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Netanyahu Pushes Israeli Sovereignty over Jordan Valley after US Democrats Push Back

December 8, 2019 News

Home in Ma’ale Adummim Settlement in Judea and Samaria region. Illustrative. Photo by Joshua Spurlock.

In another disturbing sign the United States’ official approach to Israel is becoming a politically partisan issue, Democrats in the US House of Representatives led a resolution last week that called for the US to “discourage” the annexation of territory and highlighted historic opposition to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, known as settlements. Just days later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he doesn’t just want to annex the Biblically historic Jordan Valley that serves as Israel’s eastern border, he wants American support for it.

“Just as I wanted American recognition for our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, I want American recognition for our sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. This is important,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office.

Judea and Samaria—territory the Palestinians also claim and call the ‘West Bank’—are home to a number of Biblical sites, including the Jordan Valley, Bethlehem, Jericho, Hebron, and Shechem. Following his meeting last week with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Netanyahu confirmed that the Jordan Valley annexation plan has not been formally broached with the US. However, he also said that “the subject has been discussed.” … Continue Reading

Iraqi Protestors Challenging Iranian Influence Have ‘Clearly Made Iran Nervous’

December 3, 2019 News

Protestors in the region are taking on Iran’s leaders and malign influence.
Illustrative official meeting in Iran. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Protests are making an impact in Iraq, and it’s not just the leaders in Baghdad that are feeling the pressure. Leaders in Iraq’s next-door neighbor and general bad influence Iran are taking notice too, as Iraqi protestors have opposed Tehran’s entanglement in their country. “Iraqis increasingly view Iran as having coopted and exploited Iraq’s political system, its economy, and its security at the expense of the Iraqi people, and this has clearly made Iran nervous,” said United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker in comments to reporters on Monday.

Schenker, whose statement was published by the State Department, noted that Major General Qasem Soleimani—the commander of Iran’s international special operations unit the Qods Force—was back in Baghdad “interfering in Iraqi politics.”

Said Schenker, “As Iraqi leaders consider options over the coming days to address the current crisis, their foremost consideration should be meeting the needs of the Iraqi people and rejecting the distorting influence Iran has exerted on the political process.” … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Slams Europe for Evading Iran Sanctions, ‘Supporting Murderous Regime’

December 1, 2019 Iran Nuclear Program, News

Netanyahu sternly critiqued Europe’s Iran policy. PM Netanyahu and EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of: Avi Ohayon (GPO).

Against the backdrop of Iranian attacks in the region and the regime cracking down on protestors at home, six more European nations recently joined the economic tool intended to circumvent American sanctions on Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was incensed at the “absurd” European move and voiced his concerns on Sunday.

“These European countries should be ashamed of themselves. Have they learned nothing from history? Well, apparently not,” said Netanyahu in a statement released by his office. “They are enabling a fanatic terrorist state to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, thereby bringing disaster to themselves and upon everyone else.”

The Israeli premier’s frustration came after the main three European nations—France, Germany and the United Kingdom—last Friday “warmly” welcomed a half dozen other European nations agreeing to join the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). The move “demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran and is a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)” nuclear deal with Iran, said the statement published by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson. … Continue Reading

US Warns Another Iran Attack ‘Very Possible’, Israel Confirms More Planned

November 24, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu on Mt. Avital in Israel’s north. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach / GPO

Recent months have seen Iran attack oil shipping, shoot down a US drone and launch a wide-scale attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry—and it’s likely that more Iranian violence is coming, the United States and Israel confirmed this weekend. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of US Central Command, was quoted by Foreign Policy in an interview as saying on Friday that in his view, “it is very possible” that Iran will attack again. Specifically, McKenzie expressed concern about another Iranian large scale attack of drones and missiles similar to the one against the Saudi oil industry.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the general threat analysis while touring the north of the country not far from Syria—where Iran has sought to build a base of operations. “Pay attention to what General McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, responsible for US forces in the Middle East, said—that Iran is planning more attacks. I can confirm that and I can also confirm to you that we are continuing our plans to thwart this aggression by various means.”

Netanyahu, whose comments were published by his office, highlighted Iran’s efforts to transfer weapons to Syria and “turn Iraq and Yemen into bases for launching rockets and missiles” against Israel. Netanyahu said they are acting to prevent Iran from accomplishing these goals. … Continue Reading

US Revises View on Israeli Settlements: Not Inherently Illegal

November 19, 2019 News

PM Netanyahu in Gush Etzion settlement. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / Israeli GPO

The Trump Administration announced a change in the American perspective on the legality of Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria on Monday, reversing the position of the Obama Administration that had called the civilian communities illegal. “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

“…We believe that what we’ve done today is we have recognized the reality on the ground… and we have provided… the very space for Israel and the Palestinians to come together to find a political solution to this very, very vexing problem.”

Pompeo, whose comments were published by the State Department, made it clear the US was not commenting on the legality of specific settlements, noting Israel’s court system has repeatedly addressed that issue. For the US, the control of territory in the Biblical heartland—claimed by the Palestinians in what they call the West Bank—is a matter for peace negotiations between the sides.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the move. “This policy reflects an historical truth—that the Jewish people are not foreign colonialists in Judea and Samaria. In fact, we are called Jews because we are the people of Judea.”

… Continue Reading

Israeli President Urges Top Political Factions to Form Unity Government

November 17, 2019 News

If unity fails, could Gantz still succeed? President Rivlin (center) with Netanyahu and Gantz. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach, Israeli GPO.

With just days remaining for Israel’s Blue and White political party to form a government and a third consecutive round of elections looming on the horizon, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin pleaded for both Blue and White and Likud to form a majority unity government. Rivlin, in comments on Sunday published in an Israeli press release, asked Israel’s mayors to contact their political leaders and tell them, “’Enough! We do not need another round of elections. Do the right thing and come back [to negotiations].’”

Rivlin, whose role appoints a lawmaker to attempt to form a government, went on to say that “I call on both Likud and [Blue and White] to… understand that the people do not want more elections. They have had enough of elections.”

In Israel’s parliamentary system, if no party secures a majority of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset (parliament), a coalition of parties must join together to form a government. In the latest round of elections, the second of 2019, not only did Likud and Blue and White fail to form a majority government, their allies also failed to win enough seats for the leading parties to form a natural coalition—leaving the government in limbo. … Continue Reading

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