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Netanyahu Calls for More Funds for Israel’s Defense Per ‘2030’ Security Review

August 15, 2018 News

Israel’s security needs money to fight Iran. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds up piece of Iranian UAV in February. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Amos Ben Gershom GPO

Israel’s defense budget will need to grow over the next decade to address the wide range of threats facing the nation—including funding missile defense—as part of their “2030 security concept” announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. The security review considers the upcoming expected threats and as a result of those dangers calls for a larger budget for Israel’s defense. Netanyahu, according to a press release from his office, plans to increase Israel’s security budget by 0.2-0.3% of Israel’s overall economic output, or Gross National Product (GNP), with the goal for the budget to eventually average 6% of GNP.

Israel would have multiple plans for spending the monies, including “Major power-level cyber capabilities”, enhanced offensive abilities to take the fight to the enemy and improving anti-missile defense.

“In the last 20 years we have cultivated a free economy in order to serve national needs, especially security,” said Netanyahu in the press release. “Against the accumulated threats we are at a turning point. Today we are called upon to invest more in security in order to defend our achievements and ensure continued economic growth.” Those upgrades come as Iran is again making headlines for military plans of their own to beat missile defense systems. … Continue Reading

Israeli Government Launches Invest Program for ‘Gamechanger’ Cyber Defense

August 14, 2018 News

Prime Minister Netanyahu at cyber center. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon / GPO

In a world in which the threat of a cyber-attack is almost constant, Israel is already a world-leader in cyber-defense technologies, and a new investment program allocating 90 million shekels ($24.4 million) is aiming to do more than just maintain the status quo. It’s specifically targeted to help “groundbreaking” research and development and pilot programs to benefit technologies “with ‘gamechanger’ potential” according to an Israeli government press release.

The three-year funding program—which offers to fund almost two-thirds of R&D costs for certain projects up to 5 million shekels ($1.36 million)—is a joint effort of the Israel Innovation Authority (IAA), the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, and the National Cyber Directorate.

“The Authority stresses the importance of groundbreaking cyber defense technologies to preserve Israel’s unparalleled prowess in the field,” Chief Scientist, Ministry of Economy and Industry, and Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority, Dr. Ami Appelbaum said in the press release. … Continue Reading

Rating Agency Upgrades Puts Israel ‘Among Strongest Economies in the World’

August 5, 2018 News

Israeli flags. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The latest credit rating from Standard & Poor’s for the State of Israel saw the country upgraded from “strong” to “very strong” according to the S&P website, and that something for which Israel’s leadership sees as vindication for their economic approach. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that the rating upgrade from A+ to AA- “positions Israel among the strongest economies in the world.”

Said Netanyahu in comments released by his office, “This attests to the responsible economic policy that we in the government have been conducting—the Finance Minister and fellow ministers. This policy has led to continuous growth in the Israeli economy.”

The Times of Israel reported that the improved credit rating is the highest Israel has ever received from the prestigious rating organization. In general, the S&P ratings go up to AAA, but Israel’s lower mark still represents a “stable” outlook according to a press release on the S&P website. The explanation on the website describing what the ratings mean terms anything in the “A” range to be “investment grade” and AA to indicate a “very strong capacity to meet financial commitments.” Netanyahu believes that it’s not just the wealthy who are benefitting from the growth. … Continue Reading

No US Plans to Strike Iran, But Trump Open to Meeting Them ‘Anytime They Want’

July 30, 2018 News

US President Donald Trump open to meeting with Iran. Illustrative photo, edited for size. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead. CC 3.0  LICENSE.

United States President Donald Trump on Monday offered to meet with the Iranians with no preconditions, less than a week after he issued an all-caps Twitter warning to the Islamic Republic not to threaten the US and just days after CNN reported the US is discussing military options to defend oil shipping from a potential Iranian attack. “I believe in meeting,” Trump told reporters on Monday in comments published on the White House website. “I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I don’t know that they’re ready yet… No preconditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”

Trump wasn’t the only one sounding a slightly softer tone towards Iran. Last Friday, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis made it clear the Americans are not preparing for a military strike against Iran. “I’m confident it is not something that’s being considered right now,” Mattis told the media in comments posted to the Defense Department website. Those comments contrasted with a news report from CNN saying that the US was considering military options to defend vital oil shipping waterways from Iranian attack, an approach that Mattis himself seemed to support.

Following threats from Iran to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz—a narrow water passage that links Middle East oil producers with Europe and the West—Mattis told reporters last Friday in separate comments that such a blockade would need to be countered with “whatever that took.” … Continue Reading

Trump to Iran: ‘NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN’

July 23, 2018 News

 

US President Donald Trump has strong words for Iran. Illustrative photo, edited for size. Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead. CC 3.0  license.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday warned the United States they would “regret” fighting with the Islamic Republic and implying that Iran could shut down a critical oil gateway from the Middle East to the world. In response, US president Donald Trump literally responded with all-caps warning of his own on Twitter.

“To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!” tweeted Trump late Sunday evening.

The American retaliatory warning followed comments from Rouhani to the heads of Iranian diplomatic missions abroad in which the Iranian President referenced the Strait of Hormuz—a critical waterway that is used by Middle Eastern oil tankers to reach Europe and the US—before stating that his country is “guarantor of security of the waterway of the region.” In the talk, which was published to the Iranian President’s website, Rouhani then hinted at taking action to shut down the Strait of Hormuz when he warned the US, “Don’t play with the lion’s tail; you will regret it.” Trump’s fiery tweet came hours later.

That same day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted the Iranian regime for abuses against their own people and sponsoring terrorism around the world. Following the rhetoric exchange, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for “strong position” by the US leaders vis-à-vis Iran. … Continue Reading

Israel Evacuates Hundreds of Syrian Search and Rescue Volunteers and Families from Syria

July 22, 2018 News

Israeli flags. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The Israelis have provided tons of humanitarian aid to Syrians civilian refugees near their border and transferred wounded Syrians to receive medical attention in Israel. On Sunday, the Israelis announced they had also helped rescue and evacuate hundreds of Syrians—volunteers with the Syria Civil Defense search and rescue group known as The White Helmets and their families. The IDF Spokesperson’s Twitter feed noted that the civilian group “faced an immediate threat to their lives in Syria,” and had “passed through Israel and are now out of harm’s way.”

The White Helmets, according to their website, are a civilian volunteer organization that specifically declares their impartiality in that country’s civil war. According to their Twitter feed, they have saved over 100,000 lives. Despite their neutrality and their positive work, a number of their members were at risk and they needed to escape the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that United States President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others asked Israel to get involved. “These are people who have saved lives and whose lives were in danger. Therefore, I approved their passage through Israel to additional countries, as an important humanitarian gesture,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office, who noted that Israel has military as well as humanitarian concerns in Syria. … Continue Reading

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