Reuven Rivlin Elected New President of Israel - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
Former Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) was elected to succeed Shimon Peres as president of Israel on Tuesday.
Israel: Hamas Aiming to Boost West Bank Support, Terror via Charity Groups - Dave Bender (Algemeiner)
Hamas is planning to encourage attacks against Israel as well as sap support in the West Bank from the Palestinian Authority (PA) by exploiting the Islamist "Dawa" social and cultural movement, a security source told the Ma'ariv daily on Sunday.
"In the long run, Hamas intends to create an alternative civilian infrastructure that will enable the replacement of the PA's secular government with an Islamic government whose ideology will be similar to that of Hamas," according to the Israel Security Agency (ISA).
"Hamas' goal is to expand and strengthen its status among the Palestinians, bring them closer to its ideology, including the notion of Jihad against Israel, and even recruiting on its behalf supporters and partakers in terrorist activities."
Iran Claims Missiles Can Reach Strategic U.S. Base in Indian Ocean - Dave Bender (Algemeiner)
Majatba Dhualnuri, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said:
"In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles," Israel's Channel Two TV reported Monday.
The Diego Garcia base is 5,000 km. from Iran, twice the range of missiles Iran is known to possess.
Palestinian Forces Clash with Hamas Loyalists in West Bank (AP-Fox News)
Palestinian police broke up a Hamas rally in the West Bank on Monday.
Hassan Yousef, a Hamas leader, says officers stopped a convoy of 30 cars, seized Hamas banners, and beat him and other protesters as well as journalists.
Israel Joins Key EU Research Program (AFP)
Israel on Sunday officially joined the European-funded Horizon 2020
scientific research program, the only non-European country to benefit from the program.
See also Israel Joins the EU Horizon 2020 Program (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Syrian Rebel Infighting Kills 630 (AP-Washington Post)
Fighting in eastern Syria between Islamic rebel brigades and an al-Qaeda splinter group has killed more than 630 people and uprooted at least 130,000 since the end of April, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday.
The violence pits rebel groups, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
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- Israel: Inspectors Won't Derail Iran Nukes
Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, on Sunday derided an Iran nuclear deal that would rely on inspections. "The Iranian regime knows that inspectors will not stop them....They know if they keep their nuclear weapons-making capability intact, eventually they will develop the bomb. That is why the only thing that should be acceptable to the international community is one in which that capability is fully dismantled. Don't count on inspectors to solve the problem for you." (JTA)
See also U.S., Iran Hold Direct Nuclear Talks in Geneva
Negotiators from the U.S. and Iran held face-to-face talks in Geneva for more than five hours Monday in hopes of pushing forward efforts to reach a comprehensive deal on Tehran's nuclear program.
The talks are expected to continue all day Tuesday. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the substance of the discussions was kept private to "give them the best chance of success." (AP-Washington Post)
- Senate Foreign Relations Committee to Review U.S. Aid to Palestinians
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the American Jewish Committee on Monday: "Palestinians must choose between peace with Israel as a Jewish state and a marriage with Hamas, a terrorist organization." He vowed that he will review aid to a Palestinian government which shares power with Hamas.
"U.S. law is explicit on this. We will not provide assistance to a Palestinian government in which Hamas has a role and exercises 'undue influence.'... Whatever its alleged role, Hamas will wield power and influence, and Hamas, under our law, is a terrorist organization opposed to a two-state agreement and supported by Iran."
Menendez also expressed serious concerns about the possible outcome of talks with Iran. "I prefer to have no deal than a bad deal." A good deal "verifiably dismantles" Iran's nuclear program, "sets it back for many years," and has "a robust, intrusive inspections regime" in light of Iran's long record "of deceit and cheating."
Menendez pointed out that only Congress can remove some of the sanctions on Iran.
- Iranian President Visits Turkey to Bolster Ties - Joe Parkinson
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's two-day visit to Turkey was the first official visit by an Iranian leader in 18 years. It follows a trip in January by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to Tehran. Iran and Turkey, important trading partners but also rivals for regional influence, have long been at odds over a host of security issues including strident differences over the conflict in Syria. (Wall Street Journal)
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- Ya'alon: Land for Peace Paradigm Has Brought only Terror and Rockets
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the Herzliya Conference on Tuesday that the "land for peace" paradigm for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a mistake which has brought Israel only "terror and rockets" in exchange for territorial concessions. He said that history has proven that the root of the conflict is not Israel's not returning to the pre-1967 lines, but rather the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel's right to exist.
He said that there is "zero percent chance that Hamas will accept the Quartet conditions" and recognize Israel. He posited that the likely result of the Palestinian unity deal is not that the Palestinian Authority will gain control of Gaza, but rather that Hamas will gain control of the West Bank.
Iran was the biggest threat to stability in the Middle East, he said. "There is no conflict in the region that Iran is not involved in." Moreover, all the terror threats against Israel within its borders and abroad were directed by Iran. This, he said, was further proof that Israel's problems with its neighbors were not based on territory.
- Palestinian Lecturer Who Led Auschwitz Trip Quits after Backlash - Yifa Yaakov
Al-Quds University Professor Mohammed Dajani, who served as head of the university's Department of American Studies - and who led a delegation of Palestinians to the Auschwitz concentration camp - has resigned following weeks of pressure and threats.
In March, Dajani led a delegation of 30 Palestinian students to Auschwitz-Birkenau, guided by two Jewish Holocaust survivors.
Dajani was praised in Israel and the West for taking the trip to the former Nazi death camp in Poland, but was condemned by Palestinians, who called him a traitor.
According to Ha'aretz, Dajani had hoped the university would reject his resignation, sending a "clear and loud message" to "the Palestinian community" that "the university supports academic freedom and considers my trip as an educational journey in search of knowledge." However, the university accepted his resignation on June 1. "My letter of resignation from Al-Quds University was a kind of litmus test to see whether the university administration supports academic freedom and freedom of action and of expression as they claim or not."
(Times of Israel)
- How Iran Gains from Assad Victory - Bernard Gwertzman interviews Michael Young
"For the last two years, Assad has been on the defensive, but thanks to Hizbullah and, of course, to aid from Iran and from Iraqi Shiites, he has succeeded in regaining territory and counterattacking."
"A few weeks ago, the Syrian regime and Hizbullah took full control of the border area along the Qalamoun district, which is located along the Lebanese border. And that effectively cut off the organic link between the rebels and Lebanon. So the ability to transfer weapons from Lebanon into Syria, the ability of Syrian rebels to go back and forth across the border, was substantially diminished."
"Iran is...aware ultimately that it has to come to some kind of an arrangement with the Sunni governments, especially Saudi Arabia. But it would like to be the dominant partner. It realizes that today the Saudis and most of the Gulf states have anemic American support and that's why it's trying to take advantage of this."
"The United States today in the Middle East is seen very negatively by its allies, or those who, in the past, would have sympathized with it. There is a perception that the United States...has a policy...that is effectively a policy of disengagement....And for the United States' adversaries in the region, particularly Iran, they saw this as a clear opening to exploit....The Iranians saw no challenge coming from the United States to a predominant Iranian role in the region."
Michael Young is Opinion Editor of the Beirut Daily Star.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
- Will the West Fund Hamas? - Khaled Abu Toameh
Hamas was hoping that the reconciliation deal it signed with Fatah would absolve it of its financial obligations toward its employees. But Fatah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas insist that this is not their responsibility. More than 58% of the PA budget already goes to Gaza to pay the salaries of PA civil servants who lost their jobs after Hamas seized control there in 2007.
Abbas has realized that Western donors are not going to fund a government that pays salaries to thousands of Hamas employees, including members of the movement's armed wing, Ezaddin al-Kassam. According to Palestinian sources, the emir of Qatar has promised to pay the salaries of the Hamas employees for May. But it is not clear whether the emir will continue to do so in the coming months.
Amidror: U.S. Is Israel's "Irreplaceable" Ally, But Israel May Have to Stand Alone - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
- If push comes to shove, Israel will need to stand alone to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities, former National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said Sunday at the annual Herzliya Conference.
- "The truth must be told: they [the Iranians] want nuclear weapons no less [than in the past]. Everything else is tactics in negotiations that were imposed on them."
- Amidror said that facing threats from Iran, Hizbullah and Sunni terrorism from Sinai, Syria, and Gaza, Israel will stand "more or less alone."
- He said ties with the U.S. are vital,
"but not the U.S., nor anyone else, will replace Israel if there is a need to use force....You need to be prepared to do things by yourself."
- "Many people, including in the U.S., are willing to accept almost any agreement with Iran. For them the agreement itself is more important than the content, because it will do away with the need to use force.
Using force for them is almost a sin."
- "These people will never acknowledge that an agreement with Iran is bad, because then they would have to discuss a military option, which they are not really willing to use."
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