Shimon Peres suffers severe stroke
Son of former president Peres: We remain optimistic and hoping for the best
Former president Shimon Peres was in critical condition and fighting for his life at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer after suffering a severe stroke Tuesday night.
The veteran 93-year-old politician had just last week undergone placement of a cardiac pacemaker at the hospital and was discharged in good condition. He returned to the hospital for a checkup, but suddenly suffered a stroke.
Peres had complained of chest pains and had difficulty breathing. His personal physician is also his son-in-law, Prof. Rafi Walden, who is a leading surgeon and deputy director of Sheba. After hearing of his complaints, he took him to the hospital for tests.
It was learned late on Tuesday that he suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures (usually caused by uncontrolled hypertension).
It is also unknown whether there was any connection between the insertion of the pacemaker – to ensure a regular heartbeat – and the stroke.
Sheba director-general Prof. Yitzhak Kreiss said that Peres, in the intensive care unit, has suffered “lots of bleeding.”
An interdisciplinary team of Sheba’s best doctors are taking care of him, said, Kreiss.
The hemorrhagic strike is the same kind that put into a coma and eventually killed former prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Shortly after, Peres’ son Hemi asked people to pray for his father as he spoke to reporters outside the hospital.
“These have not been easy hours for my family and I. We have received many messages from people in Israel and abroad, who have enveloped us with warmth and love.”
He added: “Nothing is more precious to my father than the nation of Israel and its people. My father is a special person. I am remaining optimistic. I am praying and hoping for the best.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter that he and the entire people of Israel love him and hope he has a complete recovery.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog wrote on Twitter that he hopes Peres heals quickly. He said he hopes Peres will soon “resume making his clear, smart and enlightened voice heard.”
President Reuven Rivlin said: “I am following with concern the updates from the hospital, and pray together with the entire people for my friend Shimon’s recovery.”
News of his falling ill aroused much concern, with calls from all over the country and the world. Initially, the office of the ninth president said Peres was “conscious and in stable condition, but suddenly, his condition took a turn for the worse. It was announced that he was put under sedation to ease the continued treatment, and was connected to a respirator.
He was then taken for a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the brain for a “complete and accurate assessment of his condition,” the spokeswoman of his office said.
The longest serving of all of Israel’s public servants, Peres completed his seven-year term of office as president of the State of Israel just two weeks shy of his 91st birthday.
Born in Wiszniewo, Poland, he was one of the founders of the Labor-Zionist Youth Movement and a member of the Hagana during the prestate period. He became director- general of the Defense Ministry at age 29 and was a member of the Knesset from 1959 to 2007.
He served in different political parties, namely Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment, Labor and Kadima.
Peres spent a long period as Labor Party chairman, and held a string of government roles including two non-consecutive stints as prime minister, and over the years he was minister of Immigrant Absorption, Transportation, Information, Defense, Communications, (or Posts and Telegraphs as it was known then), Internal Affairs, Religious Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Regional Cooperation.
He served in some of these positions more than once.
He also had various stints as acting prime minister, deputy prime minister and vice prime minister.
Peres is one of the architects of the Oslo Accords. In recognition of his work for that famous agreement, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, an honor he shared with former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat and former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. (Jerusalem Post)
IDF says Syria fired missiles at its jets, but denies claim aircraft was downed
The Syrian army claimed on Tuesday it had shot down an Israeli warplane and a drone after an Israeli attack on a regime position in southern Syria, state media reported.
Syrian news agency SANA reported that President Bashar Assad’s forces shot down the Israeli aircraft in Syria after the IAF struck in the southern Quneitra countryside in response to a mortar exploding in the Golan Heights. The projectile’s landing in the Golan appeared to be spillover fire from fighting in Syria.
In a rare response to a foreign report, the IDF on Tuesday denied that any of its aircraft had been downed, but said Syrian forces had fired two surface-to-air missiles after the Israeli strike Monday night on a Syrian position.
However, the military said the missiles were nowhere near the vicinity of the Israel aircraft. The IDF added that all the Israeli jets had returned to base.
On Monday evening, Syrian fire crossed into the northern Golan Heights as a nationwide ceasefire brokered by the US and Russia came into effect in the embattled country.
In response, the Israeli air force attacked cannons belonging to the Syrian regime on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
The IDF considers the Syrian regime responsible for every action on its territory and will not suffer any attempt to hurt the sovereignty of the State of Israel and its residents safety, the army stated.
Eli Malka, head of the Golan Regional Council responded to Monday night’s fire emanating from Syria saying, “There is no difference between spillover fire and intentional fire, a bomb is a bomb and poses a risk to human life.”
“It is the responsibility of the Minister of Defense and the IDF to convey a clear message to all parties on the other side of the border that all shots fired in the Golan will be treated as firing on Israel and the IDF will respond by destructing the source of the fire,” Malka added. (Jerusalem Post)
Lieberman: Government must back soldiers, despite their occasional errors
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke Monday evening at Ariel University, answering questions from students and local residents. He began his speech by talking about Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is currently on trial for manslaughter after being filmed in March shooting the already-neutralized Palestinian terrorist Abed al Fatah al-Sharif to death in Hebron.
“We should all – media people, public figures, and politicians as well – remember: Any person who has not been convicted in court is innocent. Especially when we are speaking about soldiers who are under pressure (and experiencing friction with) a hostile population.”
“We must understand that maybe one of them makes a mistake. They’re only 18-19 years old, and a year’s grind produces results. Convicting before the trial is absurd. Sadly, many – in the political ranks as well – already convicted him before the trial. With us, its all backwards,” he continued. “My call to the public at large and the military establishment is this: Do not convict in advance. A military judicial system has to rule without pressures, and I expect the military court to rule in accordance with the facts, regardless of the pressures from left and right and (ignoring) background noises.”
Lieberman also said that Azaria deserved support whatever the conclusions of the legal proceeedings “We will stand by the soldier even if he made a mistake. We are committed to giving him all of the help (we can). It cannot be that soldiers in uniform become objects of politicians’ attacks. People in uniform are the emissaries of the people of Israel.”
The defense minister also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to adopt the fundamental principle, for any future agreement with the Palestinians, of land swaps. “Why does the ‘Triangle’ (a group of Arab downs adjacent to the Green Line) and Umm al-Fahm need to be part of Israel?,” he asked the audience. “Why do I need to subsidize Raed Salah and pay the salary of Hanin Zoabi? I do not understand why the prime minister will not adopt the core principle. The time has come for him and Likud to adopt the principle of land exchanges.”
This was Lieberman’s first such Q&A since becoming defense minister in May (Ynet News)
Israel meets Facebook officials over incitement complaints
The Israeli government and Facebook have agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network, a senior Israeli Cabinet minister said on Monday.
The announcement came after two government ministers met top Facebook officials to discuss the matter. The Facebook delegation is in Israel as the government pushes ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence.
Israel has argued that a wave of violence with the Palestinians over the past year has been fuelled by incitement, much of it spread on social media sites. It has repeatedly said that Facebook should do more to monitor and control the content, raising a host of legal and ethical issues over whether the company is responsible for material posted by its users.
Both Interior Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, two key figures in Israel’s battle against the alleged online provocations, participated in Monday’s meeting.
The interior minister’s office said they agreed with Facebook representatives to create teams that would figure out how best to monitor and remove inflammatory content, but did not elaborate further.
Erdan and Shaked have proposed legislation that seeks to force social networks to remove content Israel that considers to be incitement. An opposition lawmaker has also proposed a bill seeking to force social networks to self-monitor or face a fine. It was not clear whether Monday’s agreement would lead the lawmakers to shelve their bills.
In a statement, Facebook said “online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world”.
The social media company also said its community standards “make it clear there is no place for terrorists or content that promotes terrorism on Facebook”. It called the meeting “constructive,” but offered no details about its conclusions.
Israeli security authorities currently monitor for incitement, and then complain to Facebook. The company then determines whether the material in question violates its community standards, removing some items but allowing others to stay.
Shaked said on Monday that over the past four months Israel submitted 158 requests to Facebook to remove inciting content and another 13 requests to YouTube. She said Facebook granted about 95% of the requests and YouTube granted 80%.
“We know that the amount of inciting online is even greater so we have to continue and increase our efforts, and we will,” she said at a security conference. “An inciting page is a perpetual growth engine for terror if it is not removed.”
The Palestinians dismiss the Israeli allegations that the violence is caused by incitement. They say it is the result of nearly 50 years of Israeli military occupation and a lack of hope for gaining independence.
Digital rights groups have charged that such legislation is unlikely to be enforceable and say the laws are used as a pressure tactic to prompt Facebook to monitor users’ content. The groups warn of a slippery slope to censorship. (The Herald Globe)
Two IDF soldiers rescued after straying into Palestinian village
Two IDF soldiers were rescued after getting lost in the West Bank village of Tulkarem Monday evening, according to the IDF.
Once the soldiers realized they were in a Palestinian village they called the police. Soon after the villagers began throwing rocks at their vehicle.
The soldiers were eventually rescued by security forces.
There were no reports of injuries. The incident is being investigated.
In March two IDF soldiers narrowly escaped unharmed after they mistakenly followed Waze into the Kalandiya refugee camp late Monday night. (Jerusalem Post)
Israel eyeing Gaza-bound ‘women’s flotilla’ setting sail from Barcelona
Despite the recent reconciliation of ties between Israel and Turkey, it appears that the controversial Gaza-bound flotilla movement has yet to subside.
An activist flotilla sailing under the banner “Mujeres Rumbo a Gaza” (Women’s Boat to Gaza) was set to anchor off from Barcelona on Wednesday evening toward the Gaza Strip.
