Monday, August 28, 2017

Israel: If Iran Expands In Syria, We'll Bomb Assad's Palace, Macron To Flesh Out EU Vision

Israeli official: If Iran expands in Syria, we'll bomb Assad's palace

Israel warned Russia of dire consequences if Iran is allowed to continue on its current path in Syria.

A senior Israeli source told the Al-Jadida newspaper that no understanding was reached between the Israelis and the Russians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did, however, make it clear to Putin that its concerns must be met or Israel will be forced to act.
The warnings occurred in a meeting between Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. 

The prime minister, accompanied by Mossad head Yossi Cohen, the newly appointed head of the National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, and Likud minister Ze'ev Elkin who served as his translator, flew to Sochi on the Black Sea for the meeting, returning to Israel shortly after it ended. This is Netanyahu’s fourth trip to Russia in the last 16 months, and his sixth meeting with Putin during this same time frame.

Netanyahu said the majority of his discussions with Putin focused on the situation in Syria. He said the reason he wanted to hold talks now with the Russian leader was because the situation inside Syria has changed very rapidly over the last few weeks.

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Monday’s developments as they unfold.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Iran is building factories to produce precision-guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon.
Ahead of the meeting between the two leaders in Jerusalem, Netanyahu says Iran is trying to turn Syria and Lebanon into a military base to launch attacks on Israel.
“Iran is busy turning Syria into a base of military entrenchment, and it wants to use Syria and Lebanon as warfronts against its declared goal to eradicate Israel,” Netanyahu said. “This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the UN should not accept.”

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to flesh out his plans for Europe in a speech on Tuesday (29 August), after a weekend poll showed his “dissatisfaction rating” rising to 57%, up from 43% in July.
Facing sliding approval ratings at home, Macron will lay out his foreign policy vision this week after a dynamic start on the international stage that has yet to produce results.
On Monday, he welcomes the African leaders of Chad, Niger and Libya as well as his European counterparts from Germany, Spain and Italy for talks expected to focus on cutting illegal migration to Europe.
On Tuesday, he will speak at the annual meeting of France’s ambassadors in Paris where he will lay out his priorities for the coming year in front of 200 envoys.
“Macron has made a successful entrance on the international scene in terms of style, and style is important in international affairs,” said former diplomat Michel Duclos from the Montaigne Institute think-tank in Paris. “Thanks to him, France is audible again in the world,” he added. “Will that be followed by results? That’s another question.”
Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, won power in May determined to restore what he saw as the country’s declining international prestige under former Socialist president Fran├žois Hollande.
His first 100 days in office have been marked by a series of headline-catching announcements and a streak of meetings in Paris or abroad where he has often spoken candidly with foreign leaders.
He won plaudits at home for raising human rights in Russia during his meeting with President Vladimir Putin, while he also took a stand against President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris accord on fighting climate change.
In Europe, he has singled out the hard-right government in Poland for criticism, saying the country had “decided to go against European interests in many areas”.

EU reform
Macron’s plans for the 28-member European Union are likely to be at the heart of his speech on Tuesday.
He has already spoken about his ambition to create a more “protective Europe” which better shields its people and industry from foreign investment in strategic economic sectors and unfair imports from abroad.
But he also has a long-term vision of deepening cooperation between the bloc’s members and changing the EU’s institutions, particularly for those members which use the euro as a common currency.
His ability to usher in changes, such as creating a new budget for the eurozone, will depend in large part on the success of his domestic economic overhauls, some experts say.
“Everyone in Europe, in Germany above all, is watching to see what Macron does with the labour code and his ambition of reducing the budget deficit,” said former diplomat Pierre Vimont from the Carnegie Europe think-tank.

Macron’s signature economic reform – scrapping large parts of the country’s 300-page labour code and trimming the powers of trade unions – is set to be unveiled in September and will face immediate resistance from street protesters. The far-left CGT trade union is leading a rally to protest against what it sees as plans to deregulate the jobs market.
Macron has also vowed to cut public spending and respect EU budget rules, which state that a country should not run a deficit of more than 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP).
The French President is hoping that his reformist zeal in France will convince Germany, which goes to the polls in September, to join him in his drive to overhaul the European Union.

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