Iran calls for immediate halt to Israeli settlements construction


Source: Xinhua   2017-01-27 00:51:46
 
 TEHRAN, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) — Iran‘s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday urged Israel to immediately stop the construction of new settlements in the occupied territories of Palestinians.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qasemi said continuous construction of the settlements in the Palestinian territories is against the international laws, semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Qasemi called on the international community to pressure Israel which, he said, has “defied the UN resolutions” and has continued its aggressive and expansionist policies.

On Tuesday, Israel announced a plan to build 2,500 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israel seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast War, along with the rest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It later annexed East Jerusalem and declared it as part of its “eternal” capital, in a move that has never been recognized by the international community.

xinhuanet

‘Well tell Russia what Iran’s true intentions are’


David Rosenberg, 07/11/16

Knesset committee heads to Russia to discuss Iranian threat, UNESCO fiasco.

Avi Dichter

 

Members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee left for Russia on Sunday to mark the 25th anniversary of renewed direct relations between Israel and the Russian government.

The delegation, headed by committee chair Avi Dichter (Likud), included MKs Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), and Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Camp).

The MKs will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, and top Russian brass.

Dichter noted the warming relations between Israel and Russia, suggesting they offered a unique opportunity to gain support from Russia on issues ranging from the Iranian nuclear threat to anti-Israel incitement in the United Nations.

”A broader base for these relations will [make it easier] to present to the Russian leadership Israel`s position on anti-Israel stances in international institutions – such as UNESCO`s resolution regarding the Temple Mount, which to us is outrageous and unacceptable,” said Dichter.

”My goal during this visit will be to promote more balanced and sensible positions related to Israel`s interests. Such positions may cause countries which look up to Russia to follow suit.”

Specifically, Dichter said, he planned on ”presenting the true intentions of Iran, which, de facto, operates as the leading terror state in the world, against Israel and other countries in the region.”

The trip comes on the heels of a series of comments by senior Russian officials on Israel and the relationship between the two countries.

In October, Vladimir Putin gave a nod to Israeli anti-terror efforts during a speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club, suggesting the Jewish state was a good example of how Western nations ought to confront terrorism.

Last week, Russian Premier Dimtry Medvedev spoke with Israel’s Channel 2, boasting of “warm, very good relations with Israel.”

Medvedev is scheduled to visit Israel this Thursday.

Israel National News

UN envoy urges focus on ‘real’ Gaza issues


11/05/2016

Speaking with Israeli public radio, Nickolay Mladenov says that Gazans need jobs and hope more than the infrastructural projects mentioned by Israel’s defense minister.

Photo: Motti Kimchi

 

UN Middle East envoy Nikolay Mladenov said Saturday that residents of the Gaza strip need jobs and hope more than a harbor and airport, a reference to recent comments by Israel’s defense minister.

In an October interview with Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that another war with Palestinian militants in Gaza would lead to their complete destruction.

He suggested however that if Gaza’s Hamas rulers ceased hostilities “we will be the first to invest in a port, an airport and industrial areas.”

Gazans buying grapes (Archive photo: Reuters)

In remarks broadcast Saturday by Israeli public radio, Mladenov said Gaza, where thousands of homes were destroyed or damaged in a 2014 war with Israel, said residents in the enclave had more pressing concerns.

“Let’s resolve the real problems that we have today. People live in desperate conditions in Gaza,” he said.

“Yes, it’s important to have an airport and a seaport in Gaza but I don’t want us to be distracted by that from resolving the real issues that we face today.”

The World Bank said in a September report that just 10.7 percent of the 11,000 houses that were totally destroyed in 2014 had so far been rebuilt and about 50 percent of partially and severely damaged houses are still awaiting repair.

The unemployment rate in the coastal territory is over 40 percent, with close to two thirds of young people out of work.

“People have lost hope,” Mladenov said. “Life is gone and this is what makes Gaza more dangerous and more explosive.”

But Mladenov added that he did not see Gaza and Israel heading for another war—for now.

“I think there’s an understanding everywhere; in the international community, in Israel and in Gaza itself, that it is in nobody’s interest right now to sleepwalk into another conflict,” the envoy said.

Ynet

Russian PM makes surprising declaration


11/05/2016

Russian PM says his country never denied Israel’s and Jews’ right to Jerusalem, Temple Mount, Western Wall.

Netanyahu and Medvedev

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev spoke with Channel 2 about the Israel-Russia relationship.

During the interview Medvedev was asked about UNESCO’s decision to deny history and claim Israel has no connection to the Western Wall and other holy places in Jerusalem.

“I think this subject has been blown out of proportion. UNESCO has made at least ten similar decisions, worded almost identically to this one. Our country never denied Israel’s or the Jewish people’s rights to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall. These are clear rights and it would be absurd to deny them. This decision is definitely not made to be anti-Israel and there’s no reason to politicize it,” Medvedev said.

He also noted Israel’s positive relationship with Russia in many areas.

“We have a few central projects on the table. Pharmaceutics, agricultural technology, energy, and gas,” he said.

However, Medvedev does not intend to cut his ties with Iran, Israel’s greatest enemy.

“We have a warm relationship with Israel, a good relationship that I want to strengthen. At the same time, we have relations with other countries as well, including Iran. During the period of sanctions against Iran, I ordered Russia to stop selling missiles to Iran, and when the sanctions were lifted, I acted accordingly,” Medvedev explained.

Medvedev was also asked to send a message to Russian expats in Israel.

“Israel is truly a special country for us. Many emigrants know the Russian language and mentality, and that allows us to communicate more actively. That has a lot of value. I’m counting on that, and hoping it will bear fruit,” Medvedev concluded.

Israel National News

U.S. Govt. Hackers Ready to Hit Back If Russia Tries to Disrupt Election


11/05/2016

by , and

U.S. military hackers have penetrated Russia’s electric grid, telecommunications networks and the Kremlin’s command systems, making them vulnerable to attack by secret American cyber weapons should the U.S. deem it necessary, according to a senior intelligence official and top-secret documents reviewed by NBC News.

American officials have long said publicly that Russia, China and other nations have probed and left hidden malware on parts of U.S critical infrastructure, “preparing the battlefield,” in military parlance, for cyber attacks that could turn out the lights or turn off the internet across major cities.

It’s been widely assumed that the U.S. has done the same thing to its adversaries. The documents reviewed by NBC News — along with remarks by a senior U.S. intelligence official — confirm that, in the case of Russia.

U.S. officials continue to express concern that Russia will use its cyber capabilities to try to disrupt next week’s presidential election. U.S. intelligence officials do not expect Russia to attack critical infrastructure — which many believe would be an act of war — but they do anticipate so-called cyber mischief, including the possible release of fake documents and the proliferation of bogus social media accounts designed to spread misinformation.

On Friday the hacker known as “Guccifer 2.0” — which U.S. officials say is a front for Russian intelligence — tweeted a threat to monitor the U.S. elections “from inside the system.”

Related: Exclusive: White House Readies to Fight Election Day Cyber Mayhem

As NBC News reported Thursday, the U.S. government is marshaling resources to combat the threat in a way that is without precedent for a presidential election.

The cyber weapons would only be deployed in the unlikely event the U.S. was attacked in a significant way, officials say.

Exclusive: U.S. Intel Prepare for Possible Election Day Cyber Attacks 2:52

U.S. military officials often say in general terms that the U.S. possesses the world’s most advanced cyber capabilities, but they will not discuss details of highly classified cyber weapons.

James Lewis, a cyber expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says that U.S. hacks into the computer infrastructure of adversary nations such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea — something he says he presumes has gone on for years — is akin to the kind of military scouting that is as old as human conflict.

“This is just the cyber version of that,” he said.

In 2014, National Security Agency chief Adm. Mike Rogers told Congress that U.S. adversaries are performing electronic “reconnaissance” on a regular basis so that they can be in a position to disrupt the industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants.

“All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of when, not if, we are going to see something dramatic,” he said at the time.

Rogers didn’t discuss the U.S.’s own penetration of adversary networks. But the hacking undertaken by the NSA, which regularly penetrates foreign networks to gather intelligence, is very similar to the hacking needed to plant precursors for cyber weapons, said Gary Brown, a retired colonel and former legal adviser to U.S. Cyber Command, the military’s digital war fighting arm.

“You’d gain access to a network, you’d establish your presence on the network and then you’re poised to do what you would like to do with the network,” he told NBC News. “Most of the time you might use that to collect information, but that same access could be used for more aggressive activities too.”

Putin: ‘Is the U.S. a banana republic?’ 0:35

Brown and others have noted that the Obama administration has been extremely reluctant to take action in cyberspace, even in the face of what it says is a series of Russian hacks and leaks designed to manipulate the U.S. presidential election.

Administration officials did, however, deliver a back channel warning to Russian against any attempt to influence next week’s vote, officials told NBC News.

The senior U.S. intelligence official said that, if Russia initiated a significant cyber attack against critical infrastructure, the U.S. could take action to shut down some Russian systems — a sort of active defense.

Retired Adm. James Stavridis, who served as NATO commander of Europe, told NBC News’ Cynthia McFadden that the U.S. is well equipped to respond to any cyber attack.

“I think there’s three things we should do if we see a significant cyber-attack,” he said. “The first obviously is defending against it. The second is reveal: We should be publicizing what has happened so that any of this kind of cyber trickery can be unmasked. And thirdly, we should respond. Our response should be proportional.”

Officials Confident WikiLeaks Participated in Russian Hacking Scheme 2:38

The U.S. use of cyber attacks in the military context — or for covert action — is not without precedent.

During the 2003 Iraq invasion, U.S spies penetrated Iraqi networks and sent tailored messages to Iraqi generals, urging them to surrender, and temporarily cut electronic power in Baghdad.

In 2009 and 2010, the U.S., working with Israel, is believed to have helped deploy what became known as Stuxnet, a cyber weapon designed to destroy Iranian nuclear centrifuges.

Today, U.S. Cyber Command is engaged in cyber operations against the Islamic State, including using social media to expose the location of militants and sending spoof orders to sow confusion, current and former officials tell NBC News.

One problem, officials say, is that the doctrine around cyber conflict — what is espionage, what is theft, what is war — is not well developed.

“Cyber war is undefined,” Brown said. “There are norms of behavior that we try to encourage, but people violate those.”

nbcnews

Russia is sending its newest frigate carrying cruise missiles to Syria


11/04/2016

Russia will reinforce its flotilla which is currently located near the shores of Syria with its newest frigate from the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Grigorovich.

This was reported by Russian RIA news agency citing an informed source in the Russian military in the Crimea. According to the source, the ship was preparing to sail from the port of Sevastopol on Thursday.

“The newest rocket frigate of the Black Sea Fleet, Admiral Grigorovich, is leaving its base in Sevastopol today and is heading for the Mediterranean where it will join the flotilla of the Russian ships stationed near Syrian shores,” the source rold RIA Novosti.

According to him, the Admiral Grigorovich will be a “considerable reinforcement “ to the Mediterranean flotilla of the Russian Navy.

“This is a multi-purpose ship, it can strike very remote targets both in the sea and on the ground. It will also be integrated in the unified air defense system of the Russian military in Syria. This will be a very good real life combat experience for the crew of the ship, “ stated the source of the agency.

“Before the beginning of the mission the crew of the ship tested the work of the onboard artillery, its ability to repel the air attacks. The crew also practiced integration with the marine aircraft and anti-submarine helicopters,” the source added.

According to open military sources, the Admiral Grigorovich is capable of carrying up to 8 Kalibr class cruise missiles and also up to 36 Shtil-1 missiles, which is a Navy version of BUK missiles.

Frigates of Russia’s Project 11356 have a displacement of 4000 tons, maximum speed of 30 knots, endurance of 300 days and the crew of 200 servicemen.

Apart from the missile systems it also has 100 mm artillery unit, Smerch-2 anti-submarine rocket launcher, 533 mm torpedoes and Ka-31 helicopter.

In June 2016, Admiral Grigorovich arrived in Sevastopol and became a part of the Black Sea Fleet.

uawire

How worrying is Russia’s growing presence in the Middle East?


Hassan Rouhani and Vladimir Putin

The Admiral Kuznetsov was deployed by Moscow to the Syrian coast on October 15, leading a naval task force that included the Pyotr Veliky battlecruiser along with the Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine warfare destroyers.

The Kuznetsov, touted by Russia as a symbol of power, has 15 aircraft on board, including Su-33 air defense fighters, Su-25UTG ground attack aircraft, MiG-29KUB two-seater multi-role fighters as well as Ka-52K attack helicopters.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that “the goal of the campaign is to ensure a naval presence in operationally important areas of the oceans.”

Netanyahu says Russia has “variegated interests” to cooperate with Israel

(Netanyahu says Russia has “variegated interests” to cooperate with Israel)

The growing Russian presence in the eastern Mediterranean sea, with an aircraft carrier capable of detecting many, if not all, Israeli military activities, coupled with the advanced S-300 and S-400 air-defense batteries it has already deployed to Syria, is a cause of concern to many.

A US Defense Official quoted by the Washington Post said Washington was “very concerned” about the deployment of the S-300s, adding that “we’re not sure if any of our aircraft can defeat the S-300.” And that is a concern shared by Jerusalem, as Russia has not only deployed the S-300 to Syria, but also to it’s foe, Iran.

As an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Moscow finds itself part of an alliance between Damascus and Tehran.

Ofer Fridman, visiting research fellow, at the Department of War Studies at King’s College in London told The Jerusalem Post that “there are two different games on two different levels that the Kremlin plays in the region. The cooperation with Iran in support of Assad is strategic, while the military coordination with Israel is of a tactical nature.”

Former Israeli Air Force commander, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eitan Ben Eliyahu told the Post that despite this alliance, Moscow would “do anything to stop a conflict with Israel” but warned, “we must keep in mind that conflict with Russia could happen,” and if it does, Israel would have no other choice but to destroy the S-300s.

Fridman agreed, saying that “Russian military presence in the Middle East is definitely a reason for concern, but not for panic” as “both sides are not interested in mistakes and therefore there is true coordination and cooperation that is based on mutual respect out of interest.”

With both Russia and Israel carrying out military operations in war-torn Syria, the two nations have implemented a system to coordinate their actions there in order to avoid accidental clashes.

Up until the Russian intervention in Syria, Israel enjoyed air superiority in the Middle East. But the mobile S-300 and S-400 batteries are capable of engaging multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles up to 380 km. away, putting significant parts of Israel in its crosshairs.

No jet can be launched without Russian radar locking on and tracking their flight routes, except for those taking off from IAF bases in the southern Negev, .

With the S-300 and S-400, Moscow has restricted Israel’s strongest deterrence, its Air Force.

Despite the restrictions, Israel allegedly struck targets in Syria after Russia deployed the S-400 to Khmeimim Air Base in the southeastern Syrian city of Latakia.

And while relations remain friendly, Israeli concerns were raised during a recent phone call from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as during a meeting of senior Israeli and Russian officials at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on October 27.

According to Russia’s Izvestia newspaper, Israel also requested the Russian Defense Ministry to develop new coordination procedures following the deployment of the S-300s to Syria’s Tartus to avoid accidentally shooting down Israeli aircraft.

And as Fridman told the Post, “It is only a matter of time before a coordination mistake will happen.”

The deployment of the S-300 has been discussed for the past several years, giving Israel time to develop new methods to blind radar and anti-aircraft units, electronic warfare that Israel is well-known for.

According to foreign reports, Israel has already quietly tested ways to defeat the S-300, activating one of the anti-aircraft systems stationed on the island of Crete during joint drills between the Greek and Israeli air forces in May of last year. That exercise allowed Israeli warplanes to gather data on how the advanced system may be blinded or fooled.

The Russians are said to have breached Israeli airspace on several recent occasions, and even while Israel immediately shoots down any aircraft that penetrates its airspace, Israel has not shot down any Russian aircraft.

JPost

Russia says resumption of Syria peace talks delayed indefinitely


11/01/2016

A rebel fighter in Dahiyet al-Assad fires a shell towards regime-held Hamdaniyah neighbourhood, west Aleppo city, Syria October 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah

 

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday a Western failure to rein in violent Islamists in Syria had indefinitely delayed the resumption of peace talks.

Shoigu said that rebels backed by Western governments had been attacking civilians in the Syrian city of Aleppo, despite a pause in Russian and Syrian air attacks.

“As a result, the prospects for the start of a negotiation process and the return to peaceful life in Syria are postponed for an indefinite period,” Shoigu said.

Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, and its military operation in Syria, now in its second year, has shored up Assad’s position. That has put Moscow on a collision course with Washington and its allies who want Assad removed from office.

Since Oct. 18, Russia and its Syrian allies say they have halted air attacks in Aleppo. Western governments had alleged that the strikes had been killing civilians in large numbers, an allegation Moscow denied.

But the pause in the air attacks on Aleppo is fragile: Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month its continuation depended on the behavior of moderate rebel groups in Aleppo and their Western backers.

Shoigu, who was addressing a meeting of Russian military officials, railed against those rebels and their backers, saying they had squandered a chance for peace talks.

“It is time for our Western colleagues to determine who they are fighting against: terrorists or Russia,” Shoigu said, in remarks broadcast on Russian television.

“Maybe they have forgotten at whose hands innocent people died in Belgium, in France, in Egypt and elsewhere?”

Listing attacks he said had been carried out by Western-backed rebels inside Aleppo, he said: “Is this an opposition with which we can achieve agreements?”

“In order to destroy terrorists in Syria it is necessary to act together, and not put a spanner in the works of partners. Because the rebels exploit that in their own interests.”

Shoigu said he was also surprised that some European governments had refused to allow Russian navy vessels bound for Syria to dock in their Mediterranean ports to refuel or take on supplies.

But he said those refusals had not affected the naval mission, or interfered with supplies reaching the Russian military operation in Syria.

(Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

Reuters

When Putin cites Israel as an example in the fight against terrorism, before the experts of the planet


When Putin cites Israel as an example in the fight against terrorism, before the experts of the planet

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered before the discussion club Valdai a speech with the theme “Future begins today: the lines of the world of tomorrow.” He took the opportunity to respond to criticism of the Russian operation in Aleppo. Should we rejoice, the Russian president mentioned Israel’s struggle for survival. A fight which he must set an example in the international struggle against terrorism.

“We always hear: Aleppo, Aleppo, Aleppo. But yes ! And what is the problem. (…) If we do not touch it, then it must be the same with the offensive on Mosul. Allowed to flow. Do not touch in Raqqa. For our European partners continue to talk about the offensive Raqqa and the need to liquidate the nest of terrorism. But there are also civilians there, Raqqa! So we no longer struggle against the terrorists? When they take hostage of civilians in any city, is dropped? The example of Israel is to follow. They never act in this way. They survive thanks to this, and they do not have a choice. We must fight. If every time we give in the ground, we will lose, “said Vladimir Putin.

Israel’s evocation Putin is double-edged. On the one hand, Jerusalem is proud to arouse the admiration of the Kremlin master in the fight against terrorism. On the other hand, compare the strong-arm methods and indiscriminate Russian army in Syria is not very flattering to the Jewish state that prides itself to have the most moral army in the world.

The 13th conference of the Valdai Club was held from October 24 to 27 in Sochi. Established in September 2004, the Club Valdai international discussion brings together every year political analysts from different countries and covers topics including discussion allows foreign participants to better understand Russia. This year, more than 130 experts participated in the discussion club.

coolamnews

Report: Russian PM to visit Ramallah and Tel Aviv in November


Benjamin Netanyahu Dimitry Medvedev

Palestinian Authority television reported Saturday that Dimitry Medvedev, the Russian Prime Minister, will arrive on November 9 in order to assist with peace efforts between the Palestinian leaders and Israel, according to Channel 10.

The report also stated that Medvedev will meet with both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On October 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Netanyahu exchanged greetings on the 25th anniversary of restored diplomatic relations between the two nations. Both leaders emphasized a joint interest in developing bilateral cooperation, including discussions on urgent international and regional issues.

The two leaders have met four times in the past 16 months.

Medvedev’s trip, according to the Russian embassy’s website said that the visit is intended to strengthen cooperation in various fields.

“Over the years, our two countries and peoples managed to escape from the unfortunate period of mutual alienation and become genuine partners who understand and who know how to respect each other’s interests,” the statement on the website read. “Russian-Israeli relations have a special character, largely because Israel is home to over a million of our compatriots. The Russian-speaking community is a powerful catalyst for the development of bilateral political, economic, cultural, business and cultural ties.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this article.

JPost

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