Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz has dismissed concerns that US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state might undercut the expected peace initiative currently being prepared by the White House.
His comments — in a far-reaching interview with The Algemeiner in New York City last Thursday — came a day before the first reports that President Donald Trump planned to unveil the move in a speech this coming Wednesday.
Katz argued the timing of an embassy move was favorable now because Arab states were more preoccupied with the threat posed by Iran than with the Palestinian issue.
“Now it’s the highest chance to do it,” he asserted. “Because everyone that would be potentially against it has other very, very big problems to deal with.”
JNS.org – The Gaza-ruling Palestinian terror group Hamas on Sunday called on Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to change…
Katz — a leading Israeli political figure who recently stated his intention to succeed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — said that the issue of recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was one of two major objectives for his trip to the US.
The second, he said, was to “support the president’s policy” that “the United States and the world have to change, correct or cancel the nuclear agreement with Iran.”
For now, Israel still sees the value in working to modify the nuclear deal to include new components that it had initially suggested to the Americans, but were rejected by the Obama administration. The threat of new “paralyzing economic sanctions,” Katz said, may still convince Iran to change paths.
“Now the pain (of sanctions) is very familiar to them,” he said. “You know, sometimes when you do something and you release they are afraid to bring it back, it’s more frightening than even before.”
In the event that such new initiatives fail to bring the desired result — the end to Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon — Katz said that support for the military option was unanimous in the Israeli government.
“It’s not only on the table. It’s very clear,” he stated. “There were times that there was an argument inside Israel, you know (between late former Mossad chief Meir) Dagan and Netanyahu and others, but it was only a tactical argument because everyone agreed that we won’t let Iran have nuclear weapons, but the question was if it was the last time to prevent it. But I think there is a very, very broad consensus politically, and a security consensus in Israel that, if it will be the last thing to prevent Iran from nuclear weapons capabilities, Israel will act.”
In the meantime, Katz sees in Trump echoes of the late British statesman Winston Churchill, who, ahead of World War II, sounded the alarm about Nazi Germany when the prime minister at the time, Neville Chamberlain, was still pursuing a policy of appeasement.
Trump, he said, “has an opportunity that Churchill didn’t (have), to change the reality before the disaster comes.” The president’s October speech on Iran policy was “historical” for Israel and Jews “because we always ask ourselves what would happen if Churchill would have come before and canceled the Munich Agreement, maybe the Second World War wouldn’t happen with all its horrible price.”
And to the Israelis, the specter of a nuclear Iran is just one of five or six elements of the Iranian issue in its totality. Katz described the broader threat from Iran in the region — over which the Israelis have been voicing concern for some time — as being close to a boiling point.
“When someone jumps from the 20th floor there is no big change until he comes to the floor,” he said. “You are now describing the situation, it’s very close to the floor.”
Katz confirmed reports that Netanyahu had been active behind the scenes in efforts to stop the advancement of Iran-backed militias into Kurdish areas in northern Iraq in late October, described by Chagai Tzuriel — the director-general of Israel’s ministry of Intelligence, who joined the interview — as part of an “Iranian master plan to create an overland corridor from Iran through Iraq through Syria to Lebanon.”
According to Katz, “Netanyahu spoke not only with, let’s say, Tillerson and others, maybe with the president, the vice president, but also with Putin, with Merkel, with Macron and with others… He told them that the world cannot let the Iranians attack the Kurds.”
But, Katz admitted, “we don’t have the influence and the regional power the United States has, especially in Iraq.”
Expressing sympathy for the Kurdish cause, he noted that the Kurds “were the only one army and power that put their boots on the ground and defeated ISIS. The only one. No superpower did it; they didn’t want to do it, okay. It can’t be that one moment after they finish the job everyone throws them to the wolves.”
Regarding the expanding land path under Iran’s sway, Tzuriel lamented, “Unfortunately everybody’s late because to a large extent this corridor has been completed.”
Said Katz, “We have to push with the leadership of the United States to stop Iran and push them out of the region, including the Kurds’ area, including Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and all those places. It’s a common interest of the United States, the new administration of the United States, of Israel, of Saudi Arabia, of Jordan, and of the majority of the Arab Sunni countries.”
Furthermore, he added, “If Iran will not touch the Kurds’ area but will establish military bases, seaports, airports in Syria, it’s even more dangerous for us. ”
The minister also reacted positively to recent developments in Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been consolidating his power.
“If the de facto leader in Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is saying that Khamenei, the Iranian leader, is worse than Hitler, I don’t have to say anything after that,” he said. “And Iran, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia said at the recent Munich Conference that Iran is the biggest supporter of terror in the area and in the world. Those are things that Israel is talking about all the time.”
The Saudis, Katz pointed out, see Israel as the last line of defense against regional Iranian hegemony. “Saudi Arabia knows, even if they buy a lot of weapons, advanced weapons from the United States, maybe from other places, they know and Jordan knows and the Emirates knows that Israel is the only power that can stand against Iran,” Katz said.
In the long term, Katz is optimistic about the prospect of peace with the Saudis.
“I would like to see that Saudi Arabia — they don’t have any conflict with Israel, any territorial conflict — will sign a peace agreement with Israel, will make a full normalization with Israel,” he said. “Maybe it will not happen now, but I think that the threat, the Iranian threat is so big and the only power and only country that can stop Iran in the area is Israel.”
Trump hails ‘big week’ for historic move; ‘Congratulations to all,’ he tweets ahead of May 14 opening
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gives a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem on May 11, 2018, ahead of its opening on May 14 (Screenshot)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Friday gave a first glimpse of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, showing off workers erecting the official seal on the building and preparing for the opening ceremony.
“We are so excited,” Friedman said in a video posted on the embassy’s Facebook page. “We have the official seal of the United States embassy. We have the dedication plaque. They are covered right now, but on Monday they are going to be unveiled.”
‘Next time in Jerusalem,’ jubilant Barzilai yells after victory; ‘Toy’ marks Israel’s 4th win; hundreds jump in Rabin Square fountain to celebrate; PM calls her ‘best ambassador’
Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/ Francisco LEONG)
Israel won the Eurovision song contest for the first time in two decades Saturday as singer Netta Barzilai clucked and bucked her way to the top of the international song contest with women’s empowerment anthem “Toy.”
Backed up by three dancers, her trademark side buns featuring stripes of pink dyed hair to match her pink-and-black outfit, Barzilai busted her way through “Toy” on stage in Lisbon, Portugal, punctuating her singing with her trademark eye rolls and chicken dance moves
Quoted by US president one day, hosted by Russia’s president the next, PM is on a high, including in the polls. But will this encourage his more divisive tendencies?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the Victory Parade marking the 73th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
JTA — On Sunday, Benjamin Netanyahu began his week by meeting his Cypriot and Greek counterparts to finalize the commercial export to Europe of Israeli gas that he has pushed to exploit for about a decade.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from nuclear deal with Iran was widely seen as a coup for Israel’s prime minister, a fierce opponent of the deal.
The same day Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed that Israel seized Iran’s archive of its military nuclear program in Tehran and spirited it to Israel, a video was posted of IDF soldiers singing Soltane Ghalbha, a traditional Persian love song – in Persian.
Taken together, the two events demonstrate the purpose of Netanyahu’s presentation.
Netanyahu’s detractors in the US and Israel called his presentation as a dog and pony show. “He didn’t tell us anything we haven’t known for years,” they sniffed.
Moreover, they insisted, Netanyahu’s presentation was actually counterproductive because he couldn’t show evidence that Iran is in breach of the nuclear deal it concluded in 2015 and so did nothing to persuade the Europeans to abandon the deal.
While US policy-makers are trying desperately to stabilize Afghanistan, a shift is being orchestrated by China.
The Chinese evidently see their role in Afghanistan as the “good cop” versus the U.S. role as “bad cop.” Like Pakistan, China seems to view the Taliban as the political opposition, not as a terrorist organization, and has offered itself as an intermediary to negotiate the departure of the U.S. and, thereby, be in a position to reap the economic and geopolitical benefits of Afghanistan as a client state of the China-Pakistan alliance.
Reuters/Ipsos set a new standard this week when it condemned its own polling as unreliably favorable to the president.
“This week’s Reuters/Ipsos Core Political release presents something of an outlier of our trend,” stated a paragraph that appeared before the press release on its latest polling even began.
“Every series of polls has the occasional outlier, and in our opinion, this is one. So, while we are reporting the findings in the interest of transparency, we will not be announcing the start of a new trend until we have more data to validate this pattern.”
For the sixth Friday in a row, protestors from Gaza came to Israel’s border with intentions to penetrate it. They come with scissors to cut through the fence, with burning tires, Molotov cocktails, slingshots with rocks, and kites with firebombs attached to them to destroy Israeli farmlands and villages.
This is not some peaceful demonstration akin to Selma in the 1960s when blacks were simply trying to sit together with whites at a lunch counter. The usage of the word “demonstrators” is a misnomer; these are “rioters.”
What would happen if the world took Pope Francis’ advice (via a tweet)? “Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war,” said the pontiff.
While on the surface, the disappearance of all weapons might suggest the inability to do violence, in reality, it would mean the certain annihilation of the West as a civilization.
When a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called the police after two black men refused to leave, the chain of events ended with the burnt taste of the overpriced coffee chain colluding with anti-Semitism.
Starbucks reacted to the brief arrest by blaming the police, but Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, who is African-American, initially said that his officers, “did absolutely nothing wrong”. But then he was forced to offer a bewildering apology to the arrested men, the officers and the entire city.
“It is me who in large part made most of the situation worse than it was,” he announced.
“Your threshing season will last until your grape harvest, and your grape harvest will last until the time you plant. You will have your fill of food, and you will dwell securely in your land” (Vayikra 26:5).
This blessing is promised to the People of Israel on condition that, as a unified nation, they observe the laws of the Torah and live by its spirit. Its promise is quite surprising. Not only will the Israelites have plenty to eat but, as the verse clearly indicates, the Jews will experience an overflow of food. The first season, when produce is brought to the threshing floor, will last until the days of the grape harvest, which in turn will continue into the planting season.