Haley: UN Security Council Won't Focus on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict This Month - Danielle Ziri (Jerusalem Post)
For the first time in years, the UN Security Council will not focus its monthly debate on the Middle East on Israel and the Palestinians, said U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who presides over the Council for the month of April.
"We are not going to support the Palestinian actions here at the UN until they came to the table," Haley said.
"We don't want to see any additional measures brought at the UN that would bash Israel or would lift up the Palestinian Authority until we can get these negotiations to happen."
She added that she believes the discussions that have taken place at the UN so far "have been more of a hindrance towards the peace process than a help."
Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon said the U.S. is "not going to tolerate an obsessive focus on Israel with so many other crises around the world."
See also Haley Says U.S. Leverage for Mideast Peace Not Harmed by Support for Israel - Anne Gearan (Washington Post)
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Monday that her forceful defense of Israel at the UN does not undermine American leverage to broker a Middle East peace settlement.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard Gets a Raise - Saeed Ghasseminejad (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
The Iranian parliament passed the 2017-2018 budget, which allocated $7.4 billion to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - a 24% increase.
The new budget apportions 53% of Iran's $14 billion defense spending to the IRGC.
Azerbaijan's Deputy PM Flown to Israel for Heart Treatment (Times of Israel)
Rambam Medical Center in Haifa announced on Monday that Abid Sharifov, Azerbaijan's deputy prime minister since 1995, was flown to Israel last week after doctors in Baku determined his heart problem was life-threatening.
Rambam doctors fitted him with a pacemaker and defibrillator to help manage his heart rate and treated him for a clogged artery.
Israel Uncovers Diving Suits Headed for Hamas in Gaza - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Israeli border security personnel at the Kerem Shalom crossing thwarted the smuggling of 30 diving suits apparently intended for terrorist elements in Gaza including the Hamas naval commando unit.
The suits were concealed in a shipment of sports clothing imported from abroad.
See also Video: Attempt to Smuggle Wetsuits to Gaza Terrorists Foiled (Israel Ministry of Defense)
U.S. Expands Air Base in Syria for Use in Battle for Raqqa - Tara Copp (Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Air Force has expanded an air base near Kobani in northern Syria to assist in the fight to retake the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State, said Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command.
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- Subway Bombing in St. Petersburg Kills 14, Islamic Radicals Suspected
A subway bombing in St. Petersburg killed 14 people and injured 49 on Monday.
The bomber was named as Akbarzhon Jalilov, a native of Kyrgyzstan. An explosive device was discovered at another station, suggesting a coordinated attack. Interfax said the bomber was known to have links to radical Islam.
See also Israel Sends Condolences to Russia after St. Petersburg Subway Bombing (Prime Minister's Office)
- Suspected Chemical Attack Kills Dozens in Syria
At least 58 people have been killed in a suspected chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun in northwest Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday. The region is regularly targeted by Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes.
- Trump Tells Sisi U.S., Egypt Will Fight Islamist Militants Together - Steve Holland
U.S. President Donald Trump moved to reset U.S. relations with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday during Sisi's first official U.S. visit, vowing to work together to fight Islamist militants. "We are very much behind President Sisi. He's done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation," Trump said.
See also Report: Trump, Sisi Discuss Israeli-Palestinian Peace Summit in U.S. - Roi Kais
President Trump and Egyptian President Sisi discussed the possibility of holding an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit in the U.S. this summer, Al Hayat reported on Tuesday. According to the report, the Trump administration expects Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf nations to play an active part in motivating the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
During their White House meeting on Monday, Sisi presented to Trump the Arab nations' position which calls for a "just solution for the Palestinian issue based on the Arab peace initiative, and opposes moving the American embassy to Jerusalem." (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Iran Arms Manufacturing Facilities in Lebanon Pose New Threat - Herb Keinon
Reports that Iran is building facilities to make advanced rockets inside Lebanon constitutes a "whole new kind of threat," Hagai Tzuriel, director-general of Israel's Intelligence Ministry, said Monday.
It means that the Iranians and Hizbullah are trying to overcome the difficulty of transferring arms over land through Syria to Lebanon by manufacturing them locally. Today, the most important strategic issue in the region for Israel is not Iran's nuclear capability, but rather "Iran in the region," Tzuriel said.
- Steinitz: Iran Gaining Traction in Syria - Sharon Udasin
Iran is quietly gaining traction in Syria - posing a direct threat to Israel, eastern Mediterranean countries and the entire Arabian Peninsula, National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Jerusalem Post.
"The most immediate and urgent threat is the Iranian plan to transform Syria...into some kind of extension of Iran."
While Tehran has long been active near Israel through proxies such as Hamas and Hizbullah, he warned that the Islamic Republic may be building a more direct presence in the neighborhood as Syria continues to crumble. "The label will still be called Syria, but it will become some kind of extension of Iran....Syria will also become an Iranian military base." Iran could eventually establish an air force and naval presence there, as well as an arsenal of ballistic missiles - a "very dangerous development."
"We don't want to have a direct military border with Iran itself. Of course it's a big, big threat also to Jordan and all the Arab Peninsula....Therefore, it's high time for the international community, in general, and for the two superpowers, the U.S. and Russia, in particular, to sit together and prevent this scenario." (Jerusalem Post)
- The Lessons of the Arab League Summit - Zalman Shoval
Despite the intentions of several members of the Arab League, which met in Jordan last week, to make changes in the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 so that it might become relevant and implementable, in the end a decision was taken to accept PA President Mahmoud Abbas' call to endorse the 2002 version, which demands a complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Thus, the Palestinian leadership is continuing its strategy of not conducting real peace talks with Israel, which means Israel does not have a real partner for peace on the Palestinian side. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
See also The Arab Peace Initiative: A Primer and Future Prospects - Dr. Joshua Teitelbaum (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Why Israel Is Nothing Like Apartheid South Africa - Benjamin Pogrund
Last month, an obscure UN agency, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, whose membership comprises 18 Arab states, issued a report accusing Israel of imitating apartheid South Africa. I lived in apartheid South Africa, which maintained privilege for the white minority and doomed people of color to subservience. For more than a quarter-century, I reported and analyzed the evils of apartheid for the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg until it was closed under pressure from the government.
After a period as a journalist in Britain, I moved to Israel in 1997 and am acutely aware of Israel's problems and faults, but it is nothing like South Africa before 1994. Those who accuse Israel of apartheid have forgotten what actual apartheid was, or are ignorant, or malevolent. Unlike nonwhite South Africans under apartheid, Israeli Arabs have the vote and enjoy full citizen rights. The Supreme Court has an Arab judge.
What the BDS movement calls the "apartheid wall" - in fact, mainly a wire fence - was erected between Israel and the West Bank for security reasons, primarily to keep out would-be suicide bombers. Suicide bombings and murders by ramming pedestrians with vehicles never happened in South Africa, yet Israel has had them aplenty. Security concerns have dictated Israel's precautions and responses, not an ideology of apartheid racism. (New York Times)
- Is Iran a Paper Tiger? - Ariel Ben Solomon
Iran's military is in much worse shape than is commonly believed and is overextended in Syria, experts say. Yigal Carmon, president and founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), said Iranian claims of domestic development of military technologies are "complete nonsense." The only serious concern, he said, is the country's acquisition of North Korean missiles.
Dr. Harold Rhode, a former U.S. Defense Department official, said Iran and North Korea "appear strong, but are weak and rotten inside."
Rhode said Iran is ignoring domestic problems such as a water crisis "that threatens to render vast swathes of the country near-uninhabitable within the coming decades." Another domestic challenge is Iran's rampant opium drug problem. Rhode speculated that Iranian authorities want "to keep the people preoccupied so they don't concern themselves with overthrowing the government."
Rhode articulated what he believes the American or Israeli approach should be. "We expect changes to come slowly, but that is not how it works in totalitarian societies like Iran. The moment the people see the regime has lost its ability and willingness to keep itself in power, the regime will topple very quickly, as happened to the shah in 1979."
Iran, he said, is "potentially a paper tiger" and it is "our job to encourage regime change - and we can." (JNS.org)
An Open Letter to Richard Gere - Ben-Dror Yemini (Ynet News)
- The actor Richard Gere recently visited Hebron, where he said that for the local Palestinians, "it's exactly what the Old South was in America. Blacks knew where they could go....It was well understood. You didn't cross over if you didn't want to get your head beat in, or you get lynched."
- Let me tell you that I am in favor of a decent solution which will give the Palestinians welfare, prosperity, sovereignty and independence. If only they wanted that too, rather than to fight against Israel's existence.
- Hebron is the Jews' holiest and most important city after Jerusalem. Jews lived there even after the Arab occupation in the seventh century. In 1929, 59 Jews were murdered by a rampaging Muslim mob, while a few Muslims hid Jews. Following the pogrom, the Jews were forced to leave and the Muslims took over the Jewish neighborhood and the Jews' homes.
- Several years after the Six-Day War, Jewish settlement was resumed in the area where the Jewish neighborhood had been located. There was no robbery of Palestinian property. Israelis hold only a small part of the Jewish property which was robbed from Jews in 1929.
- As part of the Wye Memorandum signed in 1998 between then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat, Jews - and only Jews - are barred from 97% of Hebron. Restrictions on the Palestinians apply primarily to one street, al-Shuhada, which connects two Jewish neighborhoods.
- Palestinians are in no danger of getting lynched, but a Jew who accidentally enters Palestinian territory, on the other hand, will get lynched. Security measures are being taken because most Palestinians in Hebron support Hamas, which supports the annihilation of Jews.
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