Wednesday, June 17, 2015

From Ian:

UNRWA Chief Admits Hamas Hid Weapons in Facilities
Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, the UN body tasked with aiding "Palestinian refugees," admitted on Wednesday that Hamas terrorists hid weapons at UNRWA facilities during their terror war against Israel last summer.
"We were the ones who found the weapons caches in our facilities during inspections," Krahenbuhl told Yedioth Aharonoth in an interview. "The reason that the whole world knew about it is that we told them."
Krahenbuhl's reference is to at least three separate occasions in which rockets were found at UNRWA facilities. After the first finding of rockets at an UNRWA school, UNRWA workers reportedly called Hamas to come remove them.
Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.
The UNRWA head continued, saying, "we knew the revelation would lead to harsh responses against us in Israel, but try to imagine what would happen if we weren't the ones who published it. The act of publishing proves we aren't ready to allow it and show restraint."
David Horovitz: Blaming Obama, ex-envoy Oren says aspects of US-Israel ties ‘in tatters’
He said the root of Israel’s problems with Obama lies in three aspects of the president’s abiding worldview: Obama’s “unprecedented support for the Palestinians,” the goal of “reconciling with what Obama calls the Muslim world,” and Obama’s “outreach, reconciling with Iran. From the get-go. You see that right from the beginning. He comes into office going after Iran.”
But the administration is also problematic, Oren added, because it “jettisoned the two core principles of the alliance, which were ‘no surprises’ and ‘no daylight.’ Obama said it: I’m putting daylight. And proceeds to put daylight, public daylight. And then surprises. I was told that with previous administrations,” said Oren, “we were always given advance copies of major policy speeches. The Cairo speech (that Obama delivered in 2009) was twice as long as the First Inaugural Address. It touched on issues that were vital to our security. We never had any preview.”
Given the deterioration in ties, and especially given Obama’s policy on Iran, Oren concluded in the interview that “we’re on our own,” facing what he termed “a broad spectrum of monumental threats all at the same time.” He said this conclusion was inescapable after Obama failed to act against Syria, and that it was at this point that “everyone” in Israel realized that Obama was not serious about his military option on Iran.
Still, Oren tried to put a brave gloss on Israel’s lonely position: “To me that’s a refreshing Zionist moment. We realize we’re on our own,” said Oren. “It’s a different topic, but I have a thing about this regional peace conference with the moderate Arab states that everyone keeps talking about here, certain parties. To me it’s running away from what I believe is an Israeli Zionist responsibility: taking our fate into our own hands. Waiting for the Saudis to somehow bring redemption? I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Oren concludes the book by urging that bilateral ties be repaired, and says American and Israeli leaders “must restore those three ‘no’s’ — no surprises, no daylight, no public altercations — in their relations.”
Asked toward the end of the interview whether things would be better under a Hillary Clinton presidency, Oren said that Netanyahu had “a rapport” with her, and that “she understands certain things about Israel… She gets it.” Clinton and Republican candidate Jeb Bush both made major campaign speeches this week in which they promised US-Israel ties would improve if they were elected president next year.
From Clooney to Clinton: 20 revelations from Michael Oren’s new book
1. Netanyahu’s take on the Hebrew press: Criticized on all sides in the Israeli media for his 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University in support of a two-state solution, Netanyahu tells Oren, half in jest, “If I walked on the Sea of Galilee, the Israeli papers would write, ‘Bibi can’t swim.'”
3. Kissinger’s bleak assessment of Obama’s approach to the Middle East: Meeting with Henry Kissinger early in his term, Oren finds the ex-secretary of state gloomy over the president’s eagerness to reconcile with Iran. Surely, says Oren, the White House realizes that an “Iran with nuclear capabilities means the end of American hegemony in the Middle East?” Retorts Kissinger: “And what makes you think anybody in the White House still cares about American hegemony in the Middle East?”
4. Oren stunned by Obama’s attitude to the United States: Reading the president’s memoir “Dreams From My Father,” the ambassador says he scoured the book in vain “for some expression of reverence, even respect, for the country its author would someday lead” but finds none. Instead, in Oren’s reading, “the book criticizes Americans for their capitalism and consumer culture, for despoiling their environment and maintaining antiquated power structures.” He notes that Obama accused Americans traveling abroad of exhibiting “ignorance and arrogance” — the very same shortcomings, notes Oren dryly, that the president’s critics assigned to him.
7. Abbas’s no-peace stare: At the suggestion of veteran US official Dennis Ross, Vice President Biden, visiting Israel in 2010, asked Mahmoud Abbas, when he called on the Palestinian Authority president in Ramallah, to “look him in the eye and promise that he could make peace with Israel. Abbas refused.”
8. Closed Gates: Former US defense secretary Robert Gates had “a visceral dislike” of Netanyahu, writes Oren. He’d known Netanyahu since the prime minister was deputy FM, and back then thought him superficial, glib, arrogant and outlandishly ambitious. As an adviser to George H.W. Bush, Gates had gone so far as to recommend that the young Netanyahu be banned from the White House.

Israeli Helped Inspire U.S.-Russia Weapons Deal With Assad, Memoir Says
The American-Russian deal that pressured President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to abandon his stockpile of chemical weapons two years ago was encouraged by an Israeli minister, according to a new memoir by a former Israeli ambassador to Washington.
The government minister, Yuval Steinitz, confirmed in an interview Monday night that he had proposed the deal that became a signature diplomatic achievement for the Obama administration and damaged President Obama’s international credibility because he abandoned a promise to strike Syria if Mr. Assad used chemical weapons against civilians. Mr. Steinitz said he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not revealed their role for fear “somebody will say it’s an Israeli idea, Israeli conspiracy, maybe it’s a reason to stop it.”
The story was first reported Monday by Bloomberg View, which related the account by the former ambassador, Michael B. Oren, whose book, “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide,” is scheduled for publication by Random House next week. Mr. Oren wrote that the deal “stunned me in unprecedented ways” because he believed Mr. Obama was “an ideologue” on nonproliferation with an “affinity for the Middle East,” which “should have translated into a one-time lightning strike against vital Syrian facilities.”
US envoy to Israel calls Oren’s Obama claims ‘imaginary’
Washington’s ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro hit back at former Israeli envoy Michael Oren Wednesday for what he said were “imaginary” claims that US President Barack Obama had purposefully left Israel in the lurch.
On Monday, Oren, a current Knesset member with the Kulanu party who previously served as Israel’s ambassador in Washington during Obama’s first term in office, wrote an op-ed claiming that Obama had “abandoned” the Jewish state by “deliberately” deviating from several crucial, long-held traditions in the countries’ relationship.
“His account does not reflect the truth. It’s imaginary,” Shapiro told Israel’s Army Radio Wednesday.
“Oren is now in a different position; he is a politician and a writer who wants to sell books,” Shapiro said, referring to the upcoming publication of Oren’s book about US-Israeli bilateral ties.
Fabius to meet with Netanyahu in Israel over plans to push Security Council resolution
Israel is wary of French plans to bring a resolution to the UN Security Council setting out the parameters for a two-state solution and a timeline for an Israeli withdrawal, government officials made clear Tuesday as Paris announced that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will come to the region over the weekend.
Fabius, a major proponent of the idea, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, following visits to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
One government official said it was unclear whether he will be bringing a draft of the proposed UN Security Council resolution with him.
Netanyahu, in a speech at the Herzliya Conference last week, made his opposition to any such moves clear, even though he did not mention France by name.
“There are those who attempt to impose terms on Israel in the Security Council because there are no talks, and some of them pretend that the dangers we face are not real dangers at all,” he said. “I think what that does is drive peace away.”
Abbas Warns French UN Proposal Must Not Include 'Jewish State'
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas led a meeting of the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah faction on Tuesday, in which he laid out his foreign policy on key issues.
Abbas revealed that there are no contacts with Israel as part of "peace talks" at the current juncture in time, and warned of the "destructive" ramifications of the current status quo being allowed to continue.
It was in fact Abbas who torpedoed the last round of talks last April by unilaterally joining international conventions in breach of the 1993 Oslo Accords that established the PA, and by signing a unity deal with the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.
France is trying to get the UN Security Council to authorize a proposal on the Israeli-Arab conflict, according to Abbas.
He said the PA would only back a proposal that raises all of their demands, indicating the demand for an independent Palestinian state on the 1949 Armistice lines with the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital, and a clear date set for the end of negotiations and implementation of PA sovereignty.
Abbas emphasized that the PA fundamentally opposes recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, reiterating his vehement rejection of the recognition that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu requested in talks.
Jordan envoy: Status quo between Israel, Palestinians ‘untenable’
The status quo between Israelis and Palestinians is unsustainable, Jordan’s ambassador to Israel said Tuesday in Tel Aviv, arguing that if the two peoples learn to respect one another, peace could only but follow.
“Jordan is convinced that maintaining the current state of affairs between Israel and the Palestinians is untenable,” Walid Obeidat said during a reception in honor of the Hashemite Kingdom’s 69th Independence Day. “Security comes only with peace, and peace comes only with respect and coexistence.”
In his speech at the Dan Panorama Hotel, Obeidat hailed the increasing bilateral cooperation between Israel and Jordan — especially in the fields of water and gas — before addressing the stalled peace process.
“We always need to talk about the importance of realizing the two-state solution,” he said. A failure to reach peace comes with the threat of “recurring war and military conflict affecting us — millions of civilians,” he said.
In end to latest PA government, much ado about nothing?
Once more, there are reports that the Palestinian unity government in the West Bank has resigned. Once more, there are reports of talks between Israel and Hamas for a long-term ceasefire agreement in Gaza. And it seems that this time, the two matters may be related.
Let us begin with the reports from the West Bank. Palestinian commentators and politicians have been saying for some time that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is considering putting an end to the national unity government established after a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement slightly over a year ago. A close aide to Abbas said Wednesday afternoon that Abbas had accepted the unity government’s resignation and tasked Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah with forming a new one.
Similar “dramatic events” have taken place in the past. Among them was the resignation of Salam Fayyad’s government, which stayed on as a transitional government for almost two years. It is likely that the current incident will be the same or similar. In other words, Abbas will attempt, via the government’s resignation, to convey a message to Hamas that the new cabinet will not even pretend to be a “reconciliation government.” It will not try to help solve Gaza’s problems, as the current government is doing.
A measure of this kind will have almost no practical impact. That is because Hamas itself does not allow Hamdallah’s government to act in the Gaza Strip. And even if the government has truly resigned, with Hamdallah’s reappointment to the premiership, how will the new government’s policies and actions differ from those of its predecessor?
So why is this happening now? It may be an attempt to stem the rising support for Hamas in the West Bank, but it could also be a gesture of helplessness in the face of the talks taking place under the table between Israel and Hamas.
Hamas rejects unilateral dissolution of Palestinian unity
Hamas said Wednesday it rejected any unilateral dissolution of the Palestinian unity government after senior officials reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced the government would resign.
“Hamas rejects any one-sided change in the government without the agreement of all parties,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP.
“No one told us anything about any decision to change and no one consulted with us about any change in the unity government. Fatah acted on its own in all regards.”
Israeli government uses report to defend the country's conduct during 2014 Gaza war
The study is designed to pre-empt a soon to be released United Nations Human Rights Council investigation and is funded by a pro-Israel lobby group.
One of the contributors to the report is the retired Australian Major-General Jim Molan.
Middle East correspondent Sophie McNeill spoke to Mr Molan earlier.
SOPHIE MCNEILL: The conclusion your delegation drew was that Israel had met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict.
JIM MOLAN: And in fact our conclusion was that they exceeded it quite dramatically.
SOPHIE MCNEILL: How did they exceed it dramatically?
JIM MOLAN: By the fact that they held off for as long as they could in the face of provocation, that represented war crimes in my view.
Israel's air attacks were carefully planned and executed.
We've all seen reports about the amount of messaging they do, the amount of ringing to make sure civilians are out of the way.
As someone who has practically applied the laws of armed conflict in modern warfare, I was very impressed.
US 'has absolute knowledge' regarding Iran's nuclear past, but concerned about going forward
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday suggested that Washington would not insist that Iran answer unresolved questions about its past nuclear activities because the United States already knows exactly what Tehran has done.
