Israel Has Contacts with Almost Every Arab State - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Israel can communicate today with "almost every Arab state," Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said Tuesday.
"There are many countries open to Israel today, and those who say we are isolated do not know what they are talking about," he told
the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
The "dramatic change" is "the willingness in the Arab world for ties with Israel under the table."
"Perhaps - with a lot of work - we can create a consensus on the components needed for regional stability and a regional order."
New Iranian-Backed Terror Group Makes Inroads in West Bank, Gaza - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
A new Iranian-backed terror group, Harakat al-Sabireen, is making inroads in Gaza and the West Bank and is bragging about plots to wage jihad against Israel.
Al-Sabireen in Gaza is believed to receive $10 million a year from Iran, according to reports in the Arab press.
Al-Sabireen says it has established an armed wing with militants in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
Like Hizbullah, al-Sabireen's logo closely resembles that of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The group's charter condones violent jihad and promotes attacks on "the racist Zionist body" and "America the great Satan."
ISIS Confirms Death of "Jihadi John" in U.S. Airstrike - Ashley Southall (New York Times)
Islamic State's Dabiq magazine reported on Tuesday that "Jihadi John" - British national Mohammed Emwazi - was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria on Nov. 12.
Emwazi rose to prominence in 2014 when the Islamic State released videos of a masked man who spoke English with a British accent beheading journalists James Foley and Steven J. Sotloff.
Among his other victims were Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, both Japanese; Peter Kassig, an American aid worker; and Alan Henning and David Haines, British aid workers.
Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain defended the strike targeting Emwazi as an act of self-defense, and the U.S. considers such strikes against specific militant leaders to be lawful acts of war or self-defense.
Trial Opens for Four British Islamists Who Plotted Murder (AP-U.S. News)
British prosecutors say four men inspired by the Islamic State plotted to murder a police officer or soldier on the streets of London.
The men, who went on trial Monday, are accused of acquiring a pistol, a silencer and ammunition as part of their plans.
Prosecutor Brian Altman told jurors at London's Central Criminal Court that the defendants, arrested in late 2014, were encouraged by IS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami's call to kill disbelievers in the West.
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- Ayatollah Khamenei Warns Against U.S. "Deceptions" - Thomas Erdbrink
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday dashed any expectations that the completion of the nuclear deal and the lifting of economic sanctions marked the beginning of a detente with the U.S.
In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani published on his website, Khamenei warned: "The deceptions and breaches of promises by arrogant governments, in particular America...should not be neglected."
At the same time, there are indications that an influential panel had disqualified thousands of reformists from running in February elections for Iran's Parliament or the Assembly of Experts. On Sunday, Hossein Marashi, a reformist leader, said that out of 3,000 reformist candidates who had registered nationwide, only 33 had been allowed to participate.
(New York Times)
- Gates: Don't Expect the Nuclear Agreement to Lead to a More Moderate Iran - Armin Rosen
In an interview with Business Insider, former U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates, who spent 27 years in the CIA and then served under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said he didn't believe the nuclear deal would have a moderating impact on Iranian behavior or lead Tehran to become a more responsible international actor. "The notion that betting that this regime is going to temper its behavior in the region because of this nuclear deal I think is mistaken. I think that will not happen."
"This is a country that has a long history under the revolutionary government." He recalled his involvement in the "very first official U.S. meeting" with members of the Islamic Republic of Iran's government in Algiers just three days before the 1979 U.S. embassy seizure.
"That began my now more than three-decades-long quest for the elusive Iranian moderate," Gates said. "My view is that the belief that Iran over time is going to evolve into a regular nation-state and abandon its theological revolutionary underpinnings, its aspirations in the region, or even its aspirations for nuclear weapons is unrealistic."
"It seems to me that [the nuclear] agreement needs to be paralleled by a very aggressive American strategy of working with our allies, both Arab and Israeli, in the region to counter Iranian meddling, support of terrorism, and other activities." "We need the same kind of strong-minded strategy in dealing with Iran in its behavior in the region that other countries are looking for, and there's no reason for that to be contradictory to the" nuclear agreement. (Business Insider)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu in Otniel: Palestinians, Inflamed by Incitement, Come to Murder Women
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a condolence call on the family of the late Dafna Meir on Tuesday in Otniel. Later, he said,
"Whoever wants to see the truth about the roots of the conflict between us and the Palestinians should come to Otniel and see here a wonderful family that only wants coexistence and peace. They should see the young people, inflamed by incitement, who come to murder women here, a mother of six, and in Tekoa, a pregnant woman; they come to murder them and say: We will destroy you all, in Tel Aviv and Jaffa as well."
"This is the truth. There is humanity here and the desire for peace and coexistence on one side and boundless hatred on the other. This hatred has an address; this is incitement by the Palestinian Authority and other elements such as the Islamic Movement and Hamas....The root of the conflict is the refusal to recognize the Jews' right to have a state within any borders, here [in Otniel], in Tel Aviv, anywhere." (Prime Minister's Office)
- Hizbullah Leader's Son Directed West Bank Terror Cell - Yoav Zitun and Roi Kais
Israel's security services foiled a terror shooting planned by a cell in the Tulkarm area led by Mahmoud Jalloul, who was recruited by Jawad Nasrallah, son of Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, the Israel Security Agency announced Wednesday. Hizbullah transferred $5,000 to the cell to commit the attack. Hizbullah is working diligently to take advantage of the Palestinian population and seduce its young people to carry out attacks in return for money, the ISA said.
- "U.S. Doesn't View EU Product Labeling as Boycott Against Israel" - Itamar Eichner
The U.S. does "not view labeling the origin of products as being from the settlements a boycott of Israel. We also do not believe that labeling the origin of products is equivalent to a boycott," State Department Spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday, after the EU's decision to label such products.
See also Netanyahu Has Friendly Talk with U.S. Envoy - Tamar Pileggi
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on Tuesday, a day after the American envoy leveled sharp criticism over Israel's West Bank settlement policy. The two held a friendly half-hour meeting in the Prime Minister's Office.
(Times of Israel)
- Palestinians Make No Distinction between West Bank Jews and Tel Aviv Jews - Jonathan S. Tobin
Jews who commit violence against Arabs are an isolated tiny minority that is ostracized, prosecuted and jailed. Palestinians who commit violence against Jews, as they do virtually every day, do so to the applause of the majority of their people and the approval of their Fatah and Hamas governments.
The Palestinians have certainly suffered over the decades even if most of that suffering has been self-inflicted. But what those who sympathize with the Palestinians seem to forget is that events like the murder of Dafna Meir are not exceptional or unusual acts. They are the sort of thing that is seen by Palestinian popular and political cultural as honorable and praiseworthy because Palestinian public opinion sees the presence of Jews anywhere in the country as illegitimate.
It is likely that any news accounts of the murder will refer to Mrs. Meir as a settler and many will see her as somehow deserving to be stabbed. But Palestinians don't really make a distinction between West Bank Jews and those living in the Jewish settlement of Tel Aviv, the scene of a New Year's Day shooting at a Tel Aviv cafe. Unless and until Palestinians stop seeing the murder of Jews, whether in Tel Aviv or in the Hebron hills, as laudable, there will be no peace and their lives won't get better.
- Why the U.S. Should Stand by the Saudis Against Iran - Bret Stephens
Despite fond White House hopes that the nuclear deal would moderate Iran's behavior, Tehran hard-liners wasted no time this week disqualifying thousands of moderate candidates from running in next month's parliamentary elections, and an Iranian-backed militia appears to be responsible for the recent kidnapping of three Americans in Iraq. The nuclear deal guarantees Iran a $100 billion sanctions windfall that will offset its losses from falling oil prices while doing nothing to stop its regional imperialism. No wonder the Saudis are nervous. (Wall Street Journal)
- Threats to America - Clifford D. May
"Existential threat" is a term that has been most commonly used in recent years about Israel, a nation-state that Islamists aim to exterminate. As Iran's rulers have noted, the detonation of just one nuclear weapon on Israeli soil could be the quickest means to achieve that goal.
The United States, being bigger and stronger, is obviously more resilient. But a nuclear attack, an EMP attack, a biological attack or even a series of attacks of the sort that took place in San Bernardino would profoundly transform America. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The BDS Boycott of Israel - Editorial (Washington Times)
- Palestinian organizations, with help from naive academics in the U.S. and Britain, are trying to wound Israel with the "BDS movement" - demanding boycotts, divestment of investments in corporations considered not sufficiently sympathetic to the Palestinians, and sanctions of various kinds against the Jewish state. So far it's mostly noise and hot air.
- The Palestinians want Israel to end its "occupation" of lands claimed by the Arabs, dismantle the wall that prevents terrorists to enter Israel, and enable Palestinians to return to the land they lost when the Arabs lost the wars they imposed on Israel.
- Do the boycotters propose refusing to use medical technology because it was engineered by an Israeli? The list of the latest vaccines, therapeutics and medical treatments invented and produced in Israel is a long one, and anyone who needs them would find it difficult to find a substitute.
- The BDS movement Web site instructs supporters to concentrate on fresh produce, grown by farmers who first made the desert bloom. But such produce constitutes only about 3.6% of Israel's exports, and most of it goes to Russia, where consumers are more interested in eating Israeli tomatoes and potatoes than in supping on Palestinian propaganda.
- "The BDS movement has not had and will never have any significant economic effect on Israel's overall economy," Adrienne Yaron of the Jerusalem Post writes, "because Israel's economy is grounded in products and services that effectively cannot be boycotted."
See also Slovenia's Biggest Supermarket Chain Removes Israeli Produce from Its Stores - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
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