Israel’s Elbit Systems first to successfully launch torpedo from unmanned sea vessel

First launch from USV; Elbit to continue to develop Seagull target and launch capabilities

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Elbit Systems successfully launched a torpedo from its unmanned sea vessel “Seagull”, the first successful launch of a torpedo from a USV. The launch was carried out this week off the shores of Haifa.

The “Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel” was unveiled earlier this year, the USV system taking over three years to develop. The Seagull is a 40-foot, two-vessel system that can detect submarines and destroy underwater mines by deploying technology such as robots and interceptors underwater. The vessel can operate for 96 hours and can be operated and controlled through a single Mission Control System. The Seagull has advanced sensory capabilities and can detect most maritime threats.

According to Elbit, the system “provides unmanned end-to-end mine hunting operation taking the man out of the mine field. It provides mission planning, and on-line operation in known and unknown areas, including area survey, search, detection, classification, identification, neutralization and verification. It is equipped to search the entire water volume and operate underwater vehicles to identify and neutralize mines.”

Ofer Ben-David , Elbit’s VP of Naval Systems Business Line of the ISTAR Division stated on the successful torpedo launch “The success of the test proves the capability of the system’s different modules, which can use sonar as an alternative to fight advanced submarines. This unique and important ability was available to navies until now only through manned vessels… The success of this test demonstrates Seagull’s modular mission system capability, enabling a highly effective ASW configuration of high-performance dipping sonar using two single tube torpedoes. The test highlighted Seagull’s capacity to detect and engage submarines, in addition to its ability to detect and destroy sea mines all using the same multi-mission USV system in modular configurations. “This new and important capability has, to date, only been available to navies through manned vehicles.”

Elbit will continue to develop the system to launch torpedoes at direct targets.

Netanyahu meets with UN Secretary-General in Jerusalem

Leaders meet with the Shaul, Goldin and Nagisto families; Both address press following meetings; Netanyahu focuses on UN bias against Israel, Ban focuses on blockade of Gaza

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Prime Minister Netanyahu met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Ban visiting the region following Israel and Turkey’s reconciliation agreement. Ban stated that he is “very happy with the announcement of the deal to normalize relations,” what he described as “very important for the stability of the region.”

Netanyahu and Ban also met with the families of Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two IDF soldiers who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014 and with the family of Ilan Mangisto, who has been in the Gaza Strop since 2014. Ban reportedly promised to appoint a representative to assist in their return.

After his meeting with Ban, both leaders addressed the press, Netanyahu highlighting the bias and inequality Israel faces from the United Nations, calling for change. He stated that “the goal of treating Israel fairly remains unfulfilled across a wide spectrum of UN activities and UN forums. Your visit here comes as the UN Human Rights Council is meeting. As it always does, the Council will condemn Israel, a country that does more to promote and protect human rights and liberal values than any other in the blood soaked Middle East. Our progressive democracy has faced more country-specific resolutions, more country-specific condemnations at the UN Human Rights Council than all the other countries combined. And I believe this is a profound betrayal of the United Nations noble mandate… Israel still faces bias at the UN. I know that your desire for all countries to be treated fairly and equally remains true today. I urge you to dedicate your last six months as the Secretary General of the United Nations in trying to right this wrong. And when I say that, it’s not just for Israel’s sake. It’s for the credibility of the UN.”

He stated “If you can unfairly and in a biased way single out a country and apply to it what I call the “Ostracon rule” which is just decide to kick them out, just decide to brand them as criminal or whatever, you can apply that same principle to any other country and this served as the downfall of the Athenian assembly, the first such body on which all of our parliaments and the UN itself is modeled after. And I believe that this Ostracon problem, the singling out of Israel and the unfair treatment that it receives is a palpable threat to the future of the UN and not just for the interests of our country.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Ban for meeting with the Shaul, Goldin and Nagisto families, stating “Hamas is cruelly and illegally holding the remains of our soldiers and holding our citizens. I ask you to use your standing to help return home these soldiers and these citizens. It’s a humanitarian position and elementary humanitarian requirement that Hamas and its criminal activities is of course throwing into the winds.”

He stated that “Hamas is a terrorist organization. Hamas has genocidal aims. It doesn’t merely practice terrorism. It says openly that its goal is to wipe away from the face of the earth a member state of the United Nations.” He called on the United Nations to recognize the crimes and terror perpetrated by Hamas, stating “I hope the UN will highlight Hamas’ crimes and understand that our security measures are aimed only at keeping our citizens safe from this threat and we use judicious force in this regards. I don’t know what any other country, faced with thousands of rockets and missiles aimed at our citizens, at our children, would do differently. Many have done it differently and they have not used the restraint and the responsibility that Israel uses.”

Ban gave an address following Netanyahu, addressing UN-Israel relations, his meeting with the Shaul, Goldin and Nagisto families and calling for the end to Israel’s blockade on the Gaza Strip, what he referred to as “collective punishment”.

Ban stated “The closure of Gaza suffocates its people, stifles its economy and impedes reconstruction efforts… We must not mistake short-term quiet for a long-term solution. We must not allow difficulties to become excuses for inaction…We cannot ignore key underlying causes of violence: growing Palestinian anger, the paralysis of the peace process, and nearly a half century of occupation. None of these causes justify terror. They can only be resolved through bold political action.”

Ban additionally met Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Turkey signs reconciliation accord Tuesday, confirms restored ties with Israel

Following details given to public of reconciliation deal, Turkey signs accord Tuesday; Israel’s Security Cabinet approves deal Wednesday (7-3) amidst opposition from MK’s and Defense Minister


Israel and Turkey have officially restored diplomatic ties, a reconciliation deal reached on Monday, the agreement ending six years of severed diplomatic relations.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu signed the reconciliation accord in Ankara on Tuesday morning and Israel’s Security Cabinet approved the deal on Wednesday, seven voting in favor and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett voting against the deal.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim both addressed and confirmed the agreement on Monday, announcing that Turkey will appoint its ambassador to Israel (Tel Aviv) in the coming weeks. Turkey expelled its ambassador to Israel in 2011, halting all military cooperation and diplomatic relations.
Erdogan stated that Turkey will always remain committed to the Palestinian cause and opposed to “Israel’s unlawful practices in Jerusalem and in Al-Aqsa”. Erdogan reportedly updated Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the agreement and Turkey’s commitment to the Palestinians.
Yildirim stated on Monday that humanitarian aid will be delivered to the Gaza Strip this Friday, announcing “To this end, our first ship loaded with over 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid will leave for Israel’s Ashdod port on Friday,” claiming that the deal has “largely lifted” the siege on Gaza. Erdogan confirmed the humanitarian aid shipment, echoing Yildirim’s comments on the Gaza Strip stating “Therefore the embargo there is being lifted under Turkey’s leadership.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu summarized the details of the agreement in a press conference Monday following a meeting with United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome. During his address, he stated that “Israel has reached an agreement of strategic importance for the State of Israel, for security, for regional stability and for the Israeli economy. As Prime Minister of Israel, it is my responsibility to be concerned with its strategic interests, to take a broad and long-term view, based on an understanding of the international arena as well as of our security and economic needs, at present and in the future.” highlighting the economic and strategic advantages of restored relations with Turkey.
He stated that “the world and the Middle East are in turmoil and my policy is to create centers of stability in this unstable and stormy region,” addressing Israel’s efforts and successes in restored relations with regional players, referring to Greece, Cyprus and Russia, stating “We are doing so with our close neighbors, Arab countries. We are doing so with Greece and Cyprus. We are doing so with Russia. We are also doing so with Turkey. Of course, we are doing all of this in full coordination with our greatest ally, the United States. This is part of a clear strategy, to create centers of stability in the stormy Middle East.” “Now, Israel and Turkey are two major powers in the region and the break between us is not good for our vital interests and prevents us from cooperating in those instances, and there are more than a few, in which cooperation is warranted,” he stated.
Netanyahu “updated the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Cyprus, Greece, Russia and, of course, our American friends, on this development… on every aspect that we focused on in this agreement.”

Netanyahu meets with Kerry in Rome

Leaders meet ahead of finalization of reconciliation deal with Turkey; Leaders address press on meeting which was focused on US-Israel relations, global terrorism, Turkey and peace process with PA


Prime Minister Netanyahu traveled to Rome Monday to meet with United States Secretary of State John Kerry, their meeting centered on US-Israeli security cooperation, global and national terrorism, the peace process with the Palestinians and reconciliation between Israel and Turkey.

The leaders held a press conference following their meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu officially announcing the finalization of a reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey.

Addressing the press, Kerry stated that during his meeting with Netanyahu “we discussed many different issues, but we focused significantly on the challenge of beating back terrorism and beating back terrorism specifically with respect to Israel’s challenge in the Sinai, in the Golan Heights, where ISIL [ISIS] is now visible, positioned in places, and also the challenge of violence stemming from extremism in Gaza and the West Bank.” He described the meeting as “a very productive conversation” in which “we talked at some length about ways in which we might be able to try to work and move things in a more positive direction.”

On Turkey, Kerry stated “We also talked about the progress being made, the significant progress being made by the Prime Minister in his discussions with Turkey, and we obviously have been encouraging a movement towards the resolution of the differences between Turkey and Israel.” He went on to state that “we did talk at some length about the economic challenge, and particularly some of the countries in the region which are witnessing a transformational kind of set of hurdles – Egypt particularly-with respect to its economic transformation, which has to come at the same time as it is fighting back against terrorism, and we discussed how we can work together with other countries in the region in order to deal with those issues.”

Kerry addressed his conversation with Netanyahu in regards to the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, reporting that the conversation on the exit “might or might not affect all economies, and I think we came to the conclusion that, managed properly, with leadership and effort by all of the parties to calm the waters and move in a steady way, that we can get through this – also another transformation, transition, and do so hopefully minimizing any kind of collateral negative effect.”

He ended his address focusing on the strong ties between Israel and the United States and hopes for resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, stating “Most importantly, Israel is, as everybody knows and we reiterate again and again, a critical ally and friend of the United States, and Israel continues to be facing significant challenges. We talked about those, and the ways in which, hopefully, with good effort by all leaders, we can try to change the direction and find a positive way to affect the lives of everybody – Israelis, Palestinians, people in the neighboring countries – and move towards a more stable and peaceful future.”

Ahead of his official announcement of a finalized reconciliation agreement with Turkey, Netanyahu reiterated Kerry’s points, stating “We discussed everything that the Secretary spoke about – the challenges in the region from ISIL, east, west, south. We discussed not only American-Israeli security cooperation, but security cooperation in a larger regional context. We discussed how we can advance the process with the Palestinians, difficult though it may be. We discussed regional implications for stabilizing the Middle East, moving into a place where it will be less convulsive.”

On US-Israel relations, the Prime Minister stated “we discussed some bilateral issues between us. This was a far-ranging discussion that I think was meant to bring us both in a common direction for common purposes, and I find it very valuable.”

On Turkey, Netanyahu confirmed the finalization of the reconciliation agreement “which we will show at noon,” addressing the “immense economic implications” the deal with have on the State of Israel, stating “I think it’s an important step here to normalize relations on one side. It has also immense implications for the Israeli economy, and I use that word advisedly – immense implications for the Israeli economy and I mean positive immense implications.”



Israel and Turkey expected to finalize reconciliation deal next week

Erdogan met with Hamas head on Friday; Meeting falls during talks between Turkey and Israel on reconciliation agreement following 6 years of severed diplomatic ties


Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan met with Hamas political head Khaled Mashaal in Istanbul on Friday, the meeting held amidst negotiations on reconciliation agreement between Turkey and Israel.

Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey have been severed for over 6 years following the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in which a Turkish vessel attempted to illegally enter Gaza through an Israel Navy blockade. The incident resulted in the death of nine Turkish civilians and attacks on IDF soldiers during the military intervention.

According to reports from both Turkish and Israeli media, both states have been holding talks for the past several weeks to create a rapprochement agreement to be finalized this coming week.

Details of the agreement have not been confirmed to the public, but reports claim that Israel will permit Turkey increased access to providing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, including building a hospital, as well as reports of the construction of a power plant and desalination facility in the Strip. Turkey is reportedly agreed to close a Hamas command center in Istanbul and illegalize Hamas activity in Turkey.

Spokesman for Erdogan, Ibrahim Kalin stated earlier this week that negotiations are “reaching the end of a lengthy process,” and that “I believe the Palestinian people will find the agreement satisfactory since we’re making progress to address the energy shortage and water crisis in Gaza.”

Israeli and Turkish negotiation teams are reportedly scheduled to meet and finalize the agreement on Sunday, Israel’s security cabinet reportedly to meet on Wednesday to finalize the agreement.