US officials have previously said Iran must answer a set of queries the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has about past Iranian activities that may have been related to atomic weapons research and that some sanctions relief under a possible nuclear deal would depend on resolving those questions.
So far, the IAEA has been unable to resolve all of its questions about so-called possible military dimensions of past Iranian nuclear work. Tehran says the agency's evidence about past weapons-related activities is fabricated and insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
Speaking to reporters via teleconference, Kerry suggested Washington was prepared to be flexible on this issue.
"We're not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another," Kerry said. "We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in."
"What we're concerned about is going forward," Kerry said. "It's critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way."
Obama Admin Excluded Iran from Threat Assessment
Leading U.S. officials are expressing concern about newly disclosed efforts by the Obama administration to play down the terrorism threat posed by Iran in an official report issued this year.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted in a recent letter to top senators that the administration wrongly excluded references to the global terrorism threat posed by Iran and its terror affiliate Hezbollah in the 2015 World Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
“A specific reference to the terrorist threat from Iran and Hizballah—which was not included in any of the drafts of the testimony [offered before lawmakers]—would have been appropriate for the 2015 Assessment, but the lack of its inclusion is in no way a change in the [intelligence community’s] assessment,” Clapper wrote in a June 3 letter to top senators.
Clapper’s letter came in response to an earlier letter from a delegation of senators who were seeking to discover why the Obama administration excluded references to Iran’s global terrorist operations.
Elliott Abrams: Obama's late human rights reports
By law, the U.S. State Department is required to release reports on the human rights situation in ‎every country on February 25 of each year. Those voluminous reports are often a bit late, by ‎a few days or a few weeks. In the George W. Bush years, a delay of a few days or a week ‎was, as I recall it, common.‎
But the reports this year are now 115 days late and counting. Sen. Ted Cruz is proposing to ‎fine the State Department, i.e., dock its budget, for every day of further delay, to force action. ‎Why the delay? The State Department says Secretary John Kerry must preside over the release, to ‎elevate the reports. Here's the quote: "The secretary's participation in the rollout, even if it ‎must be delayed by his travel, elevates the report. The secretary has needed to travel ‎abroad for extended periods, often on short notice, during the past three months to address ‎a variety of pressing foreign policy concerns."‎
Sounds lame to me: Kerry has not had 15 minutes between February 25 and today to do this ‎‎(even before his biking accident)? Come on. A list of all the unimportant or even ‎nonsensical events over which Kerry has presided since February 25 would be as long as ‎your arm.‎
Iran nuke talks impeded by disagreement on all main elements
Iran and six powers are still apart on all main elements of a nuclear deal with less than two weeks to go to their June 30 target date and will likely have to extend their negotiations, two diplomats tell The Associated Press.
Their comments support concerns that obstacles to a pact remain beyond the public debate on how far Iran must open its nuclear program to outside review under any deal.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has for weeks rebuffed US demands that UN nuclear monitors have access to military sites and nuclear scientists as they monitor Tehran’s commitments under a deal and probe allegations of past work on atomic arms.
Negotiators are concerned about a lack of headway on all issues. Russian chief delegate Sergey Ryabkov said Friday the “the rate of progress … is progressively slowing down.”
Iranian lawmakers unveil bill that could stymie nuclear deal
Iranian lawmakers unveiled proposed legislation Wednesday that a top official said would protect the nation’s nuclear interests, but which could become an obstacle in negotiations for a deal this month.
The bill, sponsored by the chairman of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, was signed by 225 of the country’s 290 MPs and faces a vote on Sunday.
“At the moment, the negotiating team is facing excessive demands from the United States,” said chairman Alaeddin Boroujerdi.
“This bill is being introduced with the aim of supporting the negotiators… and to protect the red lines drawn up by the supreme leader.”
It sets out three criteria that must be met by any deal reached with the United States and five other world powers, which faces a June 30 deadline.
Former Defense Dept. Official: Iran Deal Undermines 70 Years of U.S. Nonproliferation Policy
According to Kroenig, Iran’s claim that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) gives it a “right” to enrich uranium is false, and the “United States has never interpreted Article IV as providing an inalienable right to sensitive nuclear technologies.” The NPT only gives member states the “inalienable right to peaceful nuclear technology.”
