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  • Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz (left) meets with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in the White House on May 19, 2022. Credit: Shmulik Almany.

    (May 19, 2022 / JNS) Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz commenced his official visit to the United States on Wednesday, meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in the White House. The two discussed various security threats, foremost Iran, as well as regional opportunities, according to a statement from Gantz’s office.

    Iran was a central discussion topic, with Gantz sharing assessments of Iran’s nuclear program progress, as well as its regional destabilizing activities. 

    During the talks, Gantz “emphasized the need to work closely and prepare for any future scenario. This would be conducted within the framework of Israel’s excellent defense cooperation with the U.S. and growing ties with regional partners,” according to the statement.

  • Fingerprinting. Credit: Pixabay.

    (May 19, 2022 / JNS) The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) intelligence agency announced on Thursday the uncovering of an Iranian plot to lure Israeli academics and businesspeople abroad for kidnapping and attack purposes.

    Using a host of deceptive online tactics, Iranian intelligence elements also targeted former members of the Israeli defense establishment, turning to them as they pretended to be academics, journalists, businesspeople and philanthropists, according to the Shin Bet.

    The Iranians used the authentic identities of foreign individuals who were not aware of what was being done using their identities.

  • Meretz MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi attends a Special Committee on Arab Society Affairs meeting, in the Knesset, in Jerusalem on June 21, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

    MK Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi of the left-wing Meretz party resigned from the coalition on Thursday afternoon, reducing it to a minority in the Knesset and bringing it to the brink of collapse.

    The Likud-led opposition, which last week abandoned plans to advance a bill to dissolve the Knesset and hold new elections, was said to be weighing attempting to advance such legislation next week, depending on whether it believes it can now muster a simple majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

    In a letter addressed to coalition leaders Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Rinawie Zoabi said her move was prompted by a rightward shift by the government.

  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (left) and US President Joe Biden. (composite image: AP, Flash90)

    American officials have strongly protested Israel’s new planned policy on foreigners’ entry into the West Bank, Channel 12 news reported Wednesday.

    The network said sources within the administration had suggested that a failure to reevaluate the wide-reaching restrictions could lead to the postponement or even suspension of the process to add the Jewish state to the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

    According to Channel 12, Biden officials have expressed their disapproval of US citizens being required to go through a rigorous questioning procedure to enter the West Bank, arguing that it severely compromises their freedom of movement and occupation.

  • Illustrative: Israel Air Force F-16 fighter jets and a refueling plane fly in formation over Nevada during the United States Air Force's Red Flag exercise in August 2016. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

    The United States will participate in Israel’s largescale drill simulating a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities as part of the broader Chariots of Fire exercise later this month, Channel 13 reported on Tuesday evening.

    According to the unsourced report, the US Air Force will serve as a complementary force, with refueling planes drilling with Israeli fighter jets as they simulate entering Iranian territory and carrying out repeated strikes.

    The unprecedented Israel- US aerial collaboration in a drill simulating a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is seen as a potential message to Iran amid long-stalled negotiations in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, a possibility Israel has repeatedly voiced its objection to, warning it would lead to “a more violent, more volatile Middle East.”

  • Finland's Ambassador to NATO Klaus Korhonen, left, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Sweden's Ambassador to NATO Axel Wernhoff attend a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for membership in Brussels, Belgium, May 18, 2022. (Johanna Geron/Pool via AP)

    BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that the military alliance stands ready to seize a historic moment and move quickly on allowing Finland and Sweden to join its ranks, after the two countries submitted their membership requests.

    The official applications, handed over by Finland and Sweden’s ambassadors to NATO, set a security clock ticking. Russia, whose war on Ukraine spurred them to join the military organization, has warned that it wouldn’t welcome such a move, and could respond.

    “I warmly welcome the requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg said. “All allies agree on the importance of NATO enlargement. We all agree that we must stand together, and we all agree that this is an historic moment which we must seize.”

  • Defense Minister Benny Gantz arrives to a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on May 1, 2022. (photo: Yonatan Sindel, Flash90)

    Iran’s nuclear program and the war in Ukraine will be the focus of security talks with Washington this week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said late Tuesday as he took off for a several-day trip to the US.

    Gantz is set to meet with Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan during two days in Washington, amid growing fears over advancing nuclear enrichment in Iran and a widening gulf with Russia over Syria and Ukraine.

    “I will discuss bolstering joint security cooperation and dealing with regional challenges, chief among them Iran, which all moderate actors in the region must unite against,” Gantz said according to his spokesperson.

  • Illustrative: an F-16I jet at an airbase. (Israel Defense Forces)

    For the first time, the Israeli Air Force will practice for a widescale strike in Iran later this month, during the military’s major Chariots of Fire exercise, The Times of Israel has learned.

    In light of growing uncertainty regarding a return by Iran to the 2015 nuclear deal, amid long-stalled negotiations with the United States, the Israel Defense Forces in the past year has ramped up its efforts to prepare a credible military threat against Tehran’s nuclear facilities.

    The large-scale air maneuvers, including a simulated attack on Iranian nuclear targets, will take place in Cyprus during the fourth and final week of the monthlong exercise, starting May 29. The Chariots of Fire drill, which involves nearly all units of the IDF, has been focusing on training for fighting on Israel’s northern borders, including against the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

  • Russian S-300 air defense missile systems drive during the Victory Day military parade marking 71 years after the victory in WWII in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on May 9, 2016. (file photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP)

    Russian forces opened fire on Israeli jets with advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles as they allegedly attacked targets in northwestern Syria last week, Channel 13 news reported Monday, in what could signal a significant shift in Moscow’s attitude to Israel.

    According to the unsourced report, the incident occurred on Friday as the Israeli air force bombed several targets near the city of Masyaf in northwestern Syria.

  • Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan holds a news conference during the NATO summit at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool/File Photo

    ISTANBUL, May 16 (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their NATO bid.

    Sweden's government has formally decided to apply for NATO membership, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Monday, a day after Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed that Helsinki will also apply for membership. read more 

    Turkey surprised its NATO allies last week by saying it would not view their applications positively, mainly citing their history of hosting members of groups Ankara deems terrorists.

  • A view of houses in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Sawaneen in Israel's southern Negev Desert, on June 8, 2021. (Hazem Bader/AFP)

    The Ra’am party said Sunday that it had reached a new agreement with the rest of the coalition regarding unrecognized communities in the southern Negev region of the country that would allow for some illegal construction to remain standing without penalty.

    The announcement came after last week Ra’am ended a three-week freeze on its participation in parliament and in the coalition, jeopardizing the stability of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s precarious government. Even with Ra’am’s cooperation, the government holds just 60 seats in the Knesset, equal to the opposition’s number.

  • Russia has threatened to deploy nuclear weapons over prospective Swedish and Finnish bids to join Nato. Picture: Alamy

    The two Nordic countries look set to renounce decades of military neutrality and join the defensive alliance, which has triggered outcry from Moscow.

    The addition of both nations to Nato would represent Putin's worst nightmare - an expansion of the military alliance to his borders - and it would follow a series of battlefield setbacks in Ukraine.

    He has tried to justify his invasion of Ukraine and destabilisation of eastern Europe as a counter to Nato's addition of ex-Soviet states and former Warsaw Pact members, demanding the alliance effectively withdraw to its position before the mid-1990s.

    After Putin said Finland was making a mistake joining the alliance, Russian TV said: "Their official reason is fear. But they'll have more fear in Nato."

  • Benny Gantz Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

    Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) has warned that Jewish Israel may soon be limited to the center of the country only, Israel Hayom reported.

    In a closed meeting with his party last week, Gantz read aloud a WhatsApp containing threats from unnamed Arab sources, warning that they would take over Israel.

    Among other things, the WhatsApp said, "Continue to curse, you have no chance against Allah. Slowly slowly we are eating away at your country. We have land in the Negev that is the size of Gush Dan (central Israel -ed.), which is filled with tin shacks with little Bedouin children. What are you going to do? This is Palestinian land, essentially, and the moment a single tractor comes - we will use the leftist organizations such as 'Peace Now' and 'B'tselem,' which will turn to the real ruler of the country (the Supreme Court) to issue a cease and desist order. We will send children and youths to throw stones and barricade themselves at the scene until you run like mice from the area."

  • Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks during an event held by his Blue and White party in Tel Aviv, on March 21, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

    Tension reportedly ran high during Sunday morning’s weekly cabinet meeting, with Defense Minister Benny Gantz accusing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of not appropriately crediting other ministers for the government’s work.

    According to leaks from the meeting, after Bennett delivered his opening statement and the cameras were turned off, Gantz turned to the prime minister and demanded public recognition for the work done by cabinet ministers, particularly himself.

    “A lot of people deserve credit for the work of this government. In front of the cameras you only talked about ‘me, and me and me,'” Gantz said to the prime minister, in a near-identical quote reported by several Hebrew media outlets.

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attends the Informal Meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Berlin, Germany, May 15, 2022. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP)

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the family of deceased Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh after criticizing Israel’s use of force at her funeral, an official said Sunday.

    Blinken, during his flight Saturday to Berlin for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, offered “deep condolences” in a phone call with family members of Shireen Abu Akleh, a State Department official said.

    The top US diplomat “noted Abu Akleh’s journalistic body of work and the importance of a free and independent press,” the official said.

  • A 'Blood Moon' is seen behind the U.S. flag at Santa Monica Beach in Santa Monica, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

    The moon will plunge into darkness this weekend to create a celestial spectacle that has not been seen in the sky over the entire contiguous United States since the turn of the decade.

    Just as the sun sets over North America on Sunday evening, the sun, Earth and moon will begin to align to create a total lunar eclipse.

    Folks may have to stay awake later than usual for a chance to see Sunday night's eclipse as it unfolds throughout the first half of the night. However, losing some sleep will be worth it as the eclipse could be the top astronomy event of 2022.

  • (Bloomberg) -- The Texas grid operator called on residents to conserve energy Friday after six generation facilities tripped offline amid hot weather, prompting power prices to spike.

    The power-plant failures resulted in a loss of about 2,900 megawatts of electricity, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said in an email statement Friday. That’s enough power for about 580,000 homes and businesses. Natural-gas fired plants make up all of the generation that failed, an Ercot spokesman said.

    The Texas grid is being stressed by high heat in a potential preview of peak summertime demand. This summer will test whether Ercot has made sufficient changes to reinforce a system that experienced cascading power-plant failures and deadly blackouts during a historic freeze in early 2021.

  • 300 housing units being built in Beit El in the West Bank (photo credit: Courtesy)

    Israel must not build the more than 4,000 settler homes, plans for which were advanced this week, fourteen European nations said in a joint statement they issued on Friday.

    "We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Israeli Higher Planning Council to advance plans for the construction of more than 4,000 housing units in the West Bank," the countries said.

    "We urge the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision," they added. 

  • Russia said it would cut off electricity to Finland starting Saturday as it claims the country has not paid, a state-owned power company said.

    RAO Nordic, a subsidiary of Inter ROA, said it will stop exporting electricity to Finland without providing specifics amid larger tensions across Europe beset by the Russia-Ukraine War, Reuters reported.

    "This situation is exceptional and happened for the first time in over twenty years of our trading history," RAO Nordic said in a statement, per the report.

    Electrical services, which account for 10% of the country’s total consumption, were discontinued "for the time being" at 1 a.m. local time, Finnish grid operator Fingrid said, according to the report. 

  • (photo: RoyaNews.TV)

    In a meeting today with King Abdullah of Jordan at the White House, President Biden "affirmed his strong support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and cited the need to preserve the historic status quo at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. The President also recognized the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s crucial role as the custodian of Muslim holy places in Jerusalem."

  • EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell attends a plenary session titled 'Transforming for a New Era,' during the Doha Forum in Qatar's capital, on March 26, 2022. (photo: Karim Jaafar, AFP)

    Stalled negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program have been unblocked after fresh talks in Tehran, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Friday, adding that he believed a final deal was within reach.

    Borrell said a mission by EU envoy Enrique Mora this week to help revive the 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and world powers had gone “better than expected”.

    “The negotiations had stalled and now they have been reopened,” Borrell told reporters on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in Germany.

  • A man drives his car among Russian destroyed combat cars in Vilhivka village near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, May 11. (photo: Ricardo Moraes, Reuters)

    Russia’s withdrawal of troops from a Ukrainian region that they encircled at the beginning of the war is proving their "inability to capture key Ukrainian cities," the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said Thursday. 

    In an intelligence update, the Ministry said "Ukrainian forces are continuing to counterattack to the north of Kharkiv, recapturing several towns and villages towards the Russian border." 

    "Despite Russia’s success in encircling Kharkiv in the initial stages of the conflict, it has reportedly withdrawn units from the region to reorganize and replenish its forces following heavy losses," the Ministry continued.

  • The Kremlin on Thursday said Finland’s push to join NATO is a direct threat to Russia as well as the stability of the European continent and vowed to respond accordingly.

    "Finland’s entry into NATO will become a threat to Russia," Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russian President Vladimir Putin, told Russian media outlets."The next expansion of NATO does not make our continent more stable and secure."

    "Of course, all this will become elements for a special analysis and development of the necessary measures in order to balance the situation and ensure our security," he added.

  • MK Itamar Ben-Gvir reacts during a press statement of Ra'am Party head Mansour Abbas at the Knesset on May 11, 2022. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.

    (May 12, 2022 / Israel Hayom) Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s embattled government lived to fight another day on Wednesday, as the Likud Party withdrew its bill to dissolve the Knesset. The move followed the declaration by the Islamist Ra’am Party, which had temporarily frozen its membership in the coalition over recent tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, that it would give the government another chance.

    Together with Ra’am’s four Knesset seats, the coalition can match the opposition’s 60 seats, and had the bill not passed the Likud would have been unable to bring a similar bill to a vote for six months.

    Ra’am’s announcement followed a tempestuous Knesset session, exacerbated by the death of an Al-Jazeerajournalist during an Israeli raid in Jenin earlier in the day.

  • This picture taken on May 10, 2022, shows construction work in the West Bank settlement of Givat Ze'ev, near Jerusalem. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

    The Defense Ministry body that authorizes West Bank construction greenlit plans on Thursday for 4,427 new settlement homes.

    All 25 plans on the docket were advanced by the Civil Administration’s High Planning Subcommittee. More than half of the homes received final approval for their construction.

    While some of the projects are for settlements located close to the Green Line, other plans that were approved are located in settlements deep in the West Bank. These include a project for 56 homes in Negohot, which was advanced through an early planning stage known as deposit, and a project for 534 homes in Shevut Rachel, which was advanced to the final planning stage

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