Archive for May 7, 2018

IT’S OFFICIAL: First ‘US Embassy’ Road Signs Go Up In Jerusalem

May 7, 2018

Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter 12:02 PM 05/07/2018 The Daily Caller

Source Link: IT’S OFFICIAL: First ‘US Embassy’ Road Signs Go Up In Jerusalem

{A sign of the times. – LS}

Israel put up the first “U.S. Embassy” road signs in its capital of Jerusalem Monday morning, weeks after President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would move its embassy from Tel Aviv and recognize Israel’s capital.

The signs read in English, Hebrew, and Arabic and were put in place one week before the U.S. officially transfers its embassy to the city, Reuters reported Monday. The U.S. had technically recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for decades, but past presidents put off transferring the embassy from Tel Aviv to placate the Palestinian contingent.

“This is not a dream. It is reality. I am proud and moved to have hung this morning the first new signs that were prepared for the U.S. Embassy,” wrote Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Twitter.

The Palestinian Authority continues to be enraged by the move, however, claiming it severely threatens any hope of lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

“This [embassy] move is not only illegal but will also thwart the achievement of a just and lasting peace between two sovereign and democratic states on the 1967 borders, Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

The U.S. hopes there is still a possibility for peace, however. Israel has made repeated offers of a two-state solution, once even offering to internationalize Jerusalem, but the Palestinians rejected them.

“By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the seat of its government, we’re recognizing reality,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week. “I also stress, as President Trump has said in December, the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem remain subject to negotiations between the parties, and we remain committed to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future for both Israel and the Palestinians.”



Trump: John Kerry Shadow Dealing With Iran ‘Possibly Illegal’

May 7, 2018

Source Link: Trump: John Kerry Shadow Dealing With Iran ‘Possibly Illegal’

Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent 10:32 AM 05/07/2018 The Daily Caller

{Ketchup Boy better watch his step. – LS}

President Donald Trump took aim at former Secretary of State John Kerry for engaging in surreptitious talks with Iranian and European diplomats as a private citizen in attempts to save the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, in a Monday tweet.

Kerry reportedly has engaged in private meetings with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif to discuss the future of the nuclear deal. The former secretary of state’s conduct has come under scrutiny for possibly violating the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in dispute with the U.S.

Trump is considering withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran in the coming weeks after refusing to certify the Islamic Republic’s compliance. The president has long railed against the deal as one of the worst ever negotiated by the U.S. and how it does not address issues of concern to the U.S., like Iran’s ballistic missile program and its eventual expiration.

Shi’ite militia groups in Syria to do Iran’s dirty work, strike Israel 

May 7, 2018

Source: Shi’ite militia groups in Syria to do Iran’s dirty work, strike Israel – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

Israel is bracing for a barrage of missiles to be launched towards military positions along its northern front from Syrian territory.

 MAY 7, 2018 18:37
An IDF soldier stands atop a tank near Alonei Habashan on the Golan Heights, close to the ceasefire

 An IDF soldier stands atop a tank near Alonei Habashan on the Golan Heights, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israel is bracing for a barrage of missiles to be launched towards military positions along its northern front from Syrian territory, masterminded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, as revenge for alleged Israeli strikes on Iranian bases there.

While Hezbollah and the IRGC are the only groups who have the weapons and know-how to launch the strike, it is believed that the attack will be launched by one of the many Shi’ite groups stationed in Syria and active in the civil war there.

According to Aymenn al-Tamimi, research fellow at the Middle East Forum, there are several key candidates who might launch the missile barrage backed by Iran.

“The Syrian civil war has led to the expansion of the IRGC’s network of regional clients,” Tamimi told The Jerusalem Post, adding that there are therefore “a variety of groups that could possibly strike Israel on its behalf, such as one of the many new ‘Syrian Hezbollah’ groups integrated into the registers of the Syrian armed forces, or one of the Iraqi groups that emerged during the war, like Harakat al-Nujaba’ and its ‘Golan Liberation Brigade.'”

Another possible group, Tamimi said, is a Palestinian group linked to Hezbollah and the IRGC such as “Force of Return,” who are currently fighting on the side of the Bashar Assad regime in the Yarmouk camp outside Damascus.

“But it still remains the case that Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which maintains some bases in Syria, is the most likely and capable of carrying out an attack,” Tamimi said.

According to Michael Horowitz, senior regional analyst at Middle-East-based geopolitical consultancy Le Beck, having Hezbollah carry out the attack would go against Tehran’s plans, which are said to include trying to avoid a full-fledged war with Israel.

“This would defeat the purpose of using Shi’ite militias, which in my opinion, was meant to enable Iran to respond without actually provoking an escalation,” Horowitz told The Post.

According to intelligence, Iran, which is reported to be very determined to carry out an attack, has claimed to be in the advanced planning stages and may soon execute the retaliatory attack that it had vowed to carry out in retaliation for an alleged Israeli airstrike against the T-4 airbase near Homs, used by the IRGC two months ago.

Israel is reported to have uncovered involvement by Hezbollah commanders and senior operatives from Shi’ite militias in the planning of the retaliatory strike, and it is believed that these militias, along with experts from Hezbollah under the command of the IRGC’s Quds Force Commander Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani, will launch the attack in the form of precision-guided missiles or armed drones from a base in Syria.

“The idea is to use heavy Iranian missiles, including the Fateh-110, under the command and with the advisory work of Hezbollah but without an IRGC presence,” Channel 10 said on Sunday night, adding that Hezbollah members from Lebanon have been brought to Syria to train Shi’ite militia members for the attack.

While military officials have briefed mayors across the country on the latest developments, the heads of local councils in northern Israel have told their residents that there are no special instructions or precautions.

In recent months, Israel has identified and released to the media pictures of a number of air bases throughout Syria that they said are being used by Iranian forces. It is believed to be an effort to deter Iran from carrying out strikes on Israel, as those bases would likely be targeted by Jerusalem in response to any such attack.

According to Horowitz, “Israel chose to publish such threats to send the message that it will see any attack coming from an Iranian-backed group as one actually coming from Iran, and thus will respond in kind.”

Tensions have risen dramatically between the two arch-enemies, and in late April, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon told the UN Security Council said that there are “over 80,000 extremists from all over the Middle East who are members of Shia militias in Syria under Iranian control.”

Israeli officials have been warning against Iranian entrenchment in the Golan Heights, an area of key strategic importance for the Jewish State, stressing that it is a red line for Jerusalem. Officials have also stated that the northern border is no longer considered as two separate entities, but as one continuous front.

In February, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amit Fisher warned not only of the Iranian entrenchment across the border, but the return of Syrian troops to an area which was relatively quiet for nearly six years while under the control of rebels.

“We must prepare ourselves operationally and in terms of intelligence for the growing threat: The return of the Syrian army and Iranian forces, Hezbollah and others.”

Iran warns of ‘historic regret’ if US ends nuclear deal

May 7, 2018

Source: Iran warns of ‘historic regret’ if US ends nuclear deal – Israel Hayom

Don’t threaten us with war

May 7, 2018

Source: Don’t threaten us with war – Israel Hayom

Prof. Eyal Zisser

A day does not pass without someone trying to frighten the Israel public with doomsday prophecies of impending war with Iran.

Thus, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warns of a regional conflagration if U.S. President Donald Trump withdraws from the nuclear deal. Thus, former senior officials and media pundits in Israel warn that the ongoing fight against Iran’s presence in Syria and its race to a nuclear bomb could spark a regional war at a very heavy cost to Israel.

These threats are utterly baseless and lack credibility. They are simply a scare campaign, which at best stems from a fixed thought process and adherence to the status quo, even at the cost of mortgaging our future, and at worst is motivated by political or personal considerations.

The warnings are rooted in a false and even naive assumption that the regional bully can do anything he wants, and that imposing boundaries on him is a mistake because it will only make him angry and cause him to respond violently. However, experience teaches us that setting red lines and backing them up is the only way to deter bullies and cause them to change their behavior.

We must keep in mind that Iran does not want war and is not prepared for one. Its power has always lain in waging campaigns via proxies who spill their own blood on its behalf. The Iranians are far more careful with their own blood.

Iran is also mired in economic difficulties at home, and the Iranian public is not hiding its objections to expensive and bloody adventures far from its borders. Even among Iran’s leaders, President Hassan Rouhani and his supporters are spearheading opposition to the country’s military entanglements in Yemen, Iraq and Syria. The Iranian public will not forgive those who drag them into another war that only serves the interests of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, whose entire reason for existence is to establish an Iranian presence throughout the Middle East.

Aside from this, Iran is weak militarily as well as economically, and its presence in Syria is still limited, thanks in large part to Israel’s airstrikes in Syria. The threats by Iranian leaders to destroy Israel should not be taken lightly, but at the same time they should not pose a deterrent. Shimon Peres, the architect of Israel’s nuclear program, said that Iran is incapable of destroying Israel, but that through its hollow threats it exposes itself to an existential threat it cannot counter.

None of this is to say that Iran will be deterred by the unfolding poker game with the American president over the Iranian nuclear program, and with Israel over the Iranian presence in Syria. Iranian retaliation for the alleged Israeli airstrikes will eventually come, but it will not be in the form of all-out war; it will consist of precise, if painful, blows, in the form of terrorist attacks.

What remains to be seen is who among the players will blink first. Throughout the 70 years of its existence, Israel has already gained experience in “poker games” such as these – against Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s, and against the PLO and Hezbollah in Lebanon – and for the most part it has emerged with the upper hand. If Israel aspires to survive in the Middle East, it cannot be deterred and retreat.

Indeed, in the Middle East wars often erupt organically and unpredictably without anyone planning or initiating them. Misunderstandings, miscalculations and unforeseen events could lead to war. Caution, alertness and readiness are necessary, certainly among those in charge. However, there is quite a bit of distance from this to an atmosphere of public hysteria and panic about a possible war this summer. There is a difference between rational concern that breeds caution and panic that breeds political and military paralysis and will exact a price in the long run.

History teaches us that the fear of antagonizing an enemy and appeasement attempts do not pay. Ultimately, not only do these fail to deter the adversary, they actually encourage it to advance to the next stage of its plan. At that point, confronting the enemy can be far more complicated and daunting.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.


Report: Hamas offered long-term truce to Israel

May 7, 2018

Terror group that rules Gaza reportedly seeks cease-fire in exchange for easing of restrictions on goods entering Gaza.

Hamas trains for confrontation with Israel


Hamas leaders in Gaza have sent messages to Israel through various channels in recent months offering to negotiate a long-term ceasefire.

According to a report in the Israeli daily Haaretz on Monday, Hamas wants to tie the cease-fire to an easing of the partial blockade on Gaza, a green light for large-scale infrastructure projects and a prisoner exchange.

Israel has “not responded clearly” to the messages, according to Haaretz.

Hamas reportedly is more open to discussing such a cease-fire since it is in “dire and unprecedented strategic distress,” the report said. In addition, reconciliation efforts between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority remain frozen in the wake of an assassination attempt in March on PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah during his visit to Gaza.

Hamas has called on Gazan demonstrators to continue to protest at the border with Gaza as part of the March of Return protests, and has vowed that the protests will continue past what was supposed to be the end date, May 14, the date on the Gregorian calendar that marks Israel’s 70th birthday, and which the Arab world calls The Nakba, or The Catastrophe. The Palestinian Authority also is planning a large demonstration on that day in Ramallah in the West Bank, the seat of government of the PA.

The Israel Defense Forces estimates that 70 percent of the 48 Gazans killed in the current protests are connected to Hamas or the military wings of other terror organizations in Gaza, according to Haaretz.

Former US Senator Joe Lieberman: ‘I Hope Trump Leaves the Iran Nuclear Deal’

May 7, 2018

Former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman on Fox News Futures, discussing the Iranian JCPOA

Photo Credit: Fox News Futures / screen capture

Former Connecticut U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman — also a former Democratic vice presidential candidate and currently chairman of the advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran — says he hopes President Donald Trump decides to withdrawn from the Iranian nuclear deal next week.

Lieberman told Fox News Futures host Marie Bartiromo in an interview on Sunday (May 6), “I give you the perspective of somebody who was in the Senate for 24 years, worked with people in both parties to put sanctions, economic pressure on Iran with a singular goal which was to denuclearize Iran to stop their nuclear weapons development program.

“What the Obama administration and our allies in Europe did was not that. It basically gave away all our leverage against them in return for a pause in their nuclear program – if they’re keeping their word, which they don’t have a good reputation for doing – and it gave them $100 billion which they’ve used to support terrorists and to spread their rule throughout the Middle East.

“So it was a bad deal, a mistake for us. I think the president really has the power to correct that mistake and I hope he does.”

The worst part of the nuclear deal, says Lieberman, is that it “didn’t really end Iran’s nuclear program. It’s clear they’ve got tremendous capacity.”

Lieberman says that Iran signed the JCPOA in 2015 in order to “get the economic pressure off of them to get the $100 billion. They can go back and have a legitimate nuclear weapons development program in about ten years — and that’s not the security that the world needs.”

The second point, he says, is that although the agreement gave United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors the right to inspect facilities “all over Iran,” the Tehran government has not allowed those inspectors to enter any military site, which is “where they would be cheating, if they’re cheating,” says Lieberman, adding, “and I worry that they are.”

Regarding whether or not Europe will ultimately go along with Washington if the president decides to withdraw from the deal — Lieberman says despite the vocal protests to the contrary, he is convinced they will, for the simple reason that the United States has a bigger economy than that of Iran. Money talks.

“The Iranian economy is four or five hundred billion dollars. Ours is like $44 trillion,” Lieberman emphasized, “so you give the European banking and business community a choice of what to do if we pull out, and slap the sanctions back on Iran.

“It’s no choice: They’re going to continue to do business with us and they’re going to turn their backs on the Iranians, and most of the rest of the world will do the same,” he said.

“Then, hopefully the Iranians will come back to the table and negotiate a total denuclearization of their country and then we can welcome them into the world community.”