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With Israelis headed to a second round of elections next Tuesday, the final polls came out this Friday and they continue to show a virtual dead-heat between incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud and his main rival Benny Gantz of the Blue & White list, with each polling at around 30-32 Knesset seats. A couple outlier surveys did show Likud with a last-minute surge to as many as 36 seats, but the Right bloc is still falling one or two seats short of the 61 majority needed to form a government. This has been a somewhat lackluster race by Israeli standards, marked by a very quiet summer hiatus from the campaign trail, as well as much voter fatigue and frustration over having to go through this whole exercise a second time in 2019. Indeed, voter turnout is projected to be low on Tuesday. However, we can expect a very intense drama to start playing out once the ballots are counted and the crucial horse-trading begins in talks over who will form the next government, with what coalition partners and on what terms.

If anyone benefitted from this second round of elections, it was the man who forced them, Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu. True to his calculations, he has risen from five to likely 9-10 Knesset seats, cementing his place as the ‘kingmaker’ at the center of Israeli politics. He forced the nation into a second go-round by challenging Netanyahu not to cave to the demands of the ultras-Orthodox parties in a Right-wing government – the same old alignment that has basically kept Bibi in power (with Liberman at his side) for the past decade.

Liberman has recently suggested he would recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Benny Gantz should serve as the next prime minister, which would radically reshuffle the deck, although even the end-result of such a move is still filled with uncertainty. Gantz has ruled out sitting in a government with the Joint List of Arab MKs as well as with a Netanyahu-led Likud, which means he will need Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, plus Labor/Gesher and Democratic Union to his left, and then one or more parties to the right of Likud – parties that could be highly reticent to join him.

One foreseeable scenario has a humbled Netanyahu quickly stepping down as head of Likud to make way for a successor, who would then take the party into a centrist, national unity government with Gantz and Liberman. That normally would call for a rotation deal between Gantz and the new Likud leader to take turns as prime minister, but such an outcome is complicated by the rotation agreement Gantz already has with his current campaign partner Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid.

It also cannot be ruled out that Netanyahu could still pull out a last-second victory, like so many times before. But he conceded this week that Likud’s own internal polls indicate the Right will not get enough seats for him to continue as premier. And unlike the April ballot – when Netanyahu got an election-eve boost from US recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan and Russia helped return the body of a long-missing IDF soldier – the waning days of this campaign have been marked by an uncharacteristic show of “weakness”, his critics insist. First, he was chased from the stage of a Likud rally in Ashdod by a Hamas rocket barrage on Tuesday evening, and then Vladimir Putin made him sit and wait for three hours before their meeting in Sochi on Thursday.

According to what is perhaps the most objective and comprehensive poll in recent weeks, the non-partisan Israel Democracy Institute found that most Israelis feel Netanyahu has improved Israel’s international standing and strengthened its national defense, but has failed to reduce economic and social gaps and remains tarred by corruption suspicions. They also prefer a unity government over one dominated by the Right or the Center/Left. Finally, the double election of 2019 has undermined the public’s confidence in the political process to deal with the nation’s problems and provide a better future for their children.

Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, this rather blase election season will nevertheless be historic, as it either will mark yet another surprise election victory by Israel’s longest serving prime minister, or the likely end of Netanyahu’s long and storied political career. Nearing 70, it would be hard to envision a defeated Bibi staying on as Opposition leader, or even his Likud party keeping him at the helm.

For more on the recent Israel Democracy Institute survey on the second round of Israeli elections, click HERE

Iran Blames ‘US-Israel Plot’ for IAEA Probe

Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharibabadi, said in a statement to an IAEA Board of Governors meeting this week that "Since two days before this session of the Board, we are witnessing a U.S.-Israeli plot with the support of their affiliated media." So far this is the only response Iranian officials have given to questions raised by the IAEA regarding traces of uranium its inspectors found at a site in Teheran which Israeli officials have said was used for the clandestine development of nuclear weapons but which Iranian officials insist was a carpet cleaning factory.

Meanwhile, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, told his guests at a diplomatic event he hosted at Israel’s embassy in Washington on Tuesday that “What is important now is to stay the course, stand up to Iran’s aggression and continue ratcheting up the pressure until Iran abandons its nuclear ambitions once and for all. Israel looks forward to working with the Trump administration to do just that in the year ahead.”

On Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rohouni told a meeting of his cabinet in a statement meant for US officials and partially in response to the firing by US President Donald Trump of his National Security Advisor John Bolton that Washington "must understand that bellicosity and warmongering don't work in their favor. Both...must be abandoned."

