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Jun 12, 2015

Orange CEO tells Netanyahu firm will deepen Israel ties

JERUSALEM, June 12 (Reuters) – The chief executive of French
telecoms group Orange told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on
Friday he profoundly regretted remarks he made last week which
he said were misinterpreted to make it sound as if he supported
a boycott of Israel.

On a special visit to try to mend fences after the comments
at a conference in Cairo, CEO Stephane Richard met Netanyahu for
talks at his private office, with the press kept away.

Jun 10, 2015

Israeli president says Syrian Druze under threat

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s president expressed his concern to the United States on Wednesday about the fate of the Druze minority in Syria, saying around 500,000 of them were under threat from Islamist militants in an area near the Israeli border.

Israel’s Druze, some of whom have reached the senior echelons of Israel’s military and the government, have been calling for help on behalf of their brethren in Syria, both at home and abroad.

Jun 9, 2015

Israeli PM wants Arab states to press Palestinians back to peace talks

HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday he hoped Arab states could press the Palestinians to return to talks to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu, speaking to a strategic conference near Tel Aviv, blamed the Palestinians for the 14-month impasse in negotiations but said he felt there was a chance to renew them if the Palestinians could be persuaded.

Jun 9, 2015

Israeli defense minister sees no peace with Palestinians in his lifetime

HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) – Israel’s defense minister said on Tuesday he did not believe a stable peace agreement could be reached with the Palestinians in his lifetime – one of the bleakest assessments from a top-level cabinet member since talks collapsed last year.

Moshe Yaalon, one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest allies, accused the Palestinians of having “slammed the door” on efforts to keep discussions going, and said they had rejected peace-for-land deals for at least 15 years.

Jun 7, 2015

Netanyahu ally urges world to accept Israel’s hold on Golan

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A far-right ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world powers on Sunday to recognize Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan Heights, saying Syria no longer functions as a country that could reclaim the strategic plateau.

The remarks by security cabinet minister Naftali Bennett appeared aimed at capitalizing on global debate over how to handle Syria’s de facto break-up during a four-year-old insurgency, as well as at undermining support for Palestinian statehood on other land Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

Jun 4, 2015

Israel military says Iran nuclear threat may wane with deal

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The Israeli military sees potential security benefits in an expected international deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program, a senior officer was quoted as saying on Thursday in an unexpected analysis of the issue.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has presented the planned deal as a threat to Israel. But in a closed-door briefing to Israeli reporters published in part by local media, the officer said the deal – if agreed by its June 30 deadline – could provide clarity on whether Iran is on course to a bomb.

Jun 2, 2015

Obama: Netanyahu’s Palestine stance erodes Israel’s credibility

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s terms for diplomacy that might lead to a Palestinian state meant Israel had lost international credibility as a potential peacemaker.

Obama also suggested that continued U.S. diplomatic defense for Israel at the United Nations over the Palestine dispute may be reviewed, while reaffirming U.S. support for Israeli security in a conflict-riven Middle East.

May 28, 2015

U.S. defense aid to Israel to rise over Iran deal fears: sources

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – U.S. defense aid to Israel is likely to increase after 2017, sources on both sides said on Thursday, seeing a possible link to Washington’s efforts to assuage its ally’s fears over nuclear diplomacy with Iran.

A current package worth $3 billion a year expires in 2017. A U.S. official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said negotiators were close to a new deal that would bring annual payouts to $3.6-$3.7 billion on average.

May 27, 2015

Israeli air force chief unfazed Egypt may get Russia’s S-300

HERZLIYA, Israel (Reuters) – The chief of Israel’s air force on Wednesday played down worries voiced by some fellow officials about the possibility of Egypt acquiring advanced Russian-made air defenses.

The Russian news agency TASS said in March Egypt would receive the Antey-2500 missile system, an S-300 variant, and put the value of the contract at more than a billion dollars. Neither Egypt nor Russia has formally confirmed it.

May 14, 2015

Embattled from the outset, new Netanyahu government sworn in

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new rightist coalition government, hobbled by a razor-thin parliamentary majority, was sworn in late on Thursday amid wrangling within his Likud party over cabinet posts.

The evening ceremony in the Knesset was postponed by two hours so Netanyahu could divvy up for Likud the remaining ministries, after others were assigned to its four partners. Some Israeli commentators called the manoeuvring “farcical”.