German FM visits Israel, addresses Gaza reconstruction and peace talks

Steinmeier meets with Israeli officials; Netayahu and Steinmeier address press on Iran, resumption of peace talks

Steinmeier and Netanyahu Sunday (Mark Israel)

Steinmeier and Netanyahu Sunday (Mark Israel)

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Israel Sunday to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.

Netanyahu and Steinmeier met before addressing the press, their meeting focused on Iran and its funding of terrorism in the region, resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians as well as the Palestinian’s attempts to expel Israel from FIFA.

In the press conference following their meeting, Steinmeier spoke at length on the need to rebuild the Gaza Strip following Operation Protective Edge of 2014. He stated that “We have to look for options with the Palestinians. The situation in Gaza is very hard; we have to think about the reconstruction of Gaza. Israel’s security is tied to the prosperity of Gaza because none of us want another war between Israel and Gaza.”

President Rivlin stated on Gaza’s reconstruction, “We do not need to be pressured, the need to rebuild Gaza and the renewal of direct negotiations is very clear to us. The Palestinian’s unilateral actions as we saw for example on Friday in Zurich are unnecessary and a bizarre twist on history – that the successors of those who murdered athletes in Munich should now be promoting a boycott of Israel, goes against the ideas of humanity and justice.”

Netanyahu addressed efforts by the Palestinians to delegitimize Israel, stating, “It doesn’t matter what we do, but rather what we represent. What hasn’t been said about the Jewish people? They said we were the source of all evil in the world, that we poisoned their wells, that we drink the blood of small children. They are saying the same thing about us today. It was not true then, and it is not true now. There is no truth in it… the last thing we have to do is bow our head, and ask where to we erred. We did not err. We are not a perfect state, and don’t claim to be. But they are putting distorted standards for us, higher than for any other country, any other democracy.”

He added that, “We are not dealing with justification, we are dealing with saying the truth. As long as we reject this and refrain from self-flagellation, we will be stronger.”

Hotovely stated on German-Israeli relations as well as the BDS movement internationally that, “Germany is one of our best friends. We deeply appreciate its unwavering stance against rising anti-Semitism in Europe, and hope it will continue to lead the struggle against this destructive phenomenon…Israel is facing a tough wave of boycotts coming from Europe and we expect Germany to lead the struggle against the labeling of products made in Judea and Samaria. The boycott of products impairs the entire fabric of life in Judea and Samaria, both on the Palestinian side and the Israeli side.”

Israel to hold nationwide drill in preparation for three-front attack

Hamas confirms building of road on border for future conflict; Week-long drills to be held through out Israel

IDF Homefront drill (Flash90)

IDF Homefront drill (Flash90)

Israel will hold nation-wide drills, being referred to as “Turning Point 15”, through all of this week. The drills, which will be held by Israel’s Home Front Command, will simulate attacks from three enemies simultaneously.

The drills will test Israel’s population preparedness for conflict and rocket attacks. The drill is also geared at damage control of Israel’s infrastructure, as well as cyber attack defenses.

On Tuesday nationwide rockets sirens will occur in the morning and the evening, residents of southern Israel close to the Gaza Strip to not participate in the drills after municipalities requested to not participate due to last summer’s operation.

“Turning Point” comes just a week after a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel. And on Saturday evening Hamas confirmed that a new road currently under construction along the border with Israel is being built for future conflict with Israel. Former Interior Minister for Hamas, Fathi Hammad stated on Saturday that the road is “to create for ourselves convenient opportunities to attack the Zionist enemy.”

Hamas construction on border

Hamas construction on border

UN likely to not place Israel on children rights abuse list

Following suggestion by Zerrougui this week, Ban Ki-moon likely to not place Israel on list as to not “alienate” Israel-UN relations

UN General Assembly

UN General Assembly

The United Nations will most likely not place Israel on the list of “entities committing grave violations against children” according to officials of the UN Friday. The list includes major terror organizations such as ISIS and Boko Haram.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is likely to reject the recommendation that calls for both Israel and Hamas be placed on the list following Operation Protective Edge last summer, reportedly claiming that placing Israel on the list would risk “alienating” and causing further right between the UN and State of Israel.

The suggestion was made by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, this week, her claims that Israel’s striking school locations within the Gaza Strip during the Operation places Israel in strong violation of human rights abuses against children.

UN schools and Palestinian schools, which were sites of rocket launchers and storage, as well as commonly buildings harboring terrorists using human shields, were struck in the Operation, however following Israel’s exceeding efforts to warn Gazan residents ahead of airstrikes.

The effort is one of many by NGO and UN affiliated groups to demean and accuse Israel of human rights violations over past summer.

On December 31, 2014, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed the Roman Statute in efforts to join the International Criminal Court in the Hague (ICC) following the United Nations Security Council votes against the Palestinian Authority’s request to be recognized as a sovereign state.

On April 1, the Palestinians officially joined the ICC and continue to press charges of human rights abuses against the State of Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

Iranian officials report confidence in meeting June 30 deadline for nuclear agreement

Nearly one month ahead of nuclear agreement deadline, Iranian foreign ministers report confidence in reaching June 30 deadline; Sherman to retire post-final deal

World powers, EU and Zarif (AFP)

World powers, EU and Zarif (AFP)

Iran is confident that a permanent deal with world powers on its nuclear program will be reached by the designated deadline of June 30. Negotiations continue between world powers and Iran, the framework agreement to lead to a permanent deal as Iran pursues to end sanctions by the West.

According to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif talks have been “sustainable” and that “people have their foot in reality, not in illusions” in regard to world power’s negotiators. Zafir however claimed that there are “excessive demands” but that Iran is committed to success in a final agreement.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi however stated just on Tuesday that “We are not bound by the schedule. We are trying to have a good agreement with all the details meeting our expectations.”

And the US State Department confirmed on Thursday that US Chief negotiator for nuclear talks, Wendy Shermna, will leave her role sometime after June 30. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that “Wendy has been an absolutely critical member of my team, most notably in her work spearheading the nuclear negotiations with Iran, but on nearly every important issue that has crossed my desk.” Sherman has been involved in talks with Iran for over two years as the United States main diplomat.

Rocket fired from Gaza; IDF strikes four targets in response

Rocket fired into Israel Tuesday night; IDF holds Hamas responsible following rocket attack on Israel, strikes four targets in response; Hamas makes arrest

A smoke trail is seen as a rocket is launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel

A smoke trail is seen as a rocket is launched from the northern Gaza Strip towards Israel

A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel late Wednesday evening. It was the first Grad rocket fired into Israel from the Strip into Israeli territory since Operation Protective Edge over the summer.

Several reports claimed over 5 rocket attacks, with only one confirmed landing in Israel territory.

The IDF released a statement that, “We hold Hamas responsible for everything that happens in the Strip.”

Sirens alerted residents of the Lachish region as well in Ashdod.

Hamas media reportedly evacuated security headquarters following the rocket attack in fear of an Israel response.

No damages or injuries were reported.

The Israeli Air Force struck four targets in the Gaza Strip in response to the rocket attack. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated, “If there is no calm in Israel, the Gaza Strip will pay a heavy price for it, one that causes anyone who chooses to challenge us to regret it.”

Hamas responded to the rocket attack Wednesday morning, claiming they were not responsible. Hamas stated that, “What happened yesterday goes against the interests of the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and against our national interests. We consider the rocket fire to be a dangerous thing. Right after the rocket fire, our security forces were deployed to different places across the Strip and hunted for the shooters until they were found and arrested.”

Israel and Hamas hold a ceasefire brokered through Egypt since Operation Protective Edge last summer.

Russia finishes negotiations on S-300 missile system sale to Iran

Both Russia and Iran confirms arms sale; Iran claims inspections of military sites off table in final agreement

IRAN-RUSSIA-FLAGS

Russia has reportedly finished its negotiations with Iran on its long-range S-300 surface-to-air missile system sale.

According to Iran’s Deputy Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian who visited Moscow Monday, the arms deal will be completed and delivered in a “within a short period” and that “negotiations were completed successfully. I believe that the delivery of the S-300 will take place in a relatively short time.”

According to reports from Tehran, the missile system should be delivered by the end of this year.

The announcement of the successful arms deal between Iran and Russia come just a little over a month before the deadline between world powers and Iran on a final deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

On Sunday, Iran’s Abbas Araghchi stated that military inspections would indeed be part of a final agreement with world powers, however, within hours, Iranian lawmaker, Javad Karimi-Ghodoussi, stated that “Araghchi said that inspections of military sites have been accepted but the inspections are regulated and will be seriously managed.”

Just on Monday, Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister, Amirhossein Zamani-Nia stated that “The structure of sanctions is being destroyed bit by bit and we could expect a total lifting of the sanctions towards the month of Azar” which falls in November of 2015. He stated, “If the sanctions are lifted, Iran will become a central point for oil and gas projects… Such a level of investment will be very attractive” for foreign firms” in reference to that Iran is quoted $200 billion in its energy sector.

Two Israelis stabbed in Jerusalem over Shavuot

As Jews worldwide mark Shavuot, two teenagers in Old City Jerusalem stabbed in terror attack en route to Western Wall

Border Police in Old City, Jerusalem (Gil Yohanon)

Border Police in Old City, Jerusalem (Gil Yohanon)

Two Israeli teenagers were stabbed in Old City Jerusalem Saturday night in what police and investigators have ruled out to be a terror attack. The attack took place in the middle of the night and an ongoing investigation underway.

The two teenagers were stabbed in the back on their way to the Western Wall to pray on the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. The teens were rushed to the Hadassah Hospital and are being treated for moderate wounds.

A 19-year old Palestinian was found with a knife during an investigation of the attack and is believed responsible. He is currently in custody.

Security has been heightened commonly in Jerusalem during holidays and following numerous isolated terror attacks.