The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that if the Palestinians truly desire peace with Israel, they must first “come clean” and put an end to “rewarding terrorism”. “I think the first test of peace is to say to them, ‘Hey, you want peace? Prove it. Confront terrorism, stop rewarding terrorism, stop paying it terrorists'”, Netanyahu said from his office in Jerusalem. “It could be more than a billion dollars that are given to terrorists”, Netanyahu continued. “I’m not talking about Hamas. I’m talking about the mainline Palestinian Authority headed by the president, who is going to see (US President Donald) Trump in Washington”. Netanyahu’s comments came just a day after Abbas granted an interview to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shibun, where the Palestinian leader appeared to moderate his tone over restarting peace negotiations, saying “I am ready to meet the prime minister of Israel any time in Washington under the patronage of President Trump”. Netanyahu, however, currently has no plans to visit Washington next month.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis landed in Israel on Thursday as part of his first official visit to the Middle East. Mattis met Friday with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Tel Aviv, before heading to Jerusalem to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Pentagon chief was also scheduled to meet with President Reuven Rivlin. While in the country, Mattis plans to discuss U.S. Israel ties and the challenges facing the Middle East, chiefly Iran and its attempts to consolidate its regional dominance.During a press conference in Tel Aviv, Mattis said Syria has retained chemical weapons in violation of a 2013 agreement to get rid of its entire stockpile. He reiterated the U.S.’s “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and its qualitative security advantage over Iran”, adding that Washington looks forward to increasing its defense ties with Israel and to “strengthen our alliance with Israel as a cornerstone of our cooperation with Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf states. My goal is to increase regional cooperation.”Lieberman thanked Mattis for his “friendship, support and understanding of the complexities and challenges Israel faces. There is no doubt that the main problem is the axis of evil from North Korea to Tehran, Damascus and Hezbollah in Beirut. The common thread is Iran, which is trying to erode stability throughout the Middle East. We [Israel and the U.S.] share the same positions and values, and we hope that with your support we will be able to overcome the threats and bring stability to the region”. Lieberman went on to say that “on behalf of the Israeli public and myself, I would like to express my appreciation to the Trump administration. We are delighted to see the first visit by a [Trump] cabinet member, and we hope President Donald Trump visits Jerusalem this year as well”.
Iraq’s National Coalition Chief, Ammar al-Hakim, said on Wednesday that Israel would be the only country to recognize a Kurdish state if it were declared. Hakim stated the U.S. administration has repeatedly declared its commitment to the territorial integrity of Iraq. He added Iraqi officials have received assurances from the new U.S. administration of its commitment to the unity of Iraq, as well as the commitment of previous administrations. Iraq’s Shi’ite ruling coalition would oppose Kurdish plans to hold a referendum on independence of Kurdistan Region after the defeat of Islamic State, its president, Ammar al-Hakim, has said. Hakim said Kurdish officials have a 70-year ambition to announce a Kurdish state, which could continue for another decade whether it were achieved or not. Kurds seek self-determination to have their own state having a logic that they can have a country the way Arabs have 22 countries as well as Turks and Persians who have their own countries, Hakim added.
With the administration of US President Donald Trump forming a new policy towards the Middle East, Defense Secretary General James Mattis arrived in Israel Thursday afternoon to discuss regional security issues with top officials on Friday, with Iran topping the list.Greeted by members of the American embassy in Tel Aviv and the Israeli army’s defense attaché in Washington, Gen. Mickey Edelstein, Mattis arrived from Cairo on his third leg of a 5 country Middle-East tour billed by the Pentagon to discuss to “defeat extremist terror organizations”. Mattis and Liberman, who met in Washington in March have already discussed issues such as the ongoing civil war in Syria and the threats posed by Iran, and the Israeli Defense Minister will brief him against on the numerous threats to Israel in the region, including on its northern border where there is a growing presence of Hezbollah and Iran in Syria. Known as a hawk on issues related to Iran, last month in London Mattis recalled a statement he made in 2012 in which he stated that the three gravest threats to American national security were “Iran, Iran, Iran”, an echo of Liberman’s statement at the Munich Security Conference in February that main challenges facing the region were “Iran, Iran, Iran.”At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of US central command and [saying] that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism, frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behavior today”, Mattis said in March.After his visit to Israel, Mattis will head to Qatar.
Netanyahu: Hamas’ military echelon begged to halt war with Israel. “We hit Hamas incredibly hard. They said, ‘We can’t go on with how these crazy Jews are hitting us’ and today they are careful not to shoot at us”, PM tells Knesset State Control Committee about 2014’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Nethanyau, during a meeting, told a Knesset State Control Committee that Hamas’ military leadership begged the political echelon abroad to stop the war. Also he said that Israel hit Hamas incredibly hard, to the point that its military leadership in Gaza begged the political echelon abroad to stop the war. They said, ‘We can’t go on with how these crazy Jews are hitting us’ and today they are careful not to shoot at us”. As for the circumstances leading up to the fighting, the prime minister said, “We tried avoiding war as much as possible. Three years after the operation, we are now seeing the quietest period in the south”. Netanyahu told the committee that Hamas had prepared itself for a wide-scale operation aimed at removing the naval blockade Israel had imposed on Gaza.
An Israeli enemy drone violated on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. the Lebanese skies over Alma Al-Shaab village, executed a circular flight over Iklim Al-Kharoub regions, Baabda and Beirut, and then left at 11:40 p.m. from above the said village, a communiqué issued by the Army Command- the Guidance Directorate said on Thursday. On the same day at 10:55 p.m. , another Israeli drone violated the Lebanese skies from above Kfarkilla village made a U-turn over the south and West Bekaa regions and then left on Thursday at 7:00 a.m. from above Rmeich village, the communiqué added.
An Israeli reconnaissance plane breached the Lebanese airspace on Wednesday at 10:07 above the Southern Lebanese village of Kfarkila and effectuated U-shaped maneuvers over Riyaq, Baalbek and Hermel, a Lebanese Army communiqué said on Wednesday, adding that the enemy aircraft left at 15:14 from abovementioned village. The communiqué added that another Israeli drone violated the Lebanese skies on the same day at 8:00 from above Nakoura village, carried out a circular flight over the south regions and West Bekaa then left from above Kfarkila.
The Samaria Military Court on Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian Authority policeman convicted of shooting offenses and obstruction of justice over the killing of an Israeli man in 2011 to six years in prison. The court also acquitted police officer Nuaf Bani-Auda of the original manslaughter charge.The Military Prosecution said it would appeal both the acquittal and the sentence. The incident took place on April 24, 2011, near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, when Bani-Auda and several other Palestinian police officers fired at a car in which Ben Yosef Livnat and other civilians were traveling. Livnat was killed and the other passengers were wounded. However, the military judges ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bani-Auda had fired the shots that killed Livnat or that he had intended to cause his death. the ruling that acquitted the defendant of murder was astonishing. The defendant explicitly admitted that he shot at the victim’s car and even admitted that he hit him.This is a double blow to the family, one from the terrorist and a second one from the judges’ conduct.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is scheduled to visit the Middle East this week, his first regional tour since taking office, the Pentagon said Saturday. Mattis is set to visit Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Djibouti between April 18 and April 23.The Defense Department said the purpose of the trip was to “reaffirm key U.S. military alliances”, and “discuss cooperative effort to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terrorist organizations”. Mattis will arrive in Israel on Thursday. But we have two meetings one with with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. Lieberman and Mattis met in Washington on March 7, where both underscored the close defense ties between the U.S. and Israel.Mattis’ visit to Israel will take place against the backdrop of efforts by Washington and Jerusalem to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Mattis has said in the past that he believes the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise was “obstructing the possibility of a two-state outcome” between Israelis and Palestinians.
The terrorist who perpetrated Friday’s stabbing attack in Jerusalem was attempting to commit suicide, Israel Hayom learned Sunday. The attacker killed Hannah Bladon, a British exchange student in her 20s, before being apprehended.During the interrogation of Jamil Tamimi, the 57-year-old attacker from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, it emerged that he arrived in Jerusalem on Friday from a mental health institution in the north, a place he had frequented in the past for psychiatric treatment. Tamimi checked himself in a day before the attack, the Walla news website reported on Sunday, but was kicked out for engaging in a violent altercation.Tamimi had also recently been admitted to Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center in Jerusalem, according to Walla. Just a few months ago, while in the hospital, Tamimi tried to commit suicide by swallowing a razor blade. The terrorist also tried to get in touch with his family and his children but refused to meet him. After being neutralized, Tamimi was arrested and taken in for questioning by Jerusalem’s central police unit. The Jerusalem Magistrate Court extended Tamimi’s remand by 10 days on Saturday night.