Change Region:New Zealand


Iranian and Russian Officials Blame US for Crisis

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lashed out at the US on Wednesday, using the platform of the UN General Assembly to declare that Washington was engaged in "economic terrorism" against his country and has "shot itself in the foot" by withdrawing from the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared to back up Moscow’s ally in Tehran by telling the Argumenty i Fakty media site in an interview published Wednesday that “The increased tensions in the region are a direct result of the anti-Iranian policy pursued by the US and some of its allies.”

“The US is flexing muscles, blames Iran for all sins. This creates a dangerous situation: it can only take one match to light a fire," Lavrov added, before addressing his own governments conduct in the region by saying that “relations with Iran, Israel, as well as other states of the Middle East are valuable to Russia. Our foreign policy is multi-pronged, we don't "ally" against anybody. We guide our partners towards peaceful solutions to problems.”

Meanwhile, CNN reported on Thursday that the Pentagon is sending an additional 500 troops to the Prince Sultan Air Base east of the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. Some defense analysts have speculated that the deployment is meant to prepare the base to service US aircraft should they be required to strike Iran.

Finally, Bahrain Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa announced on Wednesday that his country is preparing to host a conference of regional and world powers aimed at addressing Iranian threats to naval security in the Persian Gulf. On Thursday afternoon, reports emerged that Iranian troops had seized a foreign owned ship in the Persian Gulf.

Here is a video giving some analysis of the possible way forward in Iran


Extreme Heat Sparks Dozens of Fires in Israel

Wednesday’s extreme heat wave caused great economic damage and discomfort to Israelis, with a rash of wildfires adding to the difficulties. Firefighters were mobilized in dozens of large and small communities and hundreds of homes and businesses were evacuated due to safety concerns. Magen David Adom reported over 120 cases of heat-related injuries around the country as temperatures of  50°C were reported in several locations. Meanwhile, Israel’s Red Sea resort city of Eilat reported receiving light rainfall, a rare occurrence for the southern Negev region in the month of July. The Israel Electric Corporation also reported that during the day, a record-breaking 13,521 megawatts was being consumed throughout the country.

PA Looking for Ways to Cut Economic Ties with Israel
Reports out of Ramallah indicate that the Palestinian Authority leadership is attempting to build closer economic ties with neighboring Arab states in an effort to reduce economic dependence on Israel. “The move is part of the Palestinian development strategy for 2017-2020,” Azmy Abd al-Rahman, spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority’s Economy Ministry, told The Media Line. “We are currently studying which Israeli products the Palestinian market can dispense with.”

Large Delegation of French Lawmakers Visits Israel
French parliamentarian Constance Le Grip, part of a large delegation of French lawmakers currently visiting Israel, told journalists on Wednesday that her country needs to take a less ambiguous stance on issues in the Middle East, particularly in support of Israel. “I would like my country to be more supportive of Israeli democracy, and on some issues not be so naïve…on some issues I am not sure that trying to be totally balanced allows you to be understood, listened and effective,” she said.

Here is a video showing part of the meeting the French lawmakers had with Israeli leaders

Russian Ground Forces Engaged in Syria
The leaders of rebel factions battling Syria’s Assad regime told international media this week that Russia has sent Special Forces troops to fight alongside regime forces in Idlib province, deepening Moscow’s involvement in the conflict. Iranian-backed militias which had previously been engaged in regrouping exercises following years of active combat have also been forced to engage the rebels, who have stubbornly held out for over two months despite the regime’s expectations.

Today's video features a recent speech by a leader of the Islamist terror militia Hamas

Friday Feature - Lost in the Melee: Segregation and the Palestinian cause

An important issue got buried amid this week’s overblown political mêlée between US President Donald Trump and the “Squad” of four new Congresswomen. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the Palestinian American woman elected from a heavily Arab district in Detroit, likened Israel’s ‘racist’ policies against the Palestinians to the segregation of blacks in the American South. This analogy is nothing new and it needs to be taken seriously, especially since it can easily distort the true picture in the eyes of millennials. And the truth is that the analogy between the Palestinians and the Jim Crow South actually runs in the completely opposite direction. Stay tuned and you will understand why.

IN AN interview with the socialist quarterly magazine Jacobin published last weekend, Tlaib insisted that “there is continued dehumanization and racist policies by the State of Israel that violate international human rights, but also violate my core values of who I am as an American.”

“‘Separate but equal’” doesn’t work, Tlaib continued. “I know that my ancestors were killed, died, uprooted from their land.... I can tell you when I was in Palestine with my mother and she had to get in a separate line. There are different colored license plates if you are Palestinian or Israeli.”

“Just like we [Palestinians] looked at the struggle for black Americans for true equality and access to opportunity to thrive. The same thing that has happened to the LGBTQ community. All of that is why I say ‘Free Palestine,’ that Palestinians deserve human rights. I see young people understanding that. When I see young Black Lives Matter activists with t-shirts that say ‘Free Palestine,’ and I’m wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirt, I know it’s working.”

SUCH comparisons have been around a while. For instance, both Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice drew the same connection with black Segregation in comments about the Palestinian nationalist movement while serving as secretaries of state under US President George W. Bush.

There is even an entire documentary film focused on equating the Palestinian struggle with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Produced (surprisingly) by an Evangelical and released in 2010, “Little Town of Bethlehem” features three protagonists – a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian and an Israeli Jew – who each concluded that non-violent protest, modelled on the approach of Dr. Martin Luther King, is the best way to end the bitter Israeli occupation.

In following the trio, the film seeks to draw a direct parallel between the Palestinian cause and the American civil rights struggle in the 1950s and 60s. The correlation is clear: Bethlehem is Selma, Alabama, and the Palestinians and their supporters are walking arm-in-arm with Dr. King across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

What got ignored in that film was that Dr. King openly declared his support for the Zionist enterprise. He could do so and remain consistent with his great moral principles because the analogy between the Palestinians and the segregationist South simply does not fit. And in fact, the shoe of the oppressor actually belongs on the foot of the Arab/Muslim majority, who subjugated and humiliated Jews and other non-Muslim minorities in their midst for centuries.

IN THE OLD SOUTH, the white Southerners had convinced themselves that they were inherently superior to blacks and thus owned and traded them like chattel.
Such notions of racial superiority had become so ingrained that even the most ignorant, poor white man felt he could lord it over any black man – even those with money and education. For a black man to look a white man directly in the eye was a sign of disrespect, and the white man was entitled to physically punish the offender. Even if the assault resulted in death, the white man merely owed the slave’s owner his market value.

America paid for this glaring injustice with a horrific Civil War, but even that great conflict was not enough. Slavery may have been abolished, but Southern whites refused to give up their sense of superiority over blacks for another 100 years, until Dr. King bravely led a nonviolent movement which achieved equality for all races in America.

In contrast, in the Israeli-Arab conflict it is the Arab/Muslim world which has resisted giving up their historic sense of superiority over Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims.

For fourteen centuries, ordinary Muslims were taught that Christians and Jews falsified their respective scriptures and thus belong to inferior faiths, rendering them dhimmis or second-class citizens. This inequality became enshrined in the legal systems where Islam ruled. Muslims were free to lord it over non-Muslim communities to the point they felt it was their natural right. Much like in the Old South, this unjust system was presented and defended on religious grounds, ordained by Allah no less.

The resulting parallels between these two discriminatory systems are quite shocking. For instance, the testimony of a Jew or Christian in court was officially deemed less reliable than the testimony of a Muslim, just as a white man testifying in court was automatically considered more credible than a black man in the Old South. Jews or Christians were not dignified enough to ride horses in Muslim lands, just as blacks suffered similar humiliations in the Old South.

The Zionist movement, however, challenged this belief system. The victory of a rag-tag Jewish militia over much larger Arab forces in 1948 was a shock to long-standing theological principles in the Islamic world.

How could the lowly Jews go so quickly from the nadir of the Holocaust to besting superior Arab/Muslim armies on the battlefield? The evil Jews must have lied and manipulated their way to triumph and independence. Herein lies the root of much of the Muslim attraction to Zionist conspiracy theories and even Holocaust denial today.

