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Liberman: 'No Ruling Out Israeli Strikes on Iranian Targets in Iraq'

By AFP & the Jerusalem Post

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday signaled Israel could strike Iranian targets in Iraq if they threatened Israel, saying it would hit wherever necessary. "We will face any Iranian threat, no matter where it comes from," Liberman said in response to a question about reports that Iran had provided ballistic missiles to allied Shiite militias in Iraq in recent months. Our freedom of action is total," he told a conference organized by an Israeli media company. Israel has pledged to stop Iran, its main enemy, from entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria, where Tehran is backing President Bashar al-Assad's regime in his country's civil war. A series of recent strikes in Syria that have killed Iranians has been attributed to Israel. Israel also acknowledges carrying out dozens of strikes in Syria against what it says were advanced weapons deliveries to Hizbullah, the Iranian-backed Shiite group. Asked about the possibility of Israel hitting Iranian military positions in "Iraq or Tehran," Liberman said: "We do not limit ourselves to Syrian territory alone. It must be clear." A strike by Israel on Iranian ballistic missiles in Iraq would be a major escalation in Iranian-Israeli hostilities, a Middle East expert told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "Conducting strikes in real mainland Iraq would be a big escalation in Iranian-Israeli hostilities and could very well bring more risks on the Israeli side than we've seen before because of the expanded scope," said Charles Lister, senior fellow and director of the Extremism and Counterterrorism Program at the non-partisan Middle East Institute in Washington, DC. A report by Reuters over the weekend stated that Iran had transferred ballistic missiles to Shi'ite proxies in Iraq over the course of several months and that it is developing the capacity to build more there. The missiles include the Fateh-110, Zolfaqar and Zelzal types, which have ranges of 200-700 km., allowing them to be able to threaten both Saudi Arabia and Israel. While the report was denied by Tehran, Lister told the Post, on the sidelines of the International Institute for Counterterrorism's annual conference, that "it makes sense" that Iran would make such a move, saying that it was similar to the North Korean model of building a broad range of rockets and missiles to establish deterrence. "The only other thing that would have made sense from a strategic standpoint would be to add Iraq into that equation, particularly given the extent of confidence that the Iranians would have been feeling several months ago about the shape and trajectory of Iraqi politics," he said. Lister told the Post that Iran has won a strategic victory in Syria despite Israeli operations against them, including the large-scale "House of Cards" operation carried out by the IAF in May, in which jets struck 50 mainly Iranian targets in Syria. That operation sent a "very strong message that the behavior [of Iran] as it was then was totally unacceptable," Lister said, adding that the psychological effect was greater than any practical damage. Nevertheless, he said Iran hadn't stopped any of its activities in Syria. But that "doesn't mean that Iran feels that it is in a massive position of weakness; if anything the fact that it can make that decision is a reflection of the fact that it is actually quite confident with what it has still won in Syria." "Iranians know already that they've won their strategic victory in Syria. While they had a presence and influence in Syria prior to the civil war, Tehran has managed to establish, shape and consolidate a solid parallel security structure in the country," Lister said. "They have obviously established a much more strategic military position than ever before, notwithstanding just the militias and despite the Israeli operations." According to Lister, Israel is widely alleged to be behind an air strike on the Syrian-Iraqi border in June near the town of Al-Bukamal which killed 22 members of a Shi'ite militia. "If that's true, that's a huge statement of intent," he said. Israel rarely comments on foreign reports of military activity in Syria but has publicly admitted to striking more than 100 Hizbullah convoys and other targets in the war-torn country. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said strikes would continue when "we have information and operational feasibility."

Netanyahu: `Bad' Iran Agreement Brought Israel `Closer to Arab World'

By World Israel News Staff

In an address on Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lauded the Iran nuclear agreement's unintended outcome of aligning the interests of Israel and several of its neighbors in the Arab world. During a toast for Foreign Ministry personnel, Netanyahu extolled the Iran nuclear agreement's unexpected outcome of uniting Israel and its Arab neighbors against a common enemy. The toast was held in anticipation of the Jewish New Year next week, and Netanyahu's statements at the event were released in a statement following the event. "The agreement with Iran was a bad agreement in every respect except for one – it brought us closer to the Arab world on a scale that we never knew, and one of our goals is that it continues," declared Netanyahu. "I think that another important thing is, of course, the fact that there is a gradual normalization with leading countries in the Arab world," he added. The agreement to which Netanyahu referred is the 2015 deal that lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in return for the Islamic Republic's submission to an inspections regime intended to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon. Critics of the deal, such as Netanyahu and President Donald Trump, maintained it did nothing to prevent Iran from arming and funding regional terror proxies, propping up brutal Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, or developing intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry nuclear warheads, all of which Iran continued to do after the deal was signed. Critics also questioned the deal's efficacy in actually preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. While Netanyahu didn't mention Saudi Arabia specifically, the kingdom recently signaled a willingness to potentially end a decades-old policy of refusing to recognize the Jewish state. In an interview in The Atlantic in April, for instance, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was quoted as saying that Israelis have a right to their own land.

Later that month, it was reported that the Bin Salman expressed frustration with Palestinian leadership in a closed-door meeting with heads of Jewish organizations in New York in March, according to a report by American news site Axios. Last year at this time, rumors circulated that the prince had visited Israel during a secret trip. Iranian terror proxies menace both Israel and Saudi Arabia, both of which exist under the looming threat of the Islamic Republic developing a nuclear arsenal. At the toast on Monday, Netanyahu concluded, "We are in the process of flourishing diplomacy. We are also in a struggle for justice and truth and . . . gradual normalization, which in the end heralds a genuine opening for peace."

Israeli farmers file ICC war crimes complaint against Hamas

By Israel Hayom

Israeli farmers from Gaza-vicinity communities flew to the Netherlands on Sunday to formally file a war-crimes complaint with the International Criminal Court against Hamas. The complaint comes in the wake of ongoing attacks against Israeli communities by means of incendiary kites and balloons launched across the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel. The devices have sparked near-daily fires in fields near the border and inflicted significant financial damage to Israeli farmers. The complaint was drafted by the Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center, an NGO dedicated to "fighting terrorism and safeguarding Jewish rights worldwide." Along with the farmers, some 50,000 people from Israel have co-signed the complaint as plaintiffs. Shurat Hadin also plans to set up an exhibit in front of the ICC headquarters with displays of "blown-up photos of their fields destroyed by the terrorist kite arson." According to a statement issued by Shurat Hadin, the complaint "demonstrates that Hamas directed its members to attack Israeli agricultural communities and urged them 'to murder, slaughter, burn and never show them any mercy.'" According to the statement, the complaint will also show that "beginning on March 30, 2018, persons under the direction of Hamas have continuously launched airborne incendiary devices at residential property where, according to Hamas, 'Allah willing, [the incendiary devices] will light up and burn fields and houses. … They will get to a place where it will burn a large area.'" The farmers ask that the court prosecute Hamas leaders, including deputy political bureau chief Saleh Arouri and former political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, for violating the Rome Statute, the international convention that serves as the legal basis on which the ICC was founded. According to Shurat Hadin, Hamas' culpability is clearly evident since the Rome Statute "prohibits the murder of noncombatants, the destruction of civilian property for unlawful purposes, and the use of civilians as human shields." According to Shurat Hadin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, "For many months, Israeli farmers have endured thousands of destructive arson attacks and rocket fire from Gaza, while the world stood by in silence. Amazingly, Hamas which has orchestrated this campaign of terror against Israeli civilians, accuses Israel and the IDF of utilizing excessive force in defending its civilians. We are demanding the ICC put an end to this hypocrisy and diligently investigate these Palestinian war crimes and bring the perpetrators in Gaza to justice," she said.

Britain's Former Chief Rabbi Warns of 'Existential Threat' to UK Jews

By Israel Hayom

Britain's former chief rabbi has warned that Jewish people are thinking about leaving the country because of anti-Semitism. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks told the BBC on Sunday that for the first time in the 362 years Jews have been in Britain, many question whether it is safe to raise children there. He singled out Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, a possible candidate for the prime minister's seat, for failing to address anti-Semitic attitudes in the main opposition party, saying Corbyn would pose a danger as prime minister unless he expresses "clear remorse" for past statements. Sacks said, "When people hear the kind of language that has been coming out of Labour, that's been brought to the surface among Jeremy Corbyn's earlier speeches, they cannot help but feel an existential threat." Gordon Brown, the most recent Labour Party leader to serve as prime minister, added his voice to the chorus of party figures calling for Labour to endorse an internationally agreed-upon definition of anti-Semitism rather than the more limited one now in place. Speaking at a meeting of Jewish Labour MPs in London, Brown said it was "not just a procedural issue but about the soul of the party.'It is time to say that this wrong must and can be righted. It is needed now to deal with practical threats, to confront gathering dangers and on-the-ground realities of very real, week-by-week threats to Jewish communities that demand an unequivocal response and unqualified resolve." The party's executive committee is set to discuss its definition of anti-Semitism at a conference in Liverpool in the coming days. The party came under fire recently for opting to reject the official definition of anti-Semitism issued by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Corbyn consistently denies allegations that he is anti-Semitic but has been the subject of much controversy in recent weeks amid a focus on the Labour Party's failure to address rising anti-Semitism among its members. Recent reports have shown him alleging that British Zionists don't understand English irony at an event promoted by Hamas and laying a wreath at a memorial to the Black September terrorists who were involved in the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. In late July, three Jewish newspapers in the U.K. ran a joint editorial calling Corbyn "an existential threat to Jewish life in this country." The editorial, which ran in the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish News, and Jewish Telegraph, said that since Corbyn's election as Labour leader in 2015, the party had grown increasingly tolerant of anti-Semitism. The party that was, until recently, the natural home for our community has seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel," the editorial said.

Monica Lewinsky Cuts Short Jerusalem Interview After Question About Clinton Apology

By JTA

Monica Lewinsky, an anti-bullying advocate famous for her affair with President Bill Clinton while serving as a White House intern, cut shot a live interview in Jerusalem after the first question, about the former president. Lewinsky appeared at a conference in Jerusalem organized by the Israel Television News Company, where she delivered a speech and then sat down on stage for a live interview with Israel Channel 2 news anchor Yonit Levi. Levi asked Lewinsky if she was still expecting a personal apology from Clinton over the inappropriate relationship, for which Clinton was impeached, Channel 2 reported. "I'm so sorry, I'm not going to be able to do this," Lewinsky said as she walked off stage following the question, according to reports. Lewinsky did not publicly discuss her relationship with Clinton until 2014. In February she wrote a personal essay for Vanity Fair on the 20th anniversary of the investigation into the affair, in which she admitted that she suffers from PTSD over the fallout from the investigation and publicity, and that the #MeToo movement had changed her perspective on the affair and its aftermath. "I don't think I would have felt so isolated if what happened in 1998 happened in 2018," she told her Jerusalem audience. "By and large I had been alone. Publicly alone. Abandoned most by the main figure in this crisis, who knew me well and intimately." She also told the audience that after the news broke of her affair with Clinton: "I was shunned from almost every community which I belonged to, including my religious community. That led to some very dark times for me." Clinton said in an interview in June with NBC's "Today" show correspondent Craig Melvin that he felt his public apologies for the relationship were enough.


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