Yair Lapid Becomes Prime Minister
WORLD LEADERS CONGRATULATE ISRAEL’S NEW PRIME MINISTER LAPID: Yair Lapid officially became Israel’s new prime minister starting Friday, July 1, at midnight.
US President Joe Biden congratulated the new prime minister, while also thanking outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett “for your friendship over the past year. I look forward to seeing you both in July to celebrate the unbreakable US-Israel partnership.” Lapid thanked Biden, and said that he also looks forward “to welcoming you to Israel and strengthening the unique alliance between us.” The American Jewish Committee “extends [their] heartfelt congratulations to @YairLapid on assuming the role of Prime Minister of Israel,” in a tweet shortly after Lapid took the mantle. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted in both English and Hebrew, extending his “warm wishes and heartiest congratulations to His Excellency @yairlapid for assuming the premiership of Israel. I look forward to continuing to further our strategic partnership as we celebrate 30 years of full diplomatic relations.” UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted that she is “looking forward to working” with Lapid. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei congratulated Lapid and “wishes him great success during his term as head of government in Israel. Guatemala is an ally; I know we will continue strengthening the historical ties of brotherhood and cooperation that bind our nations.” Finally, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte congratulated her Israeli counterpart, wishing him “all the success and keeping Israel strong. Lithuania and Israel are close friends, and I look forward to working together to further strengthen our friendship that is based on shared values.” (JPost / VFI News)
LAPID IN PARIS: IMPORTANT TO PRESENT ‘UNITED STANCE’ ON IRAN DEAL: “It is important for the international community to hear Israel’s opinion on the Iran nuclear deal,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said on Tuesday morning, July 5, ahead of his flight to Paris where he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.
“We are presenting a united stance before the international community,” he said, regarding Israel’s opposition to the nuclear deal. “A large part of the trip will be devoted to the nuclear deal with Iran. We will also address the repeated attacks on Israeli gas rigs – Israel will not agree to this type of attack on its sovereignty, Lebanon must restrain Hezbollah.” Lapid plans to ask Macron to relay to Lebanon that Israel will not negotiate its maritime border while under threat from Hezbollah. He also plans to present new materials showing how Hezbollah, which in addition to being an Iran-backed terrorist group is a party in the Lebanese government, is endangering Lebanon and its security. Israel hopes to work with its partners on an international campaign against Iran with diplomatic and economic elements, the source said, adding that Lapid will try to gain an understanding of what France, specifically, and the E3 – the three European countries involved in Iran talks, the UK, Germany, and France – are willing to do on that front. Other matters on Lapid’s agenda for the Paris trip include the energy crisis, the war in Ukraine, and economic and security bilateral relations between Israel and France. (JPost / VFI News)
IRAN BOUGHT ILLICIT GERMAN TECH VIOLATING NUKE DEAL: On Monday, July 4, the city-state of Hamburg in northern Germany published its annual security report, declaring that the Islamic Republic of Iran purchased illegal technology from a German-Iranian man totaling nearly 1 million euros.
A September 2021 analysis of the case involving the German-Iranian Alexander J. by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security confirmed the dangerous findings outlined by the Hamburg intelligence agency in its new report. According to the institute’s study, “This case [of Alexander J.] highlights the continued effort of Iran to break trade control laws and sanctions of other nations to procure items for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Additionally, Iran continues to actively recruit sympathetic or persuadable individuals to acquire commodities for its sensitive programs. Some of these exports appear to violate the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].” The German Federal Prosecutors Office said, Alexander J. illegally exported a multitude of complex laboratory equipment, including four spectrometers. During the period 2018-2020, Alexander J. sold, in two cases, laboratory equipment to EU-sanctioned companies in Iran used to secure technology for the Iranian regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The Hamburg intelligence agency said that two accused accomplices are being sought for their role in the case of Alexander J. Iran’s regime is mentioned 82 times in the 194-page Hamburg report that focuses on a wide range of security threats to Hamburg’s democracy. (JPost / VFI News)
HENRY KISSINGER SLAMS TALKS TO RENEW IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL: Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said in a recent interview that peace will not be achievable in the Middle East until Iran ends its nuclear program.
Speaking to the Spectator, Kissinger, 99, had harsh words for the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, describing the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration as “inadequate,” and “dangerous” if re-entered by the United States. Kissinger commented about the stalled negotiations between the US and Iran on returning to the Iran Deal after former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the plan in 2018. Kissinger always held doubts about the plan from the time it was signed. “I thought Iran’s promises would be very difficult to verify, and that the talks really created a pattern in which the nuclear build-up might have been slowed down a little but made more inevitable,” he said. He remarked that he worried an Iranian build-up of nuclear weapons would inevitably lead to responses from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and especially Israel. “Now, the trouble with the existing nuclear talks is that it is very dangerous to go back to an agreement that was inadequate to begin with – to modify it in a direction that makes it apparently more tolerable to the adversary,” he said. Kissinger added: “There is no way you can have peace in the Middle East with nuclear weapons in Iran, because before that happens, there is a high danger of pre-emption by Israel, because Israel cannot wait for deterrents. It can afford only one blow on itself. That is the inherent problem of the crisis.” (INN/VFI News)
RUSSIA ORDERS JEWISH AGENCY TO STOP ALL OPERATIONS IN COUNTRY: The Russian government has ordered the Jewish Agency to cease all operations inside the country, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The order was given in a letter received from the Russian Justice Ministry earlier this week. Officials in the Jewish Agency confirmed that the letter was received. They would not comment, however, on the response that is currently under consideration in the organization’s offices in Jerusalem in consultation with the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office. “As part of the work of the Jewish Agency’s delegation in Russia, we are occasionally required to make certain adjustments, as required by authorities,” the agency said in response to a query from the Post. “The contacts with the authorities take place continuously, with the aim of continuing our activities in accordance with the rules set by the competent bodies. Even nowadays, such dialogue takes place.” On Tuesday, July 5, a senior diplomatic official said: “Russia is saying the Jewish Agency illegally collected info about Russian citizens… We will bring up the Jewish Agency [with Russian authorities] and address it in an organized way. It will be taken care of at the embassy level. We don’t totally understand the reasoning [of the request to stop Jewish Agency’s activities in Russia].” The order comes amid growing tension between Israel and Russia over Jerusalem’s stance on the war in Ukraine and its policy of standing with Kyiv and its embattled leader, Volodymyr Zelensky. On Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry called strikes on Syria, which have been blamed on Israel, unacceptable, and it demanded an unconditional cessation of the attacks. An order forcing the Jewish Agency to stop its work in Russia is dramatic and could directly undermine the ability of Russian Jews to immigrate to Israel. Thousands of them have finished their paperwork and have been waiting for flights to become available to Israel. However, the sanctions on Russia have caused most international airlines to stop flying to the country, and therefore, future immigrants are “stuck” in Russia, according to Israeli officials. (JPost / VFI News)
HAMAS RELEASES FOOTAGE OF ISRAELI CAPTIVE HISHAM AL-SAYED: Israel accused Hamas of preventing a hostage deal after the terrorist organization published its first video of one of the captives, Hisham al-Sayed, who was shown lying in bed and breathing through an oxygen mask.
“It is Hamas that is delaying any chance of a deal,” said former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office on June 28, adding that the Palestinian group which forcibly controls Gaza is “cynical and reprehensible.” Al-Sayed entered Gaza in April 2015 and has been held since then by Hamas, along with Israeli citizen Avera Mengistu who crossed into the Strip in April 2014. During his one year in office, Bennett was not able to secure an agreement for the release of the two men or for the Hamas-held bodies of two soldiers believed killed in the 2014 Gaza war: Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul. Hamas has portrayed al-Sayed and Mengistu as soldiers. However neither of the men is connected to the IDF, and both are believed to suffer from psychological illnesses. Hamas warned that the health situation of one of its captives had deteriorated. In the 39-second video released, al-Sayed can be seen lying down with his head on a floral pillow and a floral sheet pulled up to his chest. His arms are laid straight over the sheet and he moves his head slowly to the side. Al-Sayed’s Israeli ID card was open on the bed so that his identity was clearly spelled out. An Al Jazeera broadcast of the Qatar economic summit could be seen on a flat-screen TV next to the bed.
Al-Sayed’s father, Sheban, said that this was “the first time in seven years” he had seen his son. (JPost/ VFI News)
HOW IS A VENEZUELAN CARGO PLANE LINKED TO IRAN’S ATTEMPTS TO ATTACK ISRAELIS?: The recent detainment of a Venezuelan cargo plane in Argentina could be linked to attempts by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to attack Israelis abroad, according to independent Israeli intelligence analyst Ronen Solomon, who runs the Intelli Times blog.
The cargo plane, which belongs to the Venezuelan state-owned Emtrasur cargo company, was detained on June 8 after landing in Buenos Aires. There were concerns linked to the aircraft’s past as an Iranian aircraft and due to Iranian crew members staffing the flight. Since the plane was detained, the case has expanded, with Argentinean Federal Judge Federico Villena ordering the plane to be seized and inspected for any documents or evidence that could help determine what the crew was doing in Buenos Aires. Iran has a long history of drug, weapons, and oil smuggling in South America – particularly with Venezuela and with criminal organizations in multiple countries on the continent. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL AND US CELEBRATE 4TH OF JULY: The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem hosted a celebration of the US’s 246th Independence.
The official program began at 7:45 pm Israel time and featured speeches by US Ambassador Tom Nides, Israeli President Isaac Herzog, and Israeli Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Nides addressed those in attendance by praising the long, fruitful relationship between the US and Israel. “We’re both nations of immigrants,” he said, adding: “[That offers] a lot of diversity and value. 158 years [after America declared its independence] when President Truman was the first world leader to recognize the State of Israel, he did so knowing that the history of the Jewish people and that of the United States were bound together,” said Nides. President Herzog called the US an “inspiration to the world since its founding more than two centuries ago.” Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the connection between the US and Israel is based on both being “persecuted people who fled their homeland.” Bennett invoked the Jewish People’s deliverance from Egypt as the inspiration for the American founding fathers and their steadfast belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (INN / VFI News)
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Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff