Wednesday, March 18, 2015

From Ian:

Netanyahu scores crushing victory in Israeli elections
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party was the clear winner in Tuesday’s election, a near-final tally showed early Wednesday morning, defeating the Zionist Union by a margin of some six seats.
That margin was far more decisive than TV exit polls had predicted when polling booths closed at 10 p.m. on Tuesday. All three TV polls had put Likud and Zionist Union neck-and-neck at 27 seats, albeit with Netanyahu better-placed to form a coalition.
On the basis of those TV polls, Netanyahu hailed a Likud victory, though Herzog initially refused to concede. As counting proceeded through the night, however, the Likud opened a growing margin of victory.
By 6 a.m., with some 99% of votes counted, the Central Elections Committee was indicating a dramatic victory for Netanyahu, with the Likud heading for 30 seats, compared to Zionist Union’s 24 seats.
Next came the Joint (Arab) List on 14 seats, Yesh Atid on 11, Kulanu on 10 and the Jewish Home on 8. They were followed by Shas, 7, United Torah Judaism on 6, Yisrael Beytenu on 6, and Meretz on 4 seats.
David Horovitz: King Bibi and his divided people
We’ll see the specifics of his coalition. We’ll note who he chooses as his defense minister, his foreign minister, his justice minister — outspoken hawks or gentler figures? Will he push legislation that highlights the Jewish character of the state and subtly relegates its democratic nature? Will he employ healing rhetoric as regards those ostensibly over-voting Israeli Arabs? Will he address widespread domestic concerns about the high cost of living, soaring housing prices and the growing inequalities between Israel’s haves and have-nots? Will he find a path through the conflict over ultra-Orthodox military service? Will he shift to a less dogmatic position on the two-state solution, stressing that he cannot envisage Palestinian statehood in the current Middle East reality but allowing for the possibility of change? Will he move to seize the opportunities he has frequently cited to build alliances with those Arab states that share Israel’s profound concerns about Iran’s nuclear drive and the imminent US-led deal with Tehran? Will he seek to ease the strains with an Obama administration that, he believes, wanted to see the back of him?
In the past few days, Netanyahu proved himself a political tactician in a different league from his rivals. But amid the euphoria of victory, and the majority’s reaffirmation of faith in his leadership, will he take heed of the fact that a substantial proportion of the electorate is as shocked and horrified by Tuesday’s results as he and his supporters are shocked and delighted?
Will Netanyahu seek to reposition himself, in short, from defiantly victorious leader of the Israeli right to prime minister of our riven, multi-challenged Israel?
Alan Dershowitz: President is not Commander in Chief of Foreign Policy
This important limitation on the president's power is highly relevant to the current debate about Congress having the authority to check the president's decision to make the deal that is currently being negotiated with Iran. The Constitution is clear about this. The President is not the Commander-in-Chief of our nation's foreign policy. When he is involved in "high-stakes international diplomacy," his involvement is not as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, but rather as negotiator-in-chief, whose negotiations are subject to the checks and balances of the other branches.
As President, he cannot even declare war, though he can decide how a war should be fought after Congress declares it. He cannot make a treaty without the approval of 2/3 of the Senate. He cannot appoint Ambassadors without the consent of the Senate. And he cannot terminate sanctions that were imposed by Congress, without Congress changing the law. Were he the "Commander-in-Chief" of our country — as Putin is of Russia or as Ali Khamenei is of Iran — he could simply command that all of these things be done. But our Constitution separates the powers of government — the power to command — into three co-equal branches. The armed forces are different: power is vested in one commander-in-chief.
To be sure, when politicians call our president the "Commander-in-Chief," they are using that term rhetorically. But it is a dangerous rhetoric, because it suggests a concentration, rather than a division, of power. Military metaphors are as inappropriate in a democracy as is martial law, which does empower the executive to act as the commander of all people, but only in cases of extreme emergency.
So let's describe the president by his actual constitutional role: the head of the executive branch of our tripod government that stands on three equal legs. As the head of the executive branch, he gets to negotiate treaties, agreements and other bilateral and multilateral deals. But Congress has a say in whether to approve what the president has negotiated.

Netanyahu at Western Wall: I'm honored by election win, will do everything to protect Israel
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to the Western Wall Wednesday in his first post-election night public appearance after sweeping to victory and said he was moved by the responsibility placed on his shoulders.
“Here, in this place, I am awed by the historical significance of a people renewing itself in its homeland after 4,000 years,” he said, after praying at the Wall and placing a note inside its crevices. “I am moved by the weight of responsibility that the people of Israel have placed on my shoulders, and appreciate the decision of Israeli citizens to chose me and my colleagues against all odds.”
A day after he triggered a barrage of criticism for urging his supporters to go out and vote because “Arab voters were going in large numbers to the polls,” Netanyahu pledged to work for the “welfare and security of all the citizens of Israel.”
Analysis: Likud’s Unexpected Success Shows Israeli Voters Still Place High Priority on Security

Israelis cast votes for entire parties, not for specific candidates. The president (currently Reuven Rivlin) usually gives the leader of the party that won the most Knesset seats the opportunity to form a governing coalition with other parties. To create a government, that leader’s coalition must consist of at least 61 of the 120 Knesset seats.
The latest pre-election surveys had predicted that Zionist Union would outperform Likud, likely based on voters’ prioritization of socioeconomic issues. Likud’s apparent victory, however, might affirm that Israeli voters still place a high priority on security. In January, the Israel Democracy Institute’s (IDI) monthly Peace Index poll projected that 40 percent of Israelis would make their voting decisions based on a party’s socioeconomic issues, compared with 32 percent deciding on a party’s foreign policy and security stance. But on election day, it may have been security that won out.
Following Netanyahu’s much-debated March 3 speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, an Israel Hayom-New Wave Research Institute poll revealed that 41 percents of Israelis would place their trust in Netanyahu to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat, far more than the 6 percent of respondents who chose Herzog. (Fifteen percent said they trust U.S. President Barack Obama the most with the Iranian nuclear issue.)
After electoral trouncing, what future for the Israeli left?
The Israeli left, to be sure, did better than it has done in almost a generation. It rallied around the Labor party, energized the base, sent thousands of volunteers to “get out the vote.”
And it lost. Spectacularly.
In the process, politicians, pundits, pollsters and analysts learned some important lessons – not just in humility, but also in the changing face of the Israeli electorate.
The right learned that Likud is its great indispensable party, the big tent to which it rallies in times of danger. That ethos of underlying unity among the usually bickering factions of the right headed off on Tuesday the left’s most potent challenge in almost two decades. It won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
We all learned that the right knows how to get out the vote. Or, at least, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does. His method was simple: talk incessantly about the turnout of the enemy – the left, the Arabs, the shadowy foreign funding behind it all. It wasn’t exactly a noble or honest final few days in Likud’s campaign, but it worked.
The 20th Knesset by the numbers: More Arabs and women, fewer Orthodox members
When the 20th Knesset is sworn in on March 31, there will be quite a few quantitative changes in the legislature's makeup, according to Wednesday's results.
The official election results will come on Thursday, after all the votes by soldiers and others who vote away from their hometown are counted, so some of these numbers are subject to changes, though they're likely to be minor.
The 71.8 percent voter turnout is a 16-year peak, the highest since 1999, when it was 78.7%, according to research by the Israel Democracy Institute, and the number of parties that passed the 3.25% electoral threshold is 10, the smallest since the 1992 election.
Likud grew by 10 seats, more than any other party, followed by Zionist Union and The Joint List, which gained three each, when counting the parties in the previous Knesset that make up each one.
White House says Obama will work with whoever wins vote
Hours after the first exit polls showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party set to retain the leadership, US President Barack Obama indicated Tuesday he would work with any future Israeli premier.
Obama “remains committed to working very closely with the winner of the ongoing elections to cement and further deepen the strong relationship between the United States and Israel, and the president is confident that he can do that with whomever the Israeli people choose,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest, according to The New York Times.
The White House comment came after a bitter Israeli elections campaign and months of tensions between Netanyahu and Obama that culminated in a speech the prime minister gave before a joint session of Congress two weeks ago. The timing, content and lack of coordination with the Obama administration infuriated the White House.
Netanyahu’s declaration in the lead-up to Tuesday’s election that he wouldn’t allow the formation of a Palestinian state may further exacerbate strained relations with Washington should he end up as prime minister for a fourth term, as he seems likely.
 Obama Won’t Congratulate Bibi — But He Congratulated Erdogan, Sisi, Rouhani … and Putin!
This morning, the White House conspicuously avoided sending any message of congratulations to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his sweeping victory yesterday.
While Obama has had public differences with Netanyahu recently, in the past he has made efforts to congratulate leaders that have a much more adversarial relationship with the United States as well as shamefully undemocratic electoral processes.

EU Congratulates Netanyahu, No Word from Obama
The EU congratulated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on his election victory Wednesday, but added it was committed to relaunching the peace process which he appeared to repudiate during the campaign by promising not to establish a Palestinian state.
"The EU is committed to working with the incoming Israeli government on a mutually beneficial relationship as well as on the re-launch of the peace process," EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said in a statement, reports AFP.
During the election campaign, Netanyahu said he would not accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in the Biblical heartland of Israel, a key part of the two-state solution backed by the EU and which he voiced support for in his controversial 2009 Bar Ilan speech.
"We are at a crucial moment, with many threats all over the Middle East," the EU statement said. "The EU staunchly supports a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the interest of the Israeli people, of the Palestinian people and of the whole region."
Group Working to Influence Israeli Elections Still Receiving State Department Funding
A group that is working to influence the Israeli elections is currently receiving funding from the U.S. Department of State, according to public records and statements from the organization.
The Abraham Fund Initiatives, which is leading an effort to increase Arab voter turnout for the elections on Tuesday, received a $98,000 grant from the State Department’s Middle East Partnership Initiative in September, the group said on Tuesday. The grant is funded through December 2015.
The State Department’s funding process came under scrutiny in January, after the Free Beacon reported that the nonprofit group OneVoice—which is involved in a similar initiative to increase voter turnout among left-leaning voters—had received grants from the agency. The OneVoice grant ended at the end of November, before the Israeli elections were announced, according to the State Department.
However, a bipartisan Senate committee is currently investigating whether any of the government funding received by OneVoice was later used for election-related activities.
Aaron Klein, an Israeli journalist, first reported on the Abraham Fund’s Arab get-out-the-vote initiative last week, and noted that the group had received State Department funding in the past. That prior grant for $999,000 expired in 2013.
Netanyahu: V15 and Foreign NGOs Busing in Arab Voters for Israeli Election
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just warned that Israeli Arab voters are being brought to the polling booth by V15 (Victory 2015) and other NGOS funded from abroad. He said: “We do not have NGOs. We do not have V15.”
V15 has been organized by Jeremy Bird, who was President Obama’s national campaign field director in 2012. According to lawyer and journalist Lori Lowenthal Marcus, this funding runs afoul of American tax laws for not-for-profit organizations. Marcus and others allege that funding for V15 includes State Department monies.
Netanyahu is “very worried” about these reports of busing Arabs to the voting booths. “If we do not wake up, if we do not bring everyone out… a left-wing government will be established,” he warned.
Obama-Linked Anti-Netanyahu Group Forms New Entity
After members of Congress accused it of illegally funneling money to an anti-Netanyahu campaign, Obama-linked U.S. non-profit PeaceWorks (also known as OneVoice) formed a new entity last month. According to the Washington Free Beacon, after the charge of potential illegal use of tax funds came to light in January, PeaceWorks “scrambled” to create new organization, PeaceWorks Action Inc., which would allow it to be involved in election-related activities.
As TruthRevolt reported in January, OneVoice/PeaceWorks—which received two grants from the State Department last year—teamed with V15, a leftist Israeli group which spent millions in an attempt to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of V15s leaders, Jeremy Bird, was the national field director for Obama’s 2012 campaign and a co-founder of 270 Strategies; as TR’s Peter Malcolm wrote, Bird is also “virulently anti-Netanyahu.” Though OneVoice development and grants officer Christina Taler insisted that the group did not directly use federal funds for its “nonpartisan” Israeli get-out-the-vote campaign, she did admit that the organization directly worked with V15’s campaign. Malcolm also noted that the son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sits on the advisory board of One Voice.
When OneVoice’s involvement in Israel’s election came to light in a January letter authored by U.S. lawmakers, the 501(c)(3) quickly formed a PeaceWorks Action, Inc. (incorporated in Delaware in February 2015) in an apparent attempt to cover itself after the fact. But if that is the intent of the ploy, it will not work.
World media eulogizes Netanyahu government prematurely
Israel's election on Tuesday received widespread coverage around the world, with live updates on European and American news. As the results from the votes started coming in, a few news outlets found themselves hinting at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's defeat a little early.
The French newspaper Liberation featured a picture of Netanyahu captioned "Bye Bye Bibi?" and The New York Times reported that Netanyahu was "fighting to stay in power."
Other media outlets chose to focus on the prime minister's remarks right before the election. Britain's The Guardian quoted Netanyahu's call for citizens to vote in light of the reported high Arab voter turnout, which the British paper called "incitement."
The Wall Street Journal noted that it had been Netanyahu's decision to hold a Knesset election, and said the Israeli vote would determine whether the gambit paid off.
A New York Times Editorial Turns Ugly
As Israeli voters turned out and gave the most votes to the party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the New York Times goes all out with an editorial that can only charitably be labeled a “diatribe.”
"An Israeli Election Turns Ugly"
By the title, you would think that Netanyahu had arrested political opponents and muzzled the free Israeli press — tactics reflective of the rule of the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s Middle East neighbors. No, the New York Times appears to be genuinely alarmed that Israeli voters chose a political party with positions contrary to those of the Times editorial board.
There is nothing objectionable about the New York Times giving its opinions on Israeli issues. That’s what the editorial pages are for after all. However, there is something amiss when, rather than educating readers about issues, the Times goes on a verbal rampage against the head of the winning party.
Israel has a strong democratic process in which a government that reflects the will of its citizens is chosen. While not perfect, (and no democracy I know of is,) the fundamental principle that Israel IS a democracy is no small matter. There is not a single other country in the Middle East that is a democracy in the true meaning of the word. Not only do Israel’s neighbors not allow meaningful votes, but they do not allow basic democratic rights — free speech, free press, etc. — that those living in real democracies take for granted.
Bitterly Disappointed CNN Downplays Netanyahu's Likely Upset
All day long CNN has been relentlessly beating the drum and practically celebrating the forgone conclusion that sitting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about to lose today’s elections. Every move Netanyahu made over the past few weeks that outraged Obama and his media allies was framed by CNN today as a blunder — from the speech he made before Congress to sounding the alarm today about Israeli Leftists busing Arabs to the polls.
CNN was quite obviously setting up a Narrative to explain and gloat over what polls said was almost certain to be a Netanyahu defeat.
A funny thing happened at 4 pm ET when the exit polls from Israel came in. Netanyahu was tied or slightly ahead. An hour later news reports suggested Netanyahu had already cobbled together enough allies from other parties to form a governing coalition. This means he will remain Prime Minister. This is why he took to Twitter to declare victory.
By 6pm, the biggest story in the world, and one of the biggest electoral upsets in recent memory, was no longer the biggest story on CNN. Despite all the domestic and international ramifications of Netanyahu’s almost certain victory, despite all the backfilling CNN had done all day to “explain” Netanyahu’s defeat, Netanyahu’s upset did not lead CNN’s 6 pm hour with Wolf Blitzer. Netanyahu giving his victory speech did not lead the 7 pm hour with Erin Burnett.
Edgar Davidson: Haaretz bitter post-election coverage
Look at the titles of all five articles on the Haaretz newspaper website this morning (screenshot taken at 11.19am). And there are people who still claim that Haaretz is not an anti-Zionist paper.....
p.s. to Haaretz: if Israel is the racist apartheid state that every one of your journalists claims it to be, how comes the Arab List became the third biggest party in parliament?
NY Times Corrects on Jerusalem Arabs' Voting Rights
Following correspondence from CAMERA's Israel office, The New York Times today corrects an article Monday which incorrectly reported that Jerusalem Arabs don't have full voting rights. The March 16 article, by new Times recruit Diaa Hadid, had erred ("Arab Alliance Rises As Force in Israeli Elections"):
Unlike Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, Palestinian citizens of Israel have full voting rights.
As noted earlier on our Snapshots blog, Jerusalem Arabs are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which grants them full voting rights. In the last decade alone, over three thousand individuals have joined those Arabs who had already become citizens of Israel.
Editors published the following correction in today's print edition:
An article on Monday about a political awakening of Arabs in Israel this election year referred incorrectly to voting rights for Arabs in East Jerusalem. A small number — those who hold Israeli citizenship — are entitled to vote in Israeli elections; it is not the case that no Arabs in East Jerusalem can vote.
Honest Reporting: When Do the Palestinians Get to Vote?
HonestReporting’s Yarden Frankl joins VOI’s Josh Hasten in-studio to talk about media coverage of Israel. This week’s we discuss the lack of democratic rights for Palestinians, a Hollywood celebrity takes to the LA Times to fight anti-Semitism, and your chance to ask the terrorist group Hamas any question as they try to present a new, less bloody image to the world
After vote, Palestinians mull ending security cooperation
Palestinian officials will meet Thursday to discuss severing military ties with Israel, after an election Tuesday failed to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, drawing anger in Ramallah
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s central council, chaired by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, will discuss practical steps to implement an earlier decision to end security cooperation, considered a keystone of Israel and the PA’s anti-terror efforts in the West Bank.
The council set up the meeting before the vote, but said they would wait until after results roll in to make a decision on whether to cut off ties.
However, analysts believe that no dramatic steps will be taken prior to the formation of a governing coalition.
A senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel that a decisive victory by Netanyahu will certainly be beneficial to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to undermine Israel in the international arena.
Erekat: Palestinians will press at ICC because of Netanyahu's win
The chief Palestinian negotiator expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next Israeli government and has declared that the Palestinians in turn will push forward with legal efforts at the International Criminal Court.
“It is clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next government, and for that, we say clearly that we will go to the Hague Tribunal, we will accelerate, continue and intensify” diplomatic efforts, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Agence France-Presse.
President Mahmoud Abbas formally applied for admission to the ICC on Jan. 1, and the Palestinians are slated to fully join the court on April 1. In the meantime, the ICC has begun the process for opening an investigation into potential Israeli war crimes during the 2014 Gaza conflict.
Israel has responded by withholding more than $400 million in taxes and customs revenue from the Palestinians.
Palestinian Sour Grapes at Israeli Re-election of Netanyahu Government
Palestinian Authority leaders bitterly issued a statement that smacked of sour grapes Wednesday, denouncing Israeli voters for choosing to re-elect Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu as prime minister on Tuesday.
Senior official Yasser Abed Rabbo, speaking for the PA’s parent organization, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said, “Israel chose the path of racism, occupation and settlement building, and did not choose the path of negotiations and partnership between us.”
Entirely forgotten were the 10 months in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis could not repair even a balcony if they lived in Judea, Samaria or areas of Jerusalem desired by the PA, due to a construction freeze imposed by Netanyahu in deference to a PA precondition for talks.
Iran Says No Difference in Israeli Parties, All ‘Aggressors’
There is no difference between Israeli political parties following the electoral victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, Iran’s foreign ministry spokeswoman was quoted as saying by semi-official Mehr News Agency on Wednesday.
“For us there is no difference between the Zionist regime’s political parties. They are all aggressors in nature,” Marizeh Afkham told reporters at a weekly news conference in Tehran.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declined to comment on the Israel election when asked by reporters on the sidelines of nuclear talks with Iran in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Israel Election Results Great, Says Obama Through Gritted Teeth (satire)
Netanyahu, for his part, took a gracious tone, telling Obama the victory could not have been accomplished without his efforts.
The stunning reelection of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday prompted insistence from US President Barack Obama that he welcomes the outcome as a democratic expression of the wish of the Israeli public, and that he hopes to move forward with Mr. Netanyahu in shoring up the historic ties between the two nations and moving toward a comprehensive regional peace agreement, a sentiment the president expressed with barely concealed rage.
Netanyahu’s Likud party garnered 29 seats in the 120-member Knesset, giving him the largest faction and first crack at forming a coalition government. Obama and many of his allies in the left-leaning Democratic Party had hoped – and in many cases actively campaigned – to oust the incumbent Netanyahu in favor of Labor Party Chairman Isaac Herzog, who they hoped would be a more pliable leader. Obama and Netanyahu have an uneasy relationship even beyond their ideological differences, but the president said he would be happy to continue working with the Israeli prime minister, then clenched his jaw and kicked the lectern. Aides said he suffered only minor bruising as a result.
Obama monitored the progress of Israeli elections through most of the day Tuesday, asking for frequent updates from staff regarding exit polls, and, with a serene smile, when he might know whether Israel had “finally decided to kick that chickensh*t out of office,” staffers reported. Initial exit polls became available at about 3 pm Eastern Time, and they showed Likud leading Herzog’s Zionist Union alliance by an average of 2 parliament seats. Aides noted that the president slowly balled his hands into fists upon hearing the news, then took several deep breaths and asked to be kept informed as “the real, you know, accurate, reliable numbers” came in, “not those fake polls.”
John Bolton: A UN Vote is Irrelevant to the Iran Deal
Press reports that President Obama will enlist the U.N. Security Council to bless his imminent nuclear agreement with Iran have unleashed considerable controversy. Many worry council action would bind the U.S. to the deal, circumventing congressional scrutiny. Moreover, Iran may see U.N. action as protecting it from a subsequent change in U.S. policy.
There is no need for worry. The Security Council can do nothing to limit America’s freedom to break from this agreement or take whatever action it deems necessary to protect itself.
First, even the U.N. will require Iran to comply with any commitments made to the Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany. Bureaucracy-loving diplomats and Secretariat personnel will probably create a council committee to monitor Iran’s performance, but neither the U.S. nor any other U.N. member must accept the committee’s judgment that Iran is in compliance when it has contrary information. Washington can act on what it knows, whether or not it discloses the extent of its knowledge.
Given Iran’s dismal performance in living up to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and existing resolutions requiring that it cease all uranium-enrichment-related activity, Tehran will almost certainly begin violating the deal before the ink is dry. Security Council committees will be bystanders, and the U.S., Israel and others threatened by a nuclear-capable Iran will rely on their own intelligence to detect Iranian cheating.
Zarif plays down chances of reaching nuke deal in talks
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday played down the chances of reaching a nuclear agreement during talks under way in Switzerland.
Zarif said he did not expect foreign ministers from the world powers involved in the negotiations would be required in Lausanne to approve a deal, after he held bilateral talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
“I don’t think their presence will be needed in this round because when the solutions are found and we approach a deal, then all the foreign ministers of the negotiating parties should come,” state media quoted him as saying.
American and Iranian negotiators raced to fill out a framework for rolling back Iran’s nuclear program and punitive US economic sanctions, hoping for enough progress to call in other world powers for the finishing touches on an agreement next week.
Obama Administration Missteps Crown Iran as Regional Hegemon
The Obama administration's assessment of Iran's intentions is so positive that Iranian official sources quote it in their own propaganda. As Jeryl Bier observed at the Weekly Standard, the just-released Threat Assessment report of the director of National Intelligence makes no mention of Iran's support for terrorism, in stark contrast to the explicit citation of Iranian terrorism in the three prior annual reports. The omission of Iran's terrorist activities is noteworthy. What the report actually says is even more disturbing. It praises Iran with faint damn:
Despite Iran's intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia, Iranian leaders—particularly within the security services—are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran. Iran's actions to protect and empower Shia communities are fueling growing fears and sectarian responses.
Iran supposedly is doing its best to "dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia" — complete and utter falsehood. Iran is infiltrating Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite-majority Eastern Province (also its most oil rich) to agitate against Saudi control, and sponsored a coup against a Saudi-allied regime in Yemen. The report attributes nothing but good intentions to the Tehran regime, and worries only that its policies will have "negative secondary consequences" due to its (understandable, of course) efforts to "protect and empower Shia communities." Iran's primary motivation, in the administration's view, is to be a good neighbor and a fountain of good will. Neville Chamberlain never said such nice things about Hitler.
Republicans to probe Iranian role in Latin America
U.S. congressional Republicans who oppose President Barack Obama's pursuit of a nuclear deal with Tehran and are eager to portray Iran as untrustworthy will use a hearing in Congress on Wednesday to air complaints about Iran's actions in Latin America.
