News Digest — 5/26/21
Mike Pompeo Expected In Israel This Week
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to arrive in Israel this week, possibly overlapping the current trip of his successor Antony Blinken, the website Politico reported Monday (24th).
Pompeo’s arrival isn’t finalized due to the timing of the required coronavirus testing, but Pompeo, who himself is a former director of the CIA, will be making a private visit to Israel to attend the retirement celebration of Yossi Cohen, the outgoing head of the Mossad spy agency, Israel’s equivalent of the CIA.
When in Israel, Pompeo is also expected to meet privately with non-governmental officials and he had notified Secretary of State Blinken of his plans, a source familiar with the trip told Politico.
Pompeo is well-liked in Israel, having been a key member of the Trump administration that oversaw the long-sought-after move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the historic Abraham Accords.
Viewed as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024, Pompeo is a strong backer of Israel. The first US Secretary of State to make an official visit to a Jewish community in Judea and Samaria, he changed the State Department to say that “some settlements are not inconsistent with international law” and supported former President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that were captured from Syria in the 1967 war.
In an interview with the Hudson Institute last week, Pompeo stressed the importance of US-Israeli relations, especially with respect to the threat posed by Iran to both the Middle East and the United States.
“We have great friends and partners in the region, foremost among them is the State of Israel – a great security partner for the United States in lots of places around the world,” Pompeo said. “We have deep diplomatic and economic ties with the State of Israel. It is the lone democracy in the Middle East – we want to preserve and protect that for faithful believers in the United States.”
“Jerusalem is an important place in its own right as well, so there are lots of American interests that are connected to this conflict,” Pompeo said, adding that any time there is terror in the Middle East, there is a risk it will extend to America.”
“So taking down this terror effort, this campaign against the State of Israel, [what Iran refers to as] the little Satan, could ultimately grow into an Iranian campaign against the great Satan – the United States. The United States has a deep and consistent interest in doing our best to prevent this kind of thing from happening.”
Pompeo pointed to the prediction of danger made by Democrats if the US refused to accept the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, as well as the claim made during the Trump administration that violence would explode if the US moved the embassy to Jerusalem or recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“We’ve now defeated the hypothesis. We need a new hypothesis,” Pompeo said. “We withdrew from the JCPOA and we didn’t have … conflict like you’re seeing today.”
Abbas: Cement Gaza Ceasefire By Keeping Jews Off The Temple Mount
In meetings with the Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers, the seemingly increasingly sidelined Palestinian Authority Leader, Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that for the ceasefire between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Israel to hold, Jews must be barred from visiting the Temple Mount.
Abbas emphasized the importance of including the PA in any plan to rebuild the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the recent round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The PA leader reportedly told Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, both of whom visited Ramallah, that he was ready to work with the US administration and other members of the Quartet – Russia, United Nations, and European Union. He also claimed he was ready to restart the peace process based on existing international resolutions.
On Tuesday (25th), Abbas told Safadi that for the truce between Hamas and Israel that ended the 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls to hold, the period of calm must include “stopping attacks and incursions by settlers, backed by the Israeli occupation forces, on Al-Aqsa Mosque and on our people in the West Bank,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
Palestinian and Palestinian-aligned media outlets frequently refer to images of Jewish visitors walking atop the Temple Mount – Judaism’s holiest site – as “storming the al-Aqsa compound.” Jews are forbidden to pray openly on the Mount and guards accompany all Jewish groups who enter the Maghrebi gate, the only one through which non-Muslims are permitted to enter.
Abbas made his comments in the shadow of lifting the recent ban on Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, which were suspended for 19 days after a sharp increase in tensions in Sheikh Jarrah and canceled Palestinian legislative and leadership elections.
Coughing With Difficulty Breathing, Nasrallah Speaks And Threatens Israel
Any violations of Jerusalem will cause a “regional war,” warned Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday (25th) in his first speech since the end of Israel’s recent conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Nasrallah stated Tuesday (25th) that he had not made any statements in recent weeks because he had been sick. He repeatedly coughed throughout the speech and admitted to having difficulty breathing. There have long been rumors regarding Nasrallah’s health.
During the Gaza operation Nasrallah did not make any statements and Hezbollah officials remained relatively quiet, with only one or two comments made beside an official statement issued by the terrorist movement after the ceasefire. This was despite the firing of several rockets from Lebanon toward Israel, largely attributed to Palestinian factions based in Lebanon. Military sources said at the time that it was unlikely the factions fired the rockets without prior permission from Hezbollah.
The Hezbollah leader said that Gaza surprised “both friend and foe” when it carried out its threat to launch rockets at Jerusalem in response to the unrest surrounding Sheikh Jarrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Nasrallah stressed that Israel “misjudged” the impact of its moves, saying that Jerusalem entered a “very dangerous phase” which led to the conflict. He added that the escalation by Gaza was a “historic step” that must be understood properly and built upon properly.”
Nasrallah stressed that “violating” holy sites in Jerusalem differs from any other matter and that this reaction would be “different” from the reaction to the assassination of commanders or destruction of homes.
The Hezbollah leader warned that Israel must understand that “any violation of Jerusalem won’t stop with just Gaza terrorist groups.”
“We won’t substitute for Palestinians, but we will stand behind and next to them,” said Nasrallah, calling for the creation of a “new equation” in which any violation of Jerusalem would lead to a regional war and would result in “Israel’s destruction.”
Nasrallah emphasized the importance of Arab-Israelis acting in a unified manner with Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. He added that Operation Guardian of the Walls (referred to as Sword of Jerusalem by Palestinians) “revived” the Palestinian issue in the global arena and dealt a blow to normalization efforts by Israel in the region.
“I can definitely say that after The Sword of Jerusalem operation, the Deal of the Century [Trump’s Middle East peace plan] is over,” said Nasrallah.
Nasrallah made the speech as Hezbollah marked 21 years since Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000.
The Hezbollah leader stated that the terrorist groups would now celebrate “two great victories” in May: the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and the ceasefire in Operation Guardian of the Walls.
Iranian TV: Zionists Exploited Holocaust And Launched ‘Myth’ To Found Israel
A video that aired on Iranian television claims that the Zionists exploited the “myth of the Holocaust” to establish the State of Israel, which it called the first phase of “their” plan for world domination.
The video called “The Big Lie,” aired on Aftab TV on May 7, when Iran commemorated “Quds Day” to express its opposition to Israel and Zionism. In the video, the narrator claims that the goal of Israel’s establishment was to create a “safe zone” for the West in the heart of the Muslim world.
“Years ago, in France, several members of the International Agency of the Zionists relied on a fabricated story about the massacre of 6 million Jews in World War II. And in order to prevent people from forgetting that this group was oppressed, they prepared a bill and had it ratified,” the video said.
“It stipulated that doubting the Holocaust was considered a violation of the law. Whoever violated this law was sentenced to one month to one year in prison, and had to pay a fine of 200,000-300,000 francs. After France, this law was ratified in the other European countries,” the video explained.
“Against the backdrop of World War II, the first phase of the Zionists’ project of taking over the world began. Due to the oppression of the Zionists by the Christian world, they had to move elsewhere, and what place would be better than West Asia and Palestine? From the perspective of the Zionists, the establishment of the State of Israel is the outcome of the imaginary oppression from which they had suffered,” according to the video.
“We can conclude by saying that the West’s motives to highlight the issue of the Holocaust are as follows: 1. To completely evacuate the Jews from their countries to a specific place. 2. To give the Jews a central spot where the three continents meet, and to place Israel in West Asia. 3. To create a safe zone for the West in the heart of the Muslim areas, in order to monitor the West’s security interests from within. This is how, by means of their biggest lie, the Zionists occupied the land of another group of people,” concluded the video.
564 Dutch Academics Call For Anti-Israel Boycott
Hundreds of academics have signed a petition calling on the Dutch government to sever relations with Israel over what they perceive as Israeli violations of international law in responding to Hamas rockets from the Gaza Strip.
Among the 564 signers is a researcher at a state Holocaust research institute.
“We declare that we join the calls of our Palestinian colleagues to boycott Israeli academic institutions,” reads the petition, which is titled “Netherlands Higher Education Stands In Solidarity With Palestinians.”
The document also calls on the Dutch government to “sever all economic, political and military ties with Israel.”
The document says Israel violated international law in its response to the thousands of rockets launched into its cities this month to avenge what Hamas said was the violation of religious and civil rights of Arabs in Jerusalem.
The reality was that Israel only struck back at Hamas in Gaza during the firing of over 4,000 rockets at civilian areas in the Jewish State, in defense of its people.
A ceasefire was reached early Friday (21st) following 11 days of fighting.