Syria’s moves in the southwest this week followed Russia’s failure to persuade Israel to stand aside and allow Assad’s army to take charge of the Quneitra and Daraa regions on the Israeli and Jordanian borders. Moscow hoped that the Syrian rebel forces defending the two areas would lay down their arms and go over to Bashar Assad’s army. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the Netanyahu government spurned Russia’s plan – not least for lack of trust, suspecting that the Syrians would cheat and let Hizballah reach its border. Last month, an attempt was made to trick Israel, after its consent to a previous Russian plan to hand the Beit Jinn enclave on Mt Hermon to Syria, by providing Hizballah troops with Syrian Army 4th Division uniforms.
The same deception is being practiced at present in the southwest regions of Daraa and Quneitra. Russian and Syrian propaganda machines claim that Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militiamen are being withdrawn from the Israeli and Jordanian borderlands, when in fact they are not moving after being disguised in Syrian army uniforms. The Russians don’t mention an Iranian withdrawal because Moscow pretends they don’t exist, when in fact an Iranian command center is fully operational in that part of Syria.
The statements coming from the Russian ambassador to Beirut, Alexander Zasypkin, to Hizballah medium outlets add to the perplexity in Jerusalem about Moscow’s intentions in Syria. He declared a few days ago: “We say that the Syrian army now, with support from Russian forces, is recovering its land in the south and restoring the authority of the Syrian state.”
Jerusalem tried to find out what is really going on, according to our intelligence sources. Does the Russian ambassador include Hizballah troops disguised as Syrian soldiers and officers in his comment? No answer came from Moscow. READ MORE
Saturday, June 23, 2018
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met on Friday in Jerusalem for four hours with U.S. President Donald Trump’s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer also participated in the meeting.
Netanyahu expressed his appreciation to President Trump for his support of Israel. “The teams discussed advancing the diplomatic process, developments in the region and the security and humanitarian situations in Gaza,” said a statement from Netanyahu’s office.
A statement from the White House said Netanyahu, Kushner and Greenblatt “discussed the means by which the humanitarian situation in Gaza can be alleviated, while maintaining Israel's security. They further discussed the continued commitment of the Trump Administration and Israel to advance peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
Arutz Sheva learned that the meeting took place in a very good atmosphere and one of the main issues discussed was the American plan being formulated to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and particularly how to bring the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the negotiating table.
Netanyahu heard from his guests that he may have to agree to one significant gesture to the Palestinians if they return to the negotiating table and also agree to an American gesture which some believe will be the opening of an official consulate in eastern Jerusalem.
Greenblatt and Kushner are currently visiting the region as the Trump administration prepares to present its peace proposal for Israel and the PA.
The two, who have already met Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, will also visit Israel, Egypt and Qatar but are not slated to not visit Ramallah or meet any PA officials.
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused to consider the Trump administration an honest broker for peace negotiations with Israel since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December.
PA officials have repeatedly rejected the Trump administration’s peace proposal, claiming it has been coordinated with Israel.
Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh last week said that Greenblatt and Kushner are promoting a "meaningless plan" and "will achieve nothing.”
Lebanon’s General Security agency is considering allowing Iranians into the country without stamping their passports, which has politicians concerned that this is reflective of Iran’s deepening influence over the nation’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.
The Rev. Timothy Rogers, the popular pastor of Prince of Peace Church in Blytheville, Arkansas, said Wednesday that hell is an “imaginary place” invented to scare ignorant believers, adding that “when you’re dead, you’re done.”
Friday, June 22, 2018
Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a Palestinian Authority legislator claimed recently that the PA had successfully blocked a long-awaited Middle East peace deal floated by President Donald Trump’s administration.
The peace plan, dubbed by Trump the “Deal of the century”, was never publicly released, though envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt discussed the key issues in the deal with both Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials during a series of visits to the region since Trump took office in January 2017.
The PLO is set to hold a meeting next Monday in Ramallah to discuss the recent political developments in the region, including the PA’s responses to the Trump administration’s moves in the Middle East. The meeting will be hosted by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas.
The meeting is the latest by a special committee empowered by the PA to draw up responses to the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Last month, the committee voted to freeze the PLO’s recognition of Israel until a Palestinian state is established along the June 4th, 1967 borders.
According to reports in the PA’s WAFA mouthpiece, Al-Ahmad recently discussed plans by the committee next week to address the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan, and efforts to reach a “humanitarian solution” for the Gaza Strip.
Al-Ahmad claimed the effort to improve the living conditions of Gazans outside of the context of a final status agreement was an attempt to negate the PA’s demands for statehood.
“A humanitarian solution for the Gaza Strip [would come] at the cost of [nullifying] legitimate international decisions and the two-state solution,” said al-Ahmad.
The PLO leader added that the PA had succeeded in neutralizing Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, rendering it effectively irrelevant. Since PA objections torpedoed the achievement of a comprehensive deal under the aegis of the Trump administration, al-Ahmad continued, the White House had shifted its approach, looking for a piecemeal solution to the Middle East crisis, including “humanitarian solutions” for the Gaza Strip.
May saw the highest number of terrorist attacks in 2.5 years against Israelis, following an increase of almost 40 percent from the 223 incidents recorded in April.
Of the 365 attacks recorded in May, 271 involved firebombs, the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) said in its monthly report, published this week. The increase occurred in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, as well as along Israel’s border with Gaza.
The tally for May is the highest on record since October 2015, when 620 attacks were recorded. One Israeli died as a result of attacks, a soldier who was killed after a terrorist crushed his helmet. Four more soldiers were injured, one in an explosion in Jerusalem and three others, as well as one civilian, from a rocket near Gaza.
Hamas has organized a number of deadly riots weekly along the border with Israel, labeling them "nonviolent events" despite the fact that they feature the hurling of firebombs at troops near the fence and attempts to breach it.
Additionally, Gazan terrorists have burned over a thousand acres of land near the border by sending over kites and helium balloons carrying firebombs and other explosives.
(AFP) — AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan’s King Abdullah II set off for the United States on Thursday for talks with US President Donald Trump on Middle East issues including the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the palace said.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Since he took office in 2003, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has given a name to each stage in his consolidation of power in Turkey. First he called himself the apprentice; then the journeyman; and latterly the master. Now, he says a new five-year term would elevate him to the role of "grandmaster" and help him make Turkey one of the world's top powers by the time the republic marks its centenary in 2023.
The most powerful and polarizing leader in Turkish history, Erdogan, 64, is standing for re-election in a presidential vote on Sunday that could cement Turkey's switch from a parliamentary to a presidential system, which was narrowly approved in a referendum last year. He would take an office with vastly expanded powers, in a system that critics have compared to one-man rule. His opponents have promised a return to a parliamentary system with a distinct separation of powers.
Opinion polls have put Erdogan several points ahead of his closest competitor in the presidential race. However, he would need to win more than 50 percent of the votes for an outright first-round victory and that looks less likely. Analysts say the outcome could be decided in a second round runoff on July 8.
Erdogan, who has never lost an election, is this time around facing more robust opposition figures and parties cooperating with each other in an anti-Erdogan alliance. For the first time ever, Turkey will elect a new parliament at the same time, but his Justice and Development party's election campaign has appeared a little flat and uninspired, focusing on past achievements and making odd campaign promises such as the creation of neighborhood "reading houses" offering free tea and cakes. Analysts even speak of the possibility of Justice and Development losing its majority in Parliament. READ MORE
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared on Wednesday that the Iranian people will not give in to U.S. pressure.
His comments, quoted by Reuters, come as the Islamic Republic faces the reimposition of economic sanctions by Washington after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal.
“The Iranian people will never surrender in the face of the plots and pressure of the American government,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani won reelection last year largely on a promise that the economy would improve because of the 2015 agreement with major powers under which some sanctions were lifted in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal threatens to fatally undermine the accord, though the remaining signatories - Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - are scrambling to preserve it.
Tehran has demanded that Europe come up with an economic package to offset the effects of the U.S. withdrawal.
Rouhani warned world powers last week that it was impossible for Tehran to stay in the nuclear deal if it cannot benefit from it after the U.S. withdrawal.
“If Iran cannot benefit from the (nuclear) deal, then it’s practically impossible to stay in the accord,” Rouhani told French President Emmanuel Macron.
On Tuesday, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Europe’s proposals to salvage the nuclear deal were not satisfying for Tehran.