Monday, April 30, 2018

From Ian:

Netanyahu to announce ‘significant’ new info on Iran’s nuclear program
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will announce a “significant development” regarding Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in a live speech at 8 p.m. Monday, his office said.

Netanyahu will give the statement at the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tel Aviv.

According to Hadashot news and Channel 10 news, Netanyahu will reveal intelligence information, based on a large cache of documents recently obtained by Israel, which he believes proves Iran has duped the world regarding the state of its nuclear program.

Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu will speak in English, in order for the announcement to reach a worldwide audience.

Ahead of his remarks, Netanyahu cancelled a speech he was to make at the Knesset and his Likud party called off its weekly faction meeting due to the security tensions. The opposition Zionist Union and Yesh Atid parties withdrew their proposed no-confidence vote in the government. Given the “sensitive” security situation, it was appropriate to “show a unified front,” said Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson.
Palestinians must make peace or shut up, Saudi crown prince said to tell US Jews
At a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York last month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman castigated the Palestinian leadership for rejecting opportunities for peace with Israel for decades, and said they should either start accepting peace proposals or “shut up.”

Citing what it said were multiple sources, Israel’s Channel 10 News on Sunday night quoted what it said were remarks made by the crown prince at the meeting that left those who were present “staggered” by the ferocity of his criticism of the Palestinians.

“For the past 40 years, the Palestinian leadership has missed opportunities again and again, and rejected all the offers it was given,” the Saudi leader reportedly said.

“It’s about time that the Palestinians accept the offers, and agree to come to the negotiating table — or they should shut up and stop complaining,” he reportedly went on.

Prince Salman also told the US Jewish leaders that “the Palestinian issue is not at the top of the Saudi government’s agenda” and elaborated, “There are much more urgent and more important issues to deal with — such as Iran,” according to the TV report.
Officials: Trump 'seriously considering' letting Pollard move to Israel
US President Donald Trump is “seriously considering” changing the parole conditions of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to allow him to come to Israel, Israeli officials said at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday.

Pollard was paroled from prison in November 2015 after serving 30 years of a life sentence for spying for Israel, America’s ally. But his parole conditions prevent him from leaving New York State and moving to, or even visiting Israel.

In a recent conversation with a visitor to New York, Pollard revealed that he and his wife, Esther, were suffering from poor health and had dealt with significant medical challenges over the past year.

Asked if he had hope that the Trump administration would commute his sentence and allow him to go to Israel, Pollard told the visitor he met on the street: “I am praying for a miracle. I just want to come home.”

Intelligence Services Minister Israel Katz said allowing Pollard to come to Israel would be another welcome gesture by the Trump administration when the US Embassy moves to Jerusalem.

“In order to make the celebration even happier, I would like to ask our great friend President Trump to give the Israeli public one more present and to allow Jonathan Pollard to come to Israel and celebrate with us in Jerusalem,” Katz said.

Caroline Glick: Time to Leave the Iran Deal
Conversely, abandonment of the nuclear deal by the U.S. will weaken, if not cripple the regime. Reinstituting U.S. sanctions against Iran will hasten the downfall of the Iranian economy, which is already coming apart at the seams. Iran’s current economic woes owe to its limited access to foreign currencies through the international banking system. Further U.S. economic sanctions will limit that access still further, and send hundreds of thousands of Iranians into the streets to protest as what is left of their rial-backed savings are rendered worthless by skyrocketing inflation.

If the regime is destabilized, its desire to go to war against Israel will likely diminish rather than increase. During the countrywide anti-regime protests last December and January, the demonstrators protested against the regime’s diversion of billions of dollars away from the public to pay for the war in Syria and to underwrite Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis. The protesters called out, “No Gaza, No Lebanon, No Syria, My life for Iran!”

At the UN Security Council on Thursday, Israel’s UN Ambassador Dani Danon revealed new details about Iran’s burgeoning military presence on Syria. “There are over 80,000 extremists from all over the Middle East who are members of Shia militias in Syria under Iranian control,” he said.

Danon shared satellite imagery of what he claimed is an Iranian recruitment center just five miles outside Damascus. His presentation dovetailed with satellite imagery released by the Israeli military earlier in the month detailing five Iranian-controlled air bases in Syria. The release of the air base data was interpreted as a signal to the Iranians that Israel intends to bomb the bases if Iran carries out its threat to retaliate for Israel’s air assault on the Iranian drone base T-4 outside Palmyra, Syria immediately after the US-led airstrikes on Syria’s chemical weapons installations on April 7.

