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Behind The News

Sharing the news the mainstream media won't.

Nasrallah threatens: Hezbollah’s missiles can hit Israel’s nuclear reactor

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on Israel to dismantle its nuclear reactor in Dimona, warning that it poses a threat to Israel’s existence should it be hit by one of Hezbollah’s missiles.

Nasrallah made a similar threat against Haifa’s ammonia tank last year, saying that a missile hitting the facility could have the effect of a nuclear bomb. Last week, a Haifa court ordered the tank closed, citing the security threat.

Nasrallah, speaking in a televised speech commemorating Hezbollah’s slain leaders, suggested that Israel has been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump as US president.

“Trump’s election does not scare us, even if claims that he will give [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu the green light to wage a war on Lebanon turn out to be true,” Lebanese news website Naharnet quoted Nasrallah as saying.

“Israel is continuing to launch threats against Lebanon and speak of the third Lebanon war and of what it will do during this third war,” Nasrallah stated. ” We’ve been hearing these threats since the end of the July 2006 war. Every other day we hear statements about the third Lebanon war and about the coming vengeance. The new threats are based on the election of Trump, but the policy of the new American administration in the region is not clear,” he added.

The leader of the Lebanese Shi’ite group downplayed the importance of Israel’s superior air force in a potential conflict.

“Aerial war alone cannot decide the fate of the battle and cannot achieve victory,” Nasrallah said. “Had it not been for the Syrian army’s fighting on the ground in Syria, it would not have been able to achieve decisive victory,” he added.

Discussing Wednesday’s meeting between Netanyahu and Trump, Nasrallah said that the prospect of peaceful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was now over.

“After what came out after the meeting between Netanyahu and Trump, I am not exaggerating if I say that yesterday there was a semi-official announcement of the death of the path of negotiations,” he said.

Netanyahu to Trump: Recognize Golan Heights as part of Israel

The United States  should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Donald Trump when the two men met in Washington on Wednesday.

“His reaction was not earth shattering,” Netanyahu told reporters during a briefing at Blair House after the meeting. He did not elaborate any further about the mountainous area that Israel captured from Syria in the Six-Day war and then annexed in 1981.

The United States and the international community have never recognized Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights.

Israel has long argued that it must maintain that territory for security reasons.

The two men also talked about the civil war in Syria in general, with Netanyahu explaining that Israel had no interest in getting involved in the conflict.

“We want to avoid involvement as much as possible,” Netanyahu said.

Still, he said, Israel would obviously act, as it has done in the past, to halt threats to its security particularly from Iran which is smuggling weapons through Syria to Hizbollah in Lebanon. Iran also seeks  to establish a base in Syria.

Israel has in the past carried out limited airstrikes in Syria. Netanyahu told the reporters that Israel coordinates any activity it takes in Syria with Russia. The prime minister said that he speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin about every two to three weeks.

 

Trump says can ‘live with’ one-state solution, encourages sides to seek peace

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he could “live with” either a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Authority conflict or a one-state solution as he held a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the leaders’ first private post-election meeting.

Trump opened his joint news conference with a vow to encourage a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority . But the president said the two parties themselves “must directly negotiate such an agreement.”

Netanyahu added, “both sides.”

Netanyahu said there is “no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump.” The prime minister was addressing a question from Israeli media about fears the administration “is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones.”

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Netanyahu said that he’s known Trump, members of Trump’s team and his family for many years. That includes Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, whom Netanyahu has known since Kushner was young. Netanyahu said he thinks any insinuation otherwise should be put “to rest.”

Trump greeted Netanyahu on a red carpet rolled out to the White House driveway. The two leaders smiled, shook hands and chatted amiably before heading inside the executive mansion, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and Netanyahu’s wife Sara.

Trump reaffirmed the United States’ “unbreakable bond” between the two countries. He called Israel a symbol of resilience. He said Israel faces enormous security challenges and is calling the Iran nuclear deal negotiated under former President Barack Obama “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen.”

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“I’d like to see you pull back on settlements for a little bit,” Trump told Netanyahu. Netanyahu said later that Jewish communities were “not the core of the conflict” and made no commitment to reduce building of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The American leader broke with his predecessors on the idea of a two-state agreement. While such an accord may have once appeared to be the “easier of the two” options, Trump said he’d be open to alternatives if the two sides propose something better.

Trump echoed Netanyahu’s calls for the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a Jewish state – something they have refused to do – and to halt incitement against Israelis.

But even as Trump promised to pursue peace between the two sides – who have had no substantive peace talks since 2014 – he offered no new prescriptions for unblocking the peace process or achieving a deal that has eluded so many of his predecessors.

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“I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like,” he said.

“I can live with either one. I thought for a while it looked like the two-state, looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly if Bibi and if the Palestinians if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best,” Trump said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

Netanyahu said that he wanted to focus on “substance” and not “labels,” when asked about support for a two-state solution for peace between Israelis and the PA.

“Rather than deal with labels, I want to deal with substance,” Netanyahu said.

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“There are two prerequisites for peace. First the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state … Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River,” he said.

Trump also said that he’d like to see the US Embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but noted that “we’re looking at it with great care.”

A retreat from U.S. backing for a two-state solution would upend decades of U.S. policy embraced by Republican and Democratic administrations and a principle considered the core of international peace efforts.

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Trump also took a moment to call out and praise Sara Netanyahu, asking her to stand to be recognized. He also referenced his daughter, Ivanka, who was in attendance, when addressing a question on rising anti-Semitism in the United States. He said that he was going to do everything in his power to stop long-simmering racism

For Netanyahu, the talks with Trump are an opportunity to reset ties after a frequently combative relationship with Democrat Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor. After speaking to reporters, the two leaders were due to hold talks in the Oval Office followed by a working lunch.

The two leaders, who seemed to strike up an emerging “bromance” in social media exchanges since the election, sought to demonstrate good personal chemistry face-to-face as well, both sporting smiles and exchanging asides.

Meetings with Obama were at best cordial and businesslike, at worst tense and awkward. In one Oval Office encounter in 2011, Obama grimaced as Netanyahu lectured him in front of the cameras on the suffering of the Jewish people through the ages.

US will not insist on two-state solution: White House

The White House signaled a sharp break with decades of support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Authority conflict, on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the White House.

A senior White House official said the United States would no longer seek to dictate the terms of any eventual peace settlement, but would support what the two sides agree to together.

“A two-state solution that doesn’t bring peace is not a goal that anybody wants to achieve,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“Peace is the goal, whether that comes in the form of a two-state solution if that’s what the parties want, or something else if that’s what the parties want.”

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President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will greet Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, at the White House in the morning, and the two leaders will hold a brief press conference before holding two hours of meetings.

In recent decades, subsequent administrations have explicitly outlined their hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resulting in two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security. Past negotiations have operated on the assumption that such an outcome would roughly fall along the lines that resulted from the Six Day War in 1967, with mutually agreed land swaps reflecting a change in demographics.

But Trump administration officials suggested that peace between the parties might be possible in another framework.

“If I ask five people what a two-state solution is, I get eight different answers,” one said.

The administration seeks a seamless public viewing tomorrow that suggests “no daylight” between the two governments, after eight years of tension between Netanyahu and former US President Barack Obama.

Trump officials expect Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria will be a topic of conversation during the meeting. Iran’s regional activities and its nuclear program will also top the agenda.

38 Years later: Man convicted in the 1979 killing of Etan Patz

A Manhattan jury has found Pedro Hernandez guilty of murder in the 1979 disappearance of 6-year-old Etan Patz, bringing to an official close a notorious case that transfixed New Yorkers for over three decades.

The verdict on Tuesday came on the ninth day of deliberations after a three-month retrial. The first trial of Hernandez, 54, of Maple Shade, New Jersey, a clerk at a bodega in the SoHo neighborhood where Etan disappeared, ended with a jury deadlocked 11-1 for conviction in 2015.

Hernandez was identified as a suspect by a relative in 2012 and later confessed to police. But his defense said the confession was a fantasy stemming from a mental problem, and argued that the real culprit was a convicted child molester who had a link to Etan’s family.

Etan disappeared on May 25, 1979, while on his way to catch a school bus that stopped outside the corner bodega where Hernandez worked. His mother, Julie Patz, in emotional testimony, said it was his first time walking to the bus stop alone and that he had $1 to buy a treat at the bodega.

He never came home, and an intense police dragnet in the neighborhood never turned up a body, or forensic evidence of a crime, or witnesses who recalled seeing him at the bus stop. The case became a cautionary tale for parents, and Etan’s picture was put on milk cartons as part of a nascent national movement to find missing children.

In the 1980s, attention in the case focused on Jose Ramos, a convicted child molester who is now serving time in Pennsylvania. Ramos had a social relationship with a woman who walked Etan home from school during a bus strike.

Ramos intrigued authorities by telling them that he had an encounter with a boy who could have been Etan on the day he vanished, and also made incriminating remarks to two informants who were placed in jail with him. But he never confessed and was never prosecuted.

Hernandez, according to testimony at trial, made incriminating statements that varied in their details to a prayer group, an ex-wife and a friend. After a lengthy unrecorded interrogation by the NYPD in 2012, he recorded purported confessions for police and prosecutors.

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He said that he had lured Etan into the basement of the bodega by offering him a soda, strangled him to death, packed his body into a produce box and lugged it to a dumpster two blocks away. He did not give a motive, saying only that “something took over me,” but prosecutors believe he tried to sexually assault the 6-year-old.

Both trials were hotly contested. Prosecutors portrayed Hernandez as the missing piece in a jigsaw puzzle — a man at the right place at the right time who put the body in a dumpster where it would have been trucked to a landfill before Etan’s parents ever knew he was missing, and who left New York and sought forgiveness at a religious retreat within weeks of the disappearance.

The defense, however, portrayed Ramos as a far more likely suspect — a man with a string of molestation charges unlike Hernandez, a father whose record was clean except for the Patz allegations. A former FBI supervisor who investigated Ramos testified that she believed he was guilty.

The defense called mental health experts — whose conclusions were contested by prosecution experts — to testify that Hernandez had low IQ and suffered from schizotypal personality disorder, a mild form of schizophrenia, that could have produced delusions stemming from his own horrific childhood of abuse.

In a case with no body and no forensic evidence to even prove Etan was killed, the defense also hammered on inconsistencies in Hernandez’s purported confession. He said Etan had no hat, but Etan was wearing a hat when he left home. He said he had thrown a pencil bag Etan was carrying behind a refrigerator, but it was never found in the basement.

Israel’s Cairo envoy returned home amid security concerns

Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, David Guvrin quietly returned to Israel in late 2016 from Cairo over concerns for his personal safety, it was reported in The Telegraph.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon declined to comment on the report which was first reported in the British daily.

According to the report, Guvrin was evacuated from Cairo some three months ago and is currently working from Jerusalem. The Foreign Ministry is hoping to return him to Egypt as soon as circumstances permit.

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The Telegraph said the exact circumstances are unclear, but it is most likely due to a series of terrorist attacks in the Egyptian capital which claimed the lives of several people and officials.

Ambassador Guvrin was appointed last summer and in September presented his credentials to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

ISIS video calls on jihadis to kill Australian Islamic clerics

ISIS terrorists have called for the death of three Australian religious scholars in their latest propaganda video.

The video has urged ISIS followers to kill the clerics because they interact with other faiths and don’t promote violence in a 25 minute propaganda video called ‘Fight the leaders of disbelief’, according to Fairfax.

In a disturbing escalation from the previous videos, ISIS terrorists were called to kill Youth leader Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, NSW Police Force chaplain Sheikh Ahmed Abdo and the Grand Mufti of Australia Ibrahim Abu Mohamed – whose images appear in the video.

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The three Australians, among a list of several Muslim clerics around the world shown in the video, were targeted because they are ‘collaborators, informers and apostates’.

Without directly naming the Australians in the video, it calls for the ‘traitors’ to be killed.

‘Those traitors are sitting in airconditioned rooms attacking the mujahideen and supporting the polytheists,’ the video says according to Fairfax.

Put an end to their evilness and kill them.’

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The Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Abu Mohamed was pictured in the video shaking hands with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and an Anglican minister.

Sheikh Abdo was pictured in the video with Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione.

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The ISIS video showed Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman delivering a sermon. Shiekh Alsuleiman talked about how Islamic extremism would not gain you entry into heaven.

‘What Islam are you talking about?’ he said in the sermon when asking how killing cops and non-believers is upholding Islam.

The distressing video was removed from Youtube.

 

Netanyahu pledges US-Israel alliance ‘about to become stronger’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to strengthen the alliance between the US and Israel on Monday afternoon before taking off to Washington for his first meeting with President Donald Trump since he entered the White House in January.

Before his departure, Netanyahu offered a few words to the press. “I am now leaving for a meeting of the utmost importance in Washington. There, I will meet with US President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and leaders of Congress and the Senate.”

Commenting on the general US-Israel relationship, which was sullied during the Obama administration, Netanyahu maintained that “the alliance was always extremely strong,” adding with palpable optimism, that “it is about the get stronger.”

He stressed that there was a general confluence of outlooks on the region as a whole. “President Trump and I see eye to eye on the threats and the opportunities in the region. We will speak about the two points and about enhancing the strong alliance in a large number of fields.”

The prime minister went on to describe a “thorough conversation” in the cabinet that took place on Sunday “at the end of which I said simply: I will lead and I will direct. That is what I intend to do—to lead and direct the historic alliance for the good of our national interests and for the good of the citizens of Israel.”

Speaking to the ministers during Sunday’s cabinet session, Netanyahu said that when Trump was asked how to advance the peace process with the Palestinian Authority during a phone conversation, Trump said he believes “that it is possible to convince the Palestinians to give up on things because they want peace.”

Netanyahu warned the ministers to be under no illusions: Trump still believes in carving out two states, he said, meaning that Israel had to act with caution, particularly in light of Trump’s personality.

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Netanyahu also sought to emphasize that there was no escaping the fact that Iran had to be a top priority of the discussions, even if it came at the expense of talks vis-a-vis construction in Judea and Samaria.

The prime minister was forthright in his words to dispel any beliefs that Trump would march to Israel’s beat.

“Indeed, it is true that it will be more comfortable for Israel but anyone who thinks that there won’t be limits on Israel is mistaken,” he said.

Also commenting on the visit before Netanyahu took off, Transport Minister Yisrael Katz urged that Israel unequivocally reject the notion of a two-state solution.

“Israel needs to say loudly and clearly: no to a Palestinians state, yes to an expanded, complete and united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.”

Katz, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, called on the prime minister to raise the subject of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in accordance with Trump’s campaign pledge.

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Speaking at the Jerusalem Conference, Katz added that Netanyahu must seek to gain Trump’s approval “for imposing Israeli sovereignty throughout Jerusalem, Ma’ale Adumim, Gush Etzion, Givat Ze’ev and Beitar Illit to begin with.”

In addition, Katz implored Netanyahu to categorically refuse proposals pertaining to a freeze on Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

The position was also echoed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) who spoke immediately after Katz.

“Mr. Prime Minister, we trust you, we support you 100 percent in safeguarding the State of Israel as a Jewish state in the Land of Israel,” Bennett said.

 

 

 

Hamas elects new terrorist leader in Gaza

Terrorist Yahya Sanwar has been elected to lead Hamas in the Gaza Strip after internal elections were held for the organization’s institutional and leadership positions, according to reports from Al Jazeera.

Khalil al-Haya has been chosen to serve as Sanwar’s deputy.

Sanwar was on the most senior terrorists released by Israel in the Shalit deal in which hundreds of terrorists were released in exchange for the return of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

He has developed a reputation as being among the most radical in Hamas, calling since his release for further kidnappings of IDF soldiers, and is thought of as the link between the military and political wing the terror organization.

With his ascent to power, Sanwar will take the reins to rule the strip from Khaled Mashal, despite Ismail Haniyeh being slated to fill the top spot.

When released from prison in 2011, Sanwar lamented the fact that other terrorists still remained in Israeli jails and called on Hamas’ military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to undertake fierce efforts to kidnap more soldiers to bring about the release of more Palestinian prisoners.

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Born into a family of terrorists, he is considered to be ascetic, strong, tough and the possessor of extreme discipline.

During Operation Protective Edge, the new leader’s brother, Mohammad Sanwar—who was the architect of the Shalit deal—had his home attacked by the IDF.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed at the time that, with the cooperation with the Shin Bet, the homes of two senior Hamas terrorists had been attacked after they were being used as a command and control center of the organization, among them, the home of Mohammad Sanwar who was responsible for terrorists in Khan Yunis.

As far as Sanwar’s new deputy is concerned, Khalil al-Haya has also earned a reputation for being among the more radical elements of Hamas and was a member of the negotiating team in the Shalit negotiations.

His son was killed in Protective Edge after the Israel Air Force struck his home.

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