The small fleet of two vessels was slated to carry dozens of women from various nations, including Israel, with the aim of breaching and boycotting Israel’s naval blockade of the coastal Palestinian enclave.
Meanwhile, Israel was prepared to thwart the flotilla from illegally infringing on the maritime blockade of Gaza, which was established in 2007 following the terrorist group Hamas’s takeover of the Strip.
A diplomatic source on Sunday told The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew sister publication Ma’ariv that the Foreign Ministry was doing its utmost to deal with the matter. The source added that the ministry’s efforts sought to minimize possible diplomatic and media harm caused by the flotilla.
Israel and Egypt have also implemented a ground and aerial blockade of Gaza to thwart weapons and rocket materials from reaching the hands of terrorist entities.
With the capacity to haul 15 passengers each, the Amal (Hope) and the Zaytouna (Olive) sail boats were expected to dock at various ports on their journey across the Mediterranean. After setting sail from Barcelona following two days of anti-Israel events and lectures, the boats were slated to first stop in Corsica.
Among the pro-Palestinian activists due to board the vessels were European Parliament member Malin Bjork from Sweden, retired US army colonel Ann Wright and doctor Fouzia Hassan from Malaysia.
Among the Israeli nationals expected to take part in the flotilla was the media spokeswoman for controversial Arab-Israeli MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List), who was on the 2010 Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla.
In June, Israel and Turkey mended a six-year rift sparked by the Mavi Marmara incident, in which 10 Turkish citizens were killed attacking Israeli commandos.
Israel fears such flotillas could be used to transport materials to Gaza that could be used by terrorists to manufacture weapons and militant infrastructure.
Last June, the Israeli Navy intercepted a Swedish flotilla boat off the coast of Gaza without incident and towed the vessel into the Ashdod Port. (Jerusalem Post)
Serious negotiations vs. reality
by Zalman Shoval Israel Hayom
Channel 1’s “scoop” that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was at one point a KGB agent does not seem to have come as a shock to the Israeli intelligence establishment.
It also should not affect Israel’s decision on whether to accept Russia’s offer to host talks between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow, since Israel has already held talks with murderer and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat — meaning there is no moral argument for not holding similar talks with Agent Abbas.
The more important question is: Is the ground ripe for such talks, and is there any reasonable chance they would result in a positive outcome of any kind?
The first half of this two-part question has already been answered. The Palestinians continue to set preconditions for any meeting: the release of prisoners and the halt to all settlement construction (Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton noted this week that when Israel at one point froze construction for almost a year, there was no positive response from the Palestinians). Israel cannot accept these conditions, not for reasons of capriciousness or obstinacy, but because doing so would make negotiations meaningless and require Israel to make concessions on disputed issues in advance.
However, the second half of the question is the cause for the most concern: Is there an actual chance for a positive outcome to the negotiations when the Palestinian side announces at the outset that it has no intention of relinquishing “the right of return,” is not willing to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people (meaning recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state), or show flexibility on any issue whatsoever? Beyond that lies the fundamental question: Is the supposedly internationally accepted framework for a solution to the conflict — the two-state solution — still relevant, and if so, given the continuing chaos in the Middle East and the threats to security as a result, should the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel be contemplated at present?
All these questions are connected to the Oslo Accords, signed 23 years ago, that were meant to pave the way for peace and the establishment of the Palestinian state, but in reality raised the bar for terrorism and prevented us from finding other formulas for solving the problem. The Oslo Accords also designated the terrorist Palestine Liberation Organization as “the only representative of the Palestinian people,” gave international legitimacy to an organization that has made no secret of its ultimate goal of wiping out Israel, brought the organization’s leadership — which had been in exile in Libya since the First Lebanon War — to the territories, and brought an end to any possibility of there being other solutions, such as those involving Jordan.
The conceptual and practical failure of the Oslo Accords is now obvious, but possible alternatives are still out of reach, so one can only agree with Clinton when, referring to the Palestinians last week, she said that some conflicts cannot be solved with quick solutions and therefore must be managed (incidentally, an opinion similar to the one she presented during her tenure as secretary of state).
Israelis for the most part seem to at least have theoretical parameters for an arrangement: a separation of one kind or another from the majority of the Palestinian population; a dissolution of the “one-state solution” that would in practical terms mean the end of the vision of “the Jewish state”; a unified Jerusalem; leaving Israel in charge of security control of all areas between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea through the integration of settlement blocs in security arrangements. It may be possible or necessary to implement these parameters unilaterally, though negotiations are preferable — either with a true Palestinian representative body (which does not exist at the moment), or through an international or regional framework. Israel’s improved standing under the current government, both internationally and regionally, means this is now a more feasible option than it has been in the past.
It is within this context that Israel welcomed the current Russian initiative. But for this initiative, like other initiatives, to bear fruit, all sides must realize that those past formulas for an agreement no longer exist.
Israel is only one call away
Proud to be Israeli
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