Ya'alon: Israel Aid to Rebels Helps Protect Syrian Druze - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon confirmed Monday that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels.
"We've assisted them under two conditions," Ya'alon said of Israeli medical aid to Syrian rebels. "That they don't get too close to the border, and that they don't touch the Druze."
Egypt's Top Prosecutor Assassinated - Dahlia Kholaif (Wall Street Journal)
Egypt's top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was assassinated by a bomb that exploded near his motorcade on Monday in Cairo.
The government blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the attack. Barakat oversaw a number of high-profile cases against officials of the Muslim Brotherhood including deposed President Mohammed Morsi.
White House Denies Obama Letter to Iran - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
Iranian media reports on Monday claiming that President Obama sent a "secret" message to Iranian officials are inaccurate, a senior Obama administration official said.
What Can Israel Learn from Hizbullah's Battles in Syria? - Ehud Yaari (Channel 2 TV-Mako-Hebrew)
For a number of weeks, Hizbullah has been fighting along a chain of mountains on both sides of the Syrian-Lebanese border.
Hassan Nasrallah has invested thousands of fighters in an effort to block ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra from connecting with the Sunni areas of Lebanon near Tripoli in the north.
So far they have been able to stop the infiltration of car bombs into Beirut, but Hizbullah has suffered heavy losses, with some 1,000 killed so far on this front.
What can Israel learn from the fighting? First, this is the first time that Hizbullah is learning how to manage attacks of battalion size and larger.
Second, some 7,000 of Hizbullah's fighting forces, and particularly its commandos, are gaining combat experience.
Third, Hizbullah is preparing for the day after Assad and is expanding its areas of control to protect its bases in the Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon.
Fourth, Hizbullah is able to act broadly in Syria without harming its deployment opposite Israel or its rocket arsenal, demonstrating the ability to operate on two fronts at the same time.
Whatever happens to Assad, Hizbullah will have to continue to give preference to the Syrian front and the threats from the east, with the front against Israel remaining secondary.
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- U.S. Says System Reached to Give UN Access to Suspect Iran Sites
Global powers negotiating with Iran have drawn up a system which will give the UN atomic watchdog access to all suspect Iranian sites, a senior U.S. official said on Monday.
"We have worked out a process that we believe will ensure that the IAEA has the access it needs," the official said. "The entry point isn't we must be able to get into every military site, because the United States of America wouldn't allow anybody to get into every military site, so that's not appropriate."
"There are secrets that any country has that they are not willing to share. But if in the context of this agreement...the IAEA believes that it needs access and has a reason for that access, then we have a process to ensure that that is given." (AFP-Telegraph-UK)
- Syria's Assad May Be Left with Rump State
President Bashar al-Assad controlled just a fifth of Syria and may end up with a rump state dominated by his minority Alawite sect, Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defense official, said Monday. "Syria is gone. Syria is dying....This Bashar Assad, he will be remembered in history textbooks as the one who lost Syria." (Reuters)
- Jordan Eyes Buffer Zone in Southern Syria - Sam Jones and Roula Khalaf
Jordan is preparing to set up a security zone in southern Syria to prevent a jihadi victory in the area, carving out a humanitarian "buffer zone" for rebels and refugees. The main aim will be to create a safe area on Jordan's border, stretching across the southern Syrian provinces of Deraa and Suwayda, and including the city of Deraa, according to people familiar with the plans.
Jordan's hand is being forced by the shifting military situation inside Syria, and concerns that the Islamic State could grab territory on its border and threaten the Hashemite state. Assad regime forces are currently under pressure in the city of Deraa, and are likely to withdraw in the coming days before the narrow corridor they control, which currently connects the city to Damascus, is cut off.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Four Israelis Wounded in West Bank Shooting Attack - Yoav Zitun and Itay Blumenthal
Four Israelis were wounded on Monday night when they came under gunfire at the Shvut Rachel junction near Shilo in the West Bank. This is the fourth attack in four days and the sixth terror attack since the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ten days ago.
- Ya'alon: Americans Never Presented Israel with Full Security Plan for West Bank Withdrawal - Herb Keinon
There is no comprehensive U.S. plan that answers Israel's security needs in the eventuality of an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Monday. During the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations led by Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013-2014, President Obama sent a team led by Gen. John Allen to determine how best to meet Israel's security requirements in the context of a two-state solution. But Ya'alon said that Allen presented only part of a plan. And even that part did not meet Israel's security requirements.
Ya'alon said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is unwilling recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jews, and is trying to get out of negotiations that would force him to make concessions as well. Referring to the French plan for a UN Security Council resolution, Ya'alon said attempts to impose a solution from the outside are doomed to failure. Ya'alon denied that Israel was holding talks with Hamas and said it would not do so until the organization forswears terrorism, recognizes Israel, and accepts previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. (Jerusalem Post)
- Report: Israel, Jordan in Talks to Readmit Non-Muslim Visitors to Temple Mount Sites - Nir Hasson
Israel and Jordan have been negotiating over opening sites on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that were closed to non-Muslim visitors when the Second Intifada erupted in September 2000, according to a report by the International Crisis Group. Until 2000, Jewish and Christian visitors could enter the Dome of the Rock, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Islamic Museum by buying a ticket from the Muslim Waqf, which manages the mosques. Israel believes that opening the mosques to paying visitors would give the Waqf an incentive to keep the peace on the mount. The Waqf was once controlled by the Palestinian Authority, but it is now under growing Jordanian influence. (Ha'aretz)
- U.S. May Backtrack on Suspending Only Nuclear-Related Sanctions in Iran Deal - Stephen F. Hayes
The impending deal with Iran is not a good one. It legitimizes a rogue state, shifts regional power to the world's most aggressive state sponsor of terror, strengthens the mullahs' hold on power, and guides Iran to nuclear threshold status. Those are not our "core objectives." They are Iran's.
Among the most disturbing new developments: the administration's decision to offer relief on sanctions not directly related to Iran's nuclear program and its abandonment of hard requirements that Iran disclose previous nuclear activity, without which the international community cannot establish a baseline for future inspections.
From the beginning of the talks, the Obama administration has chosen to "decouple" negotiations on Iran's nuclear program from the many other troubling aspects of Tehran's behavior. The administration simply set aside Iran's targeting of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, its brutal repression of internal dissent, its provision of safe haven and operational freedom for al-Qaeda leadership, and its support for terrorists sowing discord throughout the region and beyond.
Less than three months ago, the president declared that under the terms of any agreement, sanctions on Iran "for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced." But the Associated Press reported earlier this month that "the Obama administration may have to backtrack on its promise that it will suspend only nuclear-related economic sanctions." (Weekly Standard)
- A Deal with Iran Would Be a Boon for Hizbullah - Ahmad El-Assaad
Long gone are the days when a large portion of the Lebanese population believed that Hizbullah is there to protect them and Lebanon. Most Lebanese now see Hizbullah as a militia that works for the Iranian regime and obeys Tehran's orders. The war in Syria has been a big financial burden on Hizbullah and the cash coming from Tehran is not what it used to be. Most young men join Hizbullah not because they believe in its talk about "resistance," but simply because it's the only option for the poor, unemployed and uneducated Shiites to earn a few hundred dollars a month.
Now the U.S. is negotiating a nuclear deal with the Iranian regime that will see Tehran get a windfall of up to $150 billion. With so much cash on hand, Tehran would be eager to give a good boost to Hizbullah. There is no doubt that a nuclear deal with Iran would be a nightmare for my beloved Lebanon and for all the other countries in the Middle East that are controlled, or could be controlled, by Iranian proxy groups. With this deal, my Lebanon won't be able to free itself from the control of Hizbullah. The writer is chairman of the Lebanese Option Party.
(Wall Street Journal)
Netanyahu: Iran Agreement Becoming Worse by the Day (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday:
- "In the nuclear talks, to my regret, what we are seeing are Iran's increasing demands, and the major powers' concessions which are also increasing, in keeping with the Iranian pressure. This agreement is going from a bad agreement to a worse agreement, and is becoming worse by the day."
- "In effect, it is paving Iran's way to being not only a major power with one or two nuclear bombs, but with an unlimited arsenal within a decade with the possibility of achieving several atomic bombs beforehand, by violating the monitoring which, in any case, is full of holes."
- "In addition to this, the agreement also gives Iran many billions of dollars, apparently hundreds of billions of dollars, within a short time, which will allow it to finance its increasing aggression, first of all the murderous stranglehold it is using around the State of Israel, but also in other parts of the Middle East that are subject to its aggression, such as Yemen, Iraq and many other places."
- "Therefore, there is both a conventional threat and a non-conventional threat, which in my view will heighten the nuclear arms race in the Middle East."
- "For all of these reasons, this is a bad agreement. I appreciate the fact that there is a broad consensus within the State of Israel against this agreement. There are also increasing voices in the West against this agreement; they understand the significance its implementation would have on global security, theirs as well."
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