Meet Israel's New President: The Noble History of the Rivlin Clan - Eetta Prince-Gibson (Ha'aretz)
Israeli President Reuven "Rubi" Rivlin's family traces their history back more than 450 years, across at least 22 generations, to an early ancestor in Vienna in 1550 and to the revered Gaon of Vilna in the 18th century.
Hillel Rivlin moved from Shklov, Lithuania, to Jerusalem in 1809 (about the same time as the disciples of the Gaon of Vilna - and more than 70 years before the first wave of Zionist immigration.)
Rivlin's father, Yosef Yoel Rivlin, was the author of the first Hebrew edition of the Koran.
More than 35,000 members of the Rivlin family are thought to live in Israel. At an international family reunion in 2009, between 3,000 and 5,000 Rivlins took over Jerusalem's largest convention center and organized a massive family walk around the Old City walls.
See also Meet Israel's 10th President - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
Reuven Rivlin was born in 1939 in Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood, in a home that supported the Beitar movement. His father, Middle East professor Yosef Yoel Rivlin, was a candidate to be the third president of Israel.
Rivlin has been a vegetarian by conscience for nearly 30 years and is a loyal fan of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team.
Rivlin, married to Nehama and father to four children, lives in the capital in an old apartment building, where his neighbor is former Minister Benny Begin.
Rivlin served as an intelligence officer in the IDF, reaching the rank of major. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1988 and first became Knesset Speaker in 2004. He was elected to a second term as Speaker in 2009.
Tehran's Chinese Missile Man - Jefferson Morley (Daily Beast)
Chinese businessman Li Fangwei, who helped Tehran develop its ballistic missiles, is one of America's most wanted, with a $5 million reward on his head.
With Li's assistance, Iran's Ministry of Defense obtained high-strength metals that can be used to build ballistic missiles and gas centrifuges used in uranium enrichment.
"Not since A.Q. Khan has a manufacturer of proliferation-sensitive technologies so brazenly and repeatedly sold their goods for use in prohibited programs," according to British intelligence analysts Daniel B. Salisbury and Ian J. Steward of the Centre for Science and Security Studies in London.
Israel Defends Travel Restrictions on Palestinian Soccer Players on Security Grounds (AP)
After the Palestine Football Association urged FIFA to suspend Israel, Israel's Sports Minister Limor Livnat wrote to FIFA President Sepp Blatter to defend her country's travel restrictions on some Palestinian players on security grounds.
Livnat said Israel detained a Palestinian national team player, Sameh Maraabeh, in April on suspicion he met with a Hamas "military activist" during the team's training in Qatar, where he received funds, a mobile phone and a written message.
"I am confident you will find this information worrisome and constituting clear evidence of the misuse of sports in a fashion that threatens the security of Israeli civilians," Livnat wrote.
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- Insurgents Seize Iraqi City of Mosul as Troops Flee - Liz Sly and Ahmed Ramadan
Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS - sometimes called ISIL, for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), an al-Qaeda offshoot, seized control Tuesday of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, including the provincial government headquarters, after Iraqi soldiers and police fled their posts, in some instances discarding their uniforms as they sought to escape the advance of the militants.
The speed with which one of Iraq's biggest cities has fallen under militant control is striking and suggests the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces are even more vulnerable than had previously been thought. ISIS claimed it had seized large quantities of arms and ammunition from the fleeing security forces.
It also raises questions about the continued utility of sending U.S. military support to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, whose security forces seem simply to have crumbled. Maliki is urging the U.S. to deliver more advanced weaponry, but ISIS fighters have already been seen riding in U.S.-supplied Humvees, and much of the weaponry captured in this latest battle is likely to be American, said Charles Lister of the Doha Brookings Center based in Qatar.
ISIS is an expanded and rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that the U.S. military claimed it had tamed ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011. It is now channeling its efforts toward the creation of an Islamic state modeled on the 7th century Islamic caliphate. Mosul is the group's biggest prize to date. (Washington Post)
See also Iraq Crisis: Islamists Force 500,000 to Flee Mosul (BBC News)
See also ISIS: The Al-Qaeda-Linked Islamists Powerful Enough to Capture a Key Iraqi City - Liz Sly (Washington Post)
See also Jihadists Seize Areas in Iraq's Kirkuk Province
Jihadists seized several areas in Iraq's Kirkuk province on Tuesday. Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) overran the Hawijah, Zab, Riyadh and Abbasi areas west of the city of Kirkuk, and Rashad and Yankaja to its south, Iraqi Police Colonel Ahmed Taha said. (AFP-Daily Star-Lebanon)
- France: Iran Needs to Give Up Centrifuges for Nuclear Talks to Succeed - John Irish
Iran must drop its demands to have thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium if it wants a lasting deal with major powers over its nuclear program, France's foreign minister Laurent Fabius said Tuesday.
He told French radio that Iran should only have a few hundred centrifuges.
Iran now has around 19,000 centrifuges installed, of which 10,000 are operating. "We are still hitting a wall on one absolutely fundamental point which is the number of centrifuges which allow enrichment," Fabius said.
"What is the purpose of having thousands of centrifuges if we're not heading towards an atomic bomb?," Fabius asked. "So the question that will be asked in the coming weeks is whether Iran is really ready to accept to give up the atomic bomb or not." (Reuters)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S., Israel Vow "No Surprises" Policy on Iran Nuke Talks - Barak Ravid
A senior Israeli official has said that Israel and the U.S. have an understanding which calls for a policy of "no surprises" in the framework of current negotiations between Iran and the West. As part of this understanding, the U.S. briefed Israel in advance of its plan to hold direct bilateral talks with Iran in Geneva this week.
Last week, American Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who headed an earlier secret channel of discussions with Iran, updated Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz on U.S. intentions to hold direct talks.
A senior official in Jerusalem said: "The Americans have clarified to the Iranians that in the absence of significant concessions on the uranium enrichment issue there will be no agreement." Israel has told the U.S. it has no objection to extending the talks by a few months if this is required in order to reach a better deal.
- IDF: Gaza Terrorists Have Hundreds of Rockets Aimed at Tel Aviv - Gili Cohen
Terrorist organizations in Gaza have hundreds of rockets with a range of 80 km., enough to hit Tel Aviv and the surrounding area, Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Department, told the Herzliya Conference on Monday.
He said that altogether, some 170,000 missiles and rockets are currently aimed at Israel from Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, with 10,000 being medium- or long-range missiles.
Terrorist organizations are also working to make their missiles more accurate by attaching GPS-based guidance systems. "Iran is the principle source of know-how" for these efforts, he said. "The force-building efforts of both [Hamas and Islamic Jihad] are focused on developing locally produced rockets with a range of 80 kilometers, as well as tunnels" for use in cross-border attacks, he added.
- Israel Seeks Return of PA Forces to Gaza, Dismantling of Hamas Military Arm - Barak Ravid
The Israel Foreign Ministry has called on countries abroad to present Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a series of security demands to assert his control over Gaza and take security responsibility for what happens there. These include: 1) Dismantling Hamas' military arm - the al-Qassam Brigades - and having the Palestinian Authority assume oversight of its people and arms.
2) A complete halt to the manufacturing and smuggling of arms into Gaza, and missile fire at Israel.
3) Renewed deployment of the PA security forces throughout Gaza, and at the border crossings with Israel and Egypt.