Here is a video giving some analysis of the standoff with Iran

Netanyahu Says Likud Likely to Lose Upcoming Election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview with KAN Radio Thursday morning in which he said his Likud Party’s internal polling indicated that he is headed for defeat in next weeks Knesset elections due to a low level of motivation to vote among his supporters. In the interview he also lamented statements and actions taken by some of his senior advisors which he felt had not been helpful in the political campaign as well as blaming Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit for preventing him from annexing the Jordan Valley, which he said he’d rather do before the election.

Netanyahu also spoke on Thursday with Russian news site RBC ahead of his planned trip to Moscow. Referring to his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin he declared that "through talks with him we were able to avert a near-unavoidable crash between the the Russian Air Force and our own forces during an operation in Syria." He added that "I don't think Russia and Iran are getting closer, quite the opposite in fact, I see many situations in which [Russians] and Iranians have different interests."

IDF Strikes Gaza in Response to Rocket Barrage
Following another barrage of rockets into southern Israel from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip Wednesday evening, IDF tanks and aircraft fired on several Hamas positions inside the Strip overnight Wednesday. Reports emerged that gunmen inside the Strip fired at IDF aircraft in an attempt to bring them down, while some additional rockets fired at southern Israel during the engagement fell inside Gaza.

Israel’s National Baseball Team Advances
Israel’s national baseball team ended the first round of the European Baseball Championships with a 4-1 record, advancing to the quarterfinals in a strong position. The team will be in action Friday morning against France as the surviving teams vie for a chance at the championship and qualifications for next summer’s Olympic Games. “We looked very strong throughout the week,” said Israel Association of Baseball President Peter Kurz. “We are ready for the next phase and look forward to representing Israel in general and Israel Baseball in particular with pride.”

Israel Blesses the World
Researchers at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa announced this week that they have developed a deep learning-based method for mapping critical receptors on cancer cells, a process which offers hope to millions of people around the world suffering from various forms of the disease. "A human pathologist cannot infer the tumor features from its shape because of the sheer number of variables," members of the research team said in a statement. "The good news is that artificial intelligence technologies, and especially deep learning, are capable of doing so."

Today's media is a podcast about the resurgance of the Islamic State (IS) terror militia

Netanyahu Pledges to Annex West Bank Settlements

IDF forces in the south were on high alert Wednesday morning following an overnight barrage of rockets from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip which disrupted a political campaign event by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and prompted 15 retaliatory strikes by IDF aircraft. Netanyahu was just beginning a speech at a campaign event in Ashdod when the siren began, alerting residents to an incoming rocket. He was rushed from the stage by security personnel, leaving journalists to wonder if his speech would have built on an announcement earlier in the day about a pledge he made to annex West Bank settlements if re-elected later this month.

The event in Ashdod came hours after a speech Netanyahu gave at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Maccabiah Hotel, where he told supporters that the “Deal of Century” would likely be rolled out by the Trump Administration in the US shortly after the elections on 17 September and that he was prepared to annex all Israeli settlement communities in the West Bank shortly thereafter.

“I will not do anything without getting a clear mandate from the public, and so the citizens of Israel, I ask you for a clear mandate to do this,” Netanyahu said. “There is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something with broad consensus and bring safe permanent borders to the State of Israel. This will ensure that Judea and Samaria do not become Gaza, and that Kfar Saba, Netanya and Tel Aviv will not become like communities along the border of Gaza. Over the past few months I led a diplomatic effort, and over the past few days the diplomatic conditions have become ready.”

Reactions to the speech were swift, including from the Trump Administration which was briefed on the speech before Netanyahu made it, according to Israeli officials.

“There is no change in the United States policy at this time,” the White House said in a statement responding to the speech. “We will release our vision for peace after the Israeli election, and work to determine the best path forward to bring long-sought security, opportunity and stability to the region.”

“Netanyahu is the chief destroyer of the peace process, and any foolish move he makes will leave negative consequences on him locally and internationally,” said PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. “Palestine is not part of Netanyahu’s election campaign, and if he believes that annexing settlement blocs will bring him more votes in the short term, then he and Israel will be the losers in the long term.” Other Palestinians Authority officials issued similar statements while the Hamas terror militia which rules the Gaza Strip, along with other terror groups, angrily condemned the speech.

The Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of Jewish settlement municipal councils in the West Bank, issued a statement warmly praising and welcoming the speech and it’s” historic position, which places the settlements as integral parts of the State of Israel.” However, some of Netanyahu’s political rivals on the Right pointed out that a promise made during a political campaign would not always be kept after an election.

Elsewhere, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General’s office, issued a statement regarding the speech, saying that “The Secretary General position has always been clear and consistent: unilateral actions are not helpful in the peace process. Our position today is unchanged and is reflected in relevant UN resolutions. Any Israeli decision to impose its law jurisdiction and legislation in the occupied West Bank is without any international legal effect.” Dujarric added that the prospect of the annexation “would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations, regional peace and the very essence of a two-state solution.”

Criticism also came from the Arab League, which issued a formulaic statement following a meeting in Cairo that it "considers (the speech) a dangerous development and a new Israeli aggression by declaring the intention to violate the international law…the league regards these statements as undermining the chances of any progress in the peace process and will torpedo all its foundations."

Pompeo Calls Out Iran Over Nuclear Violations
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tweeted on Tuesday that Iran’s refusal to answer questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about traces of uranium it found at a site the clerical regime in Teheran said was in no way related to its renegade nuclear program "raises questions about possible undeclared nuclear material or activities." Adding that this fit a longstanding pattern of deceit from the regime he further Tweeted that "The world won't fall for it. We will deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon."

However, Pompeo added in remarks to the press shortly thereafter that President Donald Trump is open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, keeping line with the softer tone towards Iran from the Administration in recent days.

In related news, the NGO “Human Rights Watch” issued a statement on Tuesday harshly critical of Iran. "Again and again, Iranian revolutionary court judges have been ensuring that anyone who dares challenge the authorities will pay a draconian price," Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said. "When activists who raise issues that concern many Iranians are crushed with such harsh sentences, the judiciary's promise of combating wrongdoing becomes a mockery of justice."

Here is a video giving some analysis of the standoff with Iran

Hebrew University to Establish a New Branch in China
In yet another defeat for efforts to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, officials of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem signed a memorandum of understanding with officials from the city of Guangzhou, China to establish a new brain science innovation center there. "The Hebrew University and the government of Guangzhou understand the importance of investing in science and technology for the benefit of neuroscience," said Prof. Hagai Bergman of Hebrew University. "The purpose of the collaboration is to create high-level clinical research centers in the field of neuromodulation, together with industry leaders such as Alpha Omega and and local hospitals in Guangzhou and Jerusalem, in order to improve neuromodulation therapy for a range of neurological and psychiatric disorders."

Israel Blesses the World
Dr. Yonatan Stelzer , a member of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Molecular Cell Biology Department recently published an article in the medical journal Molecular Cell, explaining his research into the behavior of the building blocks of the cells which form the human body, starting at inception. The research holds great promise for treating a variety of congenital health conditions including cancer.

Today’s video shows an opportunity to study in English at Tel Aviv University

Netanyahu Unveils More Intel on Iranian Nuclear Threat

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed intelligence during a press conference Monday evening indicating that Iran’s renegade nuclear program included a “nuclear weapons development site” at Abadeh, south of the major Iranian city of Isfahan. Addressing his words “to the tyrants of Tehran” he declared that “Israel knows what you are doing, Israel knows when you are doing it, Israel knows where you are doing it. We will continue to expose your lies. What you see is a consistent pattern of Iranian lies, deception and violations.”

Turning to the international community he urged world leaders to “wake up” and “realize that Iran is systematically lying…join President Trump's sanctions to exert more pressure on Iran. The only way to stop Iran's march to the bomb and its aggression in the region is pressure, pressure and more pressure.”

The press briefing came just hours after International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) acting Director-General Cornel Feruta, who recently visited Teheran, gave a report to the IAEA Board in Vienna. During his report, he said, among other things, that he had made clear to Iranian officials "the importance of full and timely cooperation by Iran" and the need for Iran to "respond promptly to Agency questions related to the completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations."

He was referring to a refusal by Iranian officials to answer questions about traces of Uranium IAEA inspectors discovered at a site the clerical regime in Teheran said was not a nuclear facility but rather and carpet cleaning factory.