Rashida Tlaib’s mother may have stood in lines, for security reasons. But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is still with us after all these decades because the Palestinian majority, and much of the Arab/Muslim world, has refused to come to terms with Jewish equality. Instead, they have sought to destroy Israel and place the Jews of the region back into submission. And this conflict will not be resolved until this absurd mentality of Islamist supremacy is confronted and vanquished

Indeed, it is past time that we all joined arm-in-arm to cross that proverbial bridge and challenge Islam’s historic, theological claim to a right of dominance over Jews, Christians and other ‘infidels.’

Iranian Case Highlights Persecution of Christians

The website Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported recently that a young Christian woman in Iran had been arrested for improperly wearing her hijab by the police officers she had attempted to seek help from after being assaulted on a bus by a Moslem woman. Analysts have noted an uptick in such incidents across Iran as the Islamic regime which rules the country has encouraged ordinary citizens to confront other ordinary citizens who do not appear to be obeying the strict dress codes and other Islamic customs which the regime demands.

In related news, British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested and imprisoned by the regime in 2016 as she attempted to board a plane to the UK following a visit with her family, was reportedly transferred this week from prison to a psychiatric hospital.

Here is a video giving some analysis of the possible way forward in Iran

Iranian Minister Visits Syria to Threaten Israel
Reports emerged on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad hosted Special Assistant of the Speaker of Iran's Shura Council for Political Affairs Hussein Amir Abdullahian in Damascus on Tuesday. Abdullahian was quoted by the press as telling his host that "the occupying regime of Israel as a destabilizer cancer and the root cause of insecurity and instability in the region. The Zionists do not have a future in the region." Also on Tuesday, it was reported that the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah has redeployed some of its forces in Syria to the Lebanese border area, concentrating Hezbollah’s combat power in close proximity to the Golan Heights.

In related news, the IDF wrapped up a training exercise on Tuesday meant to simulate a war with the Islamist terror militia Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas ran its own war games last week.

Turkey Ejected from F-35 Program
The decision by Turkey to buy and deploy the Russian-built S-400 air defense system has led to US President Donald Trump reluctantly agreeing to discontinue Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program, with Trump telling reporters on Tuesday that because of the Obama Administration’s refusal to sell Turkey the Patriot air-defense system “we have a situation where Turkey is very good with us, very good, and we are now telling Turkey that because you have really been forced to buy another missile system, we’re not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets. It’s a very tough situation that they’re in, and it’s a very tough situation that we’ve been placed in, the United States.”

“With all of that being said, we’re working through it, but it’s not really fair,” Trump added. “Because they bought a Russian system, we’re not allowed to sell them billions of aircraft. It’s not a fair situation.”

PA Demands investigation of Security Prisoners Death
The Palestinian Authority is demanding an international investigation into the death of 31-year old Nassar Taqatqa, a security prisoner who was found dead in his cell in Nitzan Prison on Tuesday morning. The Prison Service said that Taqatqa, who was arrested in June and is suspected of being affiliated with the Islamist terror militia Hamas, underwent a medical examination at a hospital in Afula recently and that the check up had not revealed any impending medical problems.

Reports Shows HIV Increase in Israel
The Israeli Ministry of Health’s Department of Tuberculosis and AIDS published its report for 2018 this week showing, among other things, that there was an increase last year in the number of Israelis carrying the HIV virus, from 115 to 142. The report did not include statistics on tourists or residents of the Palestinian Authority administered areas diagnosed with HIV.

