JPost Editorial: Russia and Iran
There are a number of lessons to be learned from this warming of Russo-Iranian relations, both for Israel and for the world. First, the Obama administration’s “reset” policy with Russia has failed miserably. Back in 2010, when Medvedev put in place a five-year ban on S-300 sales to Iran, Obama administration officials attributed the Russian decision to successful US policy. Officials said they had explained to the Russians that the sale was “a red line that couldn’t be crossed.” So much for red lines.
Second, as Israel and other nations have warned, the framework agreement that Iran and the P5+1 nations (the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) reached in Lausanne has increased the legitimacy of conducting business and even arms sales with the Islamic Republic.
After witnessing Russia’s disregard for the US’s red lines, other nations will undoubtedly follow suit.
This seriously calls into question the ability to reinstate a sanctions regime if Iran is caught cheating. The term “snap back,” used to describe how economic sanctions will go back in place should Iran violate the terms of the agreement, may sound, well, snappy. But will it be? There is a lesson in this for Israel as well: The Jewish state has little, if any, ability to influence Russia’s foreign policy.
Isi Leibler: The Iranian crisis — American Jews must stand and be counted
This is indeed a time of reckoning, especially as the administration could also be on the verge of abandoning Israel diplomatically.
The unprecedented viciousness of the administration’s anti-Israel rhetoric may be a precursor to withholding its veto from the impending French UN resolution effectively recognizing a Palestinian state and negating Resolution 242 with a US- or a UN-imposed settlement that would deny Israel defensible borders. The path would then be open for the Europeans, with the tacit support of the US, to commence orchestrating resolutions sanctioning Israel.
The extent to which American Jews raise their voices may have a major impact on the outcome of these developments, especially in relation to wavering Democratic congressmen. Senator Chuck Schumer, recently endorsed for the position of Senate Democratic leader following the 2016 congressional elections, seeks to portray himself as a Jewish “hawk” on Israel and Iran. He has indicated he will back the proposed bill requiring congressional approval of the Iran deal, but his Jewish constituents should discourage him from sitting on the fence when it comes to lobbying his fellow Democrats to overcome Obama’s veto and review the unworkable agreement.
This is truly a time for American Jewish leaders to stand and be counted; the issues at stake will profoundly impact Israel’s security and could even have existential repercussions as well as a dismal outcome for the entire world. The indicators all suggest that American Jewish leaders have woken up and will not let Israel down.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Is more going on between Israel and the Palestinians than meets the eye?
Israel and the PA have a common enemy in the West Bank: Hamas. The PA leaders in Ramallah are well aware that without help from Israel, they would face another Hamas coup like the one that took place in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.
Today, the number of Hamas operatives and supporters whom PA security forces arrest in the West Bank is larger than the number of the ones Israel targets.
Hardly a day passes without reports about several Hamas supporters being arrested or summoned for interrogation by various branches of the PA security forces in the West Bank.
While the rhetoric of most Palestinian officials toward Israel remains inflammatory, there is a feeling among some Palestinians that matters between the two sides are not as bad as they seem to be. Many are convinced that Israel and the PA leadership maintain a form of secret back-channel dialogue that allows the two parties to continue working together despite apparent tensions between them.
Some have even gone as far as arguing that the recent Israeli gestures are part of a deal to stop the Palestinians from filing war-crime charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court. Other Palestinians attribute the gestures to a strong desire on the part of the PA leadership to avoid an all-out confrontation with Israel, on both the diplomatic and security levels.
At the same time, Israel has an interest in preventing the collapse of the PA in the West Bank – a situation that would result in total anarchy and lawlessness and pave the way for another intifada.
Hamas, PA could be next pawns in Saudi-Iranian proxy war
Top Palestinian Authority officials are appealing to Saudi Arabia to use an "iron hand" toward Iranian-backed rival Hamas, a development that underscores the ill will within the so-called unity government and could become the latest front for the proxy war between the Middle East powers.
With the Saudis indirectly engaging Iran in Yemen, where the Kingdom is trying to help the government put down the rebellion by the Iranian-supported Houthis, PA officials are asking the Saudis to do the same to Hamas. The PA, which claims to represent all Palestinians, governs the West Bank, while Hamas controls Gaza. The uneasy alliance between the two has degenerated into rancor in recent months, especially after Hamas declared in November that their unity government had ended.
“The Arab nation has to attack any illegal side in the Arab region with an iron hand,” Mahmoud Al-Habbash, religious advisor and close confidante of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, told worshippers in Ramallah recently. “It has to start from Palestine,” said Al-Habbash, adding that Hamas “must be attacked with an iron hand.”
Scientific Institute: Iran Nuke Framework Fails to Address Uranium Stockpile
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) – a top think tank that has been engaged by the Obama administration throughout negotiations with Iran and has even seen some of its recommendations incorporated into current proposals – published a comprehensive 13-page report assessing that the current U.S. stance on forcing Iran to come clean on its past nuclear work would badly undermine the deal and destabilize the regime. The Wall Street Journal reported on the eve of talks in Lausanne, Switzerland that Washington was prepared to permit Iran to put off disclosing the full extent of its atomic research until after sanctions relief had been granted. The warnings about the potential for the deal to spark war echo those recently published by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz – the two wrote that “[r]ather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there—on complex new terms” – as well as a blunt assessment from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in The Washington Post. Ya’alon asserted that “the terms of the framework… make war more likely.”
Another section of the institute’s report, which involves the White House’s overarching claim of having achieved a one-year breakout time, criticized the administration for flatly failing to take into account Iran’s current stockpile of near 20% low enriched uranium. Other experts have described uranium enriched to that level as 90% of the effort needed to reach weapons-grade uranium, and the BBC had already noted last summer that “[a]t 20%, enriched uranium can be converted quickly to arm a nuclear weapon.” In the report, the institute’s experts criticized the administration for assuming that transforming that portion of the stockpile into reactor fuel elements made it irrelevant to a potential Iranian drive for a nuclear weapon, tersely noting instead that “recovery of near 20 percent LEU from fresh fuel can be straightforward and the U.S. evaluation requires greater scrutiny.” The report concluded that under some scenarios the framework, if implemented as reported, would allow Iran to have a breakout time short of the window that the Obama administration has described as necessary to detect and respond to Iranian cheating.
China to Build New Nuke Plants in Iran
Iran announced that China has agreed to assist in the building of five new nuclear plants across the country, according to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI).
Iran plans to enlist the Chinese in the construction of five new nuclear plants similar in size and scope to the plant currently operating near Bushehr.
Iran’s insistence on building more nuclear power plants has become a key concern for critics of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with the Islamic Republic, as these nuclear structures could potentially be used to assist its nuclear weapons program.
The Obama administration has said in the past that the construction of light water reactors such as the one in Bushehr does not violate existing United Nations restrictions or the interim accord struck with the country in 2013.
North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks
North Korea supplied several shipments of missile components to Iran during recent nuclear talks and the transfers appear to violate United Nations sanctions on both countries, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Details of the arms shipments were included in President Obama’s daily intelligence briefings and officials suggested information about the transfers was kept secret from the United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions violations.
Critics of the U.S.-led nuclear framework agreement reached in Switzerland earlier this month have said one major deficiency of the accord is its failure to address Iran’s missile program, considered a key nuclear delivery system for the Islamist regime.
False Fatwa: Historic Letter from Khomeini Reveals Iran's Nuclear Aims
The letter was written by Khomeini in 1988 and released by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani 18 years later, in September of 2006. The letter is at direct odds with Tehran and the Obama administration’s statements that Iran is not seeking a nuclear bomb because it goes against Islam. In his ’88 letter, Khomeini called for the Islamic Republic to have “the ability to make a substantial number of laser and atomic weapons which will be the necessity of the war at that time.” A link to the translation of the original letter was published by the Council on Foreign Relations.
While the letter was published in its entirety and clearly mentioned nuclear bombs, Iranian media quickly realized their mistake in revealing their hand and worked to remove the atomic reference from the text, at the request of the Iranian National Security Council. By then, however, it had been too late, and international media had already gotten their hands on it; Iran’s secret was out.
Ironically, the letter was released around the time Iran had started its nuclear program in secret, which only came to light several years later.
In closing his letter, Khomeini wrote, “Be aware of God and whatever happens, it is His decision. Peace be upon pious people. Ruhollah Al-Musavi al-Khomeyni.”
Zarif: We're Ready for 'Irreversible Steps' on Nuclear Program
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday his country will resume talks with world powers on a final nuclear agreement on April 21 and is ready to take "irreversible steps" if the West does the same, AFP reports.
"My team, the assistant to (EU foreign policy chief Federica) Mogherini and the other representatives of the 5+1 (global powers) will meet next Tuesday to begin drafting the text," Zarif told a conference in Madrid.
He did not say where the talks would take place but later gave more details about his country's position.
"This is the framework under which we will operate with the 5+1 group: (there will be) irreversible steps on the Iranian side as long as their side takes irreversible steps. It is a very balanced approach," said Zarif, according to AFP.
Kerry confident US can conclude Iran nuclear deal
US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday welcomed a compromise with Congress on giving lawmakers a say on any final deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
Kerry said the measure approved Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which raises the threshold for critics in Congress to block any accord with Tehran, made him “confident” ahead of a June 30 deadline.
“Yesterday there was a compromise reached in Washington regarding congressional input,” he told reporters in Germany at a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting.
“We are confident about our ability for the president to negotiate an agreement and to do so with ability to make the world safer,” Kerry said.
Russian missiles to Iran: Major hindrance but no game-changer
ran’s apparently imminent acquisition of S-300 missiles is a significant development, disturbing on several levels, but it is not a game changer. If Russia sends the air-defense missiles to Iran, it’ll hinder Israel’s ability to collect low-altitude intelligence over Iran and attack its military installations, experts said Tuesday, but it wouldn’t hermetically shut Iran’s skies to Israeli aircraft or spell the end of Israel’s military option against Iran’s nuclear program.
“If the Israeli Air Force had the ability to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the S-300, then it will have it afterward, too,” said retired IAF general Asaf Agmon, head of the Fischer Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.
The acquisition, however, would force Israel to devote vast amounts of electronic warfare capacity against such a system and to invest in weapons that could combat it, further complicating any strike against Iran and, potentially, raising the toll in human life if such a strike were to be ordered.
Too early to reward Iran with S-300 missiles, German FM says
It is still too early to reward Iran for a landmark pact with world powers over its nuclear program, Germany’s foreign minister said Tuesday, speaking out a day after Moscow said it would lift a ban on selling an advanced air defense system to Tehran.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier also panned American legislators for attempting to intervene in negotiations between world powers and Iran over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, while speaking to reporters at a G-7 meeting of top diplomats in Luebeck, Germany.
“We’re in the middle of a process,” Steinmeier said, according to Reuters. “I’ve told some US senators that they should not now try to unnecessarily impede further negotiations. But I’ll also say that it is also too early to talk about rewards at this stage.”
On Monday, the Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin had decided to lift a five-year ban on delivery of the S-300 missile system, which would give the Islamic Republic’s military a strong deterrent against any air attack.
Netanyahu Warns Putin Directly Against Sale of S-300 to Iran
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday evening, after Putin on Monday lifted a self-imposed ban on a sale of advanced S-300 anti-missile batteries to the Islamic regime of Iran.
In the call, Netanyahu expressed Israel's great concerns over the deal, warning Putin that the sale will increase Iran's aggression in the region and shake the security of the Middle East.
His talk of greater regional tension comes as Iran has been been extending its influence through Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Shi'ite militias in Iraq and its own troops together with Hezbollah in Syria.
But Putin didn't appear to be too receptive to the message, explaining to Netanyahu his "logic."
The Kremlin announced the call in a statement, saying "a telephone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took place at the initiative of the Israeli side. In connection with concerns over the removal of an embargo expressed by Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin explained in detail the logic of actions of the Russian leadership."
Bill giving Congress say on Iran deal passes key Senate hurdle
After a last-minute compromise earned the Obama administration’s support, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed a bill that would increase Congressional oversight of any comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran Tuesday.
The bill, authored by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will now head to the Senate floor, where it is likely to pass the final hurdle and be signed into law.
The move earned quick praise from the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby, which urged quick action by the full Senate to adopt the legislation and called on the House to take action on similar congressional review legislation.
Corker and Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) worked over the past 24 hours to come up with a version of the bill that would make the legislation more palatable to Democrats.
National Security Experts Thank Tom Cotton, Colleagues for Taking Stand on Iran
On Tuesday, the Center for Security Policy sent a thank you letter containing signatures from more than 150 security experts to Sen. Tom Cotton and the other 46 senators that sent an open letter to Iran’s leaders in regard to a nuclear deal between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.
Cotton and 46 other senators sent a letter to the Ayatollah in the beginning of March, explaining that any nuclear deal reached by the president could be revoked by the next president or that it could be modified by Congress.
Rouhani dismisses Congress pressure over nuke deal
Rouhani spoke Wednesday in the northern city of Rasht, saying that Iran is pursuing a “dignified” agreement with the six-member group — the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
The speech came after US President Barack Obama bowed to pressure from Republicans and Democrats and agreed to sign compromise legislation giving Congress the right to reject a nuclear deal with Iran.
Tehran and world powers reached a framework agreement earlier this month to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions. The deal is to be finalized by June 30.
Israel’s Iran point man pleased with US oversight bill
Steinitz called the new legislation “an achievement for Israeli policy,” and credited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s polarizing March address to US lawmakers detailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions for the development.
“We are certainly blessed this morning,” he told Israel Radio, adding that increased oversight would prevent Iran from breaking the terms of the deal.
Tuesday’s last-minute compromise decision, reached between the Obama administration and the Foreign Relations Committee, will require Congress to to review any comprehensive nuclear deal reached with Iran.
“It means more pressure and another hurdle in the way of a bad agreement, so the administration and negotiators will work harder to fill the gaps to reshape the deal into a better, more reasonable one that can win Congress approval,” said Steinitz, who has become something of an unofficial point man of Netanyahu’s on the Iran issue, explaining Israel’s positions both to local media and to international decision makers.
Ignatius: WH Left Kerry Like a ‘Beached Whale’ When They Realized They’d ‘Get Clobbered’ on Iran
On Morning Joe Wednesday, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius said the White House left Secretary of State John Kerry to look like a beached whale.
On April 2, the White House announced an agreement had been reached with Iran in regard to its nuclear program. Many lawmakers expressed concerns about the released details of the agreement.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and ranking minority member Ben Cardin (D., Md.) agreed to a bipartisan legislation that would give congressional oversight. The legislation was passed unanimously out of committee at a 19-0 vote.
The Obama administration sent senior officials like Kerry to Capitol Hill to lobby against the Corker-Cardin legislation. Eventually, the White House reversed course and said Obama would not veto the bill.
Iran Holds US Reporter for Months Before 'Kafkaesque' Espionage Trial
The Washington Post’s bureau chief Jason Rezaian has been languishing in an Iranian prison cell for nearly nine months, with only the most cursory access to legal counsel. The newspaper reports today that Rezaian is having significant problems being allowed to speak to his attorney, and will remain in prison until his trial begins for “espionage.”
“Cursory access to legal counsel” means that Rezaian has only spoken to his lawyer once, “several weeks ago in the judge’s chambers, and they were prohibited from discussing his case or the charges he faces,” according to Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron. Attorney Leila Ahsan was somehow misquoted by the Associated Press as saying she Rezaian could meet with her at any time.
Baron described Rezaian’s situation as “Kafkaesque.” The Washington Post’s editorial board described their imprisoned reporter as “a pawn in Iran’s domestic power struggle over the nuclear deal,” and called on Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to “demonstrate his ability to control his opposition by arranging Mr. Rezaian’s immediate release.”
Turkey Rushes To Nuclear Power After Iran Deal
A ceremony Tuesday launched construction on Turkey’s first-ever nuclear power plant, a move ostensibly aimed at increasing the country’s energy independence and boosting its economy.
Amid protests, Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant featured Turkish officials as well as representatives of Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear agency. Rosatom will build the plant, a role it also played with Iran’s first nuclear energy facility.
Despite Tuesday’s ceremony, construction is not anticipated to start in earnest until the end of 2016. And just weeks ago, Reuters reported that the Akkuyu project is “unlikely to be ready before 2022.”
JCPA: Does Iran’s Navy Directly Arm Its Jihadist Allies?
The U.S. Navy’s Starett guided-missile destroyer halted a Panamanian-flagged freighter, Saisaban, in the Red Sea on April 1, 2015 and searched it for Iranian weaponry headed to the Yemeni Houthis, The Wall Street Journal reported on April 12. The Navy was reportedly searching for ground-to-air missiles, materiel that could significantly escalate the fighting between the Houthi insurgents and the Saudi-led air coalition bombing and strafing the Iranian-supported Shiite rebels.
The Starett found nothing on the commercial freighter and probably for good reasons. Ironically, Israel’s navy may be responsible.
In recent years, the Israeli navy, backed by hard intelligence, has accumulated a long record of intercepting Iranian weapons heading to Hamas and Hizbullah on commercial vessels. In the case of the Saisaban, there was probably no specific intelligence, an American naval expert explained. “Ships will be searched based on operating profile and proximity to Yemen.”
“Navigation in Yemen’s territorial waters has been banned,” Marine News reported on April 14, 2015, “and ships are not allowed into Yemen unless inspected and approval by the Saudi-led coalition forces.”
UN Imposes Arms Embargo on Iran-Backed Houthi Rebels in Yemen
The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday decided to impose an arms embargo on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen and their allies, including former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son.
This comes after a UN spokesperson, quoting information provided by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes against suspected Houthi targets have led to the evacuation of more than 120,000 people in Yemen.
Since March 26, when the Saudi-led campaign began bombing Yemen, the Houthis have been able to gain territory in Yemen.
The UN reportedly said that at least 736 combatants and civilians have been killed since the Saudi-led airstrikes began and 2,700 others have been injured.
Arab Media: Iranian Troops Redeploy to Yemen from Syria, Continue Destabilizing Mideast
Iranian troops have recently and in large numbers left the fighting in Syria in order to be redeployed in Yemen to help support the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, according to experts quoted in the Arabic-language media.
Arab media reports noted the sudden disappearance (Arabic link) of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces from combat zones in Syria, including in the Syrian Golan. According to the reports, the Iranian forces stopped participating in battles alongside the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, which has made it easier for the anti-Assad rebels to capture territory and open new fronts across the country.
Arab commentators have attributed the withdrawal of Iranian forces in Syria to the fighting in Yemen and Iraq, as well as the negotiations conducted over Iran’s nuclear program. According to a number of analysts, the bombing campaign, led by Saudi Arabia, against the Houthis in Yemen are now a priority for Iran’s regional policy, limiting the presence of its forces in other areas.
MEMRI: Operation Decisive Storm, Arab Rage At Iran As Expressed In Cartoons
The Arab press has recently been awash with cartoons condemning Iran's intervention in Arab countries. The cartoons appeared mainly in the Gulf press and in London-based Gulf newspapers, as well as in the Jordanian and Egyptian press. They portray Iran as sowing destruction in the Arab world and taking control of it as part of its bid for regional hegemony, and often depict Iran as a demonic figure or as an animal such as a serpent, octopus or spider.
Many of the cartoons focused specifically on Iran's intervention in Yemen. This, following the takeover of Yemen by the Houthi rebels, and Saudi Arabia's subsequent launch of Operation Decisive Storm there. The operation increased the tension between the Gulf states, which support Yemeni President 'Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, and Iran, which supports the Houthis. These cartoons in the Gulf press portrayed Iran as being behind the Houthi rebels as part of its efforts to take over the region. The Houthis were often depicted as snakes, daggers or puppets used by Iran.
The cartoons expressed support for Operation Decisive Storm and for the Arab coalition that is fighting the Houthis. The operation was depicted as neutralizing and defeating Iran's regional plans, as saving Yemen from the clutches of the Iranian monster, and as annihilating the Houthis, Iran's servants.
Iran, Israel cooperate in nuclear test detection drills
Iran and Israel have been cooperating under the auspices of an international body set up to monitor a ban on nuclear bomb tests, its director said on Monday.
Negotiated in the 1990s, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty enjoys wide global support but must be ratified by eight more nuclear technology states -- among them Israel and Iran, as well as Egypt and the United States -- to come into force.
In the interim, Middle East signatories have regularly held technical meetings, including in Jordan in November and December to practice detecting illicit testing.
"Iran took part in the drill. Egypt was part of this drill. I think all the Arab countries were represented in Jordan for this exercise," Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, said during a visit to Israel for a conference on nuclear testing supported by the United Nations.
Israeli Minister: Stop Unauthorized Islamic Excavations on Temple Mount
Israeli Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) sounded the alarm on Monday after the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf began earthworks on the Temple Mount, saying those excavations could inflict irreparable harm on Second Temple artifacts.
The Waqf, which has day-to-day control of the Temple Mount, said it planned to re-carpet the Muslim shrine known as the Dome of the Rock. Ariel fears the activity would result in excessive excavation, a concern exacerbated by the fact that heavy machinery is being used.
In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel asked that the government “order an immediate halt to the earthworks to allow a proper review and authorization process.”
“These works are unprecedented and warrant the review of the Ministerial Committee on Archeological Digs at Holy Sites, and the fact that there is heavy machinery involved makes this all the more pressing,” Ariel wrote.
IDF arrests dozens of Palestinians in Nablus sweep
Security forces arrested 29 suspected Hamas members in the West Bank city of Nablus overnight Tuesday, including some who have been imprisoned in Israel in the past.
Among those detained were senior members of the Palestinian terror group, the army said.
The operation, carried out by the Shin Bet security service, the IDF, and the Israel Police, came amid concern that the activists were preparing to carry out attacks against Israeli targets.
The suspects were to be questioned by the Shin Bet.
The army noted an increase in Hamas activity in the West Bank and said members of the group have been acting on the instructions and funding of its leaders abroad.
On Tuesday the Shin Bet revealed it had prevented a shooting attack on IDF soldiers by a small, Jerusalem-based Hamas cell comprising two Palestinian men formerly imprisoned in Israel.
Gov’t To Ease Housing Crisis With Homes Of Leftists Who Vowed To Leave If Bibi Won (satire)
Everyone knows that Labor and Meretz voters have the most personal integrity, and when they said they’re going to leave if Bibi is reelected, that means they intend to follow through.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s incoming government intends to alleviate the pressing shortage of housing in the coming months by making use of the myriad now-empty residences vacated by left-wing voters who swore they would emigrate if Likud won the elections, a spokesman said today.
A representative for the Prime Minister’s Office told reporters of the plan as he answered questions about negotiations to form a coalition. Despite tensions between the Kulanu and Shas over which party would be granted control of the Israel Land Administration under the coalition agreements, a key element in each one’s campaign promise to address the affordable housing crisis, leaders of both parties agreed that repurposing the abandoned homes as low- and mid-cost housing should form a major component of government policy. Estimates of the number of housing units made newly available range from 7,000 to 50,000, but even at the lower end of that range the figures represent a promising start to addressing the issue.
Palestinian MP Indicted for Planning Abduction of Soldiers
An indictment was submitted at the military criminal court at Ofer Prison located north of Jerusalem on Wednesday against Khalida Jarrar, an MP on the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), who was charged with 12 counts of security-related crimes.
Jarrar is a senior member of the Socialist Palestinian Arab terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Last August, she was served an order banning her from her home in Ramallah over security threats, but she disobeyed the order and was arrested on April 1. An administrative detention order was placed on her for six months, in parallel to her ongoing investigation.
The indictment attributes 12 security crimes to her, including being a member of the banned PFLP terrorist group, holding an administrative post in the PFLP, as well as conducting a series of public activities for the PFLP.
It also accused her of inciting to abduct IDF soldiers so as to negotiate the release of jailed Arab terrorists.
Illegal Arab Road Blocked - After High Court Petition
IDF soldiers on Tuesday blocked off an illegal road paved by Palestinian Arabs between an illegal Arab quarry and Highway 60, adjacent to the Jewish community of Ofra in Samaria's Binyamin region.
In recent weeks, Mustafa Tarifi, a Palestinian Arab entrepreneur, has been operating a large quarry between the Arab village of Deir Dibwan and Ofra, without any license or legal authority to do so.
The quarry was located in Area C, which is under full Israeli administration according to the 1993 Oslo Accords.
After an order requiring the closure of the quarry was issued, the Palestinian Arabs moved their quarry work into Area B, which is under Palestinian Authority (PA) civil administration, and where the IDF's Civil Administration has no enforcement authority.
Hamas accelerating its tunnel-building, using heavy machinery
Hamas has begun using heavy machinery and engineering tools to accelerate the excavation of attack tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip under the Israeli border, sources in the Palestinian enclave told the Times of Israel Wednesday.
The equipment, the sources said, includes small bulldozers with the ability to maneuver in tight spaces. From the Israeli side of the border, larger tractors are clearly visible above the ground as the machines prepare the tunnel entries.
The Gaza-based terrorist organization has been using whatever cement it can get its hands on for the construction of the tunnels, and fortifying the walls of its underground structures with wood as well.
Israeli security officials confirmed the reports from Gaza, adding that Hamas was making great efforts to dig the tunnels at high speed.
Sources: Gaza to Get Cement Deliveries 'For Next Three Years'
In yet another “gesture” to the Palestinian Authority, the PA has been moving caravans from Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria to Gaza, it was revealed Wednesday. The caravan transports followed earlier reports that vehicles with PA license plates have been given permission to enter areas of Israel within the 1949 Armistice lines, a first in 15 years since the outbreak of the last major terror war from the region.
In addition, PA sources said, Israel has allowed large amounts of cement into Gaza - and plans to continue doing so for the next three years. This, despite increasing reports Hamas is using at least some of that cement to rebuild its terror tunnels into Israel.
Permission for the caravan transport was given by General Yoav Mordechai, in charge of security coordination with the PA. In the first stage, four caravans were moved overnight Tuesday from Jericho to Gaza. Because of their size, the transport effort was be coordinated with Israel Police and conducted at night. Portions of several highways in southern Israel were closed while the caravans were being moved. The caravans were examined and let into Gaza on Wednesday morning.
With the successful conclusion of that “mission,” said Mordechai's office, the program is set to continue. Some 100 caravans are slated to be moved.
Court Denies Jailed Terrorists' Request for University Studies
Seven High Court judges on Tuesday rejected the request for an additional debate which was submitted by a group of Arab terrorists jailed in Israel against a decision not to let them receive academic studies from the Open University while in jail.
The terrorists claimed that they were being "discriminated" against as opposed to regular prisoners - despite the fact that jailed terrorists or "security prisoners" as they are known have been revealed in at least some cases to be receiving preferential treatment.
Their request was rejected by district courts, before finally reaching the High Court that rejected it as well.
In the High Court discussion it was ruled that certain rights that are not imbued rights can be negated only for security prisoners, and that such action is not discrimination since the jailed terrorists as a group acted with a goal of harming the state.
While the judges agreed to throw out the request of the specific prisoners who belonged to terrorist organizations, a disagreement was left open between them as to whether a comprehensive ban on academic studies for security prisoners stands within the parameters of the law.