May 26/15

Bible Quotation For Today/You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know
John 04/21-24: "Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’"

Bible Quotation For Today/This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
Acts of the Apostles 02/29-39: "‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, "He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption." This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ "Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’"

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on May 25-26/15
Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, former Israeli chief of staff: Hezbollah knows price of a future war, so it won't start one/J.Post/May 25/15
Lieberman's vision: Gulf states and Israel together against Iran/Nahum Barnea/Ynetnews/May 25/15
Fighting incitement is the state’s responsibility/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya/May 25/15
Who is the biggest threat in the Mideast: Iran or Israel/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/May 25/15

Lebanese Related News published on May 25-26/15
Moqbel on Aoun's Confidence Withdrawal Call: I Didn't Hear Him and I Don't Care
Raad Says Mustaqbal to be Held 'Accountable' through 'Law, Not Violence'

Consultative Gathering Warns Baabda Vacuum Threatening Lebanon's Existence
Gemayel Says System Change Not in Christians Favor, Rejects Hizbullah 'Protection'
IS and Nusra Clash in Arsal Outskirts after Militant Abducted
Kaag Says One-Year Baabda Vacuum Undermined Ability to Address Growing Challenges
Sources: Bkirki, LF, Marada Could Accept Aoun's Initiative
Berri Accuses All Parties of Causing Baabda Vacuum since March 2014
2 Injured after Pelting Army with Stones in Beddawi

Lebanese short film wins prize at Cannes 
The Terrorist Nasrallah's Speech

24 more Lebanese truckers return home
Hezbollah takes more Qalamoun hills; jihadis clash 
Moqbel to Aoun: I don’t care what you say 
Lebanon reiterates right to liberate occupied lands 
All sides to blame for presidential vacuum: Berri 
Massive fire engulfs abandoned refugee camp in e.Lebanon 

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on May 25-26/15
Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force r: Obama has not done a 'damn thing' to confront ISIS

Israeli cooperation with nuclear ban treaty diplomats helped prevent bad outcome
Gazan terrorists share their tunnel expertise with Syrian rebels
Iranian cartoon contest links US, Israel to ISIS
Handlers recall 'hero' Eli Cohen
Analysis: How many years in prison will Olmert really serve?
ISIS takeover pushes rare bird to brink of extinction
Arrests at flashpoint Jerusalem mosque compound
Islamic body to convene anti-terror meet in Kuwait
Saudi forces, Houthis trade heavy fire
US, allies conduct 35 airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, Iraq
Saudi Shiites hold mass funeral for bombing victims
Yemen: UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva postponed
Mystery blast in Syria's Latakia kills 4
Turkey says deal with US on air support for Syria rebels
Remembering Houla: Why sectarianism cannot be part of Syria’s future
Iraq post Ramadi’s collapse: A failed state
Tunisian soldier kills 7 in barracks rampage
Turkey agrees deal with U.S. on air support for Syrian rebels
More than 100 grave sites found in Malaysia
Boko Haram hacks to death 10 in NE Nigeria: local official
Turkey: Kurdish rebels attack military base; no casualties
Three Dead in Attack Targeting President's son in SW Pakistan

Latest Jihad Watch News
Thousands call for Hagia Sophia (Church) to be converted into mosque in Istanbul rally
Pakistan: Muslims set Christian colony ablaze over new blasphemy charges
Egyptian judge: ‘Unacceptable for Christians to testify against Muslims’
Raymond Ibrahim: The Ongoing War between Islam and Europe
Belgium: Jihadis threaten to kill Antwerp mayor if he doesn’t convert to Islam
Robert Spencer, PJM: Obama: Climate Change Causes Jihad
Typical Egyptian mosque sermons identical to “non-Islamic” Islamic State
Pamela Geller, WND: “U.K. Rape Jihadis: ‘This Is OK In Our Culture'”
Pamela Geller, Breitbart: “The UK’s Rape Jihad: A Survivor’s Tale”
UK: Brainwashed Muslim children aged five think Christmas is banned, warns Scotland Yard commander
Grandson of medical pioneer cannot follow same profession for being Christian
Australia: Schools to introduce “jihadi watch” scheme

Lebanese short film wins prize at Cannes
The Daily Star/May. 24, 2015/BEIRUT: A Lebanese production won the top award for short films at the 2015 festival in Cannes Sunday. Waves ‘98, written, produced and directed by Lebanon's Ely Dagher, 30, was awarded Cannes' Short Film Palme d'Or, the highest prize in its category. The film, about a high-school boy living near Beirut in the late 1990s, beat out seven others nominated for the prize. More than 4,000 films were submitted to the short film category at the prestigious festival, held annually in southern France. The Cannes festival lasted from May 13 to May 24 this year. The trailer to Waves ‘98 can be viewed by following this link:

Kaag Says One-Year Baabda Vacuum Undermined Ability to Address Growing Challenges
Naharnet/U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag urged on Monday Lebanon's rival lawmakers to elect a president without delay and to put the nation's interest above partisan politics.“Over the past year, the vacuum in the presidency has undermined Lebanon’s ability to address the growing security, economic and social challenges facing the country,” Kaag said in a statement as Lebanon marked a one-year vacuum in the country's top Christian post. The vacuum has “contributed to political polarization at a time when Lebanon must make a united effort to safeguard the country from the impact of the Syrian crisis,” she said. She urged the country's rival leaders to adhere to the Constitution, the Taef Accord and National Pact, and advised them “to put national interests above partisan politics for the sake of Lebanon’s stability.”Kaag said “the unified international support shown for Lebanon should be accompanied by meaningful action by Lebanon’s leaders.”She stressed that the presidential polls are a Lebanese process, calling on the rival MPs “to fulfill their constitutional duties, to uphold the country’s democratic tradition and convene to elect a president without further delay.”The diplomat also lauded Prime Minister Tammam Salam for succeeding in upholding a unified cabinet despite enormous pressures and for showing remarkable leadership in the face of difficult circumstances.

Gemayel Says System Change Not in Christians Favor, Rejects Hizbullah 'Protection'
Naharnet /Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel warned Monday that any attempt to change the political system would not be in the favor of Christians, as he rejected to be “subservient to Hizbullah.” “It's about time we all thought of the country's interest and resorted to the democratic, parliamentary procedure,” said Gemayel at a seminar titled Liberate the Presidency. He noted that the presidential vacuum which has been protracting for more than a year now is “premeditated” and that some parties “have a strategic interest in impeding the election of a president.” “There was a decision to empty the state from its institutions and now there is a decision to vacate the presidency,” Gemayel pointed out, cautioning that “any system change will not be in the favor of Christians.”Accordingly, he called on the parliamentary blocs boycotting electoral sessions to “declare their real goals.”The rival political camps have so far failed to elect a successor to Michel Suleiman, whose term ended on May 25, 2014, although around 23 voting sessions have been held. The MPs have not met the two-thirds quorum required to hold an electoral session. Separately, Gemayel hit back at remarks by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the fight against Syria-based extremist groups. He noted that Hizbullah “made a strategic achievement” through its military advances in Syria's Qalamoun region near Lebanon's border while pointing out that “this achievement is in the favor of certain countries and axes and at the expense of Lebanon and its sovereignty and unity.”“If the achievement is not Lebanese, it will be destructive for Lebanon,” warned Gemayel. “I refuse to be a dhimmi under the domination of Daesh (Islamic State) and al-Nusra (Front), but I also refuse to be a dhimmi under Hizbullah's dominion,” said Gemayel, using a historical term referring to non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state. The word literally means "protected person."“I also refuse to be protected by anyone other than a strong state and its army and security forces,” Gemayel added. On Sunday, Nasrallah noted that if the regime and Hizbullah win in Syria, they would “represent the guarantee for all Lebanese,” warning that al-Mustaqbal movement and its leaders would be “the first victims” if the IS and al-Nusra groups take a foothold in Lebanon. Addressing Lebanon's Christians, Nasrallah asked: “Who will protect your women from enslavement and your churches from destruction?” “You should fear the victory of Daesh, not the victory of the other camp,” Nasrallah added, addressing Gemayel's March 14 coalition. But Gemayel stressed Monday that “the protection of Lebanon should not be confined to a certain group without the others.”“Kataeb and Hizbullah must be one hand in the face of the entire world … but the Sunnis are the ones fighting Sunni fundamentalism in Lebanon more than anyone else, so let no one boast that they are better than others,” Gemayel added.

Moqbel on Aoun's Confidence Withdrawal Call: I Didn't Hear Him and I Don't Care
Naharnet /Defense Minister Samir Moqbel on Monday dismissed a call by Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun to withdraw confidence from him over the security appointments controversy. “I did not hear him and I don't care about that,” Moqbel told reporters after a meeting with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Maarab. “There's an Italian song that says, 'Parole, Parole,'” the minister quipped. On Saturday, Aoun had lashed out at Moqbel over the issue of the terms of the country's top security chiefs.
“You are obliged to implement the laws on time because the army commander is illegitimate and you should resign if you can't do that,” said Aoun. “We will reject those who reject us in this country,” he added, stressing that “the army command, the presidency and all first-degree posts in state institutions are our rights.” “We should appoint the majority of Christian officials and the government should ratify their appointment,” added Aoun.
Moqbel and the FPM are at loggerheads in light of Aoun's recent call for withdrawing confidence from the minister over the extension of the term of the head of the Higher Defense Council, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair. The military positions in Lebanon are suffering as a result of the months-long presidential vacuum in light of the parliament's failure to elect a successor for Michel Suleiman. The vacuum also threatens the position of Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous who is set to retire in June. The tenure of Army Chief General Jean Qahwaji is set to end in September. His term was extended for two years in September 2013.

Raad Says Mustaqbal to be Held 'Accountable' through 'Law, Not Violence'
Naharnet /Head of Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance bloc MP Mohammed Raad on Monday clarified remarks voiced by him that were deemed as “threats” by al-Mustaqbal movement, noting that his party would resort to the judiciary to hold Mustaqbal's officials “accountable.”“We clearly have the right to demand accountability for those who call themselves moderates in Lebanon while they are embracing, supporting and justifying the presence of the takfiris,” said Raad. “We are serious about this and we are not criminals for them to go too far and think that we would use the sword and violence against them,” Raad noted. “We are rather demanding that they be held accountable because they are conspiring against their country and society, and their accountability will be within the court of the state of law and institutions,” the lawmaker explained. In a recent interview on al-Mayadeen TV, Raad had lashed out at Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi and al-Mustaqbal movement secretary-general Ahmed Hariri. “The last person to talk about the statelet is the justice minister ... and Ahmed Hariri will be held accountable later because he is of a higher rank than Rifi,” Raad said. But al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc hit back on Friday, describing the MP's remarks as “aggression on civil peace” and a reflection of “terrorism” proliferating in the Middle East because of the party's main backer Iran. Raad did not hesitate to make verbal threats against the two officials at a time when Hizbullah members are accused of carrying out the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, said the Mustaqbal statement.
Five Hizbullah members have been charged with plotting Hariri's Feb. 2005 murder in a massive explosion at the Beirut seafront but have not been arrested. Their trial in absentia began in January 2014 and is ongoing. The Mustaqbal bloc said Hizbullah would be held responsible for any harm inflicted on Ahmed Hariri and Rifi.

Consultative Gathering Warns Baabda Vacuum Threatening Lebanon's Existence
Naharnet /The so-called Consultative Gathering warned on Monday that the presidential vacuum is threatening the existence of the Lebanese state and entity. In a statement read by Qazzi, the gathering, which is led by former President Michel Suleiman said: “The election of a head of state is necessary to protect the unity of Lebanon and the Lebanese.” “The continued vacuum has been threatening the status of Lebanon as an entity and state,” he said. “All those boycotting the electoral sessions are to be blamed” for the failure to elect a new head of state, he stressed after a meeting which was held at Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel's residence in Sin el-Fil. The rival camps have failed to elect a successor to Suleiman despite around 23 parliamentary sessions. The MPs have not met the two-thirds quorum required to hold an electoral session. Suleiman's six-year term at Baabda Palace ended on May 25 last year, the longest time the post has been vacant since the devastating civil war ended in 1990. Saturday's meeting was attended by Suleiman, Gemayel and eight cabinet ministers loyal to them. The statement of the gathering urged Prime Minister Tammam Salam's government to take all measures to control the border area. The liberation of the South will not be complete unless all parties abide by the constitution and the legitimacy of the state, it said. “Only legitimate forces should provide stability to all Lebanese regions that are under threat” as a result of the border problems, stressed Qazzi. The differences between rival parties on the security and military appointments hadn't happened if there were a president, he said. “Only the election of a head of state would resolve” this problem, he stated. An independent judiciary alone provides a real guarantee for ending impunity and establishing the state of law, the minister added. Qazzi also told reporters that the next meeting of the consultative gathering will be held in early June at Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb's residence.

IS and Nusra Clash in Arsal Outskirts after Militant Abducted
Naharnet/Clashes erupted on Monday in the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal between the extremist Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups, state-run National News Agency reported. The agency said the fighting broke out after the IS shot a man identified as Ahmed Seifeddine in the town before abducting him to its mountainous outskirts. The abductee goes by the nickname Al-Silis and is a member of al-Nusra Front, NNA added. The two groups have been clashing in the town's outskirts for months now. Despite ideological similarities, al-Nusra and the IS are opposed and in conflict with each other in parts of Syria, particularly in the north. In August 2014, the two groups however joined forces and engaged in a deadly battle with the Lebanese army in and around Arsal. They were eventually ousted from the town but they abducted dozens of troops and policemen during their retreat.Four hostages have been executed until the moment and the two groups have threatened further killings if Lebanese authorities do not fulfill their demands.

24 more stranded Lebanese truckers return home from Saudi Arabia
The Daily Star/ May. 25, 2015 /BEIRUT: Two dozen Lebanese truck drivers who had been stuck in Saudi Arabia since Syrian rebels took control of Jordan’s Nasib border crossing nearly two months ago returned home Monday. Speaking to reporters after arriving at Beirut's airport, a spokesperson for the 24 truckers expressed gratitude to their Saudi hosts and the Lebanese consulate in Jeddah for taking care of them of them and facilitating their return. Another batch of 24 truck drivers is expected to arrive later Monday. More than 200 truckers became trapped abroad when Syrian rebels took control of Jordan’s Nasib border crossing in early April, prompting Amman to shut its border with Syria. Around 70-80 drivers are still stuck in Saudi Arabia, with another 60 in Jordan, and 15 in Kuwait. Those stuck in Saudi Arabia have been returning home on separate flights since early in May. The Nasib crossing had been the last safe passage from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon before the rebels, who included the Al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, gained control of the crossing
The drivers were still in Saudi Arabia when Jordan shut the border.

All sides to blame for presidential election crisis: Berri
The Daily Star/May. 25, 2015/BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has blamed all political parties for the failure to elect a head of state and warned that he sees no signs of a breakthrough in the presidential vacuum, which marked its one-year anniversary Monday.
"There are no signs yet of the possibility of an agreement on electing a new president," Berri was quoted as telling visitors at his residence in Ain al-Tineh late Sunday. “But I’m not among those who say that the election will take a long time,” he added. Berri held all the Lebanese political parties responsible for the presidential vacuum. “Failure in electing a new president during all that time is a failure of all the political forces and parliamentary blocs, and responsibility falls on everyone, without exception.” Berri warned that Parliament’s normal cycle for the first part of the year ends in five days and enters a period of three months during which Parliament cannot hold extraordinary sessions since a government acting without presidential powers may not open such a session. Lebanon has been without a head of state since May 25, 2014, when former President Michel Sleiman's term expired. Political parties have so far failed to elect a successor, with neither of the two main political camps - March 8 and March 14 - capable of securing a majority vote in Parliament.

Lebanon reiterates right to liberate lands still occupied by Israel
The Daily Star/ May. 25, 2015/BEIRUT: Lebanon Monday reiterated its right to liberate the remaining villages still occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. In a statement to mark the 15th anniversary of the withdrawal of Israeli forces from most of south Lebanon, the Foreign Ministry underscored “Lebanon’s right to liberate the remaining territory still under Israeli occupation by all legitimate means.” The ministry, the statement added, “will spare no effort to convey this national, unanimous position to the international community until finally putting an end to Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty, ending occupation and full Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory.”Israel pulled its forces out of most of southern Lebanon on May 25, 2000 after 18 years of continuous occupation. However, they still occupy the village of Ghajar, the Shebaa farms and the Kfar Shuba hills. The ministry underlined the “need for continued diplomatic efforts and to adopt legal measures to hold Israel and Israelis officials accountable for the most heinous crimes against innocent civilians in Lebanon and the region.” The statement said Israel and ISIS were very much alike, accusing them both of trying to fragment the region and destroy the foundation of pluralism.

Hezbollah takes more Qalamoun highlands from Nusra; jihadis clash nearby
The Daily Star/May. 25, 2015/BEIRUT: Hezbollah fighters captured more territory in Syria's Qalamoun mountains Monday, three weeks into an offensive to oust jihadis from the rugged border region, Al-Manar said. The report said Hezbollah fighters captured several highlands northeast of the outskirts of Nahleh along Lebanon’s eastern mountain range shortly before midday. The Hezbollah-run Al-Manar said the advancing fighters destroyed a military vehicle belonging to Nusra Front jihadis, “killing and wounding several militants.”Hezbollah fought a fierce battle with Syria-based militants on the outskirts of Nahleh in October, sparked by a jihadi ambush on party posts. Hezbollah acknowledged the deaths of eight fighters at the time. The Syrian army and Hezbollah launched the battle for Qalamoun earlier this month, capturing dozens of militant bases and driving the jihadis north toward the outskirts of Lebanon's Arsal. Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah vowed in a speech Sunday night that the Qalamoun offensive would push on until Lebanon's border is secure. Three Hezbollah fighters were killed fighting in Qalamoun last week, bringing the party's death toll since the launch of the Qalamoun offensive to at least 16, according to a security source. Meanwhile, clashes broke out between Nusra and ISIS fighters on the outskirts of Arsal, on Lebanon's northeast border, a rebel source said. The source said the fighting was sparked after ISIS kidnapped Syrian national Ahmad Saifeddine, a Nusra militant. Tensions between the jihadi rivals have soared in recent weeks, with the Nusra Front-led Army of Conquest declaring two earlier this month that it would "eradicate ISIS" from Qalamoun for harassing and attacking other Syrian rebel groups.

