Archive for the ‘Benjamin Netanyahu’ Category

Middle Eastern chaos gives Benjamin Netanyahu cover to take Israel wherever he likes – The Conversation UK

Benjamin Netanyahu is a polarising figure to say the least, but few would deny that hes an extremely talented and determined politician. That much is clear from just how long he has lasted in Israeli politics an environment in which its notoriously difficult to survive, never mind thrive. Along with David Ben-Gurion, he is the only Israeli prime minister to have served four terms, surpassing Ben-Gurion by being elected three times in a row. He now looks set to become the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history.

Having led the right-wing Likud party since 2005 and acting as a member of the Knesset as well as prime minister, he is undoubtedly the central force shaping his countrys domestic and foreign policy. Netanyahu is known for being relentless and unwavering in pursuit of his goals, which are defined by both his partys nationalist ideology and his personal preoccupation with security.

On that particular front, he was clearly shaped by his own experiences as a member of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF): he took part in multiple operations with the special forces in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and fought in the 1967-1970 War of Attrition with Egypt and the 1973 Yom Kippur/October War.

But even in his unrelenting defence of what he considers Israels best interests, Netanyahu is a realist and an opportunist. As Israels Arab neighbours navigate the post-Arab Spring era with their interests upended and regional alignments shuffled, Netanyahu sees a chance to improve Israels standing in the Middle East and improve its relationships with its neighbours, especially the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has a very clear view of what he believes to be in Israels best interests, and his recent policies are most certainly designed to be maximise the benefits to Israel with little concern for others: the rapid expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, for instance.

But ever the realist, Netanyahu knows that his window of opportunity wont last forever and since about 2014, Netanyahu has stepped up the pace at which he has been trying to change the facts on the ground in Israels favour. Thanks to a particular set of circumstances roiling the outside world, he is doing with bolstered confidence, embracing what might once have been considered highly ambitious policies.

Netanyahu has lately supported the IDFs forays into the Syrian conflict, including intermittent airstrikes on suspected arms convoys destined for Hezbollah. He also gave the go-ahead for the largest single settlement expansion in the West Bank for over two decades, with plans for 8,000 new homes this on the back of plans to build 15,000 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem.

Not long ago, this would have been a major flashpoint. For much of the past 20 years, Israels policies towards the Palestinians have come under a great deal of scrutiny in Arab and Western circles alike, with Israeli governments finding it ever harder to claim the moral high ground. But since 2011, the abject depths of barbarity and depravity in Syria, Iraq and Yemen have set the bar lower than many observers thought it would ever go. In such a climate, even Netanyahus most questionable policies towards the Palestinians simply dont raise other leaders eyebrows as they once did.

Israel, then, enjoys lighter international scrutiny and only token pressure from its distracted neighbours, while also benefiting from the Trump administrations subtle but clear green light for some of its more controversial projects.

Throughout the latest and now irretrievably moribund peace process, key leaders policies and decisions at seminal moments have narrowed the scope of Israels relations not just with the Palestinians, but with the Middle East at large. The region is now living through just such a moment, and Netanyahus presence at the helm might just have irreversibly limited the potential for a peaceful and secure future for all concerned.

Its not all good news for the Israeli government. As ever, the Middle Easts instability presents Israel with challenges as well as opportunities. Most pressingly, the post-2011 disintegration of Syria and Yemen raises the prospect that simmering rivalries could turn into direct military confrontations, especially between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As the stand-off between Qatar and several Saudi-led Gulf states goes to show, the calculus has changed a lot in just a few short years and understanding this new landscape is the key to understanding Netanyahus domestic and foreign priorities.

For now, then, Netanyahu is making the most of his opportunity to secure his goals. But in the long term, Israel has to remember that the Middle Eastern community at large however fractured seems determined to exclude it. Whatever lies ahead in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere, that fundamental reality is unlikely to change.

So while some of Netanyahus more extravagant or controversial actions might fly under the radar for now, their consequences for Israels future might be greater than even he, with all his experience and pragmatism, can anticipate.

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Middle Eastern chaos gives Benjamin Netanyahu cover to take Israel wherever he likes – The Conversation UK

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Trump arrives in Paris day before Netanyahu visit – The Jerusalem Post

PARIS – US President Donald Trump, under fire at home over Russian connections and abroad over climate change and trade, arrived in Paris on Thursday seeking common ground with France’s new leader Emmanuel Macron.

After a bumpy start to relations, the two men both have incentives to improve ties – Macron hoping to elevate France’s role in global affairs, and Trump, seemingly isolated among world leaders, needing a friend overseas.

Trump comes to France beset by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Emails released on Tuesday suggest his eldest son welcomed Russian help against his father’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Weeks after Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Palace of Versailles, Trump will bask in the trappings of the Bastille Day military parade on Friday and commemorations of the entry 100 years ago of US troops into World War One.

Talks will focus on shared diplomatic and military endeavors, but an Elysee official said Macron would not shy away from trickier issues. Trump has made few friends in Europe with his rejection of the Paris accord on climate change and “America First” trade stance.

“The meeting won’t avoid subjects on which we have different positions, such as climate and, to a certain extent, trade,” the Macron aide said.

Macron will greet Trump at the Hotel des Invalides, a grand 17th century complex where Napoleon Bonaparte and other war heroes are buried.

They will later dine with their wives at a restaurant on the second floor of Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The Elysee official said the symbolism was clear: “Paris is still Paris.”

During the US election campaign, Trump declared that a wave of militant attacks showed “France is no longer France,” urging the French to get tough on immigration and jihadists.

Trump and Macron are expected to discuss counter-terrorism and the situation in the Middle East, particularly the civil war in Syria, where Islamic State is defending its last major urban stronghold of Raqqa.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to arrive in the French capital on Friday afternoon ahead of a Sunday morning ceremony marking 75 years since a massive Nazi roundup in Paris of Jews, and a meeting with Macron. So far, there are no known public plans for Netanyahu and Trump to meet in Paris.

Netanyahu will spend three nights in Paris before going to Budapest for another three nights to attend a summit of the Visegrad group, made up of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

He is expected to hold both bilateral talks with the leaders of each of the four countries, as well as a joint meeting as well before returning to Israel on Thursday, July 20.

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Trump arrives in Paris day before Netanyahu visit – The Jerusalem Post

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Special Report: Netanyahu didn’t disclose ‘full list’ of conflicts of interest – The Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Communications Ministry did not disclose to the attorney-general the full list of his conflicts of interest connected to Bezeq and Wallas owner when requested, the State Comptrollers Office said in a report on Wednesday.

Businessman Shaul Elovitch is the controlling shareholder of Yes, Bezeq, Pelephone, Bezeq International, Halal Communications and Walla and has been a close friend of Netanyahu, who held all aspects of the Communications Minister portfolio until June 2016.

Multiple rounds of review of the prime ministers possible conflicts of interest by Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit from June 2016-onward gradually reduced his powers as communications minister until he fully relinquished the portfolio in February 2017.

This reviews came after media reports in late 2015 that Netanyahu had failed to disclose his ties to Elovitch.

Further, the revelations in Wednesdays State Comptrollers Report that aspects of Netanyahus conflicts of interest as communications minister and as a friend of Elovitch were not disclosed to Mandelblit even in June 2016 come as Elovitch is under criminal investigation for allegedly violating conflict- of-interest principles in a transaction between two of his companies: Bezeq and Yes.

Moreover, the report said the Prime Ministers Office did not deny that discussions between the prime minister and Elovitch may have touched on issues that the prime minister was involved in his capacity as communications minister.

According to State Comptroller Joseph Shapiras report, the Communications Ministry put together a list of 12 issues where the Netanyahu- Elovitch conflict could be problematic on a policy level.

Aspects of this list were not provided to Mandelblit when he permitted Netanyahu to continue as communications minister in June 2016, provided the prime minister refrained from involvement in certain issues.

In other words, Shapira said Mandelblits list of issues was incomplete, and the attorney-general might have directed Netanyahu to entirely give up the Communications Ministry in June 2016 had he seen the full list.

In fact, neither the ministry nor the prime minister provided this full list to the comptroller in August 2016 when responding to Shapiras request for information.

The report does not reveal how the State Comptrollers Office acquired the list, only stating that it acquired it over the course of its review of the issue from mid-2016 to June 2017.

But a spokesman for the comptroller clarified that there was no point at which the Communications Ministry or the Prime Ministers Office voluntary provided the information, and that it was acquired via inspections performed by the comptrollers staff as authorized by law.

Moreover, he comptroller questioned whether aspects of the governments coalition agreement needed to be reexamined for conflict of interest issues, since Netanyahus role as communications minister was part of the deal.

In addition, the report stated that Mandelblits office did not disclose all issues in his June 2016 public announcement that he was directing Netanyahu to refrain from involvement in Elovitch-related decisions.

Out of the public eye, the Attorney-Generals Office reviewed whether it should investigate major Elovitch-related policy decisions that Netanyahu had already made which may have involved a conflict of interest.

This review along with its eventual decision not to revisit Netanyahus past conflicted decisions and its reasoning for refraining from revisiting them were not revealed to the public in June 2016, indeed, not until Shapiras report disclosed the issue on Wednesday.

Mandelblits office explained that since no one had raised a specific alleged violation and that the issue in question was just the concept of avoiding conflicts as a matter of good governance, there was insufficient justification to warrant the exceptional measure of revising past decisions.

Shapira disagreed, stating, The publics faith requires that the results of a review be brought to the knowledge of the public. A situation where the public does not know that the Justice Ministry is reviewing the consequences of past decisions implicating conflicts of interest… could cause harm to the publics faith.

He also wrote that Mandelblits office should have dug deeper into what was said in conversations between Netanyahu and Elovitch.

Elovitch, meanwhile has denied that the two men discussed policy issues related to a conflict of interest.

The comptroller also questioned whether Communications Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber should not have had Elovitch-related policy decisions removed from his authority.

While not questioning Filbers qualifications, Shapira wrote that Filbers status as the Likud campaign chairman in the 2015 election, and as a key Netanyahu aide in earlier years, meant that his appointment in the ministry was a close political appointment.

Shapira expressed criticism that the attorney-general did not review or impose conflict- of-interest parameters on Filber, and called for a standardization of criteria to apply in any future similar situation.

Also on Wednesday, the Israel Securities Authority questioned Filber as part of the Elovitch probe.

The ISA said Filber was questioned on suspicions of committing integrity and securities offenses, while Hebrew media reported that the director-general is suspected of giving favorable treatment to Bezeq.

The State Comptrollers Report also touches on the Communication Ministrys failure to move forward with a range of reforms meant to encourage Internet and telecommunications competition to lower price and improve service quality.

Decisions from 2015 or earlier directing Bezeq to permit competitors to fully use its infrastructure or to partially piggyback off its infrastructure by permitting competitors to insert wires into its pipes were either partially implemented or not implemented at all, said the report.

The same was true regarding the reform of directing Bezeq to sell some of its fixed telephone landlines.

Another reform that was opposed by many in the professional level of the Communications Ministry, but pushed by Filber, was loosening limits on how Bezeq, and therefore potentially Elovitch, could meld together the economic power of Bezeq and its subsidiaries.

Until now, Bezeq, and its subsidiaries such as the Yes satellite television provider, were under the same ownership.

But Elovitch, as controlling shareholder, and other shareholders, could not mix assets or share certain information.

It is unclear what will happen with this reform, especially in light of the current probe against Elovitch for allegedly violating conflicts principles in a merger and other related transactions between Bezeq and Yes.

The report also said that the Communications Ministrys negotiations with Bezeq regarding this reform were questionable in failing to keep records of discussions, failing to check Bezeqs presented economic calculations and in the suspicious timing of approving the merger.

The report quoted the Prime Ministers Office as saying We completely reject the conclusions of the state comptroller, but declining to address specific issues, adding that the main criticized party was the Communications Ministry.

A spokesman for the prime minister categorized the comptrollers criticism as just one more of many attempts to create the appearance of a scandal around Netanyahu.

The statement said that Netanyahu acted in line with Mandelblits instructions regarding any conflicts of interest.

While the Communications Ministry indicated it would respond to Jerusalem Post inquiries, none was received by press time.

Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this report.

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Special Report: Netanyahu didn’t disclose ‘full list’ of conflicts of interest – The Jerusalem Post

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Despite Netanyahu push, Jewish nation-state bill unlikely to be fast-tracked – The Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 3, 2017. . (photo credit:REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus plan to have Basic Law: Nation-State of the Jewish People pass a first reading in the next two weeks is practically impossible, Likud MK Amir Ohana, chairman of a brand-new special committee to pass the legislation, said on Wednesday.

Netanyahu strongly backs the bill declaring Israel to be the nation-state of the Jewish people, saying on Monday that this is a central matter; it is the essence of our existence, and that it would pass a first reading by the time the Knessets summer session ends on July 26.

Ohana said he spoke to Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon, who told him the demand to so speedily pass a complex Basic Law a law that is meant to form part of an eventual constitution is unrealistic, and even if we sit day and night, its not clear that well succeed.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), a close Netanyahu ally who proposed one of the many iterations of the nation-state bill in the previous Knesset, said the legal argument that the legislation cant be passed so fast is just an attempt to block it.

There is a long public debate taking place on the topic since it passed a preliminary vote long ago [on May 10], and there is nothing stopping the committee from holding meetings in the coming two weeks, Levin said. The claim is unfounded, because of the simple fact that if we would pass the bill as a government proposal, there wouldnt be any debates in a committee before a first reading.

Opposition MKs said Netanyahu was rushing the bill to distract attention from other problems.

According to MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List), its because of the investigation into allegations of corruption the purchase of submarines from Germany: This is the submarine effect… Every time theres trouble or investigations, there is a nationalist, racist law.

Meretz MK Esawi Frej said its because Avi Gabbay was elected head of the Labor Party, and Netanyahu is worried about the polls.

The nation-state bill is mostly declarative, describing the state symbol, national anthem, flag and capital, saying Israel works to strengthen ties to the Diaspora and repeating the Law of Return.

Speaking at the Knesset House Committee meeting called on Wednesday to authorize the formation of the special committee for the bill, Ohana said the new panel emphasizes the importance the government sees in this matter.

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Despite Netanyahu push, Jewish nation-state bill unlikely to be fast-tracked – The Jerusalem Post

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Hungary to take down controversial Soros posters ahead of Netanyahu visit – The Jerusalem Post

Breaking news. (photo credit:JPOST STAFF)

The Hungarian government will take down controversial posters attacking Jewish US-Hungarian billionaire George Soros, before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest next week, Hungarian media reported Wednesday.

Hungarian news outlet HVG reported that the posters would be taken down by July 15, with the completion of the government’s campaign against Soros, whom it attacked for his pro-immigrant stance.

Netanyahu is due to meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbn on July 18.

The Israeli government had given mixed messaging about the anti-Soros campaign, which was slammed by the Hungarian Jewish community as antisemitic.

Initially, the Israeli Embassy in Budapest called on the Hungarian government to take down the posters, saying “the campaign not only evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear. But the following day, the Foreign Ministry issued a clarification, saying that while it deplored antisemitism anywhere, the ambassador’s statement was not meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who it said “continuously undermines Israels democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself.

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Benjamin Netanyahu, Rivlin hold rare joint greeting for Rwandan … – The Jerusalem Post

He didnt do it when US President Donald Trump met with President Reuven Rivlin last month; nor did he do it when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with President Rivlin last week. But when it came to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed up at the Presidents Residence on Monday to join in greeting his Rwandan friend and colleague.

It is not uncommon for the prime minister to attend a state dinner hosted by the president of Israel in honor of the president of the United States or the president of India, but as a rule there is a division of labor and Netanyahu stays out of Rivlins domain and Rivlin stays out of Netanyahus.

The fact that the prime minister chose to deviate from this custom on Monday was the most telling sign of the value that Israel places on its relationship with Rwanda in general and with Kagame in particular.

Rivlin and Netanyahu went out together to meet Kagame as his car pulled to a stop in the presidential compound.

The three then stood at attention for the national anthems played by a military band and subsequently, escorted by Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol Meron Reuben, they strode along the red carpet into the reception hall where Netanyahu credited Kagame with helping to pave the way for Israels return to Africa.

It all began with his conversation with Kagame, said Netanyahu. Thanks in part to Kagame’s help, Netanyahu will make his third trip to Africa in a span of less than three years.

Turning to Kagame he said: You were the indispensable bridge on which we marched step by step to return to Africa.

Part of the mutual understanding between Israel and Rwanda is a shared tragic legacy that was referred to by both Rivlin and Netanyahu. Israelis live with the memory of the Holocaust, and Rwandans with the memory of the carnage of genocide in their country in which more than a million people, including women and children, were butchered.

The peoples of both countries have pledged Never again! said Netanyahu..

Both he and Rivlin also expressed appreciation for the way in which Rwanda stands up for Israel at international forums.

Rivlin said that he knew that this was not Kagames first visit to Israel, but he was also aware that this visit would serve to strengthen the existing deep relationship. He also noted how pleased Israel was that Kagame in an address to AIPAC had said that Israel is without question a friend of Rwanda.

Rivlin also noted that Rwanda is now a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council that has always been against Israel. He implied that with Rwandas influence this may change.

Kagame said that he was very pleased to be back in Israel to reaffirm the blossoming relationship.

He also praised Israel for following through on commitment which it had made to Rwanda.

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Syria ceasfire: Benjamin Netanyahu supports decision but warns against Iran’s military presence – Firstpost

Jerusalem:Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday welcomed the ceasefire in Syria but warned that Israel would not allow Iran and Hezbollah to establish a military presence in the neighbouring country.

File image of Benjamin Netanyahu. Reuters

“Israel will welcome a genuine ceasefire in Syria,” Netanyahu said at his weekly cabinet meeting, referring to a ceasefire agreement reached Friday between the US and Russia to quell fighting in southwestern Syria, Xinhnua news agency reported.

“This ceasefire must not enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular,” he added.

Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to monitor developments beyond its disputed border with Syria, “while strongly upholding our red lines.”

He explained that these red lines include preventing Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based, Iran-backed militia that fights along President Bashar al-Assad’s army, from growing in Syria.

“Israel will prevent Hezbollah, or Iranian forces, from establishing a ground presence along our border, and prevent the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria as a whole,” said Netanyahu.

The ceasefire agreement was achieved after meetings between US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Hamburg, Germany.

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Netanyahu thanks Modi for Israel visit, says ‘jald fir milenge’ – India Today

1

The visit to Israel drew wider media coverage for the bonhomie Modi shared with Netanyahu.

2

The Israeli PM evidently went out of his way to reach out to his guests.

3

The hosts led by Netanyahu, peppered their interactions with Hindi phrases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to Israel was historic in more ways than one as the two countries were speaking in the same language – literally. Senior members of the delegation accompanying Modi told Mail Today that the hosts, led by Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, peppered their interactions with Hindi phrases to strike a cordial note.

Modi returned to New Delhi on Sunday after his tour to Israel and Germany. However, it was the visit to Israel that drew wider media coverage for the bonhomie Modi shared with his Jewish counterpart.

“There were several light moments between the two leaders, one such being their last words to each other at the airport,” said a member of the PM entourage, who requested anonymity.

“While seeing Modi off, Netanyahu said, ‘Aapki yatra shubh ho’ (wish you a happy journey). Netanyahu was quick to ask if his pronunciation was correct to which Modi nodded with much affection. Later, Netanyahu tweeted, ‘Israel aane ke liye dhanyavad Pradhanmantri Narendra Modi, jald fir milenge’ (Thanks for your visit to Israel, PM Modi. See you again, soon.)”

HINDI- NDA’S FIRST CHOICE ON GLOBAL FORUMS

Senior diplomats pointed out that the visit marks a significant shift as leaders from previous governments have preferred interacting in English while Hindi is the first choice for NDA leaders on global forums. “The pride of place Hindi got in Israel is owing to PM Modi’s own fondness for the language,” said a senior diplomat.

“When a leader uses his native language often, it is more likely that the host also reverts in the same language,” ministry of external affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay told Mail Today.

“While former PM Manmohan Singh used to mostly converse in English, Modi’s frequent use of Hindi language has drawn more usage and respect for it. Essentially, the usage of Hindi is not just a tool for leaders to bond but it officially marks respect for the language, its people and the culture.”

NETANYAHU WENT OUT OF HIS WAY TO REACH OUT TO GUESTS

While use of simple greetings in the native language of visiting heads of state is common, the Israeli PM evidently went out of his way to reach out to his guests.

“It is a good way for leaders to say a few things in the language of the host country and Modi greeted the Israeli PM in Hebrew and also tweeted in Hebrew. Then, we saw how Netanyahu went beyond protocol and arrived at the airport to receive Modi,” Baglay said. “Here, he greeted him with ‘aapka swagat hai mere dost’ (you are welcome, my friend).”

LANGUAGE, A TOOL FOR EFFECTIVE DIPLOMACY?

Baglay pointed out that even at the G20 summit that concluded on Saturday, Modi spoke in Hindi on several occasions. “Whenever other state leaders use their native language and when there are options for interpretation, he uses Hindi,” Baglay said. “It must be understood in the context of the soft power of India…because of the popularity of Bollywood films and music, yoga etc. Use of Hindi resonates the soft power outreach.”

Several members of the delegation agreed that the warmth they saw in Israel was unprecedented. “In the Netherlands too, the PM tweeted in Hindi. While it is a common practice to use a few words to greet leaders in their native language, the extent in Israel was unprecedented,” said a senior MEA official, who was part of delegation.

The official felt a strong leader can use a native language as a tool for effective diplomacy. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke in Hindi while addressing the United Nations. Narasimha Rao knew several languages and would use them to converse with state heads. It is an important diplomatic tool for achieving a goal and helps in smoothening the turf,” said an international affairs expert.

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PM Netanyahu greets PM Modi: Aapka swagat hai, mere dost

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Netanyahu warns against Iranian move-in amid ceasefire in southwest Syria – The Jerusalem Post

The Syrian area of Quneitra is seen in the background as an out-of-commission Israeli tank parks on a hill, near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, in the Golan Heights.. (photo credit:BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that a ceasefire plan that took effect at noon in southwestern Syria should not allow for a vacuum to be filled by Iran and its proxies in the area near the border with Israel.

Netanyahu added that Israel would welcome a genuine ceasefire in Syria, but heeded caution in addressing the latest international attempt at peacemaking in the Syrian conflict.

The United States, Russia and Jordan reached the ceasefire and “de-escalation agreement” last week with the aim of paving the way for a broader, more robust truce.

“Last week I discussed the matter in in-depth discussions with US Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting shortly before the planned ceasefire took effect. “They both told me that they understand the positions of Israel and that they would honor our demands.”

The premier on Sunday underlined that Israel would continued to monitor the fighting over the border in the civil war in Syria that has been raging for more than six years.

He added that Israel would stand firm in its “red lines” on preventing the conflict from spilling over the border. Such efforts, he said, included “preventing Hezbollah from gaining force in Syria by means of acquiring advanced precision weapons, preventing Hezbollah from establishing a ground force presence near our [Israel’s] border and preventing the establishment of an Iranian military presence throughout Syria.”

Israeli officials were consulted on the ceasefire plan, negotiated over several months by Russia, the United States and Jordan with Ammans security topping concerns. At the Israeli governments request, Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of the matter by phone on Thursday, in the context of joint efforts against international terrorism , the Kremlin said.

Several ceasefires have crumbled since the onset of the conflict and it was not clear how much the combatants – Syrian government forces and the main rebels in the southwest – were committed to this latest effort.

With the help of Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government has put rebels on the back foot over the last year. The wide array of mostly Sunni rebels include jihadist factions and other groups supported by Turkey, the United States and Gulf monarchies.

Earlier talks between the US and Russia about a “de-escalation zone” in southwest Syria covered Deraa province on the border with Jordan and Quneitra, which borders the Israel’s Golan Heights.

A senior State Department official involved in the talks said further discussions would be necessary to decide crucial aspects of the agreement, including who will monitor its enforcement.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the deal includes “securing humanitarian access and setting up contacts between the opposition in the region and a monitoring center that is being established in Jordan’s capital.”

The multi-sided Syrian conflict, which grew out of popular protests against Assad’s rule in 2011, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and created the world’s worst refugee crisis.

Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Middle Eastern chaos gives Benjamin Netanyahu cover to take Israel wherever he likes – The Conversation UK

Benjamin Netanyahu is a polarising figure to say the least, but few would deny that hes an extremely talented and determined politician. That much is clear from just how long he has lasted in Israeli politics an environment in which its notoriously difficult to survive, never mind thrive. Along with David Ben-Gurion, he is the only Israeli prime minister to have served four terms, surpassing Ben-Gurion by being elected three times in a row. He now looks set to become the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history. Having led the right-wing Likud party since 2005 and acting as a member of the Knesset as well as prime minister, he is undoubtedly the central force shaping his countrys domestic and foreign policy. Netanyahu is known for being relentless and unwavering in pursuit of his goals, which are defined by both his partys nationalist ideology and his personal preoccupation with security. On that particular front, he was clearly shaped by his own experiences as a member of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF): he took part in multiple operations with the special forces in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and fought in the 1967-1970 War of Attrition with Egypt and the 1973 Yom Kippur/October War. But even in his unrelenting defence of what he considers Israels best interests, Netanyahu is a realist and an opportunist. As Israels Arab neighbours navigate the post-Arab Spring era with their interests upended and regional alignments shuffled, Netanyahu sees a chance to improve Israels standing in the Middle East and improve its relationships with its neighbours, especially the Palestinians. Netanyahu has a very clear view of what he believes to be in Israels best interests, and his recent policies are most certainly designed to be maximise the benefits to Israel with little concern for others: the rapid expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, for instance. But ever the realist, Netanyahu knows that his window of opportunity wont last forever and since about 2014, Netanyahu has stepped up the pace at which he has been trying to change the facts on the ground in Israels favour. Thanks to a particular set of circumstances roiling the outside world, he is doing with bolstered confidence, embracing what might once have been considered highly ambitious policies. Netanyahu has lately supported the IDFs forays into the Syrian conflict, including intermittent airstrikes on suspected arms convoys destined for Hezbollah. He also gave the go-ahead for the largest single settlement expansion in the West Bank for over two decades, with plans for 8,000 new homes this on the back of plans to build 15,000 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem. Not long ago, this would have been a major flashpoint. For much of the past 20 years, Israels policies towards the Palestinians have come under a great deal of scrutiny in Arab and Western circles alike, with Israeli governments finding it ever harder to claim the moral high ground. But since 2011, the abject depths of barbarity and depravity in Syria, Iraq and Yemen have set the bar lower than many observers thought it would ever go. In such a climate, even Netanyahus most questionable policies towards the Palestinians simply dont raise other leaders eyebrows as they once did. Israel, then, enjoys lighter international scrutiny and only token pressure from its distracted neighbours, while also benefiting from the Trump administrations subtle but clear green light for some of its more controversial projects. Throughout the latest and now irretrievably moribund peace process, key leaders policies and decisions at seminal moments have narrowed the scope of Israels relations not just with the Palestinians, but with the Middle East at large. The region is now living through just such a moment, and Netanyahus presence at the helm might just have irreversibly limited the potential for a peaceful and secure future for all concerned. Its not all good news for the Israeli government. As ever, the Middle Easts instability presents Israel with challenges as well as opportunities. Most pressingly, the post-2011 disintegration of Syria and Yemen raises the prospect that simmering rivalries could turn into direct military confrontations, especially between Iran and Saudi Arabia. As the stand-off between Qatar and several Saudi-led Gulf states goes to show, the calculus has changed a lot in just a few short years and understanding this new landscape is the key to understanding Netanyahus domestic and foreign priorities. For now, then, Netanyahu is making the most of his opportunity to secure his goals. But in the long term, Israel has to remember that the Middle Eastern community at large however fractured seems determined to exclude it. Whatever lies ahead in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere, that fundamental reality is unlikely to change. So while some of Netanyahus more extravagant or controversial actions might fly under the radar for now, their consequences for Israels future might be greater than even he, with all his experience and pragmatism, can anticipate.

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Trump arrives in Paris day before Netanyahu visit – The Jerusalem Post

PARIS – US President Donald Trump, under fire at home over Russian connections and abroad over climate change and trade, arrived in Paris on Thursday seeking common ground with France’s new leader Emmanuel Macron. After a bumpy start to relations, the two men both have incentives to improve ties – Macron hoping to elevate France’s role in global affairs, and Trump, seemingly isolated among world leaders, needing a friend overseas. Trump comes to France beset by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Emails released on Tuesday suggest his eldest son welcomed Russian help against his father’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Weeks after Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Palace of Versailles, Trump will bask in the trappings of the Bastille Day military parade on Friday and commemorations of the entry 100 years ago of US troops into World War One. Talks will focus on shared diplomatic and military endeavors, but an Elysee official said Macron would not shy away from trickier issues. Trump has made few friends in Europe with his rejection of the Paris accord on climate change and “America First” trade stance. “The meeting won’t avoid subjects on which we have different positions, such as climate and, to a certain extent, trade,” the Macron aide said. Macron will greet Trump at the Hotel des Invalides, a grand 17th century complex where Napoleon Bonaparte and other war heroes are buried. They will later dine with their wives at a restaurant on the second floor of Paris’ Eiffel Tower. The Elysee official said the symbolism was clear: “Paris is still Paris.” During the US election campaign, Trump declared that a wave of militant attacks showed “France is no longer France,” urging the French to get tough on immigration and jihadists. Trump and Macron are expected to discuss counter-terrorism and the situation in the Middle East, particularly the civil war in Syria, where Islamic State is defending its last major urban stronghold of Raqqa. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to arrive in the French capital on Friday afternoon ahead of a Sunday morning ceremony marking 75 years since a massive Nazi roundup in Paris of Jews, and a meeting with Macron. So far, there are no known public plans for Netanyahu and Trump to meet in Paris. Netanyahu will spend three nights in Paris before going to Budapest for another three nights to attend a summit of the Visegrad group, made up of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He is expected to hold both bilateral talks with the leaders of each of the four countries, as well as a joint meeting as well before returning to Israel on Thursday, July 20. Share on facebook

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Special Report: Netanyahu didn’t disclose ‘full list’ of conflicts of interest – The Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Communications Ministry did not disclose to the attorney-general the full list of his conflicts of interest connected to Bezeq and Wallas owner when requested, the State Comptrollers Office said in a report on Wednesday. Businessman Shaul Elovitch is the controlling shareholder of Yes, Bezeq, Pelephone, Bezeq International, Halal Communications and Walla and has been a close friend of Netanyahu, who held all aspects of the Communications Minister portfolio until June 2016. Multiple rounds of review of the prime ministers possible conflicts of interest by Attorney- General Avichai Mandelblit from June 2016-onward gradually reduced his powers as communications minister until he fully relinquished the portfolio in February 2017. This reviews came after media reports in late 2015 that Netanyahu had failed to disclose his ties to Elovitch. Further, the revelations in Wednesdays State Comptrollers Report that aspects of Netanyahus conflicts of interest as communications minister and as a friend of Elovitch were not disclosed to Mandelblit even in June 2016 come as Elovitch is under criminal investigation for allegedly violating conflict- of-interest principles in a transaction between two of his companies: Bezeq and Yes. Moreover, the report said the Prime Ministers Office did not deny that discussions between the prime minister and Elovitch may have touched on issues that the prime minister was involved in his capacity as communications minister. According to State Comptroller Joseph Shapiras report, the Communications Ministry put together a list of 12 issues where the Netanyahu- Elovitch conflict could be problematic on a policy level. Aspects of this list were not provided to Mandelblit when he permitted Netanyahu to continue as communications minister in June 2016, provided the prime minister refrained from involvement in certain issues. In other words, Shapira said Mandelblits list of issues was incomplete, and the attorney-general might have directed Netanyahu to entirely give up the Communications Ministry in June 2016 had he seen the full list. In fact, neither the ministry nor the prime minister provided this full list to the comptroller in August 2016 when responding to Shapiras request for information. The report does not reveal how the State Comptrollers Office acquired the list, only stating that it acquired it over the course of its review of the issue from mid-2016 to June 2017. But a spokesman for the comptroller clarified that there was no point at which the Communications Ministry or the Prime Ministers Office voluntary provided the information, and that it was acquired via inspections performed by the comptrollers staff as authorized by law. Moreover, he comptroller questioned whether aspects of the governments coalition agreement needed to be reexamined for conflict of interest issues, since Netanyahus role as communications minister was part of the deal. In addition, the report stated that Mandelblits office did not disclose all issues in his June 2016 public announcement that he was directing Netanyahu to refrain from involvement in Elovitch-related decisions. Out of the public eye, the Attorney-Generals Office reviewed whether it should investigate major Elovitch-related policy decisions that Netanyahu had already made which may have involved a conflict of interest. This review along with its eventual decision not to revisit Netanyahus past conflicted decisions and its reasoning for refraining from revisiting them were not revealed to the public in June 2016, indeed, not until Shapiras report disclosed the issue on Wednesday. Mandelblits office explained that since no one had raised a specific alleged violation and that the issue in question was just the concept of avoiding conflicts as a matter of good governance, there was insufficient justification to warrant the exceptional measure of revising past decisions. Shapira disagreed, stating, The publics faith requires that the results of a review be brought to the knowledge of the public. A situation where the public does not know that the Justice Ministry is reviewing the consequences of past decisions implicating conflicts of interest… could cause harm to the publics faith. He also wrote that Mandelblits office should have dug deeper into what was said in conversations between Netanyahu and Elovitch. Elovitch, meanwhile has denied that the two men discussed policy issues related to a conflict of interest. The comptroller also questioned whether Communications Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber should not have had Elovitch-related policy decisions removed from his authority. While not questioning Filbers qualifications, Shapira wrote that Filbers status as the Likud campaign chairman in the 2015 election, and as a key Netanyahu aide in earlier years, meant that his appointment in the ministry was a close political appointment. Shapira expressed criticism that the attorney-general did not review or impose conflict- of-interest parameters on Filber, and called for a standardization of criteria to apply in any future similar situation. Also on Wednesday, the Israel Securities Authority questioned Filber as part of the Elovitch probe. The ISA said Filber was questioned on suspicions of committing integrity and securities offenses, while Hebrew media reported that the director-general is suspected of giving favorable treatment to Bezeq. The State Comptrollers Report also touches on the Communication Ministrys failure to move forward with a range of reforms meant to encourage Internet and telecommunications competition to lower price and improve service quality. Decisions from 2015 or earlier directing Bezeq to permit competitors to fully use its infrastructure or to partially piggyback off its infrastructure by permitting competitors to insert wires into its pipes were either partially implemented or not implemented at all, said the report. The same was true regarding the reform of directing Bezeq to sell some of its fixed telephone landlines. Another reform that was opposed by many in the professional level of the Communications Ministry, but pushed by Filber, was loosening limits on how Bezeq, and therefore potentially Elovitch, could meld together the economic power of Bezeq and its subsidiaries. Until now, Bezeq, and its subsidiaries such as the Yes satellite television provider, were under the same ownership. But Elovitch, as controlling shareholder, and other shareholders, could not mix assets or share certain information. It is unclear what will happen with this reform, especially in light of the current probe against Elovitch for allegedly violating conflicts principles in a merger and other related transactions between Bezeq and Yes. The report also said that the Communications Ministrys negotiations with Bezeq regarding this reform were questionable in failing to keep records of discussions, failing to check Bezeqs presented economic calculations and in the suspicious timing of approving the merger. The report quoted the Prime Ministers Office as saying We completely reject the conclusions of the state comptroller, but declining to address specific issues, adding that the main criticized party was the Communications Ministry. A spokesman for the prime minister categorized the comptrollers criticism as just one more of many attempts to create the appearance of a scandal around Netanyahu. The statement said that Netanyahu acted in line with Mandelblits instructions regarding any conflicts of interest. While the Communications Ministry indicated it would respond to Jerusalem Post inquiries, none was received by press time. Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this report. Share on facebook

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Despite Netanyahu push, Jewish nation-state bill unlikely to be fast-tracked – The Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 3, 2017. . (photo credit:REUTERS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus plan to have Basic Law: Nation-State of the Jewish People pass a first reading in the next two weeks is practically impossible, Likud MK Amir Ohana, chairman of a brand-new special committee to pass the legislation, said on Wednesday. Netanyahu strongly backs the bill declaring Israel to be the nation-state of the Jewish people, saying on Monday that this is a central matter; it is the essence of our existence, and that it would pass a first reading by the time the Knessets summer session ends on July 26. Ohana said he spoke to Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon, who told him the demand to so speedily pass a complex Basic Law a law that is meant to form part of an eventual constitution is unrealistic, and even if we sit day and night, its not clear that well succeed. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud), a close Netanyahu ally who proposed one of the many iterations of the nation-state bill in the previous Knesset, said the legal argument that the legislation cant be passed so fast is just an attempt to block it. There is a long public debate taking place on the topic since it passed a preliminary vote long ago [on May 10], and there is nothing stopping the committee from holding meetings in the coming two weeks, Levin said. The claim is unfounded, because of the simple fact that if we would pass the bill as a government proposal, there wouldnt be any debates in a committee before a first reading. Opposition MKs said Netanyahu was rushing the bill to distract attention from other problems. According to MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List), its because of the investigation into allegations of corruption the purchase of submarines from Germany: This is the submarine effect… Every time theres trouble or investigations, there is a nationalist, racist law. Meretz MK Esawi Frej said its because Avi Gabbay was elected head of the Labor Party, and Netanyahu is worried about the polls. The nation-state bill is mostly declarative, describing the state symbol, national anthem, flag and capital, saying Israel works to strengthen ties to the Diaspora and repeating the Law of Return. Speaking at the Knesset House Committee meeting called on Wednesday to authorize the formation of the special committee for the bill, Ohana said the new panel emphasizes the importance the government sees in this matter. Share on facebook

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Hungary to take down controversial Soros posters ahead of Netanyahu visit – The Jerusalem Post

Breaking news. (photo credit:JPOST STAFF) The Hungarian government will take down controversial posters attacking Jewish US-Hungarian billionaire George Soros, before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Budapest next week, Hungarian media reported Wednesday. Hungarian news outlet HVG reported that the posters would be taken down by July 15, with the completion of the government’s campaign against Soros, whom it attacked for his pro-immigrant stance. Netanyahu is due to meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbn on July 18. The Israeli government had given mixed messaging about the anti-Soros campaign, which was slammed by the Hungarian Jewish community as antisemitic. Initially, the Israeli Embassy in Budapest called on the Hungarian government to take down the posters, saying “the campaign not only evokes sad memories but also sows hatred and fear. But the following day, the Foreign Ministry issued a clarification, saying that while it deplored antisemitism anywhere, the ambassador’s statement was not meant to delegitimize criticism of George Soros, who it said “continuously undermines Israels democratically elected governments by funding organizations that defame the Jewish state and seek to deny it the right to defend itself. Share on facebook

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July 13, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Benjamin Netanyahu, Rivlin hold rare joint greeting for Rwandan … – The Jerusalem Post

He didnt do it when US President Donald Trump met with President Reuven Rivlin last month; nor did he do it when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with President Rivlin last week. But when it came to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed up at the Presidents Residence on Monday to join in greeting his Rwandan friend and colleague. It is not uncommon for the prime minister to attend a state dinner hosted by the president of Israel in honor of the president of the United States or the president of India, but as a rule there is a division of labor and Netanyahu stays out of Rivlins domain and Rivlin stays out of Netanyahus. The fact that the prime minister chose to deviate from this custom on Monday was the most telling sign of the value that Israel places on its relationship with Rwanda in general and with Kagame in particular. Rivlin and Netanyahu went out together to meet Kagame as his car pulled to a stop in the presidential compound. The three then stood at attention for the national anthems played by a military band and subsequently, escorted by Foreign Ministry Chief of Protocol Meron Reuben, they strode along the red carpet into the reception hall where Netanyahu credited Kagame with helping to pave the way for Israels return to Africa. It all began with his conversation with Kagame, said Netanyahu. Thanks in part to Kagame’s help, Netanyahu will make his third trip to Africa in a span of less than three years. Turning to Kagame he said: You were the indispensable bridge on which we marched step by step to return to Africa. Part of the mutual understanding between Israel and Rwanda is a shared tragic legacy that was referred to by both Rivlin and Netanyahu. Israelis live with the memory of the Holocaust, and Rwandans with the memory of the carnage of genocide in their country in which more than a million people, including women and children, were butchered. The peoples of both countries have pledged Never again! said Netanyahu.. Both he and Rivlin also expressed appreciation for the way in which Rwanda stands up for Israel at international forums. Rivlin said that he knew that this was not Kagames first visit to Israel, but he was also aware that this visit would serve to strengthen the existing deep relationship. He also noted how pleased Israel was that Kagame in an address to AIPAC had said that Israel is without question a friend of Rwanda. Rivlin also noted that Rwanda is now a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council that has always been against Israel. He implied that with Rwandas influence this may change. Kagame said that he was very pleased to be back in Israel to reaffirm the blossoming relationship. He also praised Israel for following through on commitment which it had made to Rwanda. Share on facebook

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July 10, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Syria ceasfire: Benjamin Netanyahu supports decision but warns against Iran’s military presence – Firstpost

Jerusalem:Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday welcomed the ceasefire in Syria but warned that Israel would not allow Iran and Hezbollah to establish a military presence in the neighbouring country. File image of Benjamin Netanyahu. Reuters “Israel will welcome a genuine ceasefire in Syria,” Netanyahu said at his weekly cabinet meeting, referring to a ceasefire agreement reached Friday between the US and Russia to quell fighting in southwestern Syria, Xinhnua news agency reported. “This ceasefire must not enable the establishment of a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria in general and in southern Syria in particular,” he added. Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to monitor developments beyond its disputed border with Syria, “while strongly upholding our red lines.” He explained that these red lines include preventing Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based, Iran-backed militia that fights along President Bashar al-Assad’s army, from growing in Syria. “Israel will prevent Hezbollah, or Iranian forces, from establishing a ground presence along our border, and prevent the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria as a whole,” said Netanyahu. The ceasefire agreement was achieved after meetings between US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Hamburg, Germany.

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July 10, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Netanyahu thanks Modi for Israel visit, says ‘jald fir milenge’ – India Today

1 The visit to Israel drew wider media coverage for the bonhomie Modi shared with Netanyahu. 2 The Israeli PM evidently went out of his way to reach out to his guests. 3 The hosts led by Netanyahu, peppered their interactions with Hindi phrases. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to Israel was historic in more ways than one as the two countries were speaking in the same language – literally. Senior members of the delegation accompanying Modi told Mail Today that the hosts, led by Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, peppered their interactions with Hindi phrases to strike a cordial note. Modi returned to New Delhi on Sunday after his tour to Israel and Germany. However, it was the visit to Israel that drew wider media coverage for the bonhomie Modi shared with his Jewish counterpart. “There were several light moments between the two leaders, one such being their last words to each other at the airport,” said a member of the PM entourage, who requested anonymity. “While seeing Modi off, Netanyahu said, ‘Aapki yatra shubh ho’ (wish you a happy journey). Netanyahu was quick to ask if his pronunciation was correct to which Modi nodded with much affection. Later, Netanyahu tweeted, ‘Israel aane ke liye dhanyavad Pradhanmantri Narendra Modi, jald fir milenge’ (Thanks for your visit to Israel, PM Modi. See you again, soon.)” HINDI- NDA’S FIRST CHOICE ON GLOBAL FORUMS Senior diplomats pointed out that the visit marks a significant shift as leaders from previous governments have preferred interacting in English while Hindi is the first choice for NDA leaders on global forums. “The pride of place Hindi got in Israel is owing to PM Modi’s own fondness for the language,” said a senior diplomat. “When a leader uses his native language often, it is more likely that the host also reverts in the same language,” ministry of external affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay told Mail Today. “While former PM Manmohan Singh used to mostly converse in English, Modi’s frequent use of Hindi language has drawn more usage and respect for it. Essentially, the usage of Hindi is not just a tool for leaders to bond but it officially marks respect for the language, its people and the culture.” NETANYAHU WENT OUT OF HIS WAY TO REACH OUT TO GUESTS While use of simple greetings in the native language of visiting heads of state is common, the Israeli PM evidently went out of his way to reach out to his guests. “It is a good way for leaders to say a few things in the language of the host country and Modi greeted the Israeli PM in Hebrew and also tweeted in Hebrew. Then, we saw how Netanyahu went beyond protocol and arrived at the airport to receive Modi,” Baglay said. “Here, he greeted him with ‘aapka swagat hai mere dost’ (you are welcome, my friend).” LANGUAGE, A TOOL FOR EFFECTIVE DIPLOMACY? Baglay pointed out that even at the G20 summit that concluded on Saturday, Modi spoke in Hindi on several occasions. “Whenever other state leaders use their native language and when there are options for interpretation, he uses Hindi,” Baglay said. “It must be understood in the context of the soft power of India…because of the popularity of Bollywood films and music, yoga etc. Use of Hindi resonates the soft power outreach.” Several members of the delegation agreed that the warmth they saw in Israel was unprecedented. “In the Netherlands too, the PM tweeted in Hindi. While it is a common practice to use a few words to greet leaders in their native language, the extent in Israel was unprecedented,” said a senior MEA official, who was part of delegation. The official felt a strong leader can use a native language as a tool for effective diplomacy. “Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke in Hindi while addressing the United Nations. Narasimha Rao knew several languages and would use them to converse with state heads. It is an important diplomatic tool for achieving a goal and helps in smoothening the turf,” said an international affairs expert. Also Read: Welcome to Israel, my friend Modi: Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion airport When Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, with Narendra Modi by his side, snubbed Pakistan Also Watch: PM Netanyahu greets PM Modi: Aapka swagat hai, mere dost

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July 10, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed

Netanyahu warns against Iranian move-in amid ceasefire in southwest Syria – The Jerusalem Post

The Syrian area of Quneitra is seen in the background as an out-of-commission Israeli tank parks on a hill, near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, in the Golan Heights.. (photo credit:BAZ RATNER/REUTERS) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that a ceasefire plan that took effect at noon in southwestern Syria should not allow for a vacuum to be filled by Iran and its proxies in the area near the border with Israel. Netanyahu added that Israel would welcome a genuine ceasefire in Syria, but heeded caution in addressing the latest international attempt at peacemaking in the Syrian conflict. The United States, Russia and Jordan reached the ceasefire and “de-escalation agreement” last week with the aim of paving the way for a broader, more robust truce. “Last week I discussed the matter in in-depth discussions with US Secretary of State [Rex] Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting shortly before the planned ceasefire took effect. “They both told me that they understand the positions of Israel and that they would honor our demands.” The premier on Sunday underlined that Israel would continued to monitor the fighting over the border in the civil war in Syria that has been raging for more than six years. He added that Israel would stand firm in its “red lines” on preventing the conflict from spilling over the border. Such efforts, he said, included “preventing Hezbollah from gaining force in Syria by means of acquiring advanced precision weapons, preventing Hezbollah from establishing a ground force presence near our [Israel’s] border and preventing the establishment of an Iranian military presence throughout Syria.” Israeli officials were consulted on the ceasefire plan, negotiated over several months by Russia, the United States and Jordan with Ammans security topping concerns. At the Israeli governments request, Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke of the matter by phone on Thursday, in the context of joint efforts against international terrorism , the Kremlin said. Several ceasefires have crumbled since the onset of the conflict and it was not clear how much the combatants – Syrian government forces and the main rebels in the southwest – were committed to this latest effort. With the help of Russian air power and Iranian-backed militias, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government has put rebels on the back foot over the last year. The wide array of mostly Sunni rebels include jihadist factions and other groups supported by Turkey, the United States and Gulf monarchies. Earlier talks between the US and Russia about a “de-escalation zone” in southwest Syria covered Deraa province on the border with Jordan and Quneitra, which borders the Israel’s Golan Heights. A senior State Department official involved in the talks said further discussions would be necessary to decide crucial aspects of the agreement, including who will monitor its enforcement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the deal includes “securing humanitarian access and setting up contacts between the opposition in the region and a monitoring center that is being established in Jordan’s capital.” The multi-sided Syrian conflict, which grew out of popular protests against Assad’s rule in 2011, has killed hundreds of thousands of people and created the world’s worst refugee crisis. Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report. Share on facebook

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July 9, 2017   Posted in: Benjamin Netanyahu  Comments Closed


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