Iranian FM calls Netanyahu’s drone stunt ‘cartoonish circus,’ says Israel ‘not invincible’

Iranian FM calls Netanyahu’s drone stunt ‘cartoonish circus,’ says Israel ‘not invincible’
Iran’s foreign minister ridiculed a security conference speech by Netanyahu, who used a part of a drone to make a point. He lashed out at Israel’s “aggression to neighbors” and mentioned the country’s “crumbling invincibility.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif spoke at the Munich Security Conference a few hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu displayed what he said was a piece of an Iranian drone shot down last week by Israeli forces. The Iranian official dismissed the use of the prop as a “cartoonish circus” that was meant “to blame others for its own strategic blunders, or maybe to evade the domestic crisis they’re facing.”

‘Mr. Zarif, you recognize this?’ – Netanyahu to Iranian FM https://on.rt.com/8zel 

Netanyahu uses fragment of destroyed drone to taunt Iranian FM — RT World News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a piece of what he said was fragment of an Iranian drone downed by the Israeli military to taunt Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

rt.com

He added that Israel was avoiding discussion of its own hostile and destructive policies in the Middle East.

“Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbors,” Zarif said, citing the regular air incursions into Syria and Lebanon. “The entire speech [by Netanyahu] was trying to evade the issue.”

Zarif also said that the loss of a fighter jet by Israel during the latest flare-up on the Syrian border tarnished the image of invincibility the Israeli military has.

Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu called Iran the biggest threat in the world, and taunted Zarif while holding the aircraft fragment.

Courtesy: RT

Washington no more: Palestine turns to Moscow for future Israel talks

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Washington no more: Palestine turns to Moscow for future Israel talks
It is no secret that Palestinian trust in Washington as an impartial broker and mediator in future peace talks with Israel has been shredded.

And given the Trump administration’s reckless, not to mention illegal, decision to declare Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, who can blame them?

This historic rupture with Washington on the part of the Palestinian Authority was articulated by President Mahmoud Abbas, at the start of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

“We [the Palestinians] state that from now on we refuse to cooperate in any form with the US in its status of a mediator, as we stand against its actions,” he said.

With these sentiments, the Palestinian leader provides more evidence of damage to Washington’s moral standing and political authority in the Middle East due to the actions of the Trump administration. Consequently, it is to Moscow that Abbas and the Palestinians are now looking to help mediate future diplomatic initiatives with Israel.

Of course, no one with even the most basic understanding the tortuous history of the Palestinian struggle for justice will have been under any illusions when it comes to Washington’s bias in favor of its close ally Israel when it comes to this issue. However, President Trump has removed even the patina of impartiality that Washington had sought to maintain, deciding for transparently domestic reasons to go where no previous US president had dared go in acceding to the likewise-domestic agenda of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital city.

With Netanyahu now on the verge of being indicted in Israel on corruption charges, perhaps we gain a deeper understanding of not only the domestic context in which the recognition of Jerusalem was so crucial to him in December, while the police investigation into these corruption allegations was ongoing, but also Israel’s aggressive posture in Syria of late.

None of this, of course, does anything to alleviate the plight of the Palestinians, whose rights continue to be negated on a daily basis by Israel in the form of its illegal occupation of the West Bank, the expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, along with the siege of Gaza, which falls under the category of collective punishment.
It should be noted that the Palestinians still foresee a role for the US in future talks and peace initiatives, but from now only on a multilateral basis in conjunction with Russia, along with, it is to be presumed, the EU and the UN with the region. The involvement of the UN in future talks is especially necessary, despite its authority of having been consistently subverted by Washington and Israel of late.

Regardless, it would be folly for either to believe that there is any scope for a unilateral or bilateral approach when it comes to resolving this issue. Illusions of this sort will only succeed in dragging the world back to 19th-century colonial and imperialist norms, and would be disastrous for stability, peace and the security of all.

When it comes to the pressing matter of where we are and the challenge of navigating towards any kind of workable resolution that can satisfy the Palestinians’ righteous demand for justice and Israel’s need for security, along with the overall stability of the region upon which both depends, we encounter the salient truth that only the strong can compromise and only equals can reach agreement.

Often lost in the avalanche of obfuscation and dissembling that has traditionally suffused this seemingly intractable question is the simple fact that it is Israel occupying Palestinian territory not the Palestinians occupying Israeli territory. It is Israelis building and expanding illegal settlements on Palestinian territory, not the Palestinians building and expanding illegal settlements on theirs. And it is the Israelis who are currently holding close to 2 million Palestinians under siege (in Gaza) not the Palestinians holding close to 2 million Israelis under siege anywhere.

Clearly, in a perfect world international law would be equally applied and equally respected by all states and nations no matter the size of the economy, military might or historical weight said state or nation enjoys. But such a perfect world is not the one we live in.

The challenge then lies in persuading Israel that justice for the Palestinians, which is now long overdue, is also in its own strategic and security interests, regardless of the self-evident morality involved.

Oppression breeds resistance, and by any objective measure the Palestinians are an oppressed people. If history proves anything it is that until those who are oppressed are free, neither will those who oppress them be free.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy: RT

Iran & Syria ‘are playing with fire,’ Israeli military warns amid flare-up of tensions

Iran & Syria ‘are playing with fire,’ Israeli military warns amid flare-up of tensions
The IDF warned Syria and Iran against ‘violating Israeli sovereignty,’ otherwise they would pay a heavy price. The Israeli military also insisted that Israel does not seek an escalation in tensions in the region.

“Iran and Syria are playing with fire,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement on Twitter. The military added that it acts “with determination” against “the attempt of the Iranian-Syrian attack and the violation of Israeli sovereignty.” “The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and will continue to act as necessary.”

The IDF lashed out at the Syrian military, accusing the state of interference in the Israeli-Iranian incident, as well as at Iran for “using Syria as a launchpad for activity against Israel.”

is the aggressor here. They sent a on a military mission, violating sovereignty. The is ready for all scenarios, urging Iran and Syria to cease aggression.

However, the IDF insisted that Israel does not seek escalation with the two states. “We are willing, prepared and capable to exact a heavy price from anyone that attacks us, however we are not looking to escalate the situation,” the IDF said, insisting that what they’ve done was merely “a defensive effort triggered by an Iranian act of aggression and we are defending our airspace our sovereignty and civilians.”

Tensions between Israel, Iran, and Syria have been heating up since early Saturday after the IDF intercepted an Iranian UAV, which crossed from the territory of Syria into Israel. The Israeli military responded by targeting a Syrian military base, where they believed the operator of the drone to be located. Later that day, an Israeli F-16 fighter jet crashed after Damascus responded with anti-aircraft fire to an Israeli operation in its territory. The pilots ejected and survived the incident.

“We are willing, prepared, and capable to exact a heavy price on anyone that attacks us. However, we are not looking to escalate the situation,” Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Head of the International Media Desk.https://www.idf.il/en/minisites/press-releases/idf-intercepts-iranian-uav/ 

In response, the IDF said it struck 12 Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria, including air defense batteries, adding that that during the attack, “anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms that were heard in Northern Israel.”

Following an exchange of fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held security consultations, approving the necessary actions in real time following the incidents, official Israeli sources told Haaretz.

Air traffic at Ben Gurion International Airport, 20km from Tel Aviv, was halted for around 15-20 minutes amid security tensions, Israeli media reported.

Courtesy: RT

Israel military targets Iranian drone and strikes Syria, F-16 crashes

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will protect itself from “any threat or any attempt to harm its sovereignty” after its military downed an Iranian drone that infiltrated the region.

“Israel is seeking for peace, but we will continue to defend ourselves against any attack against us, and against any attempt by Iran to establish military bases in Syria or anywhere else,” Netanyahu said Saturday after meeting with top brass at military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

He said had spoken with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the recent involvement.

Israel’s military launched a “large-scale attack” after shooting down the infiltrating drone and struck Iranian targets deep in Syrian before one of its own jets was downed.

The raids hit at least 12 targets, including three aerial defense batteries and four targets that were part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria. The offensive marks Israel’s most substantial involvement in Syria to date.

In this image made from video provided by Yehunda Pinto, the wreckage of a jet is seen on fire near Harduf, northern Israel, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. The Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country early Saturday before launching a "large-scale attack" on at least a dozen Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria. Israel called it a "severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty" and warned of further action against the unprecedented Iranian aggression. (Yehunda Pinto via AP)

The wreckage of the jet is seen on fire near Harduf, northern Israel, on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018.  (AP)

Israel has issued several stern warnings of late about the increased Iranian involvement along its border in Syria and Lebanon.

Israel called the drone infiltration a “severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty” and warned that Iran would be held accountable for its meddling.

“This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory. Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn’t know how it will end,” Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said in a special statement. “Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price.”

Israeli security stands around the wreckage of an F-16 that crashed in northern Israel, near kibbutz of Harduf, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. The Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone it said infiltrated the country early Saturday before launching a "large-scale attack" on at least a dozen Iranian and Syrian targets inside Syria, in its most significant engagement since the fighting in neighboring Syria began in 2011. Responding anti-aircraft fire led to the downing of an Israeli fighter plane. (AP Photo/Rami Slush) ***ISRAEL OUT***

Investigators inspect the wreckage of an F-16 that crashed in northern Israel.  (AP)

Israel would not confirm whether the aircraft was actually shot down by enemy fire, which would mark the first such instance for Israel since 1982 during the first Lebanon war.

According to Syrian state TV, which quoted a military official, Syrian air defenses struck more than one Israeli plane, and called the Israeli raids that hit a base a “new Israeli aggression.”

Military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said the drone was “on a military mission sent and operated by Iranian military forces” and that Iran was “responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty.”

The drone was in Israel’s possession, the military said.

In this image made from video provided by Yehunda Pinto, the wreckage of a jet is seen near Harduf, northern Israel, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. The Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country early Saturday before launching a "large-scale attack" on at least a dozen Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria. Israel called it a "severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty" and warned of further action against the unprecedented Iranian aggression. (Yehunda Pinto via AP)

The Israeli military shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated the country on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018.  (AP)

Although Israel has shot down several drones from Syria that have infiltrated the country’s territory in the past, the attack on an Iranian site in response to Saturday’s incident signals an escalation in the Israeli retaliation.

The military confirmed the Syrian target of the drone’s launch components were destroyed.

Iran denied Israel’s shooting down of a drone, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasem calling the account “ridiculous,” while the joint operations room for the Syrian military and its allies insisted the drone had not violated Israeli airspace and was on a regular mission gathering intelligence on Islamic State militants.

Iranian involvement along Israel’s border in Syria and Lebanon has been a growing concern as it fears Iran could use the region to position attacks or develop a land route from the country to Lebanon in an effort to deliver weapons to Hezbollah more efficiently.

But Israel has refrained from striking Iranian sites directly. Syria has also repeatedly said it will respond to Israeli airstrikes but has rarely returned fire. Both of those trends came to an abrupt end Saturday as a rapid escalation played out in the early morning hours.

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis, said Israel held Iran directly responsible for the incident.

netanyahu

Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces Gadi Eizenkot, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman meet.  (Yonat Friling)

“This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory. Iran is dragging the region into an adventure in which it doesn’t know how it will end,” he said in a special statement. “Whoever is responsible for this incident is the one who will pay the price.”

However, the joint operations room for the Syrian military and its allies denied the drone violated Israeli airspace, saying it was on a regular mission gathering intelligence on Islamic State militants.

Russia, which backs Assad and maintains a large military presence in the country, called for restraint and appeared to criticize Israel’s actions.

