IDF Chief: Israel Can Operate in Iran If It Needs To - Adiv Sterman (Times of Israel)
Israel's security forces have the capability to carry out military operations in virtually every part of the globe, including Iran, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said Wednesday, adding that Israel had already conducted dozens of covert operations in foreign and enemy countries.
"I did not even mention the dozens of secret activities, some of which took place last week, and [some] just as we speak," he said.
"I am talking about close-range operations and long-range ones - Iran and so on. These are not areas that are beyond the IDF's reach."
Watchdog: 45 Percent of Syrian Chemical Weapons Materials Removed (AP-Washington Post)
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Wednesday that more than 45% of the raw materials for Syria's poison gas and nerve agent program have been shipped out of
PA Security Forces Arrest over 40 Hamas Members in Nablus (Ma'an News-PA)
Palestinian security forces on Wednesday arrested over 40 Hamas members in Nablus following funerals for the bodies of Palestinians returned to the PA by Israel.
A Palestinian security source said Hamas members attacked the ambulance which had delivered the remains of former Hamas leader Mohammad al-Hanbali, breaking its windows and assaulting a doctor and a nurse.
They removed the Palestinian flag he was covered in, stomped on it, and subsequently wrapped him with a Hamas flag.
See also Hamas Breaks Up Pro-Abbas Demonstration in Gaza (AFP-The Peninsula-Qatar)
Gaza security forces broke up a demonstration on Sunday organized by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.
Fatah official Mohammed Nahal said police attacked around 80 demonstrators in Gaza City. "They arrested 13 people and beat up others," he said.
Police spokesman Ayub Abu Shaar confirmed that "police broke up a gathering of a group of people who were demonstrating... because it was unauthorized."
Jordanian Boy Has Successful Kidney Transplant in Israel - Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
Last week, a 7-year-old Palestinian-Jordanian boy who had suffered critical kidney failure underwent a successful kidney transplant at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. His mother was the donor. The procedure was not possible in Jordanian hospitals.
Civil Administration Health Services Coordinator Dalia Bessa said, "We direct many patients from Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to Rambam and other hospitals....In the past year alone, I coordinated the arrival of 600 patients from the PA to Rambam."
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- Iran, Six Powers Lock Horns over Arak Nuclear Reactor that Could Yield Plutonium - Fredrik Dahl and Parisa Hafezi
Iran and world powers locked horns on Wednesday over the future of Iran's Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor that could yield plutonium for bombs. The U.S. has called on Iran to scrap or radically alter the unfinished reactor, but Tehran has so far rejected that idea while hinting it could modify the plant.
Enrichment is also a sticking point in the talks. "It's a gap (on enrichment) that's going to take some hard work to get to a place where we can find agreement," a senior U.S. official said.
The two sides appeared to reach no agreements after two days of talks in Vienna and will meet again there on April 7-9.
- Syrian Official Casts Doubts on Geneva Talks, Says Assad Won't Go - Sam Dagher
The Syrian regime sees no point in further peace talks in Geneva if the opposition and its Western backers keep insisting that President Bashar al-Assad relinquish power, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. Mekdad indicated his regime had the backing of longtime ally Russia in its stance. "The issue of [Assad] relinquishing power is now behind us and this is a flagrant interference in Syria's internal affairs," Mekdad said. (Wall Street Journal)
- UN Panel Identifies War Criminals in Syria - Nick Cumming-Bruce
Both those fighting for and against the Syrian government are terrorizing the country's civilian population, a panel of investigators told the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday in their seventh report on Syria. Paulo S. Pinheiro, the panel's chairman, said the directors of Syrian intelligence agencies and detention centers using torture are on a "perpetrators list" that identifies individuals and organizations responsible for war crimes. Also on the list are military commanders, armed groups that have targeted civilians, and airports from which "barrel bomb" attacks have been planned and launched.
The panel also said that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a group linked to al-Qaeda, had summarily executed prisoners, including civilians and combatants of rival rebel groups.
(New York Times)
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- Israeli Airstrikes in Syria Send Warning to Assad - Amos Harel
After four IDF soldiers were wounded by a roadside bomb near the Syrian border on Tuesday, Israel decided to send a strong signal by conducting airstrikes on Syrian army targets several kilometers from the border in an attempt to end a growing war of attrition in the north. The targets Israel hit on Wednesday belonged to the Syrian army brigade responsible for the territory from which the recent attacks on Israel emanated.
