Archive for March 5, 2019

Abbas slams US administration during visit to Baghdad 

March 5, 2019

Source: Abbas slams US administration during visit to Baghdad – Israel Hayom

After meeting with Iraqi PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi, PA President Mahmoud Abbas says Trump administration is “encouraging Israel to be a state above the law” • Abdul-Mahdi and Iraqi President Barham Saleh stress Jerusalem’s importance to the Palestinian people.

Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 05/03/2019
   
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Iraqi President Barham Saleh at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Monday 


Top Iraqi officials have expressed support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who blasted the Trump administration during a visit to Baghdad.

On Monday, Abbas held talks with Iraqi President Barham Saleh a day after he met with Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi. Both leaders expressed the importance of Jerusalem to the Palestinian people.

Abbas said after meeting with Abdul-Mahdi that “the current American administration is encouraging Israel to be a state above the law.”

Abbas added that the Trump administration “is biased and not suitable to be a sponsor of peace talks.”

The Trump administration has cited the reluctance of Palestinian leaders to enter peace negotiations with Israel, as well as the PA’s ongoing support for terrorism, as reasons for its decision to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.

 

US deploys THAAD missile defense system to Israel 

March 5, 2019

Source: US deploys THAAD missile defense system to Israel – Israel Hayom

Prime Minister Netanyahu hails Terminal High Altitude Area Defense as a sign of U.S. commitment to Israeli security • “Together with our defense systems, we are stronger is dealing with threats emanating from all areas of the Middle East,” he says.

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 05/03/2019
   
The THAAD missile defense system is unloaded in Israel 


The U.S. military has deployed its most advanced air and missile defense system to Israel for the first time, U.S. and Israeli officials said on Monday.

The deployment, which began in March, was intended to test the U.S. military’s ability to rapidly deploy such weapons around the world, said a spokeswoman for U.S. European Command.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the arrival of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system as a sign of the U.S. commitment to Israeli security.

“The American THAAD system is considered among the most advanced systems in the world, and together with our defense systems, we are stronger in dealing with threats, close or distant, emanating from all areas of the Middle East,” he said.

The move comes amid increased tensions between Israel and Iran over Israel’s bombing campaign in Syria and comments in which Iran’s foreign minister said he could not rule out the possibility of military conflict between the two countries.

The U.S. military said the decision to rapidly move the THAAD system to Israel was intended “as a demonstration of the United States’ continued commitment to Israel’s regional security.”

“THAAD is the most advanced integrated air and missile defense system in the world, and this deployment readiness exercise demonstrates that U.S. forces are agile and can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat, anywhere, at any time,” U.S. European Command said in a statement.

Lockheed Martin, the biggest U.S. arms maker, builds and integrates the THAAD system, which is designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Raytheon, another U.S. firm, builds its advanced radar.

As part of the deployment, U.S. forces will work at various locations in Europe, the United States and in Israel to operate the system in close cooperation with the Israel Defense Forces, it said. U.S. officials declined to say how quickly the system was moved to Israel from its home base at Fort Bliss, Texas.

IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the deployment differed from previous simulated U.S.-Israel joint military exercises and involved tactical coordination on the ground.

He said all of the components of the THAAD system were at an air force base in the Negev desert, in southern Israel, and would soon be moved to an undisclosed site in southern Israel.

“The advantage from the Israeli point of view is that we have an opportunity to integrate it into our systems and simulate different scenarios,” he said.

The IDF said the deployment was defensive in nature and not related to any specific current event.

Saudi Arabia agreed in November to buy 44 THAAD launchers, missiles and related equipment from the United States in a separate deal valued at $15 billion.

 

Holland recalls envoy from Iran in escalating murder plot row

March 5, 2019

Source: Holland recalls envoy from Iran in escalating murder plot row | The Times of Israel

Move comes after Tehran expels Dutch diplomats in response to accusation that regime was involved in killing of two dissidents in the Netherlands in 2015 and 2017

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, at UN headquarters, on September 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok addresses a meeting of the United Nations Security Council during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, at UN headquarters, on September 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Netherlands said Monday it had recalled its ambassador from Tehran after Iran expelled two Dutch diplomats in an escalating dispute over an alleged plot to assassinate regime opponents.

Dutch authorities accused Iran in January of involvement in the murder of two dissidents on Dutch soil in 2015 and 2017, and the European Union slapped sanctions on Tehran over the killings.

Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a letter to the Dutch parliament that the government “has decided to recall the Netherlands’ ambassador to Tehran for consultations” over the row.

Iran’s decision to expel the Dutch officials — which was not previously announced in public — was “not acceptable and is negative for the development of the bilateral relationship,” Blok said.

He said Iran’s move was itself a tit-for-tat response to the Netherlands’ expulsion of two Iranian embassy workers in June 2018 “due to strong indications from (Dutch intelligence) that Iran has been involved in the liquidations on Dutch territory of two Dutch people of Iranian origin.”

Tehran had informed Dutch authorities of the decision to expel the two diplomats on February 20 and they were deported back to the Netherlands on Sunday, Blok said.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi confirmed the expulsion of the two Dutch diplomats in what he called a “retaliatory” move.

“Two of the diplomats of the Netherlands embassy in Tehran were considered undesirable elements in the framework of a retaliatory measure and were asked to leave the country” on March 3 and 4, he said on the ministry’s Telegram channel.

The Dutch had also summoned the Iranian ambassador over the issue, Blok said.

Dutch police have previously named the two murder victims as Ali Motamed, 56, who was killed in the central city of Almere in 2015, and Ahmad Molla Nissi, 52, murdered in The Hague in 2017.

 

Trump: Ilhan Omar comments are a ‘dark day for Israel’

March 5, 2019

Source: Trump: Ilhan Omar comments are a ‘dark day for Israel’ | The Times of Israel

Jewish groups petition to have Muslim American Democrat removed from Foreign Relations Committee over remarks about those with ‘allegiance to a foreign country’

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, arrives for US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 5, 2019 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, arrives for US President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 5, 2019 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

US President Donald Trump on Monday described recent remarks by Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar — which have been blasted as anti-Semitic and prompted Jewish groups to demand that she be removed from a powerful Senate committee — as “a dark day for Israel.”

Last week Omar, of Minnesota, accused pro-Israel activists and lawmakers of “allegiance to a foreign country.” Dual loyalties is a common anti-Semitic trope.

“Representative Ilhan Omar is again under fire for her terrible comments concerning Israel,” Trump tweeted. “Jewish groups have just sent a petition to Speaker Pelosi asking her to remove Omar from Foreign Relations Committee. A dark day for Israel!”

Eleven Jewish groups, among them the National Council for Young Israel and the Endowment for Middle East Truth, sent a petition Monday to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the senior House Democrat, asking that she “immediately remove” Omar from the committee.

US President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks to the National Association of Attorneys General, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, March 4, 2019. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

A copy of the petition, which was also sent to Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel, who chairs the committee, was published by the Washington Free Beacon.

“In light of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s recent anti-Semitic tweets, statements…we, the undersigned organizations, request that you immediately remove her as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” the petition said.

“We hope you will continue to demonstrate your commitment to the high moral standards of your office by removing Rep. Omar, a woman who has repeatedly exhibited strong biases against the State of Israel and the Jewish people, from this critically important and sensitive committee.”

Omar said last Wednesday during a town hall in Washington that “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

She later defended her remarks when criticized by top Jewish Democrats in the House, tweeting Monday, “I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.”

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

I have not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel, I have questioned it and that has been clear from my end.

Ilhan Omar

@IlhanMN

I am told everyday that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks.

In reaction to Omar’s statements, Democrats in the US House of Representatives will put forward a resolution Wednesday condemning anti-Semitism.

Democrats over the weekend drafted a resolution with that message, according to a Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because the document had not been released. Its text was not final as of Monday afternoon.

Responding Friday to her comments, Engel called on Omar to apologize for her “vile anti-Semitic slur.”

Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, has been accused of employing anti-Semitic tropes since taking office over her criticism of Israel and the role of the Jewish state’s backers in Washington. Last month, she apologized after facing widespread bipartisan condemnation for a tweet suggesting Jewish money was behind congressional support for Israel.

 

Hamas secretly co-opted to Egyptian-Israel war on ISIS in Sinai finds pretext for extorting cash – DEBKAfile

March 5, 2019

Source: Hamas secretly co-opted to Egyptian-Israel war on ISIS in Sinai finds pretext for extorting cash – DEBKAfile

Unbeknownst to Israel, Cairo enlisted Hamas to the IDF-assisted Egyptian war on ISIS in Sinai, then turned Hamas’ demand for more cash to Jerusalem.

Hamas has switched on its latest upsurge of terror from the Gaza Strip for extortion. The Palestinian terrorists discovered last year that, by turning up the heat, Israel’s Prime Minister (and defense minister) and former Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot would pay up, rather than embark on a major military offensive, especially when those payments were disbursed by Qatar. This discovery led ultimately in March 2019 to a new wave of attacks from the Gaza Strip on Israeli civilian locations, with balloon clusters flown over the border by primitive gliders and armed with explosives linked to timers.
In between these two events, DEBKA file’s military sources report, Cairo caught Israel unawares. Egypt’s General Intelligence service chief Gen. Abbas Kamel last month secretly negotiated a deal for Hamas to make its intelligence agencies and military wing Ezz-e-din al-Qassam available for fighting the Islamic State in Sinai alongside the Egyptian army in areas adjoining the Gaza Strip.

This was not the first time that a government and army had enlisted one terrorist organization to fight another – there were many precedents in the Syrian war – but never before has a Palestinian organization of Hamas’ ilk been used to fight the Islamic State.

In its quiet exchanges with US, Israeli and Saudi officials, Cairo presents the deal with Hamas as a worthwhile political process for “laundering” the Palestinian terrorists and making them kosher for heading an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
But by acting without Israel’s consent, Egypt has turned the IDF into an unwilling partner in an unholy triad of forces fighting ISIS in northern Sinai, consisting of Egypt, Hamas and Israel. Israel was not consulted on this “pact.”

Our military and counter-terrorism sources stress that, however carefully Egypt may try to compartmentalize the intelligence received from the IDF on the situation in northern Sinai, some is bound to leak to its new partner, Israel’s enemy, Hamas.

The Egyptian “pact” came to light when Hamas lodged fresh complaints with Cairo about Israel’s alleged violations of the “truce” deal Egypt negotiated between them last year. Unaware of Cairo’s new setup with Hamas, Israel replied that there were no grounds for its complaint. After all, Israel had made good on its promise to triple electrical power to Gaza, from 3-4 hours a day to twelve; and 11,000 trucks laden with Israeli supplies for the population crossed into the territory each month – at the rate of 366 a day. Furthermore, $15m of Qatari funds were delivered monthly on time.

The answer coming back from Cairo was that Hamas wanted Israel to lay out more cash as compensation for the cutbacks ordered by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (who has incidentally gone to Baghdad) in the funds due to the Gaza Strip!
To back its demand, Hamas turned to its usual leverage: terrorism. By night, Palestinian mobs pelt Israeli troops along the Gaza border with dozens of explosive devices and hand grenades, and by day, balloons explode over Israeli locales.

Hamas leaders are exploiting Israel’s election campaign to raise the ante. They assume that since Defense Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is bent on winning another term as prime minister, he will pay up to keep them quiet.