China chides Iran over threat to block oil exports through Strait of Hormuz

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Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) – Iran should make more effort to ensure stability in the Middle East and get along with its neighbours, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Friday, as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned they may block oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.

Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait are among China’s most important oil suppliers, while Qatar supplies liquefied natural gas to China, so any blockage of the strait would have serious consequences for its economy.

But Beijing has had to tread carefully with Arab nations like Saudi Arabia as China also has close ties with Iran.

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Austria’s Kurz to Rouhani: ‘Unacceptable’ to question Israel’s right to exist

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Times of Israel


In a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday said he considered it “absolutely unacceptable” to question the right of Israel to exist or call for the Jewish state’s destruction.

Ahead of the meeting in Vienna, Kurz had said he would speak plainly with Rouhani about Iran’s role in the Middle East, as Tehran continues to deny accusations it is destabilizing the region.

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How Sheldon Adelson just might be turning the tide against BDS on US campuses

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Times of Israel


In the academic year that just ended, Sheldon Adelson’s Maccabee Task Force, set up to battle anti-Israel activism on US campuses, focused on 40 of what it assessed were the schools most hostile to Israel and most intimidating to pro-Israel students. At 15 of these campuses, it had been anticipated that student governments would seek to pass BDS resolutions — resolutions demanding that their schools divest from Israel.

According to David Brog, who runs the Maccabee Task Force, however, several of the expected resolutions were withdrawn. Of the 10 that were submitted, only three were passed. And of the three campuses where the anti-Israel resolutions were successful, two of them had not had student leaders participate in the Maccabee Task Force’s bus trips to Israel — a central component of its pro-Israel action plan.

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US quits the UN’s Human Rights Council, citing its ‘chronic bias against Israel’

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Times of Israel


The United States is withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council, US ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday, branding the global body a “cesspool of political bias.”

“We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organization that makes a mockery of human rights,” she said at a press conference announcing the move.

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Why the establishment despises Trump’s ambassador to Israel

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NY Post


The foreign-policy establishment and the mainstream media agree: David Friedman isn’t their kind of US ambassador to Israel.

He’s just too pro-Israel for their taste.

Friedman has been taking a pounding from the old hands who have represented Washington in the Middle East and their media echo chamber ever since President Trump named his former bankruptcy attorney to the post. While there’s nothing new or unusual about presidents naming their friends and donors to ambassadorial posts, Israel has always been an exception.

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Editor Of Egyptian Daily: The Escalation In The Gaza Strip And The U.S. Embassy’s Move To Jerusalem Have Changed Nothing In Egypt’s Position On Israel

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MEMRI


On May 16, 2018, during an “Ask the President” session at Egypt’s fifth national youth conference, held in Cairo,[1] Egyptian President Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi replied to questions from citizens that had been sent in in advance. One of the questions concerned Egypt’s position vis-à-vis Israel in light of the escalation in the Gaza Strip and the Return March at the Gaza-Israel border. President Al-Sisi answered that Egypt was in contact with both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, and was sending them messages in an attempt to help calm the situation and prevent it from escalating further. However, he said, Egypt could do nothing beyond this.

Al-Sisi said: “Egypt is employing a clear and stable policy regarding the issues connected to the Palestinians. We have a vision, and we proceed in light of it; at every one of our meetings with international and regional forces, our statements remain in this framework. We have not changed [our positions], and also in the next four years our policy will not change…

“With regard to what has been happening in the recent period, [i.e. the Return March and the escalation at the Gaza-Israel border], our efforts [to calm the situation] are unceasing, and they did not begin with the outbreak of these events… We are keeping the Rafah crossing open in order to ease conditions for the people living in the Gaza Strip. [We are sending] ambulances and medicines and doing everything to ease the situation there. Additionally, we are in contact with the Israeli side and with the Palestinian side so that this bloodshed will stop. We want to send, from here, a message to our Palestinian brothers: [We hope that] their protest against the decision [to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem] will not lead them to do anything to cause additional victims. From the Israelis, we expect an understanding that the Palestinian reaction to this matter is legitimate, and that for this reason their handling of it must be in such a way as to safeguard even more the lives of the Palestinians. Can we do more than this? No. We cannot…

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After embassy move, Trump weighs Jerusalem consulate changes

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AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is considering giving U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman more authority over the U.S. outpost that handles Palestinian affairs, five U.S. officials said, a shift that could further dampen Palestinian hopes for an independent state.

Any move to downgrade the autonomy of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem — responsible for relations with the Palestinians — could have potent symbolic resonance, suggesting American recognition of Israeli control over east Jerusalem and the West Bank. And while the change might be technical and bureaucratic, it could have potentially significant policy implications.

As president, Trump has departed from traditional U.S. insistence on a “two-state solution” for the Mideast conflict by leaving open the possibility of just one state. As his administration prepares to unveil a long-awaited peace plan, the Palestinians have all but cut off contact, enraged by Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

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Is Israel driving a wedge between Russia and Iran?

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BBC

Earlier this month the long-running battle between Israel and Iran in Syria reached a dramatic crescendo. What is believed to have been Iranian rocket-fire against Israeli army positions on the occupied Golan Heights (itself a response to earlier Israeli air attacks against an Iranian base in the country) prompted a major Israeli offensive.

Israeli warplanes struck some 50 Iranian targets in Syria, virtually every known Iranian base or installation, according to analysts, setting back Iran’s military build-up for months if not years.

Now though it is becoming clearer that the attack could change the regional dynamics even further. And developments on the southern Golan Heights could provide additional impetus.

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Turkish envoy to Washington returning to U.S. amid Jerusalem row: Turkish official

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Reuters

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey’s ambassador to Washington is returning to the United States after being recalled for consultations two weeks ago over a U.S. decision to move its Israeli Embassy to contested Jerusalem, an official in the Turkish foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Serdar Kilic was recalled to Ankara amid a dispute with Israel and Washington over the killing of dozens of Palestinian protesters by Israeli forces on the Gaza border earlier this month.

Turkey has been one of the most vocal critics of Israel’s response to the Gaza protests and of the U.S. Embassy move, also recalling its ambassador from Tel Aviv and calling for an emergency meeting of Islamic nations.

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In Saudi media, a tug of war over relations with Israel

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Times of Israel


A recent headline in the Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat asked readers, “Do you stand with Iran or Israel?”

The writer, Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid, is a seasoned editor of Saudi Arabia’s government-sponsored publications, and al-Sharq al-Awsat is among the Arab world’s most prestigious newspapers.

“It’s an embarrassing question, one which contradicts the most basic notions of our political culture,” al-Rashid wrote. Nevertheless, al-Rashid maintained that rethinking the Saudi relationship with the Jewish state was the only way forward.

As the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel emerges into the public eye, Saudi media are conducting an intense debate over normalization with the Jewish state, utilizing articles, tweets, and viral videos.

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