Netanyahu instructs Foreign Ministry to close Israeli embassy in Paraguay

Following Palestinian efforts and pressure, Paraguay announced relocation of its embassy to Tel Aviv; PM orders closure of Israeli embassy in Paraguay; Netanyahu: Israel views with utmost gravity the extraordinary decision by Paraguay which will cloud bilateral relations.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed the closure of the Israeli Embassy in Paraguay after Paraguay announced it would relocate its embassy back to Tel Aviv.

Paraguay announced on Wednesday that it would return its embassy to Tel Aviv after relocating its embassy to Jerusalem over three months ago. Paraguay, under President Horacio Cartes, moved its embassy following the United States and Guatemala in May.

Paraguay’s Foreign Minister, Luis Alberto Castiglioni, announced on Wednesday “Paraguay wants to contribute to an intensification of regional diplomatic efforts to achieve a broad, fair and lasting peace in the Middle East.” Specifically on Jerusalem he stated, “Paraguay considers that it has to be addressed through negotiations by the concerned parties, within the framework of the relevant international organizations decisions.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned the move, ordering the Israeli embassy to be shut down. The Office of the Prime Minister released this statement Thursday morning “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to close the Israeli Embassy in Paraguay. Israel views with utmost gravity the extraordinary decision by Paraguay which will cloud bilateral relations.”

The Palestinians praised Paraguay’s move, claiming it a victory for the Palestinian’s “diplomatic efforts” and announcing it would open a Palestinian embassy in Paraguay. The Office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas released the statement “This decision was in line with international resolutions and the result of wise and vigorous Palestinian diplomatic efforts to explain the dangers of the transfer of embassies to Jerusalem on the peace process in the Middle East and the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Paraguay’s decision to reverse its embassy move follows intense efforts by Palestinian organizations and their allies to delegitimize Israel and Jerusalem. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki reportedly lobbied and pressured newly instated President Mario Abdo to reverse its embassy move and support of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

 

 

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Ahead of Jewish New Year, 89% of Israelis satisfied with their lives

Annual Rosh HaShanah report released; Israel’s population nears 9 million set to rise to 10 million by 2024; 89% of Israelis satisfied with their lives in Israel.

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In a recent survey ahead of the Jewish New Year, 89% of Israelis are satisfied with their lives.

Israel’s population is near to breaking 9 million, Israel’s Central of Statistics releasing its annual review of the Israeli population ahead of the holiday to be celebrated starting Sunday evening. As Jews worldwide enter the Hebrew year of 5779, Israel’s population stands at 8.907 million, 74.4% of the population, or 6.625 million of which are Jewish.

21% of Israel’s population, or 1.9 million, are Arab and 5% are Christian or a part of a minority group.

According to the Bureau’s report, 89% of Israelis are satisfied with their lives in Israel. Only 6% responded as feeling “lonely” in Israel. Israel’s life expectancy also increased to  80.7 for men and 84.6 years for women.

In data collected in June, more than 80% of Israelis under the age of 20 reported that they are satisfied with their lives and feel safe and secure in Israel, also according to Israel’s Bureau of Statistics. The report evaluated data collected from 2016 and reported 89.3% of Jewish citizens and 80.7% percent of its Arab population as satisfied with their lives.

In 1948 when the State of Israel was established, the population stood at 806,000. Israel’s population is expected to reach 10 million by 2024 and 15 million by 2048.

 

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Report: IDF strikes in northwestern Syria

Explosions and airstrikes reported near Hama; IDF announces over 200 airstrikes in Syria on Iranian and terror targets in past year; Lieberman: regarding Iranian threats, we are not limiting ourselves just to Syrian territory. This also needs to be clear.

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Syrian media reported Israel Air Force strikes near Hama in northwest Syria on Tuesday evening.

Syria’s SANA state new agency reported that Syrian army missile defense systems intercepted IDF missiles on Tuesday. It claimed Israeli fighter jets entered Syrian airspace from Lebanon, attacking multiple targets near Wadi Al Uyun. It stated “[Syrian army] air defenses downed a number of rockets fired by the Israeli enemy in the Wadi al-Uyoun area in the Hama countryside.”

Over the weekend, the IDF carried out strikes on Iranian targets and an ammunition storage facility at the Mazzeh military airbase.

Last month, Israel’s Mossad was accused of carrying out an assassination on a Syrian rocket scientist, Aziz Asbar. He was killed in a car bomb last month, also in northwestern Syria. According to reports, Israel targeted Asbar as he had access to “Sector 4”, a secret weapons development unit at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center.

The IDF announced on Tuesday that it has carried out over 200 airstrikes on Iranian and terror targets in Syria, firing over 800 missiles and mortar shells, in the past year. Israel’s Defense Minister on Monday stated that the IDF will continue to thwart Iran’s attempts to entrench itself in Syria, stating Israel will continue “monitoring everything that is happening in Syria… regarding Iranian threats, we are not limiting ourselves just to Syrian territory. This also needs to be clear.”

 

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Duterte: The Philippines to only purchase arms from Israel

During meeting with Rivlin, Duterte announces future arms sales only with Israel; Cites no restrictions, unlike with China, Germany and USA, and Israel’s assistance during Marawi siege.

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The Philippines will only purchase arms from Israel.

President Duterte made the announcement during a meeting with Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.

Duterte’s visit is centered on strengthening bilateral ties and increasing trade, particularly in defense. He was quoted stating on Tuesday “My guidelines to military officials dictate that in the field of army equipment and weapons, there is only one country to buy from. That is Israel.”

He cited Israel’s lack of restrictions on arms sales, unlike the United States which has “restrictions, same with China and Germany”. He also referenced Israel’s support for the Philippines in thwarting terrorism, mainly from ISIS. He stated “Israel has helped our country in our fight against terrorism. I instructed my military brass to purchase weapons and military equipment only from Israel.”

Duterte on Monday thanked Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu for its assistance during the Marawi siege in 2017. The siege by ISIL-affiliated groups with government forces in Mindanao lasted for five months, Israel providing intelligence and humanitarian aid. The president thanked Israel for its “critical help that you… extended my country in time when we needed it most. In the recent trouble in the Philippines, the extent of the help that you extended was very critical in winning the war.”

The Filipino President will continue his Israel tour through Wednesday before flying to Amman.

 

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Iran smuggling weapons to Hezbollah on civilian airline

Two Boeing 747 Fars Air Qeshm flights smuggled weapons and missile components to Hezbollah in past two months; Iran denies sending missiles to Iraq, claims reports are “false and ridiculous”.

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Iran has been smuggling arms and missile components to Hezbollah in Lebanon using a civilian airline.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday from Fox News and Arab media claiming two recent Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah on Fars Air Qeshm flights on a Boeing 747, one in July and one on August 2. The flights, from Tehran to Beirut, had unusual routes that were reported by a “regional source”. The shipments reportedly included missile components and arms.

Iran has used commercial and civilian airlines for arms smuggling to Syria and Lebanon in the past. Qeshm Fars has a history of collaboration with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

According to a Western official to Fox News, a regional, anonymous source provided the intelligence on the Iranians smuggling, likely referring to Israel. The official was quoted stating “The Iranians are trying to come up with new ways and routes to smuggle weapons from Iran to its allies in the Middle East, testing and defying the West’s abilities to track them down.”

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Iran transferred ballistic missiles to its Shi’ite proxies in Iraq. Sources claim the transfer of short-range ballistic missiles was a “backup plan” if Iran was attacked. The missiles transferred were the Fateh-110, Zelzal and Zolfaqar missiles. The missiles are capable of hitting targets between 200-700 kilometers, a threat to Israel, western Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The reports also claim Iran is looking into domestic missile production in Iraq.

Iran reportedly attempted to deploy the missiles to Syria before their efforts were detected and then sent the missiles to Iraq. Iran, as with most arms smuggling efforts, denied the reports, its Foreign Minister claiming the reports as “false and ridiculous news,” aimed at “affecting Iran’s foreign relations, especially with its neighbors.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu recently addressed regional developments and Israel’s standing in the Middle East. He stated on Thursday “In the Middle East, and in many parts of the world, there is a simple truth: There is no place for the weak. The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong.”

On Iran’s presence in Syria and threat to Israel, he stated “Whoever tries to hurt us – we hurt them… We are working to prevent Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria. We will not relent in pursuit of this goal just as we did not relent in bringing about the cancellation of the bad nuclear agreement with Iran, a goal which was seen as impossible when I put it on the international agenda for the first time several years ago.”

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Netanyahu meets with Duterte in Jerusalem

Three bilateral agreements signed between Israel and the Philippines; First visit by Filipino president to Israel; Netanyahu: We remember that the Philippines was the only Asian country that voted for the establishment of the State of Israel.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in Jerusalem on Monday, the first visit by a head of state from the Philippines to Israel.

Duterte is in Israel with a delegation of business people and politicians for meetings during his four-day tour in Israel. He met with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Monday signing three bilateral agreements in caregiving, scientific and technical cooperation and investment and trade between Israel and the Philippines.

Ahead of his arrival, President Duterte released the statement “I leave today for landmark visits that underscore our vision for our country- a responsible member of the world community – a Philippines that is friend to all and an enemy to no one.” He stated that his visit would center on “defense, security, law enforcement, economic development, trade, investments and labor”.

Addressing the press ahead of their meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu welcomed Duterte’s historic visit to Israel. Referring to the Philippines history of supporting Israel, he stated “We remember the exceptional role of the Philippines that received Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. We remember that the Philippines was the only Asian country that voted for the establishment of the State of Israel in the UN resolution in 1947… we remember our friends. And that friendship has blossomed over the years, and especially over the last few years.”

The leaders reportedly discussed future arms sales, direct flights between Tel Aviv and Manila and diplomatic relations.

The president visited Israel’s national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, following his meeting with the prime minister on Monday. He stated to the press following “I cannot imagine a country that obeys an insane ruler, and I hope it never happens again. We Filipinos will make sure it does not happen again as much as we can.”

Duterte will meet with King Abdullah II in Jordan on Wednesday.

 

 

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Jordan rejects US proposal for confederation with the Palestinians

Abbas would reportedly agree to confederation if it includes Israel; Jordan rejects Trump Administration efforts; Abbas: I support a triple confederation with Jordan and with Israel. I asked if the Israelis would agree to the offer.

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Jordan rejected a proposal by the Trump Administration for a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation as part of a peace deal with Israel.

A spokesman for the Jordanian government, Jumana Ghuneimat, confirmed its rejection on Sunday, adding that “Jordan’s position is firm and clear regarding the Palestinian issue- a two-state solution and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly claimed the Palestinians would accept such a deal if Israel were part of the confederation.

In a meeting in Ramallah on Sunday with an Israeli left-wing organization, Abbas addressed the Trump Administrations’ efforts for a peace deal, what President Trump has referred to as the “Deal of the Century”. He stated “I support a triple confederation with Jordan and with Israel. I asked if the Israelis would agree to the offer.”

Abbas reportedly stated that in his four meetings with President Trump, the president “favors the idea of a demilitarized Palestinian state with NATO providing security”.

During next month’s UN General Assembly, the Palestinians recently announced they will present an alternative plan to the Trump Administration’s “Deal of the Century”.

Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad Maliki, reported that Abbas will address the UN and reiterate the Palestinians’ “categorical rejection” of the Trump Administration’s plan. Malki claimed “The Palestinians will provide alternatives to what this US administration is doing based on force and the policy of bullying led by the US president.”

He added, “There can be no peace without East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, without resolving the refugees’ issue in all its aspects as per United Nations Resolution 194 and before recognizing that all Israeli colonial settlements are illegal.”

These developments follow the United States government’s announcement that it will stop its funding of the UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians). The United States has been the main contributor in aid to the agency for over a decade, the Trump Administration announcing its cut of $200 million last week and $65 million in January of this year. Shortly after, the Palestinians announced they will lead a campaign, headed by Jordan, to gain financial support for the UNRWA.

The United States also plans to officially reject the UNRWA’s definition of Palestinian refugees, combatting the inflated number of Palestinian refugees claimed by the United Nations. Of the UN’s claim of over 5.3 million Palestinian refugees, only half a million would be recognized.

Watch Amir’s update on the Russian build-up of power in Syria in preparation for the battle on Idlib, the continued Iranian entrenchment efforts in Syria and Iraq, the alternative peace plan of the Palestinians and much more.

 

 

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