Syrian Rebels Kill Hezbollah Commander Freed in Israeli Prisoner Swap

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Everything you need to know about today’s coverage of Israel and the Mideast. Join the Israel Daily News Stream on Facebook.

Today’s Top Stories

1. Hamas and Fatah agreed on the makeup of their national unity government. Officials in Mahmoud Abbas’s office say the new “technocrat” government will be sworn in on Thursday. Meanwhile, Zalman Shoval worries that the Obama administration will recognize the new government and pressure Israel to engage it.

2. Syrian rebels killed Fawzi Ayoub, “a hijacker, international terrorist operative and senior member of Hezbollah.” The National Post explains how big a fish this guy was:

The Lebanese-Canadian had been on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list since 2009, when he was indicted for using a false American passport to enter Israel “for the purpose of conducting a bombing” for Hezbollah, according to his wanted notice.

Ayoub was briefly imprisoned in Israel, but was one of 435 prisoners freed in a 2004 prisoner swap for Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of IDF soldiers Adi Avitan, Benny Avraham and Omar Souad.

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3. Big media wrapped up its coverage of the papal pilgrimage. Details below.

4. Comments and the Roar of the Crowd: A Wholly Holy Land, and Why is Facebook Compulsory? HR readers write in.

Blankfeld Award

Israel and the Palestinians

The PLO’s pushing for the international governing body of soccer to sanction Israel. Don’t expect Israel to get a fair shake from the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Federation president Sepp Blatter says he supports sanctions if Israel doesn’t lift travel restrictions on players and foreign visitors. How far off the deep end is Blatter?

FIFA President Sepp Blatter Claims He is “Ambassador” of Palestinians

It was a rare public encounter between former Israeli and Saudi intelligence chiefs. Appearing at a Belgian forum mediated by columnist David Ignatius, Amos Yadlin and Prince Turki al-Faisal were discussing the peace process and Saudi initiatives when Yadlin invited the royal to visit Israel and address the Knesset. The JTA and Times of Israel were on hand for this unusual gathering.

anti-BDS• This is rich: Amnesty International is calling for the Palestinian Authority to release four BDS activists who disrupted a Ramallah show by a Palestinian dance troupe that had performed in Israel just the day before. According to Maan News, PA security broke up the protest, proverbially cracking skulls in the process. If this is how the PA deals with BDS thuggery, what does that say about about the movement’s legitimacy?

Incredible photos of Israeli bomb shelters brings rocket threat to life.

• Although the PLO depicted Jesus as a Palestinian at the pontiff’s Manger Square mass, the pope sparred with Bibi over what language Jesus spoke.

 Pope’s visit coincided with Muslim battle against a Christian school in eastern Jerusalem. Some people expect Christian girls to wear hijabs, writes Khaled Abu Toameh:

Of course the Palestinian Authority did not tell Pope Francis anything about the smear campaign that was being waged by Muslims against the Rosary Sisters’ School in east Jerusalem.

• Israel’s Government Press Office must have placed a camera in a crack in the Western Wall ahead of time to get this intriguing photo that a few papers picked up on. But a part of me that feels it’s intruding on a private moment of contemplation and prayer. What do you think?

Pope Francis

 Oh no, Daily Mail! Where does it get the idea that the Western Wall replaced the Temple Mount as Judaism’s holiest location?

Pope Francis, in accordance with Jewish tradition left a note in a crack in the Western Wall calling for peace and understanding between the three religions.

He bowed his head solemnly at the site, which is regarded as the holiest location in Judaism.

• For more commentary/analysis, see  Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub (Israel a haven for Mideast Christians), Dan Calic (pope joins Palestinian chutzpah club), and Shlomo Cesana (the papal PR battle).

Rest O’ the Roundup

 An Israeli-Arab from the Negev was arrested for helping family members join Al-Qaida-affiliates fighting in Syria. Times of Israel coverage.

The race to become Israel’s next president is down to six candidates. YNet looks at the four men and two women contending to replace to Shimon Peres. The Knesset is scheduled to vote on June 10.

Worth reading: Syria’s Mind Boggling Numbers: There are more than 150,000 “documented” deaths, but the real number is likely much higher.

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.


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The above is how Haaretz chose to illustrate the tensions in U.S.-Israel relations. This cartoon by Amos Biderman is offensive ...