Both the defense minister and the Israel Defense Forces spokesman said that Israel held the Assad regime directly responsible for Tuesday's bombing. Hizbullah wasn't mentioned, even though Israel believes it played a key role.
See also Israeli Airstrikes Kill 1 Syrian Soldier, Wound 7 (AP-Washington Post)
- Defense Minister Ya'alon Clarifies Comments on U.S.-Israel Relations - Yitzhak Benhorin
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Wednesday that he had no intention to harm U.S.-Israel relations, after State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Secretary of State Kerry spoke by phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu to protest Ya'alon's comments.
Ya'alon told Hegel, "My remarks had no defiance or criticism or intention to hurt the United States or its relations with Israel. The strategic relationship between the two countries is of utmost importance, as are the personal relations and common interests." Hagel thanked Ya'alon for the clarification, and told him he recognized that parts of his remarks had been taken out of context.
Sources close to Ya'alon said the defense minister was "standing firm in the face of what he identifies as a danger to the state and the security of its citizens." One source said, "It is a fact his relations with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel are great, and relations between the two (security) institutions are great." (Ynet News)
See also Israel's Ya'alon Says He Did Not Mean to Offend U.S.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has told Washington he did not mean to cause offence in a speech that was critical of U.S. policies, and Israeli officials said they hoped the matter was behind them. In a lecture at Tel Aviv University on Monday, Ya'alon said Israel could not rely on its main ally to take the lead in confronting Iran over its nuclear program.
- Russia Warns: We’ll Play the Iran Card Against U.S., EU - Walter Russell Mead
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Wednesday that Russia could "raise the stakes" in its confrontation with the West over Ukraine by revising its stance on Iran. The threat has teeth. If Russia switches its stance from pushing Iran, however lightly, toward abandoning its nuclear program toward tacitly or overtly promising to support Iran regardless of the nuclear issue, the West's strategy toward Iran could rapidly unravel.
Linking the Ukraine crisis with the Iran negotiation is an American nightmare; it might just be a Russian dream come true. If Russia shifts into active cooperation with Iran, it is hard to see how the White House can keep hope alive. If this statement really represents Russian policy rather than rhetoric, President Obama may have to choose between a shattering humiliation in the Black Sea, or a significantly greater risk of war in the Persian Gulf. (American Interest)
- The Failure of the Mideast "Peace Process" - Melanie Phillips
In Israel, there is bewilderment that it alone is being held responsible for the absence of peace. After all, while Mr. Netanyahu has accepted the prospect of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Mr. Abbas has said repeatedly that the Palestinians will never accept that Israel is a Jewish state. He also continues to insist on the right of every Palestinian "refugee" to immigrate not just to Palestine but also to Israel, which would destroy it as the Jewish national home.
In addition, despite President Obama's statement that Mr. Abbas has "consistently renounced violence," the Palestinian Authority continues to incite hatred against Israel through its educational materials and regime-controlled media, and permits and glorifies acts of terrorism by the Al Aqsa Brigades and others. Yet the U.S. and UK hold only Israel's feet to the fire.
(Wall Street Journal Europe)
- Has Mahmoud Abbas Really Accepted the Clinton Parameters on the Refugee Problem? - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
Mahmoud Abbas' claim to have accepted the Clinton Parameters on the refugee issue is not consistent with his demand for recognition of the personal right of return of each individual refugee, which he made before the Fatah Revolutionary Council on March 12, 2014.
The Clinton Parameters explicitly state that the Palestinian refugees' settlement in Israel would require a sovereign Israeli decision, and must accord with the principle that Palestine is the Palestinian homeland and Israel is the Jewish homeland. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
There Will Be No Peace If the Palestinians Don't Contribute Their Share - Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz)
- Some peace seekers have been furiously attacking the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Suddenly Zionism's fundamental idea, which was recognized in the Balfour Declaration, the UN's partition resolution, and the Israeli Declaration of Independence, is not legitimate.
- People who are usually committed to equality are not ready to grant the Jews what they firmly demand for the Palestinians. People who want peace are rejecting out of hand the threshold demand of peace - real mutual recognition.
- In 1993 Israel admitted that there is a Palestinian people; in 2000 Israel agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Now it's the Palestinians' turn to open their eyes.
- But the most basic demand directed at the Palestinians is suddenly seen as a whim. Why? Because when Mahmoud Abbas says no, many in the international community cave in. Even when the Palestinian stance is clearly immoral, they feel an obligation to toe the line.
- There will be no peace if the Palestinians don't contribute their share to it. But the Palestinians won't contribute their share if people who want peace don't insist they contribute it.
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