By Reuters Azerbaijan has granted Israel access to airbases in its territory along Iran's northern border for potential use in a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, a report published Wednesday in Foreign Policy magazine quoted senior US administration officials as saying. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," an official said, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan." plot to kill Jewish teachers at a Jewish school in Baku. A report published last month in The Times of London stated that Azerbaijan is teeming with Mossad agents working to collect intelligence on the Islamic Republic of Iran, quoting an unnamed agent as saying that Baku was "ground zero for intelligence work." Later in the month, Israeli officials confirmed a $1.6 billion defense deal with Baku that will see Jerusalem supplying the formerly soviet country with unmanned aerial vehicles and missile defense systems. Earlier this month, Azerbaijani police arrested 22 people, including one Iranian citizen, suspected of plotting attacks against US and Israeli targets across the country. Baku tied the plot to Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
U.S. State Department spokeswoman refuses to outright say that Jerusalem is Israel's capital during daily press briefing.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/29/2012, 5:42 AMvideo http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/154272 U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Wednesday refused to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, according to a report by The Weekly Standard. The report said the exchange took place at the daily State Department press briefing. The questions Nuland was asked were regarding a Washington Free Beacon story that highlighted the State Department's refusal to list Jerusalem as part of Israel. Earlier in the week, the Washington Free Beacon had shown an official State Department communication which labeled Jerusalem and Israel as separate entities. The official press release stated that “Acting Under Secretary Kathleen Stephens Travels to Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Jerusalem, and Israel.” After the Washington Free Beacon reported on this, the communication was altered to read, “Acting Under Secretary Kathleen Stephens Travels to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv.” On Wednesday, a reporter asked Nuland about this, saying, “Yesterday there was a bit of a kerfuffle over an announcement that was made by the department about the travel of your boss. Is it the State Department's position that Jerusalem is not part of Israel?” Nuland said in response, according to a transcript quoted by The Weekly Standard, “Well, you know that our position on Jerusalem has not changed. The first media note was issued in error, without appropriate clearances. We reissued the note to make clear that undersecretary, acting undersecretary for -- our -- Kathy Stevens will be travelling to Algiers, Doha, Amman, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. With regard to our Jerusalem policy, it's a permanent-status issue. It's got to be resolved through the negotiations between the parties.” The reporter did not let up and asked Nuland whether it was the view of the United States that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, to which Nuland responded, “We are not going to prejudge the outcome of those negotiations, including the final status of Jerusalem.” The reporter then asked, “Does that -- does that mean that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel?” and Nuland responded, “Jerusalem is a permanent-status issue. It's got to be resolved through negotiations.” Q: That seems to suggest that you do not regard Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Is that correct or not? Nuland: I have just spoken to this issue -- and I have nothing further to say on it. Later on during the briefing, the same reporter asked once again, “I want to clarify something, perhaps give you an ‘out’ on your Jerusalem answer. Is it your -- is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think -- or is it just East Jerusalem?” The irritated Nuland, according to The Weekly Standard, then responded, “Matt, I don't have anything further to what I've said 17 times on that subject. OK?” The issue of Jerusalem being recognized by the U.S. as Israel’s capital has been at the forefront for many years. It is centered on whether Israel has sovereignty over Jerusalem. Attorney Harvey Schwartz, Chair of the American Israeli Action Coalition, explained in an interview with Arutz Sheva several months ago, “United States policy has been consistent since 1948 that Israel is not sovereign over Jerusalem. Rather, the question of Jerusalem’s sovereignty is to be determined, ultimately, by resolution between the parties. That’s been consistent U.S. policy.” The question of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem is central to the Menachem Zivotofsky v. Hillary Clinton case. The case involves Menachem Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem and whose parents requested that the place of birth on his U.S. passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad be listed as Israel. The State Department refused the request, leading the Zivotofskys to appeal to the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court returned the decision on the issue to the lower court. In their decision, the justices wrote, “Congress enacted a statue providing that Americans born in Jerusalem may elect to have “Israel” listed as the place of birth on their passports. The State Department declined to follow that law, citing its longstanding policy of not taking a position on the political status of Jerusalem. When sued by an American who invoked that statute, the Secretary of State argued that the courts lacked authority to decide the case because it presented a political question. The Court of Appeals so held. “We disagree. The courts are fully capable of determining whether this statute may be given effect, or instead must be struck down in light of authority conferred on the Executive by the Constitution.”
Pro-Palestinian activists to hold second 'fly-in'
By REUTERSPro-Palestinian activists plan to hold their second fly-in to Ben-Gurion International Airport just after Passover at staggered times on April 15 and 16. According to one of the organizers, Mazin Qumsiyeh of Bethlehem, anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500 participants, ages 9 to 90, from 15 countries are expected to land in Israel on that day. activists also tried to board planes and land in Ben-Gurion in solidarity with the Palestinians and to protest Israel’s policy of banning such foreign activists. Some 124 activists were detained upon arrival in Israel and deported. Hundreds more were barred, mostly in Europe, from getting on airplanes to Ben-Gurion after Israel passed on their names to the airlines. “The point is to show the world that Israel is preventing people from visiting Palestine,” said Qumsiyeh who is a professor at Bethlehem University. “By entering Palestine through Ben-Gurion airport, hundreds of people over 48 hours will send a message that we want Israel to recognize the basic human right ... of those who want to visit us,” he said. “We call on our elected representatives and our government to ensure that we shall be normally and properly treated on our arrival in Ben- Gurion airport, as are Israeli citizens when they come to our countries,” he said. On Tuesday Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said that Israel was working with other governments and foreign airlines to identify activists and stop them from boarding planes. But Qumsiyeh told The Jerusalem Post that after last summer’s event, judges in France and Germany told the airlines they could not collectively bar people from boarding planes. “I think that this year they will be able to get on the planes,” he said. “The question is, what will Israel do when they land,” he said. “I think that Israel should just let them in. They are not coming to protest. They are coming to see the situation for themselves and to experience what Palestinians experience,” he said.
DEBKAfile Special Report March 28, 2012, 7:24 PM (GMT+02:00)
No comment from Prime Minister Binyamin NetanyahuContinuing the release of the US Stratfor research site’s e-mails, Wikileaks Wednesday, March 28 issued a batch of mails which indicated that Binyamin Netanyahu may have been a source of the site’s Vice President for intelligence Fred Burton (a former Deputy Chief of the Department of State's counterterrorism division for the Diplomatic Security) from at least May 2007 up until 2010 after he became Prime Minister of Israel. The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem has not commented on the publication. According to one e-mail from Burton, Netanyahu is said to have revealed in Dec. 2009 that “Iran has two nukes on missiles ready to go.” Burton went on to report that the White House (Barack Obama) was “doing everything possible to block Israel’s next steps. He added the view that “Israel will go it alone. Israeli subs are off Iran's coast.” In answer to a question, Burton replied: “My source is bb (eyes only).” Another Burton e-mail posted in 2009 revealed the shaky relations between Netanyahu and the US president: He wrote: “I also have it on good word that BB trusts Obama about as much as he trusted Arafat or Waddi Haddad [head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the 70s].” The emails released by Wikileaks indicate that Netanyahu kept Fred Burton abreast of key security and political developments intending his thoughts and information to reach the US intelligence community. At one point, he is quoted as saying: “Thank you Fred for your support of Israel...." Asked when an Israeli strike would occur, Burton replied "I've never asked him. He thinks I'm CIA, which I may be.” In another communication, Burton offers the opinion: “When they their HUMINT coverage they will move. Thus far, elements of their disruption strategy have been working from what I understand. When the window closes, BB knows what he must do. We won't be given any warning.” “A very good source just informed me,” Burton wrote in Nov. 2009, “that extremely quiet discussions are underway between and the FBI on the blowback to the Jewish community, facilities, synagogues, day-cares, et al in the United States, in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran... “ The entire batch released by Wikileaks consists of communications between the Stratfor Vice President and unnamed correspondents, apparently clients he had an interest in impressing about his sources. None were written by Netanyahu. Their “quotes” are therefore based on hearsay and are second hand.
IDF chief Benny Gantz ends the Army's long-customary Passover vacation, orders commanders to cancel leaves and remain at full strength.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 3/29/2012, 12:16 AM
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
Flash 90The IDF on Tuesday broke with Israeli tradition and ordered all units to cancel the long-customary Passover leaves and remain on full alert over the holiday. Over the years, an army-wide break during Passover became a tradition followed by all major military units, including the Air Force, Navy and intelligence corps. But this year soldiers will have to divide their vacation days among themselves in order to ensure that their units remain at full strength. Senior military officials insisted the decision did not stem from any planned military operations set to occur on - or immediately after - the holiday. IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz said Wednesday he gave the order saying he "does not accept" the notion of an army-wide vacation during Passover. According to reports, many soldiers who received the news Tuesday did not believe the timing of the decision was arbitrary and dismissed Gantz's explanation as obfuscation. Military analysts say the decision does not necessarily reflect plans to undertake a major operation, but likely stems from ongoing security concerns originating in Hamas-run Gaza. Israel averted at least one major terror attack intended to be staged from Sinai in recent months, killing the alleged planner in an airstrike. That strike led to a spike in hostilities with Gaza's terror gangs, who fired at least 200 rockets into Israel over a period of four days. Israeli airstrikes on rocket launching cells firing from densely populated civilian killed 26 Gazans, of whom at least 21 were terrorists. Critics say that Israel's airstrikes-for-rockets strategic posture vis-a-vis Gaza has only served to perpetuate the now simmering security situation in Israel's south. A growing cadre of senior security officials and former IDF chiefs have called for a major Gaza incursion to uproot the terror infrastructure there. Gantz himself has described such an operation as "increasingly inevitable."
Arabs throw rocks at Jewish groom as he visits his grandmother's grave at the Mount of Olives cemetery.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/29/2012, 1:16 AM
Rock throwing by PA Arabs
Flash 90The man who was hurt in a rock attack in the Mount of Olives cemetery on Wednesday, was a groom about to get married and who was visiting his grandmother's grave at the cemetery. The groom said that a mob made up of young local Arabs threw stones at him and his friend who accompanied him and poured paint on their vehicle. The two managed to drive off and escaped with only minor injuries. The two were lightly injured and were taken to the Shaare Tzedek in Jerusalem. Luckily, they were released in time so the groom could make his wedding. Police are investigating the incident. Jews who visit the Mount of Olives have been regularly targeted by Arabs for quite some time now. A group of U.S. law enforcement professionals were recently witnesses to a rock attack on two Jewish men who came to visit the cemetery. The two men had been attacked by dozens of Arab youths as they were driving up to the cemetery. United States Democratic Congressmen Elliot Engel and Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents Malcolm Hoenlein were recently attacked by Arab rock throwers as they visited the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Last week over 150 people gathered at the Lincoln Park Jewish Center in Yonkers, New York, for an evening of discussions about the security threat on the Mount of Olives. MK Aryeh Eldad criticized Jerusalem District Commander Niso Shaham on Wednesday for his failure to take action over the continued Arab violence on the Mount of Olives. “Acts of lynching take place every day on the Mount of Olives,” said Eldad. “Today once again, a Jew on his wedding day was wounded by stones and his car was smashed. A few days ago torched a vehicle was torched, but the police fails to defend Jews on the Mount of Olives.”