Trump warns Iran to be careful with threats
The Guardian, Telegraph, Times, Independent, Financial Times and Reuters report that US President Donald Trump has warned Iran to be ‘careful with threats’ as they ‘come back to bite you’ following Tehran’s declaration that it will exceed its uranium enrichment level agreed under the JCPOA within days. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated that Iran would exceed the enrichment level in response other parties’ failure to provide relief from the US sanctions. ‘On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67%. We will put aside this commitment. We will increase (the enrichment level) beyond 3.67% to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need’, Rouhani told a cabinet meeting. Rouhani also said Iran would step up production of heavy water at the Arak reactor.
The Times and Independent report that hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv as police braced for a third night of violence. Parts of Israel have been brought to a halt by the violence following the shooting of an 18-year-old Ethiopian Israeli by an off-duty officer, an incident that the community claims is symptomatic of the harassment and abuses that it faces. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for calm after clashes at 23 protest sites. Demonstrators overturned and set fire to cars and pelted the police with stones, who responded with stun grenades and tear gas. About 110 officers and 30 protesters have been injured, and more than 130 people arrested.
Reuters reports that Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has stated that any demarcation of Lebanon’s sea boundary with Israel must be implemented as part of a wider package including the land border. Senior US official David Satterfield has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel in an effort to launch the talks between the countries. Settling the maritime dispute could help both countries exploit offshore energy reserves. Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steintiz said on 19 June he expected US-mediated talks to start within a month.
BBC News, the Guardian and Independent report that the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated that an attack that killed more than 44 migrants and left more than 130 severely injured at a detention centre outside Tripoli represented ‘a war crime and odious bloody carnage’. Most of the dead are believed to be sub-Saharan Africans attempting to reach Europe from Libya. The Libyan government has blamed forces loyal to a warlord, General Khalifa Haftar.
BBC News and Telegraph reports that Gibraltar police and customs agencies, aided by a detachment of British Royal Marines, have boarded an oil tanker travelling to Syria thought to be breaching EU sanctions. Authorities said there was reason to believe the ship was carrying crude oil to the Banias Refinery in Syria. The refinery is subject to EU sanctions against Syria, the chief minister of the government said.
Reuters reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that removing Turkey from the F-35 programme would be ‘robbery’. US officials have said that the Trump administration still plans to impose sanctions on Turkey and remove it from the programme if its NATO ally acquires the Russian S-400 missile defence system. He said that Turkey had paid $1.4bn for the F-35s: ‘We have made an agreement to buy 116 F-35s. We are not just a market, we are also joint producers. We produce some of the parts in Turkey’.
The Times reports that the Taliban has issued a statement declaring that the US and militant group have made ‘spectacular progress’ in ongoing peace talks in Qatar and both sides hope to reach an agreement today. Talks are ‘80 to 90 per cent’ towards reaching a draft agreement, the Taliban political spokesman said, although key sticking points remain on both sides. The assertion, delivered from a seventh round of talks between US and Taliban officials, has raised hopes despite continuing attacks in Afghanistan.
Reuters reports that Israel-focused gas driller Energean has emerged as the front-runner in the race to acquire Italian energy group Edison’s oil and natural gas unit. The acquisition would significantly expand Energean’s operations in the growing eastern Mediterranean gas hub with a significant presence in Egypt’s offshore basin. Edison’s portfolio also includes assets in Italy, Algeria, Croatia, Greece and the British and Norwegian North Sea.
In the Guardian, Peter Beaumont argues that the attack on the Libya detention centre was ‘grimly predictable’: ‘EU officials have long been aware of the risks in Libya, where migrants have faced atrocious mistreatment at the hands of militias, while Europe’s governments have prevented the sailing of migrant boats to Italy and elsewhere’.
In the Israeli media Maariv, Haaretz and Israel Hayom report that demonstrations were held in several locations across Israel yesterday, as the Ethiopian Israeli community protested the shooting of Solomon Tekah, on Sunday. The number of demonstrators was significantly smaller than on Tuesday, and the police intervened quickly and made arrests when some of the protests either turned violent or demonstrators sought to block traffic.
Kan Radio reports that the results of the autopsy of Solomon Tekah and the evidence from the scene make it impossible to determine whether the victim was hit directly by the bullet or whether it had ricocheted. Police regulations forbid shooting at the ground either when arresting a suspect or in other situations that require the use of a firearm. There are also disparities in the stories of the eyewitnesses regarding the stone-throwing, where the policeman’s family members were located and whether he was attacked by the teens. According to the report, the authorities will find it hard to accept the policeman’s account that his life was in danger and that the shooting was justified. A decision will be made in the next few days, once the Police Internal Investigations Department completes its inquiry.
Maariv quotes the Deputy Police Commissioner, Alon Asor, who responded to criticism that the police failed to confront demonstrators on Tuesday and gave a green light to violence. “We decided on a policy of containment so as to allow the protest,” said Asor. “We thought and believed that it would be a legitimate protest that would keep the rules. The moment we saw that the rules were being broken and that it was becoming very violent and that symbols of government, police officers, civilians and everyday life were being attacked, we transitioned to a different mode of action.”
Kan Radio reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a group of Ethiopian Israelis who are active in various NGOs. He told them: “We have worked together and achieved important things for the Ethiopian community, and we have more work before us.” He said that the first thing he asked them to do was to use their influence to help stop the violence. One person who attended the meeting, Fentahun Assefa-Dawit of the Tebeka Center, said that the meeting was charged but that the prime minister had been attentive.
Haaretz reports that nine of 52 decisions that were included in the 2016 government report on the fight against racism directed towards Ethiopian Israelis have yet to be implemented, and that eight have yet to be fully completed, according to the anti-racism unit at the Justice Ministry. The unit’s report was assembled by an inter-ministerial staff, headed by the Director General of the Justice Ministry, Emi Palmor. The programme follows protests by the Ethiopian Israeli community against police brutality four years ago. The Education Ministry said it: “Views the fight against racism as a mission of the highest level and is working very carefully to uproot every incident of racism in the educational system. Through a programme creating a positive atmosphere in schools, the ministry has developed many programmes on the matter. We are also creating a continuing education programme on social dialogue and emotional sensitivity on these complex issues.”
Maariv reports that newly elected Labour Party leader Amir Peretz said that under his leadership the party would try and merge with other left-wing parties with the goal of becoming “a large democratic and ideological force against the right wing headed by Binyamin Netanyahu.” Peretz said that he has begun to hold talks with the leaders of other parties, including Benny Gantz, Ehud Barak, Orly Levy-Abekasis, Yaakov Litzman, Nitzan Horowitz, Ayman Odeh and Ahmed Tibi and others in the centre-left bloc. Peretz added a caveat, saying: “Not everyone needs to be a partner in a single party.” While Peretz did say that he is in favour of mergers, he has also set himself a goal of winning 15 seats for the Labour Party and increasing the size of the centre-left bloc by four seats at least. He hopes to pick up some of those seats from the Arab sector and from people who were disappointed in Kulanu and Gesher’s performance.
Kan Radio reports that Labour figures believe that Amir Peretz’s election has diminished the likelihood that the party might merge with other parties, citing Peretz’s preference to lead the Labour Party and to rehabilitate it. They said that Peretz is likely to try to persuade Ehud Barak to serve as second in the party. Barak’s associates said that they believed that there would be a merger with the Labour Party after Peretz had rehabilitated it.
Yediot Ahronot reports that United Right leader Rafi Peretz has vetoed including Baruch Marzel on the party’s list in the event of a merger among the Jewish Home, the National Union Party and Jewish Home ahead of the upcoming elections. Members of Jewish Power announced a week ago that they were dissolving the partnership, but efforts have been made in the interim to try to revive the three-way merger that produced the Union of Right-Wing Parties. Peretz said in private meetings that he decided to veto Marzel because members of the religious Zionist movement view him as an extremist, adding that he is deemed unacceptable as a candidate for Knesset by the Jewish Home Party.
Maariv reports two polls that published yesterday. A Channel Thirteen News poll predicts that Likud will win 31 seats, Blue and White 29, the Joint List 9, Yisrael Beiteinu 8, the Labour Party 7, Shas 7, Ehud Barak’s party 6, UTJ 6, New Right 5, the United Right 4, Zehut 4 and Meretz 4. A Channel 12 News poll predicts Likud will win 32 seats, Blue and White 31, the Joint List 12 Yisrael Beiteinu 9 Labour Party 8; UTJ 7; Shas 7; New Right: 5, United Right 5 and Meretz 4. Ehud Barak’s party failed to cross the electoral threshold in that poll, as did Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut. The first poll gives the right-wing / ultra-Orthodox bloc 57 seats, with the second poll giving it 56 seats. Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beitenu has vowed to only support a national unity government and is no longer considered to be within the right-alwing bloc.
Channel 12 News last night revealed that Suheib Yousef, son of Hassan Yousef one of Hamas founding member and brother of ‘Green Prince’ who secretly worked for Shin Bet, has also left Hamas. According to the report he secretly left his positon in Turkey. Suheib Yousef said he worked for Hamas in Turkey. “Hamas operates security and military operations on Turkish soil under the cover of civil society. They have security centres from which they operate advanced listening equipment, to listen to people and leaders in Ramallah.” He argued Hamas was not working in the interests of the Palestinian people. “They were working for a foreign agenda. This isn’t for the Palestinian cause. Instead, they sell the information to Iran in return for financial assistance.” He said he became disillusioned with the Hamas, saying its activities were only aimed at spreading its power to the West Bank. “The point of the attacks in the West Bank is to kill civilians, not for the aim of resistance, nor Jerusalem; not for liberating Palestinian land, and not even because they hate Jews. They send out these innocents because they want to export the crisis to the West Bank.” He also become increasingly angry at the corruption of Hamas leaders in Turkey, “Hamas leaders live in fancy hotels and luxury towers, their kids learn at private schools and they are very well paid by Hamas”.