Today’s video gives an introduction to one of Israel’s leading Universities

Netanyahu Blasts European Decision on Iran Sanctions

A decision by the European powers not to enforce sanctions on Iran for its recent breaches of the JCPOA nuclear deal was met with exasperation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said on Monday that it “reminds me of Europe’s appeasement in the 1930s. Then as well, there were those who buried their heads in the sand and did not see the approaching danger. Apparently, there are those in Europe who will not wake up until Iranian nuclear missiles fall on Europe. But then it will be too late.” He repeated, however, that Israel “will continue to do everything we need to do to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

“For the time being, none of the parties to the agreement have signaled their intention to invoke this article, which means that none of them for the moment, for the time being with the current data we have had in particular from the IAEA, that the non-compliance is considered to be significant non-compliance,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference after an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels over the weekend. “The (JCPOA) deal is not in good health, but it’s still alive. We note that technically all the steps that have been taken — and that we regret have been taken — are reversible. We hope and we invite Iran to reverse these steps and go back to full compliance with the agreement.”

"Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear bomb. There is still some small but closing window to keep the deal alive," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters before the meeting even began.

"We stress that the continued voluntary and goodwill based actions by the Islamic Republic of Iran are rooted in the principle of reciprocity of rights and duties" in the JCPOA, Iran’s Foreign Ministry  said in a statement Monday. Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency agreed, issuing a statement of its own, quoted by the IRNA state news agency, saying "If the Europeans and the Americans don't want to carry out their duties... we will decrease our commitments and... reverse the conditions to four years ago."

Here is a video giving context to recent developments in Iran

Energy Consortia Bid on Israeli Offshore Opportunities

The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat on Monday when two separate business groups submitted bids to the government for the right to explore for oil and natural gas in the waters off Israel’s coast. “Several years after the natural gas deal was passed, there are three international groups – based on European and American companies – that will seek to develop the gas and oil resources of the State of Israel,” said Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. “We are continuing to act to transform Israel into a regional energy power.”

Turkey Increasingly At Odds With Western Allies
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Monday that the Russian-built S-400 air defense system his military recently began receiving components of will be deployed to defend the country’s airspace in April of 2020, despite the tensions the NATO members purchase of major weapons systems from Russia is causing with its Western allies. In related news, Germany and Austria announced on Monday that they are considering economic sanctions on Turkey over its recent decision to start exploring for natural gas in the territorial waters off the island nation of Cyprus, an EU member.

Israeli Sports Fans Have Much to Celebrate
Israeli club football (soccer) teams won some convincing victories in recent days, advancing in the Champions League qualifying round and delighting their fans. Meanwhile, Israel’s 2016 Olympic Judo bronze medalist Ori Sasson won a gold medal at the Budapest Grand Prix tournament this week. Elsewhere, Israel’s Under-18 baseball squad overcame Belgium 8-5 to win the European Championship qualifiers in Stockholm, earning a spot in next year’s European Championship tournament. Finally, Also in recent days, track athlete Selamawit Dagnachew secured a spot at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in the 5,000 meters with a time of 15:08.39 in Kortrijk, Belgium. Finally, Israel’s Paralympic rowing team won several medals at the 2019 World Rowing Cup III in Rotterdam.

Today's video shows a panel discussion about Iran's persecution of religious Minorities

Rivlin Honored Guest in South Korea

The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat on Monday when President Reuven Rivlin was received as an honored guest by South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Presidential residence in Seoul. The meeting included the signing of memorandums of understanding to advance cooperation in the fields of energy and education, with plans to increase cooperation in many other areas. "Your education system and the famous Israeli chutzpah are a model for us," Moon told Rivlin. "Israel and Korea share common democratic and economic values, and our relationship has grown stronger over the years. Israel is known as a start-up nation, with the most startups in the world, and I look forward to learning about the Israeli success story.”

"I believe that Israel and South Korea can work together to spread the blessings of technology and innovation throughout the Middle East," Rivlin said. "Let us explore the miracles we can make together.”

OECD Report Cites Israel for Low Worker Productivity
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued a report recently saying, among other things, that Israel’s economic development is being held back by high income inequality and low GDP per capita growth in the labor force. The report recommended that Israel take steps to improve transportation infrastructure and educational opportunities for traditionally disadvantaged groups including the Arab and Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) Jewish communities.

Casspi Heading Back to Israel Following NBA Career
Omri Casspi announced over the weekend that he will be returning home to Israel to play for Euroleague powerhouose Maccabi Tel Aviv after a ten year career in the NBA, including a championship season with the Golden State Warriors. The 31-year old Caspi reportedly signed a three-year $3.2 million contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv and will be given a management position with the team when he retires from playing.

Turkey Takes Initial Deliveries of S-400 System
Turkey’s Defense Ministry announced on Friday that an initial shipment components for a Russian-built S-400 air defense system have arrived at the Murted Air Base near the capital, Ankara. Washington has warned its long-time NATO ally that deploying the Russian-built system puts Turkey in jeopardy of violating the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, while also putting at risk Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program.

Tourism Report Gives Israel High Marks
he Tourism Ministry released the results of its annual Inbound Tourism Survey on Sunday. The report said, among other things, that 93% of visitors to the Jewish State reported having a good to excellent” experience. The report also said that incoming tourists contributed NIS 21 billion to Israel’s economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Today's video is from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Friday Feature - The Sordid Truth About the ‘Palestinian Jesus’

When Linda Sarsour tweeted out that Jesus was a Palestinian last weekend, some might have thought it was an innocent mistake. But given that this same canard has stirred similar backlashes over recent months, thanks to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and others, chances are Sarsour knew just how mischievous her words were. Based on his Twitter response, Yair Netanyahu certainly thought so!

Indeed, there is nothing innocent about the ‘Palestinian Jesus’. It has ignoble origins, mean-spirited motivations and fraudulent ends.

The fabrication of a Palestinian Jesus has been a core part of the lexicon of Palestinian nationalism since at least the 1960s, as evidenced by news archive photos of a press conference held by PLO chief Yasser Arafat in Amman in June 1970. Over his shoulder hangs a poster of a gaunt, near-naked Palestinian nailed to a Star of David. The message is clear: the Palestinians are suffering at the hands of the Jews, just like Jesus did.

The Palestinians borrowed this hateful equation from several unseemly sources. First, it draws on classic Christian antisemitic motifs imported to the Middle East from Europe in modern times by church clerics and others. Islam has its own embedded antisemitic slurs, but the first blood libel against the Jews in the region came courtesy of Italian clergymen serving in Damascus in 1840. Even among British Mandate authorities stationed in Jerusalem in the 1930s, it was a commonly heard refrain that “the Jews killed Jesus… and they would do it again.”

Nazi propagandists also exported their antisemitic imagery and ideology into the Middle East, both before the war and afterwards, when many received refuge in Cairo and Damascus. Some of the vilest Nazi antisemitic cartoons, especially those utilizing the symbol of the Cross, have been copied like stencils by Arab cartoonists for decades. The Palestinian Jesus is also modeled on the Nazi fiction of an Aryan Jesus: that the pure, noble Christ could never have sprung from the corrupt, evil Jews, but rather was of Roman or Germanic ancestry.

A third source is the Liberation theology which flourished in Latin America in the last century. As Marxist elements started stirring revolutions throughout the region, many local Catholic priests began supporting the cause by portraying Christ as a revolutionary who fought Roman oppression. Although the Vatican would eventually warn that the Scriptures were being wrongly used to justify violence against oppressors, the tenants of Liberation theology were readily adopted by radical black activists in America (e.g., the “Black Jesus” of Rev. Jeremiah Wright), the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa (Bishop Desmond Tutu), and by the Palestinian nationalist camp.

Finally, Islamic culture has always had a penchant for openly tampering with the historic figure of Jesus. As Jerusalem Post op-ed editor Seth J. Frantzman rightly noted earlier this week, Islam acknowledges the links between Jesus and the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as the lawgiver Moses, kings David and Solomon, and even the tribes of Israel. But Islam also completely warps his identity in many other ways which are irreconcilable with the Bible, especially the New Testament. For instance, the Jesus of the Koran was born to Mary, but she just happens to also be Miriam, the sister of Moses. He is considered a Muslim prophet, but his claim to be the Son of God is flatly denied. In addition, the Muslim Jesus was never really crucified but ascended to heaven, from which he will return one day to eradicate Christianity and proclaim Islam as the true religion.

Thus, we find in the Palestinian Jesus a toxic melding of Marxist guerilla and Aryan hero, along with heavy doses of Christian and Islamic antisemitism and Supersessionism. The result has been a morbid competition among Palestinian leaders and elites as to who can come up with the sharpest quip, the cleverest analogy, the most creative, artful metaphor for equating the contemporary Palestinian plight with the sufferings of Christ.

At a press conference at the United Nations in 1983, Arafat called Jesus "the first Palestinian fedayeen [militiaman] who carried his sword."  When Arafat triumphantly took control of Bethlehem in December 1995, he told a throng gathered in Manger Square that he was there to liberate “the birthplace of our Lord the Messiah… the city of the Palestinian Jesus!” During a visit to the Vatican a few years later, Arafat even greeted John Paul II as “the successor of Peter, the first Palestinian pope.”

Arafat’s successor, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, has described Jesus as “a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace."

Prominent PA official Saeb Erekat, has referred to Jesus as the “first Palestinian shaheed [martyr].”

His colleague Jibril Rajoub once exclaimed: “The greatest Palestinian in history since Jesus is Yasser Arafat.”

But the real masters at gilding the Palestinian Jesus are Palestinian Christians. Even though they should know better, it seems they have lived so long within a dominant Muslim culture that they too find it acceptable to tamper with the historic identity of Jesus.

Anglican canon Naim Ateek, founder of the Sabeel Palestinian Liberation Theology Center, delivered an Easter message in 2001 in which he lamented: “It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him... Palestine has become one huge Golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily.”

Sami Awad, an organizer of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, once gave a Christmas message in which he likened Israeli troops searching for terrorists in Bethlehem with “Herod’s soldiers” who slaughtered the infants of the town two millennia ago.

But it was Edward Said, the tenured Columbia professor and Arafat speechwriter, who first popularized the Palestinian Jesus and then perfected it in poetic cadence. In his 1988 BBC documentary film “My Beautiful Old House,” the late Said spoke of the Palestinians having to endure “this endless Calvary… this constant crucifixion.”

So to be sure, there is nothing innocent about the Palestinian Jesus. It is a vicious double-edged sword, in that it: 1) seeks to rob Jesus of his Jewish heritage as part of the Palestinian disinformation campaign to sever the Jewish link to their ancestral homeland, especially in the eyes of the Christian West, and 2) aims to stir up hostility towards the Jewish people by exploiting classic Christian anti-Semitic motifs, most notably that the collective Jews of Israel are still crucifying the real ancestors of Jesus in the land – the Palestinians.

This falsehood is extra devious in that most Palestinians are Muslims who do not even believe Jesus was ever crucified, and they also know the Jewish people are reticent to claim Jesus as one of their own – due to all the atrocities Christians committed against them in his name. Yet if there is one positive coming out of this latest tussle over the Palestinian Jesus, it is that more and more Jews are beginning to reclaim Jesus as a son of Israel. This modern-day trend started with such Jewish scholars as Martin Buber, who always spoke of Jesus as his "elder brother", and Prof. David Flusser, who viewed him as his favorite “rabbi”. Now we can add the son of Israel’s prime minister to that list.

The writer is vice president and senior spokesman for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; 

Netanyahu Again Warns Iran and Hezbollah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made public statements on Sunday warning Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy Hezbollah not to test Israel’s ability to defeat them on the battlefield. “The only thing that the terrible (JCPOA) nuclear agreement gave is a strong and sweeping rapprochement with major Arab countries," Netanyahu said during his speech to National Security College cadets visiting the Prime Minister’s Office. "Iran says simply: 'We will destroy you and destroy you first by nuclear weapons…at the moment, the only army in the world to fight Iran - this is the Israeli army."

At the regular cabinet meeting a few hours earlier, Netanyahu addressed a recent threat made against Israel by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror militia Hezbollah. During an interview on Friday with Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV to mark the 13th anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, Nasrallah said that “any war will be bigger than the 2006 war for Israel, and it will put it on the brink of extinction.” Netanyahu countered what he referred to as Nasrallah’s “boastful words,” by saying that if Hezbollah “dared to do something foolish and attack Israel, we would impose a crushing military blow on it and on Lebanon…I do not intend to elaborate on our plans. Suffice it to say that for years Nasrallah dug terror tunnels, which we destroyed within days.”

Nasrallah also addressed the threats against his patrons in Teheran, declaring that “Iran is able to bombard Israel with ferocity and force. A threat to destroy Saudi Arabia and the UAE cannot deter the US from waging a war on Iran, but rather the threat to attack its forces in the region and Israel. When the Americans understand that this war could wipe out Israel, they will reconsider. The region will burn in the event of a war on Iran.”

Meanwhile, US and UK military forces in the Persian Gulf have been reinforced, even as Britain joined with France and Germany to issue a joint statement on Sunday lamenting the precarious standing of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, adding that “the risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause, and consider the possible consequences of their actions. We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialog." 

“The situation is serious. The rise of tensions could lead to accidents," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters when asked about the risk of a wider Middle East war. "The fact Iran has decided to pull back from some of its engagements on nuclear proliferation is an additional worry. It is a bad decision, a bad reaction to another bad decision, that of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal a year ago."

“The conditions in the Gulf are rather volatile, but it does not rise to the level of war in the region, at least not in the near future,” Gulf-based political analyst Ahmad Obaid Syaf told The Media Line over the weekend. “The involvement of new parties helped Iran to challenge the status quo. In the past it was just Iran by itself. Today, it is Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen. Add to that the entry of Turkey.”

Here are some videos that give a closer look at the current situation regarding Iran and Hezbollah

Netanyahu Guest of Egyptian Embassy Celebration

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin visited the Egyptian ambassador at Cairo’s embassy in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to help celebrate Egypt's 67th National Day. "We are celebrating 40 years of peace between Israel and Egypt," Netanyahu said. "Our two countries, and many other countries, are fighting extremism, violence and terrorism. I would like to commend my colleague President al-Sisi for standing firmly against this wave of extremism and terrorism."

Here is a video of his entire statement

Later on Wednesday, Netanyahu spoke at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the Samaria Regional Council saying, among other things, that “I will not allow the uprooting of any settlement in Israel in any diplomatic [peace] plan. We simply won’t uproot communities, not of Jews and not of Arabs. We are not uprooting people We are done with all that foolishness…you all know what happened when we uprooted communities, did we get peace, not we got terror and missiles.”

“Judea and Samaria is our homeland. This is our land, We will continue to develop it and to build here. In any diplomatic plan I will not allow the uprooting of a single settlement or a single settler, not a single settler…look what I did in the Golan. Look what I did in Jerusalem. There is more to come.”

Israel Takes Side of Cyprus Against Turkey
Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday saying that “Israel follows with serious concern recent steps taken by Turkey in the waters off Cyprus’ northeast coast and reiterates its full support and solidarity with Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its maritime areas and its opposition to any attempt to violate those rights.” The statement came following warnings to Turkey from the US, EU and Egypt against attempts to explore for oil and natural gas in the territorial waters of Cyprus.

Israel Strengthens Ties with World
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel suffered more defeats this week, including a visit by a large delegation of Evangelical Christians from Colombia led by Pastor Raul Rubio Garzon and including Senator Edgar Palacio Mizrahi, who is part of a group of Comombian lawmakers dedicated to deepening ties with Israel. Also this week, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion was in Japan for meetings with mayors of several large cities. The trip is meant to explore opportunities for deeper collaboration between Jerusalem and Japanese cities in all areas, particularly art, culture, science and technology, and tourism.

PA Increases Stipends to Convicted Terrorists
It was revealed on Thursday that the Palestinian Authority is doubling the monthly stipend it pays to Husam Al-Qawasmi, a terrorist convicted of organizing the 2014 kidnapping and murder of Israeli teenagers Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel. In related news, PA leaders angrily denounced Monday’s ruling by the Jerusalem District Court that is can be held liable for civil damages from terrorist attacks by Hamas and other groups during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s.

Today's video shows yet another way Israel is blessing the world


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