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Latest Israel News – 7th June

Netanyahu: We won’t cede security control of the Jordan Valley

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday pledged that he would not cede military control of the Jordan valley in any future peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

“We seek peace with our neighbors, a real peace, a peace that will last for generations,” Netanyahu said at an event in at Latrun, west of Jerusalem, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War.

“That is why in any agreement — and without an agreement — we shall maintain security control over all the territory west of the Jordan (river),” he added.

“We insist that the Palestinians finally recognize Israel as the national home of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said.

“That is the foundation for peace and refusal is what prevents achieving it,” he stressed.

There have been calls on Israel to withdraw from the Jordan Valley as part of a future agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA). Israeli experts have warned that the area is strategically critical and that allowing the IDF to withdraw from the region and letting the PA take control would be a serious security threat to Israel.

U.S. President Donald Trump is currently in the process of launching an initiative to resume peace negotiations between the sides.

While full details of his initiative are unclear, a recent report said he was interested in a move which would redefine sections of Area C in northern Samaria as Area B. Area C is under full Israeli rule, while Area B is part of the Palestinian Authority and Israel is only in charge of security in that area.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett expressed his opposition to such a move. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is reportedly opposed to the idea as well. (Arutz Sheva)

In Geneva, Haley to demand Human Rights Council change its treatment of Israel

With US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley set to address the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, speculation has mounted that her speech will warn members to rectify its “anti-Israel bias” or face a hostile United States prepared to withdraw from the body.

On her trip, where she will explain America’s positions and concerns relating to several key issues, Haley is expected to feature Israel as prominent among them. “I will outline changes that must be made,” she made clear before departing.

Haley published an op-ed in The Washington Post over the weekend that lambasted the 47-member panel for its treatment of the Jewish state, echoing a familiar theme of hers since becoming US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the UN.

The council, which she had previously described as “so corrupt,” must “end its practice of wrongly singling out Israel for criticism. When the council passes more than 70 resolutions against Israel, a country with a strong human rights record, and just seven resolutions against Iran, a country with an abysmal human rights record, you know something is seriously wrong.”

According to Reuters, Haley, who holds cabinet rank in the Trump administration, will decide whether the US will exit the Human Rights Council after its three-week session ends later this month.

Her speech, the report said, will outline Washington’s demands for change from the body.

The council now counts among its 47 members Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, all of which have spotty rights records but won seats through its arcane system of regional blocs.

Trump has been seeking deep cuts in US funding for international organizations like the U.N. and the council.

John Fisher, Geneva director for Human Rights Watch, said many will be listening out for Haley’s tone.

“If the tone seeks to set the US above the rest of the world in terms of its commitment to human rights and multilateralism, I think that’s a message that will fall a bit flat” he said.

“That said, if the message is one of ‘Let’s work together’ to strengthen multilateral institutions to the benefit of everyone involved, then I think that’s a message that we can all work with,” he added.

Since taking her post earlier this year, Haley has said repeatedly that the US will not accept the UN’s consistent targeting of Israel for opprobrium.

“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement,” she told a crowd of almost 18,000 at AIPAC’s March conference. “It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick ’em every single time.”

She went on to say the “days of Israel-bashing at the UN are over” and that there is “a new sheriff in town.”

Rumors of the US contemplating a Human Rights Council exit have been circulating in Washington since February.

Two unnamed sources reportedly told POLITICO at the time that Trump administration officials were mulling the move.

US criticism of the council is nothing new: President George W. Bush’s administration kept the United States out when it was created in 2006 in part because of repeated criticism of Israel. Obama brought back the US in 2009, hoping to make it more effective and even appointing an ambassador exclusively devoted to the council.

Trump has not nominated anyone to fill that post, and it’s far from certain whether he will.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in March said the United States will not continue participating in the council unless it undergoes “considerable reform,” without elaborating. That same month, Haley told the Council on Foreign Relations : “I mean, the Human Rights Council is so corrupt … I think that we need to look at it.”

“We need to tell them what we want to see to make it effective,” she said.  (the Times of Israel)

Israeli Authorities Devise Plan to Combat Threat of Arson Terrorism

Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services, the Israel Police and the IDF have joined forces to fight a potential new wave of arson terrorism.

