Iran Denies Agreement on Military Site Inspections (AFP)
Iranian negotiator Abbas Araghchi on Sunday denied reports that Iran had accepted military site inspections as part of a nuclear deal with world powers.
Araghchi said that both he and Foreign Minister Zarif reiterated their "objection to inspections or visits to any military centers."
See also IRGC Commander: No Inspection Whatsoever of Iran's Military Sites Allowed (Tasnim-Iran)
Brig.-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, told foreign military attaches in Tehran on Friday:
"We will not allow them (Westerners) to inspect our military and defense centers, and our response to any measure in the name of inspection - either coordinated or not - around the (military) centers or at any distance and in any shape will be the response that is given to espionage, namely hot bullets."
Hizbullah Touts Rockets, Tunnels on Border with Israel - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
A report published in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir on Friday sheds light on Hizbullah's military capabilities along the border with Israel.
It revealed that the terrorist group has large amounts of forces stationed near the border, as well as numerous tunnels, bunkers and surveillance equipment, in addition to tens of thousands of rockets ready for launch upon order.
Hizbullah follows Israel's every movement using electronic equipment, night vision technology and lookouts concealed in the houses dotting the border.
Hamas: Jerusalem Eternal Capital of the Islamic Nation (Al-Resalah-Gaza)
Hamas political bureau member Ezzet Resheq stated Thursday: "Jerusalem will remain as intrinsically Palestinian and indivisible as it has always been."
"There is no doubt that the Israeli occupation will take its last breath sometime soon. But Jerusalem shall forever remain Arabs' and Muslims' own property and the eternal capital of the Palestinian independent state and the Islamic nation as a whole."
Israel Plans to Evacuate Gaza Border Towns During Next War with Hamas - Noam Amir (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
Israeli authorities are in the final stages of formulating a plan to evacuate towns located up to 7 km. from the border with Gaza in the event of another conflict.
Israel Places 9th in Eurovision Finals (AP-Ynet News)
Israel placed 9th in the 60th Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with the success of Nadav Guedj, 16, and his song "Golden Boy."
Video: Israel's Eurovision Entry (YouTube)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Islamic State Asserts Responsibility for Saudi Mosque Bombing - Erin Cunningham and Brian Murphy
The Islamic State said Friday that it was behind a blast that killed 21 people and wounded 123 at a Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia.
See also Islamic State Claims Its First Attack Inside Saudi Borders (Economist-UK)
- Yemen-Bound Iranian Ship Diverted to Djibouti
An Iranian cargo ship loaded with aid bound for Yemen has arrived in Djibouti where the UN is coordinating the response to Yemen's conflict. Saudi Arabia had warned the ship not to proceed directly to Yemen, while Iran had provided the ship with a naval escort and warned against any interference.
See also Iranian Ship Unloading Humanitarian Cargo in Djibouti (Tasnim-Iran)
- Assad Regime Accused of 35 Chlorine Attacks Since Mid-March - Kareem Shaheen
Syrian civil defense workers and doctors have documented 35 barrel bomb attacks where chlorine was used since 16 March - the latest of which was on Tuesday near Jisr al-Shughour - with more than 1,000 injuries and nine deaths. Muhammad Tennari, the manager of Sarmin hospital, told the Guardian that most of the victims came in with acute respiratory problems and burning, bloodshot eyes. "Most of the targeting is of civilian areas, and most of the injured are women and children," Tennari said. "It's almost daily now." (Guardian-UK)
- Iran: Religious Freedom Continues to Deteriorate under Rouhani
The 2015 report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
says that in Iran, religious freedom continued to deteriorate
in 2014, particularly for religious minorities,
especially Baha'is, Christian converts, and Sunni
Muslims. Sufi Muslims and dissenting Shi'a Muslims
also faced harassment, arrests, and imprisonment. Since
President Hassan Rouhani assumed office in August
2013, the number of individuals from religious minority
communities who are in prison because of their beliefs
(Commission on International Religious Freedom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Blocks Move Targeting Israel at Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference - Barak Ravid
The U.S. blocked the issuing of a concluding statement for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference that closed Friday night in New York, following objections voiced by Israel. The statement was expected to task the UN secretary general with convening an international conference on making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone by March 2016. Israel objected to the deadline. Israel also holds that such a conference should deal with all regional security problems, including missiles and terrorism, rather than the nuclear issue alone.
See also Netanyahu Thanks Kerry for U.S. Stance on Mideast Nuclear Conference - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday, thanking the U.S. for blocking a decision on convening an international conference on making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone by March 2016. According to a senior Israeli official, Netanyahu told Kerry that the U.S. met the commitment it made to Israel in 2010 with regard to the nuclear issue.