Here are some videos about the threat posed by Iran

Iran Blames Europe for Fraying JCPOA Deal

Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, hosted Cornel Feruta, the acting head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on a one-day visit to Tehran Sunday, taking the opportunity to tell journalists that the failure of European powers to find ways for Iran to circumvents sanctions imposed by the US had left his country with no choice but to increase the severity of its violations of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal. Also on Sunday, details were leaked of a recent IAEA inspection at  Turquz Abad, a site Israel had previously said was being used as clandestine part of Iran’s renegade nuclear program. The leaked reports said that the IAEA had in fact found evidence that undeclared nuclear work had been conducted by the Islamic Republic at the site in violation of past commitments Iran has made. Iran has refused to answer questions by the IAEA about the origins of the radioactive particles found at the site, but a statement by the Agency on Sunday following a meeting between Feruta and Iranian officials merely said that he "stressed that these interactions (on its nuclear commitments) require full and timely cooperation by Iran." A recent IAEA report on Iran noted that its cooperation with the Agency had been unsatisfactory for some time.

"IAEA Acting Director General going to Iran just as IAEA informs its Board that #Iran may be concealing nuclear material and/or activities," US National Security Adviser John Bolton Tweeted on Saturday. "We join with other @iaeaorg Board member states eager to get a full report as soon as possible."

Here is a video about the situation regarding Iran

In related news, the Iranian oil tanker released from Gibraltar last month because of a promise from authorities in Teheran not to violate UN sanctions on the Assad regime in Syria has in fact unloaded its cargo in Syria, according to intelligence reports leaked to the media. "The Adrian Darya oil tanker finally docked on the Mediterranean coast...and unloaded its cargo," said a laconic statement by Iran’s state news agency, which quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Musavi as saying on Sunday.

Rockets Fired at Israel from Syria

The IDF announced Monday morning that it had tracked rockets fired towards Israel from the outskirts of Damascus by a Shi’ite militia backed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The rockets all landed inside Syrian territory, but the IDF cautioned that they would continue to monitor the situation for further developments. The attempted attack on Israel came hours after reported airstrikes on a base near the Syrian city of Al-Bukamal used by a IRGC-supported Shi’ite groups which resulted in extensive damage and at least 18 casualties.

In related news, the IDF issued a statement Monday morning that one of its surveillance drones had crashed in Lebanon, denying claims by the Iranian-backed Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah that it had been shot down. The incident occurred against the backdrop of a large-scale field exercise initiated by the IDF in the northern region on Sunday evening. The drills, dubbed “Keystone” are an annual event and an IDF statement said “As part of the exercise, different scenarios will be practiced focusing on collaborations, multi-system planning and emergency operations.”

Here is a video giving some analysis of recent tensions between Israel and Iran

IDF on Alert Following Violent Weekend in the South
Following unusually violent demonstrations on the Gaza-Israel border Friday which saw two rioters killed and dozens wounded, an attempt to attack an IDF vehicle parked in Israeli territory with an improvised explosive device dropped on it from a small, commercially available drone led to IDF air strikes on terror infrastructure in the Strip Saturday evening. Five rockets were also fired at Israeli territory from inside the Strip over the weekend, with the IDF retaliating for them by hitting Hamas positions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Saturday night, saying that “Hamas is responsible for all aggression emanating from the Gaza Strip. Any attempt to harm our citizens and our soldiers will be met with a forceful response.”

“The demonstrations (on Friday evening) were of an especially violent nature, which included a large amount of IEDs, grenades and Molotov cocktails being thrown towards IDF forces along the fence,” read a statement by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit. “There is noticeable damage to the border fence in several locations, and there has been a rising number of attempts to approach the border fence.”

Israel Signs Natural Gas Delivery Deal
In the latest defeat for the movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel, Israeli fuel transit company Europe Asia Pipeline Co. (EAPC) and East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG) signed a deal over the weekend which will enable Israeli Natural Gas shipments to Egypt’s liquification terminal at El-Arish. The agreement paves the way for Israel to increase lucrative energy exports as well as adding a strong economic incentive to bi-lateral relations with Cairo.

Anti-Semitic Violence Increasing in Europe and America
Israeli leaders expressed alarm over the weekend following a series of incidents involving anti-Semitic violence in Europe and the US. In Warsaw, Poland, a group of Israeli students participating in a semester abroad program were violently assaulted by a group of men the victims said identified themselves as being from the Arab country of Qatar, before shouting abuse at the Israeli students and finally attacking them, with two victims requiring hospitalization. On Sunday, a group of BDS activists physically attacked visitors at the Israeli Seret International film festival on Sunday in Berlin. The attacks in Europe also came on a weekend when reports came in of incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti at public venues in several US cities.