Abbas to European Parliament: Israel turned our country into an open-air prison

PA President addresses EU Parliament; Address filled with accusations against State of Israel; Abbas calls for international conference similar to negotiations for Iran nuclear deal for resumed negotiations with Israel


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the European Parliament Thursday, his speech following Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s address on Wednesday and Abbas’s refusal to meet with Rivlin in Brussels.

Abbas’s speech was centered on accusations against the State of Israel, Abbas accusing Israel as responsible for failures in past negotiations and resuming peace talks. He claimed that the Palestinians are “against terrorism in whatever form it may take,” stating that an end to Israel’s “occupation” would make terrorism “disappear” and as a result there will be “no more terrorism in the Middle East, or anywhere else in the world.”

Abbas stated that the Palestinian Authority opposes any interim agreement and insists on a two-state solution based on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. He additionally claimed the Arab Peace Initiative as a base for leading to a solution with no changes to the 2002 plan, refuting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s calls for Arab states to amend the Arab Peace Initiative. He stated “We oppose any suggestion of temporary borders or an interim agreement because it’s a waste of time that doesn’t lead anywhere. We favor a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital, and the solution will be based on the Arab Peace Initiative that was that was approved in 2002 with no changes to it.”

Israel has been clear that returning to 1967 borders will never happen, and that Jerusalem will remain the capital of the State of Israel.

He accused Israel of exploiting “negotiations since Oslo to set facts on the ground and build in the settlements,” claiming that “until today Israel conducts itself as a national above international law. If one country attacks another then the world should rise up but this doesn’t happen when it comes to the Palestinians.” He went on to accuse Israel of “experiencing a tendency toward violence and extremism and this is expressed in settler terrorism… This is in addition to the Israeli army’s criminal conduct which carries out murderous operations against the Palestinians and holds itself above the law. All this has led senior Israelis [officials]” and “senior journalists”, Abbas claiming all of which are “growing signs of fascism in Israeli society”.

Abbas stated that “Palestine, the homeland and the nation, in its history, legacy and identity, has experienced and still experiences a historical slaughter and pillage unprecedented in the 20th century, still carrying on in the 21st century, in front of the eyes and ears of the international community,” accusing Israel of having “turned our country into an open-air prison”.

Abbas called on the international community to hold Israel accountable through international law and for the creation of an “international conference” to create and monitor negotiations “as happened in the negotiations with Iran,” in reference to world powers’ negotiations with Iran for a nuclear deal.

Abbas finished his speech claiming “Peace is in everyone’s interest and I hope that you, Israelis, neighbors, believe in that too. Let us build a peace, which does not involve hegemony or colonization or aggression.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s address to the European Parliament

Address calls for realistic means of resuming peace talks with the PA amidst EU support for French initiative; Abbas refuses to meet with Rivlin in Brussels


Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addressed the European Parliament on Wednesday, ending his two-day visit to Brussels where he met with King Phillipe and Prime Minister Charles Michel. His address focused on the issues and needs in resuming peace talks with the Palestinians.

A day ahead of the United Kingdom vote whether to remain in the European Union, Rivlin began his speech relating to the establishment of the State of Israel post World War II and challenges facing the Jewish State until now, stating “The State of Israel too is an audacious endeavor of statehood, of a people returning to its land after two thousand years of exile. And so, just like you, Israel faces difficult and complex challenges. But, unlike Europe which embarked upon a process of removing partitions between nations and states, Israel wishes, and indeed must, remain first and foremost a national homeland, a safe haven for the Jewish People. The State of Israel is by no means a compensation for the Holocaust, but the Holocaust has posited as a basic tenet the necessity and vitality of the return of the Jewish People to history, as a nation taking its fate in its own hands.”

He went on to address the “massive criticism aimed at Israel in Europe” in what he described “stems from, inter alia, a misunderstanding and an impatience toward this existential need of the Jewish Nation and the State of Israel,” explaining that “On the other hand, and much to my regret, Israel has a growing sense of impatience (when it comes to Europe). There are those who feel anger and frustration toward certain European actions, vis-à-vis what they perceive as sometimes unfair criticism, sometimes even contaminated by elements of condescension, and some would even say double standard.”

The President called for patience amidst disagreement and for respect of Israel’s sovereignty, stating “My European friends, we cannot agree on everything. But as friends and as true allies, I call upon you and ask you, let us be patient. Please respect the Israeli considerations, even when different from your own. Respect Israeli sovereignty, and the democratic process of its decision-making. Respect Israel’s staunch commitment, indeed its very duty, to protect its citizens. For us it is the most sacred commandment of all.”

Speaking of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Rivlin addressed the issues in connection with a two-state solution and resumption of peace talks amidst the European Union’s avid support of the French peace initiative just two days following the adoption of a resolution by the EU French Council. He summarized the issues in reaching a permanent agreement, stating “Currently the practical conditions, the political and regional circumstances, which would enable us to reach a permanent agreement between us – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are failing to materialize… First, in order to achieve a comprehensive permanent agreement, an effective leadership is required. However, the Palestinian leadership today is divided in – at least – two. The Palestinian Authority ruling over Judea and Samaria, and on the other hand, Hamas, which rules Gaza and is ideologically committed – in both its political and military leadership – to the annihilation of Israel. Second, in order to achieve a stable and viable agreement, a reasonable regional and economic infrastructure is required. But we are living in a reality where the plague of murderous Jihadi fundamentalism, religious fanaticism and incitement – embodied in the Islamic State and Hezbollah – are at our very borders and have not missed out Gaza and the West Bank either; we live in a reality of a chaos-stricken Middle East in which uncertainty is the only certainty. To this worrisome picture, add the dire economic straits, poverty, and lack of infrastructure in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, which in turn will continue the destabilization and nurture violence. In this respect Israel is devoting, and will continue to do so, vast efforts, more than any other actor in the region even at the price of complex security risk-taking – but Israeli intervention alone will not suffice. And finally, one should bear in mind the most fundamental trait of Israeli-Palestinian relations today which is, to my deep regret, a total lack of trust between the parties on all levels; between the leaderships and the peoples.”

He addressed terror and failed negotiations as reasons an agreement has not been made, stating “as years go by and rounds of negotiations fail one by one, bringing in their wake, waves of murderous violence and terror, it seems that this assumption of a “lack of good will” proves not only to be fundamentally erroneous, but to ignore the circumstances, the capabilities, and the present situation on the ground, which by definition would lead to the failure of any attempt to negotiate a permanent agreement.” He went on to address the French peace initiative, stating that “The French initiative, adopted by the EU institutions only a few days ago, suffers from those very fundamental faults. The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it. This striving for a permanent agreement ‘now’, is the chronicle of a predictable failure, which will only push the two peoples deeper into despair. This despair is the hottest bed for extremism, and undermines the endeavors of moderates. And this despair, ladies and gentlemen, today seizes not just members of my generation, but also boys and girls growing up in this part of the world, whose world view and awareness are shaped by the violent present. This despair, ladies and gentlemen, is the gravest danger looming over us, Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

He reiterated Israel’s commitment to direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, without preconditions, as the only viable means of resuming peace negotiations, stressing that “if the international community really wishes and truly aspires to be a constructive player, it must divert its efforts away from the renewal of negotiations for negotiations’ sake, and toward building trust between the parties, and to creating the necessary terms for the success of negotiations in the future.”

Rivlin stressed four necessities in reaching a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, that of “harnessing the moderate powers in the region,” referring to established cooperation and peace with Arab states such as Jordan and Egypt, “developing Palestinian economy and infrastructures for quality of life”, the need for a stable Palestinian economy and infrastructure, pursuit of “joint interests and fourth and finally education and communication in combatting “deep-rooted hatred and fear”.

The President ended his speech stating that “Small steps created a great reality. Help us step forward, step together with us, for the sake of the possibility that one day, an Israeli president will tell another world leader, ‘If we and the Palestinians have made peace and put an end to it once and for all, there is really no reason whatsoever that you cannot succeed. We fought many dozens of years and now it is over, forever’… Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may all who love her prosper. Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sake, I will now say, Peace be within thee. (Psalms 122, 6-8).”

On Thursday, Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas rejected an invitation for a meeting with Rivlin by the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, Rivlin responding “don’t worry, I won’t run away… When Schulz raised the proposition for a meeting, I said without hesitation that we always want to meet directly with the Palestinians. Even when I notified Prime Minister Netanyahu, his attitude was that I was certainly correct in my logic. A meeting with Abu Mazen [Abbas] is worthwhile anywhere. I made it clear to the European side that the one who must carry out negotiations is the prime minister, who has invited Abu Mazen to meet with him several times. This is not just politeness to Europe. I accepted Schulz’s request, and I do not know what Abu Mazen did. I believe in results, not stories.”