News Digest — 7/2/20
Putin Joins Turkey, Iran: Israel Undermining Regional Stability
The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran on Wednesday (1st) discussed efforts to stabilize Syria in a video call, emphasizing the need to promote a political settlement for the nine-year conflict.
Following their meeting the leaders issued a statement of condemnation against Israeli airstrikes in Syria, saying they undermine regional stability.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a statement that he called on the international community to reject the US decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Rouhani used the call to urge the US to withdraw its troops from Syria to allow Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government to fully reclaim control of the country’s territory.
Some US troops have remained in Syria to protect an expanse of Kurdish-controlled oil fields and facilities from falling into the hands of the Islamic State group.
Russia and Iran have staunchly supported Assad throughout the country’s war, while Turkey backed his foes. However, the three countries have pooled their efforts to help end hostilities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed trilateral cooperation to help reduce violence in the country, but he also emphasized the need to deal with a few pockets of militant resistance.
“We need to think what other steps must be taken to neutralize the terrorist groups that are still active,” Putin said at the start of the video call, noting that the situation in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib and the areas east of the Euphrates River remain tense.
The Russian leader extolled Russia-Turkey cooperation to reduce hostilities in Idlib, noting “the situation in the deescalation zone has stabilized considerably following the introduction of a cease-fire.”
The Trump administration this month began implementing new sanctions aimed at cutting off revenues for Assad’s government. The sanctions, known as the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act are the toughest set of measures to be imposed on Syria yet, preventing anyone around the world from doing business with Syrian officials of state institutions or from participating in the country’s reconstruction.
Meanwhile, Israel is doing everything it can [airstrikes] to prevent Iran from entrenching itself and bringing weapons into Syria including building a land-bridge from Iran through Syria to the Mediterranean Sea, further endangering Israel, and its citizens.
As for Turkey, it is currently trying to empower itself in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount area, underhandedly working to bring back the glory-times of the Ottoman Empire.
Russia, Turkey, and Syria together cannot be a good thing for Israel.
Hamas Test-Fires Rockets To Warn Against Sovereignty
Gaza’s Hamas rulers fired a volley of rockets into the sea Wednesday (1st) in a warning to Israel not to apply its law to parts of Judea and Samaria, sources in the Islamist organization told AFP.
The showcase launch of about 20 test rockets from the coastal territory came as thousands of people in Gaza City answered Hamas’ calls for street protests.
Last week the group said that should Israel go ahead with applying sovereignty, as provided for in a US peace plan, it would amount to a “declaration of war” against the Palestinian Arabs.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government had set July 1 as the date from which it could begin implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal. But there was no announcement by Wednesday afternoon (1st) and none scheduled.
The Gaza protesters brandished Palestinian flags and placards condemning Trump, while calling for Hamas to take up arms against Israel.
“The resistance must be revived,” demonstrator Rafeeq Inaiah told AFP.” “Israel is afraid of force.”
Others held signs reading “No to annexation,” AFP journalists at the scene said.
Demonstrations were also building in Palestinian Authority areas, which are currently heavy-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jewish Leader: Fight Against Anti-Semitism Cannot Wait For End Of Pandemic
In the wake of two serious hate crimes in the UK and Canada in recent days, watchdog groups have called for swift action against anti-Semitism.
The first incident was reported on June 30 in Thornhill, Ontario, home to a significant Jewish community, in which a Jewish man was repeatedly punched and kicked and accused of being racist.
The second incident, also reported on June 30, took place in the English town of Burnley, in which three attackers beat and seriously injured a Jewish man calling him “filthy Jew.”
In response, Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization Yaakov Hagoel stated: “Preserving and protecting the lives of Jewish citizens is solely the responsibility of the governments in which they live. Unless local authorities are on guard and ready to deal with the spread of this phenomenon, coronavirus will feel insignificant compared to the spread of the deadly disease of anti-Semitism among Diaspora Jewry. I urge local police to apprehend the suspects so that they may be tried and sentenced to the fullest extent of the law.”
Anti-Semitism “Massively Supported” By Iran In Europe, Says Berlin Intelligence Agency
Iran is a leading promoter of anti-Semitism in Europe, according to a report published Thursday (2nd) by the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution, one of Germany’s state-level domestic intelligence agencies.
Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel are massively promoted by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the report said.
“The leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, already described Israel as the ‘little Satan’ and openly called for the destruction of Israel. Anti-Semitism has been a part of Iran’s state ideology ever since the revolution and is regularly fueled by pronouncements by state representatives.”
Various anti-Semitic ideologies and movements, both historic and modern, are outlined in the 49-page report, which concluded that “Israel-related anti-Semitism is the most prevalent form of anti-Semitism today.”
The report said, “The development of modern anti-Semitism is also associated with the strengthening of Islamist movements. From the 1970s onwards, Islamist thinking became particularly attractive, especially in the Arab nation-states.”
The Berlin report said that “strengthening of Islamist movements was also promoted by the Iranian revolution in 1979, as a result of which Iran established itself as a state carrier of Islamist ideology.”
According to the report, followers of Islamist ideologies have spread dramatically across Europe since the end of the 20th century. More than 25,000 people in Germany and 2,000 in Berlin are supporters of terrorist networks and organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“They all share not only the rejection of fundamental values of our democratic system, but also a firmly-anchored anti-Semitism and the rejection of the State of Israel,” the report said.
The report pointed to the observation of al-Quds Day in Germany. Initiated by Iran’s former Supreme Leader Khomeini in 1979, al-Quds Day demonstrations call for the liberation of the city of al-Quds (Jerusalem) from the “Zionist occupation.”
“In Germany, the annual al-Quds Day is currently dominated by Iranians who are loyal to the regime, supporters of Hezbollah and Palestinians, and by individual representatives of German left-wing extremist groups.” the report said.
The report also noted that Udo Voight of the National Democratic Party which has been described as a neo-Nazi organization, “regularly shows solidarity with the Iranian regime.”
Sources: Plans To Open Israeli Borders On August 1 ‘Gone Down The Drain’
Senior Israeli sources said Wednesday (1st) that plans to resume flights and international tourism have “gone down the drain” due to the rapid increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the country.
Israel was set to resume flights to selected countries on August 1, with the Foreign Ministry negotiating with at least 12 states in order to create “coronavirus-free zones,” but the plan now looks to be delayed.
“With such a high infection rate, Israel can forget about the August 1 resumption of tourism,” one Foreign Ministry official said. “All the work that has been done so far has gone down the drain. Israel was ready to open its borders to at least 12 countries, which is no longer relevant, as Israelis are no longer wanted.”
The recent resurgence of COVID-19 in the country puts Israel wide-off the target set by the European Union, which is 16 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.
Foreign Ministry officials say tourism can only resume if Israel manages to bring down its contagion rate. “It all depends on our infection rate,” said one source. “At this point, it seems far away. It does not look like it will happen by August 1,” the source said.
Another source, however, said there is still room for optimism since Israel can sign bilateral “open border” deals with countries in the region, most likely with Greece and Cyprus.