I personally worked on nuclear issues both in and out of government (including at the Pentagon and other agencies) for over a decade, and I and many of my colleagues had always assumed that the only way to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran would be to eliminate its uranium enrichment capability. For over a decade, U.S. policy reflected this assessment. Throughout the 2000s, the Bush Administration engaged in international negotiations with Iran, but its bottom line never changed: The only deal worth having was one that stopped enrichment in Iran. Senator and U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama also supported this goal, saying at a 2007 meeting of AIPAC, “The world must work to stop Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.”
The policy that both Democratic and Republican presidents and presidential candidates have supported for the past seven decades is a sensible compromise that encourages the peaceful uses of nuclear technology while managing its proliferation dangers: Countries can operate nuclear reactors for power or research purposes, but they are not permitted to make their own fuel. The vast majority of countries on Earth with nuclear programs do not possess sensitive nuclear facilities. Rather the fuel is provided by a more advanced nuclear power, such as Russia, France, or the United States. This eliminates the need for the spread of dangerous enrichment or reprocessing programs to new countries. Countries like Iran that insist on developing their own sensitive technologies for “peaceful purposes,” therefore, are tipping their hand and revealing a likely intention to build the bomb. …
Iranian Aggression Will Continue
The Iranians have about 19 more months to take advantage of the naivety of President Obama and his Administration. You can be sure that they will do so.
We have seen this all throughout the 18 months of the nuclear negotiations with the P 5 + 1. During these negotiations, when Islamist Iran was supposedly working so hard to come to a compromise with the U.S. regarding its nuclear capabilities, we instead saw U.S. appeasement matched by Iranian cheating on the “deal,” a worsening human rights situation in Iran, and Iranian aggression in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, and the Persian Gulf.
It should be obvious why the Iranians are behaving this way. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, since the Islamist Iranians first seized our embassy in Teheran in 1979, the U.S. has reached out numerous times to push diplomacy to make common cause with Iranian “moderates,” only to see our efforts continuously rebuffed. Presidents Carter, Reagan -- remember Iran-Contra? -- Bush I, Clinton, and even Bush II -- under the prodding of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- all tried and failed to “reach out” and “compromise” with the “moderates.” In fact, each time, the Iranian Islamists rewarded them with more bad behavior, including threats, violence, kidnapping, terrorism, building nuclear weapons, and more.
The Islamist Iranians simply don’t like the United States. They don’t just shout “Death to America” to hear themselves speak. Most recently, this has been aptly demonstrated by a study of the K-12 textbooks with which the Iranian leadership indoctrinates their youth to hate Americans. “Textbooks of tyrannies are the most authentic reflection of the nature and mission of the regimes,” Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger describes these textbooks as follows:
Is there anything the Iranians could do that would upset President Obama?
‘It is probably time for those of us who have strenuously opposed acquiescing in Iran’s development of nuclear weapons to throw in the towel... Mr. Obama’s definition of a satisfactory outcome has evolved... from the complete abandonment... of the Iranian nuclear program to an honor-system reliance on the Iranians.” – Conrad Black, National Review.
What stands out in the following bullets?
- Iran is increasing its financial and military support for the genocidal Syrian ophthalmologist President Bashir Assad.
- The Iranian proxy Hezbollah is helping to prop up the Assad government with its armed forces in Syrian territory.
- US President Barack Obama has stopped supporting Hayya Bina, a “civil society program in Lebanon that seeks to develop alternative Shi’ite political voices to Hezbollah”.
Reminiscent of the president’s abandonment of the Iranian people during the 2009 Green Revolution, when he sided with the radical mullahs over Iranians seeking a democratic government, the US has decided to leave Lebanese Shi’ites with little choice but the repressive fundamentalist Hezbollah government.
J'lem Denies Obama Invited Netanyahu to Meet after Nuke Deal
Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied, in a conversation with Arutz Sheva Tuesday, that he has received an invitation to go to Washington one month from now and meet President Barack Obama, after the US and other world powers finalize a deal regarding Iran's nuclear weapons program. The alleged development was reported by Yediot Aharonot.
The sources said, though, that “if Netanyahu does receive such an invitation soon, he will certainly respond positively and head for the US to meet the American president.”
The Obama administration also denied the report and said that the two leaders will indeed meet, but a date for this has not been set.
According to the report, Obama wants to talk to Netanyahu in order to lessen his opposition to the nuclear deal he intends to sign with Iran – and to offer Israel various perks as compensation for the severe threat under which the Jewish state will find itself following a deal with Iran.
Iran’s war on Christians casts doubt on nuclear agreement
After his campaign promises in 2013 to guarantee the rights of religious minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country’s self-declared moderate President Hassan Rouhani has remained silent about the ongoing crackdown on Christians. Rouhani’s indifference to imprisoned Christians is a form of complicity in human rights violations and a window into a flawed nuclear negotiation process.
US Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) captured the severe deficits in the bargaining process between the world powers and Iran to end the Islamic Republic’s illicit nuclear weapons program, telling The Jerusalem Post recently, “The Iranian regime’s systematic persecution of Christians, as well as Baha’is, Sunni Muslims, dissenting Shi’a Muslims, and other religious minorities, is getting worse not better. This is a direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to de-link demands for improvements in religious freedom and human rights in Iran from the nuclear negotiations.”
The UN Security Council members (US, France, UK, China, Russia) and Germany have failed to draw a connection between Rouhani’s broken campaign promises and the worthlessness of his assurances that Tehran will be abide by a nuclear agreement.
This Is How Iran Allegedly Tried To Recruit A US Journalist
An Iranian activist group asked an American journalist to participate in a conference critical of the U.S. and Israel, part of the enlistment of American thinkers willing to join Iran’s propaganda campaign.
Shane Harris was invited to submit a paper at the Tehran conference, sponsored by Iran’s intelligence services. An unidentified interlocutor emailed Harris in late May, according to Harris‘ recounting of the correspondence for The Daily Beast.
Known as the International Congress Of 17,000 Iranian Terror Victims, the activist group plans to convene its second annual conference in August. Its English-language website, packed with dizzying graphics, indicates submissions are due by June 30.
Harris writes: “OK, I thought to myself. You must have the wrong Shane Harris. I’m a journalist, not a commentator. The bulk of my writing on Iran has focused on what U.S. intelligence officials say about the the country’s cyber espionage and warfare capabilities. The Iranian government could hardly see my work as flattering.”
The state-sponsored conference wanted Harris to present an anti-U.S. foreign policy paper, presumably in Tehran. When Harris responded by email, inquiring what topics were preferred, the interlocutor gave him three options.
He could examine U.S. and Israeli attempts to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, why the U.S. has a different position toward Israel’s nuclear capabilities or analyze “Iranophobia.”
Iranian Professor Challenges Iran’s ‘Responsibility’ to Destroy Israel (VIDEO)
An Iranian professor disputed Iran’s claim to having the responsibility to ensure the destruction of Israel, a YouTube video uploaded on Tuesday shows.
“You claim that the Islamic Republic of Iran has a responsibility to annihilate Israel,” Sadegh Zibakalam is seen telling a gathered audience during a seminar in Tehran. “The first question I would like to put to this regime is that this responsibility to annihilate Israel as the core values of Iranian foreign policy, who has given this responsibility to the Islamic Republic of Iran?”
The University of Tehran professor then went on to ask if Iranians had called for Israel’s annihilation in a referendum or if the Iranian parliament had legislated for the Jewish state’s destruction.
Zibakalam’s comments prompted some in the audience to begin chanting “Death to Israel.” Other audience members then booed those who called for Israel’s destruction. Responding to his critics in the audience, Zibakalam called them “tyrannical and dictatorial” for disrupting the debate. The attendees then began chanting Zibakalam’s name in support of the political science professor, who made headlines last year for saying he recognizes Israel as a state.
Israeli Rep to Become Senior UN Official Despite Syrian, Iranian Opposition
The U.N. General Assembly voted to appoint Israeli diplomat Yotam Goren as deputy chairman of the Administrative and Budgetary Committee on Monday night, despite objections from Iran and Syria, Israeli NRG news reported.
After his appointment, Goren said “this achievement is the result of efforts we undertake every day to make sure that Israel is included in all fields of the global agenda.”
