Archive for April 27, 2018

Israel can meet the S-300 challenge

April 27, 2018

By Oded Granot April 26, 2018 Israel Hayom

Source Link: Israel can meet the S-300 challenge

{My bet is these systems have already been compromised. – LS}

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s response to the recent U.S.-led strike on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical arsenal was delivered Wednesday in the form of a laconic statement by Moscow’s Defense Ministry, saying that Russia will “soon” provide Syria with its advanced S-300 missile defense system.

The Russian statement was expected and was very much a part of the cold war now waged between Washington and Moscow, aggravated by the April 14 strike. While it is doubtful that the barrage of Tomahawk missiles fired on Syria would deter Assad from using chemical weapons in the future, the strike was an affront to Putin. It illustrated him as unable to defend his ally, Assad, from the West and dented his international prestige.

This may appear as yet another time in which the U.S. and Russia lock horns. But the delivery of advanced missile defense systems to Syria is also likely to pose an issue for the Israeli Air Force with respect to maintaining Israel’s stated red lines in Syria, namely preventing Iran from entrenching itself militarily there and preventing the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The concerns are justified, but three points must be made regarding this defense system:

  1. Russia may have said it would supply Assad with S-300 missiles, but it has yet to do so and Moscow officials on Wednesday strongly denied Syria’s assertion that it was already in possession of these missiles.
  2. The S-300 is an effective anti-aircraft defense system but it is, to a large extent, outdated and Russia has ceased its production about two years ago. The last system of this type was supplied to the Iranians, and Assad stands to receive either the batteries the Russians already have in Syria or ones decommissioned by the Russian military.
  3. According to foreign reports, and despite the potential restrictions on the IAF’s operational freedom in Syria, the IAF already has an operational response to S-300 missiles – if and when Israel may need to mount one.

The crux of the matter here has less to do with the anti-aircraft missile system and more to do with the system of understandings between Israel and Russia. While Russia has warned Israel against targeting S-300 batteries, Israel asserted that it would not hesitate to do so if it was used against its forces. Public rhetoric aside, the two countries have maintained effective communications that have already proved they can eliminate danger.

However, the pace of regional events over the past few weeks has accelerated so rapidly that the winds may change at any minute. U.S. President Donald Trump decision on the fate of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is looming and come May 12, if the U.S. exits the accord, an attempt by Iran to retaliate on the April 9 strike on the T4 air base in Homs or another Israeli mission to stop weapons shipments to Hezbollah could prompt a security escalation that no one wants.

 

Declaring the end of war, leaders of two Koreas aim for denuclearization 

April 27, 2018

Source: Declaring the end of war, leaders of two Koreas aim for denuclearization – International news – Jerusalem Post

Kim invited Moon to step briefly across the demarcation line into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.

BY REUTERS
 APRIL 27, 2018 03:42
Declaring the end of war, leaders of two Koreas aim for denuclearization

 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in as both of them arrive for the inter-Korean summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, April 27, 2018. (photo credit: HOST BROADCASTER VIA REUTERS TV)

SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in embraced after pledging on Friday to work for the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” punctuating a day of smiles and handshakes at the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade.

The two Koreas announced they would work with the United States and China this year to declare an official end to the 1950s Korean war and seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace in its place.

The declaration included promises to pursue phased military arms reduction, cease hostile acts, transform their fortified border into a peace zone, and seek multilateral talks with other countries including the United States.

“The two leaders declare before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun,” the declaration said.

Earlier, Kim became the first North Korean leader since the 1950-53 Korean War to set foot in South Korea after shaking hands with his counterpart over a concrete curb marking the border in the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between the countries.

Scenes of Moon and Kim joking and walking together marked a striking contrast to last year’s barrage of North Korean missile tests and its largest ever nuclear test that led to sweeping international sanctions and fears of a fresh conflict on the Korean peninsula.

Their dramatic meeting comes weeks before Kim is due to meet US President Donald Trump in what would be the first ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries.

Moon agreed to visit Pyongyang later this year, according to the declaration.

As part of efforts to reduce tensions, the two sides agreed to open a liaison office, stop propaganda broadcasts and leaflet drops along the border, and allow Korean families divided by the border to meet. Just days before the summit, Kim said North Korea would suspend nuclear and long-range missile tests and dismantle its only known nuclear test site.

But there was widespread skepticism about whether Kim is ready to abandon the nuclear arsenal his country has defended and developed for decades as what it says is a necessary deterrent against US invasion.

It’s not the first time leaders of North and South Korea have declared their hope for peace, and two earlier summits, in Pyongyang in 2000 and 2007, failed to halt the North’s weapons programs or improve relations in a lasting way.

“We will make efforts to create good results by communicating closely, in order to make sure our agreement signed today before the entire world, will not end as just a beginning like previous agreements before today,” Kim said after the agreement was signed.

FIRST ACROSS THE LINE

Earlier, Moon greeted Kim at the military demarcation line where the men smiled and shook hands.

In an unplanned move, Kim invited Moon to step briefly across into North Korea, before the two leaders crossed back into South Korea holding hands.

“I was excited to meet at this historic place and it is really moving that you came all the way to the demarcation line to greet me in person,” Kim said, wearing his customary black Mao suit.

“A new history starts now. An age of peace, from the starting point of history,” Kim wrote in Korean in a guest book in the South’s Peace House before talks began.

Minutes before Kim entered Peace House, a North Korean security team conducted a sweep for explosives and listening devices, and sprayed what appeared to be disinfectant in the air, on the chairs, and on the guest book.

The two leaders released their joint declaration before attending a dinner hosted by Moon.

During a private meeting in the morning, Kim told Moon he came to the summit to end the history of conflict and joked he was sorry for waking Moon up with his early morning missile tests, the official said.

People watch a TV showing a live broadcast of the inter-Korean summit, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, April 27, 2018 (Reuters/Jorge Silva)

People watch a TV showing a live broadcast of the inter-Korean summit, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, April 27, 2018 (Reuters/Jorge Silva)

UNENDING HOSTILITIES

The United States is hopeful talks will make progress on achieving peace and prosperity, the White House said in a statement as the two men began their summit.

The White House also said it looks forward to continuing discussions with South Korea in preparation for the planned meeting of Trump and Kim in the coming weeks.

Just months ago, Trump and Kim were trading threats and insults as the North made rapid advances in pursuit of nuclear-armed missiles capable of hitting the United States.

Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea as a legacy of the Cold War conflict, which pitted the South, the United States and United Nations forces against the communist North, backed by China and Russia.

Kim and Trump are expected to meet in late May or June, with Trump saying on Thursday he was considering several possible dates and venues.

The latest Korean summit has particular significance not least because of its venue: the Demilitarised Zone, a 160-mile (260-km) long, 2.5-mile (4-km) wide strip of land created in the 1953 armistice to serve as a buffer between the South and North.

Mattis, receiving Avigdor Liberman, warns of ‘likely’ conflict between Israel and Iran

April 27, 2018

Source: Mattis, receiving Avigdor Liberman, warns of ‘likely’ conflict between Israel and Iran – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

MATTIS, RECEIVING LIBERMAN, WARNS OF ‘LIKELY’ CONFLICT BETWEEN ISRAEL AND IRAN

“I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where,” the secretary told lawmakers.

BY MICHAEL WILNER
 APRIL 27, 2018 04:37
Mattis, receiving Liberman, warns of ‘likely’ conflict between Israel and Iran

WASHINGTON —  Direct conflict between Israeli and Iranian forces is increasingly likely in Syria as Tehran pursues a permanent military presence there, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned on Thursday.

Addressing a congressional panel before hosting his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Liberman, at the Pentagon, Mattis said it was “very likely” from his perspective, “because Iran continues to do its proxy work there through Hezbollah.”

Receiving Liberman, Mattis told reporters that he saw no reason for Iran to ship advanced missiles to Hezbollah through Syria except to threaten Israel.

“I can see how it might start, but I am not sure when or where,” the secretary told lawmakers. Mattis then echoed Liberman’s warning from earlier in the day, issued through a Saudi newspaper, in which he said Israeli forces would strike Tehran if Iranian missiles ever hit Tel Aviv.

The two met at the Pentagon after Liberman met with US President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton; his special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt; and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, at the White House.

Iran was the focus of conversation there, as well, according to a statement issued by Israel’s embassy in Washington.

At the hearing, Mattis seemed to question the wisdom of hastily withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord, just two weeks shy of a May 12 deadline set by Trump for US and European diplomats to come up with “fixes” to its most controversial provisions.

Should they fail, Trump is threatening to withdraw the US from the agreement by reimposing nuclear-related sanctions on Iran lifted by the 2015 deal.

Mattis said that criticisms of the agreement are “valid,” but that, ” obviously, aspects of the agreement that can be improved upon.” The position appeared in sync with that of French President Emmanuel Macron, who at the White House on Tuesday proposed expanding on the existing nuclear deal rather than attempting to start from scratch.

​”​I will say it is written almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat,​”​ ​Mattis ​told the Senate panel.​ He said he had read the agreement in full several times, including its classified annexes.​

​”​T​he verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in​.​”

Trump says he wants new terms imposed onto the deal by France, Britain, Germany and the US that will grant international inspectors greater access to Iran’s military sites. He also hopes to impose new restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile work – inextricably linked to the nuclear warheads they are built to deliver, his administration says– and to scrap “sunset clauses” in the deal that will allow Tehran to resume much of its nuclear enrichment work.

Analysis: US Rejection of Term ‘Occupied Territories’ Brings Peace Closer

April 27, 2018

The State Department’s omission of the word ‘occupied’ when referring to the territory of Judea and Samaria may ultimately facilitate a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

By: Daniel Krygier, World Israel News

https://worldisraelnews.com

A US State Department report recently dropped the word ”occupied” in reference to Judea and Samaria for the first time since 1979. In isolation, this move may seem insignificant, but it may also indicate a new US Middle East policy in the making that could facilitate a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Ever since the Arab countries failed to destroy Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967, the international community has increasingly framed the conflict as an “Israeli occupation of Palestine.” However, the international term “Occupied Palestinian Territories” is political and not rooted in international law or documented history. “Palestine” is the Roman name for occupied Judea, and no “Palestinian” Arab state has ever existed in the Land of Israel.

In his monumental work “The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law,” late scholar Howard Grief argued that the legal title of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel was recognized by the international community at the San Remo Peace Conference in 1920.

Judea is not French Algeria

The implications of this recognition are that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are legal under international law even if regularly condemned by the politicized United Nations and the European Union. Unlike formerly French-occupied Algeria, Judea and Samaria constitute the ancestral heartland of Israel. Israel won the territories in a defensive war after being attacked by Arab forces. Since “Palestine” is fiction, Judea and Samaria should legally be defined as disputed rather than “occupied” territories. This means that Israel has legal rights in Judea and Samaria that the French colonialists in Algeria or Vietnam did not have.

This does not mean that Israel will annex the entire disputed territories anytime soon. It is not in the Jewish state’s interest to add another 2 million Arabs to its population. However, parts of Jewish-populated areas of Judea and Samaria could eventually be annexed by Israel in a future Arab-Israeli peace deal. This is consistent with the spirit of the key UN resolution 242, which envisions that Israel will retain some of the disputed territories.

Core of the Arab-Israel conflict

This brings us back to the State Department report’s omission of the word “occupied” when referring to Judea and Samaria. This is important because the core of the Arab-Israel conflict was never about “occupation,” but a deeply entrenched Muslim Arab opposition to a reborn Jewish state within any borders. It is the Arabs, not the Jews, who have systematically rejected a two-state solution since it was first suggested by the British Peel Commission in 1937.

Israel is not an “occupier.” Nor was it established as a “haven for refugees from the Holocaust,” as recently claimed by Hollywood actress Natalie Portman. Israel’s final borders are yet to be defined. However, what is beyond any doubt is the fact that modern Israel is the historical and legal realization of the Jewish people’s return to its ancestral homeland. The path to genuine peace requires a recognition of this fundamental truth.