Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Jared Kushner won’t find his job in Israel easy (Opinion) – CNN

There’s no doubt that persistence in peacemaking is critical. Former Secretary of State James Baker took nine trips to the region to produce the 1991 Madrid peace conference.

But if Trump is expecting a breakthrough during this trip, he ought to lie down and wait patiently until that feeling passes. If Kushner can’t get the two sides to agree on some general negotiating framework, he ought to at least make clear what the US approach is. His credibility — and that of the United States — depends on it.

Talk of scandal and indictment is swirling around Netanyahu and is pushing him to circle the wagons and reach out to his right — never a good omen for peace.

If you don’t know where you’re going, the old saying goes, any road will get you there. This will be Kushner’s third trip to the region, and the administration has still not decided on a framework or an end state for negotiations.

Indeed, Trump has neither endorsed nor rejected the two-state solution — the mainstay of his three predecessors’ approach to the peace process.

No matter who had won the 2016 US election, getting to a two-state solution would have been a real stretch. So is the Trump administration considering another option? And what ideas might Kushner be bringing to the region on this visit?

Is he going to propose a bottom-up approach of interim steps: economic cooperation, turning over more responsibility to Palestinians in parts of the West Bank, and deepening now fraught Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation?

Or will he propose a top-down policy? One that develops a framework on the big issues, such as borders and Jerusalem that the two sides will negotiate with US help?

Whichever direction Kushner and the administration decide to takes, they need to make their plans known soon.

The Kushner trip might actually be considered something of a success if the United States managed to identify an approach that Abbas and Netanyahu didn’t blow out of the water immediately.

The new ingredient in this administration’s attempts to bring peace to the region is the willingness of Arab states to work with Israel — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in particular.

And it’s no coincidence that the Kushner mission began with a swing through the Gulf, Egypt and Jordan.

How much the Arab states will give, however, is going to depend on how forthcoming the Israelis will be vis–vis the Palestinians and whether the Trump administration will support Palestinian goals, particularly on statehood.

Indeed, it’s magical thinking to believe that if the United States wants the Arabs involved in a meaningful way, either Jerusalem or Washington (most likely both) won’t have to pay for it.

In 20 years of working on the peace process, I wish I had a nickel for every unproductive trip we took to try to start or save negotiations.

Persistence is critical. But so is keeping your powder dry when it’s clear that the parties really aren’t all that interested in helping out a US envoy. And as part of the President’s family, Kushner is no ordinary envoy.

Still, another trip or two without producing a visible sign of progress — let alone a direction or concept that the Arabs and Israelis can embrace — will erode what remains of Kushner’s credibility on this issue. And the parties will grow accustomed to his visits and weary of his talking points. And while they may humor him because of his closeness to the President, they won’t take him seriously.

Had Trump not come out of the gate pushing big breakthroughs and ultimate deals, he might not have put his and US credibility so publicly on the line. No one looking at Abbas and Netanyahu realistically would ever have believed that they — even with US help — could produce a final peace agreement on the big issues.

And the President’s political travails at home, particularly the self-inflicted wounds in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, have raised serious questions about Trump’s capacity and focus to deliver on the peace process — or any other issue.

Right now the emperor has no clothes. And where Kushner and his team will find them is anybody’s guess.

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Jared Kushner won’t find his job in Israel easy (Opinion) – CNN

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Trump’s ambassador to Israel: Charlottesville response ‘wasn’t fine’ – The Hill

President Trumps ambassador to Israel on Wednesday criticized the president’sresponse to the deadly violence earlier this month at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

During an interview with an Israeli television reporter, Ambassador David Friedman said the president is treated very unfairly in the media.

But when asked if Trumps response was fine, Friedman replied it was not.

I think the reaction wasnt fine, but you know Id rather talk about Boeing today, he told the reporter at an aerospace event, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Trump has blamed both sides for the violence in the Virginia college town, remarks that equated the actions of groups like neo-Nazis and the KKK with protesters rallying againstthem. He also said there were very fine people on both sides.

Jewish members of Trumps administration have come under pressure to speak out against thoseremarks.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinVA chief: ‘Dishonor’ to US veterans for Nazis to go unchallenged Trump signs Veterans Affairs bill at New Jersey golf club Failure to properly fund VA is a betrayal of veterans MORE, who is Jewish, said last weekthat Trump had done a good job speaking for himself but said it was a dishonor to U.S. military veterans to let Nazis go unchallenged.

“It is a dishonor to our country’s veterans to allow the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged,” Shulkin said. “And I am strongly against them, and I believe that we have to all speak up as Americans.”

Trumps response to Charlottesville has also roiled Israeli politics.

Many major Israeli newspapers criticized the presidents reaction, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under growing pressure to directly condemnTrump.

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Trump’s ambassador to Israel: Charlottesville response ‘wasn’t fine’ – The Hill

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Kushner already had his work cut out in the Middle East. But it just got harder. – Washington Post

JERUSALEM Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner returned to the Mideast this week to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. But any optimism that an unconventional Trump administration might be able to jump-start meaningful talks has been complicated by political crises on both sides.

President Trump has repeatedly expressed hope that he can secure the ultimate deal, and U.S. officials say this weeks visit is intended to show a renewed commitment after a spate of violence last month.

Kushner is expected to arrive in Israel on Wednesday night along with deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Middle East envoy Jason D. Greenblatt. He traveled from Cairo, where he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and also held talks with officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

But since Kushners last visit to the region in June, a corruption scandal embroiling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has deepened, leaving the Israeli leader increasingly beholden to right-wing factions in his coalition and support base and even less able to make concessions, some observers say.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remains unpopular and politically isolated, with a decade-long split between his leadership in the West Bank and Hamas leaders in Gaza widening in recent months.

Both leaders are focused on their domestic political survival, said Gadi Baltiansky, former Israeli peace negotiator and director of the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement the Geneva Initiative. That makes aspirations to launch genuine peace process a bit unrealistic. Abbas is in a situation where he cannot deliver the deal that he talks about, and Netanyahu is not even able to describe the deal that he wants.

With neither leader able to make courageous decisions, one is needed from the U.S. administration, Baltiansky said.

[A defiant Netanyahu attacks fake news as investigations heat up]

Trump, however, is facing his own distractions: fallout from his response to the violence in Charlottesville, rising tensions with North Korea and the investigation into his campaigns dealings with Russia.

Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a fellow at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, said he had been hopeful earlier this year on Trumps chances to make some progress because both sides were eager to maintain good relations with Washington.

That kind of leverage has a very short shelf life, he said. As the political circumstances of the leaders in the region have changed and deteriorated from the point of view of their flexibility, and as president Trumps own standing has taken a beating because of his domestic controversies, I believe his leverage has declined significantly.

Shapiro said the administration should instead focus on managing the conflict while keeping the possibility of a two-state solution alive until the political climate improves.

Diana Buttu, who formally served as a legal adviser for the Palestinian negotiating team, said that with both sides politically desperate, there may be an opportunity for talks, though she didnt expect them to come to anything.

Everybody needs a process, she said.The 82-year-old Abbas has to show hes doing something after 12 years in officemarked by nothing, Buttu said.

The only thing he can do is negotiate, she said. He needs a process because hes a one-trick pony and its what hes been pushing.

[As Palestinian leaders fight over Gaza, Israel worries Hamas will go to war]

However, Abbaswill be aware that Netanyahu is more inflexible than ever as corruption investigations against him close in, she added. Palestinians officials say engaging in a process for the sake of it would only benefit the Israeli side, as they would be able to reap the diplomatic gains of being seen to be pushing for peace without having to make any concessions.

A peace process is generally popular with the Israeli public, but onlya slim majority of Israelis and Palestinians support the two-state solution, according to a joint poll conducted by Tel Aviv University and thePalestinian Center for Policy and Survey Researchin August. Support among Israeli Jews declinedfrom 50 percent at the end of last year to 47 percent, it showed.

Last month Netanyahus former chief-of-staff Ari Harow agreed to testify against him in two corruption cases, raising the likelihood that the Israeli leader will be indicted. Since then Netanyahu has been attempting to rally his base behind him, blaming Israels left-wing and the media for a conspiracy to bring him down.

The Trump administrations unwillingness to commit publicly on whether it supports a two-state solution puts the Palestinian leadership in a difficult position and officials have beenventing their frustration. In comments leaked tomedia,Abbas said there is chaos in the administration.

I have met with Trump envoys about 20 times since the beginning of his term as president of the United States, he reportedly said in a meeting with the left-wing Meretz party. Every time they repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained.

Roughly 400,000 Israeli Jews live in some 120 official settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, not including East Jerusalem. Most of the world considers the settlements illegal, but Israel disputes that.

A state department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity before the official visit, said the administration has made clear that unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace, but it also recognizes that past demands for a settlement freeze have not helped advance peace talks.

Kushners family has financially supported settlements in the West Bank, as has David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel.Friedmans daughter immigrated to Israel and became a citizen last week. Greenblatt is also an Orthodox Jew.

Following Trumps visit in May a Palestinian official complained to Haaretz newspaper that the U.S. team seemed more likeNetanyahu’s advisers than fair arbiters.

Trump has not cast aside a two-state solution, the officialsaid. He supports whatever solution the parties, both the Israelis and Palestinians, can live with. This is not our choice to make, it is theirs to make together.

Anne Gearan in Washington contributed to this report.

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Kushner already had his work cut out in the Middle East. But it just got harder. – Washington Post

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Israel’s El Al counts on new Boeing 787s to lure back customers – Reuters

BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel (Reuters) – El Al Israel Airlines (ELAL.TA) took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on Wednesday in a $1.25 billion investment aimed at renewing its long-range fleet, halting a drop in its market share and winning back business customers.

In all, Israel’s flag carrier will receive 16 787-8 and 787-9 planes — both bought and leased — by 2020. It expects one more 787 by year-end, a total of seven by the end of 2018 and 14 by the end of 2019.

They will initially fly from Tel Aviv to Newark starting on Oct. 17 and then Hong Kong, London and New York’s JFK airport.

At a ceremony on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport following the airplane’s flight from Seattle, CEO David Maimon said the fleet renewal was new era for El Al, helping it better compete in a fiercely competitive market.

El Al was once the go-to airline for most Israelis thanks to the kind of stringent security that equips planes with missile defense systems.

But it has frustrated customers — particularly business travelers — over the past decade with an ageing fleet that compares poorly with competitors offering newer jets fitted with the latest in hi-tech entertainment and comfort.

Last week, it reported a 53 percent drop in second-quarter net profit due to higher salary and jet fuel costs. Its market share at Ben Gurion Airport fell to 29.5 percent from 34.2 percent a year ago.

“I am sure (because of) this aircraft, most of our passengers will be back, especially the business segment,” Maimon told Reuters on Wednesday.

The average age of El Al’s 19-strong long-haul fleet of Boeing 767s, 747s and 777s is about 19 years, and 14 of them are more than 21 years old. El Al in recent years has renewed its short-haul fleet with 23 Boeing 737 aircraft.

“We have old aircraft. But in two years from now we will have a new fleet. The average age will be about five, six years,” Maimon said, noting the 747s and 767s will be retired.

The new aircraft are expected to cut fuel costs by at least 20 percent.

El Al, which is expanding into North America with nonstop flights to Miami starting in November, retains an all Boeing (BA.N) fleet. In a tender, it opted for the 787s over the Airbus A350s (AIR.PA). Towards the back of the new aircraft is inscribed “Proudly all Boeing”.

“This relationship is almost 70 years old and we don’t have a lot of all-Boeing customers anymore,” said Ray Conner, Boeing’s vice chairman. “The relationship between our company, Israel and El Al is one of the more precious ones we have.”

Graphic on El Al’s market share: tmsnrt.rs/2gk2Bo5

Reporting by Steven Scheer; editing by Susan Thomas

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Israel’s El Al counts on new Boeing 787s to lure back customers – Reuters

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Netanyahu to Putin: Iran’s growing Syria role threatens Israel

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Israel was prepared to act unilaterally to prevent an expanded Iranian military presence in Syria.

Russia intervened in the civil war on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, joining a de facto alliance with Iranian forces, Lebanese Hezbollah and other Shi’ite Muslim militias helping Damascus beat back Islamic State and other Sunni Muslim insurgent groups.

Israel fears an eventual Assad victory could leave Iran with a permanent garrison in Syria, extending a threat posed from neighboring Lebanon by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Meeting Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Netanyahu said Iran was fighting to cement an arc of influence from the Gulf to the Mediterranean.

“Iran is already well on its way to controlling Iraq, Yemen and to a large extent is already in practice in control of Lebanon,” Netanyahu told Putin.

“We cannot forget for a single minute that Iran threatens every day to annihilate Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Israel opposes Iran’s continued entrenchment in Syria. We will be sure to defend ourselves with all means against this and any threat.”

Putin, in the part of the meeting to which reporters had access, did not address Netanyahu’s remarks about Iran’s role in Syria nor his threat to take unilateral military action.

But at the United Nations, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters the de-escalation zones established in Syria, of which Iran is guarantor alongside Turkey and Russia, are “real progress on the way to end that tragic war”.

“We know the position of Israel towards Iran but we think that Iran in Syria is playing a very constructive role,” said Nebenzia.

Netanyahu advisers have privately said their focus is on keeping Iranian forces away from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, the Syrian side of which falls under a partial truce brokered by Russia and the United States in recent weeks.

In parallel to lobbying Moscow, Israel has been trying to persuade Washington that Iran and its guerrilla partners, not Islamic State, pose the greater common threat in the region.

“Bringing Shi’ites into the Sunni sphere will surely have many serious implications both in regard to refugees and to new terrorist acts,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters after the three-hour meeting – his sixth with Putin since September 2015.

“We want to prevent a war and that’s why it’s better to raise the alarm early in order to stop deterioration.”

After the meeting, Netanyahu was due to fly back to Israel for talks with U.S. peace envoys Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Dina Powell, who are on a Middle East tour.

Russia has so far shown forbearance toward Israel, setting up a military hotline to prevent their warplanes or anti-aircraft units clashing accidentally over Syria. Israel’s air force said last week it had struck suspected Hezbollah arms shipments around 100 times in Syria during the civil war, rarely drawing retaliation and apparently without Russian interference.

Russian diplomats have argued that Moscow’s stake in Syria deters Iran or Hezbollah from opening a new front with Israel.

“We take the Israeli interests in Syria into account,” Alexander Petrovich Shein, Russia’s ambassador to Israel, told its Channel One television on Tuesday. “Were it up to Russia, the foreign forces would not stay.”

Zeev Elkin, an Israeli cabinet minister who joined Netanyahu in Sochi, said in a radio interview after the talks with Putin that he had “no doubt that it (the meeting) will lead to practical steps”. Elkin did not elaborate.

Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova in Moscow and Riham Alkousaa in United Nations; Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Mark Heinrich and Janet Lawrence

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Netanyahu to Putin: Iran’s growing Syria role threatens Israel

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Israel Wants Seat at Table as Powers Seek End to Syria War – Bloomberg

As world powers seek an endgame to Syrias six-year war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants a seat at the table.

Israel says Iran and its Lebanese proxyHezbollah are working to entrench themselves militarily in neighboring Syria, where theyre backing Syrian government troops, and its rattled that a recent truce deal brokered by Russia and the U.S. doesnt block that. Israels fear that Tehran is establishing launchpads in Syria for future attacks against the Jewish state dominated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus talksWednesday with President Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Thestrengthening of Irans position in Syria represents a threat to Israel, the Middle East and the whole world, Netanyahu said after the three-hour meeting, and said he had made very clear to Putin that Israel considered this unacceptable.

Past such discussions with Putin had advanced Israels security interests, Netanyahu said in commentsposted to YouTube, adding, I think I can say the same thing about this one.

Complicated alliances in the Syrian war make Netanyahus mission a tough one. Israel could escalate the pinpoint strikes against Iran and Hezbollah it has already carried out during the war if it isnt satisfied that Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are taking its security concerns into account. Moshe Yaalon, who served as Israels defense minister during part of thewar, said Israel may be forced to act militarily if Iran isnt expelled.

We had the expectation that a deal between Trump and Putin would deal with the Iranian threat on our border, Yaalon said in an interview in Tel Aviv. Its clear that if there is no solution, in the end we might have to take action ourselves.

Netanyahu set off for Russia with Mossad spy chief Yossi Cohen and internal security head Meir Ben-Shabbat after an Israeli delegation came back from Washington this month with no announcement of progress on Israels demands. Russia, whose military intervention turned the tide in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, may not support the demand for a complete Iranian withdrawal: Iran is one of the co-sponsors of Moscows peace efforts in Syria, and Russia is unlikely to antagonize it.

Israel — which waged the loudest campaign against the Iran nuclear deal — accuses the Shiite-led Islamic Republic of building military bases in Syria and carving out a land corridor to transfer arms and fighters from Tehran to Beirut. It also says Iran is building precise-munition factories in Lebanon, Hezbollahs base.

There should be no arrangement that allows Iran and its proxies to base themselves militarily in Syria, said Chagai Tzuriel, director-general of Israels Intelligence Ministry. An Iranian military presence in Syria will be a constant source of friction and tension not only with Israel, but with the Sunni majority in Syria, with the Sunni countries in the region, and with Sunni minorities outside the region.

Russia probably will try to find some kind of compromise, analysts said.

The dominant view is that Iran is still a partner in Syria and now is not the time to sow tensions, said Alexander Shumilin, head of the Middle East Conflict Analysis Center at the government-run Institute for U.S. and Canada in Moscow.What it might do is let Iran strengthen its positions in western Syria, further from Israel, he said.

Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Moscow and now a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, expects Netanyahu and Putin will try to find a solution in which the Iranians can stay in Syria under Russian control, with no military units and no military bases.

Israel never accepted Irans assertion that its nuclear program — temporarily curbed under the nuclear pact — has no military component. It also has clashed over the decades with Hezbollah, which has significantly expanded its military arsenal since its last war with Israel 11 years ago.

While Israel has largely stayed out of the Syrian fighting, Netanyahu recently said the Israeli military struck Hezbollah in Syria dozens of times. Yaalon hinted Israel also has targeted Iranian operatives, noting that when Iran tried to orchestrate terrorist attacks in the Israeli-held Golan Heights, all those operatives are no longer alive.

Russia wont brush off Israeli concerns because it wants to prevent a direct Israeli-Iranian confrontation that would deepen the regions chaos, said Yossi Mekelberg, a senior consulting research fellow at the Chatham House research center in London.

Unlike with the nuclear project, Israel actually has the capability to kill Iranian operatives in both Syria and Lebanon with quite some ease, Mekelberg said. The fear then becomes that both sides miscalculate to the point of direct confrontation between Iran and Israel. This is a very delicate, explosive situation.

With assistance by Michael Arnold, Stepan Kravchenko, Samuel Dodge, and Jonathan Ferziger

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Israel Wants Seat at Table as Powers Seek End to Syria War – Bloomberg

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Australian broadcaster explains why it left Israel off the map – Cleveland Jewish News

SYDNEY Australias national news service defended its decision to broadcast a graphic showing a map of the Middle East that included Palestine but not Israel.

Shown during an Aug. 17 segment on ABC News Australia, the map illustrated a storyabout how laws in 11 Muslim-majority countries and the Palestinian territories treat rape victims.

The story was about the repealing of a law in Lebanon that allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims, a senior executive for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. told JTA. The map showed other countries where this law had already been repealed (in the blue) and countries where campaigners are actively trying to have it repealed (in the yellow).

Israel, the executive explained, never had the law to begin with, so it was not included. Had it been included, the spokesman suggested, the criticism might have been even more intense.

In context, I wonder if including Israel in the map might have attracted more warranted criticism The story had nothing at all to do with it, the spokesman said. We have commented on the story to the Daily Mail and theyve amended the story.

The graphic made news after a pro-Israel, anti-Islamist activist, Avi Yemini, posted it on his Facebook page.

Last night ABC News wiped Israel off their map, Yemini wrote. Theyre literally doing the Islamists dirty work for them. We must DEFUND these traitors immediately.

Yemini was not satisfied with the public broadcasters explanation.

Theyve hit back with an excuse that could almost work, he wrote on Facebook. Except for one minor detail: PALESTINE IS NOT A COUNTRY!

The Lebanese parliament voted last week to abolish a law allowing rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims.

The clause remains on the books in the Palestinian territories, according to ABC News Australia.

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Australian broadcaster explains why it left Israel off the map – Cleveland Jewish News

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Combating 21st-century terror: what Europe can learn from Israel – Spectator.co.uk (blog)

Spain, Finland, Russia: in the space of a few days, Europe is reminded, yet again, that terrorism like the virus it is kills brutally, indiscriminately and, critically, transnationally.

On Thursday, August 17, a van rammed into crowds of people in Barcelonas Las Ramblas boulevard a hub of tourism and social life. Thirteenwere killed with dozens more injured. The atrocity was followed by a knife attack the very next day in the Finnish city of Turku, which killed two people and injured eight. Another knife attack, this time in the Siberian city of Surgut on the 19 August, injured eight. Islamic State has claimed responsibly for all the attacks.

In a democratic society based on liberal values it is impossible to stop every madman that wishes us harm. Sadiq Khan was criticised but right when he said that the threat of terror attacks was now part and parcel of living in a big city. If you want total security move to North Korea.

Recent terror successes, however, are more to do with state failings than terrorist brilliance. In too many countries counter-terrorism measures are still insufficient. And the reason is simple: We are fighting 21stcentury terrorism with 20thcentury methods. Nonetheless, more can, and must, be done. One country, above all, has the method and the solution: Israel.

This little country of eight million has been dealing with terrorism since the states inception 70 years ago. From airline hijackings to suicide bombers to stabbings, shooting and vehicle attacks, Israel has seen them all and has adapted accordingly.

Pini Schiff, Israeli Former Head of Security at the Israel Airports Authority believes the most pressing change that Europe needs to make is at the intelligence level. Both the U.K. and France, for example, have really professional agencies, he says, but that is not enough. There is not enough communication between intelligence agencies across Europe, like there is between all branches of the Israeli security services. It needs to be a one nation intelligence community.

Hes right. The horrific attacks in Brussels in March 2016 that killed 32 people were, in part, enabled by the absurdity of a city with a population of 1.5 million having six police forces, which didnt communicate properly with one another. This led to major intelligence failings. While an extreme case, this sort of senseless de-centralisation is what allowed the attackers to slip through and it is present (to far lesser degrees) across Europe

European countries must now come together as one to combat terror be it far right or jihadist. Both Interpol and Europol are European-wide police agencies focusing on a wide array of criminal activities. In January 2016, the European Counterterrorism Centre was set up as an organ of Europol. It is clearly failing. It must become autonomous and receive increased funding.

Intelligence is the first level at which terror must be fought. But the war is now also on the streets. Urban centres are the new battleground. As an Israeli counter-terrorism official (who cannot be named due to the sensitivity of his work) told me: simple things, like placing bollards and barriers at strategic points in major centres can almost eliminate the possibility of vehicle rammings.

But the most important changes must come at the level of education. A principle problem with terror is that it forces us into ever more intrusive legislation. An educated public can relieve the burden. As the counterterrorism official explains: In the 21st century we have witnessed the new phenomenon of the lone wolf: Someone not part of a cell, someone who doesnt buy guns or explosives and is therefore much harder to track.

If someone can now be radicalised just by going on the internet, what can be done? Well, for a start, in Israel, the police have a dedicated Facebook page where people can report terrorist content they find posted on social media, and, critically, all of which is checked. It has saved lives.

Combating the threat of the lone wolf and avoiding more draconian anti-terror legislation comes with greater public awareness.

If, for example, you see your neighbour going out at 3am every night or see him or her buying a lot of knives, or carrying a suspicious backpack. Look at Anders Breivik, the counterterrorism official concludes, all the red flags were there before and no one did anything. People need the courage to speak up. Every tip can lead the authorities to something much bigger.

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Combating 21st-century terror: what Europe can learn from Israel – Spectator.co.uk (blog)

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Courting Evangelical Right in the US, Israel to Host First ‘Christian Media Summit’ – Haaretz

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Roughly 70 Christian outlets have been invited to the October conference. ‘We hope these journalists will become good ambassadors for Israel,’ said the director of the Government Press Office

Reflecting its desire for closer ties with the Christian evangelical right in the United States, the Israeli government has…

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Jared Kushner won’t find his job in Israel easy (Opinion) – CNN

There’s no doubt that persistence in peacemaking is critical. Former Secretary of State James Baker took nine trips to the region to produce the 1991 Madrid peace conference. But if Trump is expecting a breakthrough during this trip, he ought to lie down and wait patiently until that feeling passes. If Kushner can’t get the two sides to agree on some general negotiating framework, he ought to at least make clear what the US approach is. His credibility — and that of the United States — depends on it. Talk of scandal and indictment is swirling around Netanyahu and is pushing him to circle the wagons and reach out to his right — never a good omen for peace. If you don’t know where you’re going, the old saying goes, any road will get you there. This will be Kushner’s third trip to the region, and the administration has still not decided on a framework or an end state for negotiations. Indeed, Trump has neither endorsed nor rejected the two-state solution — the mainstay of his three predecessors’ approach to the peace process. No matter who had won the 2016 US election, getting to a two-state solution would have been a real stretch. So is the Trump administration considering another option? And what ideas might Kushner be bringing to the region on this visit? Is he going to propose a bottom-up approach of interim steps: economic cooperation, turning over more responsibility to Palestinians in parts of the West Bank, and deepening now fraught Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation? Or will he propose a top-down policy? One that develops a framework on the big issues, such as borders and Jerusalem that the two sides will negotiate with US help? Whichever direction Kushner and the administration decide to takes, they need to make their plans known soon. The Kushner trip might actually be considered something of a success if the United States managed to identify an approach that Abbas and Netanyahu didn’t blow out of the water immediately. The new ingredient in this administration’s attempts to bring peace to the region is the willingness of Arab states to work with Israel — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in particular. And it’s no coincidence that the Kushner mission began with a swing through the Gulf, Egypt and Jordan. How much the Arab states will give, however, is going to depend on how forthcoming the Israelis will be vis–vis the Palestinians and whether the Trump administration will support Palestinian goals, particularly on statehood. Indeed, it’s magical thinking to believe that if the United States wants the Arabs involved in a meaningful way, either Jerusalem or Washington (most likely both) won’t have to pay for it. In 20 years of working on the peace process, I wish I had a nickel for every unproductive trip we took to try to start or save negotiations. Persistence is critical. But so is keeping your powder dry when it’s clear that the parties really aren’t all that interested in helping out a US envoy. And as part of the President’s family, Kushner is no ordinary envoy. Still, another trip or two without producing a visible sign of progress — let alone a direction or concept that the Arabs and Israelis can embrace — will erode what remains of Kushner’s credibility on this issue. And the parties will grow accustomed to his visits and weary of his talking points. And while they may humor him because of his closeness to the President, they won’t take him seriously. Had Trump not come out of the gate pushing big breakthroughs and ultimate deals, he might not have put his and US credibility so publicly on the line. No one looking at Abbas and Netanyahu realistically would ever have believed that they — even with US help — could produce a final peace agreement on the big issues. And the President’s political travails at home, particularly the self-inflicted wounds in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, have raised serious questions about Trump’s capacity and focus to deliver on the peace process — or any other issue. Right now the emperor has no clothes. And where Kushner and his team will find them is anybody’s guess.

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Trump’s ambassador to Israel: Charlottesville response ‘wasn’t fine’ – The Hill

President Trumps ambassador to Israel on Wednesday criticized the president’sresponse to the deadly violence earlier this month at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. During an interview with an Israeli television reporter, Ambassador David Friedman said the president is treated very unfairly in the media. But when asked if Trumps response was fine, Friedman replied it was not. I think the reaction wasnt fine, but you know Id rather talk about Boeing today, he told the reporter at an aerospace event, according to The Jerusalem Post. Trump has blamed both sides for the violence in the Virginia college town, remarks that equated the actions of groups like neo-Nazis and the KKK with protesters rallying againstthem. He also said there were very fine people on both sides. Jewish members of Trumps administration have come under pressure to speak out against thoseremarks. Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinVA chief: ‘Dishonor’ to US veterans for Nazis to go unchallenged Trump signs Veterans Affairs bill at New Jersey golf club Failure to properly fund VA is a betrayal of veterans MORE, who is Jewish, said last weekthat Trump had done a good job speaking for himself but said it was a dishonor to U.S. military veterans to let Nazis go unchallenged. “It is a dishonor to our country’s veterans to allow the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged,” Shulkin said. “And I am strongly against them, and I believe that we have to all speak up as Americans.” Trumps response to Charlottesville has also roiled Israeli politics. Many major Israeli newspapers criticized the presidents reaction, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under growing pressure to directly condemnTrump.

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Kushner already had his work cut out in the Middle East. But it just got harder. – Washington Post

JERUSALEM Presidential son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner returned to the Mideast this week to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. But any optimism that an unconventional Trump administration might be able to jump-start meaningful talks has been complicated by political crises on both sides. President Trump has repeatedly expressed hope that he can secure the ultimate deal, and U.S. officials say this weeks visit is intended to show a renewed commitment after a spate of violence last month. Kushner is expected to arrive in Israel on Wednesday night along with deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Middle East envoy Jason D. Greenblatt. He traveled from Cairo, where he met with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi and also held talks with officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But since Kushners last visit to the region in June, a corruption scandal embroiling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has deepened, leaving the Israeli leader increasingly beholden to right-wing factions in his coalition and support base and even less able to make concessions, some observers say. Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remains unpopular and politically isolated, with a decade-long split between his leadership in the West Bank and Hamas leaders in Gaza widening in recent months. Both leaders are focused on their domestic political survival, said Gadi Baltiansky, former Israeli peace negotiator and director of the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement the Geneva Initiative. That makes aspirations to launch genuine peace process a bit unrealistic. Abbas is in a situation where he cannot deliver the deal that he talks about, and Netanyahu is not even able to describe the deal that he wants. With neither leader able to make courageous decisions, one is needed from the U.S. administration, Baltiansky said. [A defiant Netanyahu attacks fake news as investigations heat up] Trump, however, is facing his own distractions: fallout from his response to the violence in Charlottesville, rising tensions with North Korea and the investigation into his campaigns dealings with Russia. Dan Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and a fellow at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, said he had been hopeful earlier this year on Trumps chances to make some progress because both sides were eager to maintain good relations with Washington. That kind of leverage has a very short shelf life, he said. As the political circumstances of the leaders in the region have changed and deteriorated from the point of view of their flexibility, and as president Trumps own standing has taken a beating because of his domestic controversies, I believe his leverage has declined significantly. Shapiro said the administration should instead focus on managing the conflict while keeping the possibility of a two-state solution alive until the political climate improves. Diana Buttu, who formally served as a legal adviser for the Palestinian negotiating team, said that with both sides politically desperate, there may be an opportunity for talks, though she didnt expect them to come to anything. Everybody needs a process, she said.The 82-year-old Abbas has to show hes doing something after 12 years in officemarked by nothing, Buttu said. The only thing he can do is negotiate, she said. He needs a process because hes a one-trick pony and its what hes been pushing. [As Palestinian leaders fight over Gaza, Israel worries Hamas will go to war] However, Abbaswill be aware that Netanyahu is more inflexible than ever as corruption investigations against him close in, she added. Palestinians officials say engaging in a process for the sake of it would only benefit the Israeli side, as they would be able to reap the diplomatic gains of being seen to be pushing for peace without having to make any concessions. A peace process is generally popular with the Israeli public, but onlya slim majority of Israelis and Palestinians support the two-state solution, according to a joint poll conducted by Tel Aviv University and thePalestinian Center for Policy and Survey Researchin August. Support among Israeli Jews declinedfrom 50 percent at the end of last year to 47 percent, it showed. Last month Netanyahus former chief-of-staff Ari Harow agreed to testify against him in two corruption cases, raising the likelihood that the Israeli leader will be indicted. Since then Netanyahu has been attempting to rally his base behind him, blaming Israels left-wing and the media for a conspiracy to bring him down. The Trump administrations unwillingness to commit publicly on whether it supports a two-state solution puts the Palestinian leadership in a difficult position and officials have beenventing their frustration. In comments leaked tomedia,Abbas said there is chaos in the administration. I have met with Trump envoys about 20 times since the beginning of his term as president of the United States, he reportedly said in a meeting with the left-wing Meretz party. Every time they repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained. Roughly 400,000 Israeli Jews live in some 120 official settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, not including East Jerusalem. Most of the world considers the settlements illegal, but Israel disputes that. A state department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity before the official visit, said the administration has made clear that unrestrained settlement activity does not advance the prospect for peace, but it also recognizes that past demands for a settlement freeze have not helped advance peace talks. Kushners family has financially supported settlements in the West Bank, as has David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel.Friedmans daughter immigrated to Israel and became a citizen last week. Greenblatt is also an Orthodox Jew. Following Trumps visit in May a Palestinian official complained to Haaretz newspaper that the U.S. team seemed more likeNetanyahu’s advisers than fair arbiters. Trump has not cast aside a two-state solution, the officialsaid. He supports whatever solution the parties, both the Israelis and Palestinians, can live with. This is not our choice to make, it is theirs to make together. Anne Gearan in Washington contributed to this report. Read more: Todays coverage from Post correspondents around the world Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Israel’s El Al counts on new Boeing 787s to lure back customers – Reuters

BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel (Reuters) – El Al Israel Airlines (ELAL.TA) took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on Wednesday in a $1.25 billion investment aimed at renewing its long-range fleet, halting a drop in its market share and winning back business customers. In all, Israel’s flag carrier will receive 16 787-8 and 787-9 planes — both bought and leased — by 2020. It expects one more 787 by year-end, a total of seven by the end of 2018 and 14 by the end of 2019. They will initially fly from Tel Aviv to Newark starting on Oct. 17 and then Hong Kong, London and New York’s JFK airport. At a ceremony on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport following the airplane’s flight from Seattle, CEO David Maimon said the fleet renewal was new era for El Al, helping it better compete in a fiercely competitive market. El Al was once the go-to airline for most Israelis thanks to the kind of stringent security that equips planes with missile defense systems. But it has frustrated customers — particularly business travelers — over the past decade with an ageing fleet that compares poorly with competitors offering newer jets fitted with the latest in hi-tech entertainment and comfort. Last week, it reported a 53 percent drop in second-quarter net profit due to higher salary and jet fuel costs. Its market share at Ben Gurion Airport fell to 29.5 percent from 34.2 percent a year ago. “I am sure (because of) this aircraft, most of our passengers will be back, especially the business segment,” Maimon told Reuters on Wednesday. The average age of El Al’s 19-strong long-haul fleet of Boeing 767s, 747s and 777s is about 19 years, and 14 of them are more than 21 years old. El Al in recent years has renewed its short-haul fleet with 23 Boeing 737 aircraft. “We have old aircraft. But in two years from now we will have a new fleet. The average age will be about five, six years,” Maimon said, noting the 747s and 767s will be retired. The new aircraft are expected to cut fuel costs by at least 20 percent. El Al, which is expanding into North America with nonstop flights to Miami starting in November, retains an all Boeing (BA.N) fleet. In a tender, it opted for the 787s over the Airbus A350s (AIR.PA). Towards the back of the new aircraft is inscribed “Proudly all Boeing”. “This relationship is almost 70 years old and we don’t have a lot of all-Boeing customers anymore,” said Ray Conner, Boeing’s vice chairman. “The relationship between our company, Israel and El Al is one of the more precious ones we have.” Graphic on El Al’s market share: tmsnrt.rs/2gk2Bo5 Reporting by Steven Scheer; editing by Susan Thomas

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Netanyahu to Putin: Iran’s growing Syria role threatens Israel

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Israel was prepared to act unilaterally to prevent an expanded Iranian military presence in Syria. Russia intervened in the civil war on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, joining a de facto alliance with Iranian forces, Lebanese Hezbollah and other Shi’ite Muslim militias helping Damascus beat back Islamic State and other Sunni Muslim insurgent groups. Israel fears an eventual Assad victory could leave Iran with a permanent garrison in Syria, extending a threat posed from neighboring Lebanon by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Meeting Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Netanyahu said Iran was fighting to cement an arc of influence from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. “Iran is already well on its way to controlling Iraq, Yemen and to a large extent is already in practice in control of Lebanon,” Netanyahu told Putin. “We cannot forget for a single minute that Iran threatens every day to annihilate Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Israel opposes Iran’s continued entrenchment in Syria. We will be sure to defend ourselves with all means against this and any threat.” Putin, in the part of the meeting to which reporters had access, did not address Netanyahu’s remarks about Iran’s role in Syria nor his threat to take unilateral military action. But at the United Nations, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters the de-escalation zones established in Syria, of which Iran is guarantor alongside Turkey and Russia, are “real progress on the way to end that tragic war”. “We know the position of Israel towards Iran but we think that Iran in Syria is playing a very constructive role,” said Nebenzia. Netanyahu advisers have privately said their focus is on keeping Iranian forces away from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, the Syrian side of which falls under a partial truce brokered by Russia and the United States in recent weeks. In parallel to lobbying Moscow, Israel has been trying to persuade Washington that Iran and its guerrilla partners, not Islamic State, pose the greater common threat in the region. “Bringing Shi’ites into the Sunni sphere will surely have many serious implications both in regard to refugees and to new terrorist acts,” Netanyahu told Israeli reporters after the three-hour meeting – his sixth with Putin since September 2015. “We want to prevent a war and that’s why it’s better to raise the alarm early in order to stop deterioration.” After the meeting, Netanyahu was due to fly back to Israel for talks with U.S. peace envoys Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and Dina Powell, who are on a Middle East tour. Russia has so far shown forbearance toward Israel, setting up a military hotline to prevent their warplanes or anti-aircraft units clashing accidentally over Syria. Israel’s air force said last week it had struck suspected Hezbollah arms shipments around 100 times in Syria during the civil war, rarely drawing retaliation and apparently without Russian interference. Russian diplomats have argued that Moscow’s stake in Syria deters Iran or Hezbollah from opening a new front with Israel. “We take the Israeli interests in Syria into account,” Alexander Petrovich Shein, Russia’s ambassador to Israel, told its Channel One television on Tuesday. “Were it up to Russia, the foreign forces would not stay.” Zeev Elkin, an Israeli cabinet minister who joined Netanyahu in Sochi, said in a radio interview after the talks with Putin that he had “no doubt that it (the meeting) will lead to practical steps”. Elkin did not elaborate. Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova in Moscow and Riham Alkousaa in United Nations; Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Mark Heinrich and Janet Lawrence

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Israel Wants Seat at Table as Powers Seek End to Syria War – Bloomberg

As world powers seek an endgame to Syrias six-year war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants a seat at the table. Israel says Iran and its Lebanese proxyHezbollah are working to entrench themselves militarily in neighboring Syria, where theyre backing Syrian government troops, and its rattled that a recent truce deal brokered by Russia and the U.S. doesnt block that. Israels fear that Tehran is establishing launchpads in Syria for future attacks against the Jewish state dominated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus talksWednesday with President Vladimir Putin in Russia. Thestrengthening of Irans position in Syria represents a threat to Israel, the Middle East and the whole world, Netanyahu said after the three-hour meeting, and said he had made very clear to Putin that Israel considered this unacceptable. Past such discussions with Putin had advanced Israels security interests, Netanyahu said in commentsposted to YouTube, adding, I think I can say the same thing about this one. Complicated alliances in the Syrian war make Netanyahus mission a tough one. Israel could escalate the pinpoint strikes against Iran and Hezbollah it has already carried out during the war if it isnt satisfied that Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are taking its security concerns into account. Moshe Yaalon, who served as Israels defense minister during part of thewar, said Israel may be forced to act militarily if Iran isnt expelled. We had the expectation that a deal between Trump and Putin would deal with the Iranian threat on our border, Yaalon said in an interview in Tel Aviv. Its clear that if there is no solution, in the end we might have to take action ourselves. Netanyahu set off for Russia with Mossad spy chief Yossi Cohen and internal security head Meir Ben-Shabbat after an Israeli delegation came back from Washington this month with no announcement of progress on Israels demands. Russia, whose military intervention turned the tide in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, may not support the demand for a complete Iranian withdrawal: Iran is one of the co-sponsors of Moscows peace efforts in Syria, and Russia is unlikely to antagonize it. Israel — which waged the loudest campaign against the Iran nuclear deal — accuses the Shiite-led Islamic Republic of building military bases in Syria and carving out a land corridor to transfer arms and fighters from Tehran to Beirut. It also says Iran is building precise-munition factories in Lebanon, Hezbollahs base. There should be no arrangement that allows Iran and its proxies to base themselves militarily in Syria, said Chagai Tzuriel, director-general of Israels Intelligence Ministry. An Iranian military presence in Syria will be a constant source of friction and tension not only with Israel, but with the Sunni majority in Syria, with the Sunni countries in the region, and with Sunni minorities outside the region. Russia probably will try to find some kind of compromise, analysts said. The dominant view is that Iran is still a partner in Syria and now is not the time to sow tensions, said Alexander Shumilin, head of the Middle East Conflict Analysis Center at the government-run Institute for U.S. and Canada in Moscow.What it might do is let Iran strengthen its positions in western Syria, further from Israel, he said. Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador to Moscow and now a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, expects Netanyahu and Putin will try to find a solution in which the Iranians can stay in Syria under Russian control, with no military units and no military bases. Israel never accepted Irans assertion that its nuclear program — temporarily curbed under the nuclear pact — has no military component. It also has clashed over the decades with Hezbollah, which has significantly expanded its military arsenal since its last war with Israel 11 years ago. While Israel has largely stayed out of the Syrian fighting, Netanyahu recently said the Israeli military struck Hezbollah in Syria dozens of times. Yaalon hinted Israel also has targeted Iranian operatives, noting that when Iran tried to orchestrate terrorist attacks in the Israeli-held Golan Heights, all those operatives are no longer alive. Russia wont brush off Israeli concerns because it wants to prevent a direct Israeli-Iranian confrontation that would deepen the regions chaos, said Yossi Mekelberg, a senior consulting research fellow at the Chatham House research center in London. Unlike with the nuclear project, Israel actually has the capability to kill Iranian operatives in both Syria and Lebanon with quite some ease, Mekelberg said. The fear then becomes that both sides miscalculate to the point of direct confrontation between Iran and Israel. This is a very delicate, explosive situation. With assistance by Michael Arnold, Stepan Kravchenko, Samuel Dodge, and Jonathan Ferziger

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August 23, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Australian broadcaster explains why it left Israel off the map – Cleveland Jewish News

SYDNEY Australias national news service defended its decision to broadcast a graphic showing a map of the Middle East that included Palestine but not Israel. Shown during an Aug. 17 segment on ABC News Australia, the map illustrated a storyabout how laws in 11 Muslim-majority countries and the Palestinian territories treat rape victims. The story was about the repealing of a law in Lebanon that allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims, a senior executive for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. told JTA. The map showed other countries where this law had already been repealed (in the blue) and countries where campaigners are actively trying to have it repealed (in the yellow). Israel, the executive explained, never had the law to begin with, so it was not included. Had it been included, the spokesman suggested, the criticism might have been even more intense. In context, I wonder if including Israel in the map might have attracted more warranted criticism The story had nothing at all to do with it, the spokesman said. We have commented on the story to the Daily Mail and theyve amended the story. The graphic made news after a pro-Israel, anti-Islamist activist, Avi Yemini, posted it on his Facebook page. Last night ABC News wiped Israel off their map, Yemini wrote. Theyre literally doing the Islamists dirty work for them. We must DEFUND these traitors immediately. Yemini was not satisfied with the public broadcasters explanation. Theyve hit back with an excuse that could almost work, he wrote on Facebook. Except for one minor detail: PALESTINE IS NOT A COUNTRY! The Lebanese parliament voted last week to abolish a law allowing rapists to escape punishment if they marry their victims. The clause remains on the books in the Palestinian territories, according to ABC News Australia.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Combating 21st-century terror: what Europe can learn from Israel – Spectator.co.uk (blog)

Spain, Finland, Russia: in the space of a few days, Europe is reminded, yet again, that terrorism like the virus it is kills brutally, indiscriminately and, critically, transnationally. On Thursday, August 17, a van rammed into crowds of people in Barcelonas Las Ramblas boulevard a hub of tourism and social life. Thirteenwere killed with dozens more injured. The atrocity was followed by a knife attack the very next day in the Finnish city of Turku, which killed two people and injured eight. Another knife attack, this time in the Siberian city of Surgut on the 19 August, injured eight. Islamic State has claimed responsibly for all the attacks. In a democratic society based on liberal values it is impossible to stop every madman that wishes us harm. Sadiq Khan was criticised but right when he said that the threat of terror attacks was now part and parcel of living in a big city. If you want total security move to North Korea. Recent terror successes, however, are more to do with state failings than terrorist brilliance. In too many countries counter-terrorism measures are still insufficient. And the reason is simple: We are fighting 21stcentury terrorism with 20thcentury methods. Nonetheless, more can, and must, be done. One country, above all, has the method and the solution: Israel. This little country of eight million has been dealing with terrorism since the states inception 70 years ago. From airline hijackings to suicide bombers to stabbings, shooting and vehicle attacks, Israel has seen them all and has adapted accordingly. Pini Schiff, Israeli Former Head of Security at the Israel Airports Authority believes the most pressing change that Europe needs to make is at the intelligence level. Both the U.K. and France, for example, have really professional agencies, he says, but that is not enough. There is not enough communication between intelligence agencies across Europe, like there is between all branches of the Israeli security services. It needs to be a one nation intelligence community. Hes right. The horrific attacks in Brussels in March 2016 that killed 32 people were, in part, enabled by the absurdity of a city with a population of 1.5 million having six police forces, which didnt communicate properly with one another. This led to major intelligence failings. While an extreme case, this sort of senseless de-centralisation is what allowed the attackers to slip through and it is present (to far lesser degrees) across Europe European countries must now come together as one to combat terror be it far right or jihadist. Both Interpol and Europol are European-wide police agencies focusing on a wide array of criminal activities. In January 2016, the European Counterterrorism Centre was set up as an organ of Europol. It is clearly failing. It must become autonomous and receive increased funding. Intelligence is the first level at which terror must be fought. But the war is now also on the streets. Urban centres are the new battleground. As an Israeli counter-terrorism official (who cannot be named due to the sensitivity of his work) told me: simple things, like placing bollards and barriers at strategic points in major centres can almost eliminate the possibility of vehicle rammings. But the most important changes must come at the level of education. A principle problem with terror is that it forces us into ever more intrusive legislation. An educated public can relieve the burden. As the counterterrorism official explains: In the 21st century we have witnessed the new phenomenon of the lone wolf: Someone not part of a cell, someone who doesnt buy guns or explosives and is therefore much harder to track. If someone can now be radicalised just by going on the internet, what can be done? Well, for a start, in Israel, the police have a dedicated Facebook page where people can report terrorist content they find posted on social media, and, critically, all of which is checked. It has saved lives. Combating the threat of the lone wolf and avoiding more draconian anti-terror legislation comes with greater public awareness. If, for example, you see your neighbour going out at 3am every night or see him or her buying a lot of knives, or carrying a suspicious backpack. Look at Anders Breivik, the counterterrorism official concludes, all the red flags were there before and no one did anything. People need the courage to speak up. Every tip can lead the authorities to something much bigger.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed

Courting Evangelical Right in the US, Israel to Host First ‘Christian Media Summit’ – Haaretz

Home > Israel News Roughly 70 Christian outlets have been invited to the October conference. ‘We hope these journalists will become good ambassadors for Israel,’ said the director of the Government Press Office Reflecting its desire for closer ties with the Christian evangelical right in the United States, the Israeli government has… Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Israel  Comments Closed


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