Newsletter : 17fx0220.txt
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Israel and Saudi Arabia Close Ranks Against Iran
Israel and Saudi Arabia presented a united front on Sunday, issuing almost identical
warnings of caution against Iranian aggression as the two countries urged the
international community to punish Tehran for a myriad of activities undermining regional
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman
and the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir closed ranks, despite their respective
countries having no official diplomatic relations, as they rebuffed statements made by
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif calling on Sunni Muslim Gulf states to help
reduce violence in the area.
Among the accusations leveled against Iran by Israel and Saudi Arabia, who were
subsequently joined by Turkey, was its involvement in the Syrian civil war on behalf of
the country's President Bashar al-Assad, its development of ballistic missiles, its
funding of Shi'ite rebels in Yemen and its efforts to undermine various regimes in the
Al-Jubeir called Tehran the main sponsor of global terrorism and a destabilizing force
in the Middle East. He sidestepped a question about Israel's call for concerted action
with Sunni Arab states amid growing speculation that the two countries could normalize
relations and join forces to oppose Tehran, much as Turkey has done.
The six Arab members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, especially Saudi Arabia, accuse
Iran of using sectarianism to interfere in Arab countries and build its own sphere of
influence in the Middle East. Iran denies the accusations. "Iran remains the single main
sponsor of terrorism in the world," Adel al-Jubeir told delegates at the conference.
"It's determined to upend the order in the Middle East ... (and) until and unless Iran
changes its behavior it would be very difficult to deal with a country like this." The
international community needed to set clear "red lines" to halt Iran's actions, he said,
calling for banking, travel and trade restrictions aimed at changing Tehran's behavior.
Lieberman said Iran's ultimate objective was to undermine Riyadh, and called for a
dialogue with Sunni Arab countries to defeat "radical" elements in the region. "The real
division is not Jews, Muslims ... but moderate people versus radical people," Lieberman
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also criticized what he called an Iranian
"sectarian policy" aimed at undermining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. "Turkey is very much
against any kind of division, religious or sectarian," he said. "It's good that we are now
normalizing our relations with Israel."
Barak: The Fiasco of Netanyahu is Exposed
By IsraelNationalNews.com & VOA News
Former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak slammed Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu Sunday night for allegedly refusing to accept a peace initiative of former
Secretary of State John Kerry,
"The fiasco is exposed," Barak wrote on his Facebook page. "For two years now there has
been on the table a proposal for a regional conference under American auspices. Why it did
not work out? What is frightening about a regional conference? What is frightening in the
strengthening of Israel's position in the region and in the forming of new and important
alliances? What is so frightening about John Kerry? Everything is frightening to
Barak wrote that Netanyahu is weak and only concerned with his political survival. "Any
fraction of a change that could undermine the foundations of the [Prime Minister's
residence] paralyzes him with fear. The Zionist story is the story of courage and security
against the odds, and one of triumph. Even if not every step was successful."
Barak directly addressed Netanyahu. "Bibi, this is not how leadership leads. This
crying and passivity like a victim pulls us down. This is a betrayal of the public trust
and what is required of a Prime Minister in Israel. Israel must retake the initiative and
take its destiny into its own hands. Only when we act we can ensure true security above
all else; a Jewish, democratic, and Zionist State. 'Unity of the people' before 'Unity of
Ha'aretz claimed on Saturday that Netanyahu took part in a secret summit in the
Jordanian city of Aqaba a year ago, where Kerry presented a plan for a regional peace
initiative. According to the report, Kerry's plan included recognition of Israel as a
Jewish state and a renewal of talks with the Palestinian Authority with the support of the
Arab countries. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not attend the Aqaba meeting but
was updated by Kerry, Ha'aretz said.
Two former top aides to Kerry confirmed that the meeting took place secretly on Feb.
21, 2016. According to the officials, Kerry tried to sweeten the 15-year-old "Arab Peace
Initiative," a Saudi-led plan that offered Israel peace with dozens of Arab and Muslim
nations in return for a pullout from territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war to make
way for an independent Palestine.
Among the proposed changes were Arab recognition of Israel as the Jewish state,
recognition of Jerusalem as a shared capital for Israelis and Palestinians, and softened
language on the "right of return" of Palestinian refugees to lost properties in what is
now Israel, the former officials said.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were still not
authorized to discuss the secret meeting publicly, said the Egyptian and Jordanian leaders
reacted positively to the proposal, while Netanyahu refused to commit to anything beyond
meetings with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi were present at
the meeting as well, the newspaper claimed, citing former senior officials in the Obama
administration who asked to remain anonymous.
In Cairo, el-Sissi's office issued a statement late Sunday that appeared to implicitly
confirm that the meeting took place. It said Egypt been working toward a two-state
solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "It is in this framework that Egypt has
sought to bring closer the positions of the relevant parties and supported any meetings or
initiatives aimed at discussing Practical ideas that would revive the peace process," said
the statement without directly mentioning the Aqaba meeting.
Speaking to his ministers on Sunday, Netanyahu responded to the report by implying that
Kerry had not initiated the plan, but rather he had. "Maybe I initiated the summit?"
However, Netanyahu reportedly did not accept Kerry's proposal and said he would have
difficulty getting it approved by his coalition. Nevertheless, according to Ha'aretz, the
Aqaba summit was the basis for talks that began two weeks later between Netanyahu and
opposition leader Yitzhak Herzog (Zionist Union) on establishing a unity government.
Report: Israel Warns Hizbullah of 'Colossal Retaliation' if Attacked
By Israel Hayom
Israel over the weekend warned the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hizbullah that any
attack it may launch on it, be it from its bases in Lebanon or those in Syria, will meet a
"colossal military retaliation," the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported
According to the report, the warning was conveyed to Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah
directly via a third-party Arab official. Nasrallah was reportedly warned that in the era
of the Trump administration, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would be able to more
easily garner the support of moderate countries in the region -- most likely in the form
of tacit consent -- in the event Israel would have to mount a forceful counterattack
On Thursday, Nasrallah threatened to launch missiles at the Negev Nuclear Research
Center in Dimona in southern Israel in the case of future hostilities with Israel. "The
enemy's leadership is mistaken if it thinks it knows everything; we always have
surprises," he said.
Military Releases New Details About Hamas 'Honey Trap' Plot
By Reuters and Israel Hayom
The cyber security company engaged by the Israel Defense Forces to help crack the Hamas
'honey trap' plot exposed last month has released a report about the security breach that
includes new information. Hamas operatives had used fake social media profiles of alluring
young women in order to entice IDF soldiers into downloading malware onto their mobile
devices that would allow Hamas to collect information.
According to the report by Kaspersky Lab, the cyber attack is still in its initial
stages and apparently ongoing. The report noted that the Hamas operatives behind the cyber
plot were focusing mainly on soldiers and officers serving in and around the Gaza Strip,
and that over 100 soldiers of various ranks had fallen prey to the attack, which turned
the soldiers' personal Android mobile phones into spy machines for Hamas.
The report said that the malware soldiers were tricked into downloading gave Hamas
access to information about location, conversations, correspondence and also access to the
devices' microphones and cameras. The attackers also managed to send out updates to the
malware that increased their abilities to manipulate the users' smartphones.
The report said that after a victim was identified on Facebook, a fictitious profile of
a young woman would tempt him into downloading a fake app granting the attackers user
access. One version of the malware package included an invite to a fake YouTube app, while
others offered fake messaging apps. Once the user downloaded one of the apps, the malware
code would be installed on the device. One malware pack titled WhatsApp Update has been
identified as having the ability to both execute commands on demand and conduct automatic
data mining activity. Most of the data mining took place while the soldiers were using a
wireless Internet connection.
The IDF discovered the scheme when soldiers began reporting other suspicious online
activity on social networks and uncovered dozens of fake identities used to target the
soldiers, he said. The complaints led the IDF's Information Security Directorate to
investigate the issue, with the duped soldiers' help. The soldiers were also ordered to
reformat their phones, as this was the only sure way to remove the malware.
The IDF said all officers have been instructed to remind their soldiers of information
security and social media use guidelines. Current military guidelines already bar soldiers
and officers in certain units, as well as officers holding the rank of lieutenant colonel
and above, from disclosing any information about their service on social media. Following
the recent events, it is expected that the directive will be expanded to include more
units, as well as officers holding the rank of major.
One of the interesting points to come out of the report is that the IDF's Cyber Unit is
cooperating with the civilian Kaspersky Lab. The IDF passed on the report about Hamas'
cyber attacks on military phones to civilian firms working in the field of cyber defense,
an IDF official told Channel 10 News.
Poll: 93% of Israeli Jews Oppose Intermarriage with Muslims
A special survey commissioned by the Yad L'Achim organization revealed that the
overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis oppose intermarriage with non-Jews, including
Arab Muslims. The survey was conducted by the Maagar Mohot Survey Institute, headed by
Professor Yitzhak, and was conducted among a random sample of 507 respondents constituting
a representative sample of Israel's adult Jewish population (aged 18 and over). The
sampling error in is 4.5%.
Participants were asked what their positions would be regarding the possibility that
their children choose spouses who are not Jews. Eighty-one percent of respondents answered
that they are opposed, while 44% answered that they strongly oppose. Only 4% of
respondents answered that they would strongly support their children marrying
Respondents were also asked what their positions would be regarding the possibility
that their children choose an Arab or Muslim spouse. Ninety-three percent answered that
they were opposed, with 70% being strongly opposed to their children marrying Arabs or
Muslims. Only 1% of respondents said that they would strongly support their children
marrying Arabs or Muslims.
Rabbi Shmuel Lifshitz, one of the leaders of Yad L'Achim, said, "The survey confirms
once again the firm position of the majority of Israeli Jews, who want to see their sons
and daughters maintain their Jewish identity, their heritage, and the ways of the people
of Israel, by choosing to marry Jews." He added that most Israelis wish to safeguard their
Jewish identities "despite the voice of the liberal minority on this issue, which is
sometimes louder than the voice of the majority of Israeli citizens."
Haredi Couple in Jerusalem Win Millions in Lottery
A haredi couple from Israel's capital claimed the Israeli lottery's grand prize Sunday
morning, after they purchased the winning ticket Saturday night. The couple, in their
mid-40s with six children, say they rarely play the lottery and only hoped to win enough
to cover an outstanding electric bill of 4,000 shekels ($1,080). Instead, however, the
couple ended up winning the jackpot, totaling some 12.5 million shekels ($3,375,000).
This winter, the couple said, they used a number of electric heaters to keep the house
warm and their children from catching cold. But the bills from the electric company
quickly piled up, leaving the family with a seemingly impossible debt.
"There were very cold days, and we used the heaters a lot so the kids wouldn't get
sick. When we got the bill, we didn't know how we could ever pay these huge bills. So we
said, `let's fill out a lottery ticket and pray that we win enough to pay the electric
bill'." The two purchased the winning ticket at a lottery booth at the Malha Mall in
southern Jerusalem for 11.60 shekels ($3.13).
"This is the third time I've ever purchased a lottery ticket, and when we found out
that we had won, we didn't jump up and down we took a book of Tehillim (Psalms) and
said `thank you' to the Creator. We couldn't fall asleep. We were very happy and excited
from the great gift we had received."
When asked what they planned to do with their new fortune, the couple said they planned
to first pay off their debt, and then visit the graves of prominent rabbis, beginning with
Rabbi Nahman of Breslov. "With the rest of the money, we will go on living a modest life
as we did before we won. With God's help, we'll move to an apartment suitable for six
children, and we'll support Torah scholars."
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