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Security Cabinet rejects nuclear deal with Iran

The Cabinet unanimously rejected the agreement and it determined that Israel is not bound by it. PM Netanyahu spoke with US President Barack Obama and expressed Israel's two major concerns regarding this agreement, after having examined it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The Security Cabinet unanimously rejected the nuclear agreement with Iran and determined that Israel is not bound by it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement after the Security Cabinet meeting:

"I come here from a discussion in the Security Cabinet. The Cabinet unanimously rejected the major powers' nuclear agreement with Iran and it determined that Israel is not bound by it. This evening I also spoke with US President Barack Obama. I expressed Israel's two major concerns regarding this agreement, after having examined it.

One, the agreement allows Iran to develop extensive capabilities that will serve it in arming itself with nuclear weapons whether at the end of the period of the agreement in another 10-15 years, or earlier if it violates the agreement. Two, the agreement channels hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran's terrorism and war machine, a war that is directed against us and against others in the region.

The world's leading powers have gambled on our common future in a deal with the main financer and operator of global terrorism. This is an historic mistake! We were right when we said that the desire to sign an agreement is apparently stronger than anything else; therefore, we did not commit to prevent the agreement. We did commit to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons - and this commitment stands.

The claim heard from political elements to the effect that the personal relationship between myself and President Obama affected the nuclear agreement is absurd. Even before I took office as Prime Minister, there was an intention on the part of the American administration to normalize relations with Iran. Afterward, the US began secret negotiations with Iran which then became open. Of course, the desire to make an agreement brought about the result that it did.

On the other hand, over the past two decades, even when I was not Prime Minister and afterwards when I was Prime Minister, I did everything in my ability, everything in Israel's ability, to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons. This activity embraced many fields. First of all, together with other elements, we led the imposition of sanctions - and afterwards the biting sanctions - against Iran. At the UN [in 2012], I drew a red line for the high enrichment of uranium and Iran has yet to cross it. My speech to the US Congress put the problem of Iran on an international and domestic American platform in a way that became a subject for discussion and demanded answers. And of course we are making efforts today as well to explain that this agreement is flawed and that it endangers the peace of the world.

The pressure that we applied and the actions that we undertook over the years led to the fact that Iran did not arm itself with nuclear weapons and I can safely say that were it not for Israel's actions, including by governments that I led, Iran would have already armed itself with nuclear weapons. And therefore, at present there is one mission - to ensure that it does not arm itself with nuclear weapons in the future. And at this time, in the face of such a mission, we cannot indulge in petty politics and false accusations.

This is the time to unite and create a united front on a fateful issue for the future of the State of Israel. In any case, we will continue to defend ourselves by ourselves against all who threaten our destruction."

Israel-Nepal: 55 years of diplomatic relations

Joint Statement by H.E. Mr. Prahlad Prasai, Ambassador of Nepal to Israel, and H.E. Mr. Yaron Mayer, Ambassador of Israel to Nepal on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the diplomatic relations.

Fifty five years ago, two courageous leaders embarked on a historic path: On 1st June 1960, the Ancient Himalayan country of Nepal and the newly born State of Israel established diplomatic relations to explore new avenues for cooperation and friendship. The two leaders were late B.P. Koirala, the first elected Prime Minister of Nepal and late David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, making Nepal the first South Asian nation to have diplomatic ties with Israel at that time.

Since then, both nations have been enjoying friendly and cooperative bilateral relations in many fields of mutual interests, among those are exchange of knowledge and trainings in agriculture, medicine, health, water, sanitation and other areas within the framework of MASHAV (Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation) trainings and other human resource development programs as well as exchange of visits at various levels including high level visits.

The recent devastating earthquake in Nepal has forced the people of Nepal to face many daunting challenges. We believe that these challenges could be converted into strengths, acts of resilience and opportunities. As a friendly nation, Israel has been doing its best together with the Government of Nepal to assist a friend in need. As an indication of the friendship between our two countries, Israel responded to the call for international assistance made by the Government of Nepal by deploying its search and rescue teams as well as medical services through the Israeli Field Hospital which was flown immediately after the disaster. In addition, Israel dispatched a high level engineering team to Nepal to provide their expertise by inspecting hundreds of buildings and structures affected by the earthquake. Similarly, teams of psychologists and medical clowns provided their services to the affected people. Israel’s cooperation with the Government of Nepal in this matter will continue in the future.

The people and Government of Nepal have profusely appreciated the efforts done by the Israeli teams in Nepal while the country was reeling under the devastation of the earthquakes. At the same time, it would be noteworthy that Nepal, on the other hand, has extended its friendly support to Israel in the past by sending peacekeeping forces to contribute to the peace process in the Middle East as well as working with Israel at many international forums such as the United Nations.

On the happy occasion of the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, may we extend our warmest appreciation to the peoples and governments of Nepal and Israel as well as prominent individuals throughout the years for their contributions in nurturing and promoting the prosperous relations between the two friendly countries.

Finally, we wish to express our conviction that the Embassy of Nepal in Israel and the Embassy of Israel in Nepal would proudly continue to work together in their respective fields to further strengthen the existing relations between the nations. We are confident that the everlasting friendship between our peoples and governments would further grow and flourish in the years ahead.

President of Cyprus on State Visit to Israel

​PM Netanyahu: It's not too late to prevent Iran from having an agreement that paves its way to the bomb, that will give it ultimately hundreds of billions of dollars that it will use for its plans of aggression and conquest.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and told him at the start of their meeting:

"I used the word security because it is very concrete. It's not abstract. We have, we are suffering from terrorism in this region. A lot of this terrorism in the region and beyond the region is fomented by Iran that, along with its henchmen in Hezbollah, operate a worldwide terrorism network of over 30 countries in five continents. You and Cyprus have already suffered three terrorist plots, including the recent uncovering of an apartment with an enormous amount of ammonium nitrate, a very dangerous explosive.

So we all have a common stake in battling this terrorism. I mention Iran because President Rouhani said the other day that Iran has had so far a great victory in the negotiations with the P5+1. If Iran wins, the world loses. And indeed, it's not too late. It's not too late to prevent Iran from having an agreement that paves its way to the bomb, that will give it immediately 40 to 50 billion dollars of cash for its terrorist networks and its aggression in the region, and ultimately hundreds of billions of dollars that it will use to, for its plans of aggression and conquest.

I believe that the P5+1 can get a better deal and certainly should have no deal if it's a bad deal, and this is a very bad deal. But given Iran's aggression in the region, given its terrorism in the Middle East, in our area and beyond, I think that the nuclear deal should be tied to, should tie the lifting of restrictions on Iran's nuclear program to a change in Iran's behavior and the lifting of sanctions to a different attitude on the part of Iran. I think this will be good for everyone in the Middle East. It'll be good for the world."

Netanyahu secures new governing coalition at the eleventh hour

WJC, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu's fourth government is expected to be sworn in next week after he managed to cobble together a coalition of five parties which has a narrow 61-seat majority in the 120-member Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Jewish Home leader Bennett shaking hands with PM NetanyahuJewish Home leader Bennett shaking hands with PM NetanyahuNearly two months after his election victory, and barely two hours ahead of the deadline to form a government, Netanyahu informed Israel's President Reuven Rivlin that he had reached the necessary agreements with his coalition partners, among them the nationalist Jewish Home party, two ultra-Orthodox religious parties and the center-right Kulanu party.

A Netanyahu spokesman said Thursday that the prime minister would also assume the post of foreign minister, which he would like to offer to opposition leader Isaac Herzog "if things work out". Unnamed Likud officials told the newspaper 'Israel Hayom' that Netanyahu was seeking to expand the government beyond its current fragile majority, and that he would pursue negotiations with Herzog's Zionist Union on the matter over the coming weeks.

However, Herzog - who is the chairman of the center-left Labor Party and was the main challenger of Netanyahu in the March election, made it clear on Thursday that he would not to be swayed from going to the opposition. "I will not be a fifth wheel in the Netanyahu government," he said.

Herzog slammed the new Netanyahu Cabinet as a “national failure of a government" which "lacks responsibility, stability and governance."

In a statement Wednesday, after the deal between Likud and Jewish Home was announced, he said: “Tonight we are filled with hope that we will march Israel’s security, economy and all other fields forward.” As part of the deal, Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home party will be appointed justice minister and become a member of the Security Cabinet.

Netanyahu sent Rivlin a letter confirming that he had clinched a coalition agreement, and he now has until next Wednesday to swear in his new Cabinet, which needs to pass a confidence vote in the Knesset.

Israel to host mobile technologies conference for tourism

Israel's reputation as the Start-Up Nation led to the choice of the conference theme of innovation and technology in tourism, and will showcase the best interactive apps, tourism augmented reality games to enhance the tourist experience.
Mobile Technologies for Improving the Tourism Experience

The Tourism Ministry will host the conference focusing on mobile technologies for improving the tourism experience in Haifa from 11-14 May 2015.

Israel's reputation as the Start-Up Nation led to the choice of the conference theme that will focus on innovation and technology in tourism. The Tourism Ministry is hosting the conference within the framework of its international activities and its efforts to encourage conferences and international seminars in Israel. The initiative to host the conference in Israel came from a meeting between the Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau and his Director-General Amir Halevi and the UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai during the World Travel Market in London about 18 months ago. Both sides expressed a willingness to strengthen ties and increase cooperation.

The aim of the conference, which will include international guest speakers, is to showcase the best examples of interactive apps, tourism augmented reality games, and other unique ways of enhancing the tourist experience.

Participants will include senior figures in the tourism industry and diplomats from the various countries that are members of the UNWTO Commission for Europe. These include, among others, the Tourism Minister of Portugal, the Economy and Trade Minister of Rumania, the Economy Minister of Macedonia, the Deputy Trade and Tourism Minister of Serbia, the Deputy Economy Minister and head of the Tourism Administration of Lithuania and the Deputy Tourism and Sport Minister of Belarus. The conference includes the annual meeting of members of the UNWTO Commission for Europe that will examine global tourism trends and include discussions on issues of key importance to the industry.

Within the framework of the conference, the Tourism Ministry will host special tours for the participants in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem. The tours will showcase infrastructure projects in which the ministry has invested, including, among others, the renovations in the Old City of Acre in which the ministry invested over NIS 100 million in the Knights' Halls, audio-visual presentations, holograms, hippodrome, Opera Festival and more.

Israel sets up field hospital in Kathmandu

As part of the IDF's humanitarian mission to Nepal, a field hospital was set up near Kathmandu. People affected by the earthquake receive the same treatment offered in the most high-tech medical facility in Israel.

The 260-member IDF disaster team sent to Nepal in the wake of the earthquake there includes 40 medical personnel on a mission to save lives. One of their priorities is to set up a field hospital near Kathmandu. "The team brought the most recent technology possible," explains Lt. Col. Asi Hempel, a doctor in the IDF's Medical Corps. "The field hospital will be equipped with everything: x-rays, operating rooms that will work 24/7, laboratories and more."

The hospital will have the ability to receive and provide care for around 200 patients a day. "Israel's top specialists for traumatic injuries are among the medical team in Nepal," says Lt. Col. Hempel.

The IDF has gained much experience from past humanitarian missions, and as a result has developed unique technology for its field hospital. "We pioneered a state-of-the-art system with the IDF's C4I Branch, that allows us to create an internal digital medical file for every patient."

"The process is very simple," states Lt. Col. Hempel. "Each patient who arrives at the field hospital is greeted by a medical assistant who takes his picture and gives him a unique barcode. This barcode is scanned at every station the patient goes through, allowing the doctor to access any and all medical information and treatments the patient receives. This system allows us to ensure that no station in the hospital is overwhelmed with patients. Quality treatment is a priority."

Israel celebrates 67 years of independence

On May 14, 1948, the day the British Mandate expired, the new Jewish state - the State of Israel - was formally established in parts of what was known as the British Mandate for Palestine. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence was restored after 2,000 years.

Israel Independence Day is celebrated annually on the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, according to the Hebrew calendar, on 5 Iyar (this year celebrated one day later because of the Sabbath). The day preceding this celebration is devoted to the memory of those who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence.
This proximity is intended to remind people of the heavy price paid for independence. On this day the entire nation remembers its debt and expresses eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country's independence and its continued existence.
On May 14, 1948, the day the British Mandate expired, the new Jewish state - the State of Israel - was formally established in parts of what was known as the British Mandate for Palestine. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish independence was restored after 2,000 years.

Independence Day is a celebration of the renewal of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, the birthplace of the Jewish people. In this land, the Jewish people began to develop its distinctive religion and culture some 4,000 years ago, and here it has preserved an unbroken physical presence, for centuries as a sovereign state, at other times under foreign domination. Throughout their long history, the yearning to return to the land has been the focus of Jewish life. Theodor Herzl​, the leader and founder of the Zionist movement, increased international recognition for the need of a Jewish state.

Since its establishment, Israel continues to be a homeland to the thousands who make their way to Israel annually. It is home to some of the holiest religious sites of the three major religions, all which enjoy the democratic rights delineated in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel​.

President Rivlin visits Christian leaders in Jerusalem

President Rivlin: "An attack on your holy sites is like an attack on our holy sites, and such crimes must never be allowed to happen."

President Reuven Rivlin visited the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem in the Old City, for a meeting with the heads of Christian Churches in Israel. The President was received warmly by Greek Patriarch Theophilos III, who presented the President to the assembled Church leaders. This is the first visit of an Israeli president to the site since the visit of President Navon over 30 years ago.
Greek Patriarch Theophilos III began by welcoming the President, he said, "We are grateful for your visit during this season when the Christian community is celebrating the festival of Pascha (Easter). The close relationship between Passover (Pesach) and Easter (Pascha) is an important reminder to us all, of the deep bonds that unite the children of Abraham. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have lived here side by side for centuries, always seeking mutual understanding, for the mutual well-being in our region. In the particularly turbulent current situation of the Middle East, we know there is no better alternative than to live together in genuine harmony. We wish to acknowledge and commend you Mr. President for the strong stance you have taken against religious bigotry of any kind, and for the actions you have taken against crimes targeting religious shrines, monuments and holy places."
Following his address, the Patriarch presented the President with a beautiful Menorah (Candelabra), and a copy of "Duties of the Heart", by 11th Century Jewish philosopher, Bahya Ibn Pakuda.
The President thanked the Patriarch, and noted that as the Jewish community had just finished celebrating the festival of Passover, "When the People of Israel were slaves in Egypt, the first thing Moses asked for was not to ease the hard work, but for the freedom of worship. The trigger to the Exodus from Egypt was the demand of the Hebrews to 'Let us worship our God'."
The President stressed, "Religious freedom is a value dear to the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic state. And I am proud of our obligation, and I reaffirm that obligation to freedom of worship for all denominations and communities. We cannot allow hate crimes against people or buildings of faith. An attack on your holy sites, is like an attack on our holy sites, and Israel's law enforcement must deal with such crimes accordingly. We live in a complex political and religious reality, especially here in Jerusalem - the microcosm of the Middle East. It is our shared duty to have proper and respectful communication between us. For many years our relations have been kept through the Status-Quo. The Status-Quo is not only a formal obligation, it is an expression of understanding, and of the delicate balance of living in a diverse community. I believe that despite the differences and challenges, we can all establish trust, partnership, and mutual respect as people of faith."
Following the President's address, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal spoke. He said, "We pray that during your term in office, peace will be implemented between peoples, based on justice, dignity, and security. There is a great threat to the Christian communities in the Middle East. Yet there is an embarrassed silence about Christians being crucified, beheaded, stoned and shot in country after country. We must lament the slaughter of Christians in the presence of the indifference of world leaders. We hope and pray that God will impart peace on our peoples in the Middle East, and across the world."
At the conclusion of the gathering, the President presented the Greek Patriarch with an engraving of an ancient coin from Jerusalem, before signing the visitors’ book quoting the Book of Psalms, (122:6), "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may those who love her prosper."

Ambassador Gil Haskel visited Ethiopia to examine the joint development cooperation programs existing between Israel and Ethiopia

During his visit, Ambassador Haskel participated in a meeting of the MASHAV-USAID-Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture joint agricultural project Steering Committee. The joint program focuses on the development of horticultural plant propagation in Ethiopia through nursery cultivation and tissue culture propagation.

Ambassador Haskel was accompanied by Haim Tager, head of CINADCO’s Training Department, and together with Israel’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Belaynesh Zevadia, visited the project’s site – the Butajira Nursery, where they were briefed by Ofer Kahani, MASHAV’s long-term expert in Ethiopia who accompanies the project.

During his visit, Ambassador Gil Haskel met with Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, who welcomed the Israeli delegation underlining the excellent relation existing between the two countries as yet another important component for the success of Ethiopia’s next Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP2) expected to be launched later this year.
Dr. Tedros praised the professional training given by Israel to Ethiopians engaged in the agriculture sector. He said that besides empowering them with important skills, it also provides a change in the trainees’ mindset encouraging them to transform challenging conditions into opportunities.

Ambassador Haskel emphasized the long standing cooperation between the two countries and praised the increasing development cooperation between them. He highlighted the benefits of MASHAV’s development cooperation training programs offered to Ethiopian farmers, including the increased added value and productivity for the cash crops they produce. During their meeting, Dr. Tedros and Ambassador Haskel discussed further ways of strengthening the development cooperation between Ethiopia and Israel.

PM Netanyahu meets with delegation of US senators

​PM Netanyahu: I think the most important thing is to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a path to the bomb and that Iran’s aggression in Yemen and elsewhere, including around Israel’s borders, is stopped.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a delegation of US senators led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Intelligence Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz also attended the meeting.

At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu said:

"We are very much concerned for our common interests by the developments in the Middle East. As we are speaking, Iran is rampaging through Yemen; it is conquering the Middle East.

This is correctly seen by all the countries in the Middle East as a strategic move to dominate the region and therefore we are witnessing something quite unprecedented.

And as Israel and the Arab countries see Iran progressing with its aggression to conquer Yemen and the Bab el-Mandeb straits, talks continue as usual and go on, on a deal that from everything that we hear paves Iran’s way to the bomb.
Will this increase or decrease Iran’s aggression? Will the fact that Iran, while it’s still under sanctions, does not yet have an easy path to the bomb, but is conquering the Middle East in ways that are unprecedented? Will this make their move forward more moderate or will it make it more extreme? I think it’s a no-brainer. But this is happening before our eyes and I think the most important thing is to make sure that Iran doesn’t get a path to the bomb and that Iran’s aggression in Yemen and elsewhere, including around Israel’s borders is stopped."

Prime Minister Netanyahu added:

"Senator McConnell, Mitch, and friends. It’s very good to see you here in Israel. But I’m delighted always to see you and all Representatives from the US Congress and Senators. We have a strong bipartisan base of support for alliance. I spoke the other day with Harry Reid, congratulated him on his years of service and also his years of support for the Israeli-American alliance. This is something that I think cuts across the aisle in the United States. And I believe will continue to do so."

Senator McConnell said:

"Mr. Prime Minister, let me add on our behalf, first, we were all extraordinarily impressed with your address to the joint session a few weeks ago.

I want to assure all Israelis that the US-Israel relationship is still, no matter what’s been said recently, in very, very strong shape on a bipartisan basis in the US Congress.

The group who are here share your concerns about this potential agreement and there are options that the United States has in a wake of an agreement and if there is no agreement. The option if there’s an agreement is a bill that we intend to vote on that enjoys bipartisan support to require that agreement come to Congress for approval.

If there’s no deal, then the view of this group, similar to your own, is that ratcheting up sanctions might be the best direction to take in the wake of a deal that does not come together."
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