Archive for May 21, 2019

Israel approves armored vehicles for Palestinian Authority

May 21, 2019

Israel approves entry of ten armored vehicles donated by EU on background of crisis between Israel and PA over tax revenues.

Mordechai Sones, 21/05/19 18:26

Armored vehicleiStock

The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas has received armored vehicles from the European Union according to YNet. Israel approved the vehicle’s introduction after years of postponements, on the background of the crisis surrounding offsetting tax money to terrorists’ families.

The armored vehicles were brought into Samaria via Jordan with Israel’s approval.

In recent years the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly demanded that Israel approve entry of armored vehicles, but their request was allegedly rejected time after time.

The last time PA armored vehicles aroused controversy was in 2000 when a paper published by the Ariel Center for Policy Research identified the PA armored threat to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, saying “Because the IDF limits yishuv self defense to small arms, the growing armor vehicle capability of the PA would render the assault troops it carries invulnerable to yishuv defenders. The IDF gate guards do not have anything to stop these vehicles. The standard sliding gates for all yishuvim would buckle under the impact of such armored vehicles, and many yishuvim lack even this ‘obstacle’ – such that the only thing separating between the attacker and the yishuv is a moving aluminum arm painted red and white.”

The report went on to say that “The PA armored vehicle force is not capable of challenging the IDF, but would be unstoppable in a first strike on yishuvim. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that that is their purpose.

“Although it is possible to gain sudden entry into yishuvim by using commandos or even less prepared troops – as the examples of Ariel and Ofra show – armored vehicles provide a rapid capability to do so that ground troops cannot match.”

At that time, the IDF justification for the PA need for armored vehicles according to Oslo was that Arafat needed them to protect his government from Arab extremist elements, while at the same time trying to deny their existence.

The current shipment of armored vehicles arrived at a time of crisis between Jerusalem and Ramallah around the law to offset terrorist salaries and the Palestinian Authority’s stubborn refusal to accept tax revenues from Israel after it offset the Palestinian Authority’s payment to the families of terrorists.

For more than three months, tens of thousands of members of the PA organizations have received half of their salaries because of the crisis surrounding the PA-Israel offsetting law. In the corridors of the security apparatuses, there was harsh criticism of Israel’s policy, as the PA continues security coordination with the Israeli defense establishment while Israel conducts indirect negotiations with Hamas, allowing tens of millions of dollars from Qatar to be disbursed.

YNet conjectures that the approval of the move during this period is intended to soften the criticism and frustration in the Palestinian Authority and to maintain close security coordination.

About three months ago, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced that Ramallah would waive all the tax revenues it receives every month from Israel – about NIS 500 million – in response to the Israeli decision to offset the salaries of the terrorists.

According to the cabinet decision, Israel offsets the taxes it transfers to the Palestinian Authority on payments linked to terrorism. Prime Minister and Defense Minister Binyamin Netanyahu instructed the security forces to intensify the examination of payments to terrorists and their families and to update the frozen amount accordingly.

In 2000, the IDF repeatedly denied Arab armored vehicles in Judea and Samaria, apparently
intending to convince Jewish residents there that Arab armor would only threaten to concentrate on communities in Gaza. But evidence of attack preparations against yishuvim of Judea and Samaria continued to grow, as reports of PA armor in Ramallah and Shechem began to gain credibility despite IDF denials.

The lunatics run the show

May 21, 2019

Women’s movement: Put ‘Mother and Father’ back on IDF forms

Shovrot Shivyon women’s movement slams surrender to LGBT pressure, says there was ‘no public discussion,’ conservatives are ‘silenced.’

Arutz Sheva Staff, 21/05/19 15:02

IDF soldiers (illustrative)Hadas Parush, Flash 90

The Shovrot Shivyon (Breaking Equality) women’s movement on Tuesday called on the IDF “to return ‘Father’ and ‘Mother’ to the induction forms and immediately remove the categories of ‘Parent 1’ and ‘Parent 2,’ recently instituted by the IDF.”

The new categories were instituted in response to continuous pressure from LGBT groups and in order to avoid embarrassment during the recruitment process.

According to Shovrot Shivyon, “Identity politics have penetrated the IDF. The minority is forcing its opinion on the majority who believe in the values ​​of the natural family. The IDF Spokesperson stated that the goal was to prevent embarrassment during induction stages. The silent and conservative majority was the one who felt embarrassed by such a form. Progressive values ​​are assimilated by left-extreme groups without any public discussion, with the other side being silenced and modernized.”

“As women and mothers, we call on the army to return to a consensus and avoid political disagreements that shape society at the expense of our children.”

Earlier on Tuesday, an IDF spokesperson explained: “The IDF updates and changes the questionnaires from time to time in accordance with the comments received and the needs that arise during the screening process.”

