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July 30, 2016 / 24 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

On Heel of Netanyahu Visit, Russia Pushing ‘Arab Initiative’ as Basis for Talks

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Moscow has no problem adopting the Arab peace initiative on settling the Arab-Israeli conflict, and sees no need to amend it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told TASS after talks the PA FM Riyad al-Maliki on Wednesday. And, apparently, as far as the Russians are concerned, they never heard Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for any amendments to the initiative when he met with President Putin the day before.

“I did not hear any demands for amending the Arab peace initiative in the remarks of Benjamin Netanyahu,” Lavrov said. “It is integral and embraces the entire set of relations between Israel and the Arab countries, including Palestine of course. There is no need to amend it.”

According to Lavrov, the Arab peace initiative is a universal document, which everybody regards as the fitting foundation for a peaceful future between Arabs and Jews.

Also known as the “Saudi Initiative,” the Arab peace initiative is a 10 sentence proposal that was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 and then in 2007, calling for normalizing relations between the Arab countries and Israel, in exchange for “(a) Complete withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4 1967 line and the territories still occupied in southern Lebanon; (b) Attain a just solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution No 194 (which says that ‘refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.); (c) Accept the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since 4 June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

In other words, the elimination of the Jewish State as we know it—by the time the last conditions of the initiative were fulfilled.

Perhaps it was symbolic that on the day of the first declaration of the Saudi initiative, March 27, 2002, Hamas committed the Passover Massacre as a suicide bomber killed 30 Israelis and injured more than 170, including children, at the Park Hotel in Netanya.

And yet, in March 2009 US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell announced that President Obama’s administration planned to “incorporate” the initiative into its Middle East policy.

And last year, in May 2015, shortly after winning the March 17 elections, Netanyahu himslef expressed tentative support for the initiative, saying he accepted the “general idea,” but with significant caveats, specifically its calls for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights and the relocation of millions of Arabs into Israel. As to Jerusalem, Netanyahu said it would not be resolved immediately, and so for now “we’ll set this aside.”

For his part, al-Maliki told TASS he was hoping for Moscow’s “direct and active involvement” in resolving the conflict with Israel, based on the generous Arab initiative. “Considering the results of the latest session in Paris, we felt that it was necessary for us to come to Moscow to exchange opinions and see whether there were prospects for progress,” the PA foreign minister said.

“We’re convinced that Russia can play a very important role in bringing the parties to the negotiating table,” he added, noting that the recent talks in Paris held without the participation of the parties to the conflict helped ensure agreement on the beginning of the talks.

David Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets in Moscow With President Putin

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Moscow Monday night for an official visit Tuesday (June 7) to mark 25 years of restored diplomatic ties between Israel and Russia. Netanyahu, who has met with President Vladimir Putin twice in the past several months, sat down in the Kremlin to discuss a laundry list of issues with the Russian leader late Tuesday afternoon.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a briefing with media on Tuesday that intensive contacts between Russia and Israel have been the basis for building up the bilateral cooperation. The comment came in response to a question about the frequency of the meetings between Putin and Netanyahu.

“This creates a very positive basis for new ideas regarding the bilateral cooperation,” the Kremlin spokesman said. “This includes agriculture, high-tech solutions and many other areas,” Peskov said, according to the Tass news agency.

The spokesman said an “atmosphere of confidence” reigns in the bilateral relations between the two countries. “This is a very constructive and trusting manner of communication between the president and the prime minister,” Peskov said. He added that Russian and Israel take into account each other’s concerns and express their positions “quite constructively.

Peskov noted that the exchange of information and communication flowed particularly smoothly between the military officials and staffs of the two countries.

Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said he was “moved,” hearing the Russian Honor Guard play “Hatikva” during the visit to the Kremlin.

One of Netanyahu’s official duties while in the Russia capital was to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – a ceremony carried out in Washington D.C. as well — which he did earlier in the day as well.

Netanyahu gravely laid a wreath at the soldier’s tomb, and stood at attention as soldiers snapped to salute to honor their fallen comrade, unidentified to this day.

The staff of the Prime Minister’s office was kind enough to tweet their experience of the event, along with a photo for followers, making it clear in the content of the photo caption, that more than a few staff members were immigrants or children of immigrants who hailed from Mother Russia in the office.

Hana Levi Julian

In Netanyahu Meeting with Putin Tuesday Syria on the Table, But Not Iran

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to hold talks on Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, on a state visit to Moscow marking the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This is the second meeting between the two leaders in Moscow in the past month and a half, and the fourth over the past year. Netanyahu only met once with President Obama over the same period of time.

Speaking on Monday at a ceremony commemorating the Six-Day War, Netanyahu noted that the hostile Arab armies that circled Israel back in 1967 were “armed, trained, supplied and supported by the Soviet Union.” He added quickly: “Look what a tremendous difference there is nowadays. Russia is a world superpower and the relations between us are getting ever tighter. I’m laboring over tightening this connection and it serves our national security these days, and it has prevented needless, dangerous confrontations on our northern border.”

