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JERUSALEM – Amid the pomp and circumstance during President Obama’s three-day visit to Israel, Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry quietly worked on several diplomatic initiatives that could spur far-reaching changes in the Middle East.
Less than an hour before Shabbat last week, the White House and the Prime Minister’s Office said that the U.S. had facilitated a direct conversation between Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which Netanyahu formally apologized to Erdogan for the 2010 “tragic loss of life” aboard a Turkish flotilla, the Mavi Marmara. Israeli commandos raided the ship as it tried to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza to deliver supplies. Nine people were killed in clashes on board.
The formal apology was supported by IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, but was soundly criticized by former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and several HaBayit HaYehudi Knesset members. HaBayit HaYehudi, led by Minister of Economics and Trade Naftali Bennett, is a member of the governing coalition.
Erdogan told Netanyahu that he accepted the apology and would work to restore diplomatic relations with Israel. The two, along with Obama, said that the longstanding relationship between Turkey and Israel was vital to the region in the midst of the Syrian civil war. NATO and American forces have dispatched missile batteries and other personnel in Israel and Turkey, and are poised for possible military action if the forces of Syria’s beleaguered president, Bashar Assad, or radical anti-Assad rebels use or transfer chemical weapons in the conflict.
An Israeli intelligence official told Israel’s Channel 10 News that they are all but certain that Assad’s forces used chemical weapons against civilians and rebels over the past few weeks. Israel fears that Assad will transfer chemical weapons and long- range rockets to Hizbullah, which attempted over the weekend to stage a political coup in Lebanon. Sources report that nearly 50,000 Hizbullah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces are fighting alongside Assad’s forces in Syria.
Secretary of State Kerry stayed behind in Israel after the Obama visit and shuttled between Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman, Jordan. He is seeking to create the groundwork for a peace summit in Jordan featuring Kerry, Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. And the Turkish media reported that Erdogan is preparing for a trip to Gaza and Ramallah in an effort to push the split Palestinian leadership – Fatah and Hamas – into uniting behind the idea of restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Obama told Abbas that he must recognize Israel as “a Jewish state” and restart negotiations with Netanyahu as soon as possible – without any preconditions. In a related note, Erdogan said that his diplomatic initiative has the support of the emir of Qatar, who has strong ties with the Hamas leadership while also possessing a secret back-channel relationship with Israel.
Reports circulating in the Israeli media say that Netanyahu and King Abdullah have held secret meetings in the past year in order to coordinate their positions vis-à-vis the deteriorating situation in Syria and the threats to their borders. They are also exploring ways to restart the peace process.
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8:01AM Eshkol 7:00am Following Hamas threats on Wednesday to attack Ben Gurion Airport at 6am, some flights that were meant to land at Ben Gurion Airport around 6am were slightly delayed and flew in circles at higher altitudes… But nothing happened. Planes are landing. 6:59am Eshkol 6:25am Eshkol 4:38 Terrorists in Shechem (Nablus) open fire […]
Pro-Hamas activists hung a 200 foot PA flag from the Brooklyn Bridge.
A suspected car bomb caused police to evacuate the campus.
There was a failed secret US mission earlier this summer to rescue American hostages in Syria.
The Islamic State is getting a lot of bad publicity lately, which actually proves how successful they are.
Islamic terror coming soon to your favorite neighborhood street theater.
Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Gantz’s comments: War until there is total quiet and everyone can sleep at night.
The ZIM ship was quickly and efficiently unloaded – despite the best efforts by the Jihadi supporters to block it.
11:06pm Sapir, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, Gaza border, Ashkelon, Ashkelon, Ashkelon 10:17pm Kerem Shalom 9:04pm Ashkelon Coast 8:49pm Eshkol 8:12pm Eshkol 7:47pm Eshkol 7:44pm A Hamas spokesperson has warned airlines to not fly into Ben-Gurion starting 6am tomorrow (Thursday), according to a YNet report. It’s actually things like that that makes Israel hit Hamas even harder. 7:35pm Kerem […]
Don’t you feel just a tad jealous of Egypt right now?
Update: Calls for Renewed Ground Offensive as Rain of Rockets on Israel Continues
Following Rockets, Israel Renewing Safety Precautions for Civilians
Israel’s Security Cabinet is meeting in a marathon session to decide the next step in Operation Protective Edge.
As of Tuesday, all IDF forces operating in Gaza withdrew and redeployed to holding positions around Gaza.
The sophisticated cement tunnels, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars, were reportedly built with Qatari government funds.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the nation on Tuesday afternoon that if the rocket fire did not stop by Tuesday evening, he would order “an even harsher” military response.
“They were abducted and murdered in cold blood by human animals,” Netanyahu said shortly after the bodies were found.
Awad had been released as part of the Gilad Shalit kidnapping deal. Mizrachi’s widow, Hadas, told Israeli reporters that she had opposed the release of murderers as part of any kidnapping deal, and that Awad “deserved the death penalty so he wouldn’t kill again.”
If the abductors’ goal was to force Israeli authorities to release long-serving Palestinian prisoners, the effort backfired as Israeli forces are quickly rolling up what was left of Hamas in the West Bank and are reportedly contemplating the overthrow of the Hamas leadership in Gaza should harm come to the three teenagers.
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