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Latest Israel News – 23rd June

Fascinating look into the little known history of the events that led to the 6 day war

The nascent State of Israel in 1948 needed a steady supply of water for drinking and irrigation and thus, the National Water Carrier Project was launched.

The plan was to connect the country via pipelines to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in Israel’s north. Two main rivers supply the Kinneret with its freshwater: the Hasbani River in Lebanon and the Banias River in Syria.

When Israel began construction in 1953, neighboring Arab countries, having failed to destroy Israel in 1948, saw a chance to severely limit Israel’s growth and slowly choke the country to death by denying it fresh water.

When Israel finally completed the project in 1964, the Arabs decided to divert the headwaters of both rivers. Israel considered this an act of war and attacked Syrian positions.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon admitted that while June 5, 1967 is widely believed to be the beginning of the Six-Day War, in fact the war began 2 1/2 years earlier when Israel decided to act against the Arab diversion of water leading to the Kinneret.

History of the Maccabia Games

20th Maccabia Games 04-18 July 2017

Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt after Netanyahu meeting: Making peace will ‘take time’

Arriving at an Israeli-Palestinian peace will “take time,” President Donald Trump’s top two negotiators said after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The United States officials and Israeli leadership underscored that forging peace will take time and stressed the importance of doing everything possible to create an environment conducive to peacemaking,” the White House said in a readout after the meeting Wednesday between Netanyahu and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Trump and his Jewish son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, his special envoy to the region.

The cautious tone appeared to defer to Netanyahu’s preference to go slow in advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace. Netanyahu does not believe that the Palestinians are fully committed to coexistence and accuses their leadership of continuing to incite violence.

For their part, Palestinian Authority officials have enthusiastically embraced Trump’s hopes of reviving the talks and have dropped some previous prior demands, including that Israel freeze settlement building.

Greenblatt and Kushner have been tasked with reviving peace negotiations. Greenblatt has visited the region multiple times since Trump became president in January, while Kushner was making his first visit as an envoy. He accompanied Trump during his one-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian areas last month.

Also present at the meeting was David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

“The three United States officials discussed Israel’s priorities and potential next steps with Prime Minister Netanyahu, acknowledging the critical role Israel plays in the security of the region,” the readout said.

Greenblatt and Kushner also plan to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during their visit before returning to Washington, D.C., to brief top Trump administration foreign policy officials. (JTA)

Trump Administration Pressuring Israel to Move Ahead With Peace Deal, Senior Israeli Minister Says

A day ahead of the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner in Israel for talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israel’s finance minister said that the American administration is pressuring Israel to move forward on reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians.

“There’s mounting American pressure to advance a deal,” Moshe Kahlon told a conference in central Israel on Tuesday. “Something has happened. The American government feels it can reach an agreement, maybe because the good ties with the Israeli government allow Trump more influence than was possible during Obama’s term,” he said.

Kahlon made the statements as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt. The two-hour meeting between the two was intended to lay the groundwork for the meeting between Netanyahu and Kushner on Wednesday. Their meeting was also attended by Molcho and Israel’s ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer. Netanyhu’s office refused to divulge the content of the meeting.

Ahead of their meeting, Greenblatt met with Netanyahu’s senior aide, Isaac Molcho, and held meetings in Ramallah with top aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Kahlon noted that he thinks Netanyahu is interested in renewing peace talks with the Palestinians. He stressed that the solution to the conflict was two states for two people, but said he was skeptical of whether the sides were ripe for reaching a permanent agreement at this point.

“Everyone understands that in the end there will be two states, but no one wants to say that they understand that,” said Kahlon. “At the end of this process, that’s what will happen in our region. I don’t see it happening tomorrow, but at the level of vision, that’s what will happen. I think that the Palestinians aren’t ready for a political agreement. I got that impression from conversations with them. Who’s right: us or them? The truth is somewhere in the middle. They themselves say: Let’s get through these years. We have internal problems, problems with Gaza, etc. I don’t see them going now in the direction of an agreement.”

Kushner will meet Wednesday in Jerusalem with Netanyahu and in Ramallah with Palestinian President Abbas in order to hear from the two how they would like to move forward toward a renewal of the peace process.

Kushner and Greenblatt also want to hear the two leaders’ positions on various central issues, like borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, settlements and others, in order to map out the differences between the sides on each issue. One of the ideas being considered in the White House is to formulate an American document of principals for solving these central issues on the base of renewing peace talks.

Greenblatt and Kushner’s meetings with Netanyahu come as land was prepared Tuesday for the construction of a new settlement “Amichai” for those evacuated from the illegal outpost of Amona. In the morning, Netanyahu tweeted that he is the first prime minister in decades to establish a new settlement in the West Bank. He added that “there hasn’t been, nor will there be a better government” for the settlement enterprise than that which he currently leads.               (Haáretz)

Terrorist’s mother wished he’d killed 100 Jews

The mother of the terrorist who murdered a young Israeli woman on Friday was also arrested in connection with the attack and regrets that her son didn’t kill 100 more Jews.

Israel Police on Wednesday arrested two people in connection with last Friday’s Palestinian terror attack in which Border Policewoman Staff Sgt. Hadas Malka was murdered at the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City.

One suspect is the mother of one of the terrorists.

Police said the woman, a resident of the Palestinian village of Deir Abu Mash’al near Ramallah, where the terror cell was situated, was arrested on suspicion of forging contacts with the intent of committing a crime. She is also suspected of incitement related to recent statements lauding shahids [martyrs] and calling for the harming of Jews.

“We will meet in heaven. I’m proud. I wanted him to kill 20, 50, 100 of them,” the Palestinian mother stated after the attack.

Also on Wednesday, police arrested a resident of Issawiya, an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem, on suspicion that he drove the terrorists to the site of the attack. He is suspected of knowing the terrorists’ intentions to carry out the attack but failing to report them.

Investigators are expected to ask the court to extend the remand of both suspects.

“I promised to Hadas’ father yesterday that we would get to the perpetrators of this attack, as we have done in previous attacks in Jerusalem. We will get to every person who had any connection at all to the attack and to anyone who dares to openly express support [for the attack] or to utter inciting statements or encourages people to support terror attacks like the one in which Hadas Malka was murdered,” said  Jerusalem Police Commander Yoram Halevi.    (WIN World Israel News)

IAF chief: Israel has 4-5 times the power than in 2006 to strike Hezbollah

The Israel Air Force would “act with full force from the beginning” in any potential next war with Lebanon, IAF Commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said Wednesday in a firm warning to Hezbollah.

“What we could do in 34 days during the Second Lebanon War, we can now do in 48 hours. The growth of our strength has not been linear,” he told the Herzliya Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center on Wednesday.

The IAF has not only improved in the speed with which it can attack, but also the volume said Eshel, noting that the IDF could hit Hezbollah “with four to five times” the bombing power it used during the 2006 war.

In addition, Eshel warned civilians in southern Lebanon to leave their homes if war with Israel breaks out, saying, “one in every four or five homes has weapons hidden in it,” leaving the air force no choice but to strike.

At the same time he emphasized, “We are doing whatever possible to reduce any collateral damage to civilians in any war, and we aspire toward zero civilian casualties. But I cannot delude myself; in every war there will always be people who are harmed inadvertently.

Eshel also hinted at reported Israeli strikes on Hezbollah weapons caches in Syria. He indicated that such strikes are more complex now with Russian and US fighter jets in the region.

“The skies over the Middle East are very congested, much more so than in the past,” he stated.

He explored the question of how the IDF can “operationally act aggressively and with determination” against terrorism and threats, while “avoiding full war if possible.”

Part of the key, he said, was strategic use of air power at times to send diplomatic messages to Israel’s adversaries about its red lines for levels of attacks it will not tolerate.

Moreover, in a veiled reference to Iran and other adversaries, he said the air force must plan for potential long-term threats as “we cannot wake up too late to deal with a new threat. The price of mistakes is intolerable.”

Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day armed conflict in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Tensions have since again risen on Israel’s northern border with Hezbollah’s involvement on the side of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war.

Since the last war with Israel, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group has reportedly stockpiled as many as 150,000 rockets and other projectiles capable of reaching anywhere in Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel has bolstered its missile-defense apparatus, deploying Iron Dome for short-range, David’s Sling for mid-range, and Arrow projectile interceptors for long-range use. (Jerusalem Post)

US Spokesperson Rebukes Veteran Arab Diplomat Over Remark to UN Security Council Comparing Gaza to ‘Concentration Camp’

A veteran Arab diplomat’s remark comparing the Gaza Strip with a “concentration camp” at a Security Council briefing drew a sharp rebuke from the US mission to the United Nations on Tuesday.

“Indecent and irresponsible remarks such as these are another example of the anti-Israel bias at the UN that has to end,” a spokesperson for the US mission to the UN told The Algemeiner following the speech at a Security Council meeting on “the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” given by Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian foreign minister and UN envoy to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

During his address, Brahimi — who spoke as a member “The Elders,” a body of global influencers gathered under the auspices of former US President Jimmy Carter — sympathetically quoted a Palestinian woman in Gaza who told him, “Israel has put us in a concentration camp.”

Gaza has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade since the violent seizure of power by the Islamist terror organization Hamas in 2007. The Egyptians eased some crossing restrictions with Gaza in December 2016, while Israel enables the constant resupply of civilian and humanitarian goods into the coastal enclave. The UN’s own figures show that between 8,000-12,000 truckloads of goods cross from Israel into Gaza each month, including construction materials, medical supplies, IT hardware, foodstuffs and hygiene products.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, slammed Brahimi for having made “no mention of Israel’s legitimate right to defend its citizens.” Israel has faced three wars launched by Hamas from Gaza in the previous decade.

“The Security Council has provided a platform to antisemitic comments and a malicious blood libel,” Danon declared in a statement. “This one-sided obsession with Israel is beyond the pale.  To accuse the Jewish state of using concentration camps is not only despicable, but it degrades the Security Council and the UN as a whole. We demand that the Security Council renounce Brahimi’s statement immediately.”

Brahimi is no stranger to controversies arising from his comments about Israel or Jews more broadly. In 2009, he told the Algerian daily Liberte that “the Jewish-Zionist lobby is controlling political life in the US and can pass any decision in Congress almost unanimously.” One year later, Israel’s then-ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, accused Brahimi of “prejudice, bigotry and antisemitism” after the Algerian described Israel and its policies as “the great poison in the region.”

The US spokesperson added that American diplomats at the UN had been aware that Brahimi’s presentation might spark uproar. “We insisted on having an alternative briefer, which is why Michael Doran spoke today,” the spokesperson said.

Doran — a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC who served as senior director in the National Security Council under President George W. Bush — told the Security Council the UN “routinely accords Palestinian-Israeli relations a special status that hardly seems justified on the basis of objective observation.” He then criticized the UN for its lack of attention to a range of other regional security challenges, such as Iran’s arming of the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

Addressing the prospects for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, Doran said, “The key lesson of the 1967 war is that peace is achieved not by United Nations intercession but by direct negotiations between the parties.”

In her speech at the briefing, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley spotlighted the continued rule of Hamas in Gaza.

“We need to pressure Hamas to end its tyranny over the people of Gaza.” Haley stated. “We should designate Hamas as a terrorist organization in a resolution, with consequences for anyone who continues to support it.”

Haley challenged the Security Council’s members to bring Israel and the Palestinian Authority closer together as a means of defeating terrorism in the region. “This council can go and do the thing it always does, which is pick a side,” she said. “But if you saw what I saw, if you see the terrorist activity that is happening in that area right now, you would understand that […] pitting the two sides against each other is only strengthening the terrorists.”       (the Algameiner)

IDF chief: Iran’s strike on ISIS not as impressive as they claimed

Iran’s missile strike on ISIS in Syria Iran’s missile strike on ISIS in Syria this week was not as significant as Iran claims, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Tuesday.

“Their achievement was less than what was reported in the media. The strike manifested something, but it was far from a direct hit or what they have said,” Eisenkot told the Herzliya Conference.

Iran is striving “to get more accurate rockets,” which is “all part of their push for hegemony” in the region, he told the policy conference.

Regarding ISIS’s terrorists attacks in Tehran on June 7 that triggered Iran’s retaliatory missile strike on the Sunni organization on Sunday, the IDF chief said “the terrorist attacks were possibly part of the price for Iran’s interventions in Sunni states,” and against the ISIS and al-Nusra Sunni terrorist organizations.

Moving on to the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran that Eisenkot has previously said has the positive effect of giving Israel breathing room regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, he warned that the breather is only for a “short period.”

“The world must keep Iran from becoming the next North Korea. It must work hard to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon.”

He said, “Iran feels its regional power [by] giving Hezbollah $800 million per year… and $70m. per year to Gaza.

Eisenkot briefly waded into the political battle that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and others have been fighting over the cabinet approving thousands of housing units for Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank.

Area C contains all of the Israeli settlements and relatively few Palestinians.

With some on the Right attacking the IDF for facilitating the Palestinian construction in Area C, Eisenkot declared unequivocally that the “IDF must remain the army of the people,” rejecting “criticism which has not been substantive,” but expressing a readiness to “learn from… criticism which is substantive.”

Next and despite an extensive discussion of Iran, Eisenkot emphasized that “Hezbollah is the greatest threat to Israel. It has built tens of thousands of rockets… also it has received advanced Russian weapons… [One in] every four or five homes in south Lebanon is hiding” weapons.

He said Qatar’s expulsion of Hamas elements could wind up harming Hezbollah and Lebanon. He warned Lebanon against giving Hamas another base from which to attack Israel. Eisenkot said Lebanon should remember the internal chaos and Israel’s intervention in Lebanon decades ago, which came after Palestinian terrorists were expelled from Jordan in 1970, made their way to Lebanon and increasingly attacked Israel from Lebanese territory, sparking Israeli retaliation.

Analyzing the dilemma facing Israel as it and the Palestinian Authority pressure Hamas in the Gaza Strip by reducing the amount of electricity it receives from the Israel Electric Corporation, he said, “We have an interest in Gaza having 24 hours of electricity per day,” but also do not want to pay for electricity that Hamas uses to attack Israel.

Eisenkot also surveyed a number of other security challenges and said that Israel’s defense doctrine and technologies against rockets and tunnel threats are the most advanced in the world. (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinians ask UNESCO to ‘protect’ Tomb of Patriarchs from Israel

The Palestinian Authority has asked UNESCO to protect Hebron’s Old City from Israel, in a letter to the organization urging that the site be inscribed on its World Heritage List in Danger next month.

The Palestinian delegation to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in a letter to the World Heritage Center, spoke of “alarming details about the Israeli violations in Al-Khalil/ Hebron, including the continuous acts of vandalism, property damage, and other attacks.”

The letter was written to the center’s director Metchtild Rossler in March but obtained only on Wednesday by The Jerusalem Post.

“Some of the above mentioned violations have irreversible negative effect on the integrity, authenticity and/or the distinctive character of the property,” the letter said.

The PA initially intended to propose inscribing Hebron’s Old City – including the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Cave of Machpela, what it calls the Ibrahimi Mosque – on the World Heritage List in 2018, but decided to try getting it inscribed this year through an emergency procedure that places it on a list of endangered properties.

Israel, the Palestinian delegation said, has also ignored 10 resolutions by UNESCO’s executive board. Previous Palestinian complaints to UNESCO about the site have also been ignored, the delegation said.

It presented the World Heritage Center with a lengthy list of alleged Israeli violations in over the last three years in Hebron’s Old City and at the Tomb, including refusal to allow Muslim worshipers access to the site and failure to make necessary repairs.

On its list of complains was the placement of security barriers by the Tomb of the Patriarchs and in Hebron’s Old City, as well as an attempt by Jewish residents of the city to purchase property. The Palestinian delegation also protested the use of tear gas in the Old City.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites, which makes recommendations with regard to the World Heritage List, has yet to issue a report on Hebron. It has request permission from Israel to visit the area but has yet to receive a reply.

Israel defended itself against Palestinian allegations in a letter its Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris Carmel Shama Hacohen wrote to World Heritage Center Director Rossler on June 15.

“This Palestinian initiative is politically motivated, completely unfounded and intended to embroil the World Heritage Committee… in a highly sensitive issue, already drawing the attention of Israeli public opinion and Jewish Organizations around the world,” Shama Hacohen wrote. “By listing fallacious accusations regarding alleged actions taken by Israeli Authorities in and around the Cave of the Patriarchs, the Palestinian Delegation to UNESCO wishes to create the impression that Israel is adopting unilaterally measures which have a bearing on the soundness of ‘the Site.’”

Shama Hacohen gave an example from April 2018, in which the Civil Administration at the request of the Wakf, made repairs to the Herodian structure that houses both the tomb and the mosque.

“The inscription of the Old City of Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger will stir resentment and fierce reactions in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. This is why we ask to reject the Palestinian request to discuss this sensitive issue,” Shama Hacohen said.

The 21 member states of the World Heritage Committee will vote on Hebron, along with 34 other sites, during its 41st session that it will hold in Krakow, Poland.  (Jerusalem Post)

Haley calls for UN resolution to condemn Hamas as terrorist organization

The Security Council should designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and issue a resolution condemning it, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Tuesday.

“Every ounce of what we do should be against Hamas,” Haley said as she spoke at a special meeting that marked the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War.

Haley, who visited Israel and the Palestinian territories earlier this month, devoted a large portion of her speech to attacking Hamas and to fingering it as the stumbling block to Israeli- Palestinian peace.

“They are a dangerous actor who has no care for the Palestinians, no care for the Israelis, and they are determined to destroy everything in their path,” she said, adding, “so once again, we are having this session, and once again, we will hear speeches on whether you’re for Israel, against Israel, for Palestinians, against Palestinians.”

When council members pit Israel and the Palestinians against each other, it diverts attention away from the real threat of terrorism, Haley said.

“But I would ask you to please address the real threat that is causing so many people harm, and that’s the threat of Hamas,” Haley said.

She charged that some of the Security Council’s 15 nation members had ties to Hamas and to other terrorist groups that flourish in the Gaza Strip, but did not name those states.

“We should condemn Hamas in this Council’s resolutions and statements. We should name Hamas as the group responsible when rockets are fired from Gaza, or when fresh tunnels are discovered. And we should designate Hamas as a terrorist organization in a resolution, with consequences for anyone who continues to support it,” Haley said.

She also condemned Friday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem in which Border Police St.-Sgt.-Maj. Hadas Malka, 23, was killed. She was joined in that condemnation by a number of countries including the United Kingdom, France, the Ukraine and Japan.

British Deputy Ambassador to the UN Peter Wilson joined Haley in taking a strong stance against Hamas, calling on the group to renounce violence and dismantle network of tunnels it has built to attack Israel’s southern border.

“We call on all sides to turn 2017 not just into another anniversary of occupation but a new anniversary of peace,” Wilson said.

Italy said it was time for the Palestinian Authority to regain control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza in 2007 in a bloody coup.

But many of the speakers blamed Israel, particularly continued settlement activity, for the conflict with the Palestinians.

Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul- Gheit said that the Six Day War was the cause of Middle East violence and terrorism.

After the meeting, Bolivian Ambassador to the UN Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz said that Israel has violated Palestinian human rights, committed war crimes and flagrantly violated UN resolutions.

“The international community has failed the Palestinian people. We are not able to uphold the resolutions that we adopted. We are not even implementing the resolution [on statements] that was adopted a few months ago by the Security Council,” Llorenty said.

“We will continent trying to be a voice in the Security Council for Palestinian inalienable rights,” said Llorenty.

His country holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, but he clarified that he made his remarks as the representative of Bolivia. (Jerusalem Post)

Rafael Reveals New Laser-Interception System Developed by Rafael’s Air Superiority Systems Division, the Drone Dome is designed to intercept UAVs using laser beams

Israeli companies are drawing great interest at the Paris Air Show – the world’s largest and most important aerospace exhibition taking place this week in Le Bourget.

At the exhibition, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled its new laser-interception system designed to provide air defense against hostile drones (micro- and nano-UAVs) – the Drone Dome. The system detects, identifies, tracks, and neutralizes hostile drones operated by terrorist elements in no-fly zones for the purpose of carrying out attacks, gathering intelligence and other activities.

The company revealed that the Drone Dome system is now integrated with a light beam; it uses laser technology that incinerates the drone with its payloads. The system is developed by the company’s Air Superiority Systems Division, headed by Yossi Druker. This kind of laser causes no environmental damage, says Yossi Horowitz, deputy director of the marketing division.

Col. (res.) Meir Bash, director of business development at the division, said during the exhibition that “You can’t argue with the results – the laser incinerates the drone.”

