Thursday, March 23, 2017

From Ian:

Jewish Israeli-US teen arrested for phoning in JCC bomb threats
A Jewish Israeli teenager born in the US has been arrested on suspicion of issuing dozens of fake bomb threats against Jewish institutions in North America and elsewhere in recent months, police said on Thursday.
Police said the resident of the southern city of Ashkelon was the subject of a months-long undercover investigation by police’s Lahav 433 cyber unit and the FBI. It said in a statement that the motive behind the bomb threats was unclear. Police said he is 19 years old, but several Israeli media outlets reported him as 18.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the suspect allegedly placed dozens of threatening phone calls to public venues, synagogues and community buildings in the US, New Zealand and Australia. He also placed a threat to Delta Airlines, causing a flight in February 2015 to make an emergency landing.
“He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,” Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the US over the past two months.
The hoax calls were widely regarded as acts of anti-Semitism. The threats led to criticism of President Donald Trump’s administration for not speaking out fast enough. Last month, the White House denounced the threats and rejected “anti-Semitic and hateful threats in the strongest terms.”
Channel 2 reported that the suspect tried to seize the gun of a female police officer when cops arrived at his home to arrest him.
Will the JCC fake bomb threat suspect be extradited
Truth is suddenly far weirder than fiction.
With Thursday's blockbuster and bewildering announcement that the main suspect behind bomb threats against Jewish communities in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand is none other than a 19-year-old dual US-Israeli citizen living in the Ashkelon area, one of the eventual question will be: will he be extradited?
In some ways, it is way too early to ask this question.
Right now, the suspect is just a suspect and the investigation is ongoing. Also, Israel has said it will indict him in Israeli courts.
But could he be indicted in other countries at the same time and be extradited?
The first principle in extradition is there is no double-jeopardy.
You cannot try someone for the same crime in multiple countries.
London terror – a lesson from Israel
Basic math says the more terrorists you bring in, the more you are bound to suffer the consequences.
Granted, they are not all terrorists, but so inclined from specific countries. Our President, Donald Trump, keeps trying to keep them out.
So far he has not been entirely successful because of certain judges who tolerate anything, including rape, in the name of Tolerance.
In the name of Inclusiveness they give in to terror, and so, an hour after the attack, another Member of Parliament told the BBC:
“We will never give in to terror.”
Have you tried getting on a plane lately – without being near strip-searched? Every big city has quadrupled its police force and its intelligence gathering operations. Walls have gone up all over Europe – and we are building a wall. Check points everywhere. Constant alerts – if you see something, say something.
What is that? That is giving in to terror, and it’s happening all over, and electing a Muslim as London’s mayor stopped nothing.
Over the months, Mayor Sadiq Khan has called Trump’s proposed travel pause offensive and “ridiculous.”
Now what’s he say?
Kahn also said that every big city around the world ought to be ready and to expect terror attacks.
No, Sir, we never expected any such business until we shut our eyes and flung our doors and borders wide open.

Seth Frantzman: Terrorism must not become ‘part and parcel’ of our daily life
In what now seem like oddly prescient and tragic comments, London Mayor Sadiq Khan was quoted by The Independent hours [actually 6 months] before the terrorist attack in his city as saying the public must be vigilant against terrorism. Terrorist attacks, he said, were “part and parcel of living in a big city.”
It has become de rigueur to repeat a refrain that terrorism is impossible to fully prevent. When I posted on Twitter arguing that pretending terrorism was a “fact of life” is akin to excusing the KKK lynchings as something that we “can’t prevent,” others disagreed. “It is all but impossible to prevent someone acting alone who decides to use a car as a weapon,” one person replied. Throwing up our hands as a society in the face of daily violence is not a solution to terrorism, nor should it be a logical response.
Terrorism was not a fact of life in most cities a generation ago. It became a fact of life only recently in Europe, with the London and Madrid bombings, and then with the Islamic State-inspired and -controlled attacks in Paris and Brussels. Only recently has it graduated to the use of trucks and knives as weapons. Most terrorist attacks can be easily traced to their origin and inspiration. In the old days terrorism originating from Northern Ireland would often involve calling in bomb threats. In 2001 after the 9/11 attacks a Provisional IRA member told a radio station that IRA terrorism could not be compared with al-Qaida because the IRA gave warnings. But even al-Qaida cannot be compared with Islamic State because its method of attack in the early years tended to seek mass-murder spectacles, attacking embassies and the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It planned for years for these attacks and used a cell-like organizational structure.
We have now entered a period of lone-wolf style Islamist terrorism, almost all of it carried out by Sunni jihadists, many of them educated and born in the West. They are told they can be “lions” and “martyrs” for just driving over some people. To pretend that because some terrorists have decided in the past year to use vehicles to run people over means that is it now “part of life” is preposterous. It wasn’t part of life a few years ago. It needn’t be tomorrow. In the 15th century members of parliament used to carry swords. The Duke of Gloucester famously banned the carrying of swords by members at a parliament held in 1426 in Leicester. The members turned up with bats and clubs instead.
The Standard Reaction to London’s Mass Murder
Get ready. Here are the steps:
- This has nothing to do with Islam and he does not represent Islam.
- Claim it to be the religion of peace.
- It’s blowback for the west being in the Middle East.
- The guy was mentally ill.
- It is “lone wolf attack.”
- It’s just part of living in a big city.
- Claim Christians do these things too.
- Those who object are racist bigots.
- Change Facebook profile to flag of inflicted country.
- Light some candles, hold a vigil and go on a peace march.
- Some lad will sing “Imagine.”
- Forget the dead.
- Have articles banging on about how we have to protect Muslims.
- Ignore the attacker’s religion, motivations, or ideology.
- Claim Muslims are the real victims.
- Wait for the next Islamic terrorist attack to happen.
Man arrested trying to drive into crowd in Antwerp, weapons found in car
Belgian police arrested a French national who tried to drive into a crowd at high speed in a shopping area in the port city of Antwerp Thursday.
Belgian security forces found a rifle as well as bladed weapons in the car, prosecutors said.
The driver sped off after Belgian soldiers, who have been deployed around the country to assist the counter-terrorism fight, tried to stop the car.
“A short while later, a rapid intervention force from Antwerp police was able to stop the car,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear if the car contained any explosives.
The federal prosecutor’s office also said bomb disposal units were on the scene to examine the vehicle.
“Different arms were found in the boot — bladed weapons, a riot gun (rifle) and a container of liquid that is still unidentified,” the statement said.
“The suspect is Mohamed R., born on May 8, 1977, of French nationality and a resident of France,” the statement said.
The incident came a day after an attack on the British parliament killed three people, as well as after the first anniversary of the Brussels attacks in which 32 people died.
ISIS Claims Responsibility for London Attack that Killed Three People
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack in London that killed three people Wednesday.
The terrorist group published a statement Thursday to its propaganda site, Amaq news agency, calling the assailant "an Islamic State soldier" who carried out the attack outside of British Parliament "in response to calls to target citizens of the coalition," CNN reported.
It is unclear whether the group had direct ties to the attacker.
Prime Minister Theresa May told members of parliament Thursday the perpetrator was born in Britain and known to authorities, who had investigated him for concerns of religious extremism, but was ultimately regarded a "peripheral figure." Authorities have not yet identified the attacker, who was shot dead by police.
May characterized the attack as "Islamic terrorism" perpetuated by "a perversion of a great faith."
“An act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal," she told Parliament. "We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism.”
Police officer, Spanish teacher among victims of London attack
Three people were killed in the London terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament — two members of the public and a police officer.
Police said 40 were injured after the attacker plowed a car along a pavement on a bridge before stabbing the police officer outside the parliament.
Here is what we know about the victims so far:
The police officer killed has been named as 48-year-old Keith Palmer, a husband and father who was part of the parliamentary protection force.
Tributes have poured in from across the country for Palmer, who was unarmed and was stabbed to death just inside the vehicle entrance gates to parliament.
Palmer had been in the police for 15 years. He previously served in the British army alongside James Cleverly, now a Conservative MP, who tweeted: “A lovely man, a friend. I’m heartbroken.”
British police said one of the victims run down and killed by the attacker was a woman in her mid-40s later identified as Aysha Frade.
According to a Spanish diplomatic source, she had a Spanish mother but was a British citizen.
UK’s Middle East minister tried to resuscitate stabbed policeman
Fellow MPs have hailed Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood as “the best of us” after he attempted to resuscitate a policeman who had been fatally stabbed in the grounds of Parliament.
Ellwood, a former soldier, administered chest compressions, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and improvised to stem the flow of blood from the policeman’s wounds until an air ambulance landed in the grounds. The policeman as since reportedly died, taking the total to two victims in the attack.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister, who has responsibility for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, was photographed administering aid to the stricken policeman in the immediate aftermath of the Wednesday afternoon attack. He was later seen with blood on his hands and face.
A source close to Ellwood told the Telegraph: “He tried to give mouth-to-mouth and stem the blood from multiple stab wounds to the officer until the chopper and medics arrived.”
Alistair Burt, who served as middle east minister before Ellwood, told Jewish News: “Tobias Ellwood is the very best of us. To rush towards trouble is the action of a brave man, and my admiration of my colleague knows no bounds.”
May: London attacker ‘British-born,’ known to security services
The man who mowed down pedestrians on a London bridge and fatally stabbed a police officer on Parliament’s grounds was born in Britain and was known to intelligence services, the prime minister said Thursday.
Theresa May, who didn’t disclose the man’s name, said that he was once investigated for extremism links, but was considered a peripheral figure.
The revelation came moments after Parliament held a minute of silence and reconvened less than 24 hours after Wednesday’s brutal terrorist attack, which killed three victims and forced a lockdown of British government’s seat of power.
May delivered a defiant message to the House of Commons, declaring simply: “We are not afraid.”
In a sweeping statement, she set an unyielding tone, promising answers as to why a British-born national drove an SUV into innocent pedestrians along Westminster Bridge before charging into a parliamentary courtyard and fatally stabbing a police officer. Police shot and killed the attacker.
The scale of Islamist extremism is a problem for MI5
In her statement to the House of Commons, Theresa May said that the man responsible for yesterday’s attack was British-born and had previously been investigated by MI5 ‘in relation to concerns about violent extremism’. However, May stressed that, ‘The case is historic—he was not part of the current intelligence picture.’
Now, the fact that the attacker was known to the security services will lead to questions about why a closer watch wasn’t being kept on him. But there is, frankly, a volume problem here. The number of radicalised individuals is now so large — there are several thousand Islamist extremists being monitored by MI5 — that the security services have to be selective about who they keep the closest tabs on.
The weapons used by yesterday’s attacker, a 4×4 and two kitchen knifes, are easily available. It is hard to think of a reason why a member of the public would have reported someone purchasing—or in the case of the car, renting—these items.
We now wait to see whether there was other information that should have prompted concern, social media accounts and the like. But we should remember that just because the attacker was known to the security services doesn’t necessarily mean that it was an intelligence failure that the attack was not prevented.
Which Country is Missing From AP’s Vehicular Terror List?
The appalling terror attack in London involved a vehicle being driven at speed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge causing deaths and injuries. This has prompted comparisons with other terror attacks around the world where vehicles have been used as weapons.
According to an Associated Press article focused on other examples of vehicle attacks around the world, the London attack “was the latest in a string of incidents in which drivers used their vehicles as weapons.”
The AP then goes on to describe the following incidents:
January 2017 – Melbourne, Australia
December 2016 – Berlin, Germany
July 2016 – Nice, France
December 2014 – Dijon and Nantes, France
October 2014 – Montreal, Canada
June 2007 – Glasgow, Scotland
But which country is conspicuous by its absence?
As documented by Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Israel has suffered 55 vehicular (ramming) attacks since the beginning of the wave of terror in September 2015.
AP could have taken its cue from fellow wire service Reuters, which did include the following in its own story:
Reuters: Vehicle Attacks by Terrorists Becoming Increasingly Common
Vehicle attacks are not a new tactic in the Middle East.
In 2008, a Palestinian rammed a bulldozer into vehicles on a Jerusalem street before a visit by then U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, wounding at least 16 people.
Another Palestinian drove his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem in January this year, killing four of them in an attack that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said was likely to have been inspired by Islamic State.
Former senior CIA analyst Paul Pillar said that, while concern had long focused on "sophisticated or high-tech methods of terrorist attack, the most readily available methods for killing a lot of innocent people have always been simple and require no sophistication or training.
"This includes mowing people down with a vehicle on any crowded city street. Locations might be chosen that have some other political or religious significance - such as a Christmas market, or the vicinity of a national parliament - but there always are vulnerable public places with lots of people," he said.
Jean-Charles Brisard, president of the Centre for the Analysis of Terrorism, a European thinktank, said Wednesday's attack seemed to be "rudimentary in its conception".
Israel stands with UK against terrorism
Reacting to the deadly attack in London on Wednesday, officials and public representatives expressed their empathy with the British people and stressed that Israel stands with the United Kingdom in its fight against terrorism.
“Israel expresses its deep shock at the terrorist attack in London today and its solidarity with the victims and people and government of Great Britain,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said. “Terrorism is terrorism wherever it occurs, and we will fight it relentlessly.”
Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon expressed Israel’s support to British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.
“Israel stands as one with the British people as we all work together to defeat the scourge of terrorism,” Danon said. “We send our condolences and wish a speedy recovery to all those injured.”
Kulanu MK and former ambassador to the US Michael Oren said on his Twitter account that Israel’s solidarity with the UK comes from a common goal of defending freedom.
“My thoughts and sympathy are with London and the victims and their families,” he said. “Israel stands with you in fighting terror and defending freedom.”
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said on Twitter: “Our hearts are with the British today.
Stand strong. The free world will defeat terrorism.”
Hirsi Ali: Islamic Terrorists 'Don't Go to Liberals and Say Thank You' for Being PC
Ayaan Hirsi Ali criticized what she considered the "apologetic attitude" some liberals around the world have toward identifying the religious component to Islamic terrorism.
Ali, a women rights activist who was raised Muslim in Somalia but later became an apostate, called such a mindset "masochistic and stupid."
She said on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that radical Islamic terrorists "don't go to liberals and say thank you so much, we'll stop terrorizing you" because of some on the left refuse to identify terrorism's religious component.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Trump travel order clumsy but he's right
Author and former refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali says President Trump's initial travel order was sloppy and inartful - but he's still right about the danger of radical Islam

Former Israeli airport security boss: electronics ban makes little sense
Even in Israel, renowned for its aviation security, a carry-on electronics ban on flights to the United States and Britain from parts of the Middle East and North Africa had a former airport security chief shaking his head on Wednesday.
"I don't quite understand the decision," said Pini Schiff, former head of security at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion airport, pointing to security gaps in the new rules that anyone aiming to smuggle explosives on to a commercial airliner might exploit.
Under the regulations announced on Tuesday, electronic devices larger than cellphones are banned from the passenger cabins of planes flying directly from at least 10 airports in 10 Muslim-majority nations.
Schiff said that still leaves open the possibility of hiding explosives in a device packed in luggage in the hold of an aircraft, or smuggling a bomb into the seating area of a connecting flight to the United States or Britain.
"What can explode in the plane while it's in a passenger's hands can also explode in a cargo hold, because if you put a timer or a barometric pressure switch on it, you endanger the flight to the same degree," he told Reuters.
‘No European…can walk safely on the streets,’ Turkey’s Islamist President Erdogan Warns Europe
With the diplomatic row between Europe and Turkey escalating further, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan issued an unveiled threat to Europeans. “If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets,” Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara, Turkey. Earlier, several cities in Germany and the Netherlands canceled public appearances by Erdogan’s ministers citing security concerns.
It is unclear if Erdogan’s statement was meant as a direct call to violence, but Erdogan supporters have a track record of resorting to intimidation and violence abroad to push their Islamist leaders’ political agenda. Earlier this month, thousands of Turkish immigrants rioted in the streets of Rotterdam after city’s mayor refused the landing rights to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Following those riots in the Netherlands, Erdogan supporters vandalised the Dutch consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.
Reuters news agency reported Erdogan’s statement:
Turkey has been embroiled in a row with Germany and the Netherlands over the barring of campaign appearances by Turkish officials seeking to drum up support for an April referendum on boosting Erdogan’s powers.
“If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. We, as Turkey, call on Europe to respect human rights and democracy,” Erdogan said at event for local journalists in Ankara.
Neutralizing the Palestinian Internationalization Strategy
Eight years ago the Palestinians adopted an "internationalization strategy" reflecting their hope that the international community would accept their demands: (1) establishment of a Palestinian state, (2) on the basis of the 1967 lines, (3) with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestinians hoped to achieve this without having to contribute the minimum demanded by Israel for achievement of an agreement: committing to an end of conflict and finality of claims; waiving the right of return; and agreeing to security arrangements that to some extent would limit their sovereignty.
It appears that the Palestinians are having difficulty in internalizing two major changes that have made their internationalization strategy much less relevant: the Trump administration is not committed to the Palestinians to the same degree as was the Obama administration, and the Israeli narrative is closer to the outlook of the current administration than the Palestinian narrative.
In addition, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become less important in the Arab world and in the international community. Ten million Syrian refugees, a humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and instability in Iraq and Libya have shunted the Palestinian issue to the region's political sidelines.
Israel's interest requires coordination and understanding with the U.S. on the truly significant challenges in the region: Iranian subversion and terrorism, the conflict in Syria, and the need to strengthen Egypt and Jordan as stabilizing elements.
Paradoxically, the Palestinian internationalization strategy has prevented progress toward a solution to the conflict. Making it unmistakably clear to the Palestinians that they must return to the negotiating process and mutual give and take, and also accept transitional and interim arrangements as preferable alternatives to the status quo, will engender greater potential for progress than during the Obama administration.
As an initial sign to the Palestinians that the rules of the game have changed, moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is in order. An American retreat from this pledge, as a result of the Palestinian threat aimed at preventing this measure, will weaken America's stature and become an incentive for the Palestinians to adhere to a strategy of bypassing Israel and evading direct negotiations.
Elliott Abrams: What’s the Palestinian Contribution to Peace?
The Trump administration’s Middle East policy is developing, and most recently a key adviser to the President, Jason Greenblatt, visited Jerusalem and Ramallah.
The full content of his talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials is secret, as it should be. Still, it is clear that the President would like to move the parties forward toward a peace agreement. According to various press reports there was a good discussion of how Israeli settlement activities might be limited, and of steps that might be taken to improve the Palestinian economy.
These are important subjects to cover, but there is another one that simply must be on the table (and perhaps it was). The list of subjects must include with what the Palestinians will give, not just what they will receive.
John Bolton: What Trump Must Do on Foreign Policy
Particularly for conservatives, US foreign policy rests on the bedrock principle of safeguarding our constitutional system and our vital worldwide interests from foreign threats and ideologies. Our agenda, therefore, must not be determined by idiosyncratic actions or decisions of individual political leaders, whether in the legislative or executive branches.
With that in mind, consider these suggestions:
Defeating the ideology of radical Islamic terrorism globally will take time, but the top priority must be rapidly destroying the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq. Speed (which President Obama ignored) is crucial to stop ISIS from recruiting, training and deploying new terrorists in Europe and America, and preventing even more ISIS cadres from escaping to re-establish headquarters in other anarchic spots, such as Libya.
Our objective (as opposed to Obama’s) should be minimizing any benefit to Iran and its allies (the Baghdad regime, Bashar Assad’s Syria and Hezbollah) by working primarily with friendly Arab states, the Kurds and, to the extent possible, the Turks. Bearing in mind Iran’s studied preparation for future regional conflicts, we must put Israel and our Arab friends in stronger positions rather than allowing Iran to take advantage of our anti-ISIS successes. To that end, we should also designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
David Singer: Trump Can Broker Israel-Jordan Deal but No Israel-PLO Agreement
Trump’s ability to cut a deal in the face of these irreconcilable differences is severely hampered by the written commitments made to Israel’s Prime Minister Sharon by President Bush on 14 April 2004 and overwhelmingly endorsed by the US House of Representatives by 407:9 and Senate 95:3.
Those commitments – given to Israel to secure Israel’s total withdrawal from Gaza and four Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria – back Israel’s above demands in any negotiations with the PLO.It seems inconceivable that Trump – the master deal-maker – would consider reneging on the Bush- Congress-Sharon deal.
If he did, Israel would not resume negotiations with the PLO.
If he doesn’t, the PLO would not resume negotiations with Israel.
If Trump wants to do a deal, he needs Jordan to come to the party and enter into direct negotiations with Israel to allocate sovereignty in the West Bank between Jordan and Israel – virtually completing the original two-state formula envisaged in 1922 by Article 25 of the League of Nations Mandate.
Greenblatt’s meeting with King Abdullah is a possible pointer to getting such negotiations underway.
Trump’s undoubted brokering skills can ensure such negotiations happen.
Arab League chief says Palestinians to present peace plan
The Palestinian leadership will present “a new plan” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the upcoming Arab League Summit in Jordan, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmad Abul Ghaith told a pan-Arab, London-based publication.
“There is a desire on the Palestinian side to reformulate some ideas... They [the Palestinians] promised to put forward a new plan pertaining to the Palestinian issue in general,” Abul Ghaith told Al-Sharq al-Awsat in an interview published on Wednesday, without elaborating.
The Arab League Summit, which Arab officials have said will be consequential for the Palestinian issue, is slated to take place on March 29 near the Dead Sea in Jordan.
Ahmad Majdalani, a confidante of Abbas, however, denied the report, saying that it “is not correct.”
West Bank settlement construction up in 2016 — report
There were 2,630 housing construction starts in West Bank settlements in 2016, the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a report Wednesday, in what marks a nearly 40 percent increase over 2015.
The publication of the statistics came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been seeking to reach an agreement with the US on new settlement construction.
On Wednesday, Netanyahu said there has been “significant progress” in talks on the issue with the US.
“The talks have not been completed, but there is progress and we will hear about it when we reach Israel,” he told reporters in China, where he was on a state visit, shortly before his plane took off for Israel.
After US President Donald Trump told Netanyahu that “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit” during a February meeting of the two leaders at the White House, the prime minister said he was working with the US administration to “establish a mechanism” to coordinate new settlement construction.
Israel said to reject US demand for building freeze in isolated settlements
The Trump administration reportedly demanded that Israel halt all construction in isolated West Bank settlements and put curbs on new building inside the major settlement blocs, under the terms of an agreement currently being negotiated with the Netanyahu government over settlement construction.
During his visit to the region last week, US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt held a pair of lengthy discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in part to reach an understanding on new settlement construction.
According to several Hebrew media reports Wednesday, Greenblatt set out terms under which the US would not oppose the construction of new homes in Jewish neighborhoods over the pre-1967 lines in East Jerusalem, and would accept an agreed number of new homes each year inside the major settlement blocs, while no new homes would be built in isolated settlements. Building in the blocs would be within an agreed annual quota, Greenblatt proposed, according to Channel 2.