Moqbel to Aoun: I don’t care what you say
The Daily Star/May. 25, 2015/BEIRUT: Defense Minister Samir Moqbel said Monday he "doesn't care" what Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun has to say about him, two days after Aoun called on him to resign over the military extensions controversy. “I hadn’t heard [what Aoun said], and I don’t care,” Moqbel told reporters in response to a question following a meeting with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea in Maarab. Aoun Saturday launched a scathing attack on Moqbel, calling on him to resign if he was unable to appoint a replacement for Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi, whose term expires Sept. 23. “Mr. Samir, you are compelled to [ensure] the timely implementation of the laws, and not required to keep the Army commander in his position,” he told a crowd of supporters that visited him at his residence in Rabieh. "And if you cannot do that, resign!"“Those who reject us in this country, we reject them,” he added. Aoun's party has largely stood alone in its rejection of security officers' term extensions. Aoun has held that it is the Cabinet’s right to appoint a successor, knowing that the body cannot reach a decision on an extension without the approval of Moqbel. Moqbel has already extended the term of Secretary General of the Higher Defense Council Maj. Gen. Mohammad Khair, who was supposed to retire Feb. 20. Aoun had said that he had lost all confidence in Moqbel after the extension of Khair's term.

Massive fire engulfs abandoned Syrian refugee camp in e.Lebanon
The Daily Star/May. 25, 2015 /BAALBEK, Lebanon: Firefighters Monday managed to put out a fire that broke out at an abandoned Syrian refugee camp in the Bekaa Valley town of Marj. A security source told The Daily Star an investigation was launched to determine the cause of the fire.The source said the campsite was previously home to some 300 Syrian families who had fled their country's war.They have been moved deep into the heart of the Bekaa Valley, the source said.

Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force r: Obama has not done a 'damn thing' to confront ISIS,
By REUTERS/J.Post /05/25/2015/DUBAI - The general in charge of Iran's paramilitary activities in the Middle East said the United States and other powers were failing to confront Islamic State, and only Iran was committed to the task, a news agency on Monday reported. Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force responsible for protecting the Islamic Republic's interests abroad, has become a familiar face on the battlefields of Iraq, where he often outranks local commanders. "Today, in the fight against this dangerous phenomenon, nobody is present except Iran," the Tasnim news agency quoted Soleimani as saying on Sunday in reference to Islamic State. Iran should help countries suffering at the hands of Islamic State, said Soleimani, whose force is part of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mehr news agency reported. The Sunni militant group has taken key cities in Iraq and Syria in the past week, routing regular forces in both countries with apparent ease. "Obama has not done a damn thing so far to confront Daesh: doesn't that show that there is no will in America to confront it?" Mehr quoted Soleimani as saying, using a derogatory Arabic term for Islamic State. "How is it that America claims to be protecting the Iraqi government, when a few kilometers away in Ramadi killings and war crimes are taking place and they are doing nothing?" The Obama administration has led air strikes against the group and provided assistance to the Iraqi army. Some US Republicans have called for ground troops to be deployed. Islamic State, which emerged last year in the anarchic Sunni heartlands straddling Syria and Iraq, routinely executes prisoners, enslaves captives and destroys historic sites. Iranian officials frequently cite such actions as a justification for their support of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose forces have also carried out mass killings since the beginning of an initially peaceful popular uprising in 2011."We should immunize our borders against this great evil and we should help those countries that are suffering under Daesh," Soleimani was quoted as saying by Mehr in a speech to former and serving members of the IRGC in Kerman city.

Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, former Israeli chief of staff: Hezbollah knows price of a future war, so it won't start one
By YAAKOV LAPPIN/J.Post/05/25/2015
Hezbollah "understands well the price of a future war," and will not initiate one deliberately, Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz, the former IDF chief of staff, told Israel Radio on Monday.
During the interview, held to commemorate 15 years since the IDF's withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Gantz said: "Still, there is high sensitivity in the north. War can still occur because of local conditions. I know that the IDF is ready for any potential developments."
Israel, Gantz said, "has no interests beyond the northern and southern borders, other than security interests. If we are challenged, we will know how to deal with it."
Gantz, who was the former commander of the Lebanon liaison office at the time of Israel's withdrawal, told Israel Radio that he thought the decision to leave Lebanon was the right one, though he added that it should have been carried out with "more coordination."
Gantz entered Lebanon in March 1986, and left with the IDF, being the last member of the military to exit the country, exactly 15 years ago, in 2000. "I came in as a soldier, and left as a general," he said.
The alternative to leaving Lebanon was staying with large numbers of units, said the former chief of staff. "Leaving unilaterally seemed like the right decision. Those were very difficult days. There are no happy withdrawals... [but] it was orderly, from logistical and operational perspectives," he added.
He acknowledged that images of South Lebanese Army members lining up at border gates and undergoing checks by the Shin Bet were "not pleasant," but stated that the decision to pull the IDF out was "necessary."
"The strategy was to cut our presence in southern Lebanon with a knife. That resulted in a cut to the noise [of daily security incidents]," Gantz added.
Asked to comment on the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Gantz said that there "successes and mistakes," adding that nearly a decade after that conflict, "the inquiries into it have been completed."
Hezbollah has, in recent years, grown stronger, with Syrian and Iranian backing, Gantz said, "particularly with long-range weapons that have varying precision. There is a focus [on the part of Hezbollah on entrenching itself within] Shi'ite civilian villages. There is no question it has grown stronger. But I also must emphasize that it has gotten busier in northern Lebanon and Syria."
Ehud Barak, who served as prime minister and defense minister at the time and who initiated Israel's exit in 2000, told Israel Radio of his pride in his decision. "In my eyes this is one of my important achievements," Barak said. "We stopped a tragedy that went on for 18 years, which started with the First Lebanon War in 1982." After 15 years in Lebanon, the IDF withdrew to the security strip, but soldiers continued losing their lives to Hezbollah attacks, Barak said. "We crossed the line of over 1,000 casualties. We could not defend the northern communities from any point in the security zone, even against the simplest threats of 107 mm rockets. During all of those years, it wasn't clear what the security zone did for the country," Barak said. Those considerations led him to decide on an exit from Lebanon with a year of being voted in, he added. "We were there for 15 years. Babies, who were born during our entry to Lebanon, almost became soldiers, and we were still there," Barak said. He recounted opponents who warned that the Galilee would come under continuous Hezbollah fire after Israel's withdrawal. "We heard a vision, that they [Hezbollah] will fire on Metula and Hanita. They [IDF officials] left it on record, so that warnings would be written. I am not criticizing them now. Everyone was doing their job," he stated.
Barak defended himself against criticism that the withdrawal left Hezbollah significantly stronger, saying, "Hezbollah grew stronger by our prolonged presence in Lebanon, not because of our exit. The quality of their explosives grew to the point that they began to resemble IDF explosive devices... After I left Lebanon, the north experienced seven years of quiet, the likes of which it had not seen since the Six Day War." The former prime minister dismissed the claim that Israel left without an arrangement, describing it as "folklore.""With the Lebanese government and Hezbollah, we could not make an arrangement. We made an arrangement with the UN Security Council, the only one with whom we could. It marked out the border. I insisted that we wait for an international body to complete the process of drawing a border, even though this stretched the IDF, so that we have legitimacy to defend ourselves [afterwards]," he added. "It was essential to do this [the withdrawal] as a surprise. We could not share it with lower-ranking officers, or the SLA," Barak argued. Had Hezbollah gotten word of the planned move, it would have launched deadly attacks on the retreating Israeli forces, he said. "How would the withdrawal have looked if soldiers had to search for body parts of friends [because Hezbollah would have attacked]?" Barak said. Asked to comment on the Second Lebanon War of 2006, Barak said it was launched recklessly, and without the necessary prior calculations. "A country is not supposed to go to war without counting to ten, or because three soldiers were kidnapped and a tank drove over a mine," he said.

