Newsletter : 13fx0515.txt
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Putin to Netanyahu: Hands Off Syria
By DEBKAfile and Reuters
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spent three hours with Russian President
Vladimir Putin at his residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Tuesday. He came for a
last-ditch attempt to head off the supply of advanced Russian anti-air S-300 missile
systems to Syria.
Instead, the Russian leader turned the conversation around to focus implicitly on
Israel's air strikes against Damascus on May 3 and May 5. After their conversation he
issued a warning: "In this crucial period it is especially important to avoid any moves
that can shake the situation."
This was clearly a hands-off caution to Israel not to repeat its attacks on Damascus. And,
furthermore, after "shaking the situation" in Syria by its air attacks, Israel was in no
position to demand that Russia avoid selling Syria advanced weapons. The prime minister,
for his part, warned that the entire Middle East was in a dangerous state of volatility.
Netanyahu was accompanied by Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Maj. Gen. Aviv
Kochavi. Opposite him sat Mikhail Fradkov, SVR Director. Kochavi laid before the Russian
leader the information Israel had gathered on the state of Syria's chemical weapons with
relevance to their transfer to the Lebanese Hizbullah.
Before Netanyahu's arrival for the meeting, Moscow took two preparatory steps: 1.
Russian diplomats leaked to the London-based Arab press a report that the S-300 missiles
had already arrived in Syria. According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Moscow had delivered 200
launchers (probably missiles) and the Syrian missile teams already knew how to use them.
By this leak, the Israeli prime minister was being informed that his journey to Sochi was
a waste of time and that the use of S-300 missiles for shooting down Israeli Air Force
planes was no longer controlled by Moscow but by Damascus.
2. The prominent strategic analyst, Viktor Kremenyuk of The USA and Canada Institute
in Moscow, reported Tuesday that Netanyahu arrived in Sochi to indirectly let Putin know
that "Israel would destroy the S-300s when they are delivered and start being assembled."
The deputy director of an important Russian think tank which advises the Kremlin on North
American policy does not tend to make idle comments.
DEBKAfile's Moscow sources interpreted Kremenyuk's remark as a means of informing the
Israeli leader that Moscow was not impressed by such threats. Instead of pushing Putin to
stop the S-300 missiles, Israel would be more advantageously employed urging the Obama
administration to adopt a more realistic stand on Syria and Bashar Assad.
In Moscow's view, Washington must be brought to give up its threat of Western military
intervention in Syria, of which the Israeli air strikes appeared to Putin as the
harbinger, and come to terms with Assad's presence in any political solution of the Syrian
These positions the Russian President had conveyed previously to Secretary of State
John Kerry and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. He made it clear to Netanyahu that he
stood by them as firmly as ever. Therefore, say DEBKAfile's sources, so long as both
powers remain entrenched in their positions, there is not much hope of their coming
together on an international conference to resolve the Syrian conflict.
DEBKAfile's military sources added that it is also unlikely that the Russian and
Israeli leaders had a chance to work out reciprocal ground rules for the Russian officers
supervising the S-300 missile operations in Syria to avoiding hitting Israeli Air Force
jets or for Israeli bombers to refrain from destroying them. The S-300 is designed to
shoot down planes and missiles at 200-km ranges.
Israel is concerned that Moscow may have decided to send the six S-300 batteries
carrying 144 missiles due for Syria along with Russian missile and air defense
specialists. They will also be available for operating the missiles effectively for
downing Israeli Air Force planes striking targets in Syria and Lebanon. Israel will be
forced to think twice before attacking the S-300 batteries for fear of hitting the Russian
officers. Putin is therefore placing a severe constraint on Israel's operational freedom
by spreading an anti-air missile cover over the Syrian, Hizbullah and the Iranian Basij
forces fighting for Bashar Assad.
Meanwhile in Syria, rebels fighting against Syrian strongman Bashar Assad's forces have
published a shock video showing one of them eating the heart of a dead rival.
Some in Israel saw the video as further proof that the U.S. is pursuing a wrongheaded
Middle East policy. David Haivri of the Samaria Regional Council commented on the video,
saying that "Syrian rebels are committing war crimes and proud to display this on the
internet. If these animals win the war they will be glad to eat our hearts and abuse our
women. "The USA's lightheaded actions in the Middle East are a threat to Israel," he
In the video, rebel leader Abu Sakkar, addressing the camera as he ripped the flesh,
said: "I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers," he warned President Bashar
Assad's forces as his men cheered.
Sakkar was a founding member of the Farouq Brigade, one of the main rebel units in
Syria, but has since formed his own battalion as the opposition fragments. In the mosaic
of hundreds of opposition groups, Sakkar's men are seen as neither secular nor hardline
Islamists, but as some of the hardiest fighters.
Reinoud Leenders, an associate professor in the war studies department of King's
College London, says that these brutal displays are used as a tool of war by both sides.
"It's the ultimate expression of disrespect and dehumanizing your opponent," he said.
Fatah, Hamas Agree to Form Unity Government Within Three Months
By The Times of Israel
Rival Palestinian political factions Fatah and Hamas agreed on Tuesday to form a
national unity government within three months, a move that, if seen through, would end a
six-year rift between the Islamist and secular parties.
Representatives of the two Palestinian groups met in Cairo on Tuesday for the first
time in months in a bid to mend fences and form a single government. Hamas and Fatah have
been at loggerheads since the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007
following Hamas' surprising success in national elections the year before.
Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said following the talks in Egypt that the two
groups have agreed to reconcile and form a unity government in the coming months,
according to Israel Radio.
Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said both sides agreed on a timetable that begins with
creating laws to govern elections. Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmed was
quoted by the Palestine News Network saying earlier on Tuesday that his party would
discuss prospective ministerial candidates with Hamas during the meeting. Abu Marzouk was
quoted saying that the exact composition of that government was not discussed during the
meeting on Tuesday.
Unity talks stalled after the last set of meetings, held in Cairo in February, failed
to mend the rift between Fatah and Hamas and send the Palestinians to parliamentary
elections. The two parties signed a reconciliation deal in 2011, but it has yet to be
implemented and the particulars of the agreement remain undefined. The two parties were
split on issues regarding the Palestine National Council, the PLO parliament, and
legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced last month that he had started
conducting negotiations to form a national unity government with Hamas, Palestinian news
agency Wafa reported. Abbas also called on all other Palestinian parties to take part in
the political process.
Abbas' party Fatah, which would like to hold general elections as soon as possible, had
required in the past that the unity government the formation of which was decided
on last year serve as an interim government for no more than three months, and be
tasked solely with preparing for national elections.
Israel has said it would not deal with a government that includes an unreformed Hamas.
The Islamist group remains formally committed to the destruction of Israel.
IRS Reportedly Also Targeted Jewish Groups
By The American Thinker
The Jewish Press is reporting that a strongly pro-Israel group was singled out by the
IRS for intrusive and inappropriate questions when it applied for tax exempt status. The
organization known as "Z Street" was told that there was a "a special unit in the D.C.
office to determine whether the organization's activities contradict the Administration's
public policies." . . .
While they are at it, the committee might want to ask the IRS whether their list of
targets extended beyond political party discrimination. There is evidence the IRS also
targeted pro-Israel groups whose positions were potentially inconsistent with the
For example, in 2010, the passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit
against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization
was "connected to Israel," its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional
scrutiny. This admission was made in response to a query about the lengthy review of Z
STREET's tax exempt status application.
In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some
of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to "a special unit in the D.C.
office to determine whether the organization's activities contradict the Administration's
Z STREET's lawsuit claims the IRS activity constitutes viewpoint discrimination and a
violation of its constitutionally protected right of free speech. The organization is
seeking, among other things, complete disclosure to the public regarding the origin,
development, approval, substance and application of the IRS policy to treat pro-Israel
organizations differently than it does other organizations.
And at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was
the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel. Those questions
also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately
targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to
state "whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel," and also demanded the
organization "[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel."
Jewish Groups Slam Glenn Beck for Bloomberg Nazi Salute
Television personality Glenn Beck, who has been known for his staunchly Israel and
conservative views, has aroused Jewish criticism for depicting New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg giving a Nazi salute. Speaking at the National Rifle Association's annual
convention recently, Beck likened the mayor to a Nazi for his campaigns to limit the size
of sugary drinks, salt intake, curb tobacco displays and gun control.
"Glenn Beck, the keynote speaker at the NRA's annual convention, trivializes the
Holocaust when he compares New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Adolf Hitler," the
Jewish B'nai B'rith organization told ABC News. "The casual use of Nazi imagery or words
serves to undermine the atrocities of the Holocaust. Glenn Beck should apologize," the
Abraham Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and national director of the Anti-Defamation
League, objected to the image and Beck's comments. "While he doesn't say it, it seems
Glenn Beck is implying through an image of Mayor Bloomberg in an apparent Hitlerian salute
is that the mayor's policies on gun ownership and other issues are turning New York city
into a Nazi-like state. That suggestion is outrageous, insensitive and deeply offensive on
so many levels," Foxman said, according to ABC.
"Glenn Beck should know better. He has drawn similar inappropriate analogies to the
Holocaust before. We wish he would stop trivializing the history of the Holocaust to score
partisan political points," he added.
Bloomberg, who is Jewish and who has spearheaded a new effort to widen background
checks for individuals buying guns, declined to comment on the comparison to a Nazi or to
the other criticisms at the NRA convention.
Beck traveled to Israel on a solidarity mission, dubbed "Restoring Courage," in August
of last year, where he addressed thousands of supporters in a highly anticipated Jerusalem
US Aircraft Carrier Docks in Eilat
The USS Kearsarge, an American Navy aircraft carrier, has docked on Tuesday morning in
Eilat's port as part of the Navy's routine operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian
Gulf. More than 257 meters long, housing some 1,000 crewmen and can ship another 1,893
marines. The Kearsarge will remain in Israeli dock for several days.
In addition to combat jets, the ship also carries several V-22 Ospreys aircraft, which
can take off and land like helicopters and fly at a cargo plane's velocity.
According to the IDF , the ship's docking was prearranged and no joint drills are
planned between it and IDF forces.
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