Israel “was surprised” by the stringency of the demands, and rejected them, the report said.
Minister vows to quit coalition if settlement freeze goes ahead
Jewish Home Minister Uri Ariel said on Thursday he would quit the government if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accedes to reported US demands to freeze West Bank settlement construction outside of the main blocs.
“We never threaten,” Ariel, who holds the agriculture portfolio, told Army Radio. “I don’t want to threaten.” But a decision to freeze settlement building outside the blocs — those areas that hold the bulk of the Jewish West Bank residents and would likely stay under Israel’s jurisdiction in any future peace agreement — would probably “not leave us any choice,” he said.
Asked specifically if he would not sit in a government that prohibited building outside of the blocs, he answered, “You said that.”
“And you confirmed it,” said the interviewer.
“True,” Ariel replied.
It was not immediately clear whether Ariel was speaking on behalf of himself, his two-MK strong Tekuma faction within the Jewish Home party, or the entire eight-seat party on whose votes the coalition depends for its majority.
British MP: Iran is trying to threaten Israel by establishing a second front in Syria
Labor MP Joan Ryan said that Iran is attempting to pose a new threat on Israel by funding Hezbollah terrorists and creating a "second front in southern Syria with which to threaten Israel."
The British parliament member made the comment about Iran's on-going aggression against Israel as part of a parliamentary debate on Iran's influence in the Middle East that took place earlier this week.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, Ryan went on to add that Iran's position on Israel is "utterly malign." She explained that Iranian threats on Israel are not just limited to its nuclear activity but that have now received a new form, with Tehran's funding of Hezbollah's military wing serving as an attempt to undermine Israel's security "through support for terrorism."
While most of her speech was related to Iran's affiliation to terror groups in the Middle East and the indirect threat it tries to pose on Israel through these ties, she also mentioned that Iran has a history of calling for the destruction of the Jewish state.
Russia asked Syrians to return famed Israeli spy‘s remains – report
Russia has reportedly asked Syria, on behalf of Israel, to return the remains of Eli Cohen, the Mossad agent who was caught and hanged while operating in the country in 1965.
Moscow’s request followed several Israeli appeals to the Russians, who are now highly influential in Damascus given their support for Syrian leader Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war and their direct military involvement on his behalf since 2015, the Haaretz daily reported Thursday.
But the Syrians still claim, as they have consistently in the past, that they do not know where Cohen is buried, the paper said.
Mossad agent Cohen was put on trial and executed by the Syrian government for espionage on May 18, 1965, after he successfully infiltrated the Syrian government under the alias Kamel Amin Thaabet for four years. The intelligence conveyed to Israel during that period was credited by then-prime minister Levi Eshkol as greatly assisting Israel during the Six Day War.
Police deny permit for annual Nakba march over security concerns
Police have refused to grant a permit for the upcoming “March of Return,” one of the annual events held by Arab Israelis to mark the Nakba — the “catastrophe” of the creation of the Jewish state.
The march, scheduled to take place on Israel’s 69th Independence Day in early May, was nixed by police, who said there was insufficient manpower to secure the event due to the large number of holiday celebrations taking place across the country, the Haaretz daily reported Thursday.
Each year, the event draws thousands of Arab Israelis, and large numbers of police are typically deployed in the area to prevent potential confrontations with Jewish Israelis celebrating Independence Day, though no arrests or incidents of violence have been reported in recent years.
Since its start in 1998, organizers each year choose the location of a different Arab village destroyed in the War of Independence and march there, calling for the return of Palestinian refugees to their former homes.
10 Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai roadside bombings
Ten Egyptian soldiers were killed in two roadside bombings as they clashed with Islamic State group jihadists in the Sinai Peninsula, the military said on Thursday.
Fifteen jihadists were also killed in the fighting, the military said in a statement, without saying when the incidents took place.
The military said the clashes broke out when soldiers raided “an extremely dangerous” jihadist hideout.
The Islamic State group had said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon that it blew up two army vehicles during clashes south of the Sinai city of El-Arish.
The jihadists have killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen since the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and cracked down on his supporters.
Iran 'harassing' American warships in Strait of Hormuz
U.S. Navy commanders on Wednesday accused Iran of jeopardizing international navigation by "harassing" warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz, warning future incidents could result in miscalculation and lead to an armed clash, Reuters reported.
The commanders spoke after the U.S. aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush confronted what one of the officers described as two sets of Iranian Navy fast-attack boats that had approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait on Tuesday.
It was the first time a U.S. carrier entered the narrow waterway, where up to 30 percent of global oil exports pass annually, since President Donald Trump took office in January.
Tuesday's incident, in which the George H.W. Bush sent helicopter gunships to hover over the Iranian speedboats, ended without a shot being fired, the officials told Reuters.
The incident follows recent tensions in the Gulf between the United States and Iran.
In January, a U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats near the Strait of Hormuz, after five Iranian vessels approached the USS Mahan and two other American ships that were entering the strait.
In Advance Of Arab League Summit In Jordan, Calls In Arab Countries To Reinstate Syria's League Membership; Syrian Writers Reject Calls For Reinstatement, Saying Syria Will Return Only If Arab League Apologizes To It
Six years after the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed, and in advance of the annual Arab League summit which is set to take place in Amman, Jordan in late March 2017, there have been in recent months calls from some Arab countries to reinstate Syria as a member of the Arab League. The suspension came on November 12, 2011, several months after the beginning of the uprising in Syria against the regime's oppression of its people, and was to be in force until Syria met its obligations under the Arab proposal for resolving the crisis in the country, put forward by the Arab League. At the same time, it should also be noted that Syria has been represented at two League summits by Syrian opposition groups – in 2013 in Qatar and in 2014 in Kuwait.
Among the countries calling today for reinstating Syria's League membership are Iraq and Egypt, apparently following pressure to do so from Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov himself has called for Syria's reinstatement. Support for its reinstatement has also been expressed by other Arab countries such as Lebanon and Tunisia.
Jordan, which is hosting the summit, has officially expressed reservations about such a move. Jordanian officials have reiterated in the past few weeks that Syria will not be invited to the summit because of Jordan's commitment to the League's suspension; League secretary-general Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit has taken the same position.
Tillerson: ISIS leader's death a matter of time
United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that the death of Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is only a matter of time.
"Nearly all of Abu Bakr Baghdadi's deputies are now dead, including the mastermind behind the attacks in Brussels, Paris and elsewhere," Tillerson told a coalition meeting in Washington, according to the AFP news agency.
"It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets this same fate," he added, speaking during a meeting of the 69 members of the U.S.-led military coalition fighting ISIS.
Baghdadi was believed to have been in Mosul, ISIS’s de facto capital, though a U.S. defense official told reporters earlier this month that he had fled the city.
Child 'suicide bomber', 7, dressed in full 'Hazard' Chelsea football kit is caught by Iraqi troops who disarm him after finding explosives strapped to his chest
This is the dramatic moment Iraqi soldiers disarm a young child in a Chelsea kit who was found with what appears to be a suicide bomb strapped around his waist.
The boy, thought to be about seven, was seized outside the war-torn Iraqi city of Mosul after hiding among families fleeing ISIS.
A soldier can be seen gently lifting up the child's blue shirt, bearing the name of Chelsea star Eden Hazard, to reveal what looks like an explosive belt fastened to his midriff.
In a tense two-minute clip, he then slowly snips wires and cuts away the device while telling the youngster: 'Don't be afraid'.
Video of the encounter was captured outside Mosul. A caption with the footage, released on LiveLeak, claims that the boy is the youngest ever child suicide bomber - however this has not been verified.

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