Israel was a driving force in the international community, “a leader, and a contributor to the global agenda at every opportunity, despite the obstacles that many countries place before it at the United Nations,” he added.
Commenting on the appointment, he called it a “demonstration of the great appreciation given [to Israel] from across the world, from the Pacific to India.”
At Least 63% of Children in Near-Gaza Communities Suffer From Post-Traumatic Stress, Israeli Research Shows (VIDEO)
No less than 63 percent of children in the southern Israeli town of Sderot suffer from post-traumatic stress, mostly due to the intense rounds of violence that have occurred between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Tuesday.
The figures were compiled in a new study by Professor Mooli Lahad, who specializes in psychotrauma.
And as summer vacation approached in Israel this week, the children of Sderot and other communities surrounding Gaza related memories of last summer’s violent conflict with Gazan terrorists to Channel 2.
“Summer is nearing again, the big vacation, and immediately we think there’s going to be another round [of violence] on the way, with small explosions and attacks here and there,” Shai-Li Wastland, 16, from Nir Oz told Channel 2.
Wastland filmed herself last year running to reach fortified bomb shelters within a matter of seconds before mortar shells exploded in the vicinity.
 Eisenkot: Groups with ties to ISIS are growing in Gaza
Terrorist organizations with ties to Islamic State are gaining footholds in Gaza, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday.
In a closed-door meeting, Eisenkot gave a general overview of the IDF’s activities to MKs and discussed his multiyear plans for the IDF.
Eisenkot said terrorists connected to Islamic State are growing stronger in Sinai and act in cooperation with terrorist organizations in Gaza.
The situation in Gaza is very complex because of the many terrorist organizations involved, and the IDF is working to prevent them from growing stronger and to fight the threat of terrorist tunnels, he added.
The IDF is trying to improve the economic situation in Gaza by allowing trucks filled with supplies to enter, but closes the border when rockets are shot, Eisenkot explained.
Israeli Kashrut Inspectors Attacked in Jordan
Six Kashrut inspectors, overseeing the Kashrut in Israeli-owned greenhouses located in Jordan were attacked on Tuesday by Jordanian workers, according to a report in Kikar Shabbat.
The workers attacked the inspectors with stones and axes. Initial reports said the workers kidnapped the inspectors.
It appears the Jordanian workers had a financial complaint against the Israeli company, and assumed the Israeli Kashrut inspectors were representatives from the Israeli company.
Initially, the workers decided to hold a strike, and when the Kashrut inspectors saw that no work would be done for them to oversee, they decided to leave. That’s when they were attacked by the Jordanians.
Netanyahu on plight of Syria's Druse: I've ordered to do what is necessary
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday addressed the threat to the Druse community in Syria which has come under threat in recent weeks amid advances by the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and Islamic State.
Speaking during an opposition-initiated Knesset debate on "the government's abandonment of the periphery," Netanyahu said that Israel is "closely following what is happening on our borders. I suggest that everyone who is dealing with the issue, who finds it important, make due with this statement for now."
Netanyahu said he ordered "to do what is necessary" to help Syria's Druse.
Israel signaled readiness on Tuesday to intervene if Syrian refugees were to throng to its armistice line on the Golan Heights, after Israel's Druse Arab minority stepped up a public campaign to help brethren caught up in the civil war next door.
Israel has sought to keep out of the four-year-old crisis in Syria – an old foe from which it captured the strategic Golan in the 1967 war, and where it fears more belligerent Islamist fighters could take over should President Bashar Assad fall.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Moti Almoz said the top brass had held a Golan assessment on Tuesday “as part of the common cause and blood-alliance between us and our Druse brothers in the State of Israel.”
IDF chief: Army would act to prevent slaughter of Syrian refugees
The IDF would act in the vicinity of its border to prevent the slaughter of Syrian refugees fleeing the war-torn country, Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Tuesday, likely referring principally to the Druze citizens of Syria, who fear the wrath of the ISIS militiamen.
In his first hearing before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Eisenkot said Syria was disintegrating, and voiced concern about the way the war has drawn close to Israel’s border, according to the Knesset committee’s spokesman, who briefed journalists after the meeting.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been left homeless by the civil war, and millions have fled to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, said Eisenkot. The IDF would both provide humanitarian aid to fleeing refugees and prevent their slaughter, he said.