Iran Accelerates Production of Enriched Uranium as Tensions Rise

May 21, 2019

Source: Iran Accelerates Production of Enriched Uranium as Tensions Rise

Golnar Motevalli

(Bloomberg) — Iran has accelerated the rate at which it’s enriching low-grade uranium four-fold, weeks after threatening to gradually scale back its commitments under a 2015 deal meant to prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, an official at Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, as saying that Iran had increased its output of 3.67% enriched uranium as of Monday, and that the United Nations nuclear watchdog had been informed. The number of active centrifuges has not been raised, it added. Crucially, Iran hasn’t increased the level to which it is enriching beyond the agreed limit.

“This issue does not mean that there is an increase in the purity of the material or that there’s an increase in the number of centrifuge machines or that there’s a change in the type of centrifuges,” Kamalvandi said, according the Tasmin.

Tehran has already announced it stopped complying with a 300-kilogram cap on the storage of enriched uranium and heavy water imposed by the multilateral accord, and said it would abandon limits on uranium enrichment unless Europe throws it an economic lifeline within 60 days, setting an ultimatum for the survival of the landmark agreement.

Tensions in the Gulf have spiked since the U.S. stopped granting waivers to buyers of Iranian oil early this month, tightening sanctions slapped on the Islamic Republic after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal a year ago.

With an economic crisis looming, Iran announced on May 8 it would gradually withdraw from the agreement unless the remaining parties find a way to ease its pain. That was followed last week by so far unexplained sabotage attacks against four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, heading toward the Gulf and a drone attack by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels against Saudi pumping stations, which forced the temporary suspension of an east-west pipeline.

Saudi Prince Says Iran Ordered Pipeline Attack as Tensions Rise

On Wednesday, the U.S. cited growing yet unspecified threats as it ordered the departure of non-emergency staff from Iraq, where Iran provides material and political support to several powerful militias.

By the end of last week, Trump appeared to dial back the tensions, reiterating earlier statements that he’s open to talks with the Iranian government and saying he hopes there isn’t a war. But he’s also signaled that the U.S. will respond to any provocations and asserted that Tehran needs to initiate any talks.

“Iran will call us if and when they are every ready,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday. “In the meantime, their economy continues to collapse — very sad for the Iranian people.”

In a meeting with clerics in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said Monday, “I am a supporter of negotiations and diplomacy, but I do not accept to do it in the current circumstances.”

Though all sides have said they do not want war, heightened concerns have rattled oil markets and become a subject of debate at a meeting of OPEC oil exporters taking place in the Saudi city of Jeddah. Iran says that its nuclear program is for civilian energy and medical uses and that it has never sought nuclear weapons.

The U.S. accelerated the dispatch of an aircraft carrier and moved B-52 bombers to the region in recent weeks, citing unspecified threats from Iran and its proxies.

The Trump administration revoked this month two waivers that enabled Iran to send surplus heavy water to Oman and ship out any enriched uranium above the 300 kg limit in exchange for natural or “yellowcake” uranium. Those measures undermined Iran’s ability to dispose of excess materials, forcing it to choose either between stopping enrichment, as the Trump administration wants, or abandoning its commitment to the storage threshold.


Rouhani: In current situation, Iran chooses path of ‘resistance only’

May 21, 2019

Source: Rouhani: In current situation, Iran chooses path of ‘resistance only’ | The Times of Israel

Iranian president says he won’t walk away from nuke deal because it would bring more sanctions; Trump says willing to talk, but provocations will be met with ‘great force’

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, May 8, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, May 8, 2019. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Monday that while he favors talks and diplomacy, these are impossible in the current situation, and so his country has chosen a path of “resistance only.”

“I favor talks and diplomacy but under current conditions, I do not accept it, as today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only,” the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted him as telling leading religious figures.

His comments came hours after US President Donald Trump said that any  provocations by Iran would be met with “great force,” while noting that he’s also willing to negotiate.

According to IRNA, Rouhani told the clerics that there was consensus among the leadership that Iran would stand up to the US and its sanctions.

However, he said Iran would not officially leave the nuclear deal because that would open it up to further sanctions.

“If we walked away from the JCPOA with the US provocative acts, then, in addition to the US, the UN and world would also impose sanctions on us,” he said, using an acronym for the official name of the deal.

Tensions have spiraled in recent days after the Trump administration sent an aircraft carrier and other military resources to the Persian Gulf region, and withdrew nonessential personnel from Iraq, raising alarms over the possibility of a confrontation with Iran.

“We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happen. But if it does, it will be met obviously with great force,” said Trump, speaking to reporters as he left the White House en route to a rally in Pennsylvania. “We’ll have no choice.”

Despite saying there was no indication of a belligerent act from Iran, the president called the Islamic Republic “very hostile” and the “No. 1 provocateur of terror in this country.”

Trump had been downplaying the chances of potential conflict in recent days and again said he was willing to talk to Tehran.

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“If they call we would certainly negotiate, but that’s going to be up to them,” Trump said. “I’d only want them to call if they’re ready. If they’re not ready, they don’t have to bother.”

Trump’s comments come after semi-official news agencies in Iran reported that the country has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium amid tensions with the US over the unraveling nuclear accord.

The Fars and Tasnim news agencies both reported that the production is of uranium enriched only to the 3.67 percent limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, far below the 20% to which Iran was enriching before the deal or the 90% required to produce nuclear weapons.

The fast combat support ship USNS Arctic transports cargo to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln during a replenishment-at-sea in the Arabian Sea, May 19, 2019. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman/US Navy via AP)

However, a quadrupling of production would mean that Iran likely will soon go beyond the stockpile limitation of 300 kilograms set by the deal.

Iran said it has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, of its decision. The IAEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The crisis is rooted in Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear accord last year and impose sweeping sanctions on Iran. The Trump administration has criticized the 2015 accord for failing to rein in Tehran’s regional ambitions.

Earlier Monday, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met with his visiting counterpart from Oman, Yusuf bin Alawi. The Gulf nation has in the past served as an intermediary between the United States and the Islamic Republic, including during the early stages of the talks that led to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Overnight Sunday, Trump took to Twitter to warn Iran not to threaten the US or it will face its “official end.”

The USS Abraham Lincoln sails in the Arabian Sea near the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, on May 17, 2019. (Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur, US Navy via AP)

Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

Trump did not elaborate, nor did the White House. However, the tweet came after a rocket landed less than a mile from the sprawling US Embassy in Baghdad in the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone Sunday night.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket launch.

Trump’s tweet was a “genocidal taunt,” according to Iran’s top diplomat, Zarif.

In his own message on Twitter, Zarif said Trump had been “goaded” into “genocidal taunts.”

He wrote that Trump “hopes to achieve what Alexander (the Great), Genghis (Khan) & other aggressors failed to do,” adding: “Iranians have stood tall for a millennia while aggressors all gone.”





Israel conducts two airstrikes on Syrian targets – TV7 Israel News 20.05.19 – YouTube

May 21, 2019




May 21, 2019

Palestinian reporter calls it ‘fake news’; Otzma, ‘humiliating treaty of surrender.’


Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures during a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas’ founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018. (photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)

Israel and Hamas have denied reports that a Gaza ceasefire understanding had been reached that would ensure six-months of calm.

Channel 12 news on Monday night reported that a truce had been reached, sparking a chain of Israeli political reactions and diplomatic denials.According to the report, Hamas agreed to end clashes with IDF forces along the Gaza border, with Palestinian rioters keeping to a 300 meter distance from the border.

Hamas also agreed to end its night raids against IDF units along Israel’s southern border. During those six months, no new flotillas would be launched in an attempt to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza, Channel 12 reported.

Israel agreed to widen the Gaza fishing zone to 15 nautical miles and to ensure the uninterrupted transfer of medicines and other forms of civic aid to Gaza residents, the report said.

Talks would be held on the Gaza crossings, electricity, health services and financial assistance. In addition, Israel will promote UN funded projects.

If calm is held for six month, the report stated, then work could proceed on a more permanent ceasefire that would include the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers and the release of two Israeli civilians held in Gaza.

All efforts toward either an informal or a formal ceasefire have been brokered by Egypt with the help of the United Nations. Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process, had no comment on the report.

In the past, informal ceasefire understandings have rarely been publicly acknowledged and have been measured only by the absence of violence. Earlier this month, a severe outbreak of Israel-Hamas violence caused the death of four Israeli civilians and almost led to a full-on outbreak of war.

Palestinians and Israelis objected to the reports of an informal ceasefire.

The organizers of the weekly Palestinian Friday border protests pledged: “we will continue with the Friday marches until the siege is removed and the rights of our people restored.”

Representatives of the Eshkol Regional Council, in turn, said that from their perspective, a ceasefire includes a complete cessation of incendiary balloons, terror attacks on the security fence, and the sporadic fire to which they are subjected.

MK Amir Peretz from the Labor Party said that a deal with Hamas that does not include the return of the remains of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin for burial in Israel, as well as living Israelis held captive by the terrorist group, is an ongoing assault on “IDF values and the alliance [the state has] with families.”

Goldin’s parents, Lea and Simcha, said that the “deal with Hamas is misleading the families, who have been waiting for almost five years for their sons to be returned from the battlefield.”

Palestinian reporter Iiad El-Kara suggested that the ceasefire is “fake news,” claiming that, “this is part of the conniving means used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.”

Former Yesh Atid MK Haim Yalin said: “I don’t believe a single word of Hamas,” noting that, at this time, Israel has had 12 ceasefire understandings with Hamas and that Hamas broke all of them.

The far-right Otzma Yehudit Party issued a press release saying that this is a “humiliating treaty of surrender” and that “Hamas is dictating to the State of Israel what is on the agenda, and brings the Israeli government to its knees time and time again.”

MK Yoaz Hendel of Blue and White responded to the news, saying that in the Middle East, “agreements with terrorists are not worth the paper on which they are signed.”

Yasser Okby contributed to this report.