Friday, May 24, 2019

Finally! UK Prime Minister Theresa May Announces Resignation After Three-Year Brexit Failure

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation outside 10 Downing street in central London on May 24, 2019. - Beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Friday that she will resign on June 7, 2019 following a Conservative Party mutiny over her remaining in power. (Photo by Tolga …

Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation from outside 10 Downing Street Friday morning, stating she would be officially stepping down in two weeks time.

In her remarks outside the Prime Minister’s official residence, Theresa May said she had “done her best”, and “everything I can” to deliver Brexit by negotiating a deal with the European Union, but conceded “sadly I was not able to do so”.
Saying it was time for a new Prime Minister to lead Brexit, Mrs May said she would be resigning as leader of the Conservative Party on Friday 7th of June, so that a successor could be chosen.
In doing so, the Prime Minister fires the starting gun on a leadership race that has already been run behind closed doors for weeks. The details of her departure mean Mrs May could remain party leader, and hence Prime Minister, for weeks if not months more.
While she will officially relinquish the title of Conservative party leader in 14 days, May revealed she would also be staying on Prime Minister until her replacement is selected, which depending on how the election runs. When Mrs May became leader following the resignation of David Cameron in the wake of the 2016 EU referendum, she was selected within days as other candidates dropped out to give her a clear run.
In the case of David Cameron’s own ascension to the leadership, it took five and a half months between it being announced, and the final selection.
UPDATE 1205 — May will meet with President Trump before officially stepping down 
The personal advantage to the Prime Minister of having a long departure, as seems will be the case with her announcing her resignation two weeks before it will actually happen, and then deciding to stay on as leader until her successor is chosen, is that she’ll get to enjoy all the perks of being boss without the pressure.
The visit will take place from Monday 3rd June to Wednesday 5th June this year. President Trump and Mrs Trump previously joined The Queen for tea at Windsor Castle in July 2018.

Rouhani: We won't surrender, even if we're bombed

Iran will not surrender to US pressure and will not abandon its goals even if it is bombed, President Hassan Rouhani stressed on Thursday, according to Reuters.
“More than one year after the imposition of these severe sanctions, our people have not bowed to pressures despite facing difficulties in their lives,” Rouhani was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as saying.
Addressing a ceremony in commemoration of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, he added, “We need resistance, so our enemies know that if they bomb our land, and if our children are martyred, wounded or taken as prisoners, we will not give up on our goals for the independence of our country and our pride.”
Tensions are festering between the US and Iran after Washington sent more military forcesto the Middle East in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region.
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Thursday confirmed that the Pentagon was considering sending yet further U.S. troops to the Middle East as one of the ways to bolster protection for American forces there.
While President Donald Trump has urged Iran’s leaders to talk with him about giving up their nuclear program, he has also made clear he could not rule out a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
On Monday, Trump said that Iran would be met with "great force" if it attempted anything against US interests in the Middle East, though he stressed he was willing to have talks with Iran "when they're ready."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later said that he favors talks and diplomacy but not under current conditions.

Jordan's King to Abbas: Palestinian issue will remain a priority

King Abdullah II of Jordan on Thursday met with Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Amman and reaffirmed that the Palestinian issue is the central issue in the Middle East and will remain on top of Jordan's priorities, the Xinhua news agency reports.
The king stressed that Jordan places all its capabilities at the disposal of the Palestinians to attain their “legitimate and just rights” that will result in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
King Abdullah reiterated the need to preserve the historic and legal status of Jerusalem, while pledging Jordan will continue to play its historic and religious role in safeguarding the Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem based on the Hashemite Custodianship, according to Xinhua.
Abbas voiced appreciation for Jordan's efforts and stand on the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem, and King Abdullah's efforts to defend the rights of the Palestinians on all fronts.
The meeting comes ahead of an economic summit the US is planning to hold in Bahrain next month and in which it is expected to unveil the economic portion of its Middle East peace plan.
The PA immediately announced that it would boycott the economic conference, with its “information minister” Nabil Abu Rudeineh saying that the conference would be a meaningless meeting that was part of a meaningless plan.
On Wednesday, PLO secretary general Saeb Erekat reiterated that PA officials will not be attending the economic conference in Bahrain.
“This is a collective Palestinian position, from President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee to all Palestinian political movements and factions, national figures, private sector and civil society,” said Erekat in a statement.
“We reiterate that we did not mandate anyone to negotiate on our behalf. Those concerned and want to serve the interest of the Palestinian people should respect this collective position. Palestine’s full economic potential can only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation, respecting international law and UN resolutions,” he added.
Erekat’s statement came even after countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia announced they would take part in the Bahrain conference.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Yisrael Beytenu said poised to join coalition, Liberman to return to defense job