While Eisenkot did not specify Syria’s Druze minority, Israel’s religious community this week called on the government to assist their brethren after jihadists massacred 20 Druze in the Idlib region last week. Druze leaders in Israel say they fear the lives of tens of thousands in their community in Syria are in danger.
Thousands of Israeli Druze took to the streets in the northern towns of Isfiya and Majdal Shams Monday in a solidarity protest on behalf of members of their community caught up in the turmoil of the ongoing civil war across the border in Syria. The protest came several hours after Israel’s Druze community announced that it had collected more than NIS 10 million ($2.6 million) for the Syrian Druze to buy weapons and other necessities.
Israel braces for refugees as Syrian rebels surround Druze town
Syrian rebels launched a wide-ranging offensive against government positions near the Israeli side of the Golan Heights on Wednesday, surrounding a Druze village and raising concerns that refugees would flood toward the border with Israel.
The advance came a day after Israel, which has a significant Druze population, said it was preparing for the possibility that refugees fleeing fighting in the area might seek to cross to the Israeli side of the strategic plateau.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory said rebels, including Islamist fighters, surrounded the village of Hader on Wednesday.
“Hader is now totally surrounded by rebels, who just took a strategic hilltop north of the village,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Insurgents have been on the offensive in southern Syria for the past three months, capturing military bases, villages and a border crossing point with Jordan.
Rocket siren sounds in Golan Heights amid heavy Syrian infighting
Rocket alert sirens were sounded at approximately 12 p.m. in the Golan Heights on Wednesday amid heavy fighting between factions on the Syrian side of the border.
The IDF was checking if spillover fire from the Syrian infighting caused the alarms and if any projectiles landed on the Israeli side of the border. No injuries or damage were reported.
The sirens went off in the Alonei Habashan and Ein Zivun regions of the Golan.
The IDF and Israel Police declared a section of the northeast Golan Heights a closed military zone on Tuesday – then lifted the decree hours later and returned the area to normal.
These decisions – the former of which closed off the area to civilians and tourists who were not local residents – came after intensive battles between Assad-regime forces and rebels on the Syrian part of the border in recent days.
Kerry 'patience wearing thin' on Syria's Assad amid 'preponderance' of chemical attacks
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he had discussed Syria's use of chemical weapons with Russia and the international community's patience with Syrian President Bashar Assad's behavior was wearing thin.
Speaking to reporters via video conference from Boston, Kerry said he was confident Assad's government was responsible for a "preponderance" of chemical attacks against his own people and that "everyone's patience is wearing thin."
Kerry said it was one of the issues he discussed with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by phone on Monday and was confident Lavrov would raise it with Assad, who agreed in 2013 under a US-Russia brokered deal to dismantle the country's chemical weapons arsenal.
He said chemical weapons were dropped from aircraft and the United States was putting together data to support its claims that Assad's government was responsible for attacks.
The UN Security Council is currently debating a draft resolution that will help determine who is responsible for using chlorine as a chemical weapon. Russia questions whether a resolution, being drafted by the United States, is needed.
To 'Hurt' Israeli Economy, PA May Boycott Al-Aqsa Mosque
Despite historic Israeli “gestures” designed to make travel to the Temple Mount much easier for Arabs from Judea and Samaria during Ramadan, top officials in the Palestinian Authority have been calling for PA Arabs to boycott the Al-Aqsa (Dome of the Rock) Mosque – for fear that Arabs will spend money while they are there, enhancing the Israeli economy.
Mahmoud Abbas's cabinet will meet later Wednesday to make a final decision on whether or not to go through with the boycott, according to Yediot Aharonot.
In recent years, Israel has gone out of its way to make concessions to PA Arabs, enabling as many as possible to visit the Mosque, located on the Temple Mount, the historic site of the Jewish Temple, which predated the Mosque by over 1,000 years. Concessions were suspended last year for Ramadan, when PA Arabs throng to the Mosque, because of the IDF's search for three missing Israeli teens who were murdered by PA Arabs near Hevron – but the concessions are back in full force this year.

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