"Abbas must prove that the Palestinian government's disavowal of terror - part of its acceptance of the Quartet's conditions - is being implemented throughout the area over which the government purports to apply its sovereignty, including the Gaza Strip." "Abbas will also be tested on his ability to prevent violent operations - including so-called 'popular resistance' in the West Bank." (Ha'aretz)
- Inspections: The Weak Link in a Nuclear Agreement with Iran - Dore Gold
One striking feature appearing in the leading commentaries on the Comprehensive Agreement being negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 is the stress they are placing on the role of inspections in assuring the international community that Tehran will not be permitted to obtain nuclear weapons. Rather than cut deeply into Iran's stocks of enriched uranium or drastically limit the number and speed of its gas centrifuge machines, these proposals also suggest that an unusually robust inspection system can play a significant role in assuring that Tehran will have a difficult time breaking out of any of future agreement.
Underlying these proposals is an appreciation by the authors that a strategy stressing inspections may have a better chance of being accepted by the Iranian leadership. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Why Iran's Nuclear Demands Could Backfire - Colin H. Kahl
This week, Iranian and U.S. diplomats raced to Geneva for unscheduled, high-level bilateral talks. The deadline to reach a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran - July 20 - is fast approaching.
Iranian officials insist that the Islamic Republic's enrichment infrastructure be maintained and even expanded by tens of thousands of additional centrifuges, including more efficient next-generation machines. Iranian negotiators have apparently favored a final deal that relies on transparency and verification procedures to confirm the peaceful nature of Tehran's program, without placing constraints on the country's centrifuge capacity, low-enriched uranium stockpile, or future research and development.
The writer, an Associate Professor at Georgetown University and a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, was U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East (2009-11).
- The Return of Al-Qaeda - David Ignatius
The capture Tuesday of Mosul, the hub of northern Iraq, by al-Qaeda-linked militants is an alarm bell that violent extremists are on the rise again in the Middle East. Just 19 months ago, President Obama won reelection arguing that his policies had vanquished the most dangerous core elements of al-Qaeda. The return of al-Qaeda isn't Obama's fault, but the organization has morphed, and deadly new battles are ahead.
The Perils of the New Fatah-Hamas Government - Elliott Abrams (Weekly Standard)
- The greatest immediate risk from the Fatah-Hamas deal is that the security forces in the West Bank, which have been vigilant and active against Hamas and other terrorist groups, might now dial down their activity in order to avoid confrontations. That would allow Hamas to gain ground in the West Bank and is the most serious danger from the unity deal. American officials should be warning the PA against this now and threatening aid cutoffs if such a trend appears.
- Much of the aid the U.S. gives to the PA is cash - and that money should not be delivered until the situation is much better understood than it is today. What will Hamas' influence be? Until we know more, handing over large amounts of cash - $200 million this year - would be foolish.
- The whole purpose of the new, temporary government is to organize new elections. The Oslo peace accords clearly and intentionally barred terrorist groups like Hamas from participating in elections until they disarmed.
- Yossi Beilin, the Israeli politician who had been one of the participants in Oslo, said at the time: "There can be no doubt that participation by Hamas in elections held in the Palestinian Authority in January 2006 is a gross violation of the Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement....That this military organization, appearing as a political party, is allowed to abuse democracy is a prize for terror and violence....Hamas's entrance into PA institutions is liable to cast a veto on future peace moves, without eliminating the option of violence."
- Hamas should not be permitted to participate in the elections until it renounces terrorism and begins to give up its weapons - not "ultimately" but now. The participation of Hamas in the Palestinian political system cannot be a move toward peace, because Hamas does not believe in peace or seek it.
- The notion that pulling Hamas into the political system will somehow moderate it is given the lie by experience in Gaza, where Hamas has ruled since 2007. The need to pick up the garbage and worry about employment has in these seven years had zero impact on the group's extremism. Similarly, participation in the Lebanese parliament for years has not moderated Hizbullah's views or reduced its terrorist operations.
- For the U.S., the participation of Hamas in the elections risks destroying any hope of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and any hope of movement toward peace. It risks legitimizing the vicious anti-Semitism and the terrorism that lie at the core of Hamas as an organization. And it risks teaching the broader lesson that terrorist groups can fight for power with both guns and ballots - and with American approval. The mistake the U.S. made in 2006 should not be repeated.
The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration.
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