“It is absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen who are in Syria at the invitation of its legitimate government to assist in the fight against terrorists,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

Fox News’ Yonat Friling and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

Courtesy: Fox News

Nikki Haley skewers Mahmoud Abbas at UN Security Council meeting

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley launched a broadside Thursday at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, accusing him of indulging in “outrageous” conspiracy theories about Israel and lacking what is needed to secure peace in the region.

Haley made the remarks at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the Middle East. She pointedly contrasted Abbas with leaders like the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, whom she cited as a leader “willing to step forward, acknowledge hard truths, and make compromises.”

“Where is the Palestinian Anwar Sadat?” she asked.

She cited a speech earlier this month in which Abbas tore into Israel and the U.S., rejecting any American role in talks.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 14, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman - RC1BAD9EFDF0

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave a fiery speech this month, blasting the U.S. and Israel.  (Reuters)

“We will not accept for the U.S. to be a mediator, because after what they have done to us — a believer shall not be stung twice in the same place,” Abbas said, according to The New York Times.

Responding to U.S. threats to pull funding for the Palestianian Authority, he said: “Damn your money.”

‘A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and will to seek real peace.’

– Nikki Haley, on Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks

“He rejected any American role in peace talks. He insulted the American president. He called for suspending recognition of Israel,” Haley said. “He invoked an ugly and fictional past, reaching back to the 17th century to paint Israel as a colonialist project engineered by European powers.”

“A speech that indulges in outrageous and discredited conspiracy theories is not the speech of a person with the courage and will to seek real peace,” she added.

She said that while the U.S. was “eager” to pursue peace, “we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what’s needed to achieve peace.”

At the session, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour attacked the decision by the U.S. to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there as “null and void.”

“We remain insistent on respect for the law and our rights, and we reject this unilateral, provocative decision, which directly contravenes the Charter and U.N. resolutions on the matter. This decision is null and void and has no legal effect on the status of Jerusalem,” he said.

The U.N. session came after remarks by President Trump, who spoke alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos, Switzerland. He said there needs to be more from the Palestinians in terms of the peace process, and threatened to remove funding otherwise.

Israeli prime minister, president discuss U.S. embassy move and Mideast peace during joint remarks in Switzerland.

“When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support — tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands — that money is on the table, and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he said.

Yet, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority got some American support this week — from the Obama administration’s secretary of state, John Kerry.

Kerry reportedly told a close associate of Abbas to share a message with him – urging him to “hold on and be strong” during talks with the Trump administration and “play for time … [and] not yield to President Trump’s demands.”

According to the report in Israeli news outlet Maariv, Kerry used derogatory terms when referring to Trump, and offered to help the Palestinians create an alternative peace initiative.

Fox News’ Ben Evansky and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

Courtesy: Fox News

If Jerusalem is off table then US has no seat at it – Palestinian official fires back at Trump

If Jerusalem is off table then US has no seat at it – Palestinian official fires back at Trump
Peace with Israel is not possible if the status of Jerusalem is off the agenda, a top Palestinian official has said, rejecting Donald Trump’s claim that the US has removed the controversial issue from the negotiation table.

“Jerusalem is not off the negotiations table, rather the US is outside the international consensus,” said Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Secretary Saeb Erekat in a statement.

“Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table,” Erekat said. “The holy city is in the hearts of each and every Palestinian, Arab, Christian and Muslim, and there will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine.”

Earlier on Thursday, Trump met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos. By recognizing Jerusalem, Trump said the US has removed the issue from the agenda of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. “We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don’t have to talk about it anymore,” he told Netanyahu, adding that “you won one point, and you’ll give up some other points later on in the negotiation.”However, the US leader turned down a question from an Israeli journalist, who wanted to know whether the phrase “off the table”meant that no part of Jerusalem would become the capital of a sovereign Palestinian state in the future.

In order to promote the resumption of the currently stalled peace talks, Trump warned that US financial aid “is not going to them [the Palestinians] unless they sit down and negotiate peace.” He said the Americans have been providing Palestine with “hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands.”The US leader was upset that Palestinian officials “disrespected” America by refusing to talk to Vice-President, Mike Pence earlier this week. During his visit to the region, Pence promised the Israelis that the US would move its embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of 2019.

Erekat said the threats were futile as “Trump could buy many things with his money, but he won’t be able to buy the dignity of our nation.” The American leader already mulled cutting aid in a tweet in early January after Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas said Washington can’t be viewed as an honest broker in the peace negotiations anymore due to the Jerusalem move.

READ MORE: ‘No substitute for US in Israeli-Palestinian peace process’ – Netanyahu

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital by the US led to weeks of violent clashes in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, which resulted in several fatalities and over 1,000 injured among Palestinians. Thousands took to the streets to protest and burn US flags in Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia and elsewhere across the Muslim world. In response to Trump’s decision, many Muslim countries also recognized East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Courtesy: RT

Israel’s Netanyahu urges end to UN Palestinian refugee agency

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move comes a few days after President Trump threatened to cut off US aid to Palestinians. Experts warn that closing the agency could increase poverty and fuel violence.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in Brussels with an Israeli flag behind him.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called for the closure of a United Nations agency that aids Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza — a move that critics say would lead to a humanitarian crisis.

Netanyahu’s push on Sunday comes just days after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinians.

The Israeli government has long looked at the agency, known as UNRWA, with a jaundiced eye, seeing the agency as biased against Israel.

Watch video02:22

UNRWA – part of the entire refugee problem?

Israel also objects to the agency’s method of classifying refugees, with descendants also eligible to register.

“UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem,” Netanyahu said at the start of the government’s weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“It also perpetuates the right of return narrative in order to eliminate the state of Israel,” he added. “Therefore UNRWA must become a thing of the past.”

The prime minister said millions of refugees around the world are aided by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), but Netanyahu slammed UNRWA as an exclusive aid agency for the Palestinians that also treats “great-grandchildren of refugees — who aren’t refugees.”

Netanyahu added, “This absurd situation must be ended.”

Laureen has been teaching in schools in for almost ten years. “Integrating human rights in all school subjects is a crucial step to ensure students develop a comprehensive understanding of their rights and duties,” she says.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were forced from their homes during the war that led to Israel’s establishment in 1948. Now, 70 years later, there are an estimated 5 million refugees and their descendants, many scattered across the region in countries like Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israeli leader said he first raised the issue with Washington’s UN envoy Nikki Haley in June.

Aid as blackmail

On Wednesday Trump threatened to cut $300 million in annual aid to the Palestinians in an attempt to force them to the negotiating table.

The US has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional $304 million for UN programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel’s Channel 10 television reported Friday that the US had already frozen a payment to UNRWA, but a spokesman for the UN aid agency said Saturday that they “have not been informed directly of a formal decision either way by the US administration.”

UNRWA runs hundreds of schools for Palestinian refugees across the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank, Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Did you know that UNRWA’s relief and social services programme assisted some 2,800 refugees in the West Bank in 2017 through it’s disability services? Watch an event held in the West Bank on the International Day of Persons with Disability earlier this month.

The agency also provides aid to teacher training centers, health clinics and social services.

Many political experts, including Israelis, warn that closing the UN agency without an alternative source of aid could result in deepening poverty and, perhaps, an escalation of violence.

“While UNRWA is far from perfect, the Israeli defense establishment, and the Israeli government as a whole, have over the years come to the understanding that all the alternatives are worse for Israel,” Peter Lerner, a former spokesman for the Israeli military, wrote in an opinion piece in Haaretz newspaper last week.

“In an extreme situation,” Lerner added, “the administration of those refugees could fall on Israel’s shoulders.”

bik/rc (AFP, AP, dpa)

COURTESY: DW

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