TEL AVIV, May 19 -- Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands has won Eurovision 2019 contest with his song "Arcade," receiving 492 points, the presenters declared at the final which is taking place overnight into Sunday in Tel Aviv.
Mahmood from Italy won the second place (465 points), and Russian performer Sergey Lazarev won the third place (369 points) with his song "Scream" after the viewers’ voting and the jury voting. Duncan Laurence was the bookmakers’ favorite, who said his victory was more than 40% probable. So, the bookmakers guessed Eurovision’s result for the first time in four years. There were no visual effects in Laurence’s performance. He performed his song at the piano. Representatives for 26 countries met at the contest’s final. The sum of points received from the viewers’ voting and the jury voting determined the winner. The Belarusian jury were barred from the voting due to the dissemination of information about the voting results.
JERUZALEM, May 14 -- As Apple rolled out an advertising campaign last month touting the impenetrability of the iPhone — “Privacy. That’s iPhone”, the commercials promised a secretive Israeli company called in its sales people to talk about an important update designed to thwart that very privacy.
According to one person at the meeting, the executives from NSO Group made a bold claim: using just one simple missed call on WhatsApp, it had figured out a way to “drop its payload”, a piece of software called Pegasus that can penetrate the darkest secrets of any iPhone. Within minutes of the missed call, the phone starts revealing its encrypted content, mirrored on a computer screen halfway across the world. It then transmits back the most intimate details such as private messages or location, and even turns on the camera and microphone to live-stream meetings. The software itself is not new — it was the latest upgrade to a decade-old technology so powerful that the Israeli defence ministry regulates its sale. But the WhatsApp hack was an enticing new “attack vector”, the person says. “Great from a sales point.”
It was an illustration of the sales pitch that NSO has made to governments around the world — and which have helped give a tiny and discreet company a market valuation of around $1bn. NSO’s few hundred engineers claim they have managed to manoeuvre around whatever obstacle Apple, the world’s most valuable company, has thrown in its way. Apple declined to comment for this article. At an investor presentation in London in April, the company bragged that the typical security patches from Apple do not address the “weaknesses exploited by Pegasus”, according to an unimpressed potential investor. Despite the annual software updates unveiled by companies such as Apple, NSO had a “proven record” of identifying new weaknesses, the company representative told attendees. NSO’s pitch has been a runaway success — allowing governments to buy off the shelf the sort of software that was once thought to be restricted to only the most sophisticated spy agencies, such as GCHQ in the UK and the National Security Agency in America. The sale of such powerful and controversial technologies also gives Israel an important diplomatic calling card. Through Pegasus, Israel has acquired a major presence — official or not — in the deeply classified war rooms of unlikely partners, including, researchers say, Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Although both countries officially reject the existence of the Jewish state, they now find themselves the subject of a charm offensive by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that mixes a shared hostility to Iran with intelligence knowhow. The Israeli government has never talked publicly about its relationship with NSO. Shortly after he stepped down as defence minister in November, Avigdor Lieberman, who had responsibility for regulating NSO’s sales, said: “I am not sure now is the right time to discuss this . . . I think that I have a responsibility for the security of our state, for future relations.” But he added: “It is not a secret today that we have contact with all the moderate Arab world. I think it is good news.”
JERUZALEM, May 13 -- President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas expects to hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Meeting on Cooperation and Confidence Measures in Asia in Dushanbe on June 15, Palestine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki said.
"I expect that it will happen the next month in Tajikistan, where a summit on cooperation and confidence measures in Asia will be held," he said. "As far as we understand, President Putin will participate in it, and our president will also be there. We are working to organize their meeting during the summit."
The Kremlin has not officially announced yet that Putin is planning to meet with Abbas in Dushanbe. Riyad al-Maliki reiterated that his last meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was held two weeks ago on the sidelines of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum. "We discussed the situation in Palestine, the Israeli position on the so-called occupied territories, and the expected deal of the century (the US’ proposal on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement)," the minister stated. It was especially important to him "that Lavrov affirmed that the Russian side will not recognize ‘the deal of the century’ in case it violates the earlier reached multilateral agreements," he said. "The Russian representatives explained that their position coincides with the UN’s stance, with the resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly and they expect the other states to respect them," the minister noted.
JERUSALEM, April 7 -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he would annex illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins another term in office, in an attempt to win over right-wing voters.
He made the statement in -an interview with Israeli Channel 12 News on Saturday, three days before the April 9 election. Reuters news agency reported that he was asked why he had not extended sovereignty to West Bank settlements since Israel had annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights without international recognition during the 1967 war. "Who says that we won't do it? We are on the way and we are discussing it," Netanyahu said. "You are asking whether we are moving on to the next stage - the answer is yes, we will move to the next stage. I am going to extend [Israeli] sovereignty and I don't distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements." Mitchell Barak, an Israeli political pollster and analyst, said he classifies Netanyahu's comments as nothing more than election talk. "Whatever happens in the election, stays in the election. I don't think he has any real intention of [annexing settlements]. We don't know. It's highly unlikely that this will turn into policy," Barak said. "If voters see him embracing this policy, they may move to vote for him, but it's nothing more than an election gimmick at this point."
However, many Palestinians have been taking his words seriously, including Aida Touma-Suleiman, a member of the Knesset (MK) running for the joint Arab Haddash-Ta'al party. On the eve of the last election in 2015, Netanyahu similarly made waves by stating that if he returned to the office he would never establish a Palestinian state, reversing his previous endorsement of a two-state solution. Since then, he has done precisely what he said, Touma-Suleiman said. "Everyone thought it was election talk. But for four years he has step by step almost accomplished the mission he stated … In my opinion, he is going to annex the settlements," Touma-Suleiman said. "I hope we'll be able to see a government that's more rational at least. I don't believe that Benny Gantz is an alternative. I don't believe that generals will bring hope to this country but I can see the damage that Netanyahu is doing, which is long-term damage and I would like to see it stopped immediately."
TEL AVIV, March 25 -- Seven Israeli citizens were hospitalized with injuries of varying severity on Monday after a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip that hit a residential building in the moshav of Mishmeret in Central Israel, the national medical service, Magen David Adom, reported.
"Seven people were evacuated to a hospital with injuries: a 60-year-old woman in moderate condition with shrapnel wounds and burns, a 30-year-old woman in moderate condition with shrapnel wounds to her leg, as well as five more wounded including children aged 12, 3 and 6 months," the service’s communique reads. Earlier, the Israeli military reported that they had detected a missile launch in the Gaza Strip aimed at Central Israel. "After the reports of air raid sirens having been triggered on the Sharon plain (north of Tel Aviv) we detected a missile that had been fired from the Gaza Strip," the army press service said. The military previously reported that sirens had been triggered on the Sharon plain, in the Hefer Valley Regional Council. The police press service said that the missile had hit a residential building in the Mishmeret moshav, sparking a fire.
For first time since 2014 - when Israel launched a 50-day long operation dubbed Protective Edge - on March 14, air raid sirens went off in the greater Tel Aviv region. The military then said that two missile were launched towards Tel Aviv, with no casualties reported. The Iron Dome missile defense system didn't intercept the rockets, while Israel in retaliation hit a few dozen military targets in the Gaza Strip, the army press service also added.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 -- The J-10 “Vigorous Dragon” is a mainstay of China’s effort to modernize its large fleet of single-engine jet fighters, with 350 already in service.
An agile tactical fighter similar to the ubiquitous F-16 Fighting Falcon , the Vigorous Dragon was the first domestic Chinese design roughly on par with Western and Russian fourth-generation fighters . However, there is considerable evidence that the J-10’s development was heavily informed by a jet fighter developed by Israel with U.S. engines in the 1980s. Israel first manufactured its own jets after its order of French Dassault Mirage Vs was embargoed in 1967. Israeli agents obtained Mirage V schematics (and most likely manufacturing components and even airframes), allowing Israel Aerospace Industries to produce two domestic clones: the Nesher and the improved Kfir. These both served with the IAF and were exported broad.
Mayor of New York City Robert Anderson Van Wyck breaks ground for a new underground "Rapid Transit Railroad" that would link Manhattan and Brooklyn. Between 1969–1979, the IAF received high-performance twin-engine F-4 Phantom fighters and F-15 Eagles from the United States. However, it still wanted a cheaper single-engine tactical fighter to replace its increasingly vulnerable A-4 Skyhawk and Nesher jets. So why not also build the Nesher’s replacement domestically? The resulting dapper IAI Lavi (Lion Cub) had delta-wings (good for high-speed performance) combined with canards, a second set of small wings near the nose for improved lift and maneuverability. The Lion Cub was so maneuverable it was aerodynamically unstable, but an advanced quadruple-redundant fly-by-wire flight control system counter-acted the instability. Composite materials were extensively incorporated to lower the Lavi’s weight down to just 7.25-tons empty. A compact Pratt & Whitney 1120 turbofan slung under the belly delivered large amounts of thrust, allowing the little Lavi to fly far and fast carrying up to a sixteen-thousand-pound payload. In fact, with the exception of the canards, the Lavi closely resembled in appearance and capability the U.S.-built F-16s that entered Israeli Air Force service in 1980. These soon saw extensive combat service, destroying the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor and shooting down over forty Syrian fighters over Lebanon without loss.
Israeli and U.S. critics of the Lavi pointed out Israel was investing $2 billion in development costs to reinvent an airplane it had already bought from the United States. The more ground-attack oriented Lavi did differ in a few respects, however. It had a lower maximum speed of Mach 1.6-1.8 compared to the Falcon’s Mach 2, but had 50 percent longer range. It also had a powerful internal mounted jamming system for self-protection. The Lavi’s Israeli-designed avionics were comparable to the later F-16C model than the more rudimentary F-16A. owever, by the 1980s jet fighter development costs had grown exponentially as they grew more and more sophisticated; and, unlike the Nesher and Kfir, the Lavi was not cloned from an existing design. IAI hoped to make back the costs by exporting the Lavi, particularly to states facing embargoes due to poor human-rights records such as Apartheid-era South Africa, Chile and Argentina. But the U.S., provider of 40 percent of the Lavi components, didn’t want to subsidize a competitor for the F-16. Washington signaled it would only cooperate if Israel refrained from exporting the Lavi. By 1987 IAI had built two flying two-seat Lavi prototypes which demonstrated excellent performance in eighty-two test flights. Three more were under construction. It had also tested the PW1120 turbofans on an F-4 ‘Super Phantom’ which demonstrated such extraordinary performance it even flew a demo at the Paris Air Show and was briefly considered for export. However, the extraordinary financial commitments the Lavi entailed made it extremely politically divisive. On August 30, in an 11-12 vote, the Israeli cabinet canceled the Lavi. Ninety additional F-16s were procured instead.
From Israel to China
Thus ended Israel’s production of domestic jet fighters—but not of advanced weapons and components for jet fighters, which was greatly boosted by technologies developed for the Lavi. One notable export was the Python-3 heat-seeking missile, which boasted the then still-rare ability to engage planes from any aspect using a helmet-mounted sight. The technology was licensed for production by China’s Xi’an Aircraft Corporation in 1989 as the PL-8 missile, which remains in service today. Other technologies transferred include the E/LM-2035 doppler radar (derivatives installed on the J-8 and J-10 fighter) and the Tamam inertial navigation system. In fact, during the 1980s, the U.S. and Western Europe were also exporting military technology to China, then seen as a counter-balance to the Soviet Union. U.S. firms even explored co-developing updated J-7 and J-8 fighters for Beijing. However, Chinese-Western defense cooperation ended abruptly following the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989. However, in the mid-1990s, U.S. newspapers began reporting that intelligence agencies were concerned about continued Israeli technology transfers to China—including some components given to Israel by the United States. This included allegations that Israel had transferred Lavi technology for China’s program to develop a fourth-generation jet fighter. The Chengdu Aircraft Corporation had begun work on the J-10 in 1988 under engineer Song Wecong, who can be seen next to a Lavi in this photo (fourth from the right).
In his book Lavi: the United States, Israel and a Controversial Fighter, John W. Golan wrote:
Israeli involvement in the J-10 appears to have begun at around the same time that China first opened diplomatic relations with Israel in January 1992 . . . Israeli contractors were engaged to provide the aerodynamic and structural outlines for the J-10. The Israeli influences on the J-10’s design are unmistakable: a close-coupled, canard-delta arrangement; a single-engine fighter featuring a ventral engine inlet; twin ventral strakes; and an area-ruled fuselage. You can see the striking resemblance in these photo comparisons. Concerns over Israel-China technology transfers spurred Congress to ban exporting the hi-tech F-22 Raptor stealth fighter . Unfortunately, the lack of export orders combined with later defense spending cuts, led to the premature closure of the F-22s production line . In its final years, the Clinton administration also blocked Israel from exporting its Phalcon airborne early-warning aircraft, forcing China to spend years domestically developing a wide variety of its own AEW aircraft. According to Golan, “Israeli involvement in the J-10 program appears to have been curtailed at around the same time, with Russia stepping in to market Soviet-developed avionics systems to supply production versions of the aircraft.” Both Song and IAI officials have staunchly denied collaboration in the J-10’s development. However, in 2008, Jane’s reported that in extended interviews with several visiting Russian engineers that Chengdu “benefited from significant, direct input from Israel's Lavi programme - including access to the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Lavi aircraft itself . . . This has included extensive design and performance modeling, wind-tunnel testing and advanced aerodynamic design input . . . Jane's was told how Chengdu officials of the highest level stated how they had one of the IAI Lavi prototypes in their facilities.” Hypothetically, Jane’s Russian sources may have been spreading misinformation. Russia’s aviation industry has a decidedly love-hate relationship with China. However, if Israel did transfer Lavi technology to China—both parties would have strong incentives to deny it. At any rate, the J-10 is more inspired by the Lavi than an outright clone. It is significantly longer and heavier, and has different wings. In his book, Golan explains that China lacked access to the compact PW1120 engine and the capability for wide-scale manufacturing of lightweight composite components. (China finally achieved the latter with the Y-20 transport plane .) Therefore, Song had to lengthen the J-10’s fuselage by two meters to accommodate a Russian AL-31F turbofan, resulting in an 11.75-ton jet.
Nonetheless, the J-10 remain an agile, versatile and inexpensive multirole fighter designed from the outset to incorporate hi-tech avionic systems and guided weapons. Though not a cutting-edge stealth aircraft , it marked an important milestone in China’s military modernization—achieved, most likely, with a little foreign assistance.
WASHINGTON, March 22 -- US President Donald Trump’s statement Washington should recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights may destabilize the situation in the Middle East.
"Such calls may considerably destabilize the already strained situation in the Middle East," he said. "In any case the idea as such by no means works for the tasks and goals of the Middle East settlement. It’s the other way round." "At the moment it’s just a call. May it remain so". Earlier, Trump tweeted that the US should recognize Israel’s full sovereignty over the Golan Heights. This plateau, which belonged to Syria since 1944 were seized by Israel during the six-day war in 1967. In 1981, the Israeli parliament passed a law to unilaterally declare sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The UN Security Council declared the annexation null and void in its Resolution 497 of December 17, 1981.
JERUSALEM March 3 -- Israeli bulldozers demolished a Palestinian-owned car wash in the Beit Safafa neighborhood, in occupied East Jerusalem.
Local sources confirmed that Israeli forces stormed the neighborhood and completely demolished the car wash. Sources pointed out that Israeli forces demolished the car wash under the pretext that it was built without the nearly-impossible to obtain Israeli permit. However, locals claimed that the car wash was demolished as part of an Israeli settlement plan to expand the road, upon which the structure was built, and start the construction of a light rail route to the illegal Israeli settlement of Gilo.
According to Palestinians and rights groups, Israel’s overall goal, both in its policies in Area C and Israel’s settlement enterprise, is to depopulate the land of its Palestinian residents and replace them with Jewish Israeli communities in order to manipulate population demographics in all of historic Palestine.
JERUZALEM, January 9 -- A large Dutch pensions group has reversed its blacklisting of Israeli banks from 2014.
PGGM had divested from all five leading Israeli banks over “ethical concerns” pertaining to their presence or actions in the West Bank, disputed territory where Palestinians are the majority but where hundreds of thousands of Israelis also live. The decision to blacklist was seen as a major victory for advocates of attempts to boycott Israel.
JERUZALEM, January 8 -- On January 5, Israel officially ceased to belong to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), based in Paris, of which it had been a part since 1949.
The decision of the Israeli State, although it was announced in October of last year, has become effective on 5 January. Both Israel and the US have complained repeatedly, since the entry of the Palestinian National Authority as a government, of what they consider "positions favorable to the Palestinians." Indeed, UNESCO has adopted various decisions in recent years, in its areas of responsibility favorable to Palestinian claims, and last May declared Israel as an "occupation power".
The abandonment of UNESCO by Israel as a so-called measure of force is rather a sign of failure on the part of their diplomacy aimed at imposing their positions (with the support of the US), which was the usual attitude. It should be noted that the Director of Unesco is elected by the member countries and their decisions and practices are fully agreed with them.