July 13, 2018

In News Surrounding Israel by The Friends of Israel

Netanyahu to Putin: We will ‘act decisively’ to defend Israeli territory

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday for talks focusing on Iranian presence in Syria — an issue that is expected to top the agenda of the upcoming U.S.-Russian summit.

While the Russian and Israeli leaders sat down for talks in the Kremlin, a senior Iranian envoy also headed to Moscow amid intensive Syria-focused diplomatic efforts ahead of Putin’s summit in Helsinki on Monday with President Donald Trump.

Netanyahu underlined warm ties between Russia and Israel, emphasizing what he described as their key stabilizing role for the Mideast.

“Every visit like this is an opportunity for us to act together and try and stabilize the situation in our region and increase security and increase stability,” Netanyahu said. “Obviously, our focus is on Syria and Iran. Our opinion is known that Iran needs to leave Syria — that is not something new for you.”

Both the United States and Israel are concerned about Iran’s growing military presence in Syria, where it has provided crucial aid to President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Israel has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran, or its Shiite terror proxies, to establish a permanent presence in a postwar Syria.

Russia, another top key ally of Assad, has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country.

However, there have recently been signs of an emerging compromise among key players.

Media reports suggested that at Monday’s meeting in Helsinki, Putin and Trump could reach a deal that would envisage the deployment of Syrian government forces alongside the frontier with the Israeli-held side of the Golan Heights and the withdrawal of Iranian forces and their terror proxy Hezbollah from the area.

While Russia and Iran have both deployed forces to Syria to help prop up Assad’s brutal regime, their interests do not always converge.

Russia also has maintained warm ties with Israel and demonstrated a readiness to take its security interests into account.

“We know about your concerns, let’s have a thorough talk about them,” Putin told Netanyahu before reporters were asked to leave the room.

Meanwhile, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also left for Moscow on Wednesday for a meeting with Putin.

In a reminder of the volatile situation, Netanyahu pointed at an incident earlier Wednesday in which the Israeli military fired a Patriot missile to shoot down a drone that had infiltrated Israeli airspace from Syria.

“We will continue to act decisively against any spillover and any infiltration of Israeli territory or airspace,” Netanyahu said.

He added that Israel expects Syria to strictly observe a 1974 deal that set out a demilitarized zone along their frontier and limited the number of forces each side can deploy within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the zone.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in an interview with Italian newspaper Il Giornale published Wednesday that Moscow hopes that Israel and Iran will both display caution and avoid a showdown.

“Their use of military force in Syria would inevitably lead to an escalation of tensions across the entire Middle East region,” he said. “In that context, we rely on peaceful diplomatic means to resolve any differences and expect both sides to show restraint.”



IDF attacks Syria in retaliation for drone infiltration

The Israeli Air Force carried out airstrikes in southern Syria early Thursday morning, shortly after midnight, several hours after a Syrian drone violated Israeli air space in what was reportedly a reconnaissance mission to gather intelligence.

The IDF targeted three positions of the Assad regime.

The military later confirmed the bombings in the Syrian Golan, saying they came in response to the drone infiltration.

The IDF said it will “continue to act decisively and forcefully against attempts to violate Israeli sovereignty,” warning the Syrian regime against any attempt to act against Israeli forces.

According to the military, shortly after 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, an apparently unarmed Syrian drone entered Israeli airspace from Syria through the demilitarized zone between the two countries, first passing over Jordan. Some 16 minutes later, a Patriot anti-aircraft missile was fired at the UAV, shooting it down over the Sea of Galilee, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters.

The military quickly recovered the fragments of the drone in an area south of the Sea of Galilee. It did not appear to have been armed and was more likely sent into Israel on a reconnaissance mission, Conricus said.

The delay in destroying the drone was reportedly due to an Israeli interest in coordinating the move with the Russians. At the time of the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to meet with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

The IDF wanted to avoid a situation in which a Russian aircraft was mistakenly targeted, several reports indicated.



Liberman wants Dublin embassy shut over Ireland’s anti-settlement legislation

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday that Israel should close its embassy in Dublin with Ireland, after the country’s senate passed a bill criminalizing the import of goods from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“There is no point in summoning the Irish ambassador for a reprimand. With Israel haters there is nothing to debate. Israel should immediately close the embassy in Dublin. We will not turn the other cheek to those who boycott us,” Liberman, a former foreign minister, tweeted.

Such a move would constitute a dramatic downgrading of ties, but is not the same as breaking off diplomatic relations.

The government in Dublin — known to be one of the most pro-Palestinian governments in Europe — opposed the bill, arguing that it is not legally entitled to curtail trade with Israeli companies based in the settlements.

Hours after the bill was passed on Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry summoned Irish ambassador to Israel Alison Kelly to reprimand her over the vote.

The Foreign Ministry on Thursday afternoon confirmed that the reprimand had taken place, but declined to say who in the ministry spoke to her or any other details.

Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon also declined to comment on Liberman’s tweet.

Since becoming ambassador in Israel in November 2015, Kelly has been summoned several times in the past over Irish policies concerning the Palestinians.

On Wednesday, the Irish Senate, known as Seanad Éireann, passed the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 with 25 yes votes, 20 no votes and 14 abstentions. It still faces several hurdles before it becomes law.

The advancement of the legislation was denounced by Israel and hailed by Palestinian officials and Arab Israeli Knesset members.

“The Irish Senate has given its support to a populist, dangerous and extremist anti-Israel boycott initiative that hurts the chances of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians; it will have a negative impact on the diplomatic process in the Middle East,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The absurd in the Irish Senate’s initiative is that it will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott,” read the statement.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, celebrated the vote. “This courageous step builds on the historic ties between Ireland and Palestine, as well as it shows the way forward for the rest of the European Union,” top Palestine Liberation Organization official Saeb Erekat said in a statement issued before the vote was taken.

The Joint (Arab) List also welcomed the bill, saying it hoped it would “mark the beginning of a new stage in which Israel starts to pay an international political, economic and moral price for its actions.”

The bill’s passage would start “a new stage in treating the Zionist lobby as a danger the values that Europe claims to represent,” the Arab Israeli party said.

The minority-government in Dublin, however, opposed the bill. “On behalf of the government I am unable to agree that this bill is the way forward,” Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said during the discussion that preceded the vote.

While Coveney said he could “emotionally connect” with the bill, lamenting the “deep injustice” that Palestinians have suffered for decades, he argued that there were important legal and political reasons to oppose the bill.

For one, as a member of the European Union, Ireland does not have the right to ban the import of goods that are available elsewhere in the union, he said.

In fact, he said, “passage of the bill would be a breach of European law,” adding that Ireland’s attorney general confirmed this view.

Perhaps even more importantly, Coveney added, advancing the bill would not only sideline Ireland as a party that both Israelis and Palestinians would take seriously but would also greatly diminish Dublin’s ability to influence EU policy on the Middle East.

Ireland would be “fanning the flames” of an already volatile Middle East if it passed the legislation, he said.

The proposed legislation — a private member bill — declares it an offense “for a person to import or attempt to import settlement goods.”

Likewise, those who “assist another person to import or attempt to import settlement goods” would be committing a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, if the bill were to become law.

While the bill does not mention Israel and the Palestinian territories, critics have charged that it appears to have been written exclusively with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in mind.

The bill has at least half a dozen legislative obstacles to clear, including several readings in the lower house of Ireland’s parliament, known as Dáil Éireann, before it can be signed into law by President Michael Higgins.

On January 30, when the Seanad Éireann first debated the bill, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply criticized the proposed legislation and ordered Kelly, the Irish ambassador, summoned for a dressing down at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

“The initiative gives backing to those who seek to boycott Israel and completely contravenes the guiding principles of free trade and justice,” Netanyahu said, hours before the planned vote.



Syrian troops raise national flag over rebel-held Daraa, cradle of 2011 revolt

Syrian state TV says the government has raised the national flag over Daraa, the south Syrian city that was the cradle of the 2011 revolt against President Bashar Assad’s rule.

The al-Ikhbariya TV station is broadcasting footage of officials raising the government’s three-star flag over the rubble of the city after rebels agreed to give up the town earlier Thursday.

Daraa has suffered catastrophic damage as one of the cities at the center of Syria’s seven-year-long civil war. At least 400,000 people have been killed and 11 million people displaced in the fighting between the government, rebels, and the Islamic State group.



‘No Jew in Germany’: German police assault Israeli professor

The police in the West German city of Bonn allegedly mistakenly beat an Israeli philosophy professor after a German of Palestinian origin attacked him because he was wearing kippa.

According to a Thursday report in the Rheinische Post, the 20 year-old German Palestinian attacked the 50-year-old Israeli academic  and yelled insults at him in German and English, including: “No Jew in Germany.”

The German-Palestinian knocked the man’s kippa from his head a number of times, was arrested and sent to a psychiatric clinic.

Regarding the police attack on the Israeli academic, Ursula Brohl-Sowa, the head of the Bonn police, called it “a horrible and regrettable misunderstanding.”

The 50-year-old Israeli academic, who remained like the German-Palestinian unnamed in media reports, called for help and the police jumped and punched him in his face. It is unclear why the police confused the victim with the suspect.

The Israeli academic departed the city of Bonn, the former capital of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Anti-semitic acts of violence  and anti-Jewish rhetoric are increasing in Germany, according to German government reports.

In a separate development in Bonn,the anti-Israel organization BDS Group Bonn is seeking to stop a lecture from the Israeli academic Amichai Magen who is slated to deliver a talk on” Managing Terrorist

Threats: The Growing Democracy Advantage” on July 12 at 6:00PM at the University of Bonn.

BDS is an abbreviation for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign targeting the Jewish state.. Two new German intelligence reports concluded that boycotts of Israel are anti-semitic and resemble the Hitler movement’s “Don’t buy from Jews!” campaign.

According to the announcement for Magen’s lecture,”the Center for International Security and Governance will host a lecture by Amichai Magen, Head of the Diplomacy and Conflict Studies Program at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy in Herzliya, Israel, to discuss what he calls a „triple democracy advantage“ when it comes to terrorism”

The lecture notice adds that: “Contrary to popular opinion, Magen argues, data from nearly two decades suggests that liberal democracies are increasingly the safest regime type as they suffer fewer attacks than do other regime types, with a slower increase in numbers, and fewer fatalities. So how can this contrast between public perceptions and the changing empirical reality be explained? And what role does preserving and deepening democratic substance play in enhancing safety and mitigating the risks of terrorism? These and other questions will be explored at the upcoming event.”



China to offer aid to Palestinians, seeks greater role in the Middle East

BEIJING – China will offer 100 million yuan ($15 million) in aid to Palestinians, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday, pledging greater Chinese financial backing for development in the Middle East.

Xi’s remarks were made in a speech to representatives of Arab states at a meeting in Beijing.

The Chinese leader further said that China would like to form a strategic partnership with the Arab League to become “the keeper of peace and stability in the Middle East” US based news company Axios reported.

China had suggested in the past a four-point program to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Put forth in 2013, it includes the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of 1967 lines, respect for Israel’s right to exist and security concerns, halting settlement activities and violence against civilians, and international guarantees to advance the peace process.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas praised the Chinese program when he visited China and met with Xi in 2017.



Israel to grant temporary residence to 300 Sudanese asylum seekers

Israel will grant temporary residence status to 300 Sudanese asylum seekers who fled genocide from the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur, the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority confirmed on Thursday.  

The decision comes after a petition filed to the High Court by attorneys Carmel Pomerantz and Michael Pomerantz in March on behalf of the Nuba and Blue Nile community, demanding that asylum seekers from those areas be granted legal status.

According to a report by Israeli daily Haaretz, of the 400 asylum seekers from those areas, the state will grant status only to those who are 41-years-and older who entered Israel by 2012 and applied for asylum or to 40-year-old asylum seekers who entered by November 2011.

The Population and Immigration Authority would not provide the Jerusalem Post with an explanation regarding these criteria, saying only that: “This is the decision that was made. We have nothing further to add.”

Though the A5 humanitarian visa is a step below refugee status, it will allow its recipients to work and receive health insurance, as well as travel and driving documents.

Unlike most of the mid-30,000 migrants in Israel which the state is trying to deport or press to leave, the change would mean the state views the Nuba Sudanese to have the same special persecuted status as the Darfurians in terms of having fled genocide

Lawyers Carmel Pomerantz and Michael Pomerantz said they welcome the decision to start to give status to the Nubians and added: “We call for the immediate settlement of the status of all Sudanese refugees from Darfur, the Nuba and the Blue Nile. The government now gives residency to some of the refugees, but continues to try to discourage the rest and make them leave Israel, for example by stealing 20 percent of their salaries.”

Last year Israel enforced a new law that employers must deduct 20% of the wages of Eritrean and Sudanese employees who entered Israel illegally from Egypt and don’t have legal status.