ISIS Chemical Weapons Capability Degraded, Analysts Say (AP-Washington Post)
The siege of Mosul and targeted killings of chemical weapons experts in U.S.-led airstrikes have significantly degraded the Islamic State's production capability, although the group likely retains expertise to produce small batches of sulfur mustard and chlorine agents, the London-based IHS Markit analysis group said Tuesday.
$110 Billion Arms Deal to Saudi Arabia Is Fake News - Bruce Riedel (Brookings Institution)
Last month, President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and his administration announced a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom.
Except that contacts in the defense business and on the Hill all say there is no $110 billion deal.
Instead, there are letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday.
Moreover, it's unlikely that the Saudis could pay for a $110 billion deal any longer, due to low oil prices.
The writer was a senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to four U.S. presidents.
Video: The Day After the 1967 War
(Six-Day War Project - Jerusalem U)
In just six days, Israel pushed back the Arab armies that threatened its existence, and achieved defensible borders.
After the war, Israel sent an offer to the Arab countries: territory in exchange for peace. But there was no answer.
Newly-Discovered Photos of Palestinian Mufti in Nazi Germany (Kedem Auction House)
Six previously unknown photographs documenting a visit to Nazi Germany by Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini in 1943 have been listed for auction.
The photographs show al-Husseini, accompanied by a number of Nazi senior officials, dressed in uniforms.
Al-Husseini served as the Mufti of Jerusalem in the years 1921-1937, and was one of the most important leaders of the Palestinian national movement.
He was among the chief instigators of the 1920 riots, the 1929 riots, and the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt.
During his stay in Nazi Germany he had contacts with the upper echelons of the S.S. and the Gestapo, and even met with Adolf Hitler.
May 2017 Sees All-Time Monthly High in Israel Tourism - Ilan Gattegno (Israel Hayom)
May 2017 marked a record monthly high in incoming tourism with 347,000 tourists arriving in Israel, the Tourism Ministry said Thursday.
In the first five months of 2017, 1.43 million tourists entered Israel, an increase of 25% over the same period in the previous year.
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- Israeli Cyber-Operators Penetrated an ISIS Bomb-Making Cell - David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt
One of the rare cyber-operation successes against the Islamic State belongs at least in part to Israel, which was America's partner in cyber-attacks against Iran's nuclear facilities. Top Israeli cyber-operators penetrated a small cell of extremist bomb-makers in Syria months ago, American officials said.
That was how the U.S. learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers. The information helped prompt a ban in March on large electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries to the U.S. and Britain. (New York Times)
- U.S.-Backed Syrian Fighters Seize Parts of ISIS "Capital" Raqqa
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Sunday it has captured two districts of the Islamic State's de-facto capital of Raqqa in an offensive that began on June 6 under cover of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.
- McMaster Urges Contemporary Lessons from Israel's "Seized Initiative" in 1967 Six-Day War - Barbara Opall-Rome
On the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War, U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster told a conference of the American Jewish Committee:
"In June 1967, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) saw that Egyptian divisions, so formidable on paper, were built up along the major roads through the Sinai. Israel saw the spaces between them as gaps to be exploited. They seized and retained the initiative."
McMaster asserted that opportunities must be found and exploited, much like Israel did in 1967. "In this department, Israel has adapted and performed amazingly well. It acted on opportunities, when others might only see difficulties." At the start of that war, "the very survival of the Jewish State was in jeopardy." Nevertheless, "Israel's leaders and warriors saw past immediate danger" to exploit opportunities. "That creativity and ingenuity should apply to us today on and off the battlefields." (Defense News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israeli Defense Minister: Normalization with Arab Countries Should Not Be Held Hostage to Palestinian Issue - Tovah Lazaroff
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday: "We must not accept a situation in which normalization with the Arab countries will be held hostage to the Palestinian issue....When I look at how the Palestinian Authority is being conducted, I see no sincerity, no real preparation for negotiations and a political settlement with the State of Israel. All I see is an attempt to manipulate us into a corner and hurt us as much as possible in the international arena. There is no intention of reaching any agreement, just putting all the burden on the State of Israel, all the blame." (Jerusalem Post)
- UAE Red Crescent Society: Hamas Sabotaged Humanitarian Aid Distribution in Gaza - Roi Kais
The secretary-general of the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates accused Hamas on Monday of attempting to prevent the distribution of humanitarian aid in Gaza during the 2014 war. Mohamed Ateeq Al-Falahi said the Red Crescent's staff was stationed at a UAE field hospital in Gaza when Hamas fighters began provoking Israeli forces by firing rockets from that hospital. This led Israel to attack the hospital as the launch point for the rockets, thus sabotaging the distribution of the humanitarian aid.
"This shows (Hamas') wicked intentions and how they sacrificed us," said Al-Falahi. "What hurts is that the betrayal came from our own people: Muslims fighting Muslims, who were giving humanitarian aid to Muslims." (Ynet News)
- To Resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Dismantle the Palestinian Refugee Camps First - Dore Gold
A critical factor in explaining why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not yet been resolved is the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for dismantling UNRWA, whose very existence, he said, "perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem rather than solves it."
For years, Israeli officials have noted that UNRWA has provided a breeding ground for the growth of terrorist activity against Israel. In 2014, UNRWA used its schools for storing rockets, and UNRWA building supplies were found to have been used by Hamas for tunnel construction.
Successful UN refugee programs overseen by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees have led to a diminution of the refugee problem in different parts of the world. But by UNRWA's own data, the number of Palestinian refugees (750,000 in 1948) has mushroomed to five million today.
Refugee status has continued from generation to generation in perpetuity.
With the implementation of the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, 26 refugee camps fell under Palestinian control. Yet despite the advent of Palestinian self-government, not a single Palestinian camp has been closed. The only explanation for this is that the Palestinian leadership wanted to keep their grievance with Israel alive and perpetuate the conflict.
If a new peace initiative is to start, it should include at the outset a program to dismantle the refugee camps. The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and director general of the Foreign Ministry.
- Can the Sunni Arab States Help Resolve the Conflict with Israel? - Clifford D. May
The Middle East is changing, with the Sunni Arab states threatened by Shia Persian Iran. Some suggest that those states should press the Palestinians to negotiate, offer concessions and, finally, resolve the conflict with Israel.
The problem with this plan is that it does not overcome the biggest obstacles standing in the way of a successful peace process. Among them: Hamas regards every inch of Israel as "occupied territory" and, more significantly, as an endowment from Allah to the Muslims. It is not conceivable that Hamas would or could recognize the right of a Jewish state to exist. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, too, has declared that he cannot accept Israel as the sovereign nation-state of the Jewish people.
The sad truth is that the dream of destroying Israel persists. Until that changes, a serious and enduring peace will remain out of reach.
The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Convince the Palestinians that Israel Is Permanent - Daniel Pipes
Critics wrongly blame Israel's government for not making sufficient efforts to leave the West Bank, as though greater efforts could have found a true peace partner. They ignore the attitude of refusing to accept anything Zionist that has dominated Palestinian politics for the past century. Palestinian rejectionism renders Israeli concessions useless, even counterproductive, because Palestinians respond to them with more hostility and violence.
Israel needs to confront and undermine Palestinian rejectionism, which means convincing Palestinians that Israel is a permanent state, that the dream to eliminate it is futile, and that they are sacrificing for naught. The writer is president of the Middle East Forum.
Jerusalem Mayor: West Starting to Understand What Israel Has Faced with Radical Islam - Joseph Brean (National Post-Canada)
- In the wake of the Trump administration decision not to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said on a recent visit to Toronto, "We want to fix that irregularity. We want to make sure that the world understands that in any potential deal, if we ever do a deal with the Palestinians, the city of Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people, period."
- "If we need any proof, put a shovel in the ground anywhere you want, and you will see Jewish roots going back 2,000, 3,000 years. Legally, this is our land more than anybody else's land."
- With regard to the terror attacks in Paris, Nice, Berlin, Manchester and London, he said, "I think the world is starting to understand what we've gone through. Radical Islam is active, more than it was in the past, and it forces people to rethink how they operate relative to the threat. We've done that."
- Barkat has greater personal credibility on anti-terrorism than most people. In 2015, he and his bodyguard confronted a rampaging terrorist. The bodyguard aimed his gun, the terrorist dropped his knife and Barkat took him down.
- Unlike in London, for example, where police urged people to "Run, Hide, Tell," in Jerusalem civilians are encouraged to "take action, to engage." "Look, terrorists want to kill you," Barkat said. "You've got to neutralize them as fast as possible."
- "And in our city, it's amazing, because in many places in the world, we see in a terror attack, people run out of the scene and rely on security forces. In our case, if it's a lone wolf and others, you see people, including residents, run to the scene and jump, to stop the guy. And while in some cases people lost their lives doing so, they saved others."
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