Today's video shows the recent visit to London by Israeli PM Netanyahu

Friday Feature-Yair Netanyahu Challenges German Government on Funding Anti-Israel NGOs

On 11 May 2019, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in comments referencing the 70th anniversary of Israel’s admission to the United Nations, told the UN Security Council: “We would like to reiterate once again today that Germany stands, also in the UN, shoulder to shoulder with Israel, whose security and right to exist must never be called into question by anyone anywhere.” Yair Netanyahu, son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, promptly responded on Twitter: “It will be nice if you stop interfering in our internal business and stop funding hundreds of radical left wing NGOs in Israel that seek its destruction. Use the hundreds of millions of € you use for this to fund hospitals, schools and churches in Germany!”

German officials were upset by the criticism of their foreign minister. But Bild, the largest circulation newspaper in Germany and all of Europe, then reported that Yair Netanyahu was correct and presented an expose on some of the organizations that Germany is officially or indirectly funding which are seeking to undermine and delegitimize the State of Israel.

Since then, mainstream German media have continued to follow up with investigative reports on the German government’s extensive funding of leftist groups advocating against Israel. This includes groups which seek to undermine the morale of the Israeli army and call for the prosecution of IDF soldiers abroad, which challenge the status of Israel as a Jewish state, and which are sponsoring social and political protests in Israel, among other dubious activities.

In light of these reports, which have raised growing public concerns in Germany, the German branch of the ICEJ invited Yair Netanyahu to address these issues at its annual national conference in Stuttgart on 17 August 2019.

In his well-received speech to a gathering of over 1,000 German Christians, along with Jewish community leaders and Israeli officials, Yair Netanyahu provided more background on the German government’s funding of radical leftist NGOs in Israel and the Palestinian territories. He asserted that Germany does not provide similar funding to NGOs in any other democratic country except for Israel. He also noted persistent reports of German support of Iran over recent years. In other remarks, Yair Netanyahu gave a review of modern Israel’s rebirth, and spoke of Israel’s favorable treatment of its Christian community in contrast to the plight of Middle East Christians in neighboring Arab countries.

Here is the video of the portion of Yair Netanyahu’s speech dealing with the German government’s funding of radical, leftist NGOs undermining Israel and its status as a Jewish/democratic state. 

Iran to Top Netanyahu’s Agenda in London

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed reporters as he prepared to board a flight to London Thursday morning, saying among other things that “This morning we were informed of another violation, more defiance, by Iran, this time in its striving to attain nuclear weapons. This joins Iran’s aggressive acts against international shipping and against countries in the region, as well as its efforts to carry out murderous attacks against the State of Israel, efforts that have not ceased. This is not the time to hold talks with Iran; this is the time to increase the pressure on Iran. I will discuss all of these issue, and others, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during my snap visit to London.”

Netanyahu was referring to an announcement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that they will soon take actions which they unapologetically declare will be serious violations of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal owing to the failure of a French initiative which would have allowed Iran to bypass some of the economic sanctions imposed on it by the US. The Iranian officials furthermore set a deadline of November for their next violation if their demands are not met.

"From Friday, we will witness research and development on different kinds of centrifuges and new centrifuges and also whatever is needed for enriching uranium in an accelerated way," Rouhani said. "All limitations on our Research and Development will be lifted on Friday... Europe will have another two months to fulfill its commitments."

However, on Wednesday the US Treasury Department moved to sanction an international shipping network which it accused of facilitating the smuggling of Iranian oil.

“Iran continues to take provocative actions to destabilize the region and the world. [The] Treasury’s action against this sprawling petroleum network makes it explicitly clear that those purchasing Iranian oil are directly supporting Iran’s militant and terrorist arm, the IRGC-Quds Force,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Our actions over the last two weeks should serve as a strong warning to anyone considering facilitating the Quds Force’s oil sales that there will be swift consequences.”

"We did sanctions today,” Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, told reporters in response to French efforts to find ways for Iran to work around the sanctions. “There will be more sanctions coming. We can't make it any clearer that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers.” Speaking about the threat for Israel, Hook said that “the IRGC and Quds Force that we sanctioned today is leveraging its foothold in Syria to threaten Israel and its neighbors. And so, Israel has an inherent right of self-defense to take action to prevent imminent attacks against their assets in the region and also to protect their own people. ”

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he remains open to the possibility of meeting with Rouhani but has no intention of easing sanctions without a sharp change in Iranian behavior.

Archeology Gives New Clues to Biblical Narratives
Archeologists working under the leadership of Dr. Aren Aieir of Bar-Ilan University have uncovered  new layer of ancient Gath, the Philistine city famous for being the hometown of Goliath. The new level reveals that the ancient city was much larger and more sophisticated at an earlier stage of history than previously thought. Another team of archeologists working at the site of the Byzantine-Era “Burnt Church” in Hippos, near the shores of the Sea of Galilee, recently uncovered a previously unknown floor mosaic with colorful scenes evocative of the New Testament.

Here is a video about Archeology in Israel

Lebanese Leader Says Hezbollah Not Just His Problem
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told CNBC in an interview broadcast this week that “Hezbollah is not a Lebanese problem — only — it is a regional problem. Israel wants to have ... this scenario that Lebanon is responsible, with what Netanyahu says, and if you want to buy it, buy it. But he knows and the international community knows that this is not true." However, he admitted that "I am a pragmatic person, and I know my limits, and I know the limits of this region. If people were serious about this issue, they would have done things 10, 15, 20, 30 years" ago.
Netanyahu Campaigns in Hebron
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Hebron on Wednesday, partially in an attempt to shore up his support among Right-leaning voters in upcoming elections. “Hebron will not be devoid of Jews. It will not be ‘judenrein,’” Netanyahu said, falling short of expectations some residents had had that he would announce plans to annex the Jewish neighborhoods of the city. “We hold the Israeli government responsible for the dangerous escalation which aims at dragging the area into a religious war that no one can bear its consequences,” spokesman for the Palestinian Authority Presidency Nabil Abu Rudeineh told the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Today's video is about the upcoming Desert Marathon in Eilat

Iran and Hezbollah Digging in On Israel's North

Reports emerged on Tuesday that Iran has begun construction of a large-scale military base near the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Al-Bukamal. The “Imam Ali” base is being built by and for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Analysts who reviewed satellite photos of the site estimated that it would become operational by early in 2020. The reports came the same day as the IDF released intelligence on a base to build precision missiles for the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekkaa Valley. “This facility is of superior importance to the Hezbollah precision-missile project, which is why Hezbollah, in fear of strikes, evacuated precious and unique equipment from the compound to civilian locations in Beirut,” the IDF said.

In related news, Iranian President Hassan Rohani addressed an open session of parliament on Tuesday, saying among other things that there will be no bilateral talks with the US, but adding that if sanctions on the clerical regime in Teheran were lifted it would be possible to hold multi-lateral talks with world powers. He spoke as Iranian diplomats were in Paris holding talks with their French counter-parts aimed at finding ways for Western European nations to facilitate Iranian demands for relief from US pressure.

However, in Washington, the US Treasury Department announced new sanctions on Iran's civilian space agency and two of its research institutes on the grounds that the Iranian space program is being used by the clerical regime as a cover to develop the ability to deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles that could threaten European cities and even the US homeland.

"These designations should serve as a warning to the international scientific community that collaborating with Iran’s space program could contribute to Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Here is a video giving some analysis of the threats on Israel's northern and southern borders from two Israeli experts

Here is a video about Iran's support for Hezbollah

International Corporations Investing in Israel
The movement to Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) Israel suffered another defeat this week when Continental, Toyota AI Ventures, BMW i Ventures and OurCrowd announced large investments in Cortica, an artificial intelligence start-up based in Tel Aviv. The investments are meant to help Cortica develop the technology that will enable the manufacturing of driverless vehicles, which transportation companies around the world are striving to begin providing to consumers by the middle of the 2020s.

“Our goal is to introduce a novel, yet proven, AI approach to the automotive industry, which will pave the way for a safer and more autonomous transportation,” said Cartica AI co-founder and CEO Igal Raichelgauz. “Our strategy is to build strong partnerships with leading automotive players in order to bring our solution to the high-volume automotive marketplace by the end of next year. Joining forces with these leading players is another substantial validation of our unique technology and business strategy.”

Israel Moves to Assist Brazil with Forest Fires
Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Security Council and the Ministry of Public Security announced steps this week to render assistance to Brazil amidst the large forest fires there, including the deployment of specialists from Israel’s Fire and Rescue Services. Commander Yair Elkayam, Deputy Commander of the Northern District, is leading the Israeli team which reportedly left for Brazil Tuesday evening.

Incoming Tourism Continues to Climb
Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics published the numbers for August on Tuesday showing that the Jewish State hosted 305,000 visitors last month, a 9% increase from August 2018. The report included an estimate that 3.1 million tourists have visited Israel so far in 2019 and the record of 4.1 million set last year looks to be broken by the end of this year.


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