Lieberman's vision: Gulf states and Israel together against Iran
The former foreign minister has a clear idea of how to resolve the unrest in the Mideast, and that includes what he believes is the enemy within.
Nahum Barnea/Ynetnews/Published: 05.24.15/ Israel News
There are many things one could say about MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), but there's one thing that has to be said to his credit: He is the only Israeli parliamentarian who willingly joined the opposition. The Knesset has yet to internalize the change. Until he is assigned a permanent office as a rank-and-file MK, Lieberman will continue to use the foreign minister's Knesset chambers – right next door to the prime minister.
My colleague Shimon Shiffer and I met with Lieberman this week.
"One of the ministers spoke with me on the phone yesterday," Lieberman told us. "He asked me to explain how I can speak about the death penalty for terrorists and a peace settlement in the same breath.
"People don't get me – and that's part of the issue. You see that picture hanging on the wall, right? (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky. We need to be both cruel and generous, Jabotinsky used to say. I'm willing to be generous only if I'm cruel too. We aren't Luxembourg. We have to be cruel. Why is it that a jury in Boston – Boston, not Alabama – can sentence a terrorist to death but we can't? We do the exact opposite. We're not willing to give and we're not willing to kill."
We understand what you mean in terms of being cruel, we said to him; but what are you willing to offer in terms of generosity?
Lieberman responded by talking about the war the Kurds are waging in Iraq and Syria. "This is a classic example," he said. "We don’t know how to be generous. We used to control the entire Middle East. Today, it's like we don't even exist. Everyone is too scared of commissions of inquiry. Everything's too square and rigid."
"I tried to explain to foreign ministers around the world that the best thing they could do to promote a peace settlement in the Middle East is to forget about us. All of their proposals and ideas and parameters have brought nothing but destruction. Don't interfere. We can work against Iran along with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Gulf States; we can work together to develop the region. Together, we can change the world."
You held a series of secret meetings in Europe with officials from the Gulf States. What did you learn?
"When you sit down with them behind closed doors, they talk just like us. When they met with (US President Barack) Obama this week, they spoke about Iran in the same terms we do – only in much harsher words. At present, there are zero gaps between us and them."
That's not what they are saying.
"Because they have yet to cross Rubicon. That's all that remains for them to do – to cross the Rubicon, to go from secret talks to open relations. There's still a way to go before they cross the Rubicon, but I'm not discounting the achievements we've already made.
"It'll take a little time. But they'll get there in the end. Not because of us, but because of their own interests. They see what's happening in Libya, Syria and Yemen. There's a knife at their throats. They also see how they are treated by the United States. Washington betrays its allies, and we do the same.
"If the moderate states in the Arab world wish to survive, they have to fight. Airstrikes are not enough. They need to fight on the ground too."
Lieberman is seen as right-wing and hawkish, yet stresses that generosity, as well as cruelty, is needed to tackle the issues facing the Middle East. (Photo: Emil Salman)
Lieberman is seen as right-wing and hawkish, yet stresses that generosity, as well as cruelty, is needed to tackle the issues facing the Middle East. (Photo: Emil Salman)
Lieberman firmly believes that the US administration will be in no hurry to resume its involvement in the peace process with the Palestinians.
"For the past year, the Americans have been passive – even (Secretary of State John) Kerry, who has enough on his plate elsewhere," said the former foreign minister. "Look how often he visited here at the start of his term in office as opposed to how often he is visiting now. He realizes he won't be able to achieve everything."
Lieberman hasn't toned down his views on Israel's Arab population and its political leaders since making the move to the ranks of the opposition. The very opposite, in fact, may be true.
"I don’t have a problem with Arabs," he said. "I have a problem with state's attitude towards them. I believe that (Joint Arab List leader) Ayman Odeh is a threat to our existence. Odeh and Mohammed Barakeh speak in different tones in Hebrew, but they are one and the same. They are like (Hassan) Rouhani and (Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad.
"If the head of Odeh's public relations team says that Islamic State and Zionism are the same, and Odeh isn't willing to denounce such a statement, that's all that needs to be said. He isn't willing to condemn Haneen Zoabi either. And he refused to sign a surplus vote deal with Meretz because it is a Zionist party. When speaking in Arabic, he incites against any Arab who is willing to volunteer for national service. We ignore the things he says in Arabic.
"There are many among the Arabs in Israel who think differently. They are afraid to speak out because they believe that the Jews can't be trusted, that we'll leave them in the lurch in the end. That's how things go in the Middle East. The only time I felt ashamed to be a Jew was when I sat down for a long talk with Antoine Lahad, the commander of the South Lebanon Army. He told me how Israel had played him."
As for his criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu, we left that for another time. He's spoken about that a fair deal already over the past few weeks.

Fighting incitement is the state’s responsibility
Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiya
Monday, 25 May 2015
Collective awareness about incitement is present among the general public. Those who realize the threats of the rhetoric of hatred and incitement, and who are repelled by it, are aware that it is a tool that divides society and triggers disputes. However, being aware of the wrong in such rhetoric is not enough to prevent deterioration.
Last week’s horrible explosion in the village of Al-Qadeeh in eastern Saudi Arabia, which killed over 20 worshippers and injured more than 100, sparked controversy regarding whose responsibility it is to address incitement. It also raised questions about how threatening incitement actually is.
Saudi youths who join terrorist groups inside Saudi Arabia and in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are the product of religious extremist propaganda and activity. We are talking about thousands, not a few dozen
The planners of the attack on the mosque are the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but those involved in the crime are Saudis. Why did they do it? They committed the crime due to extremist calls and activities that have not ended despite all attempts.
Saudi youths who join terrorist groups inside Saudi Arabia and in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are the product of religious extremist propaganda and activity. We are talking about thousands, not a few dozen. Some parties’ justifications that extremism is an international issue, and that thousands more from other countries are involved, are not acceptable.
Then and now
We hope the explosion in Al-Qadeeh, and previously in Al-Dalwa, and the murdering of security personnel in Riyadh, are not the start of a new planned campaign of violence that takes the kingdom back to the terrorism it confronted 10 years ago.
Back then, the government and some cultural institutions launched a massive awareness campaign against extremists, and those preaching extremism were pursued and jailed. As Al-Qaeda was defeated, some thought danger receded, and we got occupied with other issues. However, considering the presence of huge organizations such as ISIS, these explosions may be the tip of the iceberg.
Today’s scene is different from yesterday’s, as challenges now are greater in number and danger. What is new is that the region is full of wars that are mostly being won by extremists, such as in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. Besides that, the general means of addressing people have become outside the authority of public and private institutions.
Social networking websites have emerged since that last war on terrorism. Now that there are millions of users on Twitter, Facebook and other websites, the state cannot shut down all platforms of incitement and of supporting terrorism, from mosques to media outlets.
ISIS today directly communicates with people. It directly communicates its ideas, speeches, footage and activities, and all that is happening before the government’s eyes.
The government’s responsibility here increases if it wants to protect its society from divisions and violence. The moral responsibility to fight extremism and confront the rhetoric of incitement is not the individual’s but the state’s. This also applies to racism in the sports community due to the widespread means of communication and the increasing number of media outlets.
The state’s failure to categorize racism, sectarianism and similar acts as crimes punishable by law will make practicing such acts a hobby that no one addresses. We live in a state of huge regional and global war whose headline is terrorism, and it is all based on extremist intellect.
The state, on the basis of its current concept, is responsible for guaranteeing civil peace. This does not only require raising the level of protection, but also fighting the source of danger, which in this case is intellectual. Incitement and nothing else is why a suicide bomber joined an extremist group, and why he carried out the attack against the mosque in Al-Qadeeh.
Threats will increase as long as incitement goes on, and as long as takfiri groups are present. This includes the phenomenon of populist advocates of extremism, who due to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are competing over who practices slander and direct incitement.
They believe that additional extremism and hostility will bring more angry and scared people to their ranks.When the state lays down laws that criminalize incitement, it protects society and its presence as well.

Who is the biggest threat in the Mideast: Iran or Israel?
Monday, 25 May 2015
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya
After negotiations and hard work at the United Nations during a conference on the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 191 signatories failed to come to a conclusion on May 22 due to disagreements over an atomic weapons ban for the Middle East.
However, the disagreement wasn’t imposed by the Middle Eastern participants at the conference and interestingly all the participating Middle Eastern countries, except Israel, stood together to push for a region free of nuclear weapons.
The idea for a 2016 conference on banning atomic weapons was proposed by Egypt and backed by Iran.
Clearly Egypt’s proposal was intended to focus attention on Israel
Iran being member of the NPT and close to signing a possible nuclear agreement wasn’t the country that made the headlines this time around. This time it was Israel’s turn. A country which is not a NPT member and one that is widely believed to be home to such weapons.
What about Israel?
In the light of the possible solving of Iran’s nuclear file, it seems the country is opening up to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and dispelling allegations that it is planning to produce a nuclear bomb. What about Israel?
Israel never admitted or rejected to having nuclear weapons but has said it would consider joining the NPT only once at peace with its Arab neighbors and Iran. Peace is not in the near future as long as the rights of the Palestinians aren’t addressed by Israel.
While the United States and Israel say Iran’s nuclear program is the real regional threat, if this threat is dismantled, which country will be seen as the next regional threat?
Focusing attention on Israel
Clearly Egypt’s proposal was intended to focus attention on Israel even if no one officially and openly talks about it.
Haaretz newspaper reported that a senior Israeli official said “Israel feared a ‘rerun’ of what happened at the last NPT Review Conference in 2010, when Egypt succeeded in forcing the U.S. to include a section in the concluding statement that addressed Israel’s nuclear capabilities and urged it to open all of its nuclear facilities to U.N. inspections.”
Hamid Baeidinejad, General Director of Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s in Political and International Security Affairs whom has been leading Iran’s team at NPT in New York, told State News Agency IRNA that even France, Russia and China, despite disagreement they had over the final statement, didn’t confront it directly. “World and progressive Western nations all were united except the three countries, the U.S., U.K, and Canada and these countries’ direct objections relaxed China, Russia and France which couldn’t directly express themselves and object the final statement.” Baedinejad said.
A foreign diplomat at the United Nations, who wished to remain anonymous, told me that “it may be that the conference failed to reach a final statement after a month of discussions but clearly this failure showed how the world, especially the Middle Eastern countries, is united against nuclear weapons… For me as an observer, the regional animosity with Iran came from this nation’s hidden nuclear program … Once Iran cleared itself of all allegations, naturally it would become a regional partner with countries like Saudi Arabia despite the differences they have over many matters.”
U.S. Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller announced there was “no agreement” and accused some countries of undermining the negotiations.
Gottemoeller did not say which nations had tried to “cynically manipulate” the conference, though she accused Egypt and other Arab states of bringing “unrealistic and unworkable conditions” to the negotiations.
**Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard