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Rex Tillerson: Netanyahu 'Played' Trump


Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu skillfully "played" President Donald Trump by plying him with inaccurate information, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson said. Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political life after close elections, was "a bit Machiavellian" and would share "misinformation" with the United States, according to Trump's former top diplomat.

Tillerson, who was fired by Trump last year, made the observations during a forum at Harvard University as reported by The Harvard Gazette, the university's official news outlet. "In dealing with Bibi, it's always useful to carry a healthy amount of skepticism in your discussions with him," he was quoted as saying, using Netanyahu's nickname.

"They did that with the president on a couple of occasions, to persuade him that 'We're the good guys, they're the bad guys.' We later exposed it to the president so he understood, 'You've been played,'" Tillerson said, according to the newspaper. "It bothers me that an ally that's that close and important to us would do that to us," he said.

During two election campaigns this year, Netanyahu highlighted his warm relationship with Trump, who has taken long-sought Israeli positions such as recognizing Jerusalem as the Jewish state's capital.

Tillerson said he supported a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinian Arabs -- an idea unlikely to feature in a peace plan being led by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and adviser.

Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil executive, has mostly kept a low profile after leaving the administration. But Trump has twice branded Tillerson "dumb as a rock" after comments seen as questioning the mogul-turned-president's abilities.

Putin: Israel is a 'Russian-Speaking State'


Russia considers Israel a Russian-speaking nation, President Vladimir Putin said. He made the statement, his strongest public expression of kinship with the Jewish state to date, during a speech in Moscow at an event organized by the United Israel Appeal, a Zionist organization responsible for collecting funds.

Citizens of Russia and Israel are connected by ties of family, kinship and friendship. This is a real network, a common family, I say without exaggeration. Israel has almost 2 million Russian-speaking citizens. We consider Israel a Russian-speaking state, he said.

Putin also said he would travel to Israel in January at the invitation of President Reuven Rivlin to attend events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp and International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Of course, I will definitely take advantage of this invitation, Putin said, adding that trade between Israel and Russia rose by 9% in 2018 over the previous year.

Russia maintains strong ties with some Russian-speaking countries, offering them beneficial trading terms and political support. It also has demonstrated a high level of intervention, sometimes hostile, in Russian-speaking countries. Under Putin, Russia has deepened its alliance with Iran, despite calls by that country to destroy Israel and alleged attempts to develop nuclear and other arms in the context of Iran s conflict with Israel. Russia also supports Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizbullah and is one of the few major powers in the world with official relations with Hamas officials.

Hamas Knows another War is Coming, with or Without Netanyahu

By Israel Hayom

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the other armed groups in the Gaza Strip believe another large-scale confrontation with Israel is bound to happen regardless of who wins the Sept. 17 election. The only question is whether Israel will launch a ground offensive over a protracted several-day period rather than just engage in quick maneuvers, mostly from the air.

This assessment can explain why terrorists have recently been firing rockets on Israeli cities such as Ashkelon and Ashdod rather than on the communities that lie closer to the border. Hamas wants to test Israel's red lines and patience and has let PIJ fire rockets, although it keeps saying that "rogue groups have been firing rockets and thus hurting the national Palestinian interest."

Hamas's claim is misleading. While Hamas has not been directly involved in the rocket fire in recent days, it has turned a blind eye when others do it, mainly because it has moved closer to Tehran, which controls the PIJ. Hamas, as the de facto ruler of the Gaza Strip, has promised Egypt that it would not allow an escalation. It has made a similar pledge to Qatar, which sends Hamas hundreds of millions of dollars to ensure calm.

It wants to please Iran and stage provocations, hoping this would prove it has something to show for all the Iranian arms and funding. But this has drawn criticism from the Sunni Arab world. Saudi Arabia has recently cracked down on Hamas, arresting key figures and freezing assets, and Egypt has been highly critical of the terrorist group.

It appears that for the first time since it took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas has been unable to please both the Iranians and the Arab world. As a result, Israel's ability to deter the organization has been compromised.

Widow of Israeli Spy against Netflix Series on her Husband

By Israel Hayom

Nadia Cohen, widow of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, launched a fierce attack on senior Mossad officials whom she says continue to bear responsibility for her husband's death 54 years ago in Syria. In an interview with Chanan Greenwood in the Shishabbat supplement of Israel Hayom that will be published Friday, Cohen claims they gave inaccurate information to the creators of The Spy series that this month went streaming on Netflix.

"A very senior man in the Mossad admitted that Eli was used like they squeeze a lemon. He told me there was no intelligence body in the country - military, civilian, Mossad, GSS, Air Force, and Navy - who didn't want information from him. They exposed him too much."

She says the head of the Mossad at the time, Meir Amit, sent him back to Syria one last time, even though it was real life-threatening danger, and contrary to Cohen's own judgment. "They told him he was in no danger, that they were behind him, and Eli went back to Syria certain that they had betrayed him. The Syrians did the work, but Eli was murdered here in Israel; here they sentenced him to death."

In 2015, then-head of the Mossad Tamir Pardo admitted that it was a mistake to send Cohen to his last assignment, saying: "To this day, officials at the Mossad continue to lead the line that Eli himself was to blame for being caught, not the fact that serious mistakes were made in the organization's understanding of the realities on the ground. They've betrayed us and lied to us."

Since Cohen's public hanging, she has been fighting for the return of his body to Israel, when, among other things, last year she addressed Syrian President Assad with a public request for mercy. Asked if she believes they will return him, she says: "I want to believe. I think the State isn't doing enough to bring him back."

Asked if they had forgotten the bereaved family, she replied: "We haven't got blue eyes. We've got no elites behind us. We asked dozens of times the defense ministers, prime ministers and presidents to mention Eli when talking about the prisoners and the missing. But we never heard it."

Cohen is working to perpetuate his legacy, but says the education system could be doing more: "We try to pass on his legacy. Religious Zionists learn about him, but in the general education system, it isn't enough. There are so many figures in the country that you can admire and grow upon, and Eli is among them."

Cohen also fiercely attacks the new series created by Gidi Raf ("Abducted" and "Homeland") for Netflix, in which Sasha Baron Cohen plays the character of Eli Cohen. She says they should have acted in a more educational way. About the "twisted" way in which the character was portrayed in the series, she said "The last two weeks have brought me back decades, to Eli's capture, to his hanging. It brings me back to the darkness."

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