Israeli Army Medics Named World's Best in Disaster Relief (JTA)
The Israeli army's emergency medical response team has received the World Health Organization's highest ranking.
The Medical Corps unit is the first to be recognized as Type 3 under recently developed WHO standards after a year-long vetting process, the Israel Defense Forces announced Sunday.
Israel was ranked "three-plus," according to Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Ofer Merin, who heads the unit, in recognition of its specializations beyond the basic requirements.
Israeli disaster relief teams have been among the first and largest to arrive at the scenes of natural disasters, including an earthquake in Turkey in 1999, an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a typhoon in the Philippines in 2013, and an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.
Israeli President Arrives in India for 8-Day Visit (Press Trust of India)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin arrived in India on Monday with a large delegation of businessmen and academicians on an eight-day visit to further strengthen bilateral ties.
Signs of a Thaw in Egypt-Hamas Tensions - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
After three and a half years of tension, there are signs of a thaw between Egypt and Hamas.
In the past month, Egypt has allowed the Rafah border crossing to remain open longer than usual. Now it is considering initiatives to improve the economic situation in both Gaza and in adjacent Sinai.
Cairo is reportedly considering establishing a free trade zone in Rafah, which straddles the Sinai-Gaza border, which would allow Gazan traders to purchase goods directly from the Egyptian side of the city.
Mohammad Dahlan, a political nemesis to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, is reportedly linked to the negotiations between Cairo and Hamas.
Meanwhile, Hamas recently arrested 30-40 Salafist activists in Gaza to prevent an escalation of rocket fire at Israel by these fringe groups.
See also Egypt to Open Border with Gaza for Four Days (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Syrian Refugees Regret Move to Gaza - Fares Akram (AP-ABC News)
12 Syrian families that found refuge in Gaza after initially fleeing to Egypt after the Syrian civil war erupted are now trapped in Gaza, ineligible for most social services granted to Palestinians but also unable to travel abroad.
In Egypt, Muslim Attacks on Christians Are Rising - Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post)
In the village of Asem, Egypt, on a recent day, an argument between boys sparked clashes between neighbors, with Muslims torching shops owned by Christians.
Five years ago, many among Egypt's minority Coptic Christians thought the discrimination they had long faced from Muslims would begin to disappear when President Hosni Mubarak was ousted, but that sense of hope has since evaporated as attacks against Christians have intensified.
Today, community leaders and human rights activists say the smallest matters are setting off violence. At least 25 sectarian attacks have been reported this year, activists say.
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- Congress Preparing to Work with Trump to Squeeze Iran - Josh Rogin
Republicans in Congress are preparing to work with the incoming Trump administration on a number of foreign policy and national security issues. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told me,
"There are several issues that I can work with the new president on, the Iran deal being number one. Trump has been right about the Iran deal, it needs to be renegotiated. I'm going to create leverage for him."
Graham said he and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) will reintroduce the Iran Ballistic Missile Sanctions Act, which would expand the non-nuclear-related sanctions on Iran to include entire sectors of the Iranian economy that aid in Iran's ballistic missile program.
Even if the Trump administration keeps the Iran deal in place, the Obama administration's effort to encourage Iran toward better behavior through positive engagement is now over and the U.S. is going back to a policy of pressure, said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Iran Exporting Missile Technology to Israel's Enemies - Adil Alsalmi
Two days after Iran's chief of staff revealed a production line of Iranian missiles in Aleppo, Hussein Sheikh al-Islam - advisor to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif - said, "manufacturing and producing Iranian missiles is not limited to Syria. It includes areas surrounding Israel." He added that Iran has trained and disseminated the technology of missile production in that region, in reference to southern Lebanon and Gaza.
Recently, an agency belonging to the Revolutionary Guard confirmed that Houthis in Yemen used Iranian-made missiles. In June, the secretary general of Hizbullah confirmed that his troops obtained weapons, including missiles, and money directly from Iran.
- Europe Struggles to Harden Security in Wake of Attacks - Matthew Dalton
Shortly after the terror attacks in Paris a year ago, European leaders pledged to close a legal loophole that militants could exploit to pass through border crossings without security checks. A year later, negotiators in Brussels are still quarreling over how to change the law, which forbids border guards from conducting systematic security checks on European citizens.
Faced with repeated attacks by Islamic State and its sympathizers, the EU is struggling to find decisive fixes for its myriad security vulnerabilities. Efforts have been hamstrung by the bloc's complex decision-making procedures, privacy concerns and a cumbersome counterterrorism apparatus that relies on coordination between the region's 28 governments. U.S. officials have been especially worried because most Europeans can travel to the U.S. without a visa.
(Wall Street Journal)
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- Trump: Israeli-Palestinian Peace Must Be Negotiated, Not Imposed - Boaz Bismuth
"I love and respect Israel and its citizens," President-elect Donald Trump told Israel Hayom on Thursday.
"Israel and America share so many of the same values, such as freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and the importance of creating opportunities for all citizens to pursue their dreams. I look forward to strengthening the unbreakable bond between our great nations. I know very well that Israel is the one true democracy and defender of human rights in the Middle East and a beacon of hope to countless people."
"I believe that my administration can play a significant role in helping the parties to achieve a just, lasting peace - which must be negotiated between the parties themselves, and not imposed on them by others. Israel and the Jewish people deserve no less." (Israel Hayom)
- Israeli Ministers Seek to Limit Use of Amplified Loudspeakers at Mosques - Andrew Friedman
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill Sunday to ban mosque muezzins from announcing prayer times via amplified loudspeakers. MK Motti Yogev said the early-morning calls to prayer from mosques disturb the sleep of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Arabs alike.
"We are not opposed to religious observance, and certainly not to the call of the muezzin that 'God is great'," said Yogev. "(Religious Jews have been) reciting a similar phrase for thousands of years....But with all the technological advances of today, there is no justification for waking people up at 4 o’clock in the morning who don’t want (to attend prayer services). There are cell phone applications, alarm clocks, and other technologies to use. There is no need to wake up the whole neighborhood." (Ynet News)
See also Netanyahu: Israel Seeks to Follow European Standard on Mosque Loudspeakers
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday:
"Today, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation will consider draft legislation on limiting the magnitude of noise from public address systems in houses of prayer in Israel. Muslims, as well as Jews and Christians, also suffer from this....Israel is a country that respects freedom of religion for all faiths. Israel is also committed to defending those who suffer from the loudness of the excessive noise of the announcements. This is how it is in many European cities and in many places in the Islamic world, where the loudness of the announcements is limited out of consideration for the populace as a whole."
(Prime Minister's Office)
- Trump Can't Walk Away from Iran Deal, But Could Still Get Tough - Michael Rubin
Far from creating the most robust monitoring regime, the Iran nuclear deal set a new precedent for lax inspection standards. Inspections remain spotty and the snapback sanctions mechanism practically non-existent. Nor does the agreement address the problem of off-shore nuclear work, for example, conducted by Iranian scientists in North Korea.
But it would not be wise to walk away from the deal. The deal was crafted to give Iran its rewards upfront. It was the diplomatic equivalent of giving a toddler dessert first and then demanding he eat his spinach. If Trump were to walk away from the deal, it wouldn't hurt the Iranians one bit.
So what might Trump do instead? As flawed as the deal is, Trump should simply implement it as if his concern were putting American interests first rather than deferring to Iranian interests. Let Iran walk away from the deal if it objects. Trump can be ready with sanctions and, if necessary, other elements of coercion to punish Iran for its noncompliance.
Iran is upset that its economy isn't meeting its own expectations? Well, perhaps they should tackle their own corruption and lack of commercial law rather than expect a Western bailout. The writer, a former Pentagon official who dealt with Middle East issues, is a resident scholar at AEI.
(American Enterprise Institute)
- U.S. Must Bolster Its Credibility - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror
With respect to foreign relations, the main problem is that the U.S. has lost its credibility as a superpower. Obama explained time and again why he did not believe superpower status was important, but as far as the international sphere is concerned, this status means a great deal.
Restoring America's superpower status is the only way the U.S. can continue to alleviate global tension and prevent the deterioration of relationships in which it has a vested interest. The feeling that the U.S. has abandoned the world and that it cannot be counted on is shared by its allies worldwide.
There is a long and complex learning curve ahead of us, during which everything will slow down until the new administration feels secure enough to decide on its strategy. Trump's first steps as president would be crucial, so that the world understands that it is not just the rhetoric that has changed, but also the willingness to invest to protect U.S. interests, as well as its allies worldwide. The writer is a former Israeli national security advisor and former director of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence.
Ending Aid to Palestinian Terrorists - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
- Since the 1990s, as the U.S. and other countries have sent billions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians, Palestinian leaders have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in rewards to those who carry out bombings, stabbings and other attacks in Israel.
- These payments, codified in Palestinian law, are an official incentive program for murder that in any other context would be recognized as state sponsorship of terror.
- Senators Lindsey Graham, Dan Coats and Roy Blunt have introduced a bill to end U.S. economic aid unless Palestinian leaders stop rewarding terrorists. It's called the Taylor Force Act, after the 28-year-old U.S. Army veteran stabbed to death in March by a Palestinian in the Israeli city of Jaffa. Other American victims of recent Palestinian terrorism include 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel and 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz.
- "They will never achieve peace when you pay one of your young men to kill someone like Taylor Force. That's inconsistent and it needs to stop," Graham says. "We're not going to invest in a group of people that have laws like this. It's just not a good investment."
- The same Palestinian laws guarantee civil-service employment to terrorists upon their release from prison - the bloodier their crime, the cushier their post.
- The truth is these payments are blood-soaked gifts from a Palestinian leadership still devoted more to destroying Israel than to building a Palestinian state. This has always been the chief impediment to peace.
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