Then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visit the IDF's West Bank Division, near the Israeli settlement of Beit El, on January 10, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly agreed to return Yisrael Beytenu party head Avigdor Liberman to the Defense Ministry in the next government.
Liberman, who served as defense chief before resigning in November to protest a ceasefire agreement with the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group, has been considered the main obstacle to Netanyahu’s formation of a coalition, as the premier’s Likud party needs Yisrael Beytenu’s five seats to secure a ruling majority.
As part of Liberman’s reappointment as defense minister, a number of principles were agreed on concerning the next government’s policy toward the Gaza Strip, “so as not to return to the same point” at which he decided to resign from the position, the Ynet news site reported Thursday, quoting sources involved in coalition talks.
The report did not say what those understandings on Gaza were. Liberman demanded last week that Israel defeat Hamas rather than reach accommodations with it, but later appeared to back off that condition for his entry to the coalition.
In addition to the Defense Ministry, the report said Yisrael Beytenu would receive the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, a portfolio it also held in the last government. MK Oded Forer, the No. 2 in the party who was previously that ministry’s director-general, is expected to be tapped for the post.
Despite the understandings, the Ynet report said gaps remained between Yisrael Beytenu and Likud on legislation formalizing draft exemptions for religious seminary students, other matters of religion and state, and Liberman’s demand that his party receive the chairmanship of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee.
The reported agreement on the defense post came after Liberman met Wednesday with Netanyahu, who has until May 28 to form a government.
The prime minister also held talks with Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, another expected coalition partner.
Minister Yariv Levin, who is heading up negotiations for Likud, meanwhile met with representatives of United Torah Judaism, Shas and the Union of Right-Wing Parties on Wednesday. READ MORE

Khamenei predicts demise of Israel and the US

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iran’s youth will witness the demise of Israel and American civilization, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
“You young people should be assured that you will witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel,” Khamenei was quoted as having said in a meeting with students.
He gave no further details, but Khamenei is notorious for his rhetoric against the United States and Israel.
Khamenei regularly verbally attacks Israel. He has several times in the past referred to the Jewish state as a “cancer” and threatened to "annihilate" the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa.
In late November, Khamenei took to Twitter where he belittled Israel and asserted that it “is clearly weaker than 10, 20 years ago.”
Several days later he took to Twitter again to blast both Israel and the US.
“Today, to hell with the US and Zionist regime for threatening the Iranian nation. Their threats and atrocities have so far failed and will continue to fail; the sanctions will also be defeated by the grace of resistance,” he wrote.
His latest comments come amid renewed tensions between Iran and the United States after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles.
Despite the latest tensions, Khamenei said last week that there would be no war with the United States.
Separately, Khamenei distanced himself from the 2015 nuclear deal in his comments on Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year and reimposed sanctions, saying the accord did not address the Islamic Republic’s missile program and what he saw as their malign influence in the region.
“The way (the nuclear deal) was put into action, I didn’t have much faith (in it),” said Khamenei, according to Reuters. “And we repeatedly told the president and the foreign minister and gave them notice.”
Two weeks ago, Iran notified the remaining signatories to the deal - China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom - that it would halt some commitments under the nuclear deal, a year after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord.

Report: US considering sending 5,000 troops to Middle East

Image result for image of american troops
The US Department of Defense is considering a US military request to send about 5,000 additional troops to the Middle East amid increasing tensions with Iran, two US officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
The officials, who spoke condition of anonymity, said the request had been made by US Central Command but added that it was not clear whether the Pentagon would approve the request.
The Pentagon regularly receives, and declines, requests from combatant commands throughout the world for additional resources, the report noted.
One of the officials said the requested troops would be defensive in nature.
Tensions between the US and Iran have increased recently in the wake of the US military’s deployment of an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East. US officials said the move was made to counter “clear indications” of threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
While President Donald Trump has urged Iran’s leaders to talk with him about giving up their nuclear program, he has also made clear he could not rule out a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic.
On Monday, Trump said that Iran would be met with "great force" if it attempted anything against US interests in the Middle East, though he stressed he was willing to have talks with Iran "when they're ready."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani later said that he favors talks and diplomacy but not under current conditions.
"Today's situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only," said Rouhani.
Last week, the Washington Post reported that Acting Defense Secretary Shanahan had presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons.

Deputy Chief of Staff participates in NATO conference

Zamir at NATO conference
The Deputy Chief of the IDF General Staff, Major General Eyal Zamir, participated this week in the NATO Chiefs of Defense Conference, held in Brussels, on behalf of the Israel Defense Forces, the IDF said.
During the conference, he held meetings with the heads of regional and NATO militaries to discuss existing cooperation programs and strategic issues. In addition, he met with NATO military leadership as well as other NATO officials.

Israel is an active partner in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. As part of this, the IDF and NATO share a bilateral cooperation program, including maritime exercises and shared learning engagements. 

The Israeli delegation included the Head of the IDF International Cooperation Unit (IDF/ICU), Brigadier General Erez David Maisel, and the Israeli Defense Attaché to Brussels (also responsible for NATO), Colonel Nir Omer.

Trump’s Deal of the Century might look like this

President Trump has teased forward his impending ‘Deal of the Century’ peace plan for Israel. Hope wanes eternal. But what might his historic peace plan actually entail?
First, there is one major element that it likely will not include: A two-state solution.
How do we know this? Because when President Donald Trump met with Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier this year, the President said, "The two-state solution might not be the way to go forward."
This prima facia statement creates a clear opportunity for those who have ideas for alternative peace proposals that may include Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria (the so-called 'West Bank').
To the most recent American administrations, the land for peace formula, or the two-state solution, was considered sacrosanct. Under this recipe for peace, Israel was expected to eventually vacate all or most of Judea and Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem to create a Palestinian Arab state. It has long been the mantra of the primary peace process promoters that Israel, a country roughly resembling in size the small state of New Jersey, would need to surrender its ancestral areas to bring the elusive peace that it has always sought, even long before its reestablishment as a sovereign nation in 1948.
However, after over thirty years of Middle East peace summits and conferences, with millions of dollars wasted on these efforts, resulting in over 1,600 Israeli lives lost in terrorist attacks just in the past twenty years, with thousands of others wounded, perhaps it’s time to try something new?
The Trump comment in answer to a reporter’s question about the two-state solution sent a clear signal that new, that he would welcome a new approach. We are now in a new situation in which alternatives that include Israeli sovereignty may have an ear in Washington. The concern of many is that Israeli sovereignty that includes granting automatic citizenship to all residents denotes demographic disaster for Israel.
Toward this end, I propose a new peace plan called Peace for Peace, which does away with the failed land for peace formula and the hopelessly stalled negotiations and offers a unilateral path to peace between Israel and the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria.
Peace for Peace, if adopted by Israel’s political leadership, would change the rules of the game and stop unrealistically arousing the appetite of those who currently call themselves Palestinians. The approval of the Palestinian Authority, which has caused so much terrorism through its financing and incitement, would not be required, but the plan would, indeed, provide a better future for the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria. READ MORE

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

U.S. Says Signs Syria May Be Using Chemical Weapons, Warns of Quick Response

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States sees signs the Syrian government may be using chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack on Sunday in northwest Syria, the State Department said on Tuesday, warning that Washington and its allies would respond "quickly and appropriately" if this were proven.
"Unfortunately, we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
"We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately," she said.
Ortagus said the alleged attack was part of a violent campaign by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces violating a ceasefire that has protected several million civilians in the greater Idlib area.
"The regime’s attacks against the communities of northwest Syria must end," the statement said. "The United States reiterates its warning, first issued by President Trump in September 2018, that an attack against the Idlib de-escalation zone would be a reckless escalation that threatens to destabilize the region."
The Trump administration has twice bombed Syria over Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons, in April 2017 and April 2018. In September, a senior U.S. official said there was evidence showing chemical weapons were being prepared by Syrian government forces in Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.
"The Assad regime must not repeat the use of chemical weapons in Syria," Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. "There should be no doubt as to our determination to act strongly and swiftly should the Assad regime use these weapons again in the future," he said. READ MORE