It could be said that Israel is experiencing its best relationship with Russia on record, with the volume of trade, tourism, security and political coordination at a peak—much of it credited to Avigdor Liberman’s stint as foreign minister. But there are obvious areas where Russia is not coming across as a friend of the Jewish State, if anything, it appears to be leading and supporting Israel’s most vehement enemies — Iran with its proxies, and the Palestinians.

The Russians are supplying Iran with advanced S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems, and are in the process of selling the Iranians many more weapons, because the Iranians can now afford it, their multi-billion dollar accounts having been restored by the Obama-Kerry team.

The Russians are fighting in Syria alongside Hezbollah, and are facilitating—actively or tacitly—the leakage of weapons, advanced and otherwise, from Syria into south Lebanon, where they will some day be used against Israel.

In 2015-16 the Russians have spearheaded several critical anti-Israel UN votes: they supported the Egyptian proposal to impose UN supervision on Israel’s nuclear facilities; they’ve been voting regularly with the anti-Israel majority at the UN Human Rights Council; they supported the Palestinian proposal to create a blacklist of companies that trade with the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria; and they’ve supported the shameful UNESCO resolution that removed all trace of recognizing a Jewish presence in Jerusalem.

So perhaps the friendship between the two countries could get a little friendlier.

According to the Kremlin press service, Putin and Netanyahu are going to have a detailed exchange of opinion on the Middle East regional issues, with special emphasis on the struggle with international terrorism. The agenda will be expansive, says the Kremlin, “since relations between Russia and Israel are at an advanced stage and have the character of partnership.”

Russian Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein told TASS that the two sides plan to sign an agreement on pensions to Russian-born Israelis who did not keep their Russian citizenship after emigrating from the former USSR. A Russian good will gesture in this case would go a long way to boost Netanyahu’s promise to his new coalition partner Liberman, who conditioned the move into government on an increase in those pensions.

There is certainly a renaissance in Russian-Israeli ties: since the year 2000 Israeli Prime Ministers have made thirteen visits to Russia, Netanyahu accounting for seven of those visits. Putin visited Israel once during the same period.

JNi.Media

Netanyahu Heads for Official Visit to Moscow

Monday, June 6th, 2016

For the fourth time in less than year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heading to the Kremlin on Wednesday for an official visit to Moscow.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark the 25th anniversary of the restoration of Israel’s diplomatic ties with Russia.

The invitation for the visit was announced by a spokesperson for the Russian government on May 13. Netanyahu had traveled to Moscow in April for a short briefing with Russian leaders the day before the start of Passover.

During that visit, the two men discussed Russia’s advanced weapons sales to Iran, the situation in Syria, continued coordination between the military forces of the two nations in Syria, a discussion about the peace efforts in the country, and prevention of advanced weapons access for the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group.

Israel’s top military advisers accompanied Netanyahu that day, as did then-Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who was born in Ukraine.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel’s Sabbath-Observant Woman in the Ring

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

How many people know that Israel is being represented at world muaythai boxing competitions by an observant Jewish young woman who gets into the ring as a professional fighter on a regular basis?

Right.

Well, meet Nili Bock, who competed this weekend against Russia at the 17th IFMA World Championship in Sweden.

Block competed in the 60 kg division, coached by Benny Cogan. Perhaps one could say that like the former Muhammad Ali, she “floats like a butterfly, but stings like a bee.” At least, when she’s in the ring.

Muay Thai is called the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “Science of Eight Limbs” because it uses punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight “points of contact.” Clinches, choke holds and “hugs” are not okay and if you notice in the above footage, the referee (who is female) moves in to put a stop to it. Often. Sometimes she too gets a whack in the (head, arm, side, etc – take your pick) in the process. But the ref usually knows how to block those blows. Like her male counterparts, she’s been trained.

Muaythai boxing differs from other types of fighting, such as boxing with fists — “two points” — and hands and feet fighting, “four points,” that are allowed in other more regulated combat sports because it allows one to use the entire range of one’s limbs.

But how on earth would an observant Jewish girl growing up in Israel connect with such a sport?

Nili Block immigrated to Israel at the age of two years old with her family, like many Jewish children. The change came whe at age 10 she joined her mother in Thai boxing classes. It’s not clear what prompted her mother to sign up for the classes, nor what prompted her to bring her daughter along for the ride, although it is entirely possible that the strong physical exercise and good muscle tone prompted in the classes may have been at least one of the factors. Self-defense in the face of an environment in which terrorism is a daily reality could easily have been another.

By age 18, Nili Block had won the KickBbox World Cup in Hungary, a European Championship title, and a gold medal at the World KickBoxing Championship in Bangkok.

And Block continues to observe the Sabbath and kosher laws even while on her boxing tours.

