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Netanyahu Warns Iran Against Aggression

Responding to recent threats by senior Iranian officials, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video Tuesday evening from Nevatim Air Force base. Standing in front of an F-35i “Adir” aircraft, he said “Iran has threatened recently to destroy Israel. It is worthwhile for them to remember that these planes can reach everywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria.” The warning came amidst escalating tensions between Iran and Western powers over the Islamic Republic’s violation of the 2015 JCPOA Nuclear Agreement.

"The foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom and the [EU] High Representative express deep concern that Iran is pursuing activities inconsistent with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)," they said in a joint statement on Tuesday. "It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPoA compliance without delay."

Meanwhile, the US is proceeding with a plan to build a military coalition to guard against Iranian threats to close strategic shipping lanes.

"We're engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab," Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Tuesday following a meeting with acting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "This will be scalable. So, with a small number of contributors we can have a small mission and we'll expand that as the number of nations that are willing to participate identify themselves.”

Kahlon Represents Israel at New York Stock Exchange
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon visited the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, followed a day later by a joint statement by the New York State Department of Financial Services, the Bank of Israel, the Israel Security Authority and the Insurance and Savings Authority, that an agreement had been reached to encourage collaboration in the development of financial services technology, commonly known as “FinTech.” The announcement was a high point in a week which saw several defeats for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel.

Air Seychelles , the national carried of the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles, announced on Tuesday that it will begin flying non-stop routes to Tel Aviv on 27 November. Also on Tuesday, the European budget airline EasyJet announced it will begin connecting flights between Tel Aviv and the French city of Toulouse on 29 October.

Finally, Israeli defense company Aeronautics announced a $10 million contract on Tuesday to sell their Orbiter 2 and Orbiter 3 UAV’s to an unnamed South American country. 

Israel Blesses the World
Channel 12 news reported on Tuesday that Israel’s Mossad and IDF Intelligence services have prevented 50 terrorist attacks in several countries around the world in the last three years. 12 planned attacks in Turkey were broken up after Israeli officials passed on information to their Turkish counterparts. In another example of Israel blessing the world, a study recently published by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev presents breakthrough research in addressing problems related to climate change and food security.

Palestinian Terror Commander Threatens Gaza Periphery
A commander in one of the terror militias active in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip told the Lebanese Al Akhbar newspaper on Wednesday that there are plans to conquer and hold Israeli border communities in any future conflict. The commander also said that the terror militias had learned lessons from a previous round of fighting in May and that a future war would involve much higher levels of violence than previous ones.

Court Rules PA Liable for Terrorist Attacks in Second Intifada

The Jerusalem District Court issued a ruling Sunday that the Palestinian Authority is liable for civil damages in several cases being pursued by families of victims of terrorist attacks during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s. The ruling will allow plaintiffs to move forward with their lawsuits, with total sought damages approaching NIS 1 billion. The judgement was partially based on official PA statements taking credit for all terrorist attacks carried out during the Second Intifada, including those claimed by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad factions. In related news, the IDF uncovered a tunnel running under the border between Gaza and Israel on Monday, as well as shooting down a drone sent into Israeli air space from the territory.

Meanwhile, the the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) released a report Monday showing that 46.3% of Gazans and a third of Palestinians living in the West Bank believe that the best way to conclude the conflict with Israel is through military conflict.

Turkish Economy Reels from Central Bank Presidents Dismissal
The Lira, Turkey’s currency, lost over 2% of its value against the US dollar on Monday in reaction to the surprise firing by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the central bank president Murat Çetinkaya on Saturday. The move was just the latest in a string of decisions by Erdogan which analysts said was shaking confidence in Turkey and causing investors to consider pulling out of the country in favor or more stable markets.

Here is a video about other recent developments in Turkey



Religious Freedom in Israel Debated at US Embassy
The US State Department’s newly released International Religious Freedom Report for 2018 was debated on Monday at an event hosted by the US Embassy in Jerusalem, with the Israel Democracy Institute also participating in the event. The report included a line saying that “some Jews continued to oppose missionary activity directed at Jews, saying it amounted to religious harassment, and reacted with hostility toward Jewish converts to Christianity.”

Foreign Affairs Ministry representative Akiva Tor said during the discussion that, “the situation in Israel is imperfect and it always will be imperfect, but we are on a positive trajectory.”

BDS Movement Suffers Another Defeat
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat recently when the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) invited four Israeli artists to join its ranks. The invitations, which came alongside 838 similar invitations to film industry professionals from 59 countries, will give recipients the opportunity to vote for the Oscar awards and gain access to a variety of other professional activities and opportunities.

Today's video shows the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

PM’s Son Affirms Jewishness of Jesus

Islamic activist Linda Sarsour started a Twitter storm on Saturday evening after claiming “Jesus was Palestinian of Nazareth and is described in the Quran as being brown copper skinned with wooly hair”. One sharp response came from Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted back saying “Are you that stupid? On the cross above Jesus’ head was the sign ‘INRI’ – ‘Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm. Which means in Latin – Jesus of Nazareth king of the Jews! The Bible say that Jesus was born and raised in Judea!”

The original tweet by Sarsour drew both condemnation and praise, and left some analysts speculating that Sarsour was joining a movement which seeks to identify Jesus as a Palestinian Arab and co-opt him for the Palestinian nationalist cause. Meanwhile, some leaders of Israel’s Believer community were saying it could be a blessing that the controversy has prompted so much discussion among Israelis about Jesus.

Tensions Grow Between Iran and Western Powers
Following further breaches by Iran of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal on Sunday and related developments including the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker by British forces and a threat by an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps general to seize a British ship in retaliation, a spokesman for the clerical regime in Teheran declared on Monday morning that the regime will continue to do whatever it thinks is necessary to preserve its interests regardless of the cost. Tensions were running high throughout the Middle East as governments consulted with allies and military forces on all sides were on high alert for further developments.

“Iran’s latest expansion of its nuclear program will lead to further isolation and sanctions,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a tweet on July 7. “Nations should restore the longstanding standard of no enrichment for Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose an even greater danger to the world.”

European signatories to the JCPOA warned Teheran that they could not tolerate its violations of the agreement while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that the steps taken so far were “reversible” if the European countries would simply accede to Iran’s demand that it find ways to circumvent US economic sanctions.

Here is a video giving some analysis of the situation



Israel Blesses the World
Israeli defense and hi-tech firm Elbit Systems Ltd. Announced on Wednesday that its subsidiary, Cyber Intelligence Ltd., has won a contract to provide the Dutch National Police with a cyber intelligence system. Elsewhere, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently released its annual report on agricultural policy in member states which included high praise for Israel’s agricultural technology development sector, which has developed tools used by farmers in many countries around the world.

BDS Movement Suffers More Defeats
In a pair of defeats for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, an Israeli diplomat was elected to serve as Rapporteur of the Fifth Committee and representative of Western European and Others Group of the UN last week and the Israeli national baseball team won an important tournament. The team went 6-0 to claim the top spot at the Confederation of European Baseball’s (CEB) European Championships Pool B tournament in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria over the weekend, a first step towards qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.

Netanyahu Presents Progress in Cutting Regulatory Burden
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented a report to the Cabinet Sunday morning on steps that have been taken to date to cut the regulatory burden on Israeli businesses. “I want to be one of the least bureaucratic countries, least regulated countries, in the world, because this means money in consumers’ pockets,” Netanyahu said.

Today's video shows archeological excevations of the Biblical city of Ziklag

Are Arabs Leaving Islam?

It was an eye-catching headline!
 
 
“Arab world turning its back on religion,” claimed the title of an article last week in The Guardian. Very interesting and certainly worth a closer look.
It turns out that in a recent BBC News Arabic survey of 25,000 people across ten Middle East countries and the Palestinian territories, trust in religious leaders is plummeting, including in radical Islamist movements such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, there is a discernible rise in the proportion of people describing themselves as “not religious” – from 11% in 2012-2014 to 18% this year.
Now this is welcome news, especially for Christians who stand with Israel and view Islamic ideologies as a major impediment to peace and normalcy in the region. And the figures do seem credible, as the growing number of young Arabs who identify as “non-religious” mirrors the secularization trend among millennials in the traditionally Christian West. While a seven percent increase over the past half-decade might not seem that large, in context we are dealing here with those living in the heart of the Muslim world, where custom has long held that leaving the Islamic faith is a sin punishable by death. So the real number of Arab-Muslim apostates is likely even higher.
Yet several reputable polling firms (Pew Research Center, Barna Group) have been gauging the long-term trends worldwide, and they are forecasting that the secular, non-religious segments of societies worldwide will actually lose ground to the religious camps over coming decades, and that Islam will remain the fastest growing religion in the world. This is largely due to the higher birth rates among families that belong to the world’s major religions – most notably Christianity, Islam and Hinduism – as well as a projected increase in conversions to Islam.
So what are we to make of all this? Are there a significant number of Muslims in Arab nations who are leaving Islam? Or is Islam still the world’s fastest growing religion and destined to be the dominant faith of the future?
The answer to these questions is complex and elusive, as demographic studies of this nature are an inexact science – the data is incomplete, the methodologies are often flawed, and the trends are fluid. But here are some of the main factors to watch for going forward.
 
 
1) Birth rates among Muslims have been dropping significantly in recent decades.
Islam is growing faster than any other religion, according to the Pew studies, and by 2070 it will overtake Christianity as the world’s most prevalent religion. Yet much of this projected growth for Islam is based on birth rates that are not sustainable. The current fertility rate among Muslims is 3.1 children per woman, compared to 2.7 among Christians, but that gap is closing every year.
For years, academics and commentators have been citing higher birth and conversion rates to predict that countries like Britain and Russia will have Muslim majorities by 2050. But both rates are slowing and should soon level out. Regarding Russia, for over a decade Mideast scholar Daniel Pipes has maintained a running column on the Muslim-takeover debate there, presenting views both pro and con.http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2005/08/predicting-a-majority-muslim-russia  In one update, he notes the Russian government’s proactive efforts to encourage the native youth to procreate, including mass teen rallies that eerily resemble the Hitler Youth gatherings and ‘Hitler Brides’ phenomenon of an earlier era.
Israel has had its own heated demographic debate over the high Palestinian Muslim birth rate and its possible impact on Israeli democracy and the peace process. PLO chief Yasser Arafat used to boast that the wombs of Palestinian women were the best weapons they had for destroying Israel. Yet today, the demographic trends are turning in Israel’s favor. A report in La Stampa in 2016 even claimed that waves of Jewish immigration combined with a soaring birth-rate among religious Jews has brought an equilibrium with the Palestinians. In fact, the birth rates among Arab women has been halved over the past twenty years, both in Gaza (from 8 children per woman now down to 4) and the West Bank (6 children to 3), while Jewish mothers in the Israeli settlements of Judea/Samaria are now having more children that their Palestinian neighbors.
 
 
2) Many converts to Islam in the West leave the faith after a few years.
It is quite easy to become a Muslim. All one has to do is recite the shahada (testimony of faith) three times before Muslim witnesses: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” But once you have to start rising well before dawn in order to pray the requisite five times each day, or once you are required to observe sharia law by holding infidels in contempt, then Islam is not so easy or attractive.
According to a Pew assessment in 2011, the number of people who become Muslims through conversion seems to be roughly equal to the number of Muslims who leave the faith. Meantime, sociologist Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus, a Pakistani-born American Muslim, concluded that 75% of new Muslim converts in the US leave Islam within a few years.
 
 
3) There is a code of silence among Muslims who fall away from the faith.
Once born a Muslim, it has always been a frightful prospect to ever leave the faith, due to the mortal threats against apostates sourced to the Koran itself. The eminent Sunni preacher Sheikh Yusuf al-Qarqdawi once said on Al-Jazeera that the application of the death penalty for those who leave Islam is a necessity, since “If they had gotten rid of the apostasy punishment, Islam wouldn’t exist today.”
 
 
4) There is growing disillusionment with Islam, and many Muslims are looking for something else.
The sight of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded by ISIS militants on a beach in Libya in 2015 was repulsive, even to many Muslims. Such atrocities are having a double impact. First, it is turning Muslims off to their own faith, and secondly, to witness Christians refusing to renounce their faith in the face of certain death is a powerful draw.
Besides the barbarism of Muslim extremists, political Islam is also losing its shine. The recent municipal election results in Istanbul show that the Turkish public, for instance, has soured on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s draconian efforts to forge a "pious generation" in his country. And throughout the Muslim world, there is much to indicate that the vast majority of those identified with Islam today are cultural Muslims, rather than fundamentalists or strictly devout Muslims, just as much of the native populations of Europe today are rightly considered nominal Christians.
 
 
5) Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds in the Global South.
Based on extensive research, Penn State professor Philip Jenkins has documented the boom in Christianity in Latin America, Africa and Asia, where the faith is experiencing a dynamism and fervency in missions that runs counter to the liberal, secular trends in Europe and North America – once the bastions of the faith. The fastest growing stream of Christianity is Evangelicalism, which now has an estimated 700 million adherents. Nigeria has far more practicing Anglicans than England. The Philippines has more baptisms per year than France, Italy, Poland and Spain combined. By 2025, two-thirds of all Christians are expected to live in the Global South.
China and India, the world’s two most populous nations, are both experiencing incredible growth in their respective Christian communities. China may now have as many as 130 million born-again believers, while India has at least 100 million and rising. Even in Arab and Muslim countries, the churches are growing rapidly, with Iran leading the way as the country with the highest rate of church growth, despite the ayatollahs attempts to suppress it.
 
 
Conclusion
The respected refusenik Natan Sharansky divides the world into free versus fear societies. He challenged the Soviet Communist system, which relied on intimidating people into submission through fear that even your own children would report you to the authorities. But that fear was finally broken, and while Communism has not disappeared from the earth, it no longer has half the world in its iron grip.
Islam, which means “submission,” operates in much the same way. Yet there are hopeful signs that its grip of fear over the Arab and Muslim world is waning. The fact that more Arab youths are not afraid to tell pollsters they are losing their religion is proof that Islam’s hold on the younger generation is slipping in the very cradle of its inception.
 

Netanyahu Says Israel Prepared for War with Hamas

Israel’s i24 News portal reported on Wednesday evening that the Air Force had in recent months launched dozens of strikes on Iranian weapons shipments making their way through the Egyptian Sinai to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Egyptian security forces have also carried out operations to limit the flow of weapons. On Wednesday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a security cabinet meeting at the IDF Gaza Division headquarters, emerging from the meeting to issue a statement that Israel would like to restore calm to the south but is prepared for a large-scale military operation against the terrorist forces operating in Gaza if necessary.

Here is a video of the statement



PA Financial Reports Show Payments to Terrorists
The Palestinian Authority’s published financial expenditure reports for the first five months of 2019 show, among other things, that it has paid over $65 million in stipends to Palestinian terrorists who were arrested by Israeli security forces for their involvement in attacks against Israelis and are currently serving time in Israeli prisons. In related news, US senior adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday that the PA’s reaction to the recent “Prosperity to Peace” economic workshop in Bahrain was “hysterical and erratic and not particularly constructive.”

“They looked very foolish by trying to fight this,” he added. “Palestinians are starting to see that Israel is not responsible for their problems, it’s their leaders (who) will have to step up at some point and show that they want their people to live better lives.”

Archeologists Find Evidence of Philistine Origins
Archeologists excavating around the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon say they’ve found fresh evidence supporting the theory that the Philistines, mentioned in several books of the Bible as the mortal enemies of the ancient Israelites, came to the Leventine coast from southeast Europe in the 12 Century BC. The findings, which incorporate state of the art DNA testing done on bone fragments discovered during the excavations, were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances. Meanwhile, a 1,600-year-old mosaic floor depicting the story of Elim from Exodus 15:27 was recently uncovered in the Galilee, and will soon be available for public viewing.

US-Iran Tensions Continue to Fester
U.S. President Donald Trump reacted to statements by Iranian officials that they would enrich uranium as much as they wanted, tweeting “Be careful with the threats, Iran. They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!” Several other world powers issued statements urging calm.

Fourth of July Celebrated in Israel
Various picnics and other events were planned on Thursday to help Israel’s hundreds of thousands of American-born citizens celebrate the Fourth of July. In the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva, municipal officials unveiled a sign naming a major square in the city after US President Donald Trump on Wednesday evening. “Israel never had a president who is as supportive and helpful as US President Donald Trump,” Mayor of Petah Tikva Rami Greenberg said. “It is only fitting to name a major square in the fourth largest Israeli city after him.”

Today's video shows the Independance Day celebrations this week at the US Embassy in Jerusalem

Protests Turn Violent Across Israel

Protests against the shooting of an 18-year old Ethiopian-Israeli man by an off-duty police officer on Sunday turned violent Tuesday afternoon, with 80 people, including 47 police officers, injured and 136 people being arrested. Public Security Gilad Erdan warned against further demonstrations saying that on Wednesday "there won't be any." He added that Israel will "fight for the rights of protesters to protest," but "will not tolerate anarchy…if the level of violence will be as it was yesterday, we will have to use any means necessary to disperse the riots."

"Blocking roads is an illegal act according to Israeli law," The Israeli Police Spokesperson's Unit added in a statement on Wednesday. "While we attempt to contain and exhibit restraint towards the protesters in order to allow them to express their voices, the police will not allow further blocking of main roads in a way that would harm the rest of the  public."
 
President Reuven Rivlin and other public figures urged the protesters to desist, saying they had made their point and further demonstrations would only inflame the situation without bringing a solution any closer. However, further demonstrations were planned for Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, another group, consisting of approximately 3,000 Ultra-Orthodox (haredi) yeshiva students, held a demonstration to protest against plans to draft them into military service, blocking the main entrance to Jerusalem for several hours on Tuesday afternoon.

Netanyahu Guest of Honor at Independence Day Celebration
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara were honored guests at Independence Day celebrations Tuesday evening at the US Embassy in Jerusalem. During his remarks he heaped praise on the Administration of US President Donald Trump while also taking the opportunity to warn Iran against proceeding with its support for regional terrorism and its renegade nuclear program. US Ambassador David Friedman hosted the event which was also attended by members of the US Senate and House of Representatives from both major parties, as well as diplomats from several other countries and prominent members of Israel’s political and social scenes.

Here is a video from the reception



Iran Warned Against Violating JCPOA Deal
Following Iran’s willful violation of the terms of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal earlier this week, European signatories issued a joint statement of “extreme concern” while Israeli officials frankly declared that they were preparing for the possibility of open military conflict between Iran and the US, even as Iranian officials issued statements of intent to destroy Israel if it is attacked by the US or anyone else. "It should be taken into account that mistaken calculations by the (Iranian) regime ... are liable to bring about a shift from the 'gray zone' to the 'red zone' - that is, a military conflagration," Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a speech to the Herzliya Conference Tuesday evening.

Musicians Explicitly Rebuke BDS Movement
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction suffered more defeats this week. On Tuesday evening, US-based musical group Disturbed gave a concert in Rishon Lezion’s Live Park Tuesday night replete with pro-Israel messages and explicit rejections of the BDS movement, capped by vocalist David Draiman’s rendition of Israel’s national anthem “Hatikva” towards the end of the program. Meanwhile, Brazilian superstar Milton Nascimento issued a statement sharply rebuking efforts to get him to cancel a concert he is scheduled to perform in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

"I will never abandon my public," he said, according to the Portuguese Rolling Stones. “Every artist should go where the people are, shouldn’t they? Even if I disagree with the ideas of a government, I will never abandon my audience.”

Peretz Victorious in Labor Primary
Veteran MK Amir Peretz emerged as the victor of Tuesday’s primary elections for leadership of the Labor Party. According to official results announced Tuesday evening at Tel Aviv University, only 46% of Israel’s 65,000 registered Labor Party members cast a ballot in the polls, the lowest turnout in the Party’s history. "This is a very exciting evening for me and I feel the weight of my responsibility," Peretz said. "This evening should bring hope to the hearts of all peace-loving citizens...tomorrow we will take all necessary actions to unite the party and turn it into a political home for every Israeli.”

Hamas Launches Several Rockets into the Sea
Wednesday morning saw the Islamist terror militia Hamas launching several rockets into the Mediterranean Sea, triggering alarms in some border communities. IDF units stationed in the area were monitoring the situation closely.

Israel’s Ethiopian Community Protests Police Shooting

18-year-old Solomon Tekah, an Ethiopian Jew, was killed by an off-duty police officer Sunday evening under disputed circumstances in the Haifa satellite community of Kiryat Haim. The shooting, which follows a similar incident in January, has led to widespread street protests in many communities around the country. It also comes against a backdrop of a government decision to halt Aliyah flights to Israel from Ethiopia at least until the formation of a new government following the elections scheduled for 17 September.

Archeologists Uncover Biblical-Era Dye Workshops
Archeologists studying the Tel Shikmona site south of Haifa announced this week that they have identified relics first  found in the 1960s which they believe point to a Biblical-Era workshop used to dye clothes with enzymes harvested from Murex sea snails which populated the waters off the region in large numbers in the late Iron Age. “To date, no center for the production of purple has been found in Iron Age Phoenicia,” the archeologists told the Jewish Press news portal, adding that the dye would have been used in producing the clothing of the High Priest and other ornaments used in the Temple.

Israeli-Arab Financier Appointed Manager of Bank Leumi
In a defeat for the narrative that Israel is an “apartheid State” where Arab citizens are denied equal opportunities, Dr. Samer Haj Yehia, who has already held many senior positions at some of Israel’s most revered institutions, was appointed this week as chairman of the board of Bank Leumi, Israel’s oldest banking corporation. “I bless Dr. Samer Haj Yehia’s appointment to chairman of Bank Leumi and wish him great success in his position!” Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted.

Labor Primaries Held Amidst Existential Crisis
Israel’s Labor Party held yet another leadership primary election on Tuesday, with several candidates vying for the top spot even as some analysts have begun to openly wonder if the Party which dominated the country from the formative pre-State phase till the 1977 general elections might not even pass the electoral threshold in the elections scheduled for 17 September. "Labor will return to being a wide political home for all the citizens of Israel," insisted veteran MK Amir Peretz as he and his wife voted in a polling station near their home in Sderote.

Today's video shows the graduation of some of the IDF Navy's newest officers

Israeli FM Visits Abu Dhabi Amidst Standoff with Iran

Israeli Foreign Minister and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz was in Abu Dhabi on Sunday and Monday to participate in a UN meeting on the environment, also holding meetings with senior UAE officials. According to a Foreign Ministry statement, the meetings covered increasing cooperation between Israel and the UAE in the spheres of high tech, energy, agriculture and water management, as well as shared concerns about the threats posed by Iran. "I am excited to stand here in Abu Dhabi and to represent the interests of the State of Israel vis-à-vis the Arab Gulf states,” Katz said. “This is a significant step up in the relations between Israel and the states in the region.”

“I will continue to work with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to promote the normalization policy from a position of strength, based on Israel's capabilities, both in the fields of security and intelligence, and in the various civilian spheres. I see this as one of my major challenges as foreign minister, and I intend to continue leading this policy in the future,” he said.

Back in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept up his rhetorical campaign against Iran on Monday, saying that he wasn’t surprised by Iran’s announcement that it had exceeded the 300 kg limit on enriched uranium it agreed to in the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. “We proved that the entire nuclear agreement with Iran is based on one big lie,” he declared. “Now even Iran admits it. Soon there will be more proof that Iran has lied all the time.”

US President Donald Trump appeared to back this assessment on Monday, answering a question from a journalist about a message he might want to send to Teheran in response to the move by saying "They know what they're doing. They know what they're playing with and I think they're playing with fire."

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded to the US position by tweeting the word “Seriously?”

Here are some recent videos offering an in-depth look at Iran's actions



Northern Border Tense Following Strikes on Damascus

IDF forces on Israel’s northern border were on alert Monday following reports in Syrian state media of airstrikes in Damascus and Homs which killed several people and wounded many more, which the Assad regime blamed on Israel. Unconfirmed reports by opposition groups said that most of the casualties from the strikes were members of the Iranian-backed Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah, while other reports indicated that Hezbollah positions near the Israeli border were also targeted by strikes. Large scale fighting has resumed in Syria’s northwest province of Idlib, with hundreds of casualties reported on all sides.

‘Pilgrimage Road’ Inaugurated in Jerusalem’s City of David
US Ambassador David Friedman and US Middle East special envoy Jason Greenblatt were on hand Sunday as the Pilgrimage Road tunnel in the City of David, just south of Jerusalem’s Old City, was inaugurated Sunday morning. The participation of US officials at the event was denounced by the Palestinian Authority and some Arab governments as de facto US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem.

Here is a video about the Pilgrimage Road posted by the City of David Foundation



In related news, dozens of incendiary devices were sent into Israel attached to kites and balloons from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in recent days, including after a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas was supposed to go into effect on Friday. The incidents also come amidst a lingering backlash by PA officials against the recently concluded economic workshop in Manama Bahrain. On Saturday evening, the PA was forced to release a Palestinian business leader who had been arrested for attending the conference.

“We are pleased the PA has released the Palestinian they arrested after attending the Peace to Prosperity workshop,” White House Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt tweeted after the release. “We look fwd to continuing our conversation w all who attended the workshop & anyone else who wants a better future for the Palestinians.”

Israeli Researcher Named to Prestigious EMBO
In the latest defeat for efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Tel Aviv University Professor Judith Berman was selected on Friday to be one of 56 new members of the prestigious European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO). "Prof. Berman's election to EMBO is a strong recognition of her research, which is at the forefront of molecular biology of pathogenic yeasts," said Prof. Abdussalam Azem, dean of the Wise Faculty at TAU.

Negev Center for Scientific Education Launched
A Center of Scientific Excellence in Segev Shalom, near Beer Sheba, was recently launched by the Israeli Ministry of Development of the Periphery, Negev and Galilee in collaboration with the Negev Development Authority. The purpose of the Center is to enhance educational opportunities for the region’s Bedouin population.

Today's video shows the graduation of some of the IDF Navy's newest officers

Iran Exceeds JCPOA Limits on Enriched Uranium

Iran’s Fars news agency reported on Monday that the Islamic Republic’s stockpile of enriched uranium has exceeded the 300 kg limit set by the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. The report comes two days after Iranian officials declared that if the European powers wanted to preserve the JCPOA they must find a way to accommodate Iranian demands for relief from economic sanctions imposed by the US. "The ball is in Europe's court. Are Paris, London, and Berlin going to again waste a chance under the influence of [U.S. President Donald] Trump, or use the remaining opportunity to fulfill their promises and act on their commitments under the [nuclear deal]?," Iranian state TV (a media mouthpiece of the regime) said on June 29.

In related news, the US Senate voted down legislation Friday which would have prevented US President Donald Trump from launching military strikes against Iran without a Congressional vote of authorization.

Here are some recent videos offering an in-depth look at Iran's actions



 

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