JERUSALEM/RIYADH (Reuters) – If President Barack Obama has disappointed Syrian rebels by deferring to Congress before bombing Damascus, he has also dismayed the United States’ two main allies in the Middle East.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have little love for each other but both are pressing their mutual friend in the White House to hit President Bashar al-Assad hard. And both do so with one eye fixed firmly not on Syria but on their common adversary – Iran.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A rare rocket barrage from Lebanon on Thursday deepened Israeli concern that al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants are opening a new front for confrontation with Israel.
The Israeli military said several rockets were fired from southern Lebanon, but that one was intercepted by an anti-missile shield and two or three others fell outside Israeli territory. However, Israeli security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least five rockets hit Israel.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Thursday it believed Syrian forces had used chemical weapons in the killing of hundreds of people in the rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, and it accused the world of turning a blind eye to such attacks.
“The world condemns, the world investigates, the world pays lip service,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Israel Radio.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel is urging the West to stick by Egypt’s army in its confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood, quietly echoing warnings by U.S. regional ally Saudi Arabia against putting pressure on the military-backed government.
“Israel shares its views with the U.S. and some EU (European Union) countries, and those views are to give priority to restoring stability,” a senior Israeli official said on Monday.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were due to reconvene U.S.-brokered peace talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday amid little fanfare and low expectations, dogged by plans for more Jewish settler homes on occupied land.
The resumption of negotiations, after a first round in Washington last month that ended a three-year standoff over Jewish settlement building, follows Palestinian celebrations overnight as Israel released 26 of their jailed brethren.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel was set to free 26 Palestinian prisoners within hours to help underpin renewed peace talks, after its High Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal against their release by relatives of some of the Israelis they killed.
Authorities planned to transport the group from jail in the dead of night in the early hours of Wednesday. The men, arrested between 1985 and 2001, were to return to homes in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel named on Monday 26 Palestinians who it will free from jail this week under a deal enabling U.S.-backed peace talks to resume, but the goodwill gesture was clouded by Israeli plans to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The 26 prisoners are the first of a total of 104 that Israel has decided in principle to free as part of an agreement reached after shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to renew talks for Palestinian statehood.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel on Monday named 26 Palestinian prisoners to be freed this week under a deal enabling U.S.-backed peace talks to resume, although Palestinians said these had been undermined by newly announced plans to expand Israeli settlements.
Some Israelis reacted angrily to the scheduled release on Tuesday or Wednesday of the long-term Palestinian prisoners.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Sunday it was marketing nearly 1,200 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, just two days before a planned release of long-serving Palestinian prisoners.
Israel has made a major push on settlements since the resumption on July 30, after a three-year break, of U.S.-brokered talks on Palestinian statehood.
Israel’s cabinet approved a draft law on Sunday to abolish wholesale exemptions from military duty granted to Jewish seminary students, stoking ultra-Orthodox anger over the break with tradition.