One of the most popular matches last week in the competition leading up to the Israel-Russia semi-final this weekend was the competition between Nili Block and Jacqueline De Beer from South Africa, which was a qualifier for the 2017 World Games in Poland.

“Nili was full of determination and from the beginning of the match she demonstrated that she will use her full potential to achieve her dream to get to Wroclaw as a part of the IWGA World Games,” noted the IFMA World Muaythai Championship.

The competition — as has been the entire semi-final — was featured on the Dubai Martial Arts Academy website. Nili Block’s name and the nation she represents, is there too, showing just how much the world has changed.

Hana Levi Julian

Russia to Return Israeli Tank Captured 34 Years Ago in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday for signing a presidential decree ordering the return to Israel of an IDF tank that was captured 34 years ago during a ferocious battle in the First Lebanon War.

“I thank the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, that he responded to my request to return the tank from the Battle of Sultan Yacoub to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The tank, used by the IDF during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub during the First Lebanon War on June 10, 1982, was captured by the Syrian army and eventually transported to the Soviet Union, then a Cold-War ally with Syria. The tank has since remained in Moscow, stored in a museum of armored tanks.

MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, the former deputy defense minister, was an officer in artillery unit 7054 that helped rescue a battalion of Israeli tanks trapped by a Syrian ambush in Sultan Yacoub, Lebanon.

“We fired the whole night, and in the morning the battalion was rescued – except for that one tank and the three missing soldiers, whose fate is still unknown today,” Ben-Dahan recalled to Tazpit Press Service (TPS), referring to the continued mystery behind three IDF soldiers, Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz, who went missing in action during the Battle of Sultan Yacoub. During the entire battle, 30 Israeli soldiers were killed and eight tanks were lost.

“Hearing about the return of the tank sends me back 34 years,” Ben-Dahan told TPS. “It gave me chills.”

Ben-Dahan also expressed hope that the tank’s return might bring news about the fate of the missing soldiers, though he said he cannot comment on any discussions or progress toward that goal.

Netanyahu raised the issue of returning the tank with Putin last month, after having received a request from IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

“For the families of the soldiers missing in action, Zachary Baumel, Zvi Feldman, and Yehuda Katz, there is no trace of the boys nor a burial plot to go to for 34 years now,” noted Netanyahu. “The tank is the only evidence of the battle, and now it will be returned to Israel thanks to President Putin’s response to my request.”

A delegation from the IDF’s Ordnance Corps is in Moscow working with representatives from the Russian army to transport the tank back to Israel as soon as possible.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Jewish Billionaire Mikhail Fridman Leaving Nothing to his Children

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

In an appearance at the Russian Frobes Club last week, Jewish Billionaire Mikhail Maratovich Fridman, 52, who is worth $14.2 billion according to Forbes, which ranks him second wealthiest Russian, said he plans to leave almost all his fortune to charity. Nothing to his children.

“I’m not a big fan of this kind of public announcements,” Fridman told the Forbes Club audience, “but I can say that I am going to leave all my money to charity. I don’t plan to leave any money to my children.”

Fridman is a major patron of Jewish initiatives in Russia and elsewhere in Europe. In 1996 he was one of the founders of the Russian Jewish Congress. He makes large contributions to the European Jewish Fund, a non-profit organization promoting tolerance and reconciliation.

Fridman, together with Stan Polovets and fellow Russian Jewish billionaires Alexander Knaster, Pyotr Aven, and German Khan, founded the Genesis Philanthropy Group, to develop and enhance Jewish identity among Jews worldwide. In 2014, at the first annual Genesis Prize event in Jerusalem, Fridman told the audience that the prize is intended to inspire the next generation of Jews with the example of the Laureates’ outstanding professional achievement, contributions to humanity and commitment to Jewish values.

The Ukraine born Fridman shares control of Alfa Group, the biggest financial and industrial investment group in Russia, with two college buddies and now billionaires German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev. They have been partners since 1989, when they launched Alfa-Eco, then Alfa-Bank—today the biggest private bank in Russia. The three college buddies bought Tyumen Oil from the Russian state in the late 1990s, merged it with BP’s Russian assets to form TNK-BP, then sold their stakes in 2013. Alfa Group has stakes in telecommunication giant Vimpelcom; owns Russia’s second-biggest retailer, X5; bought German oil and gas company DEA for $5.7 billion in 2015; and invested $200 million in Uber in 2016. (Source: Forbes)

Fridman, who has four children, the youngest is 10 and the eldest 22, told his Russian audience he wants his children to follow in his footsteps and create something on their own. He also confessed that he is worried his elder daughter Laura, 22, be targeted by bad people, which is something to be considered when you’re a very wealthy Russian.

Fridman revealed that his two close friends and business partners have made the same decision regarding their own children.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jewish-billionaire-mikhail-fridman-leaving-nothing-to-his-children/2016/05/23/

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