See also Israel Gains Five Years of Grace - Yossi Melman
The Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty collapsed after the U.S. rejected an Egyptian draft resolution calling to dismantle any nuclear weapons that Israel may have, which the Jewish state neither confirms nor denies it possesses. U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller on Friday accused Egypt and other Arab states of demanding "unrealistic and unworkable conditions" in the negotiations. The next Review Conference will be convened in 2020.
Israel demands that before the convening of a conference on a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, all states in the region, including Iran, must recognize the right of Israel to exist, sign peace treaties with it and put in place concrete security arrangements. (Jerusalem Post)
- Two Israelis Stabbed by Palestinian in Jerusalem's Old City - Roi Yanovsky
Two Israelis were stabbed in the back on Saturday night in Jerusalem's Old City not far from Damascus Gate while on their way to the Western Wall for prayers marking the holiday of Shavuot. Security camera footage led authorities to the home of a Palestinian where the knife was found that was used in the stabbing. (Ynet News)
- Indyk: Abbas Is Uninterested in Negotiations - Herb Keinon
Former U.S. envoy Martin Indyk - special envoy during the 10 months of Israeli-Palestinian talks led by Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013-2014 -
said last week that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is uninterested in negotiations.
He told a Council on Foreign Relations panel discussion in New York, "What we discovered during the 10 months of the negotiations is that the parties really didn't want to be there, and were further away at the end of the negotiations than at the beginning."
Indyk said that Abbas - having not held an election since 2005 - very strongly feels a lack of legitimacy, and that he does not have a mandate from the Palestinian people for the compromises that would be involved in any negotiated deal. "So he is paralyzed by that."
This being the case, the internationalization of the conflict suits Abbas just fine. Rather than talks, which would at some point necessitate compromise, he prefers to isolate Israel, go to the international organizations and let them do the work. (Jerusalem Post)
- BDS' Useless Politics of Confrontation - David Makovsky and Raquel Saxe
37 U.S. universities, including elite schools, had BDS campaigns this academic year - more than the previous two years combined. According to Gallup, Americans older than 65 support Israel's actions by a margin of 24 points, but those younger than 30 oppose these actions by 26 points. Additionally, while white Americans backed last summer's Gaza war by 16 points, non-whites opposed it by 24 points. The driving force for BDS on campus, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), has actively sought to attract minority students.
Israel's critics fail to notice that minorities in Israel fare far better than in other Middle East countries. Indeed, context is relevant. The president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, said: "We live in a world where there are nations in which the penalty for homosexuality is death…in which governments are killing tens of thousands of their own people each year. But the proponents of Israeli [BDS] do not favor any form of pressure against countries other than Israel."
David Makovsky is director of the Program on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Raquel Saxe was president of the Jewish Student Union at UCLA. (Times of Israel)
- Iran's Pretense of Moderation Should Not Fool the West - Michael Danby
It is wrong to think a conciliatory shift in policy by the West would bring a corresponding softening of Iranian positions. Iran has shown repeatedly that it will pursue its perceived interests regardless of the consequences.
Iran's principal aims are to undermine the Middle East's U.S.-backed Sunni-led status quo and to replace the U.S. as the regional hegemonic power. Tehran also persists with the apparently unchanged ideology of its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, to destroy Israel. These Iranian policies contradict the notion that because Iran has allegedly moderated, Australia can join the cozying up to Iran.
The writer is a member of the Australian House of Representatives.
Obama: Debate on Iran Deal Is "Healthy" (White House)
President Obama spoke at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington on Friday in honor of Jewish American Heritage month:
- "Iran must not, under any circumstances, be allowed to get a nuclear weapon. Now, there's a debate about how to achieve that - and that's a healthy debate....I want a good deal."
- "I'm interested in a deal that blocks every single one of Iran's pathways to a nuclear weapon - every single path. A deal that imposes unprecedented inspections on all elements of Iran's nuclear program, so that they can't cheat; and if they try to cheat, we will immediately know about it and sanctions snap back on. A deal that endures beyond a decade; that addresses this challenge for the long term. In other words, a deal that makes the world and the region - including Israel - more secure. That's how I define a good deal."
- "Moreover, even if we do get a good deal, there remains the broader issue of Iran's support for terrorism and regional destabilization, and ugly threats against Israel."
- "There will be disagreements [between the U.S. and Israel] on tactics when it comes to how to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that is entirely appropriate and should be fully aired. Because the stakes are sufficiently high that anything that's proposed has to be subjected to scrutiny - and I welcome that scrutiny."
- "What I think will lead to long-term security and to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland...is two states for two peoples, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."
- "The Palestinians are not the easiest of partners. The neighborhood is dangerous. And we cannot expect Israel to take existential risks with their security so that any deal that takes place has to take into account the genuine dangers of terrorism and hostility."
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Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.