The “Red Flame” counterterrorism plan has been devised following the wave of fires that raged across Israel last November, including 1,773 forest and brushfires, 39 of which were classified as “major.” The fires forced the evacuation of nearly 100,000 people nationwide, and some 5,000 acres of land were destroyed. While a large number of fires were attributed to extreme weather conditions, about a dozen were classified as terrorist arson.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced on Thursday he planned to form a team of law enforcement and security officials who will be tasked with devising ways to counter the arson threat.

In a recent letter to the Israel Police and the IDF, Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner David Simchi underscored the need to devise a response to the growing threat arson poses to West Bank communities near forests.

The state and the IDF “must combine their efforts in the area of civilian defense against arson attacks in a manner similar to the civilian defense against the missile threat and other terrorist threats,” Simchi wrote. He suggested mapping the communities most vulnerable to wildfires, making sure security forces and community leaders are familiar with seasonal weather conditions and wind patterns across the West Bank, and introducing fire prevention plans.  (The Algemeiner)

Trump should move Pollard to Jerusalem

by David Singer     J Wire

Trump should move Pollard to Jerusalem…writes David Singer

President Trump’s delay in moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem presents the President with a wonderful opportunity to commute Jonathan Pollard’s sentence – freeing Pollard to move from New York to Jerusalem.

Trump made his unequivocal Embassy pledge on 22 March 2016:

“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.”

A White House statement on 1 June put this brave face on Trump‘s decision delaying the Embassy move:

“While President Donald J. Trump signed the waiver under the Jerusalem Embassy Act and delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no one should consider this step to be in any way a retreat from the President’s strong support for Israel and for the United States-Israel alliance.  President Trump made this decision to maximise the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests.  But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.”

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs have so far extended over a period of 23 years without any real success – so one can only wonder when the Embassy move is likely to occur.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response was quite philosophical:

“Though Israel is disappointed that the embassy will not move at this time, we appreciate today’s expression of President Trump’s friendship to Israel and his commitment to moving the embassy in the future,”

Trump’s friendship would be confirmed were he to commute Pollard’s life sentence and harsh parole conditions to enable Pollard’s move to Jerusalem,

Pollard – an intelligence analyst with the US Government – received his life sentence for passing classified information to an American ally – Israel. No other American has received such a crushing sentence.

Pollard – released in 2015 after serving 30 years penal servitude – was placed on harsh parole conditions requiring him to wear an electronic tracking device, obey a curfew and allow his computers to be monitored. He must remain in the United States until November 2020

Pollard’s appeal to relax his parole conditions was recently rejected.

Pollard’s treatment can be contrasted to that meted out to Bradley (now known as Chelsea) Manning – who leaked more than 700,000 documents to WikiLeaks in 2010 whilst serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq,

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

President Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in January – three days before vacating the White House – from 35 years to just over 7 years, the majority of which Manning had already served. Trump said Manning should never have been released from prison

Manning was freed from federal custody on May 17th.

Israeli Prime Ministers from Yitzchak Rabin to Netanyahu had unsuccessfully lobbied successive Republican and Democratic Presidents for Pollard’s release and permission to resettle in Israel.

Pollard is recently reported to have remarked:

“As much as Trump needs to be held to his promise to move the embassy, it is just as important that the prime minister keep his promise to bring an agent home“

President Obama’s precedent in freeing Manning whilst resisting similar overtures for Pollard’s release was reprehensible.

Commuting Pollard’s sentence at this particular moment in Trump’s presidency will help cement the blossoming post-Obama relationship between the United States and one of its staunchest allies – Israel.

Pollard’s move to Jerusalem as It celebrates the 50th anniversary of its liberation from 19 years of illegal occupation by Jordan would alleviate the disappointment of the Embassy not moving there.

That is what Trump-style deal-making is all about.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

Arab version of the Six Day War: the great lie that refuses to die

by  Ben Macintyre   The Times/the Australian


On June 5, 1967, Israel destroyed Egypt’s air force and attacked the planes of Syria and Jordan. Then Israeli forces advanced on Sinai, Jerusalem’s Old City, Suez and the Golan Heights. Six days later Israel had achieved a stunning victory over the encircling Arab armies, and the map of the Middle East was redrawn.

The Arab states immediately began looking for reasons to explain their defeat, and loudly claimed British and US troops, planes and aircraft carriers had taken part in the fighting on Israel’s side. Thus was born one of the oldest and most intractable conspiracy theories of modern times, one that has coloured Middle Eastern politics for half a century.

The Six Day War was only a day old when Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt called King Hussein of Jordan on a crackling telephone line to cook up the fake news of Anglo-American military involvement. What they did not know was that two veteran officers of Israeli military intelligence were eavesdropping, using bugging equipment left over from World War II.

The conversation went as follows:

Hussein: Hello. I do not hear, the connection is the worst …

Nasser: How are you? Do you know that the US is participating alongside Israel in the war? Should we announce this? Should we say that the US and Britain (are participating), or only the US?

Hussein: The US and England.

Nasser: Does Britain have aircraft carriers?

Hussein: (Unclear)

Nasser: Good. King Hussein will make an announcement and I will make an announcement, and we will see to it that the Syrians make an announcement that American and British aeroplanes are taking part against us from aircraft carriers.

The taped conversation is proof that the accusation of Anglo-American collusion was a falsehood, yet it took root in the Arab world, with long-term consequences: the rise of anti-Americanism in the Middle East, the spread of terror tactics against the West, even Gaddafi’s coup in Libya, can all be linked back to the myth that Britain and America helped Israel to win the Six Day War.

Half a century later, it is surely time for Israel’s Arab neighbours to acknowledge that what British diplomats called “the big lie” was exactly that.

The war was still under way when Arab state-run media launched a co-ordinated propaganda campaign, reporting that British and US troops were fighting alongside the Israelis and British and American planes were attacking Egyptian positions from aircraft carriers. Radio Cairo reported that British bombers had taken part in airstrikes on Sinai. Radio Damascus claimed that 3000 British troops had arrived in Israel from Cyprus.

In a speech on June 9, Nasser insisted: “What is now established is that American and British aircraft carriers were off the shores of the enemy helping his war effort … British aircraft raided, in broad daylight, positions on the Syrian and Egyptian fronts.”

The allegations of a “tripartite plot” were emphatically denied by the US and UK. Britain may earlier have supplied arms to Israel, but after the debacle of Suez in 1956 there was no appetite for another military collusion. Britain insisted there was “not a grain of truth” in the claims, pointing out that the only British aircraft carriers in the region were in Malta and Aden.

But the myth was too attractive, and too consoling, to be undermined by mere facts. It helped to explain and excuse the Arab military defeat, painted Israel as an imperialist stooge and played into an established narrative of Western aggression in the Middle East. Like most conspiracy theories, it was firmly embedded in wishful thinking; in the Arab world, it hardened into “fact”. The truth — that Israel had defeated three Arab states without Western military assistance — was too shameful to accept.

A telegram from the Foreign Office to Middle East posts noted that the Arab reaction was a function of mass psychology: “The Arabs’ reluctance to disbelieve all versions of the big lie springs in part from a need to believe that the Israelis could not have defeated them so thoroughly without outside assistance.”

The allegations of Anglo-American collusion with Israel were largely dismissed outside the Arab world. Nasser himself eventually retracted the claim, and within a month of the war King Hussein announced he was satisfied that “no American planes took part, or any British planes either”.

Yet the myth refused to die. Long after the war was over, it continued to be repeated as accepted truth, not just in the Arab media but in school textbooks. According to the Israeli historian Elie Podeh: “The repetition of this fabricated story in all history textbooks means that all Egyptian schoolchildren have been exposed to, and indoctrinated with, the collusion story.”

Half a century later the legacy of a lightning war continues to bedevil the Middle East. Israel tripled its territory in under a week, but the conflict over the conquest, and the subsequent occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, has defined Israel’s politics and international relations ever since. Underpinning this is the long-running, persistent and untrue claim that Israel achieved victory with direct British and American military assistance.

Conspiracy theory, to which the Arab world is notoriously prone, is usually a reflection of political weakness and a shield against unpleasant reality. Formally repudiating the big lie on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War would be a clear sign of historical maturity on the part of Arab states, and perhaps a step towards peace.

Arabs always rejected the idea of a home for Jews, and they still do

by  Peter Wertheim                    The Australian


This year is peppered with landmark anniversaries of key events in the history of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours: the charge of the Australian Light Horsemen at Beersheba in 1917; the Balfour Declaration two days later that endorsed the reconstitution of the Jewish national home; the resolution of the UN General Assembly in 1947 that recommended the partition of the Holy Land into a Jewish state and an Arab state; and the Six-Day War in 1967.

