahu in Case 3000.
There are also investigations of Netanyahu’s wife Sara for alleged misuse of public funds, which could either make the political year even more intense or perhaps calm it down if she becomes the legal scapegoat who gets thrown in the fire while her husband is cleared of charges.
While the focus all year will remain on the probes, there will be controversial legislation in the Knesset almost every week when the parliament is in session. The most problematic politically for Netanyahu will be over matters of religion and state, where his coalition is especially divided.
But there will also be bills that will change how political campaigns are financed, the role of deputy ministers, and whether land in Jerusalem can be relinquished in a diplomatic agreement. And that’s just in the Knesset.
The Likud central committee and other party institutions will also be making decisions that could tie Netanyahu’s hands before talks with the Palestinians could potentially begin.
While the Palestinians are currently saying they will not negotiate with Israel as long as Trump is president and the US is the mediator, they will come under tremendous pressure to back down from the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and his American counterpart, Jared Kushner.
“Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime – I see a real hope for change,” Netanyahu said himself when Trump came to his residence in Jerusalem.
If that happens, perhaps Netanyahu’s coalition could be unraveled from the Right or from within the Likud.
But then again, maybe Netanyahu will be able to tame all those potential lions and march into 2019 politically unscathed.
If that happens, he will definitely have what to celebrate a year from now.
The article was written by Gil Hoffman and was published on The JPost
Norway are following in the footsteps of their southern Scandinavian neighbor, Denmark.
Norway became the second Scandinavian country in a week to announce limits on funding anti-Israel non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Monday, following in the footsteps of southern neighbor Denmark.
“Boycott creates distance, while the Norwegian government believes in dialogue and cooperation to create mutual trust as part of the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said a Norwegian government statement.
“This decision is another expression of the Norwegian government’s consistent opposition to boycotts against the State of Israel.”
The Norwegian announcement reflects the country’s 2018 governmental policy that refuses to support organizations promoting boycotts of Israel.
On Friday, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced that Copenhagen will cut back on support for Palestinian NGOs and introduce “rigorous” monitoring of the destination of Danish funds.
“Denmark supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I am sure it will strengthen the work that we will focus on Danish assistance in the future, so we are absolutely sure that the money is being used for the right purposes,” said Samuelsen.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan praised the Norwegian announcement, describing it as a “further, critical step in damaging the pro-boycott organizations” and added that his ministry will continue to act to expose European funding of Palestinian organizations that delegitimize the State of Israel.
“The Domino effect continues… Norway won’t be the last,” Erdan wrote on Twitter.
According to Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, a large portion of European aid granted to Palestinian NGOs is distributed through the Norwegian Refugee Council. Norway and Sweden are described as the most transparent European countries.
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ statistics reveal that Norway distributed over $68m. of development aid to Palestinian groups in 2016.
The article was published on the JPost
Europe Israel Public Affairs applauds the decision of US President Donald Trump to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
The move comes after more than two decades after the adoption by the US Congress of Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Every 6 months the sitting American President would sign a waiver from that bill.
President Trump opened his historical address stating “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done”
Czech Republic followed suit becoming the first EU country to break the bloc of Member States and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
EIPA Director Alex Benjamin observed that despite differences between EU and Israel over the 1967 imposed borders, and most vehemently over the settlements issue, more EU countries should consider acknowledging the de facto status of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. “We fail to see the reasons for High Representative Federica Mogherini ‘serious concerns’. The US announcement does not prejudge nor impose borders for Jerusalem, which are still subject to final status talks. It merely reflects the historical accuracy of the last five decades, during which Jerusalem functioned as Israel’s capital.”
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, EIPA Founder added “Historical evidence attests our Jewish presence in Jerusalem dating way back to 3000 years ago. Jerusalem has always been our home. It is about time state leaders catch up with history and acknowledge this indisputable fact.”
A cross party group of 60 Members of the European Parliament have urged the EU’s Foreign Affairs Chief, Federica Mogherini to marginalize, both financially and politically organizations such as BDS (Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment) that are increasingly becoming a virulent source in the spread of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism under the pretense of exercising freedom of speech and association.
The unprecedented initiative, spearheaded by representatives of the four major political groups, MEP Cristian DAN PREDA, MEP Ioan Mircea Pascu (S&D, Romania) and a Vice-President of the European Parliament, MEP Petras Austrevicius (ALDE, Lithuania), MEP Arne Gericke (ECR, Germany) “calls upon ensuring that no public funds go to organizations calling for a boycott of the State of Israel, and to instruct agencies not to engage with companies, organizations or other entities involved with the BDS movement”.
MEP Cristian DAN PREDA, foreign affairs coordinator for the largest political group, the European People’s Party, and co-initiator of the letter underlined his party’s opposition to calls for the suspension of the bilateral agreements with Israel as some of his extreme left wing colleagues echo directly from the BDS playbook. “It’s in the interest of this House, and of our citizens, to see an upgrade in the partnership agreement with Israel. We should not allow the current stalemate in the peace process to dictate the terms of our relationship with Israel.”
Swedish MEP and President of EIPA’S political Board Lars Adaktusson – a co- signatory – underlined that “the Union, and the Parliament, is in danger of being deemed irrelevant as a peace broker if it fails to address the incitement on its own soil against Israel.”
Vice President of the European Parliament, Ioan Mircea Pascu concluded that “boycotting strategic ties with Israel, a leader in the intelligence and defence international community, may prove counterproductive to the common security interests of both EU and Israel”.
The 60 signatories, among which are Chair of Security and Defence, MEP Anna Fotyga (ECR, Poland), Vice-Preident Pavel Telicka (ALDE, Czech Republic), Dietmar Koster (S&D, Germany), Vice-Chair of Human Rights Beatriz Becerra (ALDE, Spain) urged their Foreign Affairs chief to “address the incitement to hatred and violence and discriminatory practice of calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel.”
Europe Israel Public Affairs Founder Rabbi Menachem Margolin welcomed the initiative of the 60 MEPs: “Israel sometimes feels misunderstood by Europe, and this leads to a further strain on the relations. The European Parliament takes pride in its diversity, and we are glad to see such a wide support for investment, rather than divestment from something that has been for more than 3 decades a mutually advantageous bilateral relation”.