Posted tagged ‘Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’

In Moscow, presence of IDF generals sends a message of military urgency

September 21, 2015

In Moscow, presence of IDF generals sends a message of military urgency In rare move, Netanyahu brings both IDF chief and intelligence head to Russia to drive home concerns on Hezbollah, Syria By Judah Ari Gross September 21, 2015, 11:54 am

Source: In Moscow, presence of IDF generals sends a message of military urgency | The Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot during a visit to the northern border of Israel on August 18, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot during a visit to the northern border of Israel on August 18, 2015. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

n a sign that it has not taken last week’s movement of the Russian military into Syria lightly, Israel sent not one but two members of the IDF General Staff with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow Monday, in an effort to hash out the precarious relationships between Israel, Russia, Syria and Hezbollah.

Both IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Military Intelligence Head Maj. Gen. Herzl “Hertzi” Halevi are accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the movement of Russian troops into Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his advisers.

The presence of either one of these generals on this trip would be notable in itself. That both are traveling with Netanyahu is meant to demonstrate to both the people of Israel and the government of Russia the gravity of the situation on Israel’s northern border and the IDF’s intention to keep up airstrikes on high-priority Hezbollah targets in Syria.

Israel has admitted to targeting several Hezbollah and Syrian weapons facilities and convoys in the past several years, and it has been assumed that the Israel Air Force has carried out many more, despite officials’ refusal to claim responsibility.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem on June 25, 2012 (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/Flash90)

Most such attacks have been against so-called advanced weapons systems — missiles and artillery guns, rather than rifles and grenades.

Putin, however, complicated Israel’s strategies vis-a-vis Hezbollah and Syria when he announced that the Russian military would be moving into the war-torn country, setting up in the port city of Latakia.

Satellite images already show Russian-made artillery guns and SU-30 combat planes in the northwestern Syrian city.

The presence of Russian soldiers in the country is an added obstacle for the IDF, which must now continue to prevent Israel’s enemies from obtaining dangerous weapons, without causing an international incident by killing an ally’s soldiers.

In 2013 and 2014, Israel was suspected of having carried out airstrikes on weapons sites in Latakia. With Russian military now present in the city, similar attacks may be more difficult to carry out.

An armored personnel carrier, likely a Russian made BTR-82A, firing large-caliber bullets during a battle in Latakia, Syria, is seen in a video posted online on August 23, 2015. (Screen capture YouTube)

Though the Israeli government has not released an itinerary for Monday’s trip, Eisenkot and Halevi will likely meet with their Russian army counterparts to address two related issues: preventing Hezbollah from obtaining Russian-made weaponry and Israel Air Force strikes against the advanced weapons systems already in the possession of the Iran-aligned militia.

Though some of Hezbollah’s arsenal comes from Iran, several of its deadliest weapons — the Kornet anti-tank missile, which has been deadly in combat against Israeli Merkava tanks, and the Katyusha rocket, which rained down on Israel’s northern cities during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 — come from Russia.

Though many of these weapons systems were intended for Syria, some have nevertheless ended up in the hands of Hezbollah, according to Nadav Pollak, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Some of the systems sold by Russia include anti-aircraft guns and surface-to-air missiles, which could be devastating to Israel’s air superiority in a future conflict with Hezbollah, Pollak said.

As head of intelligence, Halevi will likely present information to the Russian military, showing how these Russian-made weapons end up in the hands of Hezbollah, Pollak explained.

Brig. Gen. Herzi Halevi speaking Thursday. (photo credit: Mitch Ginsburg/Times of Israel)

In addition to attempting to prevent further such transfers, Netanyahu, Eisenkot and Halevi will also discuss Israel’s plans to destroy those advanced systems the terrorist organization has already acquired.

As Hezbollah has been closely aligned with Russia’s ally Assad, this may be a sticking point with Putin, though it is not one Israel is prepared to give up on, Yossi Cohen, national security adviser to the prime minister, told the Israel Hayom newspaper Monday.

Netanyahu will tell Putin that Israel won’t accept restrictions on its response capabilities in Syria, Cohen said.

As Israel’s strikes against Hezbollah have taken place on Syrian territory, which violates its sovereignty, Pollak explained, “there is a chance that Russia will express its objection to this policy.”

The United States has also voiced concerns over Putin’s role in the Syrian civil war.

“Continued military support for the regime by Russia or any other country risks the possibility of attracting more extremists and entrenching Assad, and hinders the way for resolution,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters in Germany on Sunday.

Kerry has proposed military-to military talks with Russia to prevent any clashes between US and Russian forces in the region, to ensure that “there’s no potential of a mistake or of an accident of some kind that produces a greater potential of conflict.”

Netanyahu entourage official claims the Prime Minister will be providing new information on the Iran deal

March 2, 2015

Netanyahu entourage official claims the Prime Minister will be providing new information on the Iran deal

A senior-level official in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s entourage claims Israel has obtained new information regarding the Iran deal which the Congress members are not aware of.

Mar 02, 2015, 09:33AM | Yael Klein

via Israel News – Netanyahu entourage official claims the Prime Minister will be providing new information on the Iran deal – JerusalemOnline.

Netanyahu speaking before US Congress, archive photo

Netanyahu speaking before US Congress, archive photo Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed last night (Sun) in Washington, where he will be carrying out his controversial speech, which is due to take place before the American Congress tomorrow. Today, Netanyahu will be speaking before AIPAC.

A senior-level official in Netanyahu’s entourage, who spoke with reporters, has stated that Israel has obtained liable information, which the Congress members are not aware of, according to which the forming Iran deal includes many compromises on behalf of the US which will harm Israel.

The official further stated that Netanyahu’s Congress speech is “the last chance” to block the deal and prove to the Congress that it is a bad deal.

Before leaving for Washington, Netanyahu repeatedly stressed that he felt he was going on a mission, despite those opposing his speech. “I am going on a crucial and historic mission,” he stated before boarding the plane.

Netanyahu, who has been harshly criticized for his decision to speak before the Congress, added: “I feel like an emissary of all of Israel, even those who disagree with me. I feel a deep concern for the fate of Israel and will do everything to ensure our future.”

Boehner: We gave White House heads up on Netanyahu

January 26, 2015

Boehner: We gave White House heads up on Netanyahu

Defending the invitation that angered Obama, House speaker says prime minister is top authority on Iranian threat

By Times of Israel staff January 26, 2015, 1:42 pm

via Boehner: We gave White House heads up on Netanyahu | The Times of Israel.

 

US Speaker of the House John Boehner said Sunday night that he informed President Barack Obama that he’d asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress hours before the invite was made public.

Boehner and Netanyahu agreed that the Israeli prime minister would speak in Washington on March 3 without consulting the administration — the customary policy on such things. But it gave rise to anger in Washington and to criticism in the media.

Asked about the White House’s statements that it had been blindsided by the plan, Boehner told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “We gave them a heads up that morning.”

He defended the decision to invite Netanyahu to speak to Congress about his position on Iran’s nuclear program, a stance considerably more hawkish than that of the Obama administration.

“There’s nobody in the world who can talk about the threat of radical terrorism — nobody can talk about the threat the Iranians pose, not just to the Middle East and to Israel… but to the entire world — than Bibi (Benjamin) Netanyahu,” he said.

Boehner went on to say he did not believe Obama was giving that threat the attention it deserved.

“The president didn’t spend but a few seconds (in his State of the Union address last week) talking about the threat, the terrorist threat that we as Americans face,” he said.

“This problem is growing all over the world…the president is trying to act as though it’s not there, but it is there and it’s going to be a threat to our homeland if we don’t address it in a bigger way.”

Netanyahu is expected to urge US lawmakers to ready new sanctions on Iran in order to force it to comply with international demands to curb its nuclear program, a move Obama strongly opposes and has vowed to veto.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told “60 Minutes” he did not agree with Obama’s insistence that new sanctions at this sensitive time would cause negotiations with Tehran to break down.

“Under the proposal we’re considering those enhanced sanctions would only occur if a deal is not reached,” he said. “In other words it further incentivizes the Iranians to reach an agreement, because they know things could get considerably worse if they do not.”

On Sunday Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer also defended Netanyahu’s planned speech, saying it was the prime minister’s “sacred duty” to present his stance on Iran.

Speaking at an Israel Bonds event in Florida, Dermer charged that the nuclear agreement being discussed between the P5+1 and Tehran “could endanger the very existence of the State of Israel,” by leaving Iran as a “nuclear threshold state.”

Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, formerly senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, formerly senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

 

The six world powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — are working with Iran to finalize an agreement that would curb Tehran’s nuclear program, which the West believes is intended to build atomic weapons, a charge the Islamic Republic denies. Two earlier deadlines passed without the final deal and a third deadline is looming on July 1.

Dermer said Netanyahu’s visit was “intended for one purpose: To speak up while there is still time to speak up. To speak up when there is still time to make a difference.”

Netanyahu’s upcoming speech sparked a public row between his government and Obama’s administration. The administration has been at odds with Netanyahu for years over international efforts to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, with Israel expressing skepticism over emerging terms that would allow Tehran to retain some uranium enrichment capacity.

Amid growing criticism in the US and in Israel of Netanyahu’s move, including by Israel’s former US envoy Michael Oren, who called on the prime minister to cancel the speech, Dermer said the visit was “not intended to show any disrespect for President Obama,” nor was it intended “to wade into your political debate.”

Earlier Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough appeared to downplay the tensions between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, insisting that the US relationship with Israel was “many-faceted, deep and abiding.”

McDonough deferred questions about comments attributed to an American official in Friday’s edition of the Haaretz daily, to the effect that Netanyahu “spat in our face publicly, and that’s no way to behave.”

The unnamed official warned that “Netanyahu ought to remember that President [Barack] Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”