ISRAEL SUSPENDS DELIVERY OF VACCINES TO OTHER COUNTRIES AMID LEGAL UNCERTAINTY: Israel has halted its plan to ship surplus coronavirus vaccines to a group of friendly nations as authorities examine whether it was in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s authority to order the move, the Justice Ministry said Thursday.
The announcement put a freeze on a plan that reportedly would have seen up to 100,000 vaccine doses sent to numerous countries. In a statement, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said he had received a number of requests to review Netanyahu’s decision. One of those requests, he said, came from Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat, who told Mandelblit he had been instructed, apparently by the prime minister, to “freeze any action on the matter.” (TOI / VFI News)
NETANYAHU REFERENCES PURIM IN WARNING TO IRAN: As US president Joe Biden is expected to renew the Iran nuclear deal and remove the sanctions placed upon it, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Tuesday to what he says is the Islamic Republic’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.
Invoking Jewish history, Netanyahu added: “We did not make the journey throughout the generations and over thousands of years to return to the land of Israel just to allow some basket-case regime of Ayatollahs to finish off the story of the establishment of the Jewish people. We are not sacrificing our loved ones for any agreement with an extremist dictatorship like yours.” In a possible response to Netanyahu’s sentiments, Israel365 reported that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted that nuclear weapons violate Islam. (i365 / VFI News)
IRAN THREATENS TO END DEAL WITH IAEA OVER US-LED PUSH TO CRITICIZE IT: Iran is threatening to end a deal struck with the UN nuclear watchdog last weekend temporarily salvaging much monitoring of its activities if the agency’s board endorses a US-led push to criticize Tehran next week, an Iranian position paper shows.
Tehran this week scaled back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, ending extra inspection measures introduced by its 2015 nuclear accord with major powers. It was the latest of many steps retaliating for US sanctions reimposed after the United States pulled out of that agreement in 2018. Iran and US President Joe Biden’s administration are now locked in a standoff over who should move first to save the unraveling 2015 deal. Tehran says Washington should lift sanctions first. Biden wants Iran to undo its many retaliatory breaches of the deal’s nuclear restrictions first. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL PLEASED WITH US STRIKES IN SYRIA: ‘BIDEN IS NOT OBAMA’: Israel is highly pleased with Thursday night’s US airstrikes against an Iranian-backed militia base on the Syrian-Iraqi border, Israeli officials said on Friday.
Officials said they see the strikes as a positive signal about the new administration’s posture toward Iran and believe it will send a message to Tehran that it must restrain itself and its proxies in the region. They said they had been concerned about growing Iranian provocations in the region, often through its proxies, and had shared this concern with the Americans. (TOI / VFI News)
IRAN ANNOUNCES OFFICIAL START OF NEW RESTRICTIONS ON UN NUCLEAR INSPECTIONS: Iran has officially begun restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities, Iranian state TV reported Tuesday.
The state TV report gave little detail beyond confirming that Iran had made good on its threat to reduce cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in a bid to pressure European countries and US President Joe Biden’s administration to lift economic sanctions and restore the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has said it plans to cease its implementation of the “Additional Protocol,” a confidential agreement between Tehran and the IAEA reached as part of the landmark nuclear accord that grants the UN inspectors enhanced powers to visit nuclear facilities and examine Iran’s program. (TOI / VFI News)
REPORT: ISRAEL, SAUDI, BAHRAIN, AND UAE DISCUSS DEFENSE ALLIANCE: Israel is in talks with the kingdoms of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates on establishing a four-nation defense alliance, i24NEWS reported on Thursday.
The reported defense alliance talks likely come in response to the “growing Iranian threat” in the region, specifically regarding its budding nuclear program along with its expanding influence in the Middle East with countries like Syria and Iraq. The report comes as US President Joe Biden attempts to launch talks with Iran on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal. (INN / VFI News)
ISRAELI GOVERNMENT AIDS YEMENITE FAMILIES: The government on Monday officially recognized the suffering of Yemenite, Balkan and Mizrahi Jewish families who came to Israel in the 1950s and will offer them financial compensation.
This injustice was “among the most painful in the history of the State of Israel,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding that it was time that families “who had their babies taken from them” get both recognition and compensation. What happened to them would be taught in history classes in the future, he said. (JPost / VFI News)
SETTLERS TAKE ON WEST BANK ARCHAEOLOGY AS ANCIENT ‘JOSHUA’ WALL TUMBLES DOWN: On January 26, Shooki Levine witnessed the aftershocks of what he describes as a “terrorist attack.” At an extremely rare early Iron Age archaeological site on Mount Ebal near the West Bank city of Nablus, an outer wall that had stood for over 3,000 years was repeatedly breached during Palestinian Authority roadworks, causing irreversible damage.
While the interpretation of what exactly this cultic site was used for — and by whom — is still up for debate, a consensus of archaeologists date it to somewhere around the 11th century BCE, or when the Israelites evidently began to settle the land of Canaan. The site is also revered by some Christians and Jews as the place where the biblical Joshua built an altar as commanded in Deuteronomy 27, which is described in Joshua 8:31 as “an altar of unhewn stones, upon which no man had lifted up any iron.” In the 1980s, Prof. Adam Zertal proposed the altar explanation after undertaking several seasons of excavations there. The scientific archaeological community has largely rejected this biblical identification, but researchers are unanimous over its significance, regardless of whether it is the site of Joshua’s altar. Over three millennia later, the site has become the focal point of a campaign by settlers who want Israel to take a more active role in preserving archaeological sites in Palestinian-controlled areas, and who may have wound up doing harm via a covert attempt to “repair” the ancient wall. (TOI / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff