Syrian-Israeli war of words via Putin edges into Syrian-Hizballah war of attrition.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu ended their three-hour meeting in Sochi Tuesday, May 14, at loggerheads on Syria. In fact, Putin warned his guest that Israel and its army, the IDF, were heading for war with Syria in which Russia might well be involved – and not just through the advanced S-300 anti-air missiles supplied to the Assad government. The case Netanyahu and Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi put before Putin and Russian foreign intelligence chief, SVR Director Mikhail Fradkov, fell on deaf ears. Continue reading

Israel fires into Syria after Golan attack on troops

(Reuters) – Israel said it fired into Syria on Sunday and destroyed a machine gun position in the Golan Heights from where shots had been fired at Israeli soldiers in a further spillover of the Syrian civil war along a tense front.

It was not immediately clear whether Israel held Syrian troops or rebels responsible for what a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said had been a deliberate attack on Israeli patrols in the occupied territory.

Israeli forces “destroyed a Syrian machine gun nest that fired twice in the last 24 hours on Israeli patrols operating to safeguard the border,” the spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, said on his Twitter page.

Shells have fallen several times inside Israeli-controlled territory during Syria’s civil war. Some of the incidents have drawn Israeli return fire. Continue reading

Obama intimates US to strike Iran in a year if diplomacy fails

Iran can produce a nuclear weapon in just over a year and diplomatic efforts have just less than that to halt Iran’s drive to the bomb, US President Barack Obama said Thursday, intimating that should diplomatic efforts fail this year or early next year, America will be forced to carry out military action against Iran.

Contrary to statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the moment of truth concerning Iran’s nuclear program was spring 2013, Obama said that the US estimates that Iran can produce a bomb only in about a year given its current rate of progress.

“There is a window, not an infinite period of time, a window of time where we can resolve this diplomatically,” Obama said. ”Right now we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but we obviously don’t want to cut it too close.” Continue reading

Obama plans to extract timetable for Israeli pullout from West Bank

JERUSALEM — U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

Israeli sources said Obama, scheduled to arrive in Israel on March 20, wants a detailed Israeli withdrawal plan from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the president’s visit. The sources said the Israeli plan would be considered in what could be an imminent U.S. initiative to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014.

“Obama has made it clear to Netanyahu that his visit is not about photo-ops, but the business of Iran and a Palestinian state,” a source said. “The implication is that if Israel won’t give him something he can work with, then he’ll act on his own.Continue reading

‘Obama to tell Netanyahu US gearing up for Iran strike’

Another stalling tactic that jeopardizes Israel’s existence or a solid commitment? Only time will tell.

When he visits Israel next month, US President Barack Obama will tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran will open in June, according to an Israeli TV report Monday evening.

Obama will come bearing the message that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions don’t bear fruit, Israel should “sit tight” and let Washington take the stage, even if that means remaining on the sidelines during a US military operation, Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu will be asked to refrain from any military action and keep a low profile, avoiding even the mention of a strike, the report said, citing unnamed officials.

In London Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said an Iran with nuclear weapons was “simply unacceptable” and warned the time limit for a diplomatic solution was running out. Continue reading

Obama planning direct talks with Iran; US will strike in 4-5 months if they don’t bear fruit, Israeli TV report says

Washington has decided to negotiate directly with Iran, and will resort to military force in four or five months if diplomacy can’t persuade Tehran to relinquish its alleged atomic weapons program, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported on Tuesday night, quoting a senior American official. Continue reading

Muslims Claim Netanyahu Plans to Build ‘False’ Holy Temple

For those that read their Bibles, alarm bells should be ringing.

Al Aqsa officials warn that the “new Likud” is planning to build a “false” Third Holy Temple and divide the Muslim compound.

Muslim paranoia of Jews on the Temple Mount had reached panic stages even before this week’s Likud primaries that placed Jewish Leadership faction leader Moshe Feiglin in a ranking that assures his election to the Knesset in January.

Arab world media constantly report of Jewish “invasions” of the Temple Mount every time Jews try to ascend the holy site. Israeli authorities enforce the Muslim Waqf policy that forbids Jews to pray there or carry prayer books or other holy articles with them. Continue reading

Israel might intervene to prevent Syria’s chemical weapons from falling into wrong hands, PM says

Erdoğan holds surprise meeting with Ahmadinejad to ‘bridge differences’ over Assad crisis

Israel would consider a military option against Syria to ensure that the country’s chemical weapons do not reach the hands of extremists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday. Continue reading

Europe starts stockpiling oil as Iran conflict looms

European governments are rushing to boost stockpiles of crude oil and fuel, anxious to comply with new EU rules and amid reports that Israel is preparing to launch an attack on Iran.

Belgium and the Netherlands have issued tenders to import a total of around 250,000 tonnes of diesel and gasoline for delivery in September and October, their agencies said.

France has also bought diesel and awarded a crude oil tender this week while Belgium is increasing its crude stocks.

“This is yet another unexpected source of support for oil demand… [It] shows how the geopolitical concerns about Iran and Syria are bullish for oil even in the absence of an actual supply disruption,” said Seth Kleinman, head of energy research at Citi.

Iran tensions

European governments appear to be preparing for further supply disruptions in the Middle East as tensions have mounted between Israel and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Israeli media have reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in the Fall.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reacted on Friday, calling Israel a “cancerous tumour” with no place in a future Middle East, drawing an unusually strongly-worded condemnation by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Ashton is acting as chief negotiator for six powers – the United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain – that are trying to persuade Iran to scale back its nuclear programme through economic sanctions and diplomacy. They fear Iran’s nuclear programme aims at producing weapons, though Tehran says it serves peaceful purposes only.

EU oil stock directive

An EU directive passed in 2009 and designed to mitigate the impact of a supply crisis requires EU members to hold reserves equal to 90 days of average daily net imports or 61 days of average daily consumption ahead of a December 31 deadline.

One third of the stocks must be held in products, according to the EU directive.

“We are in the process of building stocks to meet our strategic obligations under the new EU rules,” said Alain Demot, general manager of Belgium’s Apetra, adding that more tenders would be issued in coming months.

NEXT STEPS:
  • 31 Dec. 2012: Deadline for member states to communicate measures taken under the EU’s oil stock directive. Under the directive, oil stocks must correspond “at the very least, to 90 days of average daily net imports or 61 days of average daily inland consumption, whichever of the two quantities is greater.”

Full article: Europe starts stockpiling oil as Iran conflict looms (EurActiv)

Syria stocks world’s biggest chemical weapons; can strike anywhere in Israel: army

Syria has the biggest chemical weapons stocks in the world and missiles and rockets that can reach any point in Israel, the Jewish state’s deputy military chief warned.

Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh said if Syria had the chance, it would “treat us the same way it treats its own people.”

Naveh’s remarks, made at a ceremony in Jerusalem commemorating fallen soldiers on Sunday night, were reported on Monday by Israeli radio stations, according to The Associated Press.

Syrian activists estimate more than 14,000 people have died since the uprising in Syria erupted 15 months ago.

Israel has been watching the carnage in neighboring Syria with increasing concern.

Israel has concerns that such weapons might fall into the hands of the Lebanese armed group of Hezbollah or terror organizations.

Two weeks ago, Israel’s daily Haaretz cited a top Syrian opposition figure, who was a former senior officer in the Syrian Army — on conditions of anonymity — as saying that once the regime of Assad collapses, the Syrian opposition plans to take control of the regime’s chemical weapons depots and secure them.

He told the Israeli daily that the large arsenal of chemical weapons held by the regime “is one of the matters the security committee has discussed.”

“We have divided the aftermath [of Assad’s fall] into four periods with different priorities for each day. The first period is the first day, the first hours after Assad’s control breaks down, and one of the priorities during those hours is taking control of the chemical weapons so they won’t fall into the hands of terrorists,” the former officer – now a top member of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — was quoted by Haaretz as saying.

Comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday suggested that concerns about Iran may be starting to predominate in Israel’s calculations.

“This is a slaughter carried out not only by the Syrian government. It is being helped by Iran and Hezbollah,” he said in broadcast remarks to his cabinet. “The world should understand what kind of environment we live in.”

Netanyahu has steered clear of explicitly calling for military intervention in Syria, telling Bild newspaper last week: “That’s a decision for the leading powers who are now talking about it. The less I say as prime minister of Israel, the better.”

Full article: Syria stocks world’s biggest chemical weapons; can strike anywhere in Israel: army (Al Arabiya News)