A congressional aide said the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere would discuss what Republicans say are cases of Iran's involvement in Argentina, Venezuela and elsewhere.
Issues to be raised include the fatal shooting of Alberto Nisman, an Argentine prosecutor who was investigating Iran's alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish group, and allegations of covert Iranian dealings in oil and missile technology with Argentina and Venezuela, the aide said.
Argentine opposition lawmakers urge caution on Iran deal
Several opposition lawmakers in Argentina have written a letter urging countries negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program to consider two terrorist attacks in the South American country allegedly orchestrated by Tehran.
The letter was sent Tuesday to US Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts in Germany, China, France, Britain and Russia.
No demands are made in the letter. However, the lawmakers urge negotiators to note the “ardent support of terrorism in our country and beyond.”
The letter cites the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center, both in Buenos Aires. Argentina has long accused Iranian officials of being behind the attacks, which Iran has repeatedly denied.
Shootings, Rock Throwing and Car Attack Leave 4 Wounded
Most Israelis may have work off as they go to vote on Tuesday, but Arab terrorism apparently didn't take the day off; shots were fired at IDF soldiers in an Arab majority neighborhood of Jerusalem, and another soldier was wounded in what seems to have been a car attack attempt.
In Kalandiya, an Arab neighborhood in the north of the capital, shots were fired by unidentified assailants at IDF soldiers on two separate occasions during the course of the morning, reports Walla!.
Fortunately no soldiers were wounded in the incidents, and an IDF force is scouring the area in an attempt to locate the attackers.
In a separate attack not far away, three Israelis were lightly wounded by Arab rock throwers who hurled projectiles at a bus on Uzi Narkis Road adjacent to the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev.
IDF Blog: Emergency Preparedness on the Jordan Border
An important and often overlooked part of the IDF is its medical forces. These officers and soldiers are some of the most well-trained and professional medical personnel in the world. Their training does not only involve an extensive education, but also life-like drills to prepare them for future scenarios, both on the battlefield and in the civilian sector.
Recently, the Jordan Valley Regional Brigade held a brigade-level exercise to test their preparedness on many fronts. The regional brigade, composed of soldiers from a variety of units and disciplines, trained for terrorist attacks and infiltrations, violent protests, and emergency scenarios amongst other situations.
One of the most critical aspects of the exercise were the medical drills, meant to force soldiers to react quickly and make split-second decisions. The scene of one of these medical drills was the explosion of a civilian vehicle that resulted in a large number of casualties.
Emergency Response Teams Train on Jordan Border

IDF Search & Rescue: Always Ready
The IDF Home Front Command's Search & Rescue teams are prepared to save lives, any time, any place.

Strapped for cash, PA announces emergency 2015 budget
In the throes of deep financial problems, the Palestinian Authority announced Tuesday that it would present an emergency budget for 2015.
“The general budget law for 2015 comes amid complicated and tough conditions, as the treasury is suffering a choking financial crisis,” said a PA cabinet statement, according to Reuters.
The budget, which comes into effect April 1, “rations spending, increases revenues and does not exceed the limit for borrowing from banks,” the statement said.
The PA also said that its employees will continue to receive only partial salaries, and that it had slashed the operating costs of running government offices to only half of the 2014 levels.
Palestinian Historian Salman Abu Sitta: Israel Perpetrated Holocaust against the Palestinians
Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta recently said that Israel "had set up detention camps and forced labor camps for the Palestinians" in 1948. "They did it the same way it was done against the Jews in Auschwitz," he said, in a February 14, 2015 interview on the Egyptian Dream2 TV channel.

Egypt demolishes 1,020 Rafah homes for Gaza buffer zone
The Egyptian army demolished 1,020 houses in the border city of Rafah as part of the second stage of the establishment of a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian security officials told a Ma'an reporter in El-Arish city on Tuesday that 200 more houses would be demolished to create a no-go zone extending 500 meters from the border fence.
Families evacuated from the properties have already been reimbursed, the official said, adding that the Egyptian government had paid some 150 million Egyptian pounds ($19.7 million) in compensation to evacuated families.
In a separate incident on Tuesday, Egyptian security services announced that three gunmen were killed when a booby-trapped vehicle accidentally exploded in Sheikh Zuweid city in North Sinai.

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