Israel

Trump Plans Waiver on Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

President Donald Trump “will sign a waiver delaying the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv while declaring the contested city the capital of Israel,” Bloomberg reports.

“Reports that Trump would unilaterally declare Jerusalem to be the capital and begin moving the embassy there fueled warnings from Middle East and European leaders saying it would undermine peace efforts and potentially generate protests across the region.”

How Israeli Spies Detected Russian Hackers

“It was a case of spies watching spies watching spies: Israeli intelligence officers looked on in real time as Russian government hackers searched computers around the world for the code names of American intelligence programs,” the New York Times reports.

“What gave the Russian hacking, detected more than two years ago, such global reach was its improvised search tool — antivirus software made by a Russian company, Kaspersky Lab, that is used by 400 million people worldwide, including by officials at some two dozen American government agencies.”

“The Israeli officials who had hacked into Kaspersky’s own network alerted the United States to the broad Russian intrusion, which has not been previously reported, leading to a decision just last month to order Kaspersky software removed from government computers.”

Trump Sees ‘Good Chance’ for Middle East Peace

President Trump told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he wants to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and that he still believes doing so is possible, Haaretz reports.

Said Trump: “We are going to discuss peace between Israel and the Palestinians; it will be a fantastic achievement. We are giving it absolute go – there is a good chance it could happen. Most people would say there is no chance whatsoever, but I think that with the ability of Bibi and the other side – I really think we have a chance.”

He added: “Historically people say it can’t happen but I say it can happen.”

Netanyahu’s Wife Will Soon Be Indicted

“Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is likely to be indicted on fraud-related charges in a case that peers into spending on catered meals and lifestyle in the official residence,” the Washington Post reports.

“The probe — called the ‘meals ordering affair’ — alleges that the prime minister’s wife and the head of the operational resources unit in the official residence falsified documents so that food from outside companies and private chefs could be used, even though there was a full-time chef.”

Netanyahu Says He Won’t Be Toppled

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has rejected criminal suspicions leveled against him in recent days, amid speculation that his tenure will end soon,” the Jerusalem Post reports.

“Netanyahu lashed out – in private conversations with Knesset members – at the press, the opposition and members of his own party, whom he accused of conspiring to unseat him.”

Said Netanyahu: “They are trying to get me and attempting to topple the Right. This is not new. They have been trying for many years. I don’t see us going to elections now.”

He added: “I have nothing to fear. I don’t think I have a problem.”

U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Outlaw Support of Israeli Boycott

The Intercept: “A group of 43 Senators – 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats – want to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio.”

“Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: anyone guilty of violating its prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000, and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.”

Kushner Peace Talks Did Not Go Well

President Trump is reportedly weighing whether to pull out of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations following a “tense” meeting between Jared Kushner and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Jerusalem Post reports.

“Abbas was supposedly furious with the president’s son-in-law after Kushner relayed Israeli demands to the 81-year-old Palestinian leader which included the immediate halt of payments to terrorists and their families.”

Trump Opts Not to Move Embassy to Jersusalem

“President Trump signed an order keeping the American Embassy in Tel Aviv rather than move it to Jerusalem as he promised during last year’s campaign… disappointing many Israel supporters in hopes of preserving his chances of negotiating a peace settlement,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump made no mention of his pending decision during a visit to Jerusalem just last week and waited to announce it until almost the last minute he could under law, underscoring the deep political sensitivity of the matter.”

Axios: “As a source who has been in the process for multiple presidents told Axios, this is Trump defaulting to the status quo. Bureaucrats brief a new president, show them the doomsday forecast of riots, broken peace deals, new security requirements and other issues, and presidents back off. etc.”

Did Trump Just Confirm Intelligence Was From Israel?

President Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a photo opportunity and rebutted last week’s reports that he disclosed sensitive Israeli intelligence on ISIS to Russian officials in the Oval Office, Bloomberg reports.

Said Trump: “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel, never mentioned during that conversation. They’re all saying I did. So you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.”

Axios: “Okay, but… the initial reporting from May 15 on Trump’s conversation with the Russians never claimed that he mentioned Israel at all, only that he disclosed information given to the United States by a key ally — which was reported to be Israel the next day — that was not intended to be shared.”

Trump Rules Out Moving Embassy to Jerusalem for Now

President Trump “has decided not to immediately move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a senior White House official said, violating a campaign promise but avoiding a provocation that could drive Palestinians away from peace talks,” Bloomberg reports.

“The official said the administration considers its discussions with both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to be promising, with the Palestinians in particular agreeing to talk without preconditions. The official asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

Quote of the Day

“I don’t know what the policy of the administration is, but I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that that is how we’ve always seen it and that’s how we should pursue it.”

— Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, quoted by the Times of Israel, going rogue in a diplomatic spat between the U.S. and Israel over whether the Western Wall is part of Israel or the West Bank.

Trump’s Disclosure Puts Israeli Spy’s Life at Risk

“The life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk tonight, according to current and former U.S. officials, after President Trump reportedly disclosed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week,” ABC News reports.

“The spy provided intelligence involving an active ISIS plot to bring down a passenger jet en route to the United States, with a bomb hidden in a laptop that U.S. officials believe can get through airport screening machines undetected. The information was reliable enough that the U.S. is considering a ban on laptops on all flights from Europe to the United States.”