Iran Nuke Talks Deadline Extended to July 7 - Oren Dorell (USA Today)
U.S. and Iranian negotiators in Vienna agreed to extend the deadline for talks from June 30 to July 7 "to allow more time for negotiations to reach a long-term solution" on the Iran nuclear issue, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.
Islamic State Vows to Topple Israel, Hamas in Gaza, and the PA - Ali Abdelaty (Reuters)
A video statement issued Tuesday from an Islamic State stronghold in Syria addressed to the "tyrants of Hamas" declared:
"We will uproot the state of the Jews (Israel) and you (Hamas) and Fatah, and...you will be overrun by our creeping multitudes."
"The rule of sharia (Islamic law) will be implemented in Gaza, in spite of you."
Will ISIS Gain Control of Syria's Nuclear Assets? - David Albright (Institute for Science and International Security)
The destroyed Al Kibar reactor site in Syria is now under ISIS control.
Syria is believed to be hiding assets associated with its
past undeclared nuclear efforts, including an alleged stock of 50,000 kg. of natural uranium (enough, if enriched to weapon-grade, for at least 3-5 nuclear weapons), nuclear-related equipment, and nuclear scientists and engineers still present in the country.
There is concern that nuclear material could end up in the hands of terrorists, pariah states, or those who may wish to sell it on the black market.
Syria's nuclear assets need to be located and placed under international monitoring or removed from the country.
Hamas Gearing Up for Next Round with Israel - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
Israel Security Agency chief Yoram Cohen told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that Hamas has been working to reestablish its offensive tunnels, develop and produce new rockets, and increase training for its naval and ground forces.
In the West Bank, there has been a steady rise in terror attacks from 683 in 2012 to 1,834 in 2014.
In 2014, 130 terror plots were foiled, with an additional 60 plots foiled in the first half of 2015.
Intelligence Report: 950 Hizbullah Operatives, 300 Hamas Members in Germany - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
Hizbullah has 950 active operatives in Germany and Hamas has 300, according to a report released Tuesday by the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the country's domestic intelligence agency.
Radical Islamists are "the greatest danger to Germany," said Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of the agency.
The number of Salafists in the country increased to 7,000 in 2014 from 5,500 in 2013, the report said.
Palestinians Whitewash Rainbow Flag on West Bank Barrier - Mohammed Daraghmeh (AP)
Palestinians whitewashed a rainbow flag of gay rights that was painted by a Palestinian artist on the West Bank separation barrier.
Protesters perceived the flag as support for homosexuality, a taboo subject in Palestinian society, where gays are not tolerated.
The artist, Khaled Jarrar, said the flag's destruction "reflects the absence of tolerance and freedoms in the Palestinian society."
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Wave of Attacks Kills 30 Soldiers in Egypt
At least 30 Egyptian soldiers have been killed in a wave of simultaneous attacks unleashed by Islamist militants. Security sources say 11 died when a car bomb exploded at a military post in North Sinai, one of at least six targeted along with a police station. The militants also took soldiers captive and seized several armored vehicles.
See also Militants Attack Sinai Checkpoints
Around 70 militants simultaneously fired mortar rounds and used a car bomb in separate attacks on five checkpoints in the town of Sheikh Zuweid. "Egyptian armed forces returned fire, killing at least 22 militants and destroying three vehicles," army spokesman Brig.-Gen. Mohamed Samir said. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
- New Federal Law Fights European Boycotts of Israel - Eugene Kontorovich
On Monday, President Obama signed into law a sweeping trade promotion measure that includes the U.S.-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act, opposing boycotts and other economic warfare against Israel. The law will significantly increase the legal and economic risks for the EU, and companies world-wide, to pass discriminatory sanctions and restrictions against Israel. It requires U.S. trade negotiators to seek to "discourag[e] politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated non-tariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel." (Washington Post)
See also State Department Backs Away from Anti-BDS Law's Language - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil
The U.S. State Department backed away Tuesday from language included in the anti-BDS law signed by President Barack Obama on Monday which defines BDS as actions "intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories."
State Department Spokesman Jack Kirby said in a statement Tuesday: "By conflating Israel and 'Israeli-controlled territories,' a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation runs counter to longstanding U.S. policy towards the occupied territories, including with regard to settlement activity." Kirby continued: "The United States government has also strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting the State of Israel, and will continue to do so."
(Times of Israel)
- United Church of Christ Votes to Boycott Israeli Companies in West Bank - Lauren Markoe
The United Church of Christ voted by 508-124 on Tuesday to boycott products of Israeli companies based in the West Bank. Similar resolutions are being considered by the Episcopal Church and the Mennonite Church.
Mainstream Jewish groups overwhelmingly blast such resolutions as one-sided and oblivious to Palestinians' willingness to resort to terrorism.
"The UCC's one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process singles out Israel and, shockingly, ignores any Palestinian accountability," said Rabbi Noam Marans, the American Jewish Committee's director of interreligious and intergroup relations. "Blatantly absent from the 2015 UCC resolutions is any mention of Hamas, the terrorist group that still controls Gaza and instigated last summer's war with Israel by firing thousands of rockets and missiles and building an extensive tunnel network to infiltrate Israel to harm and kill Israeli civilians." (Religion News Service-Washington Post)
See also Israel Foreign Ministry Slams U.S. Church Boycott as Immoral
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the United Church of Christ's policies "in no way reflect a moral stance or reality-based position....People of faith ought to be acting to help Israel and the Palestinians to renew efforts to achieve peace, rather than endlessly demonizing one party in the conflict - in our view, the aggrieved party." (Times of Israel)
See also United Church of Christ: How Missing Facts and Half-Truths Are Informing Its Resolutions on Israel (NGO Monitor)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel: Hamas Istanbul Headquarters Behind Recent Shooting Attacks
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday that the recent shooting terror attacks were sanctioned by Hamas' international headquarters in Istanbul and funded by Iran. In an attack Monday near Shilo, one Israeli was killed and three wounded after being shot while driving home from a basketball game. Earlier this month near Dolev, Israeli Danny Gonen was shot dead and his friend wounded; and a Magen David Adom ambulance was fired upon near Beit El. All of these shootings happened in the same area of the West Bank - the Benjamin Regional Council. Ya'alon also said the attacks were fueled by incitement in the Palestinian Authority's official media.
See also Latest Attacks Point to Palestinian Terror Cell - Amos Harel
The weapons used in the current wave of shooting attacks, and the money needed to buy them, may indicate that these were planned operations by terror cells. The attacks required much more planning and preparation than stabbings and vehicular attacks. It's now clear that there is a cell - or two - moving freely about the Ramallah area.
See also Israeli Man Wounded in West Bank Terror Shooting Dies - Ben Hartman
Malachi Rosenfeld, 27, was one of four men shot at close range by gunmen in a passing car north of Jerusalem on Monday night. More than a dozen bullets were fired into the vehicle.
- Islamic State Supporters Threaten to Slaughter Christians in Jerusalem - Daniel K. Eisenbud
Arabic flyers purportedly issued by an Islamic State branch in Jerusalem threatened Christian Arabs over the weekend with slaughter unless they flee the capital by the end of Ramadan. The leaflets, which bear the Islamic State insignia, called upon like-minded zealots to identify "those who collaborate with the Zionists" and provide their addresses: "We need help to find them all - all those Christian collaborators."
"ISIS soldiers will work to kill these people so this country is clean of them and...will clean this country and the Muslim Quarter [of Jerusalem] from these Christians during this holy Ramadan." "We tell our Christians and the nonbelievers: Go away now or you will be killed...you will be slaughtered like the sheep." (Jerusalem Post)
- Can We Trust How Iran Would Spend Funds from a Nuclear Deal? - Michael Singh
An estimated $100-140 billion in Iranian foreign exchange reserves are being held in escrow in banks overseas (primarily oil revenues that U.S. sanctions block from being repatriated to Iran). The Obama administration has argued that Iran will use the funds primarily for domestic needs.
In Iran's most recent budget, funding was up 48% for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and 40% for the Ministry of Intelligence and Security; overall defense spending rose 33%. The administration's position assumes that while Iran was willing to substantially increase security spending when sanctions were in effect, it will not do so in the wake of a deal, when economic conditions would improve.
Iran is not likely to reorder its priorities. The agreement under discussion provides Iran with substantial economic relief while demanding precisely nothing from it regarding its sponsorship of terrorism and destabilizing regional behavior. Good policymaking demands that the benefit of any nuclear agreement be weighed against this cost, rather than pretending it does not exist. The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(Wall Street Journal)
- The Palestinian Leadership's Regression in the Peace Process - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi
Dr. Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and head of the Palestinian negotiating team, published a new position paper on June 18 that includes a set of recommendations for the Palestinian leadership.
The document outlines a Palestinian strategy for a diplomatic struggle with Israel.
Its main points include annulling the PLO's recognition of Israel; a diplomatic campaign to recruit international support to coerce an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines; insisting on the "right of return" of Palestinian "refugees" along with their descendants; rejection of any proposals for a temporary or partial settlement with Israel; a legal battle against Israel in the international arena aimed at constraining Israel's ability to defend itself against Palestinian terror; strategic cooperation with Hamas and Islamic Jihad by integrating them into the PLO's institutions; and the
waging of an all-out "peaceful popular struggle" against Israel (defined by Palestinian leadership as local terror attacks).
The document reflects the old Palestinian strategy of "stages," which regards an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders as affording an improved posture to continue the struggle.
The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a co-founder of the Orient Research Group Ltd.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
How to Salvage Some Security from the Botched Iran Deal - Michael Herzog (Financial Times-UK)
- Israel is not at the table negotiating the deal on Iran's nuclear program. Yet it is Israel's national security, perhaps more than anyone else's, that will be affected.
- A good deal - permanently rolling back Iran's nuclear capacity, as was done in Libya - is no longer possible. The framework agreed in April in effect legitimizes Iran as a nuclear-threshold state.
- Unfortunately, U.S. deterrence has been badly eroded of late, both due to its reluctance to project power in the region, and its overeager approach to negotiating with Iran.
- Doubts about U.S. deterrence are only reinforced by the administration's insistence that there is a binary choice between a deal soon and war - a self-defeating assertion which implies that it is the White House, rather than Tehran, that is most likely to be deterred from pursuing its objectives by the prospect of war.
- Even as negotiations were underway, Israelis have watched Ayatollah Khamenei tweet nine "key questions about the elimination of Israel" (the third was: what is the proper way of eliminating Israel?).
- If the U.S. and its partners do not stand firm in the coming days and years, Israelis feel they may be left alone to face the ayatollahs - enemies who might one day wield the ultimate weapon.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Michael Herzog, a former chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense, is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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