Israel Defense has learned that a high-level government discussion will soon be scheduled to determine who is responsible for the country’s anti-drone protection (Israel Defense News)

Israeli commanders reveal plans for mass evacuation of Lebanese civilians in next war

The next war in Lebanon will be so powerfully punishing — with thousands of targets struck in the first day of an attack — that hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians will have to leave their homes or risk falling victim to “collateral damage,” according to top Israeli military commanders here.

“I have good news for the people of Lebanon,” Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the commander of Israel’s Air Force, told participants at the Herzliya Conference on Wednesday. “Since Hezbollah has decided to be in urban areas, in those closed apartments where they launch rockets, if the people of Lebanon are to leave those houses before an event begins, they will not be in harm’s way.

“I am certain that if war breaks out on the northern front, we need to take strong action from the word ‘go.’ ”

According to Eshel, Israeli air power — both qualitatively and quantitatively — “will surprise our rivals in ways they can’t even  perceive.” He noted, presumably in reference to Israel’s war in Gaza during the summer of 2014, that the Israeli Air Force “has had [the] opportunity to test ourselves, so what I’m saying is not just a theory.”

Eshel noted that the lethality of Israeli air power, despite “unprecedented precision,” has “some potential to damage those who are uninvolved,” which presents limitations to Israeli war planners.

“This limitation, too, is taken into consideration. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but we are trying to limit this as much as possible.

Morally speaking, we want to make that collateral damage as little as possible. Not zero. I don’t want to delude myself. But as little as possible.”

Eshel declined to explain how Lebanese civilians would leave their homes, where they would go or who would be responsible for the evacuation. But Lt.

Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Israel’s top military officer, indicated that evacuations would be done by Israel.

In an address the previous evening to the same Herzliya gathering, Eisenkot, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, spoke about “hundreds of thousands of civilians” who would need to be evacuated in Israel’s next war with the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militant organization.

“The moment we know the enemy goes into urban terrain, it becomes a matter of morals and values. There are hundreds of thousands in the civilian population. We’ll need to evacuate them … and we’ll have to do that as quickly as possible. We need to preserve legitimacy while fighting,”

Eisenkot said.

Israel’s top military officer declined to say how such an evacuation would be carried out without civilian consent or how Israel could possibly venture such an undertaking without ruining the element of a surprise attack and putting large numbers of Israeli forces in danger.

He noted, however, that the Air Force is capable of striking “thousands of targets a day should we be required to do so.”

Eisenkot, a former commander of Northern Command with territorial responsibility for Lebanon and Syria, served as the IDF’s director of operations during Israel’s last war in Lebanon in 2006. In the 11 years since that war, he said, Israeli intelligence, air power and ground maneuvering capabilities have improved tremendously as a result of significant investment and training.

The IDF chief charged Hezbollah with “crudely violating” United Nations Resolution 1701, which mandated demilitarization of the area beyond Israel’s northern border, and claimed 240 villages and towns in south Lebanon would be legitimate targets in the next war. “We have very good intelligence, and we know them well. Hezbollah has 240 villages and towns where almost every third or fourth house has some Hezbollah force in it.”

Additionally, he said, Hezbollah has built up “thousands of underground locations” and “many tens of thousands of rockets and other capabilities,”

most of which has been provided by Iran.

According to Eisenkot, Hezbollah is now heavily immersed in fighting in Syria alongside Russia on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. This accruing military experience is something Israel “cannot  ignore,” he said. At the same time, Hezbollah has lost some 1,800 combatants over the last three years and suffered some 8,000 wounded.

The IDF chief acknowledged that Israel has made “great efforts” to stop

Iranian- or Syrian-supplied arms from reaching Hezbollah, actions that until recently have been neither confirmed nor denied by Israeli officials.

“Preventing weapons from reaching the hands of Hezbollah is a top priority for the IDF,” he said.

He also asserted that Hezbollah was taking possession of Russian weaponry without authorization. “Russian weapons are getting into their hands under the noses of the Russians without their approval,” Eisenkot said.

In his June 21 address, Eshel, the Air Force commander, said that since the

2006 Lebanon War, Israeli air power has improved to the point that it will now take the service only 40 to 60 hours to strike the number of targets attacked during the entire 34-day war 11 years ago. “I’m saying that quantitatively speaking we have doubled or quadrupled [the ability to generate and attack targets].”

Nevertheless, Eshel acknowledged that in the next Lebanon war — due to Hezbollah’s acquisition of advanced capabilities — Israel should expect a worse-case scenario where it sustains fire on some of its air bases and/or airborne air assets. But, he insisted, “these two factors — fire on Air Force bases and threats on aircraft … cannot stop our Air Force.

“This huge machine that is the sum of surprise, quality and quantity will work. Don’t misunderstand me. There is no magic solution or spell. But it is a potent power and a lot more than anyone can estimate.” (Israel Defense News)

Israeli Woman Who Sued El Al for Sexism Wins Landmark Ruling

Israeli airline employees cannot ask women to change seats to spare a man from having to sit next to them, a Jerusalem court ruled on Wednesday, handing down a groundbreaking decision in a case brought by a woman in her 80s.

Strictly religious Jewish men who refuse to sit next to women, for fear of even inadvertent contact that could be considered immodest, are a growing phenomenon that has caused disruptions and flight delays around the world and prompted protests and social media campaigns. The pressure to switch seats can be particularly acute on El Al, Israel’s national airline. And the issue has become emblematic of a broader battle in Israel over religion and gender in public spaces.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Renee Rabinowitz, now 83, boarded El Al Flight 028, bound for Tel Aviv from Newark in December 2015. She had settled into her aisle seat in the business-class section when the passenger with the window seat showed up: an Orthodox man who complained about sitting next to a woman. A flight attendant asked her to change seats to accommodate him, and she gave in reluctantly.

Ms. Rabinowitz, who escaped the Nazis in Europe as a child, said on Wednesday that she was “exhilarated” by the verdict.

After the hearing, she said: “I was sitting in a bible class, which wasn’t so great for the teacher because my phone kept ringing. Anyway, I’m thrilled because the judge understood the issue. She realized it is not a question of money; they awarded a very small sum. She realized it’s a matter of El Al changing its policy, which they have been ordered to do.”

Ms. Rabinowitz was represented in court by the Israel Religious Action Center, the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel, a liberal stream of Judaism. The center has also fought Israeli bus companies and the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety over gender segregation on buses serving ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

“This is a common story; it happens to many,” Anat Hoffman, the director of the group, said of the pressure on women to change seats. Ms. Hoffman called the verdict “a breath of fresh air” and compared Ms. Rabinowitz to the Israeli actress who starred in the movie “Wonder Woman.” “Like Gal Gadot, Renee has superpowers,” she said.

El Al’s lawyers argued in court that passengers often ask flight attendants to reseat them to be closer to a relative, or farther from a crying baby, or for many other reasons. The airline’s policy, the lawyers said, was to accommodate such requests whenever possible, “in a way that does not inconvenience other passengers” or cause delays.

El Al denied that it discriminated against women, saying its reseating policies applied equally to men. And the airline argued that the principle of taking religious sensibilities into consideration has been defended and recognized in Israeli courts. But the court found that asking people to move because of their gender violated Israel’s anti-discrimination codes.

In discussions outside the courtroom, the two sides in the case agreed on a judgment proposed by the judge, declaring that it is forbidden for a crew member to ask a passenger to change seats at the request of another passenger based on gender. El Al agreed to tell its cabin staff in writing about the prohibition within 45 days, and to provide training in how to deal with such situations within six months.

Ms. Rabinowitz was awarded 6,500 shekels, or about $1,800, in compensation. Her lawyer originally asked for 50,000 shekels.

Ms. Rabinowitz, who lives in an assisted-living facility in Jerusalem, said that she was thinking of flying to the United States next winter but that she had not yet decided which airline to use. “I would have no problem flying with El Al,” she said. “But it depends on who has the best deal.” (New York Times)

 New Palestinian Attempt at UNESCO to Claim Hebron and the Patriarch’s Tomb as a Palestinian Site – Amb. Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Hebron, situated in the biblical region of Judea, is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, and since Bible times has been considered the second holiest city in Judaism after Jerusalem.

The most famous historic site in Hebron is the Cave of the Patriarchs, which, as described in the book of Genesis, Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite for over 400 silver shekels to bury his wife, Sarah. Abraham insisted on purchasing the cave through a publicly witnessed, legal transaction in the presence of all residents of the town.

The Palestinian attempt to mislead the international community regarding the Jewish history and heritage in the town of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs runs contrary to the PLO commitment to foster a positive and supportive public atmosphere, mutual trust, and good faith in the relations between the two peoples as set out in Article XVI of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Oslo II).

Article VII of the Protocol annexed to the Oslo agreement, together with the 1997 Hebron Protocol, sets down agreed guidelines for Hebron within the context of joint governance of the holy places.

It is high time that the international community wakes up to the blatant abuse and manipulation of bodies such as UNESCO by the Palestinian leadership.

The damage caused by such abusive Palestinian political exercises – all with the aim of delegitimizing Israel and nullifying Jewish history and heritage – will be irreparable.

The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

Keeping pro-Israel politics bipartisan in an age of polarization

By Shalom Lipner                 JTA


The literal ABCs of Israel’s national security doctrine remain Jerusalem’s airtight bond with the United States.

The tangible friendship expressed for Israel by elected officials at all levels of the U.S. government, the robust cooperation between their business, scientific, defense and intelligence communities, and grassroots American support for the Jewish state endure as the sine qua non of Israel’s success.

None of this would have been possible unless Democrats and Republicans – recognizing the partnership’s inherent value to America – had united in common cause to embrace Israel.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has long known this. Reeling from the fallout of its 2016 policy conference, when then-candidate Donald Trump took to the podium to castigate President Barack Obama as “the worst thing that ever happened to Israel,” AIPAC management was determined to prevent this year’s event in March from turning into a partisan battlefield.

But noble aspirations are the first victims in the era of the perpetual political campaign. Addressing the assembly on the first evening, Vice President Mike Pence stoked the coals of divisiveness, proclaiming that “for the first time in a long time, America has a president who will stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies.” He was only echoing the sentiments expressed at that same morning’s opening plenary by Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, who said, “For the first time in many years, perhaps even many decades, there is no daylight between our two governments.”

To be sure, Obama clashed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly, famously blindsiding his government by withholding a U.N. Security Council veto that led to the condemnation of Israel in the twilight of his presidency. But he was still the same president who ultimately signed off on a multi-year, $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding on security assistance — the one that compelled Netanyahu to “thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement.”

Here’s the rub: Memories of there never being any “daylight” between even the tightest of allies are myth. Nor has the advent of the Trump era eliminated all points of contention. But Israel has been fortunate to enjoy sustained, exceptionally high levels of coordination and collaboration under U.S. administrations of both political stripes.

And what is it that enables that consistency, which allows Israel to both thrive today and plan for its future?  You guessed it. Bipartisanship.

Skeptics in Israel and within the Republican Party are not wrong: Israel does have a conspicuous problem within the present-day Democratic Party. Its sources range from the raging currents of globalization to differences over Israeli policy vis-à-vis the Palestinians. The incontrovertible fact today is that Republican sympathies for Israel far outstrip Democratic ones, thus posing a challenge from which friends of this bilateral relationship dare not shirk; capitulation is an unaffordable luxury for them.

Because the White House switches hands, congressional majorities are not eternal and even governments in Jerusalem have been rumored to change, neither side of the aisle can be written off. If the Israeli leadership ever had to deal with a hostile and alienated counterpart in the United States, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Ironically, for bipartisanship to be restored to full health, a particular aspect of Israel’s awkward synthesis of identity politics is both relevant and instructive here.

Governance in America is anchored in a two-party system, but Israel’s proportional representation has birthed dozens of parties since its inception; the current Knesset boasts 11 caucuses. Among them are boutique factions championing narrow constituencies, namely religious Jews and Israel’s Arab citizens, but counterintuitively, an independent voice has not always served their needs.

One byproduct has been that these factions are deputized as chief lobbyists for basic services such as religious education and functional neighborhood policing for their communities. In more familiar terms: The fundamental deliverables of liberal democracy have been turned into horse-traded special interests. And if these smaller parties then fail at their polls, whole sectors of society risk being marginalized. Meanwhile, with people voting their parochial concerns, the state becomes almost ungovernable.

A more effective way to guarantee themselves a hearing would have been for these groups to set up shop within Israel’s two major political blocs. That way, their core requisites would become integrated into the platforms of all governments, no matter which way the winds were blowing. In fact, signs of greater consolidation are now underway in Israel with talk of mergers and some newer contenders fielding slates with greater in-house diversity.

Such thinking is a piece of cake for Americans. The Republican and Democratic universes are seeded with multiple affinity groups that toil to ensure their pet causes are well represented in both parties. Among those promoting a strong U.S.-Israel bond, in this context, are the National Jewish Democratic Council and Republican Jewish Coalition, institutions that liaise with their respective party apparatuses and work to foster closer ties between the two nations.

But bipartisan fellowship is becoming ever more tenuous, and I’ve witnessed personally how hyper-politicization can inflict damage to the cause – with supporters of this relationship “colluding” to turn it into a wedge issue when they hammer each other as only fair-weather friends. Since the mission of both the NJDC and the RJC is to help elect members from their own parties, they almost have a vested interest in undermining the bipartisan foundations of U.S.-Israel relations.

This same spirit of polarization has also consumed much of the cohort advocating on behalf of America’s alliance with Israel. AIPAC’s commitment to providing a warm bipartisan home for this community is being assailed by less politically inclusive outfits on both flanks. For the past eight years, J Street’s decidedly pro-Obama bent challenged the kumbaya of pro-Israel orthodoxy. And today, prominent Jewish funders and evangelical groups are calling for a more hard-hitting approach than AIPAC’s, one attuned to the sensibilities of Trump’s America.

How to square this circle when bipartisanship is indispensable but politics is king?

Friends of America’s partnership with Israel might best consider performing triage to stem the bleeding. If the relationship is to recoup its “unifier” status, the most immediate order of business should now be to neutralize the acrimony. AIPAC’s professionalism will remain a formidable asset — but only if the organization is not transformed into a boxing ring where political rivals come to exchange blows without regard for the injury it causes to bipartisanship.

Unless supreme efforts are invested to insulate this neutral ground, it could conceivably implode. Participants in last week’s AIPAC joint trip to Israel for Republican and Democratic campaign operatives’ officials – reportedly it “helped them dial down the bitter partisanship of current-day Washington” – would be the first to vindicate this approach.

At the same time, the current environment has prescribed an increasingly important role for tapered and cohesive silos of the like-minded. Enjoying the cachet of intellectual traction among their natural allies, partisan groups are equally potent messengers on issues ranging from foreign aid to the Iranian nuclear threat that they can cast skillfully in the vernacular of their particular guild. Ideally this task would be performed without too much emphasis on why the opposing team is “weak” on the issue; rather the mutual objective would be for all sides to be “strong.”

Psalm 133 is correct: It is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell together. But to ensure that Democrats and Republicans keep forging ahead to advance the alliance between the United States and Israel – a “best interest” of both countries – parallel inclusive and exclusive tracks of communal activism might just be a sign of the times. Perhaps it’s time for Bipartisanship 2.0.  “Bipairtisanship,” if you will.

(Shalom Lipner is a non resident senior fellow of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. From 1990 to 2016, he served seven consecutive premiers at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.)

By Moshe Dann                   The Jerusalem Post


During the last few decades, the Palestinian propaganda machine aided by anti-Israel elements in the international community have created one of the most powerful and effective emotional and psychological weapons to defeat Israel: “End the occupation.”

Although it’s a popular mantra, few understand what it means.

It could refer to what Israel conquered during the Six Day War in 1967, or what Israel acquired during the War of Independence (1948-49), or everything “from the river to the sea.”

At first, Arab Palestinian propaganda focused on Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) as a “violation of international law,” specifically, the Fourth Geneva Convention as interpreted by the International Committee of the Red Cross. An anti-Israel, Geneva-based NGO, the International Committee of the Red Cross was the first to accuse Israel of “occupying Palestinian territory,” thus arbitrarily allotting a disputed area to one side. Because the International Committee of the Red Cross is also – uniquely – an official UN agency, its decisions are considered authoritative.

After Israel signed the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat (for the PLO), withdrew from Areas A and B, and along with the international community assisted the Palestinian Authority in developing its institutional structure, the focus turned to Israel’s legal and historical claims to Area C, in which all of the “settlements” are located. Experts and pundits debated the issue, but neither side was able to convince the other.

The debate over territory was important, but had limited effect because as Palestinian terrorism and incitement continued unabated and after two more withdrawals – from southern Lebanon in 2000 (which empowered Hezbollah), and from the Gaza Strip in 2005 (which empowered Hamas) – Israel was reluctant to surrender more territory. The “land for peace” mantra no longer persuaded anyone except hard-line ideologues. Even Israelis who supported the “two-state solution” were unwilling to make further concessions.

During the last decade or so, a new argument became prominent, often espoused by Israeli Jews and Progressive Jews in North America who are pro-Israel: “The occupation” is not only about territory, but is about “the Palestinian people.”

This shift to a humanitarian argument is persuasive because it is presented as a moral issue: Israel has no right to control another people, or nation – the Palestinians.

This portrays Israelis (i.e. Jews) as persecutors and Palestinians as their victims.

Therefore, even if the question of the legality of settlements is conceded, the alleged violation of human rights – the moral issue – remains “the elephant in the room.” For example, critics charge that restricting where Palestinian Arabs can live, interfering with their daily lives, and invading their towns and villages, violating their civil and human rights, constitute “occupation.” Ending that occupation, however, is complicated because (1) Palestinian terrorists pose a constant threat, (2) radical Islamists are involved, and (3) withdrawal from Area C and creating a Palestinian state would promote terrorism.

In other words, “ending the occupation” as a humanitarian and moral issue cannot be accomplished without making territorial concessions and removing Israeli security control. The link is crucial: The humanitarian argument is used to justify and leverage Palestinian demands for territory and a state. Israel’s rational and realistic refusal to allow Palestinians to form an independent state, therefore, becomes entangled in a moral argument over the right of self-determination.

The failure to understand the dynamic relationship between the humanitarian argument and Palestinian demands for territory and statehood has paralyzed Israel’s attempts to justify its claims and the settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Therefore, Israel is trapped: As long as it refuses to grant Palestinians a state, holds on to Area C, and maintains its anti-terrorism activities in Palestinian towns, it will be accused of “occupation” and “persecution” of Palestinians. Moreover, “the occupation” is used to justify terrorism and “resistance.” The dilemma has profound effects.

“End the occupation” suggests an immediate and direct distinction between good and evil – and this is where it is most effective. Regardless of the details, the mantra creates a psychological determinism that forces an “either-or” decision.

Once the premise that occupation is evil is accepted, the conclusion is inevitable.

That’s why mantras are so powerful: They don’t require thinking and in fact prevent critical thinking.

It’s also why advertising works: Tou hear/ see “Coke” and its symbol and you think ‘sweet, pleasant, satisfying’; you don’t think about whether it’s good for you, or not. Similarly, “End the occupation” means Israel is bad and Palestinians are victims.

It’s a form of brainwashing that, like an addiction, alters perception and promotes rationalizations: Don’t worry, it will be okay; we’ll be happier, appreciated, loved; we can control the consequences.

Repeating mantras such as “Settlements prevent peace” and “Israel is a colonialist, apartheid state” may make someone feel empathy and a sense of injustice; whether or not the story is true is irrelevant.

Finally, “End the occupation” demands that Israel give up tangible assets (e.g. territory) for intangible agreements (such as diplomatic recognition) that are easily revocable.

The only way to fight against brainwashing and addictions is to assert self-awareness, critical thinking, and a realistic evaluation of the situation.

The most important refutation is that the first priorities of a state are to protect its population, preserve its society and defend its borders. That’s why all countries have armies, police forces and prisons.

Since Palestinians and Arabs seek to destroy Israel, Israel is obligated morally and practically to defend itself. Capitulation and surrender to terrorism are not options.

Second, a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would not become a democratic peaceful regime or resolve the problem of millions of “Palestinians” who live in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other countries, including Israel. The danger that it would be a failed state run by gangs and militias, like Somalia, is real.

Finally, Arab Palestinians are not captives.

Most have Jordanian passports.

They can move, and if they own land and property, they can sell it. Many have done so and are successful.

As long as terrorism exists there will be “occupation,” checkpoints, police interventions, and long lines at airports. “Ending the occupation” begins with ending incitement and hatred, ending terrorism.

“Ending the occupation” does not apply only to Israel. It includes ending the dictatorship in Iran that threatens the entire world. Ending the occupation applies to Hamas rule in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Assad and ISIS in Syria, and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“End the occupation” is not a call to protect Palestinian rights, but to end Israel’s existence. It’s not a plea for humanity, but a paean to mayhem and genocide.

“End the occupation” should be understood for what it is: a death threat.