Thursday, September 19, 2019
Muhammad al-Hindi, a member of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, on Wednesday expressed concern over the outcome of the elections in Israel.
A prime minister could be elected who would resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and lead to war in the Gaza Strip, he warned.
"We are closely monitoring any development in the [election] results in Israel," al-Hindi added.
He claimed that the "Palestinian resistance organizations in the Gaza Strip are constantly improving their military capabilities based on lessons learned from the clashes with Israel."
"The Palestinian resistance organizations are able to produce weapons despite the siege on the Gaza Strip and they have the ability to prevent Israel from achieving its objectives. We trust the Palestinians worldwide to fight Israel," said al-Hindi in an interview.
A U.S. official claimed to CBS News that the recent strike on Saudi oil facilities was approved by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on condition of deniability of Iranian involvement.
Saudi Arabia Wednesday displayed wreckage of what it said were Iranian cruise missiles and drones. The circuit boards can be reverse engineered to determine the exact route the weapons flew. But U.S. officials said the most damning evidence is still unreleased satellite photos showing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard preparing for the attack at Ahvaz Air Base in southwestern Iran.
From there, the weapons flew through Kuwaiti airspace some 400 miles to their targets in Saudi Arabia.
The weekend strikes on the world's largest processing plant knocked out 5.7 million barrels per day, or six percent of global production, sending prices soaring.
Saudi Arabia announced it had restored 50 percent of lost oil production as of Tuesday evening.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mike Esper said on Monday that the US military is preparing a response to the attack on major Saudi Arabia oil facilities.
President Trump announced Wednesday that he had ordered a “substantial increase” in sanctions on Iran.
In an interview with CNN, Iran's Foreign Minister spoke of "all-out war" in the event of US or Saudi military strikes and that Saudi Arabia would have to fight "to the last American soldier."
Javad Zarif told CNN that Iran hoped to avoid conflict, adding the country was willing to talk to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but the possibility of a return to negotiations with the US, however, would not happen unless Washington provided full sanctions relief as promised under the 2015 nuclear deal.
He repeated his denial of Iranian involvement in the attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities. Zarif said Yemen's Iranian Houthi proxy, who claimed responsibility for the attack, have enhanced their military capabilities and are can conduct a sophisticated operation such as the one that shut down half of the country's energy production.
Zarif would not provide proof that Houthis launched the drones and missiles.
"I cannot have any confidence that they did it because we just heard their statement," said Zarif. "I know that we didn't do it. I know that the Houthis made a statement that they did it."
U.S. and Saudi officials have repeatedly dismissed Houthi claims of responsibility in the weekend attacks. Instead, they have highlighted Iran's alleged involvement in the incident.
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Yisrael Beytenu Chairman MK Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday morning reiterated his promise to push for a unity government, criticizing Blue and White Chairman MK Benny Gantz's post-elections speech.
"The clear conclusion is that everything we said is happening. There is an option to establish a wide, liberal unity government and we say that we will not join any other option," he said.
"We will not sit with the Joint Arab List, and therefore everyone needs to understand that it's a shame to waste time and use pressure. We need to quickly get into the only possible lane. No one has 61 to recommend him, and if there aren't 61 recommendations the Knesset will dissolve. Anyone who thinks that there's an option to hold new elections is making a mistake."
Liberman also emphasized that the Yisrael Beytenu party will not sit in a narrow government with the haredi parties, just as it will not sit with the Joint Arab List.
"I was disappointed with Benny Gantz's speech," Liberman added. "I didn't hear anything clear. We will not discuss any option to form a government without a clear commitment ahead of time that the haredi yeshiva students will be drafted and that the law will pass with every period and comma it had when it passed its first reading."
"Another basic condition for us entering the government is that the core curriculum be taught in the haredi education system. We will make any support in the government dependent on teaching the core curriculum. We will not give in on our demand to cancel the Supermarket Law and run public transportation on Shabbat (Sabbath).
"These are our conditions and until we hear things clearly we will not speak with Gantz or [Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu. Our reliability is important and we do not intend to back down even a tiny bit from our commitments to our voters. I will not waste time on empty conversations. There will be no negotiations and whatever we do will be completely open and transparent. There will be no negotiations under the table."
A recent attack by Iranian-backed forces in Yemen on a Saudi oil facility should be viewed as a “warning” to Saudi Arabia to halt its campaign against pro-Tehran Houthi rebels in Yemen, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday.
President Rouhani denied that Iran was behind the attack, adding that Iran was not interested in a regional conflict.
“We don’t want conflict in the region,” said Rouhani. “Who started the conflict?”
The Iranian leader blamed the US, Israel, United Arab Emirates, and the Saudi government for rising tensions in the Middle East.
Despite Rouhani’s denial, the Saudi ambassador to the UK said Wednesday that Iran was ‘almost certainly’ behind the weekend attacks on Aramco oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
“Almost certainly it’s Iranian-backed,” Prince Khalid bin Bander bin Sultan Al Saud told the BBC. “We’re trying not to react too quickly because the last thing we need is more conflict in the region.”
“We’re investigating the issue. We’re working with our partners in the United States, the UN, the UK, and anyone else who wants to get involved, to help us resolve what happened, figure out what happened, where they came from, the attack.”
Saudi Arabia promised Wednesday to release evidence linking Iran to the attack.
The US has also accused Iran for the attack, and now believes that the assault was launched from southwestern Iran.
Houthi rebels in Yemen had previously claimed responsibility for the attack. Iran is widely believed to be backing the Houthi forces, though Tehran has denied this. Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition in support of the Yemeni government against the Houthis.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
ANATOMY OF THE ATTACK
SURMISING IRAN’S GOALS (Read more)
Yamina candiate Naftali Bennett expressed concern following Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz'd statement that less than 10% of Judea and Samaria would remain in Israel's hands.
"Minister Katz is right," Bennett told Arutz Sheva. "He spoke of between eight and eleven percent of the territories remaining in Israel. That is to say, between 89 and 92 percent of the US territories will be in Palestinian sovereignty and will move from the status of Area C to Area A and B . The ground should shake. People don't understand what tomorrow's elections are."
"The plan is clear. The map I presented may need a little correction here or there, it is an enclave plan. It will turn Beit El, Ariel, Ofra, and Elon Moreh over to others. Not one Jew will be forcibly removed. That is what the prime minister said and I believe him. It would make matters even worse, leaving Jewish communities as isolated islands with several Israeli yards around them and then an ocean of Palestinian sovereignty. It's a terrible thing," he said.
"I urge Minister Katz and the Prime Minister to deny this and will say that they will not leave the communities as individual islands within a Palestinian settlement. Until this moment, they are unwilling to say it in their voices - because that is the truth. That's what the elections will be about tomorrow.
"After all, what happened in the past? What happened when Ayelet and I got into the ring? For the first time he could say to Obama: I want to, but Bennett won't let me down and he will overthrow the government. But if we become four or five seats we will not have such power. The Likud has weakened, their spirit has weakened, and we must stand strong.
Bennett said the American response to his map is of even greater concern. "The Americans were very clear and said the map was inaccurate. I agree, I built the map on the basis of all the information I was able to store from all the American, Israeli and settlement sources I have. From the feedback I have received since I published the map - the reality is worse."
"Where is the great difficulty and why is there a clear and immediate danger to the people of Samaria, Binyamin, Gush Etzion and South Mount Hevron? Because Trump is a friend and it's much easier to resist who he is not a friend. He has helped us over time and gives us the Jordan Valley Everybody has to wonder why Netanyahu just showed us what we get and not what we give? Maybe we are just a moment before the abandonment of the communities and the lives of the residents are about to become a living hell? Nobody will be deported or come with bulldozers, but we will do something like what Yossi Beilin talked about: leave the settlers there and they will have to manage on their own. Do you want to travel to Kedumim, Karni Samaria, Mount Bracha or Itamar in the middle of Palestine on a narrow, thin road that will itself be Israel but around it will be Palestine? That is what we are talking about here.
"I call first and foremost for the residents of Judea and Samaria and the heads of the local councils: Your home is in danger. We won't evacuate you, but we will abandon you and leave you on or own. Don't say you didn't know. We need Netanyahu to be prime minister but next to him we will be the only people in the country who can stop him from giving the country away in the face of international pressure:" Bennett concluded.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met on Monday in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Rouhani blasted Israel, saying that "recently the Zionist enemy has doubled its attacks in Syria, and has even extended them to Lebanon and Iraq. The nations of the region have the right to defend themselves against these attacks, and therefore the enemy must bear responsibility."
There have been several attacks against Iranian-affiliated Iraqi militias in recent weeks that have been attributed to Israel.
While Israel has not commented on the attacks, in late August, two senior American officials told The New York Times that Israel had carried out several air strikes on munitions storehouses for Iranian-backed groups in Iraq.
In his comments on Monday, Rouhani also attacked the US presence in Syria, claimed it was illegal and urged the US to leave the country.
The Iranian, Russian and Turkish presidents will discuss solutions to the crisis in Syria, focusing on the Idlib region, one of the final strongholds of the rebels in the country.
Iran has seized a boat suspected of being used to smuggle fuel and arrested its 11 crew members near a vital oil shipping lane, AFP reported on Monday, citing state television.
A naval patrol of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intercepted the vessel carrying 250,000 liters of fuel near the Strait of Hormuz, state TV’s website said, citing a commander of the force.
“This boat was sailing from Bandar Lengeh towards United Arab Emirates waters before it was seized 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Greater Tunb island,” Brigadier General Ali Ozmayi was quoted as saying.
“The boat’s 11 crew members have been arrested,” he added, without saying when the incident happened or giving their nationality.
The incident marks the second time this month that Iran has seized a boat in the Gulf. On September 7, a boat suspected of smuggling fuel was detained and its 12 Filipino crew members arrested in the Strait of Hormuz.
In July, Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker after it passed through the strait at the mouth of the Gulf.
While the incident took place after the UK and Gibraltar seized the Iran-flagged tanker Grace 1 in early July on the grounds that it was attempting to transport oil to Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif denied the move was an act of revenge for the capture of the Iranian tanker.
Monday’s announcement about the latest incident comes with tensions brewing in the Gulf after weekend drone attacks on two major Saudi oil installations that the United States has blamed on Iran.
Going back even further, the Islamic Republic has threatened more than once to close the Strait of Hormuz, with the United States warning Iran in response that any attempt to close the strait would be viewed as a "red line" -- grounds for US military action.
In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the area.