News Digest — 6/30/20

Netanyahu Can Bring A Proposal To The New Government Anytime After July 1 On The Matter Of Sovereignty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears determined to carry out his pledge to begin applying sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley, possibly as soon as Wednesday, July 1.

His vision of redrawing the map of the Holy Land, in line with President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan, has been welcomed by Israel’s religious and nationalist right-wing.  Over half of Israelis who are Jewish support the move, according to polls. 

The Palestinian Authority and the international community condemn the move.  But with opponents offering little more than condemnations, there seems little to prevent Netanyahu from embarking on the plan.

Netanyahu inserted into the unity government agreement a clause allowing him to bring a proposal to the new government anytime after July 1 on the matter of sovereignty.  He appears eager to move forward before the November presidential election, possibly with a limited move, billed as a first stage.

Israel’s right-wing has long-favored extending sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria, not just parts.  They note that the territory is vital for the country’s security and an inseparable part of the biblical Land of Israel.

They also point out what happened when Israel exited the Gaza Strip in 2005, evicting 8,000 Jews from their homes.  The event paved the way for the rise of the Hamas terror enclave.

Most of the world has adopted the Arab narrative concerning Judea and Samaria, which it terms the West Bank, captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.  it considers it to be occupied territory, and Israel’s dozens of settlements, now home to 500,000 Jewish Israelis, as illegal.

However the Trump administration has dismissed the claims of illegality.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “it was very clear” that Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria were not illegal according to international law, in November 2019.

Trump in other ways has challenged the world’s accepted wisdom.  While many presidents have promised to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Trump actually did so.  He also recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.



Netanyahu To Evangelicals: We Have No Greater Friends

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Christian supporters of Israel in the US on Sunday (28th) in a video message during an annual conference of Christians United For Israel, an evangelical organization with millions of members in the United States.

“When I say we have no greater friends than Christian supporters of Israel, I know you’ve always stood with us,” Netanyahu told the conference participants.

“You stand with us because you stand with yourselves because we represent that common heritage of freedom that goes back thousands of years,” he continued.  “America has no better friend than Israel and Israel has no better friend than America, and Israel has no better friend in America than you.”

Netanyahu repeated his call to the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table based on the Trump administration’s peace plan, noting that “Israel is prepared for such negotiations.”

The prime minister said President Donald Trump’s plan should be implemented, vowing to move forward with the parts that allow Israel to extend its sovereignty to certain Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, mentioning some of the areas that would see the move applied to them.

“In the president’s plan, Israel will have sovereignty over Beit El, where Jacob dreamed of the ladder going to the heavens; Israel will also have sovereignty over Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant that housed the Ten Commandments stood for centuries.”

“These places are integral parts of the historic Jewish homeland…but are also important to Christian identity.  They are parts of your heritage – part of our common civilization.  And under Israeli sovereignty our common heritage will be protected forever.”

“In a region where Christians are on the run, and live in fear, Christians in Israel are on the rise and they live in freedom,” Netanyahu concluded.



Danon: End Of UN Arms Embargo On Iran, A Threat To The Region

Unless the United Nations renews the arms embargo on Iran, the Islamic Republic will exploit the UN inaction to escalate the arming of terrorists that will threaten the entire Middle East, Israel’s UN ambassador said Monday (29th).

Danny Danon warned the UN Security Council that unless Security Council Resolution 2231 is renewed before it expires in October, Iran will be able to import and export weapons systems, including tanks, artillery systems, warships, submarines, aircraft, missiles and other arms.

In his communication to the UN, Danon pointed out Iran’s long list of violations of the resolution, including transfer of illegal “illicit arms to its proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and recently, Libya.”

Danon warned that weapons “freely transported throughout the Middle East and used by armed militias and terrorist groups, pose a strategic threat not only to Israel, but to the entire region.”

In April, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was making plans to ensure that Iran would not get a free hand to supply weapons to fuel conflicts in the region.

“We will work with the UN Security Council to extend that prohibition on those arms sales and then in the event we can’t get anyone else to act, the United States will evaluate every possibility to further extend the arms embargo on Iran,” Pompeo said.

The US special representative to Iran, Brian Hook, told AP Sunday (28th) the world should ignore Iran’s threats to retaliate if the arms embargo is extended, calling it a “mafia tactic.”

Hook acknowledged Iran had been violating the embargo by smuggling weapons to different terror groups in the region, but warned that if the embargo expires Iran will simply expand its arms-trading in broad daylight.  

“If we play by Iran’s rules, Iran wins,” Hook said.  “It is a mafia tactic where people are intimidated into accepting a certain kind of behavior for fear of something worse.”

“I don’t think anyone believes that Iran’s behavior merits loosening restrictions on their ability to move weapons,” Hook added. 



Israel Cyber Attack Blamed For Mysterious Iranian Blast

A massive explosion in the mountains near the Iranian capital city of Tehran was most likely caused by an Israeli cyberattack on a secret missile facility, Saudi Arabia’s oldest English language daily reported Sunday (28th).

Satellite images of the area before and after showed widespread damage from the night time explosion on Friday (26th) that sent a massive fireball into the sky 12 miles from central Tehran, shaking homes and lighting up the horizon from the area of the Khojir military testing site in the Alborz Mountains.

“I was in this area a few minutes ago and, fortunately, we do not have any particular problems and everything is going according to the normal routine,” Brigadier General Davoud Avdi told Iran’s IRNA news agency Friday (26th), saying the blast was the result of a “gas leak.”

However, experts told the Saudi newspaper Arab News that the Khojir site is part of the Parchin defense industries area with a hidden underground tunnel system where artillery rockets and ballistic and cruise missiles are produced and tested.

“Although military and defense industry accidents do occur in Iran, the consensus appears to be a cyberstrike by Israel against Iran,” Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington, told the paper.

Karasik noted that cyberwarfare between Iran and Israel has been going on for years, most recently with an attack by Iran on Israel’s water infrastructure and an Israeli retaliation against a major Iranian port.

The Parchin facility is reportedly used by Iran for missile tests linked to its nuclear program, Israel Defense News reported, adding that the satellite photographs showed that the site was not simply a fuel storage facility as Iran’s government had claimed.



Netanyahu Marks 44 Years Since Hero Brother’s Death In Quiet Ceremony

On Sunday (28th), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked 44 years since his brother Yonatan (Yoni) Netanyahu’s death in Operation Entebbe, in a small ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mt. Herzl military cemetery.

Lt. Col. Yoni Netanyahu was the commander of Sayeret Matkal, the elite IDF special forces unit.  He was leading a rescue mission to free 106 Israeli hostages held by terrorists at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976 when he was killed in action.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, the memorial was limited to close family.  Netanyahu posted photos to his official Twitter account of himself, his wife Sara, and sons Yair and Avner standing at Yoni’s grave, having laid fresh flowers and a wreath on it.

The ceremony was held June 28th, which corresponds to the Hebrew calendar date of 6 Tammuz.  While Yoni Netanyahu was killed on July 4, 1976 according to the civil calendar, Jewish tradition dictates that loved ones are memorialized on their Hebrew calendar death date.

Netanyahu wrote, “The pain over Yoni’s passing has only grown with the years and it’s difficult to find comfort.  May his memory be a blessing.” 

Operation Entebbe is often referred to as Operation Yonatan, in honor of Yoni Netanyahu.   



Brussels: Pro-Palestinian Protesters Chant About Massacre Of Jews

On Sunday (28th), at least 100 people protesting Israel’s sovereignty plan, chanted veiled threats to massacre Jews, citing ancient slaughter.  At a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Brussels, protesters chanted the name of a locale where Muslims massacred Jews in the seventh century.

The Arabic chants about Khaybar, located in modern-day Saudi Arabia, were filmed Sunday (28th) in the Belgian capital against Israel’s plan to apply its civilian laws to parts of Judea and Samaria.

“Jews remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning,” the protesters chanted, according to the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA.

“That’s incitement to violence,”the LBCA’s president Joel Rubinfeld, told the Belga news agency.

“They are referring to an historic event in which Jews were exterminated or reduced to slaves,” he said.

LBCA has filed a complaint with police for incitement to violence against those filmed shouting the slogan.

The rally was organized by the Belgo-Palestinian Association.