Wednesday, June 07, 2023

06/07 Links Pt1: Is the Biden Admin Interfering in Israeli Politics?; Biden’s Ambassador Funded Grant Delegitimizing Israel; Supreme Court-Bashing Kamala Harris Says Israel Needs 'Independent Judiciary'

From Ian:

Is the Biden Admin Interfering in Israeli Politics?
The Biden administration is picking fights with the Jewish state over its opposition to a controversial new Iran nuclear deal, Israel's efforts to reform its judiciary, and build settlements in the disputed West Bank territory, veteran observers of U.S.-Israel relations told Fox News Digital.

Jason Greenblatt, former White House Envoy to the Middle East and author of the book "In the Path of Abraham," told Fox News Digital that he has concerns, especially when it comes to U.S. interference in domestic Israeli politics.

Two Israeli domestic issues—judicial reform and settlements—have created rifts between the U.S. and Israel. Netanyahu's coalition is working to rope in what, it argues, is the excessive power of the judiciary. Opponents of the judicial reform say Netanyahu's plan will shift too much power to the Knesset (Israel's parliament) and endanger civil rights protections.

Greenblatt said, "The Biden Administration continues to put pressure on the Israeli government to abandon its judicial reform plans. This is blatant interference with another country's internal policies. Israel has a robust democracy. The world has seen this with the massive protests for and against judicial reform. The Biden Administration continues to think that America can dictate what its allies' policies should be. This kind of pressure by the U.S. upon other countries' internal matters failed with Saudi Arabia and it will fail with Israel."

He also noted that, "Israel is a country that will act in accordance with its interests, laws and democratic procedures. Not inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House in the hopes of putting additional pressure on him is petty and will not yield the desired results. The U.S. has to learn to work with others where it can, and accept that we don't get to boss our friends and allies around."

Greenblatt said the record of the Biden administration on Israel is a mixed bag. "On the positive side, it often says the right things with respect to Israel's non-Iran security challenges and generally has been cooperative regarding those challenges. According to the Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S.-Israel alliance remains steadfast and security and intelligence cooperation is at an all time high," but Greenblatt had reservations with the administration's Iran policy.

Middle East expert and author Caroline Glick, told Fox News Digital that U.S. "Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's sudden cancelation of his planned visit to Israel is a clear sign that the Biden administration had committed the United States to a policy of nuclear appeasement towards Iran. Last week we learned that the administration is surreptitiously negotiating a so-called 'interim nuclear deal' with the Iranian regime. The deal reportedly involves the U.S. dropping all of its sanctions against Iran and in exchange Iran will end its uranium enrichment."

Mark Dubowitz, the CEO of the Washington D.C.-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital, "I'm not sure if his cancelation is about internal Israeli issues or Iran issues. I'm more concerned that the Biden administration is secretly pursuing a deal with Iran, and Blinken prefers not to kick up a wave of scrutiny on that by coming to Israel."

Glick claimed that, "From Israel's perspective, the U.S. position means that the U.S. is no longer a credible ally. As such, Israel has no interest in coordinating its Iran policy with Washington. So there is no longer any reason for Secretary of State Blinken to visit Israel. And there is little reason for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the White House."

VP stresses importance of independent judiciary at Israeli embassy independence bash
US Vice President Kamala Harris stressed the importance of an independent judiciary during a speech on Tuesday at an event marking the 75th anniversary of the Jewish state’s independence hosted by the Israeli embassy in Washington.

The not-so-subtle allusion to the Biden administration’s opposition to the efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government to radically curb the power of the High Court of Justice was included in a 14-minute speech that was largely effusive in its praise of the Jewish state.

“Under President Joe Biden and our administration, America will continue to stand for the values that have been the bedrock of the US-Israel relationship, which include continuing to strengthen our democracies, which… are both built on strong institutions, checks and balances — and I’ll add an independent judiciary,” Harris said to applause from many of the 2,000 people listening in the auditorium of the National Building Museum, including Shirin Herzog, the wife of Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog, who was seated onstage behind the vice president.

There was no applause however from far-right Religious Zionism lawmaker Simcha Rothman, one of the architects of the judicial revamp, who has been in the US for the past several days and was invited to the event.

In his own speech before Harris’s, Ambassador Herzog briefly referenced the controversy surrounding the judicial overhaul and conveyed optimism as to Israel’s democratic character.

“Israel is an imperfect democracy, and we like you have our own set of internal challenges. As a young nation only 75 years old, we are still grappling with important questions relating to our democratic system. But let me assure you, I am confident that Israel will remain a vibrant democracy,” he said to applause.
Israeli FM: Harris couldn’t name one clause on judicial reform
However, they did not go over as well in Jerusalem, with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen telling Kan Reshet B radio in an interview on Wednesday that Harris “would not be able to quote from a single clause” in any of the judicial reform bills.

Cohen, who is in South Korea after visiting the Philippines, clarified his comments in a Twitter post shortly after the interview:

“I have deep respect for our ally the United States of America and for Vice President Harris, a true friend of Israel,” he wrote.

“Israel’s legal reform is an internal issue that is currently in the process of consolidation and dialogue. The State of Israel will continue to be democratic and liberal, as it has always been.”

The reform of Israel’s legal system initiated by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stirred a fierce debate in the country, with both sides hitting the streets for mass demonstrations.

Harris’s remarks on Tuesday were not the first time the U.S. administration has jumped into the debate.

In March, U.S. President Joe Biden called on Netanyahu to “walk away” from the initiative.

“Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends,” said Netanyahu in response.
U.S VP Harris slams Israeli judicial reform at event for Israel's 75th independence

Biden’s Ambassador to Israel Approved Grant Aimed at Delegitimizing Israel, Emails Show
The Biden administration’s outgoing ambassador to Israel personally signed off on a controversial $1 million grant to a program critics said was meant to delegitimize Israel, according to internal State Department communications obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

U.S. ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides approved the funding project in a January 2022 internal "action memo," according to a trove of internal emails obtained by the America First Legal Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act request for information about the grant. The emails detail how Nides personally cleared the State Department to offer $987,654 for groups to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Those applying for the grant were instructed to probe the Israeli government for "documentation of legal or security sector violations and housing, land, and property rights." The cash would essentially empower activist groups critical of Israel to pursue false claims that the Jewish state is systematically abusing Palestinians and stealing their land. With taxpayer cash at their disposal, these nonprofit groups could advance an agenda that pro-Israel advocates say fuels the delegitimization of Israel on the international stage by incentivizing a disproportionate focus on the supposed missteps and abuses of the Jewish State.

The taxpayer-funded initiative, which the Free Beacon first reported in March 2022, prompted a congressional investigation. Lawmakers accused the Biden administration of working to isolate Israel and bolster the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), which wages economic warfare on the Jewish state. The United States government, critics said, should not be funding efforts to paint Israel as a pariah state.
Supreme Court-Bashing Kamala Harris Says Israel Needs 'Independent Judiciary'
Vice President Kamala Harris, who for years has bashed the U.S. Supreme Court when it disagrees with her politics, on Tuesday lectured Israelis about the need for "an independent judiciary."

Harris's comments, which came at the Israeli embassy's reception for the anniversary of the country's founding, were a reference to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's judicial reforms, which the Biden administration opposes.

While Harris spoke about the sanctity of the Israeli judiciary, she does not appear to feel the same about the U.S. Supreme Court. As a senator, she said that constitutionally above-board confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett were a "sham" and "an illegitimate process," respectively. Harris did not point to anything specific that she found illegitimate about the process.

Following the Supreme Court's decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade, Harris blasted the body as "an activist Court" that took away a "constitutional right." She went on to cast doubt on the ruling's legitimacy, saying she had "great concern about the integrity of the Court."
Israel's FM attacks US VP Harris, says she doesn't understand judicial reform
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen verbally attacked United States Vice President Kamala Harris in a KAN Reshet B interview on Wednesday morning.

Cohen said that the vice president "would not be able to quote from a single clause from the judicial reform" after Harris said Israel's judiciary must remain independent, referencing the government's controversial judicial reform.

"I don't know if she read the bills or not, I would guess not," Cohen continued.

Kamla Harris: Israeli judiciary must remain independent
Harris made the comments at a Tuesday evening reception celebrating the 75th anniversary of Israel's founding hosted by the country's embassy in Washington.

"America will continue to stand for the values that have been the bedrock of the US-Israel relationship, which includes continuing to strengthen our democracies, which as the [Israeli] ambassador has said, are both built on strong institutions, checks and balances, and I'll add: an independent judiciary," Harris said.

Her remarks on the judiciary drew applause.

Herzog says he plans to address Congress soon
Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday said that he plans to visit the White House and address a joint session of the U.S. Congress “in the near future.”

He spoke during remarks via video to a gathering at the Israeli embassy in Washington celebrating the Jewish state’s 75th anniversary. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris then addressed the attendees.

U.S. President Joe Biden is planning to invite Herzog to the White House for a second time this summer, with the trip expected in July. Herzog met with Biden there last October under the previous Israeli government.

The U.S. president has yet to extend an invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since he took office again for the sixth time in December. Biden announced to reporters in North Carolina in March that he has no plans to invite Netanyahu in the “near term,” while also calling on him to “walk away” from judicial reform.

“Israel is a sovereign country which makes its decisions by the will of its people and not based on pressures from abroad, including from the best of friends,” said Netanyahu in response to Biden.

Seth Frantzman: 18 countries take part in African Lion drill amid West Africa challenges
Eighteen countries have gathered more than 8,000 personnel in Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and Tunisia to participate in the African Lion 2023 joint exercise from May 13 to June 18.

This important drill is US Africa Command’s largest annual combined exercise of its kind. It also is a key element in working with partner countries to bring stability and project force in this region.

This is a region that matters. The drill is taking place amid major protests in Senegal and also the rise of threats in Mali and the displacement of millions of people in Burkina Faso.

The importance of Israel's landmark participation in African Lion
Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana was expected to visit the Moroccan parliament on Wednesday, and Israel has ties with Senegal and Ghana.

Israel also sent 12 soldiers and commanders from the Golani Reconnaissance Unit to Morocco. They left Sunday, and this is the first time that the IDF is taking an active part in the African Lion joint exercise.

“Our collective ability to bring like-minded nations together for an exercise like this is truly impressive,” US Africa Command Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Joel Tyler said last month. “African Lion is the centerpiece of the AFRICOM exercise strategy and one of the greatest US exercises across the globe.”

This year’s joint exercise includes land, air and naval drills, as well as various US aircraft, such as the C-130J Super Hercules, KC-135 Stratotanker, F-16 Fighting Falcons and bomber aircraft, according to reports. In addition, there are aspects that relate to the use of paratroopers and also “three humanitarian civic assistance program events.”
US military joins Israeli army in armored division drills

The Israel Guys: THIS is Why They WON’T WIN
How do you know that protests don’t have anything to do with the issue they are protesting about? When they don’t stop when the other side gives in and offers to compromise.

While 40,000 people marched in the Israel parade in New York City this week, protesters attacked Israel’s Minister of Justice. The good news is - they’re not winning.

Saudi Arabia should normalize Israel ties to end Palestinian conflict - opinion
THE PALESTINIAN Authority (PA) is now incapable of making peace with Israel or enforcing it. The longer there is no PA-Israel truce or peace, the weaker the PA becomes, the stronger Hamas becomes, with the possibility of a Hamas coup in the West Bank.

In 2000, Saudi Prince Bandar was incredulous that the Palestinians turned down an unprecedented Israeli offer at Camp David. According to Al Arabiya, “Bandar, who later became the Kingdom’s intelligence chief and head of national security, said the Palestinian leadership undermined the peace negotiations at several stages despite Saudi Arabian efforts to secure a deal.”

Today, the PA aims to be more extreme than Hamas, so they may again turn down reasonable compromises mediated by the Saudis. If that is the case, the Saudis can honestly say to the Arab world that the time for peace is not yet and not have their interests vetoed by Palestinian intransigence.

Normalization is perhaps too far a leap for King Salman. However, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS), the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, is practical and wants to advance Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Arab world in the 21st century. MBS is the man to take the leap, knowing open political relations with Israel would accelerate the financial interests of Saudi Arabia and its advancement of Vision 2030. According to Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf, (MBS) has also vocalized “that is clearly a thing (normalization) he’s got in mind as a step he wants to move to[ward].”

How much can America offer the Saudis for normalization, how much risk can MBS take and how risky is it for Israel to accept a Saudi civilian nuclear program? Those are just some of the difficult questions.

The bottom line is that the best way for Arab countries to influence Israel is to engage with Israel. Despite his coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would go to great lengths to compromise with MBS. It is also up to the US to repair its relations with the Saudis and convince MBS they have a partner in the US if they normalize with Israel. This is a strategic goal for the US, as National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said, “Full normalization is a declared national security interest of the United States.”

It is up to MBS and President Joe Biden to show courage and leadership befitting their high office.
Tom Gross: Playing hardball with US, Saudis meet on Israel but warm up to Iran, Syria, China, Russia, Venezuela
Tom Gross comments as Antony Blinken meets Saudi Arabia's de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman today, as the US Secretary of State begins a three-day visit to the oil rich kingdom.

Hezbollah-affiliated group honors European Parliament member
A member of the European Parliament received an award in Beirut last week from a group affiliated with the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

The Global Campaign to Return to Palestine (GCRP) presented Spanish MEP Manuel Pineda, also known as Manu Abu Carlos, with an Ambassador of Return award at the ceremony in the Lebanese capital on May 29.

The Spanish Communist Party activist was elected to the European Parliament in 2019 as a representative of the United Left coalition. He is the president of the European Parliament’s delegation for relations with Palestine.

According to ACOM (Action and Communication in the Middle East), a legal advocacy organization working to strengthen ties between Spain and Israel, Pineda is a member of the Spanish group Unadikum, which supports Palestinian violence against Israel and has connections to the PFLP and Hamas terrorist organizations, having lived in the Gaza Strip for three years.

Pineda has posed for pictures with PFLP terrorists and with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh.

GCRP general coordinator Sheikh Yusuf Abbas, who has ties to Hezbollah, gave the award to Pineda at what the group described as the First International Meeting of Return Ambassadors. There were seven other honorees, including Che Guevara’s daughter and the chairman of the board of directors of the pro-Hezbollah and pro-Assad regime Al Mayadeen satellite news channel.

According to ACOM, Pineda has called Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah the “undisputed leader of the Arab world.”

Pineda has been banned from entering Israel since 2020.
PCHR Board Members Call for Violence Against Israelis
During the May 2023 conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), PIJ and other terrorist groups launched over 1,200 rockets toward Israeli population centers, each one a war crime. In this context, the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) published a statement in which it “affirms the Palestinian people to resist the occupation by all available means, including armed struggle….”

Following pressure from European donors, PCHR changed the text to read: “to resist the occupation by all legitimate means in accordance with international law.” According to the Norwegian government, “PCHR has stressed and reiterated that it is a non-violent human rights organization that in no way incites violence.”

In sharp contrast, as seen below, members of PCHR’s board have encouraged and justified violence against Israelis, as well as celebrated terrorists, both before and during the May 2023 conflict. Their rhetoric, which contradicts fundamental human rights values and condones violations of international law, suggests that PCHR’s amendment of its statement was intended merely and minimally to allow supporters in donor governments to continue funding.

PreOccupiedTerritory: Hungary, Paraguay To Move Embassies To Jerusalem, Causing World To End AGAIN (satire)
Two more nations announced last week that they intend to transfer their highest-ranking diplomatic representation to Israel’s declared capital, instead of the country’s main commercial center, in departure from longstanding practice to avoid endorsing the Jewish State’s claim to the entire holy city, and in defiance of constant Palestinian threats to turn the region, and possibly the world, into an apocalyptic conflagration for approximately the billionth time.

Government officials of Hungary and Paraguay informed their Israeli counterparts last Wednesday that they plan to transfer their respective embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. US President Donald Trump set the precedent for it in December 2017 when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – immediately setting off the firestorm that Palestinians had long threatened and destroying civilization as we know it, the eleventh time it happened that month.

Palestinians again warned Hungary and Paraguay not to follow through on the announcement, unless those two nations want to go through the nuclear holocaust that always results when Palestinian demands are not met. No official response from either government has been received in the meantime.

If the government of Viktor Orbán follows through, Hungary will become the first European nation with an embassy in Jerusalem; Paraguay will join a smattering of other Latin American governments that followed the US lead. Most countries have remained loath to imply recognition of Israeli claims to the city by moving their embassies, often in the shadow of terrorism threats and disrupted relations with states hostile to Jewish sovereignty. Those threats have destroyed the world millions of times already.
Operation Opera––An Inside Look into one of the Most Infamous IDF Operations
On June 7, 1981 at 16:00, 14 fighter jets departed from Etzion Airport in Israel. At approximately 17:30, they struck and destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq, successfully completing their mission.

22 years before Operation Opera, Iraq––led by their dictator Saddam Hussein––began building a nuclear facility. In the 1970s, Iraq made a deal with France that promised Iraq two Nuclear facilities––the Tamuz 1 and 2. This was an immediate threat to Israel and it was clear that the nuclear facility had to be removed.

LTG Rafael Eitan––the IDF Chief of the General Staff at the time, ordered the IDF to start looking into different ways in which they could eliminate the Iraqi nuclear threat.

The name of Operation Opera was chosen from a name bank. The operation was supposed to take place several times before it actually broke out. To ensure the operation’s secrecy, it was given different names each time. When the operation finally took place, the official name was set as Operation Opera.

In the early stages of the operation, the IDF planned on using F-4 fighter jets. But as time went on, the newer F-16 fighter jets became available to use. During the operation, 8 F-16 fighter jets from squadrons 110 and 117 were used and 6 F-15A fighter jets were used for backup. Aside from the fighter jets, there were approximately 60 other aircraft used in this operation.

The aircraft took off from Israel in radio silence, with the radars switched off and flew along a 1100km path. They arrived and struck the Osirak nuclear reactor––with each fighter jet bombing the facility 5 seconds after the other.

Israeli lightly hurt in terror attack near Huwara in Samaria
An Israeli driver on Tuesday night was lightly injured by glass shards in a shooting near the Palestinian-controlled village of Huwara, located close to Nablus in Samaria.

The Israel Defense Forces said that the terror attack occurred north of the Tapuach Junction, and that troops launched a manhunt for the perpetrators.

Local authorities said the victim’s vehicle was hit by at least a dozen bullets.

He was evacuated to the hospital in stable condition.

It comes a day after two Israeli soldiers were wounded when a terrorist rammed them with his vehicle in Huwara.

The driver fled the scene but was captured by Israeli forces following a chase. A knife was found in his vehicle, according to the military.

The victims were evacuated to the Rabin Medical Center’s Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, one with light and one with moderate injuries.

The IDF recently upgraded the road infrastructure in the Palestinian village to increase security for drivers on Route 60, as an interim step until a bypass road can be completed.

Gallant: We will bomb Hezbollah into the stone age if they make a mistake with us
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Tuesday threatened to bomb Hezbollah and Lebanon "into the stone age," if the terror group "makes a mistake" and "starts a war against Israel."

During a visit to the IDF’s Northern Command, he said, “I hear our enemies boasting about weapons they are developing. For any such development, we have an even better response - by air, by sea and on land and through other means of attack and defense."

The defense minister was visiting the North within the framework of the two-week-long “Firm Hand” military exercise. During the visit, Minister Gallant held a situation assessment together with senior IDF officials.

Gallant reassured Israel's citizens that his visit and updates from the drill confirmed "that our troops are excellent.”

"We will know how to defend the citizens of Israel and how to strike our enemies with a decisive blow, heaven forbid, they initiate a war with us," he stated.

The defense minister's threat comes after a series of threats and counter threats between Israel and Hezbollah in May.

IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and IDF Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva had warned Hezbollah in May of a conflagration if it pushed Israel too far. More specifically, they had said that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah might get overconfident and misread Jerusalem’s situation and think he can gamble against it.Halevi said Hezbollah “thinks it understands how we think which can lead it to dare and challenge us in scenarios where we won’t go to war” in response.
The Caroline Glick Show: Has Iran passed the nuclear threshold?!!
Has Iran passed the nuclear threshold? Has the US betrayed Israel with Iran? What is the path forward for Israel with Washington?

In this week’s Caroline Glick Show, Caroline was joined with Dr. David Wurmser from the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC. Glick and Wurmser discussed reports that the Biden administration is rushing to reach a deal with Iran that will legitimize Iran’s status as a nuclear armed state.

Wurmser explained why IAEA’s politically driven decision to close to investigations into Iran’s illicit nuclear operations signal the death knell of both the Non-Proliferation Treaty and America’s position as the preeminent superpower in the Middle East. And the two explored Israel’s options moving forward with Washington now all-but-openly hostile to its most basic national interests.

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