Newsletter : 15fx1210.txt
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Big Egyptian-Greek-Israeli Gas Deal Goes Forward
Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh El-Sissi has arrived in Athens for three days of talks
with Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras on a plan for establishing the first ever
Mediterranean consortium for the joint exploitation of Israeli, Egyptian and Cypriot
off-shore gas wells. DEBKAfile's Middle East sources disclosed in an exclusive report.
On Tuesday, Dec. 8, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu defended his government's
handling of Israel's offshore gas bonanza in a briefing to the Knesset Economy Committee,
he faced a barrage of opposition criticism, much of which focused on unfounded claims that
Egypt had dropped out of a deal for the purchase of Israeli gas.
The consortium, in advanced negotiation between the Egyptian president, Greek Prime
Minister Alexs Tsipras and Binyamin Netanyahu, is designed for two goals. which are to
satisfy the gas requirements of Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian
Authority, and to export the remainder to Europe. The three parties are studying three
Transfer the Mediterranean gas to Greece and then pipeline it to Europe: Greek Prime
Minister Tsipras raised this option with Netanyahu during his unexpected visit to
Jerusalem on Nov. 26. He proposed linking the Israeli gas fields, especially the largest
Leviathan well, with the Cypriot offshore Aphrodite gas field and Egypt's Zohr
Mediterranean field, and so make it possible to transfer the gas to Greece and from there
Tsipras maintained that the European Union, of which Greece is a member, would consider
taking part in the construction of the new pipeline networks together with the gas
terminals necessary for exporting it.
Transfer the gas of all three countries via Turkey.
Build a pipeline from the Israeli oil port city of Ashkelon to Egypt. Western Egypt has
two giant gas-processing facilities on its Mediterranean coast, one owned by British Gas
and the other by Spain's Union Fenosa Gas. They could transform the gas to LNG for
shipping by tanker to Europe.
In his briefing to the Knesset committee, Netanyahu maintained, "The bottom line is
that I see the supply of gas as the basis for protecting (Israel's) national security, and
we need to be strong in order to gain alliances and make peace."
In Athens, the Egyptian president echoed those sentiments when he said: "More
cooperation is needed in these difficult times and in this sensitive area. Such
cooperation could be in the exploitation of mineral resources, it could be an economic
cooperation and even a military cooperation," he said.
In other words, joint exploitation of the Mediterranean gas fields will enable the
countries of the region to confront the security challenges that they face, as well as
facilitate economic cooperation and joint military efforts to protect the gas fields and
DEBKAfile's sources report that El-Sissi, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and the
Israeli and Greek prime ministers are planning a summit meeting in the coming days to
bring forward and seal a deal for the economic consolidation of the Egyptian, Israeli and
Cypriot gas fields and the means for exporting the gas.
White House: Iranian Missile Tests 'a Source of Concern'
Iran's ballistic missile tests are a concern, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said
on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, he added that the United States government is looking
into reports that Iran conducted yet another such test last month, in a breach of UN
Security Council resolutions.
"The Iran ballistic missile program has been ... a source of concern for years ... and
it continues to be," Earnest told reporters, according to Reuters. He added that the
United States was deepening its cooperation with partners including Gulf Arab states to
counter the program.
On Monday, officials told Fox News that Iran tested a ballistic missile on November 21,
the second such test since signing the nuclear agreement with Western powers in July.
The American Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, on Tuesday said Washington was
reviewing reports of the Iranian test, and hours later an American official confirmed the
test took place and said other undeclared tests occurred earlier than that. Shortly after
Iran's October missile test, Earnest said Iran likely violated UN sanctions, but stressed
that the test would not affect the implementation of the deal reached with world powers.
Terror Victims Identified as Shaul and Rachel Nir
The couple injured in the terror shooting in Samaria on Wednesday evening were
identified as Shaul and Rachel Nir, residents of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. The
attack occurred as they were on making their way home after lighting Chanukah candles with
their daughter, Livnat Ozeri, who lives in Avnei Hefetz.
Shaul Nir was a member of the Jewish Underground movement in the 1980s, which carried
out a number of violent attacks on Arabs, including attempted bombings and assassinations
of Palestinian mayor. He was initially sentenced to life imprisonment, but was later
pardoned. Nir was seriously wounded in the attack when terrorists opened fire at his car,
while his wife was moderately wounded.
The family has seen its share of terrorism, as the couple's son-in-law, Nati Ozeri, was
murdered in a previous attack in Hebron.
Little Girl Encourages Stabbing Jews
Palestinians' latest source of online incitement is a disturbing video featuring a
young girl encouraging the murders of Israelis, Palestinian Media Watch reported
The video, which was posted to `Jerusalem Intifada's Young People's Coalition' Facebook page, depicts a girl from Khan Yunis, in the south of Gaza, holding a knife and repeatedly chanting "Stab! Stab! Stab!" See https://youtu.be/sBtEDMsl_SM
The video also highlights the term "so what" in reference to a hashtag appearing on
Palestinian social media as a slogan used to encourage Palestinians to continue rioting,
throwing rocks and using violence against Israelis.
"#so_what" is a Palestinian response that makes light of Israel's ability to swiftly
dispatch terrorists, showing that Palestinians don't care. It also implies that no matter
what Israel does, the Palestinians will continue not to care, and they will continue to
riot, throw rocks, carry out stabbing attacks, etc.
Trump to Visit Israel on Dec. 28, Will Meet Netanyahu
By DEBKAfile, Reuters & World Israel News
The Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem confirmed Wednesday that Republican
presidential contender Donald Trump was due for a visit on December 28, noting that it was
arranged two weeks before the contender called for the shutting out of Muslim migrants to
America "until our representatives know what's going on." This remark has raised a storm
of controversy far beyond the United States.
The prime minister is willing to meet any candidate from any party, the statement said,
adding: "Netanyahu does not have to agree with every statement made by every
Trump is reportedly weighing a visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. According to the
Jerusalem Post, the business mogul has already asked his staff to examine the logistics of
a visit to Judaism's holy site when he visits Israel later this month.
Israeli officials have apparently been made aware of his plans to visit the Temple
Mount - one of the focal points of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians - and are
concerned he may make some sort of statement that will hurt Israel internationally.
Thirty-seven Knesset members signed a letter on Wednesday afternoon demanding that
Netanyahu condemn Trump's "racist" remarks and cancel the scheduled meeting, at least
until he retracts the comments. MK Michal Rozin (Meretz), who initiated the letter said,
"While other world leaders condemn the Republican presidential candidate's racist and
outrageous remarks, Netanyahu gives him a hug."
Trump's call to keep Muslims from traveling to the United States is causing dismay
among business leaders in the Middle East, where the billionaire presidential candidate
has done business for years, a region viewed as well-suited for his brand of over-the-top
luxury. His announcement has already generated a stir among Israel's Arabs and left-wing
Emirati business magnate Khalaf al-Habtoor only months ago proclaimed his support for
the Republican candidate for president, but that's all changed in the wake of Trump's
increasingly incendiary comments about Islam. "If he comes to my office, I will not let
him in. I reject him," al-Habtoor told The Associated Press. "Maybe we can meet somewhere
where I can debate with him in a very civilized way, not in the way he approaches
Trump has for years looked to do business in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf
and the emirate of Dubai. Trump has lent his name to two high-profile Dubai golf course
projects and an ongoing real estate development, and sought for years to expand his hotel
chain into the region.
But some of his rhetoric about Islam on the campaign trail including his call to
monitor mosques and his proposal this week to temporarily bar Muslims from traveling to
the US in wake of the San Bernardino Islamic terror attack has led to increased
wariness in the Arab world. Trump's campaign did not respond to questions about his
reputation and business dealings in the Middle East.
In a column published August 9 in The National, the state-owned newspaper of Abu
Dhabi, al-Habtoor praised Trump for believing "in bringing back his country's superpower
status." But late last month, al-Habtoor wrote a follow-up column on Trump that began
with: "I was wrong and I do not mind admitting it. When strength is partnered with
ignorance and deceit, it produces a toxic mix threatening the United States and our
world," he wrote, ending his column by endorsing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Trump has made other comments at times praising or ridiculing countries in the Middle
East. At a recent campaign rally, Trump applauded Qatar's new, at least $15 billion
airport, while calling US airports "third-world." He traveled to the Qatari capital, Doha,
in April 2008 to see developments there.
Trump also made comments in 2011, as well as this year, falsely saying that Kuwait paid
nothing to the US for driving out occupying Iraqi forces during the 1991 Gulf War. US
congressional records show Kuwait contributed $16.1 billion for the war. Those Gulf War
comments recently drew boos on a comedy talk show in Kuwait, which still holds the US in
high regard for coming to its aid in the war.
Hamad al-Ali, the comedian who poked fun at them, was critical of Trump's latest
comments on barring Muslims. "He shouldn't promote these types of ideas. These kinds of
ideas are from some sort of person who is not educated," he told the AP.
Newspapers in the Emirates also criticized Trump in their Wednesday editions, with the
Gulf News saying his "extremism is no different than that of Daesh," referring to the
Islamic State (ISIS) group. The paper offered him this advice: "Zip it, Donald. Just zip
Chabad's 770 Headquarters Evacuated in Bomb Threat
Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn was evacuated on
Tuesday night due to a bomb threat. The threat targeting the iconic Jewish center was made
in a phone call to 911, and in response the NYPD together with the Shomrim neighborhood
patrol evacuated the building. After it was cleared, a thorough investigation of the site
was conducted, and after it was confirmed that no explosives were present people were let
back in a few hours later.
"We trace(d) the phone call back to a psych ward but we're still taking all
precautions," an NYPD source told COLlive.com, in confirmation of police sources who told
CrownHeights.info that the call came from a psych ward in Queens.
However, in consideration of the recent high profile terror attacks - most recently the
lethal California shooting claimed by Islamic State (ISIS) last week - the NYPD decided to
take no chances.
Ironically just a few hours before the threat, NYPD and counter-terrorism experts sat
with directors of Jewish schools and organizations in Crown Heights to hold a security
briefing, covering various potential terror attack scenarios and ways of preventing
Chabad's 770 has been targeted before. In December 2014, an attacker with mental
illness stabbed a man at the center, seriously wounding him, while shouting "I'm stabbing
a Jew!" The attacker was shot by police respondents, and the victim later recovered from
Israel, Beware of Obama's Ominous Plans
By Gideon Israel (Commentary)
Obama and his clever political team are not finished with Israel, and they have ominous
plans for the future. After the last meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister
Netanyahu, some thought that finally after, seven weary years, they had found common
ground. Their meeting focused on working to limit Iranian influence in the region;
discussing a new 10-year $50 billion U.S. aid package to Israel, unprecedented in terms of
average yearly aid; and Obama conceded that a peace deal with the Palestinians is not on
A few days later, Jonathan Pollard, after 30 long years, was released from prison,
something Netanyahu attempted unsuccessfully with former U.S. presidents. Thus, despite
stark differences on the Iranian deal, the peace process, and overall views on foreign
policy, some think that relations between the two leaders will finally improve. Yet, with
all these positive developments, the only words that are sufficient to explain this
situation is: Israel Beware.
Israel must beware because these gestures and statements by the Obama administration
are calculated, hold a high price tag, and their purpose is to numb the prime minister,
the Israelis, and their supporters in the U.S. It is to create the impression that
everything is fine, the worst is behind us and now we can continue as friends with common
goals. But Obama and his clever political team are not finished with Israel, and they have
ominous plans for the future.
Israel must understand that, like it or not, barring some major event, a Palestinian
state will be declared and accepted by the UN Security Council before Obama finishes his
presidency. The Hill reported that according to the administration's rule making schedule
for 2016, Obama is not slowing down on any of his goals. Though not included in The Hill's
report, a Palestinian state has been an important goal for Obama since the beginning of
his presidency, and he has made the case for it numerous times.
For example, last year, the Times of Israel quoted senior White House official, Philip
Gordon, saying that Israel "should not take for granted the opportunity to negotiate" with
a reliable partner like Abbas, and continued occupation is a recipe for resentment,
instability, and extremism. A few months ago, the Washington Post quoted Obama asking his
audience to internalize the hopelessness the Palestinians find themselves in; and the LA
Times quoted Obama in that interview saying we need actions, not words, to restore a
hopeful situation for the Palestinians.
The current rhetoric by the administration that a peace process "isn't in the
cards" is something that Aaron Miller, a veteran State Department official who
worked on the peace process for more than two decades, has called `unprecedented' and
wonders if it was an `honest admission' of a failed goal or if there is a `peace process
surprise for 2016'.
Obama ran for president, as he said himself, to fundamentally change America, and this
goal continues to be central to his presidency. Obama's view of what America should be and
its place among the nations is fundamentally different from the average American. His
support for a Palestinian state has nothing to do with Netanyahu, occupation or the
Palestinian people, rather it is in sync with his anti-colonialist worldview which
pervades his policy from removing a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office,
renaming a mountain in Alaska named after President McKinley to Denali, and allowing the
mullahs to brutally subdue a legitimate uprising in Iran.
In Obama's worldview, Israel is a colonialist outpost in the Middle East, as delineated
in his Cairo speech, and a manifestation of American power and influence which needs to be
cut down to size.
Since Obama aspires to fundamentally change America, in the last year of his
presidency, his ideology and goals will shift into full gear as much as possible using
executive orders, borrowing power, and other actions which allow him to implement policy
without permission from Congress. Unfortunately, many commentators criticize Obama's
policies as inconsistent, naïve, or ill-fated. However, they fail to realize the deep
ideological divide between most Americans and the president; and mistakenly think that
they share the same goals and objectives as the president, but disagree on the
Yet, in America, support for Israel is broad, and the overwhelming majority of
Americans believe either that there should not be a Palestinian state, or that it should
only be established through a peace agreement with Israel. Obama does not need anyone's
consent in order to instruct his UN ambassador to support a Palestinian state proposal at
the Security Council, but at the same time he has no reason to anger many Democrats by
shoving this decision down their throat when there is another way. Obama, the master of
rhetoric and expert in framing the narrative, need not use force; and he will succeed in
convincing many that this is not only the correct decision, but the inevitable decision.
First, Obama will frame the concept using rhetoric which places his solution as the
only logical alternative, as he has done on other issues. He will say: Some believe that
we should force Israel to return to 1967 borders and force Israel to allow all Palestinian
refugees to return to Israel, and others believe that we should allow the conflict and
cycle of violence to continue while we just stand back and do nothing. I believe we need
to find a middle ground and allow the Palestinians to have a state while not compromising
on Israel's security or its democratic fabric.
His supporting arguments will claim that just about the whole world agrees that a
Palestinian state needs to be established next to Israel, including Prime Minister
Netanyahu, who has repeated this since 2009, and he takes the prime minister at his word.
The dispute is only regarding the borders.
A Palestinian state, Obama will continue, is in everyone's best interest. It is in
Israel's best interest since the Palestinians, being a stateless people, have been a
source of tension between Israel and other Arab nations which will subside after the
establishment of a Palestinian state. In supporting a Palestinian state, the U.S. will be
eliminating an issue that generates anti-Americanism, extremism, and is a point of tension
with its allies in the Middle East, which hinders cooperation on various issues.
Furthermore, he will proclaim that Israel needs to be strong as it faces new security
threats across the region and the Palestinian issue cannot be hanging over its head,
threatening the democratic fabric of the country and preventing cooperation between Israel
and its Middle East neighbors. Obama will restate his commitment to Israel's security more
than any other president mentioning the $50 billion aid package, continuing to develop the
Iron Dome, continuing joint exercises, and selling advanced weapons that Israel's friend,
George W. Bush, refused to sell.
He will credit himself with the Pollard release and remind everyone that the two-state
solution was George W. Bush's idea and vision, so he is not creating a new idea here.
Having a Palestinian state will also place responsibility on the Palestinians and their
leadership. They will no longer have any excuses for terrorist attacks or supporting
terror, and we will hold them accountable. He will finish by saying that running away from
important decisions is un-American, and that a Palestine state is in line with American
values and tradition, especially that set out by President Woodrow Wilson.
This argument sounds forceful, yet is filled with many flaws and half truths. Some of
them being that this president has used aid, weapons sales, and other security measures to
flaunt his support for Israel while damaging Israel in the diplomatic arena, making sure
that they have no legitimacy to use the weapons. He has pledged that America `has Israel's
back' on Iran, while simultaneously thwarting any Israeli attack on Iran either through
leaks or outright threats, and in general has presented Israel as a liability for the U.S.
However, Obama's case for a Palestinian state will be enough to disarm well-intentioned
Democrats and citizens alike who are generally supportive of Israel and believe that a
Palestinian State should only be established through negotiations.
The last year of Obama's presidency will be an all-out offensive to implement his
ideology through his policies and Israel will not be spared. Therefore, Israel must
beware, a Palestinian state is on the horizon, and if a counter-plan is not devised, we
will all be witness to a terrorist organization receiving a state without even making one
concession, being facilitated by the enlightened Western world.
Hebrew Handbags for Sale in Saudi Arabia
By United with Israel, The Jerusalem Post & The Algemeiner
The sight of handbags with Hebrew writing for sale in Saudi Arabia took Palestinians on
a visit there by surprise. It is unclear how the bags reached their destination.
Palestinians visiting Saudi Arabia as part of a holy pilgrimage to Mecca were surprised
to see handbags with Hebrew lettering for sale in the city of Medina, Islam's
second-holiest city, The Jerusalem Post reported.
"Do you know that these cases have Hebrew writings," one traveler asked the Bangladeshi
merchant selling the items. "I do not know. We got the goods from the city of Jeddah," he
replied. How the handbags made their way to Saudi Arabia remains unclear.
In an unrelated incident, in February 2014, a picnicker near Saudi Arabia's northern
town of Rafha noticed several Israeli balloons with Hebrew writings floating nearby, The
Algemeiner reported at the time. "The balloons carried writings in Hebrew
believed to have been unleashed during a festival in Israel and found their way into Saudi
Arabia," he said. The Hebrew message on the balloon was wishing a pleasant release to an
IDF soldier completing his military service.
In a historical first, Israel and Saudi Arabia publicly admitted to secret diplomatic
relations in June, hoping to cooperate on the Iranian regional threat and on resolving the
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