A lesser known but no less important date is July 7, the 80th anniversary of the publication of the report of the Palestine Royal Commission, established by Britain under the chairmanship of Lord William Peel.

It was this report in 1937, not the UN report on which the General Assembly based its famous resolution a decade later, that contained the first official recommen­dation in favour of partition based on the principle of two states for two peoples.

Far from being an obscure footnote of history, the Peel Commission inquiry repays close study today. The transcript of its proceedings and the brilliant summary of its findings by historian Reginald Coupland, one of the commissioners, lay bare the clash of claims, grievances and aspirations that lurk beneath what we now call the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and explain precisely why anything other than a two-state solution would result in far worse bloodshed than the conflict has produced to date.

Here is Coupland’s summary, as apposite today as when it was first published: “An irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country. There is no common ground between them. Their national aspirations are incompatible. The Arabs desire to revive the traditions of the Arab golden age. The Jews desire to show what they can achieve when restored to the land in which the Jewish nation was born. Neither of the two national ideals permits of combination in the service of a single state … But, while neither race can justly rule all Palestine, we see no reason why each race should not rule part of it … If (partition) offers neither party all it wants, it offers each what it wants most, namely freedom and security.”

The Palestine Royal Commission was established in August 1936 to investigate the causes of the six-month-long Arab revolt in what was then the British Mandate territory of Palestine. Its hearings across several months included a memorable session with the Palestinian national leader at the time, the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini.

Husseini shocked the commissioners with his extremism when he suggested that most of the existing Jewish population of Palestine should be forced to leave the country or be exterminated. When asked whether he thought the 400,000 Jews already living in Palestine could be assimilated into the country, he gave a one-word answer: “No.”

When pressed whether he meant that some of the Jews “would have to be removed by a process kindly or painful, as the case may be”, he replied: “We must leave all this to the future.” Husseini’s answer takes on an especially sinister connotation in light of the fact he was soon to become one of Nazi Germany’s most fanatical and devoted allies.

Following the mufti’s evidence, the commission noted ironically, “We are not questioning the mufti’s intentions … but we cannot forget what recently happened, despite treaty provisions and explicit assurances, to the Assyrian (Christian) minority in Iraq; nor can we forget that the hatred of the Arab politician for the (Jewish) National Home has never been concealed and that it has now permeated the Arab population as a whole.”

The Peel Commission recommended partitioning the land into separate Arab and Jewish states, and creating an international zone from Jaffa on the coast up to and including Jerusalem.

The plan was never implemented. The Arab leaders met in Damascus and resolved that partition would be rejected outright and that the British would have to choose “between our friendship and the Jews”. Although Jewish leaders took issue with some of the details of the plan, they were willing to accept the principle of partition and the rationale for it.

On May 17, 1939, as the Arab riots ended, the British issued a white paper severely limiting Jewish immigration into Palestine and land purchases. Published on the eve of World War II and the Holocaust, the white paper tore up the Balfour Declaration’s commitment to foster the Jewish national home and effectively signed the death warrant for tens of thousands of European Jews who otherwise might have found refuge from the approaching Nazi genocide. The existing Jewish population in Palestine would be relegated to permanent minority status in a future majority-Arab state.

Yet, incredibly, this too was rejected by Husseini and his followers. As Husseini’s evidence to the commission had revealed, they were resolved to expel or kill off most of the Jews already living in Palestine.

This rejectionist attitude sadly persists and remains at the core of the conflict.

A recent examination of the results of 400 surveys carried out by five Palestinian research centres in regular polls in the West Bank and Gaza has shown that during the past 20 years 70 per cent of Palestinians have continued to seek an immediate end of the State of Israel, or to see a two-state solution as merely a stepping stone towards that goal rather than as the basis of a permanent peace.

No peace initiative can succeed until this attitude changes fundamentally, and a majority of Palestinians is prepared to accept a declaration from its leaders similar to the memorable words uttered by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in his speech to the Israeli Knesset in 1977: “We used to reject you … Yet today I tell you, and declare it to the whole world, that we accept to live with you in permanent peace based on justice.”

Peter Wertheim is executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

An animated history of the Six Day War

A quick history of the Six Day War and how Israel liberated eastern Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation.