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Senior American Official: If Iran Attacks Israel, US will Protect It


If Israel is attacked by Iran, the United States will protect it, a senior US official said in a news briefing on Monday. "We live this commitment every day, it's something we do for Israel on a daily basis," he said. "We have a relationship of allies and the word ally has meaning for us. It means that if you are attacked we will defend you as we would a NATO member."

According to the official, the US is "shocked" by the Iranian leadership's calls to destroy Israel after the signing of the agreement. "This is not the way a country should behave in today's world. But that does not mean that we shouldn't sign an agreement that reduces the risk of Iran becoming a nuclear state. We do not expect Iran to radically change its behavior following the agreement. We are trying to deal with the nuclear issue and bring it to a level of transparency and visibility. It's not that we think that Iran has changed and its leaders want to create peace and harmony. I do not think that Iran is a part of the solution. Perhaps in the future if it changes its behavior.

"We believe this deal reduces the need for a military attack," the official said. "We understand that the military option is always an option for Israel and the US, but the agreement makes the military option less necessary. But Israel has a right to self-defense, we understand that."

He pledged that the United States will ensure Israel's qualitative military edge and increase its military aid in the field of missile defense and the war on terror. "This is something that is in legislation. It is about what we sell to Israel to secure the lead, and how we monitor arms sales to the region so that Israel maintains its superiority. Therefore, the sale of F-35 and other systems is critical. This was our way to maintain Israel's qualitative edge and it will remain so. The agreement with Iran is about its nuclear capabilities and not its conventional capabilities. We ensured the qualitative edge before the agreement and will continue doing so."

The official went on to say that on the day after the implementation of the agreement there will not be a conflict of interests between Israeli intelligence and American intelligence in the effort to discover violations of the deal in Iran. "US intelligence will continue to check Iranian compliance with the agreement with laser accuracy, and any attempt to deceive or mislead the supervision will be revealed. The goal is to provide policymakers with the right information and share it with the Israelis."

The American source also addressed the issue of the money that will start flowing to Iran following the lifting of the Western-imposed sanctions, and insisted there would be no relief from the restrictions imposed on it as a result of its support of terrorism and its human rights violations.

The official said that Israeli officials expressed concern about the sale of advanced military capabilities to the Gulf states, and the issue came up, inter alia, during the visit of Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in Israel two weeks ago, and even before that. He denied reports that the United States intends to provide Egypt or the Gulf states with F-35 jets. "There will be no sale of F-35s to any other country in the region except Israel, and reports on that are not true," he stressed.

Addressing the strained relations between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration, the official said that this will not affect security cooperation. "Defense relations have never been so strong. Despite the political tensions, our relationship remains the cornerstone of our approach to the Middle East. Our relations are unprecedented in terms of their depth. From the level of colonel in the army to the highest levels of the military and political leadership, they are in weekly contact with their Israeli counterparts. During his visit to Israel, Secretary of Defense Carter discussed cooperation on what we can do against the threat Hizbullah poses in the north, Iran's support for terrorism and also Sunni extremism and violence."

The official also addressed the issue of the "compensation package" Israel is supposed to receive following the agreement with Iran. Netanyahu refuses to enter negotiations on the content and scope of the package so it would not be interpreted as Israel accepting the agreement.

Israeli officials have warned that after the signing of the agreement, Obama became less generous, but the US official explained that there is no significance to the timing of these conversations and that the package will be "generous" in any case.

"We talked about increased cooperation in certain areas but there was no discussion of the package," he explains. "What we heard from other parts of the administration is a desire to enter into talks on defense aid to Israel. During the defense secretary's visit to Saudi Arabia, there was no discussion about a compensation package but rather continued cooperation."

Poll: 6 in 10 Americans Disapprove of Iran Deal


Most Americans continue to disapprove of the Iran nuclear deal, a poll released Monday finds. Nearly six in 10 American voters, 58%, disapprove of the recently reached nuclear pact, while 30% approve, found the new Quinnipiac University poll reported on by the Washington Examiner.

Republicans strongly oppose the deal, which is considered a signature achievement of President Barack Obama, 86% to 3%, the poll found. Democrats support the foreign policy move, 52% to 32%. A majority of Americans (56%) also disapprove of how Obama is handling the Iran situation, compared to just 35% who approve.

"There's not a lot of love for the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. Only a bare majority of Democrats support the pact," Quinnipiac University Poll assistant director Tim Malloy said in a statement quoted by the Examiner.

Monday's poll follows one released last week which found that a majority of Americans would like Congress to reject the nuclear deal with Iran. The poll found that 52% of Americans believe Congress should reject the deal, while 44% said it should be approved.

Congress is currently taking 60 days to review the agreement before approving or rejecting it. Obama, however, has threatened recently to "veto any legislation" passed by Congress blocking the deal.

Opposition to the nuclear deal has primarily pointed to the troubling fact that it has Iran inspect its own covert nuclear sites with international access forbidden, and lifts restrictions on the ballistic missile program of the leading state sponsor of terror. Republicans have objected to the deal as not tough enough to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon in the long run, while several Democrats have expressed support.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, last week urged her colleagues to back the nuclear agreement with Iran. "As you may be aware, I believe that this agreement is a major accomplishment. I am pleased that the response thus far from House Democrats has been so positive," she said in a letter to colleagues, which came as congressional Republicans railed against a UN vote on the deal.

On the flip side, House Speaker John Boehner vowed to "do everything possible" to stop the deal between Iran and nuclear powers from being approved by Congress.

Jerusalem: Two Injured in Molotov Cocktail Attack


A 27 year-old woman was injured Monday night after a terrorist threw a Molotov cocktail at her car in Jerusalem. The incident occurred near the Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina, near the Ben-Zion interchange, Magen David Adom stated.

MDA medics gave her medical treatment and took her to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital with first and second-degree burns on 15% of her body. She is reportedly fully conscious and stable. Her husband was rescued from the vehicle and was not injured. The vehicle was completely burned.

The MDA ambulance also transported a young man of about 20, a volunteer with United Hatzalah, with burns on his upper limbs after inhaling smoke while trying to extinguish the burning car with a fire extinguisher to hospital for treatment. A manhunt is currently underway for the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, thousands of people attended the funeral of 16 year-old Shira Banki on Monday night, after she succumbed to her wounds from the stabbing attack at the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade last Thursday. She was laid to rest in the Kibbutz Nachshon cemetery near Beit Shemesh.

"We had four wonderful children, who were intelligent, beautiful, good and especially good friends one of the other, and we are left with three with pain and longing shocking that every parent would rather die than feel," Shira's parents, Uri and Mika, stated during their eulogy.

"We had a girl who was lucky, had good genes and a great education - and we're not too modest to take credit for two out of three - and she had huge quantities of intelligence, and more importantly, no less emotional intelligence."

"Everyone hurts from her murder," they continued. "This is the needless deaths of an innocent young girl. Neither we nor Shira were part of the LGBT community, but we support the right of everyone to maintain their way of life and customs and the message of love and tolerance [...] she also received from us," they added, noting how proud they were of her accomplishments in her short life.

Along those lines, the parents stressed that they have no quarrel with the religious community; Shira's murderer is a haredi man, Yishai Shlissel, who had committed a similar attack in 2005. "We want to say that we have no quarrel with the people with kippot (yarmulkes - ed.) or beards, and we know how many prayers sincerity and emotion were made in public and behind closed doors for her recovery," they said.

"The quarrel of ours is with intolerance, hatred and achieving your goals at the expense of the pain of others. Now we will go home and begin to build a new family - to learn to live as five instead of six," they concluded. "We will try to hate less and love more, and this is what we offer to everyone."

Earlier Monday, President Reuven Rivlin also eulogized Shira, while speaking at an event marking the 90th anniversary of General Federation of Students and Young Workers movement.

"Shira, a victim of a hate crime, died of her injuries," Rivlin said. "She was murdered, her organs were donated and are saving lives. Shira was your age, she loved to enjoy life, she loved animals, and she believed in life. Shira was also a girl of principles. She joined the parade in the name of the values in which she believed - tolerance, equality, hope, and love. Her life which was deliberately cut short was that of a young citizen, who was involved, engaged, active, interested, and responsible."

Kahane's Grandson Arrested; First 'Long-Term' Jewish Arrest?


Police and Shabak agents on Monday were interrogating Jewish activist Meir Ettinger on his involvement in "organizing extremist Jewish activities in Judea and Samaria." Officials said that they had not yet activated administrative detention rules against Ettinger, but sources said that they would do so if he did not "cooperate."

Ettinger, a grandson of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, was arrested in Tzfat (Safed), where he has been living for the past several months, after he was banned earlier this year from living in Judea and Samaria for 12 months, suspected of assisting in preventing the demolition of new communities (outposts) by the IDF. He has also been banned from entering Jerusalem for six months; that order is due to expire in November.

Officials did not say if he was being questioned in connection with Friday's arson in Duma, but sources said that questioning Ettinger was "important" to solving the case, Channel One reported.

The security cabinet voted Sunday night to allow use of administrative detention against Israelis, and Ya'alon said that he was prepared to use it immediately. An investigation will, he said, sooner rather than later point a finger at suspects in the Duma arson, and Ya'alon said he would not hesitate to use the tool to detain suspects, even if there is not sufficient evidence to hold them through normal legal channels.

The administrative detention law requires security officials to conduct thorough investigations and to report on their progress in court every three months. With that, the law is open-ended, and allows officials to keep individuals in prison as long as required. According to government statistics, Palestinian terrorists who have been arrested and detained under the law are usually detained for between six months and a year before being either released or charged.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Monday that the government would not hesitate to jail Israelis under those conditions. "We will use [administrative detention] in cases where it is clear that individuals are involved in terror, but we do not have the evidence to arrest them," he said at a press conference Monday.

Ya'alon said that he was aware that the tool of administrative detention was a harsh – and controversial – one, but the events of recent days, especially the arson at the Arab village of Duma, left Israel with no choice. "This will be one of the more drastic tools that we can employ to fight Jewish terror, but it will be used if necessary in order to bring terrorists to justice and defend Israeli democracy. We intend to fight Jewish terror without compromise. This is a struggle for the image and being of the State of Israel, and we will not give up this struggle."

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