Russia Will Recognize West Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Only If East Jerusalem Becomes Palestine's (RT-Russia)
The Russian Foreign Ministry has stated that Moscow is ready to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel's official capital, providing that statehood is granted to Palestinians, who will base their capital in the eastern part of the city.
JCC Bomb Hoaxer Made Millions Selling Forged Documents Online (Times of Israel)
The Israeli-American 18-year-old behind hundreds of hoax bomb threats against Jewish institutions in the U.S. earned millions of shekels' worth of bitcoin digital currency by selling forged identity cards, passports and driver's licenses over the internet, Israel's Channel 2 reported Thursday.
Egypt's President Sisi Meets with U.S. Jewish Leaders - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
Egyptian President Sisi met Wednesday in Washington with representatives of think tanks and Jewish groups including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
He expressed guarded optimism about peace between Arabs and Israel, but also warned of the threat posed by Islamists.
Sisi also called to roll back Iranian influence in the region.
Half of Released Palestinian Prisoners Have Returned to Terrorism - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
Mazen Fuqha, the Hamas official killed last month in Gaza, planned to turn the upcoming Passover holiday into a bloodbath for Israelis.
Fuqha, who was released as part of the 2011 Shalit prisoner exchange, headed Hamas' "West Bank headquarters" and was responsible for establishing a number of terrorist cells across the West Bank.
Israeli defense officials believe the Passover attacks planned by Hamas would include the abduction of an Israeli soldier or civilian, in order to force Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners not included in the Shalit deal.
The Shalit deal saw the release of 1,027 prisoners collectively responsible for the murder of 569 Israelis. This infused Hamas' leadership with new blood, including its new leader, Yahya Sinwar.
Defense officials today believe that 50% of those released in 2011 are currently involved in terrorist activity.
Israeli Embassy Slams Plan to Fly "Terrorist" Palestinian Flag over Dublin City Hall - Stephen McDermott (Dublin Live-Ireland)
The Israeli embassy in Ireland has hit out at a proposal to fly the Palestinian flag over Dublin City Hall for a month.
A spokesman for the embassy said: "A decision to fly the Palestinian flag over Dublin City Hall would be counter-productive and will ultimately defame the good name of the city of Dublin and its citizens."
"Should Dublin City Council approve such a motion, it will in effect raise a white flag of submission to terror organizations, hatred and blackmail."
Kansas House Votes to Block Contracting with Israel Boycotters - Daniel Salazar (Wichita Eagle)
The Kansas House voted Wednesday 116-9 to bar state agencies and departments from contracting with companies and individuals that boycott Israel.
In 2016, Kansas exported $56.7 million in commodities to Israel and imported $83.7 million from Israel, according to the Kansas Department of Commerce.
Rep. William Sutton (R-Gardner) said any company openly boycotting Israel was "perpetrating an act of economic warfare against a Kansas trade partner and ally."
17 other states have passed, and 10 are considering, similar legislation, Sutton said.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Purchases 28 Additional ReWalk Exoskeleton Systems (PR Newswire)
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purchased 28 ReWalk Personal Exoskeleton Systems to support an ongoing national clinical trial, ReWalk Robotics Ltd. announced Thursday.
The first 20 systems were shipped to VA in the first quarter of 2017.
Israel's Elbit Systems U.S. Unit Wins $50 Million Navy Contract (Reuters)
Israeli defense electronics firm Elbit Systems said Sunday its U.S. subsidiary won a $50 million contract from the U.S. Navy to provide the Helmet Display and Tracker System for the MH-60S fleet of helicopters.
The work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ohio to Purchase Record $61 Million in Israel Bonds - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
State of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel said Monday he will purchase $61 million in Israel bonds to hit back at the anti-Israel boycott movement and because the bonds are a good investment.
Following acquisitions in previous years, the purchase will leave the state with more Israel Bonds than any other governmental body in the U.S.
U.S. Fund Francisco Partners to Buy Israeli E-Commerce Platform at $300M Valuation - Ruti Levy and Michael Rochvarger (Ha'aretz)
The private equity group Francisco Partners is close to an agreement to buy 50% of R2Net, an Israeli e-commerce platform that runs the JamesAllen.com jewelry trading site, at a company value of $300 million.
R2Net, based in Herzliya, has 200 employees and generates revenues of $90 million a year.
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- U.S. Launches Missiles at Syrian Airbase after Chemical Weapons Attack - Dan Lamothe, Missy Ryan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff
The U.S. military launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield on Thursday in a direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The Trump administration authorized the operation in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week.
President Trump called on "all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria. And also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types."
The missiles were launched from two Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean. They struck the Shayrat airbase in Homs province, the site from which the planes that conducted the chemical attack originated.
The military said the strike "severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure." U.S. officials said the Russians were given advance warning of the strike. There is a Russian military area at the base, but the U.S. took precautions not to strike that area.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday recalled the 2013 agreement with Syria to hand over its chemical stockpile and for Russia to monitor that Assad not renege on that deal: "Clearly, Russia has failed in its responsibility on that commitment. Either Russia has been complicit or has been incompetent on its ability to deliver." (Washington Post)
See also Report: Syrian Airbase Almost Completely Destroyed in U.S. Strike
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least four Syrian soldiers including a general were killed and dozens were wounded in a U.S. missile attack that had almost completely destroyed a Syrian airbase near Homs. (Reuters)
- U.S. Justifies Syria Airstrike - Josh Rogin
The U.S. administration distributed
lengthy internal notes to government agencies on Thursday which lays out the justifications for the strikes on a Syrian airbase. "We assess with a high degree of confidence that the chemical weapons attack earlier this week was launched from this site by air assets under the command of the Assad regime. We also assess, with a similar degree of confidence, that the Assad regime used a chemical nerve agent consistent with sarin in these attacks. As you know, Damascus and Moscow assured us all these weapons had been removed and destroyed."
The administration rejected the Russian government's claims that the recent chemical weapons attack involved an opposition chemical weapons depot, calling it "a completely implausible assertion." "Russia promotes a set of false facts, supported only by the Assad regime and its backers...as it does after each and every atrocity launched by the regime."
The document also noted that Iranian forces, Shia militias, Hizbullah and other "allied Shia militant foot soldiers" have played a key role in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. It concludes: "Weapons of mass destruction use by any actor lowers the threshold for others that may seek to follow suit." (Washington Post)
See also Text: President Trump's Remarks on U.S. Syria Strike (White House)
- Arab States and Israel Welcome U.S. Strikes on Syria Airbase - John Reed and Simeon Kerr
Arab states and Israel on Friday applauded the overnight U.S. missile strike on an airbase in Syria, welcoming what they saw as an overdue show of resolve against the Assad regime and its main foreign patrons, Iran and Russia. Officials in the Gulf states and Israel said that they believed President Trump was drawing a line of deterrence against hitherto unchecked Iranian and Russian-backed militarism in the region. Across the Arab world, trending media posted on Twitter on Friday included songs celebrating the airstrikes. "America strikes the regime of Bashar" was a popular hashtag in Saudi Arabia.
"We're only at the beginning of this military response, but I think President Trump has gone a long way to restoring American credibility in the Middle East," said Dore Gold, a former close adviser to Mr. Netanyahu and head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
- Gaza's Hamas Rulers Execute 3 Palestinians Accused of "Collaborating" with Israel - Fares Akram
Hamas on Thursday executed three Palestinians it had accused of "collaborating" with Israel. The men were hanged at a police compound in Gaza City as dozens of Hamas leaders and officials watched. The three were sentenced months ago and were not directly connected to the killing of a senior Hamas commander last month, but his death prompted their execution now. (AP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Israel Supports U.S. Action in Syria
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday: "In both word and action, President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Israel fully supports President Trump's decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime's horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere."
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
See also President Rivlin: U.S. Serves as an Example to the Entire Free World
President Reuven Rivlin said Friday: "In the face of the terrible use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians, the clear and determined steps of the U.S. administration and military, under the leadership of President Trump, constitute a fitting and appropriate response to such unthinkable brutality. In acting as it has, the United States serves as an example to the entire free world, which must support any step required to bring the atrocities in Syria to an end." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Amidror: U.S. Attack in Syria Shows Iran that Military Option Is Indeed "On the Table" - Herb Keinon
Iran is carefully taking note of the U.S. missile attack in Syria, former National Security Council head Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror said Friday. "More than any place in the world, the decision-makers in Iran are learning the reaction of the Americans, taking into account that if they don't behave, the military option is on the table, unlike the previous administration," Amidror said during a conference call organized by The Israel Project.
Amidror said that Iran is "morally responsible" for Syrian President Assad's actions, since it has given him unqualified support over the years regardless of his brutality. (Jerusalem Post)
- Israel Seeks Buffer Zones on Syria's Borders with Israel and Jordan - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging that any agreement to end the war in Syria include the establishment of buffer zones on the border between Syria and Israel and the border between Syria and Jordan, to prevent Iran and Hizbullah from establishing a presence in those areas. Sources said Netanyahu has raised this idea with the U.S. administration and other international actors in recent weeks.
- Will Withholding U.S. Funds to PA Until They Stop Supporting Terror Do More Harm than Good? - Jonathan S. Tobin
Those who want to hold the PA accountable for actively fomenting hate against Israel and educating its children to oppose peace advocate withholding U.S. funds until they stop supporting terror. But will depriving the PA of the money that keeps the West Bank government functioning do more harm than good?
Those who take Abbas' occasional support for the idea of peace as proof of the PA's good intentions can't explain away the pensions paid by the PA to terrorists and their families. The PA treats terrorists as heroes. So long as the PA is paying for terror, it will continue in one form or another.
Support for violence against Jews is deeply embedded in Palestinian political culture. Considering his unwillingness to accept even the most generous Israeli offers of statehood, there is little chance Abbas is willing to risk a backlash from the clear majority of Palestinians who agree that terrorists are heroes.
This situation continues because Abbas thinks his foreign sugar daddies have no leverage over him. PA leaders and their families have stolen billions in aid they received during the last two decades without ever being held accountable. But while the PA's Fatah party leadership fears being seen as soft on Jews, it may also fear bankruptcy just as much.
That's why it is high time that someone at least try to make them pay a penalty for their criminal misconduct. Until somebody tries, we'll never know if they can be nudged in the right direction on terror subsidies. (Israel Hayom)
See also below Observations: If Palestinians Are Serious about Peace, "Martyr" Violence Should Not Pay - David Makovsky, Ghaith al-Omari and Lia Weiner (Washington Post)
- Dershowitz Details Chat about Israel with President Trump - Annie Linskey
Former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said that when he and his wife were at dinner at the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on March 18, President Trump showed up. "He pulled me aside. He wanted to talk to me privately about the Middle East."
Dershowitz wouldn't repeat what Trump told him privately, but recounted parts of their conversation that occurred in front of other dinner guests. Trump "told me he thought in the Middle East, they are ready for a deal," Dershowitz said. Trump explained that he'd spoken to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and sensed that he was ready for a peace deal.
"I responded by saying, 'The Palestinians say that to every new president.' He said, 'Now I think they're really ready.' I said, 'You have to test them, it's not enough to just hear 'they're ready.' He shook his head in apparent agreement," Dershowitz said.
- Enhancing Egyptian-Israeli Ties - Haisam Hassanein
Nearly 40 years after the signing of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, popular sentiment in Egypt towards Israel remains negative. According to a recent report by the Middle East Monitor, 89% of Arabs view Israel as the major threat to the region, on a par with ISIS and higher than the 72% who had a negative view of Iran.
The Trump Administration should stress enhancing the normalization of relations between the two countries. An important step for Egypt would be for the government to make tourism to Israel possible without requiring that individuals obtain permission from the country's intelligence and security apparatus. Egypt has Hebrew departments at 13 universities, but the graduates from these programs are not allowed to travel to Israel.
Few Egyptian businessmen have been allowed to partake in business dealings with Israel, even though, for example, Israel's tremendous experience with water technology could be very beneficial for Egypt.
Easing these restrictions and enhancing normalization between the two countries would help promote Egypt-Israel relations.
The writer is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- Israel Is Engaged in a Long War of Attrition, But Time Is on Its Side - Efraim Inbar
In June 1967, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) waged war alone against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, achieving a stunning victory in six days.
Israel's military achievement went a long way towards convincing the Arab world that Israel cannot be easily destroyed by military force and is a fact the Arabs must learn to live with. It took Egypt three military defeats (1948, 1956, and 1973) and a war of attrition (1968-70) within a span of 25 years to give up the goal of destroying Israel, but today it is at peace with Israel.
The 1982 Lebanon War was the last time Israel fought a conventional war. For the past three decades, Israel has been challenged primarily by sub-state actors, such as Hamas (a Sunni militia) and Hizbullah (a Shiite militia). Because of their religious-ideological zeal, they are more difficult to deter than states, and their learning curve is much slower. Israel is engaged in a long war of attrition against religiously motivated enemies who believe both God and history are on their side.
The patient, repetitive use of force is not glamorous, but it will eventually do the trick. Time is, in fact, on Israel's side.
The writer is professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and the founding director of the BESA Center.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- IDF Military Intelligence Veteran Looks at the Middle East - Yaakov Katz interviews Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead
In 1999, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead warned the IDF General Staff and the Israeli Cabinet that Yasser Arafat was plotting a terrorist onslaught against Israel. A few months later, in October 2000, the second intifada erupted. Looking back, Gilead called Arafat a "mega-terrorist" and said it was a mistake to negotiate with "someone who surrounded himself with mass murderers." His assessment was based on countless hours he had spent with Arafat. "I am sure that he wanted to destroy us," Gilead said.
As Israel's point man on Egypt as head of the Defense Ministry's Political-Military Bureau for the last 13 years, Gilead said, "Obama's call on Mubarak to step down [in 2011] was a major mistake. You cannot force a culture in this region. You will not get democracy. You will get evil and dark forces like the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement established in 1928 which wants to create a Sunni empire in which Israel cannot exist." When Gen. Sisi overthrew then-President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian defense minister "saved Egypt, the Arab world and the wider region from a nightmare."
Gilead dismissed predictions that King Abdullah of Jordan is weak. He said that throughout almost all of his father King Hussein's tenure, people also predicted that he would fall, but Hussein ruled from 1952 until 1999. What people fail to recognize is that the tribes in Jordan are united and the people respect and admire the king and his father, both believed to be descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.
- A Rising China Eyes the Middle East - Lily Hindy
Disdaining traditional great power politics in the Middle East,
Chinese President Xi Jinping described his view of China's role in the region before the Arab League in Cairo last January: "Instead of looking for a proxy in the Middle East, we promote peace talks; instead of seeking any sphere of influence, we call on all parties to join the circle of friends for the Belt and Road Initiative; instead of attempting to fill the 'vacuum,' we build a cooperative partnership network for win-win outcomes."
China's economic reach in the Middle East is burgeoning through oil imports and machinery and textile exports, and its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative aims to gradually rebuild the legendary Silk Road trade route that ran from China through Central Asia and the Middle East into Africa and Europe. (Century Foundation)
- Israeli Pharma Firm Makes Drugs Longer Lasting and More Effective - Akshat Rathi
As soon as you ingest something, enzymes and acids start breaking down its various chemical components. That's bad news for most drugs because the active ingredient can't do its job if it is quickly broken down. Teva Pharmaceuticals has found a new way of delaying drug metabolism. By replacing some of the hydrogen atoms in a drug for the treatment of Huntington's disease with the heavier isotope deuterium, the drug has been shown to remain unchanged in the body for longer, the U.S. FDA has confirmed.
Slowing down drug metabolism means that doctors can prescribe lower doses of drugs to achieve the same effect, meaning that patients suffer fewer side-effects.
- Israel's High-Tech Dairy Industry - Alina Dain Sharon
Israel's Holstein cows produce about 3,000 gallons of milk per cow per year, a figure that is among the highest in the world. More than 80% of Israel's cows are registered in the Israel Herd Book, a computerized database that allows tracing the genealogy, history, milk yield and other factors for each cow.
A majority of Israel's dairy cows are "equipped with electronic individual identification, and almost all the milking parlors are equipped with electronic milk meters," says Dr. Ephraim Maltz, a senior researcher emeritus at the Volcani Center, the Israel Ministry of Agriculture's research arm. Special sensors measure cows' daily body weight and milk composition for protein, fat, lactose and more. (JNS.org)
If Palestinians Are Serious about Peace, "Martyr" Violence Should Not Pay - David Makovsky, Ghaith al-Omari and Lia Weiner (Washington Post)
- Any progress on trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must first address the lack of trust that exists between the two sides. For Israelis, Palestinian incitement to violence casts serious doubt as to whether the Palestinians are serious about peace. Despite Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, official PA pronouncements still refer to Palestinians who murder Israelis as "martyrs."
- The egregious practice of making payments to families of Palestinians who engage in clear acts of terrorism and to prisoners convicted of such acts stands out severely in this regard. Every year, the Palestinian Authority spends more than $300 million, or 7.6% of its total budget, in support of two foundations dedicated to assisting families of "martyrs" and Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons.
- There is an entire official compensation apparatus that rewards prisoners who spent more time in Israeli prisons with official positions upon their release, as well as other forms of economic preferential treatment. After persistent international pressure on the PA to cease the payments, Mahmoud Abbas transferred the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs from the PA to the PLO, which Abbas also chairs. PA budgetary reports last June state that $137.45 million was transferred to the PLO in support of the program.
- Palestinians argue that the bulk of these prisoners and "martyrs" are political prisoners and innocent bystanders. Israel vehemently denies that it detains people for their political views, but rather only does so for clear-cut involvement in the planning or execution of violent acts.
There are clear-cut cases: A Palestinian who deliberately shoots, stabs or rams an Israeli with murderous intent cannot be considered a political prisoner by any stretch of that term.
- As a first and immediate step, the Palestinian Authority must end payment in such clear-cut cases. Destitute family members can still receive regular assistance, as can any other Palestinians in need, but they should not receive preferential treatment in a way that rewards acts of terrorism.
- Such a move is necessary in order to signal to the U.S. that the Palestinian side can make difficult decisions in the pursuit of peace. Focusing on this issue during the upcoming Trump-Abbas meeting could put U.S.-Palestinian relations on sounder footing.
- It is also necessary in order to begin rebuilding trust with Israel.
It is necessary to make it clear to the Palestinian public that peace and terrorism are incompatible.
David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari are senior fellows at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Makovsky was a former senior adviser to the U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Al-Omari was an adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team and then-Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Lia Weiner is a senior at Yale University.
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