All of these recent events, and the rising threat of war, show that opponents of the Iran nuclear deal were correct and that Kerry’s circular reasoning, which prevented the U.S. and its allies from taking effective action against any of Iran’s nuclear and non-nuclear operations, was dead wrong.

Not only does the nuclear deal pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal rather than block it, by enriching Iran, the deal also rewarded Iranian aggression and increased the chance of a major regional war.

The way to diminish that prospect is not to empower the Iranians still further by maintaining the deal. The way to diminish the chance of war is by weakening Iran. Leaving the deal, while standing with Israel and with opponents of the regime inside Iran, means doing just that.
Seth Frantzman: Syrian regime bombing Palestinian camp to root out ISIS
Once home to 160,000 people, it has been gutted and reduced to rubble over the last years as it was under siege.

Many of the Palestinians who once lived there have fled, but estimates noted that thousands still remained.

“Severe escalation of fighting affecting Yarmouk Camp, in Damascus,” tweeted UNRWA commission general Pierre Krahenbuhl on April 24. “UNRWA prepared to provide emergency aid to fleeing refugee families as soon as security conditions permit.”

By Sunday, Al Jazeera estimated that 60% of the neighborhood had been taken by the Syrian army and its allies.

UNRWA continued to warn of “catastrophic consequences.”

In addition, up to 3,500 Palestinians were able to escape the fighting, Al Jazeera reported.

For Palestinian refugees in the camp and those who fled over the last few years, this is only the latest round of suffering.

Krahenbuhl told reporters in Brussels at an international conference that “Palestinian refugees in Syria are a community that lives, for the second time in their large history, the trauma of displacement.”

Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi posted about Yarmouk on her Facebook page, asking: “Who can be silent in this time of people crying out?” “Imagine the global response if Israel had done this. But it’s [the] Assad regime so let’s keep the focus on ISIS,” Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies asked on Twitter.
Iranians killed in alleged Israeli strike on military site in Syria
The Syrian army confirmed that Sunday that several military bases in northern Syria were struck in an attack blamed on Israel by the Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al Akhbar.

According to official news agency SANA, a military source said that “some military sites in the countryside of Hama and Aleppo provinces were exposed at 10:30 PM to a new aggression with hostile rockets.”

The explosions following the strike registered as a 2.6 magnitude earthquake by the European Mediterranean Seismological Center, but the weapons used did not cause the quake. Over 18 people were killed and another 60 were wounded, Sky News Arabia reported citing regime media.

Al Akhbar reported the targets of the strike were Syrian army bases being used by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and Shi'ite militias with troops from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Hezbollah’s Al Mayadeen reported missiles also struck targets in the Al-Malikiyah area, north of the Aleppo’s airport.
Iran's Tasnim news agency denied that its bases were hit.

Seth J. Frantzman: Analysis: Who could have been behind the massive explosion in Syria?
Four hours after the strikes, around two in the morning, many pro-regime accounts shifted their blame from Israel to the US-led Coalition. The narrative began to form that it was actually a missile strike from the Coalition base at Al-Tanf or from airplanes off the coast with missiles flying over Jordan and striking Hama. Supposedly, the missiles were directed at Iranian bases. A post by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi shed light on claims by a commander in the pro-regime Latakia Local Defense Forces, that the strike was “likely an American strike in retaliation for the crossing onto Syrian Democratic Forces positions in Deir ez-Zor.” This is a reference to an attack on April 29 by pro-regime forces on the Euphrates river against US-backed SDF. Other accounts even showed maps and diagrams to “explain” how the attack was carried out by the US. And they sought to show that a US drone was hovering around the Mediterranean at the time of the strikes.

An even more strange rumors put out by some pro-Syrian rebel accounts was that it was the Russians who had targeted their own Iranian allies. “Russia was involved in negotiations in Homs and they wanted to negotiate, and the Astana meetings will take place in two weeks. Because the regime and Iran did not apply the Russian instructions, Russia struck the Iranian base.” Astana is the location of peace talks and the sixth round of discussions between Russia, Turkey and Iran are supposed to take place in mid-May.

By the morning on Monday, the rumors and stories had largely dissipated. Iran’s ISNA news agency reported casualties at the site of the airstrikes. But full details remained unclear and the Iranian media even quoted Israeli media in order to claim that the “Zionists” might have been responsible. Syria’s SANA state media included only a small report on the “foreign aggression” against the base in Hama. It was more interested in boasting about the regime’s successes in battles in southern Damascus against Islamic State and about an agreement to evacuate civilians from a Shi’ite enclave in Idlib.

So why did pro-regime accounts spread rumors blaming the Coalition for the strikes? Why did pro-regime media switch from reporting the “aggression” to ignoring it? It appears that because they knew no one could ignore the massive scale of the explosion, there had to be some explanation. It may have been embarrassing for the regime to assert that Israel had been responsible, because then it would have to admit that Russian air defenses were not activated, despite assertions that future strikes would be challenged. This made it easier for pro-regime activists to create a convoluted and complex story blaming the US for strikes from a “new” location near Jordan. But by the morning, such necessities to blame the US for the strike evaporated into a decision to simply move on. There are still dozens of killed and wounded at the Hama base. Details of their condition and the base itself have yet to emerge.
Resonant Syria strike suggests coordinated US-Israel message to Russia and Iran
Hours after a mysterious “earthquake” — 2. 6 on the Richter scale — registered on the devices of the European Mediterranean Seismological Center, the circumstances behind the series of explosions that shook Syria overnight Sunday-Monday are starting to become clear.

An increasing number of media organizations associated with the Syrian regime and Hezbollah are hinting that Israel was responsible. According to a report in the Al Akhbar newspaper, identified with Hezbollah, bunker buster missiles, which do not explode on impact but rather deep in the ground, hit bases in the Hama and Aleppo areas. Hence the “earthquake.”

The base that was attacked in the Hama area belongs to the 47th Brigade of President Bashar Assad’s Syrian Army, but apparently there were many Shiites and/or Iranians in the area. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory (based in London) reported that 26 people were killed in this attack, Iranians among them. Another report spoke of 38 fatalities. Whatever the case, it is clear that the strike was highly unusual in several respects.

First and foremost was the sheer power of the attack. The pictures and the sounds, and the large number of casualties, point to an incident of larger scale than those to which we have become accustomed. We are not talking here about just another strike on another Hezbollah convoy, but rather what would appear to be a new step in what is now the almost-open warfare being waged between Iran and Israel in recent weeks on Syrian territory. The same player that earlier this month attacked the T-4 airbase, from which an Iranian attack drone was launched into Israel in February, apparently struck again overnight Sunday-Monday, taking the gloves off and moving into a new level of military confrontation.
JCPA: Hamas’ Warfare Tactics in the “Great Return March”
The violent activities that occurred within the framework of the “Great Return March” included the following:

Shooting attacks – On March 30, 2018, two Hamas operatives approached the border fence in northern Gaza and opened fire from a light weapon at an IDF force, which returned fire and killed them.5 Two more gunmen fired on Israeli troops on April 27.

Explosive charges – An IDF spokesman reported on April 13, 2018, an explosive charge was laid a few meters away from the border fence in the area near the Karni crossing, close to the neighborhood of Shuja’iyya. The explosives blew up on the Palestinian side of the fence, apparently injuring several protesters. A Palestinian was filmed throwing a suspicious object, apparently an explosive charge, several meters from the security fence. In a photograph taken at the scene of the incident, several journalists and a disabled person are seen close to the thrower of the explosive charge.6

Another explosive device that was laid during the disturbances at the events of the “great return march” in northern Gaza was activated (on April 11, 2018) against IDF engineering tools.7 On April 8, an IDF force located several explosive devices in northern Gaza. These explosives were placed by Palestinians who passed through the fence and immediately retraced their steps.8 Several days earlier, a hand grenade thrown from the Gaza at IDF forces was located.9 Explosive charges along the entire border pose a tangible threat against IDF forces on a regular basis. On March 15, several explosive devices were detonated while an IDF force was patrolling the area around northern Gaza.10 On March 1, 2018, IDF forces neutralized explosives that had been placed on the fence in southern Gaza to harm soldiers patrolling the area. The explosives had been laid during “peaceful” Friday protests, along with an explosive charge that had been attached to a flagpole. When it exploded on February 17, 2018, it wounded four soldiers.11 In March 2017, explosive devices were also located close to the border fence with Gaza.12

Molotov cocktails13 – These are glass bottles filled with flammable liquid that are activated by lighting a damp cloth in the neck of the bottle. In the past, Molotov cocktail attacks have caused serious injuries to soldiers and civilians and even death. A Molotov cocktail is considered by the IDF to be a weapon.

Catapults – East of Khan Yunis, the Palestinians used catapults attached to a wagon or anchored in the ground that were able to launch rocks at IDF forces.14

6 Gazans try to cross fence into Israel; 3 shot dead
In two separate incidents, one of which included an attack on Israeli forces, troops opened fire on four Palestinians who tried to enter Israeli territory from the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday evening, killing three of them, the army said.

In a third case, also in the southern Gaza Strip, two Palestinian suspects were arrested after they crossed into Israeli territory, the military said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, in the first incident, two of the Palestinians were spotted trying to damage the security fence and infiltrate into Israel. IDF soldiers opened fire, killing one of them, and took the second into custody.

“Two suspects tried to cross the border into Israel and damage the security fence in the southern [Gaza] Strip. One suspect was killed, the other apprehended for questioning,” the army said.

Minutes later, the army reported that a second pair of Palestinian suspects had broken through the security fence and hurled improvised explosive devices at IDF soldiers.

The troops fired at them, killing the two attackers, the army said.

WaPo Publishes Piece Painting Palestinian Protesters As Young Innocents. That's Not The Whole Story.
On Saturday, The Washington Post, in yet another example of its anti-Israel bias, published a piece titled, “Blasted Limbs, Broken Dreams,” in which it lamented the Palestinians who have been shot in the legs during the past month as Palestinians have been threatening to cross the border into Israel.

Of course, the Post quoted the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza when it came to gathering statistics; that organization claimed 17 Gazans had lost limbs after being shot by Israeli troops. And the Post’s article painted the victims as young innocents who were cruelly targeted by Israeli troops: examples included, “a lanky teenager who loves to run, a medal-winning track star with ambitions to compete abroad,” “an aspiring athlete who had hoped to break free from life in Gaza,” and one with “thick dark hair in a pompadour and has deep-set eyes that turn down in pain.”

But here’s the side of Gazans’ actions that the Post ignores:

If you needed further evidence that the Post’s sympathies lie with the Palestinians and not the Israelis who live under constant threat, try this sentence from the Post article: “Israel says its armed response has been appropriate for the threat posed by Palestinians. Israeli officials accuse the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, of using civilian demonstrators as cover to ‘terrorize Israel.’”

Note the quotes around “terrorize Israel,” as if Israeli officials are making up out of whole cloth the idea of Palestinians executing terrorist attacks on Israel.

Just another example of anti-Israel bias brought to you by the MSM.
NY Times’ Infantile Support for Gaza Rioters Empowers Reactionary Regime
There’s a difference between running an unfair piece which once again points the finger at Israel for this or that failure of its Arab neighbors – and actually contributing to the suffering and hopelessness of those same Arabs. Iyad Abuheweila and David Halbfinger on Sunday actually joined the forces of repression which have been devouring the Arabs of the Gaza Strip since 1948.

Their story, For Gaza Protester, Living or Dying Is the ‘Same Thing,’ focused on Saber al-Gerim, 22, a Gaza Strip Arab whose grandmother fled her home in what is today the city of Ashdod in Israel. One of the thousands of Gazan youths who threw themselves against the border fence over the past five weeks, al-Gerim’s dispair has reached a level where he tells the Times’ writers: “It doesn’t matter to me if they shoot me or not,” because “Death or life — it’s the same thing.”

The CIA World Factbook in 2017 offered a grim analysis of things inside the Gaza Strip: “Movement and access restrictions, violent attacks, and the slow pace of post-conflict reconstruction continue to degrade economic conditions in the Gaza Strip,” goes the report. “Israeli controls became more restrictive after Hamas seized control of the territory in June 2007.”

The reason for that tightening of the controls had to do with the fact that Israel, which had let go of every last inch of Gaza in the summer of 2005, watched helplessly as the partner with which it had signed a peace agreement, the PLO, was being roughed up, its members thrown off rooftops, by the zealot terror group Hamas whose primary goal, above all else, was and has since remained the annihilation of the Zionist state.
Israel MFA: U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo: "The U.S. Is with Israel in This Fight to Counter Iran's Threats"
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. After their meeting, they said:

Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"The bold decision by President Trump has prompted other countries, quite a few now, who are planning to move their embassy to Jerusalem as well. It says something about American leadership and about the forthright way in which simple truths are being put forward, and the effect this has on the international scene."

"The greatest threat to the world and to our two countries - and to all countries - is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and specifically the attempt of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons."

"I appreciate the President's and your position on stopping Iran's aggression in the region. That aggression has grown many-fold since the signing of the Iranian deal....Iran is trying to gobble up one country after the other. Iran must be stopped. Its quest for nuclear bombs must be stopped. Its aggression must be stopped, and we're committed to stopping it together."

Secretary of State Pompeo:
"We remain deeply concerned about Iran's dangerous escalation of threats to Israel and the region, and Iran's ambition to dominate the Middle East remains. The United States is with Israel in this fight, and we strongly support Israel's sovereign right to defend itself."

"As part of the President's comprehensive Iran strategy, we are also working to counter the broad set of non-nuclear threats: Iran's missile systems, its support for Hizbullah, the importation of thousands of proxy fighters into Syria and its assistance to the Houthi rebels in Yemen."

"We look forward to working closely with strong allies like Israel in countering these threats and rolling back the full range of Iranian malign influence."
U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and Palestinians Have Nothing to Discuss
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came to Israel Sunday in the midst of the worst crisis in relations between Israelis and Palestinians in years, but he did not meet a single Palestinian representative and mentioned them publicly once.

For decades, American diplomats saw themselves as brokers between the two sides, and secretaries of state typically met Palestinian representatives on regional tours like this one. When relations between the two sides deteriorated, the United States sought to bridge the divide.

No more.

No one at the State Department called Palestinian leaders to ask for a get-together with Mr. Pompeo, according to Palestinian officials. And that may be because the Americans knew the answer they would have gotten: No.

Infuriated by President Trump’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, paving the way for the United States to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested holy city, Palestinian leaders have cut off political contacts with the Trump administration. They say the White House can no longer be considered an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“There’s nothing to discuss,” said Xavier Abu Eid, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Negotiations Affairs Department.

In a remarks Sunday in Tel Aviv while standing next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Pompeo mentioned that the boundaries of Jerusalem should still be the subject of negotiations between the parties. “We remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.

But the escalating protests along the border between Gaza and Israel — which have led to hundreds of injuries and 46 deaths and have generated global sympathy for the Palestinian cause — went unmentioned.

“No meeting in Ramallah on his first visit sets an ominous tone about prospects for any progress, or even dialogue, with the Palestinians,” said Daniel B. Shapiro, an American ambassador to Israel during the Obama administration.
Pompeo puts onus on Palestinians to rejoin peace talks
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wound up a three-day Middle East trip Monday without having met any Palestinians, and urged their leadership to rejoin the peace process. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the Trump administration since US President Donald Trump in December recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Washington’s newly appointed top diplomat received a warm reception in Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Amman, focusing his talks on Iranian interference in the region.

Forty-five Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire on the Gaza border since the start of protests that organizers have dubbed the Great March of Return on March 30, with more than 1,500 wounded, according to statistics from Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. The marches are being encouraged by Hamas, the terror group that runs Gaza, several of whose members were among the fatalities. Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, says the marches are ultimately designed to erase the border and liberate Palestine.

Pompeo, who met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, refused to criticize the use of deadly force, saying: “We do believe the Israelis have a right to defend themselves and we’re fully supportive of that.”
In Jordan, Pompeo backs Israel's right to defend itself
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that Israel has the "right to defend itself" in relation to the recent violence on its border with the Gaza Strip.

Former CIA director Pompeo, who embarked on his first foreign trip immediately after being confirmed as secretary of state last week, also urged the Palestinians and Israelis to resume political engagement toward a peace agreement.

Speaking at a news conference in Amman alongside Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Pompeo said, "We certainly believe that the Israelis and Palestinians need to have political engagement. We urge the Palestinians to return to that political dialogue."

The remarks came one day after Pompeo met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and told him that the U.S. was deeply concerned by Iran's "destabilizing and malign activities."

Before arriving in Israel, the former CIA director met Saudi King Salman in Riyadh and stressed the need for unity among Gulf allies as Washington aims to muster support for new sanctions against Iran.
The Palestinians are at a dead end
The Palestinian nationalist movement was always a mirror image of Zionism – in other words, it was born out of and in response to the advent of Zionism. This means that the battle against the Zionist idea and the desire to serve as an antithesis to everything that Israel symbolizes were and are simply a common denominator rather than a defining element of the Palestinian identity. This is not enough to sustain a victorious national movement and lead it to success.

It would appear that the sources of the Palestinian weakness have never changed: the lack of a national identity that supercedes the tribe, the clan, or the village and is anything more than a rejection of the other (Zionism); the lack of any legitimate, effective leadership that lays out a path and convinces the public to take it; a weak economy; religious radicalization; and above all – depending on others to rescue the Palestinians from their distress.

From 1948 to 1967, the Palestinians hung their hopes on Arab nations. For the PA it's now the international community, that same vague and amorphous entity whose efficacy we have seen in Syria, and for Hamas – Iran and Turkey.

Incidentally, this is a challenging reality for Israel, because it means that the hope that one day Israel would find a Palestinian partner for either a peace deal or in the case of Gaza, a truce, is a false one. It's hard to think that the Palestinians in their current situation are capable of compromising, much less making a compromise acceptable to Israel, which is the stronger side. It also means that in the future, the ball is in Israel's court when it comes to its approach toward the Palestinians, and it's doubtful whether the Palestinians wish to or can take part in the game.
Graham calls for renegotiation of U.S. defense deal with Israel
Senator Lindsey Graham called for a landmark, decade-long defense agreement between Israel and the United States to be renegotiated on Sunday.

The Republican senator from South Carolina said that the memorandum of understanding, worth $38 billion in defense funding to Israel through 2028, offers insufficient missile defense aid at a time when Israel is facing an unprecedented array of missile threats from Iran and its proxies.

"I would ask President Trump and Bibi to sit down and renegotiate this deal," Graham told the annual Jerusalem Post conference in New York, referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his nickname. "I want to give Israel more for missile defense."

When the MOU originally concluded in 2016, between the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration, Graham rejected caps the deal places on Congress, which appropriates funds to specific Israeli defense needs. The agreement was the first of its kind between Israel and the US to incorporate missile defense aid and ensures Israel receives $500 million a year for those programs.

Per the agreement, Israel will not request additional defense funds from Congress outside emergency circumstances. The MOU is the largest defense agreement the US has ever signed with a foreign nation.
Japan presides over rare Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian meet
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe landed in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, the first stop in a trip across the Middle East that will also take him to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Before leaving Japan, Abe told journalists working for Middle East peace would be a priority on his trip.

"I intend to work for the Middle East peace process by engaging with both Israel and Palestine in a constructive manner," Abe said, according to the Kyodo news agency.

On Sunday, Japanese Foreign Minister Tara Kono presided over a rare meeting of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian officials in Jordan with the aim of pushing ahead on a plan to build a collaborative agro-industrial park and enhance cross-border trade and cooperation.

Kono acknowledged late Sunday that it "has not been easy for the four parties to get together under current circumstances."

Among those in attendance at Sunday's meeting were Israel's Economy Minister Eli Cohen, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki and Jordan's Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury.

Officials from Israel and the Palestinian Authority meet only intermittently, and Israel and Jordan only recently patched up relations after a months-long diplomatic crisis that began when a security guard at the Israeli embassy in Jordan shot and killed two Jordanian civilians, alleging one had attacked him with a screwdriver.
IsraellyCool: Why Australia Should Stop Abstaining and Stand Alongside Israel at UN
Every year, the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party meets at State Council to elect office bearers and debate policy motions. The 2018 meeting took place over 28-29 April, with over 1200 delegates participating.

On behalf of the Caulfield State Electorate Conference, I moved this motion, which was overwhelmingly supported:
“That this State Council calls upon the Federal Government to vote alongside Israel and the US and cease abstaining at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, or any other UN forum, on motions that are critical of Israel including its right to name Jerusalem as its capital city.”

A great many of us have had a gutful of the United Nations’ relentless attacks on Israel’s legitimacy as a sovereign and Jewish State.

Late last week, I returned from a trip to the Holy Land. With my own eyes, I viewed the archaeological relics that prove Jews lived in Jerusalem over two thousand years ago. I stood in a sixteenth century synagogue. My hands touched the Western Wall – the last remaining part of the second Jewish temple: the holiest site in Judaism.

And yet UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural organisation, has recently passed two resolutions, rejecting any historical connection between Jerusalem and Judaism. The resolutions claim Jerusalem is a city solely relevant to Muslims, which is curious given Jerusalem isn’t mentioned in the Quran once.

Why did Australia vote to abstain on these ridiculous motions? We should not have abstained, we should have voted no. Are we Israel’s close friend or not?
Community ally Sajid Javid replaces Amber Rudd as Home Secretary
Community organisations have welcomed the appointment of Sajid Javid as the new Home Secretary following the resignation of Amber Rudd over the Windrush scandal.

The new appointee who was Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has a strong record speaking out against anti-Semitism, supporting Holocaust education, and opposing boycotts of Israel.

His promotion was welcomed by the Community Security Trust (CST) who wished him “success in your new role, and hopes to continue working with you to protect our Jewish community”.

The Board of Deputies also sent their congratulations to Javid, saying “your support for the Jewish community has been exemplary and we look forward to continuing to work together.”

Simon Johnson, CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council said “Sajid Javid has been a great supporter of the Jewish community, not least his vocal support for us against anti-Semitism. We want to congratulate him on his new role as Home Secretary and look forward to working with him in his new capacity.”

Javid, who said during his first community engagement in 2012 at a Conservative Friends of Israel business lunch, that if he were to live anywhere in the Middle East, it would be Israel, has been a long-time supporter of the Jewish state and a staunch opponent of anti-Semitism.
MEMRI: The Qatari Regime's Doublespeak: Condemnations Of Terrorism vs Social And Official Support For Terrorists
Since June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain have maintained a comprehensive boycott of Qatar, claiming that it supports and finances global terrorism.[1]Qatar, for its part, rejects these claims, and its senior officials constantly reiterate that they oppose terrorism and are committed to international agreements for fighting it. However, it is evident that despite its declarations condemning terrorism, Qatar continues to maintain ties with top terror operatives.

For example, two weeks ago, it was reported that Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani attended the wedding of the son of Qatari terrorist Abd Al-Rahman Bin 'Umayr Al-Jabbar Al-Nu'aymi, who has been sanctioned by the U.S., the U.N. Security Council, and the U.K. as a major financer of Al-Qaeda.

This report reviews Qatar's anti-terrorism declarations, the Qatari prime minister's presence at wedding of Al-Nu'aymi's son, and the sanctioning of Al-Nu'aymi.

Qatar Condemns Terror, Publishes List Of Wanted Terrorists

To counter the claims of the Arab states that boycott it, Qatar makes an effort to project an image of a country that fights terrorism and its financing in every way. Thus, for example, at his April 10, 2018 meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, Qatari Emir and Foreign Minister Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani declared his willingness to cooperate with the U.S. in this matter, and stressed that" We do not and we will not tolerate with people who fund terrorism. We've been cooperating with the United States of America to stop funding terrorism around the region." President Trump himself said that the countries that are stopping terrorism funding include the "UAE, it includes Saudi Arabia, it includes Qatar and others."[2] The previous week, in a telephone conversation with the Emir, President Trump praised Qatar's efforts in the struggle to end the financing of terror.[3]
Netanyahu slammed for sharing dubious, incendiary news about Arab soccer fans
An Arab Israeli soccer team on Sunday slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for sharing on social media an apparently false news story that claimed the club’s supporters disrupted a minute of silence held in memory of 10 teens killed in a hiking accident. A spokesperson for the team said the prime minister was trampling on the bereaved families’ feelings and trying to divide Israeli society.

The soccer league and members of the opposing team all maintained that there had been no disruption by fans of the Bnei Shakhnin club during the memorial at the team’s home stadium.

Ten teenagers from a pre-military academy were swept away in a flash flood Thursday as they hiked through a desert canyon.

Netanyahu posted to his Facebook page a news story from the right-wing Israel National News website claiming Bnei Sakhnin fans whistled and booed during a minute silence held before a league match Saturday against Hapoel Ra’anana, who won the game 3-1.

“An utter disgrace,” Netanyahu wrote Sunday along with a link to the article. “I expect all public leaders, Jews and non-Jews, to forcefully condemn this embarrassing behavior.”
Terrorist who planned attacks in which 125 were murdered was “a battleship,” “great” and “fearless”

PA TV praises terrorist Abu Jihad who led “prominent operations” in which 125 were murdered

“A soul that still dwells in our hearts” - PA TV praises arch-terrorist Abu Jihad

Nuke deal deadline nearing, Netanyahu and Trump discuss ‘problems posed’ by Iran
With a deadline for amending the Iran nuclear deal or walking away from it just weeks away, US President Donald Trump spoke to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone Saturday about Tehran’s malign influence on the region, the White House said on Sunday.

“The two leaders discussed the continuing threats and challenges facing the Middle East region, especially the problems posed by the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities,” according to a White House readout of the conversation.

Earlier on Sunday, Trump’s newly minted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Israel on his first foreign trip. While speaking alongside Netanyahu during a joint press conference, the former CIA director said that Trump remained committed to exiting the landmark accord if changes weren’t made and said that Iranian aggression against Israel — by trying to establish a military presence in Syria — was exacerbating American concerns.

“President Trump’s been pretty clear: This deal is very flawed. He’s directed the administration to try and fix it and if we can’t fix it he’s going to withdraw from the deal,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo also warned of Iran’s “destabilizing and malign activities” in the Middle East.
Putin, Macron urge ‘strict observance’ of Iran nuclear accord
Russian President Vladimir Putin and French leader Emmanuel Macron on Monday called for the “strict observance” of the current Iran nuclear accord, with US President Donald Trump still deciding whether to scrap the agreement.

“The Presidents of Russia and France spoke in favor of keeping the plan and its strict observance,” the Kremlin said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The statement was released after Macron called Putin to inform him of his talks with Trump in the United States.

Trump faces a May 12 deadline to decide on the fate of the Iran nuclear accord and is demanding changes that European capitals believe would represent a legal breach.

On Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the mercurial US president had not yet decided whether to scrap the accord.
Tehran warns it can enrich uranium to higher levels than ever before
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization warned Monday that Tehran is technically able to enrich uranium to a higher level than it could before it signed a nuclear deal with six world powers in 2015.

Directing his comments at US President Donald Trump, who is considering scrapping what he calls a terribly flawed agreement in the coming days, Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by Iranian state TV as saying, “Iran is not bluffing … Technically, we are fully prepared to enrich uranium higher than we used to produce before the deal was reached… I hope Trump comes to his senses and stays in the deal.”

Salehi made his comments hours before Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was slated to address Israel and the watching world on Monday evening in remarks relating to Iranian nuclear activities.

According to Israel’s Hadashot news and Channel 10 news, Netanyahu will reveal intelligence information, based on a large cache of documents recently obtained by Israel, which he believes proves Iran has duped the world regarding the state of its nuclear program.

Trump has given Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia until May 12 to fix what he sees as the main shortfalls in the deal.

So far, all these countries have said they will stand by the original deal and Tehran has threatened grave consequences if it is cancelled.
BESA: Iran’s Brutal War in Yemen Threatens the Entire Middle East
[T]he Houthis have been waging a very successful propaganda war that plays off of international confusion over the complicated ground campaign in Yemen. They have focused the world’s attention on Saudi airstrikes while entirely omitting their own widespread war crimes, such as their use of child soldiers, their positioning of troops in hospitals and schools, their use of civilians as human shields, their abuse of religious minorities, and their merciless use of missile strikes against “adversary” civilians in both Yemen and Saudi Arabia. And while Riyadh has taken responsibility for its mistakes, . . . Houthis have issued no apologies for their ruthless tactics.

It was the Houthis, not the Saudis, who first imposed a humanitarian blockade against Yemen. They then used humanitarian-aid shipments to their own population as a disguise for smuggled weapons, which ultimately led to many deaths from starvation. The Saudis were forced to impose their own naval blockade as a defensive measure to counter ballistic-missile strikes and increased attacks on coalition [forces] on the ground—yet the Houthis have succeeded in painting the kingdom as the villain. . . . [T]he main [goal] of the widespread, tenacious, and largely successful pro-Iran propaganda campaign in the West . . . has been to get the U.S. out of Yemen. . . .

The stakes here are high and numerous. Endangering the Saudi kingdom’s physical security is but one of the Iranians’ goals. Their wish to control significant portions of Yemen, if not the whole country, also reflects their desire to monopolize the strategic Bab al-Mandeb Strait (an effort that mirrors similar attempts in Syria) and thereby be in a position to threaten the safe passage of all international vessels attempting to reach Djibouti and the Horn of Africa. Tehran is building a naval base in Yemen, creating new routes for smuggling, and mobilizing Houthis into yet another standing semi-formal army [along the lines of Hizballah] that can be called upon for military or terrorist operations anywhere in the world at any time. . . .
Saudi court starts trial of Arabs accused of spying for Mossad
A Saudi Arabian court began the trial of two Jordanians accused of spying against the kingdom for Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, Saudi-owned al-Arabiya said on Monday.

The charges under consideration by the Specialized Criminal Court include plotting a terrorist act during the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage four years ago and supporting Islamic State militants, Al-Arabiya wrote on its website.

It did not provide further details about the case.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and site of its holiest shrines, does not officially recognize Israel. It has maintained for years that normalizing relations hinges on an Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war - territory Palestinians seek for a future state.

However, increased tensions between Riyadh and Tehran has fueled speculation that shared interests may push Saudi Arabia and Israel to work together against what they regard as a common Iranian threat.
Malaysia jails Dane over ‘fake news’ in killing of Hamas rocket expert
A Danish man was jailed for a week in Malaysia Monday after pleading guilty to breaking a law against “fake news,” the first person to be punished under the controversial legislation.

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, a 46-year-old of Yemeni descent, admitted making and posting on YouTube a video accusing emergency services of responding slowly after a Palestinian Hamas member was gunned down in Kuala Lumpur.

Fadi al-Batsh, said to be a rocket and drone expert, was on his way to dawn prayers on April 21 when he was assassinated by motorbike-riding gunmen, a killing his family and the Hamas terror group have blamed on Israel’s spy agency. The Jewish state has denied it was behind the murder.

The fake news law, passed in early April, makes the deliberate dissemination of false information punishable by up to six years in jail and a hefty fine. It has sparked outrage from rights groups who believe it is aimed at cracking down on dissent.

The Dane, who did not have a lawyer and was wearing white robes and a green skullcap during a court appearance in Kuala Lumpur, said he was not aware of Malaysia’s laws. (h/t Solomon2)

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